Thursday, December 14, 2006

To Regift, Or Not To Regift?

One of the "buzz-topics" that are floating around right now is "regifting". Over a recent three day period, I watched CNN Headline News, NBC's Today Show and FOX News Morning do stories about this apparently culture-shaping and newsworthy subject.

There are websites dedicated to the subject of regifting. The MSN Money, CBS and USNews websites have stories on regifting. Books and magazines are written about it. Help!

Has our culture become so materialistic that we need rules and etiquette to tell us what to do with the glut of gifts that we receive and give?

I am sure that you have heard this before: We give things we can't afford to people who don't need them, paid for with money we don't have.

So here's a creative thought for this time of year: How about giving things that matter to people who really need them? (Food, clothing and shelter to the hungry, poor and homeless.) Now that's regifting.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Nothing Fails Like Prayer

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that read "Nothing Fails Like Prayer". The message was pasted to the back of a new, foreign, well-appointed sports car being driven by a 50-ish man who from what I could tell appeared very successful (car, haircut, clothes, etc. - we were stopped in traffic and I was behind him, then beside him).

I wondered what would have prompted him to display such a message on his car. Had he been faced with a crisis and God didn't come through? Did he lose a child to an illness? Was he a war vet who spent time under torture?

What I concluded (without support - mere speculation) was that he was a self-made man who didn't need to call out to a "higher being" and who was able to solve all of his problems and meet all of his needs by himself.

At this point I began to feel sorry for the man because being in the self-assured position of "the top of the food chain" with no one to go to for help put him in a precarious position. Once a person gets to the point of complete independence from the need for a higher power, they set themselves up for a fall. If not in this life, then as they cross over to the next.

I am glad that I have the need for, and the confidence in the One to whom I pray. There's great security there. There's hope, as well as fulfillment, knowing that if I am seeking from One greater than me, He is in turn ready to respond to my needs. That's pretty cool.

You know, maybe the guy in the sports car simply had a scratch on his bumper and all he could find to cover it was the bumper sticker in question. Who knows?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Where The Wind Blows

I noticed on Fox News this morning that a meteorologist was seeking to explain why the 2006 hurricane season wasn't as bad as predicted. Normally I keep the sound off so I don't know what his reasons were (I multi-task in the morning and only read the banners).

One banner stated that only one storm made it into the Gulf of Mexico (which was a fear of many, based on the Katrina and Rita-led 2005 storm season). I found all of this interesting, if only in passing.

I was reminded of the words of Jesus when asked by Nicodemus about being born again. Jesus said, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going..." Hmmmm. Sounds like hurricane season.

I began to ponder this and thought about creativity. We can try to predict when a creative thought will come. We can even do things to encourage creativity. But the bottom line is this: We don't know when a creative idea will come or how it will show itself. But we need to be ready for it when it does.

So if that means keeping a paper and pen on the nightstand, or a digital recorder in your bag, or a sketch pad handy, be ready for the next great creative thought that comes your way. Who knows, it may be "hurricane-size" and blow you away!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Expecting The Best!

I read a prayer today. It was a prayer from a father to his son. It was filled with encouragement, hope, and anticipation. It expected the best.

I pray those kinds of prayers for my sons (and daughter). I believe that all of us who have children pray for those things.

I don't know of a parent who prays for failure, discouragement and disappointment. Although I did hear of a father who wanted his children to fail so they could learn to face adversity and press forward. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

And so we pray for the best for our children (both our physical and spiritual children) those whom we pour into so they can be all that they were created to be. And we expect the best, because people are at their best when they are directed that way.

By the way, the prayer I read from a father to his son was Psalm 72 in the Bible. It's pretty good stuff!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fallen Heroes

I think that everyone in America has heard of the Ted Haggard affair (bad choice of words?). I have read many comments and many blogs concerning Ted Haggard. Many are negative and indicting. Many are distancing themselves from this man.

I for one, am looking for restoration. I believe that Ted Haggard is truly repentant. The God who I serve is a God of forgiveness.

Didn't David the King say to Nathan the Prophet, "I have sinned against the Lord" after his sin with Bathsheba? And didn't Nathan respond with, "The LORD has taken away your sin."?

