Apostles of Comedy at Overlake Christian Church

April 27th, 2009  Email Email  Print Print  

My family has been following some of the clean comics that have emerged over the past few years, including Brad Stine, and my wife won tickets from Spirit 105.3 to go see the Apostles of Comedy at Overlake Christian Church this past Sunday.  I wasn’t familiar with them, but I was expecting it to be a fun event.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The Apostles of Comedy consists of four comedians – Ron Pearson, Anthony Griffith, Jeff Allen, and Brad Stine.  All four of these men, as committed Christians, are also committed to clean comedy, believing that you don’t need to use profanity or dwell on vulgar topics to be funny.

At the concert we attended, I especially appreciated how the men revealed a little bit of their personal lives.  Jeff, whose humor targets teenagers and his marriage, talked about how important his wife is to him, which I found to be especially inspiring.

We brought our 11-year-old and 14-year-old sons with us and weren’t embarrassed even one time, although the humor was sometimes over their heads.  All-in-all, it was a fun evening.  I’d recommend the Apostles of Comedy to anyone, Christian or not.

“Tuesdays with Morrie” at Taproot Theatre

April 18th, 2009  Email Email  Print Print  

My wife and I have been Taproot Theatre subscribers for quite a few years now and really enjoy what Taproot puts out.  Last weekend we attended a performance of their current play Tuesdays with Morrie.  What a wonderful play it was.  It’s one of those plays that stays with you and causes you to think long after you’ve left the theater.  Here is what I left thinking about.

How others feel about themselves

Karen Lund who directed the play wrote about this in the Director’s Notes section of the billet.  Mitch, played so excellently by Aaron Lamb, says something to the effect that he feels better about himself  – that he is a better person – after having been with Morrie.  How often do we think about how we affect others?  Don’t we usually think about how we feel?  The play really emphasized to me that if people feel they are a better person after having been with us, we are making a positive contribution to life – ours and theirs – and to our culture.  It’s similar to what Jesus told us to do in the Gospels – not to hide our candles under a bushel – but in a more personal way.  When we meet with someone one-on-one, can we say that we have related to them in a way that has made them a better person?  Hmm.

Our aging loved ones

One of the main points of the play is how those we love handle their own dying.  Understandably the play caused me to think about my own father who is 75 and has heart trouble.  He also doesn’t have a personal relationship with the Lord, which increases my angst that he might end up dying before he’s ready – before I’m ready.  Just as Mitch was not ready for Morrie to die, I am not ready for my dad to die.  Clearly my father has had a profound impact on my life, sometimes in ways that I couldn’t tell were positive until many years later.  I was so impressed with how Mitch in the play flew from his home in Detroit (or from wherever he happened to be on a story at the time) to Massachusetts to visit Morrie every Tuesday.  What am I willing to do to spend time with my dad, to impact his life in a positive way?  What will it take for me to be ready to let him go?  I’m pretty sure he isn’t ready to go yet either, but I have an sense of urgency to make sure I’ve told him how much I love him, how much he means to me, and to make sure I’ve done all I can for him in the area of spiritual things.

Thank you, Taproot – Karen, Aaron, Nolan (who was masterful as Morrie), and everyone else there – for allowing me to ponder these things.  My apologies for not sharing my thoughts sooner.

What are you called to do?

April 10th, 2009  Email Email  Print Print  

Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

How many times have we read this verse?  I have always interpreted this to mean that we are called to do more than simply be a bump on a log but instead need to impact the world with the Gospel.  That’s certainly not a bad interpretation nor would I consider it incorrect.  But consider this – in our culture today we are bombarded with a message of pleasing ourselves.  The devotion in The Word For You Today on March 26 has this to say – “Salt doesn’t exist for its own pleasure.”  How many sins have we committed that are evidence of our own indulgence, our desire to please ourselves?  All of them?  Definitely something to think about.

No shortcuts – you’ve got to work for it!

November 4th, 2008  Email Email  Print Print  

Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)
Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

From my devotional:

“When questioned about his incredible success, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, offered these ten insights to anyone starting out.  They are worth considering.”

  1. Life isn’t fair – get used to it.
  2. The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem; it expects you to accomplish something before feeling good about yourself.
  3. You won’t make $60K a year right out of school, or be a vice president with a cell phone.  You have to earn it.
  4. Do you think your teacher is tough?  Wait till you have a boss – he’s not tenured.
  5. Flipping burgers isn’t beneath you; your grandparents called it opportunity.
  6. Your parents weren’t always boring; it came from feeding you, cleaning your clothes and paying your bills.  So before you rush out to save the rain forest from the “parasites” of your parents’ generation, try delousing your own closet.
  7. Some schools may have abolished winners and losers, but life hasn’t.  They may have eradicated “failing grades” and given you as long as you want to get the right answer.  This bears no resemblance to reality.
  8. Life isn’t divided into semesters.  You don’t get summers off.  Employers aren’t interested in helping you “find yourself;” you do that on your own time.
  9. Unlike television, real people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to work.
  10. Be nice to nerds; chances are, you’ll end up working for one someday!

