God Running

More Than 200 Christians Killed in Nigeria — Video

More than 200 Christians, many, women and children, were killed in Nigeria Sunday, according to Mission Network News. Accounts from neighbors of the dead say that Muslim herdsmen came out of the hills, shot pistols to draw people out of their homes, and then killed with machetes and bows and arrows. Some of the bodies had severed limbs. Many dead children were found entangled in the arms of their deceased mother’s.

Today the dead were buried in mass graves.

The area where the massacre occurred is a location where a predominantly Christian region borders a predominantly Muslim region.

Your Life:

Walk closely with God for it’s not a matter of if you’ll be persecuted for your faith in Christ but a matter of when. Jesus predicted this when He said,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

John 15:18-20

I’m not saying that you and your family will be brutally massacred however we all face trials and you and I won’t be exceptions — count on it. That’s why it’s so important to spend time with the Lord now so you’re prepared for the storm.

You won’t regret it.

Jesus also said,

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Best Actress 2010 — How to satisfy your soul

Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for Best Actress at the Academy Awards tonight for her role in The Blind Side. Bullock plays the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a Christian conservative white woman who adopts a destitute young black man and helps him to succeed academically and athletically. The movie is based on the true story of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher. I thoroughly enjoyed it not only because of the uplifting storyline and outstanding performances, but also because the movie portrays a conservative Christian in a positive light — quite a contrast from what is typically seen coming out of Hollywood. I highly recommend it.

According to an article in The Improper, over her lifetime Sandra Bullock’s films have grossed more than 3.1 billion dollars worldwide.

Your Life:

From an excellent sermon I heard this morning at Applegate Christian Fellowship:

In an interview with The Rolling Stone, Brad Pitt said regarding the American Dream,

Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us – the car, the condo, our version of success – but if that’s the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness? If you ask me, I say toss all this – we gotta find something else. Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being. And I don’t want that.

Rolling Stone: So if we’re heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?

Pitt: Hey, man, I don’t have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. [smiles] I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you, that’s not it. I’m the guy who’s got everything. I know. But I’m telling you, once you’ve got everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.

Rolling Stone Magazine (October 28, 1999)

Brad Pitt has multiplied millions in the bank. He has (or had) Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston. I looked at some photos of Brad Pitt’s house and I don’t know if it can even be called a house. A compound more accurately describes it. You need a helicopter to reach a high enough altitude to see it all at once. And yet Pitt say’s, “I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you, that’s not it.”

We should listen to him.

Solomon had it all, materially speaking. The Bible says that he “…made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones.” (2 Chronicles 9:27) He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. (1 Kings 11:3) Yet Solomon agreed with Pitt when he said regarding the things of this world,

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Anytime you or I try to find satisfaction in life from worldly things we’ll be disappointed. (see previous post Avatar and Your God Shaped Hole) What we’re craving is the person of Jesus Christ. Brad Pitt said, “…I don’t have any answers…” But there is an answer. The answer is Jesus. Jesus told us to follow him and that “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

Make your joy complete. Follow Jesus. Pray to Him. Acknowledge that you have sin in your life (we all do! Romans 3:23) and that you’re in need of a savior. Accept the work that Jesus did on the cross for you — He loved you so much He died for your sins. Ask Him to become a part of your life. Ask Him to be your Savior and your Lord. Ask Him to help you to walk intimately with Him.

You’ll never regret it.

Your joy will be complete.

Rest — 3 essential ways to rest to keep you at your best

Dick Cheney recently had a heart attack according to a Huffington Post article from February 23, 2010. His fifth since age 37! The heart attack was characterized as a mild one, yet having already experienced four others, the cumulative amount of heart muscle death is troubling. He had surgery at George Washington University Hospital on Tuesday, February 23. His recovery appears to be on track.

Yesterday a New York Times article talked about the pressures that President Barack Obama’s top advisor, David Axelrod, faces. In the article Axelrod’s detractors criticize him for mismanaging the president’s communication with the public. Many say that the pressure in Washington is taking it’s toll on Axelrod whose typical work day starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m. Friends openly worry about him burning out.

Your Life:

Rest! According to the Relationship Economy website the amount of digital information we will be subjected to is going to increase 10 fold over the next 5 years. At work we’re interrupted as often as once every 3 minutes. (see Goodreads.com‘s review of The Overflowing Brain) Cell phones, texts, emails, faxes, landlines, pages, tweets, facebook — the pace of life is ever increasing.

I spent the last week at a firefighter and police leadership seminar listening to author and speaker, Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, talk about how expenditure of our energy on one end, a high, absolutely must result in a corresponding low energy phase that can, without rest, result in serious depression.

It’s essential that we follow God’s commandment to keep the sabbath. It’s essential that we set aside one day a week to:

1) Rest in the Lord

Go to church. Relax within the body of Christ. Rest in Him. Be influenced by Him. Gilmartin cites a study that shows that those who attend church regularly are 40% more likely to be happy than those who don’t. Over the years I’ve watched the lives of those who attend church regularly and those who don’t. In the short term the differences may be unnoticeable. But in the long term — it’s a hard road for those who fall into a pattern of apathy toward their church involvement.

2) Rest your body

This might mean passive rest if you worked construction all week. Or active rest, physical exercise, yard work if you enjoy it, or helping a friend to move (a means of finding out who your true friends are BTW) if you sit at a desk all week.

3) Rest your mind

Disengage your mind from your work life. Focus on God and family for a day.