Yes, we are expected to have a higher level of integrity, a higher standard of righteousness than the world. Yes, we are called to live a life of holiness. But sometimes we fall.

The question is, "What will we do after we fall?" Repent, remain in sin?

Thank youl Lord that you are a forgiving God.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Be You

I read this on Zondervan's Daily Inspiration devotional:

In the kaleidoscope of God's family, there's room for all gifts and temperaments. God may have given you extraordinary depths of mercy, lots of patience, heights of wisdom, or the ability to enjoy adventure or to thrive on solitude. And, somewhere in your community, there's probably a seeker who's one step away from coming to faith but who needs to come into contact with someone just like you—with your personality, your temperament, your passion, and your interests. If that seeker could glimpse how God lives and works through you, it might be enough to propel him across the line of faith.

In light of these words, I encourage you to be the one who God created you to be. Allow your life to be lived to its fullest. Passionately and extravagantly love God!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Learn To Swim

There's a commercial on TV for Traveler's Insurance depicting a man with constructed "wings" standing at the top of an old stone bridge that crosses a wide river outside a small village. The entire town is out to see this feat, wondering if the man will succeed in flying.

He stands on the precipice summoning his courage, looking out over the river from his height at the center of the bridge. Finally, he spreads his "wings" and jumps out over the water. The wings catch the air and he begins to soar.

In astonishment, one of the towns-people exclaims, "He can fly!" Just then he loses altitude and crashes into the river.

An old man looks at the scene and responds, "But he can't swim."

It's like that for us sometimes. We try something new and courageous, and just when we think we've "got it", we "fall into the water" and are faced with new challenges. Most of us want to simply give up and quit trying.

I say let's learn to swim.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


A new TV show this fall on NBC is about a group of ordinary people who possess extraordinary abilities. As I understand the direction of the story, they will unite together and use their unique gifts to save the world. Interesting but over-worn premise (Remember the Justice League and Independence Day - the movie?).

The characters are very interesting. There's a high school cheerleader who instantly heals after suffering various kinds of severe injuries, a cop who can read people's minds, a heroin addict who paints pictures of the future, a couple of flying brothers, a web-cam actress with a violent alter-ego and a Japanese office drone who can teleport.

Simply put, it is a random assortment of normal people who are poised to do something extraordinary.

The popularity of the show after five weeks may say a lot about our culture and our desire to have heroes or perhaps be a hero. Whether the show can sustain itself with the current storyline and characters is yet to be seen. But beyond ratings and viewer-ship, perhaps something is being said here.

In a nation where heroes are few and far between, where members of our military are being accused of crimes, where sports figures are known by how much money they make, and entertainers and who they have babies with are the biggest news stories, people are crying out for heroes. Who can we trust? Who can we look to? Who can we depend on?

I suggest looking no further than at yourself. I propose that you be the hero. I say you be the one who comes to the rescue.

How can you be the hero? Simple: encourage someone. Hold the door open. Be kind. Squat down to a child's eye-level and talk to them. go out of your way for someone else. Make someone feel good about themselves. Now that's a hero!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


At 7:46 a.m. ET this morning, it was reported that the population of the United States topped 300,000,000. Think about that for a moment. Have you got an idea of how many people that is?

I wonder how many poets are in that 300,000,000. Or how about musicians or authors or artists? Do you think the number of artists, composers and writers rises in proportion to the population of the U.S.? Is our country becoming more creative? Has the popularity of and other similar sites encouraged more people to become "creators", of has it simply given creators a venue in which to demonstrate their works?

And what about the creator in you? Are you going to let him or her out? Are you going to release the creativity within you? Do you get pleasure from creating? Do you feel the Creator’s pleasure within you as you do what you were designed to do?

My wife was in our basement painting (a picture, not a wall) last evening. Her picture of a hummingbird drinking from a flower was in my opinion, brilliant. Her response to me when I told her that was, "I don't care if it's good or not. I enjoy painting." Now that is what creativity is all about.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


This morning I stood in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at one of our large hospitals next to the bed of the soon-to-be-three-year-old daughter of one of our church's families. Her parents and I stood around the girl's quiet body as she lay connected to a breathing tube and an IV. She needed to be sedated to assure that her breathing tube stayed intact. The doctors are stumped on what has stricken her.