I especially like #6.  It seems that as our children grow up they seem to think their parents are idiots – or at least their ideas and efforts are not worth respecting.  I look forward to the day they have children of their own.  Then they’ll appreciate #6 as well.

Why go to church

September 25th, 2008  Email Email  Print Print  

Sometimes I talk to people who don’t think it is all that important to go to church.  My devotional had a funny comparison with washing hands.

Ten Reasons Why I Never Wash
  1. I was forced to wash as a child.
  2. People who wash are all hypocrites; they think they are cleaner than everyone else.
  3. There are so many different kinds of soap; I just can’t decide which one is best for me.
  4. I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped doing it.
  5. I only wash on special occasions like Christmas and Easter.
  6. None of my friends wash.
  7. I’ll start washing when I get older and dirtier.
  8. I don’t have time to wash.
  9. The bathroom is never warm enough in winter or cool enough in summer.
  10. The people who make soap are only after your money!

Ew!  Kind of makes you think, eh?  My favorite verses in the Bible are Hebrews 10:24,25:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Something to think about.

Dale Evans’ Prayer

June 2nd, 2008  Email Email  Print Print  

As I grow older and watch as my children grow to adulthood, I have a great appreciation for those that know how to handle themselves in these situations.  Here is a prayer by Dale Evans, the wife of Roy Rogers, a woman who loved Jesus with all her heart, that expresses what I pray I can become.

Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself, that I’m growing older, and will someday be old.  Keep me from getting too talkative; particularly from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.  Deliver me from the need to try and straighten out everybody’s affairs.  Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.  I ask for grace to listen to the tales of others’ pains; but seal my lips when it comes to my own aches and pains, for they are increasing and my love of rehearsing them gets sweeter as the years go by.  I ask not for improved memory, but for a growing humility and less cocksureness, especially when my memory seems to clash with the memory of others.  Teach me that occasionally I may be mistaken.  Keep me reasonably sweet.  I don’t necessarily want to be a saint – some of them are so hard to live with.  But a sour old woman (or man) is one of the crowning works of the devil.  Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy.  With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it; but Thou knowest Lord, I want a few friends at the end.  So give me, I pray, the ability to see blessings in unexpected trials and goodness in less-than-perfect people.  And give me the grace to tell them so, In Christ’s name, amen.

Forgiveness (1)

May 5th, 2008  Email Email  Print Print  

Mark 11:25 (TM)
Forgive – only then will your Heavenly Father…wipe your slate clean.

If you’ve ever been rejected, offended, or any of a myriad of other offenses, it may be that forgiveness is difficult to give.  I experience that from time to time depending on how the other person responds to me.  However, that really isn’t a reasonable measure for when forgiveness should be given.  From the devotional:

How heavy is a glass of water?  That depends on how long you have to carry it.  A minute is no problem, and after an hour your arm might ache.  But after 24 hours you’ll probably be in bad shape!  In each instance the glass weighs exactly the same, but the longer you carry it the heavier it feels.  And it’s the same with a grudge; it can get so heavy it stops you from living.  People will hurt you; that’s the reality of sharing this planet with others.  Sometimes it’s intentional, other times they’ve no idea they upset you, far less broken your heart.  Does that mean you should go around pretending nothing’s wrong?  No, the first step is to confront your feelings.  And when the hurt is deep, it’s even harder to forgive.  That’s when you need to pray, “Lord, change my heart and heal me.”

Jesus said, “Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28 NIV).  When you do that something unexpected happens; your heart softens and you start seeing them through God’s eyes instead of your raw emotions.  Jesus said, “If you have anything against someone, forgive – only then will your heavenly Father…wipe your slate clean.”  When you sow unforgiveness your reap unforgiveness – even from God!

What’s clear to me from this is that giving forgiveness does more for you than for the person you give it to.  Holding on to the grudge only hurts the person holding on to it.

It’s easy to say these things, but the big question is, “How do you do that?  How do you let go of the bitterness and forgive?”  That’s where God comes in.  We need to seek Him and ask Him to heal our hearts so we can forgive.

Each time something like this happens to me, the tendency is to steel myself and avoid situations and intimacy so that I can protect myself.  But each time I’m learning to let God work through my hurt so that I can forgive, and each time it is a little easier.

How about you?  How has God been healing you of your unforgiveness?

Shukhov’s standard

May 5th, 2008  Email Email  Print Print  

Focus:  Maintaining a strong work ethic

Proverbs 2:9 (NIV)
Then you will understand what is right and just and fair.

If you were to ask the people I’ve ever worked for or with, I doubt you’d ever hear them say I wasn’t willing to work hard or that my standards were low.  I’ve always wanted to do things right and I’ve always been willing to work hard to get it right.  The devotional presents an account from author and Nobel prizewinner Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s first novel about Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a political prisoner in a Siberian labor camp.

