Archive for October, 2008

A true story…

Posted in faith with tags , , , , on 2008/10/31 by NY4JB

There was a homeless man in the street in front of my house; he was trying to jump in front of the car that was coming but my wife saw him and pulled him out of the way.  He was crying because his (so called) friends had thrown him out and he didn’t know what to do.  We gave him some food and a gym bag to put his only other set of clothes in because the plastic grocery bag he had them in was starting to rip.  Then we gave him a ride to where he wanted to go and I even gave him some money but nothing good happened to me.  In fact, I felt bad that I didn’t do more.

The Lie:

When we do good things God should bless us with something special.

The Truth:

We only did what we are supposed to do, the minimum requirement.  Had we done nothing that would have been bad because we knew the man was in need and we had the power to help him.

And besides…

God has already blessed us; we have a home, a car, and extra food and money or we wouldn’t have been able to help the man at all.  If God hadn’t already blessed us it would have been us in the street with no reason to live.  Compared to a homeless man we start to realize how good we have it.  We tend to compare ourselves to the rich people on TV and want to be like them but there are more people who have much less than we do than the few that have more.

So what?

If what we call ‘good’ is really just the minimum requirement and we don’t even always do that, than we are really pretty bad (not even considering the bad things we do).  So do we deserve to go to heaven or hell?  What would the Judge say?  It’s a good thing that Jesus bought us on the cross and all we have to do is trust in Him and ask Him for forgiveness.

“8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8-9 (New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust.)

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Fireproof

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , on 2008/10/29 by NY4JB

If you are looking for a movie full of action, violence, special effects and sex this is not the movie for you; this is a really good movie. If you are married; have ever been in love; or plan to be either of those you should see this movie, actually you need to watch this movie. Here are my observations about the scenario presented in the film.

The couple has been married for about 7 years, they have no children, money is not a major issue (more on that later), their house is clean and tidy, they are both attractive and in good physical shape, in fact the only outwardly visible problem is that their work situation doesn’t allow them to spend much time together (Caleb is a fireman working 2 days on and 2 days off, Catherine works a regular office schedule doing PR for a hospital).

Well, you would think since they don’t see each other very much it would be like date night when they do spend time together, but, it doesn’t work out that way. What went wrong isn’t presented in detail; we do know that Caleb has become addicted to internet pornography and Catherine stopped preparing meals because Caleb doesn’t let her know when he will be home. So, when they do see each other they fight over who ate the last piece of pizza or who should buy groceries or some other petty problem.

About money… although they have more than enough money for all the basics of suburban life there is still a problem in this area. Caleb has been saving for a boat, apparently a very nice boat as he has twenty-odd thousand dollars saved. Catherine would like to do some add-ons to the house, like landscaping, and he is quick to point out that those are wants not needs and that he deserves a boat. Here’s where it gets tough; her mother has had a stroke and needs some new equipment to be more comfortable and have a decent quality of life. A new wheel chair and hospital bed are out of reach for her father’s finances. Should Caleb give up his dream boat? It’s made clear that it will take his entire savings to buy the equipment. I think this would be a struggle for most people, even if we don’t want to admit it.

The plot thickens. A doctor where Catherine works has taken an interest in her and even donates money so that her mother can have the new equipment. The girls at the hospital now have something to gossip about as the interest is obviously mutual and wrong. I don’t give the doctor any leniency as he is totally in the wrong to be flirting with another man’s wife. If he was truly benevolent he could have made an anonymous contribution for the equipment for her mother (even that is questionable since if he were minding his own business he wouldn’t have known about her mother’s needs). Catherine is also in the wrong here; her flirtation is the equivalent to Caleb’s problem with pornography; she found another place to fulfill her needs.

So what happened? They failed to see that loving somebody (or something) is a choice. Whatever we put our time and effort (and money) into will become what we care about most. We can guide our passions but this is easier to say than to do and most of us are not strong enough on our own to stay focused, we need God’s help. I know when it comes to hobbies I tend drift, becoming passionate about one for a while, losing interest and moving on to another. That may be alright for hobbies but it is not alright when it comes to serving God and the wife I promised to love ‘till death do we part.

So, I am on Day 1 of The Love Dare, which is about patience.