I held hands with her parents and laid my hand on the girl, crying out for the Lord to heal her. As I prayed, I was reminded of the story in Luke 8 of Jairus, whose daughter needed a touch from the Lord. The Lord touched the girl in Luke 8. This gave me faith, and as I prayed this story I believe that the parents were encouraged in their faith.

We prayed for life for the girl! We spoke life over the girl! We passionately cried out to the Lord to give this young girl life! And we believe that life was filling her and removing the mysterious sickness that gripped her.

So we continue to pray, and we continue to believe. For it is life that drives away death, and life that draws us to Him.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


In less than one week, three different schools across America have experienced death. Death at the hands of adults; death at the hands of students. Unrelated, but having the common thread of families being left without.

But are they truly unrelated? I am not suggesting "conspiracy theory", but I am suggesting that our world is sick, and this "sickness" has manifested itself once again in the form of fatal violence on school campuses.

Listen to this: Since 1999, 219 deaths have occurred in our schools. Now that should bother us. But are we bothered enough to do more than simply curse the darkness, saying this is an awful, twisted world that we live in?

May I offer that we could seek to change our world. We who believe in Christ carry a message of hope. We who have life can do little things to dispense that life. We who are well can seek to reverse the "sickness".

How? Simple: Invest in somebody. That's a great start.

Friday, September 29, 2006


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I used to think that creativity was reserved for the select few. You know, the artists, the authors, the songwriters. But then I began to see that all of us were given the gift of creativity.

It says in the Word of God that Adam was created in the image of God. It also says that Adam was the firstborn of all of humanity. That tells me that all of us were created in the image of God. What is one of the greatest characteristics of God? He is the Creator.

If I am made in God's image, then I too am a creator. And so are you.

But you may be saying, "I can't write, I can't paint, I can't create anything." Try not to limit creativity to works of art, literature or music. Instead, think of creativity as looking at the challenges, opportunities and even the mundane tasks of life from a new perspective.

This could mean finding a different way to make your family's favorite meal. Or perhaps expressing your love for your spouse in a new and fresh way. Even rearranging the furniture in a corner of your home is creativity.

Don't limit yourself to what you can or cannot do. At every opportunity ask this question: How can I do this better, different or more uniquely? Now go ahead and create!

Question: What can you do to be the "creative" you were designed to be? Share below in responses.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Passionate About Something

In Lewis B. Smedes book "A Pretty Good Person," Smedes recounts a story of a man named Fopke.

Fopke was decidedly un-passionate. In fact, he was convinced that the entire village he lived in "despised him and thought he was a ridiculous person" because of his glum and simple existence.

He decided that by himself, he would prove after all that he was a superior person, a person to be reckoned with, a person of great power of will and courage of heart.

He purchased a cheap pistol and loaded it with a single bullet. Thinking he would look more gallant in the eyes of his fellow villagers, he also got a bottle of Dutch Scotch with plans to drink a glass and then shoot himself. With his loaded pistol before him, he proceeded to pour himself a glass and drink it, but then fell asleep.

While sleeping he dreamed that he went to a far away land where the people were kind, trusting and respectful, not only to him but also to each other. Inquiring about this “goodness”, Fopke found that the people only understood concepts of good and virtue, but had no frame of reference of bad and evil. So he told them about evil and how men acted towards one another.

The people were intrigued by these stories and soon they only talked about the good verses evil concept that Fopke introduced. Soon people began to “try” evil and unkind things like lying, stealing and hurting others. Fopke was deeply disturbed that he had introduced evil ideas to this good and kind people and tried to stop it. But it was too late.

Fopke awoke with a different perspective, a new vision. He determined that he would seek to be good in everything he did. He purposed to quietly be friendly, to do kind deeds and to share goodness everywhere he went.

Noticing the change that came over Fopke, the people of his village asked him to teach them how he became a good person. He responded by saying, “I cannot talk about it. And please do not call me good. Only God is good. I am only on the Way.”