Shukhov is forced to build a wall in weather 20 degrees below zero.  As it gets darker and colder the foreman gives the order to hurry the job by throwing leftover mortar over the wall instead of using it, so they could be finished for the day.  “But Shukhov wasn’t made that way,” wrote Solzhenitsyn, telling how the man resisted the order, determined to finish the job right.  “Eight years in a prison camp couldn’t change his nature.  He worried about everything he could make use of, about every scrap of work he could do – nothing must be wasted without good reason.  The foreman yells at him and then hurries away.  But Shukhov – and if the guards had put the dogs on him it would have made no difference – ran to the back and looked about.  ‘Not bad.’  Then he ran and gave the wall a good look-over, to the left, to the right, his eye as accurate as a carpenter’s level, straight and even.  Only then did Shukhov stop working.”

Consider your standard.  Is what you’ve done “good enough for government work” or do you have a higher standard – Shukhov’s standard?

Read Your Bible

March 18th, 2008  Email Email  Print Print  

Focus:  Why don’t we read God’s Word more?

2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NKJV)
Continue in…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise.

I’ve asked this question of myself many times:  Why don’t I read God’s Word more?  I can usually come up with lots of reasons.  Consider these (from the devotional writer):

  1. We don’t know how!  "We hear the pastor preach a great sermon and think, ‘Why didn’t I see that?’  Because the pastor spends hours praying over it and studying the Scriptures, we don’t!"
  2. We’re not motivated!  "That’s because we haven’t experienced the joy that comes from personally discovering great truths from God’s Word.  We’ve become satisfied with getting what we need from somebody else rather than finding it out for ourselves."  Speaking for myself, I can say that I have had many times where I have really enjoyed studying the Word.  However, there are so many things going on life that once I’ve been to a particular passage, it’s hard to consider going back to it.  Very short-sighted, I know.  Consider this comparison by Dr. Paul Lyttle, who once compared personal Bible study to eating peanuts:  "Once you start doing it, you’re hooked!  When you discover how good Bible study ‘tastes’ you’ll find yourself going back for more and more.  Yes, personal Bible study can be habit-forming!"
  3. We are lazy!  I can certainly attest to this.  "Bible study is hard work.  There are no shortcuts to it.  It takes time, effort, concentration and persistence.  Most of its great truths don’t lie on the surface; we have to dig for them."  The times that I have enjoy Bible study the most is when I’ve read a passage and discovered something new about God, about what He’s done, about my place in the kingdom, about what I need to do differently to please Him or my family or my friends.  Dr. Howard Hendricks describes the 3 stages of Bible study:
    1. The ‘castor oil’ stage – we study the Bible because we know it’s good for us, but it’s not too enjoyable.
    2. The ‘cereal’ stage – our Bible study is dry and uninteresting, but we know it’s nourishing.
    3. The ‘peaches and cream’ stage – we are really feasting on the Word of God.

Bottom line?  "Continue in…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise."

Faith and careful planning

March 8th, 2008  Email Email  Print Print  

Proverbs 16:9 (TLB)
We should make plans – counting on God to direct us.

I love the optimism of youth.  I remember being young and thinking that I could accomplish anything; I still have those thoughts and feelings from time to time :-) – and I remember those times of faith, of thinking that I just had to trust in God and everything would be alright.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  The thing is, there is a part we have to play in all that.

There must be a balance between faith and careful planning.  Yet, talk to some professing Christians and you might think otherwise.  For example, talk with some who are unemployed and they’ll tell you, "I’m just waiting for the Lord to provide a job."  That’s fine, but have you sharpened you job skills?  And where have you placed your resume?  You say, "I’m not going that route, I’m just waiting on God."  Oh, really?  Then you won’t mind going hungry for a while."

I am inspired by those – especially the young – who have such amazing faith that God will lead, guide and provide.  What I want those same young people to understand, though, is that balance between faith and planning.  If we squander our time and our resources and still expect God to provide, we are not being good stewards of what He has already provided to us.

I don’t think I can say it any better than the writer of the devotional says, so let me just his his words:

To walk by faith does not mean you stop thinking, planning, taking advice, and self-correcting.  And it definitely doesn’t imply becoming lazy or apathetic.  What a distortion of biblical faith!

  • Trust God for your finances, but don’t ‘blow your budget.’
  • Trust God for safety in the car, but don’t pass on a blind curve.
  • Trust God for your health, but don’t chain-smoke, stay up half the night and subsist on potato chips and carbonated drinks.

Acting foolishly, expecting God bail you out when things go amiss, isn’t faith, it’s presumption.  Wisdom says do all you can, then trust God to do what you cannot do.  Faith and careful planning go hand-in-hand.  They always have and they always will!


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