1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient and kind…” (NLT)

Ephesians 4:2 “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (NLT)

The challenge is simply going 24 hours without saying anything negative to your spouse. This may be easier in the movie than in real life because in the movie they didn’t see each other very often so Caleb only had to hold his tongue for a few minutes. Perhaps, I’m being too hard on myself but I don’t think I’ve made it 24 hours yet. I think this is a challenge that could take a lifetime to perfect.

In the movie, it takes a lot of sacrifice for Caleb to win back his wife but how much sacrifice did it take to win her in the first place? Why does it seem easier when we are trying to get what we don’t have and it becomes difficult once we have it? Does this apply to worship as well? Do we take God for granted once we know we have salvation?

Bottom line – there are things I do that drive my wife crazy and things she does that drive me crazy. So we have a choice, we can get mad and fight, or we can choose to love each other. It’s not easy and I’m still working on it and will be for as long as she will have me…and with God’s help that will be for the rest of our lives.

Always Give Thanks

Posted in Prayer with tags , , , on 2008/10/23 by NY4JB

My father died recently and I want to share something that gave me insight into prayer and giving thanks.  My step-son had only met my father a couple of times so when my wife told me that he was really upset about my father’s death and that he really liked my father I thought it was a little unusual since he really didn’t know my father.  When I related this to my mother she told me that since they shared a common interest in airplanes my father had sent him some articles and stuff of interest to an avaiation enthusiast because that’s just how my father was.  She added that since he never heard anything back, after a while, he stopped sending stuff.

Our Heavenly Father is the same way, only to a much higher degree; He takes joy in doing things for us but if we don’t give thanks He might stop.  So when we pray we need to give thanks, even for the stuff we take for granted because these things are all gifts from God.  We are not praying just to ask for things that we want; we are thanking God for the things He takes joy in giving to us.

So what about when we ask for stuff, is that bad?

Maybe those who have nieces/nephews/grandchildren that don’t live close to you will relate to this.  A few years back I asked my brothers for Christmas wish-lists for their kids.  I did everything but beg for lists because I don’t see the kids that often and I wanted to send good gifts so they remember me, but, no lists came.  So I decided to send each of the kids a set of noise makers to teach their parents to send me Christmas lists; I ordered 4 sets, each had a tambourine, a pair of maracas, a recorder and a harmonica.  I figured all that noise would make an impact, but the next year there were no lists – I was very frustrated that I had to guess at what these kids might like; I think there was even one year when I didn’t send anything.

I want to give those kids cool stuff but I need them to tell me what they want and I think God wants us to tell Him what we want (even though He already knows our hearts He wants us to say it).  Of course, I wouldn’t get the kids something that wouldn’t be good for them and God doesn’t give us things that aren’t good for us.

Lord,
Thank You for all those things You do for me and for answering my prayers.  I understand that sometimes You have to say no because I don’t always ask for what is good.  Please, give me wisdom to know what is right and help me remember to always give thanks and never take anything for granted.  I ask this in the beautiful name of Your son, Jesus

Amen

Surprised by Surprised by Joy – C.S. Lewis

Posted in Christian Books with tags , , on 2008/10/21 by NY4JB

I remember as a child seeing something out of the corner of my eye, having an ‘ahh’ moment and thinking “there it is”, but when I turned to get it I had no idea what it was or why I needed it.  The memory of that sensation is still strong; I know where I was but don’t really remember why I had gone into that room or really anything else about that day.

When Pink Floyd’s song Comfortably Numb came out I could definitely relate to the lines, “When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse, out of the corner of my eye, I turned to look but it was gone, I can not put my finger on it now, the child is grown, the dream is gone, I have become comfortably numb.”  This was the first time I thought I might not be the only one.

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 18:3 (NLT)

Is this what Jesus was talking about; how the child dies as we grow and become numb, no longer seeing all of His works around us?

I have been reading Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis and as he describes his childhood I am amazed at how he describes the same feelings I had when I was a child, although we grew up in completely different situations.  For example his family was financially wealthy but his mother died when he was young, where my family didn’t have much money but my mother stayed home to raise the kids; he loved books and hated math, I was the opposite.

So what’s my point?  Have you felt this way too?  For a long time I thought it was just me, and then I thought it was just the way I was interpreting that song.  Now I think I get it, so if this is at all familiar get a copy and read it.