On his grave stone standing atop a modest grave on the coast of the North Sea are inscribed these words, “Fopke fen Faken, Alles meirekkene, in ridlik geode minske." Which, translated means: All things considered, a pretty good person.

What dreams do you have that impassion your life? Please respond below.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Big Daddy!

I have been around for a few years. I have seen a few things. But nothing could have prepared me for the majesty and wonder my wife and I saw during our trip to Vancouver and then Alaska. We were very taken back by God's "hugeness".

In all of creation, we see God's mighty hand: in the ocean, in the mountains, in the heavens, in ourselves.

And then to think that in all of God's bigness and in all of the great things that he does, He still has time for me. And for you.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


This is the view my wife and I woke up to this morning from our hotel room in Vancouver, BC. We're here until Saturday when we'll board the ship for our Alaska cruise. Today we are going whale and eagle watching around the Vancouver area.

Back to the view. It is simply spectacular. To see the majestic creation of the Creator, to understand how He simply spoke a word and bam! there is was, to sense His awesome presence in the heart of everything He created, now that is huge!

I think I may go and write a worship song.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


If it matters to you, I will be away for the next 12 days with my wife Elaine as we celebrate our 30th Anniversary (see the August 21st post "Milestones"). Talk to you when we return!

Monday, August 21, 2006


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Milestones. Landmarks. Waypoints. These are all significant events in our lives that not only separate our lives into periods, but also act as defining moments for us. We celebrate birthdays, rites of passage (first kiss, driver's license) and achievements. We can remember our high school graduations and our first dates. If we are married, we can remember our wedding day.

When we are younger, milestones act more as separations in our lives. They let ourselves and others see us as "before" and "after". We reference milestones as points of change.

Thirty years ago today, I took Elaine Odom as my wife. I remember beginning to cry as she appeared in the doorway, escorted by her brother, waiting to come down the aisle where I waited. I remember how she smiled when we held each other’s hands and recited our vows. I remember our kiss, the first as my bride.

Thirty years ago today, I reached a milestone in my life. I got married. Today is another milestone, as Elaine and I celebrate thirty years of marriage. My life is not so much separated by this day as it is defined by it.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

What's The Point?

Have you ever noticed that just about all created works are identified as being a work of their creator? If I said I owned the original Starry Night you might think I was referring to the Don McLean song recorded in 1971. But if I told you I owned a Van Gogh's Starry Night, you would know exactly what I was referring to.

The same is true about music. We identify songs as "a U2 song" or "a Matt Redmond tune". When F. Murray Abraham, playing Antonio Salieri in the 1984 movie Amadeus hummed the song Eine kleine Nachtmusik, he identified it to his audience by saying, "That is Motzart."

Created works cannot be separated from the one who created them. The creator will always put part of themselves into their work. The created work will always point to the creator, showing nuances, hints and "signatures" that mark it as theirs. The created work cannot "free" itself from the hand of the creator. It is not an independent entity which has no identity apart from its creator.

In the same way, we as created beings are known by the One who created us. Although the world in which we live gives us an identity apart from our Creator, we can't shake off the fact that everyone's identity is tied to their Creator. They may reject it. They may ignore it. But, they can't deny it.

Our Creator has "signed" us with His personal mark of ownership. It is expressed in our own creativity. It flows through our dreams. It is the root of our passion. Everyone of us are people who have been created with purpose. That purpose is to point back to the One who created us.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Who Am I?

You may be asking about me, "Who do you think you are that people would want to read what you have to say?" Well, I have wrestled with this question for several months. In fact, the main reason that I have never started a blog is because I continually ask myself this.

Do people really care what I have to say? Or, am I simply concerned about how I might be perceived? If our world is a world of new information, and that rate of new information grows exponentially, do I have anything worthwhile to add?

Well, maybe people really don't care what I have to say. And I guess it doesn't matter how I am perceived. Concerning adding worthwhile thoughts to the overwhelming amount of writings, ideas and musings that are "out there", I have to take what is churning inside of my head, heart and soul and express it. And so, I write.

You may still ask, "Who am I?" I have been created in the image of the Great Creator. I have been given a mind that asks. I have been given a heart that seeks. I have been given a soul that dreams.

So to more clearly answer your question, I am a simple man... just like you.

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