Binge Watching

March 27th, 2018

Do you or have you “binge watched” TV show or series? It has become a phenomena. At first I thought binge watching was for those people who have a lot of time on their hands or who were so busy they couldn’t watch a show live. Then, it seems like a good idea for those who wanted to watch a season all the way through with no stops or commercials. Then, I tried it. Maybe I’m a late adopter.

I thought I would get into one of the hot new shows or some great show but I could only last an hour or two. I don’t know how anyone does 24 hours or all weekend.

Then I had a thought, does anyone binge read the Bible? There was a day in Ezra/Nehemiah where they read the OT all day! I started a new Bible reading plan, 90 days through the Bible by Zondervan, I believe. To complete it, it requires 12 pages, yes they are double columns, a day for 90 days. That’s pretty quick through the Bible. The suggestion is to set aside 45 minutes. I’ve found that some days I will read for longer.

One thing I’ve learned as I read these chunks of scripture, phrases of OT are echoed in NT.  I read so much of the New Testament that now in the Old I have some context and I “see” some connections. It is also great to read stories all of the way through like a Abraham, Joseph, Samuel, Elijah and Elisha, plus David and Solomon building the temple. I see the heart of God and his love for his people over and over.

Catch up on the lastest episode in scripture using the 90 day Bible or youversion or your own Bible.

The Bible is beautiful.

Biggest factor in Kids’ Spiritual Health

February 28th, 2018

You don’t need a drum roll because there is no suspense here, you know it. Reading the Bible regularly in their home was the biggest predictor of spiritual health as young adults. (Lifeway Research study surveyed 2000 church-going parents, from an article is in Facts and Trends magazine, Winter 2018)

Parents, we need to start or continue Bible reading. We impact our children in so many ways and this is a fairly easy way. Regular scripture reading needs to be one of them. Read it for yourself, read it together, read it one on one. Start today.

The article doesn’t mention how long. It simply stated that the families reported reading the Bible several times a week. If I’m honest, I need help with making this happen. There are so many good Houston Astro’s and Rocket’s games to watch, so many shows to catch up on, so many likes that I can double tap on social media. So, I need help. What I do is tell my kids and family, “we are going to do this.” Then, they end up holding me accountable. They don’t let me forget. You need help, too. Find someone to hold you accountable.

What do you read? Use the scripture from the sermon on Sunday, or from a small group lesson. Use a Psalm or Proverbs for the calendar date, Psalm 28 or Proverb 28 for Feb. 28. Or, start in the Gospel of John or the Letter to the Philippians. Go by your church library or Christian bookstore and find a book of family devotionals. Just read, you don’t need to do much more.

As parents, we  generally hope for and deeply desire that our kids will be physically healthy, mentally healthy, and emotionally healthy. Spiritually healthy is usually last or left off the list. We tend to focus on their friends, their grades, and their safety.

Think further down the road. What do you want for them 10 years from now? Same, right? You want them to be healthy in all of those ways. However, the only thing that will get them through the maddening years of middle school, hectic high school, challenging college, fears starting their first job, plus getting married and beginning a family… the only thing that will get them through these life stages is their spiritual health and a growing relationship with Jesus.

You can make a spiritually significant impact on them today simply by reading the Bible!

I Don’t Know How

August 16th, 2017

As mentioned in the previous post one of the reasons given for not reading/studying the Bible is, I don’t know how. Let me ask parents, if your child said that to you, what would you response be?

Try it…you can do it…you have to learn some time…yes you do…

Maybe we haven’t talked about the “why?” We are spiritual people. We have a need to meet with our Creator. The Bible is the best way to learn about God and how He related/s to us. When we read the Bible our faith grows.

Even if you don’t know how, you have to start somewhere. In every other area of our life, not knowing is addressed by research, trial and error, or some other effort. Why when we come to Bible reading do we just give up?

Priorities. We need to rethink and reset our priorities. We spend enormous amounts of time on other things that are not so significant as our spiritual health. To reset priorities we must make a plan. Set a time and prepare a place. Then stick with it. You are beginning a new discipline. It takes time to establish it. Don’t give up! You can do it! Read the Bible for the sake of your heart.

Summer Reading List

July 10th, 2017

there are several recent studies out concerning Bible reading. Lifeway’s Transformational Discipleship Assessment survey reveals that less than 20% of average church-goers read their Bible regularly. Similar results are discovered in similar studies.

Most answer that the reason for such a low number is that they are: too busy, or don’t know how. How is that possible when you read about the amount of time spent watching TV is at a record high and so is mobile device use?

NVM. How about we change that statistic! Your summer reading list/challenge is to read your Bible 10 minutes a day for the next 40 days. Need a plan? Try the Gospel of John, or Proverb of the day, and even the book of Psalms +30 (read the corresponding Psalm for today’s date  then add 30 and read that one e.g. July 10th read Psalm 10, 40, 70, 110, 140). You can try the YouVersion plans on their app. Just go to the home screen and look at the bottom of the page, there are topics, pastors and other plans. DA Carson has a blog and book titled, For The Love of God that will get you through the Bible in a year and the NT twice. There’s also a list of devotionals on this web page from CFBC, www.saysoma.org/devotionals.

It’s summer, get some reading in!

The Slam Dunk contest

May 22nd, 2017

I was watching the slam dunk contest and listening to commentary and analysis. One cool dunk after another, jumping over obstacles, people, spinning, twirling were performed. The judges were getting warmed up as the scores started low then began to climb as athletes were eliminated and dunks became more creative. Finally a champion was crowned and one of the  expert analysts said something like, Nobody does it like they did in the 90s. That comment initiated a conversation that continued for what seemed like 10 minutes too long about the better dunks of the superstars of earlier decades.

wha???

Why do we like/love the past so much? Don’t get me wrong, I love the good ole days as much as the next person. Those were great years and full of high flying feats were amazing.

However, we tend to forget the negative of the past, while being negative about the present. Things weren’t always so rosy back then. Maybe our brains have blocked that part out.

We must be careful of that we aren’t so negative that it invalidates new ideas and future progress. One way we can fight to keep moving forward is to be thankful for the past. We have actually been shaped by what we’ve experienced and seen. God’s word says to be thankful and in 1 Chron. 16:41 David assigns someone the task of giving thanks at all times. Paul declares that it is God’s will to give thanks in 1 Thess. 5:18.

We also need to plan for the future and be creative and innovative as we go. Don’t be scared of new ideas. Appreciate the past and be excited for the future.

Seasonal Family Practices

February 13th, 2017

Use the issues and topics of the calendar or season for a family talk/devotional/practice. With Valentine’s Day upon us use this holiday as a topic for helping your children define love, standards, relationship status and tell your own dating/marriage story.

Many of you already do this but for parents who may believe it is too hard, think about it. You have your story, your personal story is hard to mess up. Tell about your first date, how and what you knew about love then and what you know now. Take a night or mealtime and give your children some tips to discern between temporary feelings and true love. Talk about how someone treats someone they really love. What a great way to talk about grace and forgiveness, too! Add to this the way one builds trust…

Talk about the importance of knowing God’s love first. It is critical for someone in a relationship to understand their own expectations and how no one outside of God loves perfectly. Make a plan to talk about emotional and spiritual hurts when we get this mixed up and out of order.

Other topics that might/should be addressed: purity and guarding your mind, putting others first, marriage between a man and woman, God’s best, communication and sacrifice…

Then, use scripture to define love. This holiday ought to be full of scripture! Exodus 34:6-7 describing God, Psalm 136, Song of Solomon 2:7 and more, 1 Cor. 13, John 13:34-35, 15:13, Ephesians 5:25-33, 2 Thessalonians 5:12-23 and others.

Just try it and see what happens and how God is at work. Make it conversational and work in God’s word. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mature and Assured

January 30th, 2017

i’m reading the book of Colossians right now and as I read through chapter four i came across Paul’s mention of Epaphras’ prayer for the church members at Colossae. Epaphras prays that they may “stand mature” and “fully assured in all the will of God.”

As disciples we are to be growing and learning, moving towards maturity. Knowledge, words, and actions are all a part of maturity. But think about the word “stand.” i think of not falling, stable, balanced, strong, purposeful. then it is coupled with the phrase about assurance of the will of God.

I hear a lot of questions about the will of God. One of the best books I read on the topic is so simple. it is by John MacArthur and is titled, Found: God’s Will. in it he simply reminds the reader about the revealed will of God throughout scripture. It is a short read about 60 pages and reminds us it is God’s will to be: saved, thankful, holy, love God and love people, and a few other principles. His point is that God’s will is not hidden. We can know it and when we live it we know it more clearly.

what a great prayer for the church, our church, your church and for every Christ-follower you know. Pray for those specific people to “stand mature” and “fully assured in all the will of God.”

Looking back, what we know now

November 9th, 2016

I don’t know if many of you play Fantasy Football. I’m in a family league and another with a group of friends and we play for fun. As I was listening to a NFL game I had a thought about a player who had just scored a touchdown. I wondered to myself, “why didn’t I draft him?!?” Immediately I was struck with the fact that I didn’t know then, what I know now. I realize Fantasy Football is relatively insignificant but it caused me to think.

We make lots plans base on information, feelings, and counsel. Then, miles or months pass and we look back and wish we had made different arrangements. Many scriptures about wisdom and God’s will and faith come to mind. Proverbs 16:1 and 9 remind us that God is at work in the bigger picture. James 1 tells us to ask for wisdom. God’s will is obvious sometimes, 1 Thess. 5:16-22, but other times it requires faith. Be careful of taking a selfish or easy option.

Instead of looking back in the present we must look forward with hope in faith. If we’ve messed up we must repent and change direction.

The decision process needs to include prayer, scripture knowledge, counsel, courage, and faith. This may seem like a very involved process and it is at the beginning. But, the longer you are obedient and pursue righteousness the more likely you are to make better decisions. Better decisions can lead to better relationships, better future choices, and better life. Don’t keep looking back and wishing, determine today to pray, study, seek wisdom, and pursue Jesus.

Perseverance is not normal

July 28th, 2016

Seems like the new normal is, busyness. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re busy. Work is busy. Family is busy. Kids are busy. Church is busy. Free time is busy, if you have any, but even free time is often full of busyness. But really, what is busyness? Is it simply an excuse? Have you ever said that you are busy to get out of something you don’t want to do? Have you ever been “busy” and didn’t hear someone ask a question or request your help? Have you ever been so tired from being busy that you didn’t want to do what is important?

Busyness is also a choice. Usually it is a bad one because too often we choose to be busy about the wrong things.

James 1:2-4 talks about steadfastness or endurance. We generally know we are to count our trials as joy but usually I want my trials to end ASAP. What James describes for the Christ-follower is perseverance throughout the trial. That kind of perseverance has a unique result, completeness, wholeness, “lacking in nothing.” Our busyness is often for something else we don’t truly need. In our busyness we often fly right by the lesson of the trial, ignoring it or anesthetizing our hearts and minds with more busyness.

Perseverance should set the Christian apart. Should we be less busy?…maybe. We most certainly more purposed and more joy-full because of Jesus and his offer of abundant life! Persevere in what you are doing for God’s glory.

Filled Donuts

May 4th, 2016

There is likely no limit to what a donut can be filled with. I bought some heart-shaped brownie and cookie dough filled donuts from Dunkin Donuts on Valentine’s. They were incredible. I like jelly donuts and creme filled donuts, even filled donut holes are pretty awesome.

It was a good reminder and made me think about what is inside because what comes out is what is inside! Thoughts and passions, dreams and emotions, all find a way of expression.

We just finished up a great weekend marriage retreat with Les and Leslie Parrott and they talked about the power of “happy.” Happiness is a choice. Choosing happiness will change your perspective. Their book Love Talk shares even more principles of the power of happy.

What scriptures come to mind when you think of happiness…on the inside?