Remember that all of God’s commandments are for our own benefit. It probably seems counterintuitive but you and I will be more effective in the long run if we take one day and rest. Jesus said,

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27

Vision

20-20, 20-30, 20-50… Steve Holcomb, the U.S. Olympic bobsled driver had learned to compensate for his deteriorating vision. With the help of powerful prescription contact lenses he continued to lead the U.S. bobsled team to success in a variety of competitions. But his vision continued to gradually deteriorate due to a disease called keratoconus — eventually reaching 20-500. When your vision hits 20-500 it means you’re six inches from the eye chart so you can read the big ‘E’ at the top. Finally, after years of seeking help from a variety of eye doctors, he was ready to retire. Though he had learned to drive his bobsled mostly by feel, he was becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of his teammates.

Just when things looked hopeless his coach found a doctor who was performing an experimental procedure that looked like the answer. One problem — money. The Beverly Hills doctor, Boxer Wachler, identified Holcomb as a candidate for the surgery but Holcomb, who earns his living as a computer technician, couldn’t afford the $15K to get the job done. Fortunately for Steve Holcomb and U.S. bobsled fans the U.S. Bobsled Federation and the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to pay the doctor bill. After the ten minute surgery, Steve Holcomb’s vision was nearly 20-20. (see USA Today)

And the result? An Olympic gold medal for the U.S.A. The first U.S. gold medal in the bobsled in 62 years. (see KansasCity.com)

Your Life:

The Bible states that

Where there is no vision the people perish…

Proverbs 29:18

Are you a mother, a father, a coach, a teacher? Or do you have leadership responsibility in some other area of your life? Pray for vision from the Lord for those He’s placed in your care. After receiving vision from Him, communicate that vision to those who will be impacted. Many don’t realize that communicating God’s vision to your kids, your students, whoever God’s entrusted you with, is one of the most important things you must do as a leader. Prayerfully try it for awhile and watch what God does in your relationships. Consider the following excerpt from Traveler and the Chaplain:

The Chaplain leaned back and said, “Ahhh, casting God’s vision. The most effective leaders I’ve ever known start by talking to as many key people as possible one on one. Jesus did this when he asked the twelve to become his disciples. Then they meet with their leadership team as a group and collaborate on the vision or idea. This enables the leader and his leadership team to finally present his or her vision or idea to the general group with one heart.” (Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership)
“Leadership team?”
“It has to do with fruit. I’m sure we’ll get to it shortly.” The Chaplain said patiently.
“All those meetings sound like a lot of time and talking…”
“And listening too. Remember that you’re not Jesus,” the Chaplain said smiling. “God will use the people you talk with and listen to, to communicate His will to you and to expand your vision. It’s important to filter everything you hear through the scriptures, but start by patiently listening to what people have to say, and then share the vision God’s given you.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.” Traveler said.
“True, but that’s what it takes to communicate ideas or vision effectively. A leader with a calendar full of one on one appointments is usually one who is an effective communicator of vision.” (Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership)

From Traveler and the Chaplain.

Fearless

News of the tsunami headed for Hawaii today left me concerned about Bob, a friend of mine who lives very near the beach in the Honolulu area. I emailed him and asked if he was OK. I asked how the tsunami was going to effect his life. I’m not sure what I expected for a reply — a rundown on what he’s done to prepare perhaps or an account of how he’s feeling about the imminent event? What I didn’t expect was this photo along with a short message — Bob simply said,

BRING IT!!!! I’m ready

Ya gotta love Bob.

Your Life:

In Job chapter 1 Satan says to God,

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?”

Job 1:9, 10

As Christians we enjoy the same hedge. We can rest in the fact that, like Job, no harm will touch us except that which the Lord allows. Be like Bob (goggles and snorkel optional) — take courage in the knowledge that God is on the throne and in control of your life. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

Denver Math Teacher Risks His Life to Save Others — Video

Math teacher David Benke risked his life to save the lives of Deer Creek Middle School students. He heard shots being fired and rather than running for cover he ran to the shooter and wrestled him to the ground, effectively ending the the shooting spree. Read more at CBS 4 Denver .

Your Life:

You and I may not get the opportunity to put ourselves in harm’s way to save the life of another. But if you think about it, you and I have the opportunity to put the lives of others before ourselves in a myriad of other ways every day.

Do for others more than you do for yourself.

Of course Jesus set the ultimate example by giving the ultimate sacrifice, His Divine Self. In spite of our flaws, frailties, and sin, we live in a forgiven state before God because Jesus died on the cross for us. He traded His life so we could have eternity with Him.

In the words of Jesus:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

Mark 1:40-45 — Jesus’ Touch

Touch Research

I just read a facinating article about the power of human touch. Patients touched by their doctor perceived their visits to have lasted twice as long as patients who weren’t touched. Students who were touched by their teachers were twice as likely to volunteer in class. The human touch can ease depression. The human touch can improve relationships

In a Cal Berkley study touches among teammates on NBA teams were measured. Among all NBA teams who do you suppose touches the most? The top two are the Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers — the last two NBA champions.

Interesting.

For the full story see the New York Times .

Your Life:

Touching, appropriately of course, is one of the most effective ways of communicating God’s love to others. People who are lonely and/or depressed have shared with me that, at times, they would give their right arm just to feel the touch of another human.

A friend who does counseling once told me that a patient of his came back to visit him a few years after her counseling sessions had ended. She was doing extremely well and credited my counselor friend with her improvement.

“What was it that made the difference?” he asked, “The wisdom I shared? My insights into your family life perhaps?”

“No,” she replied.

“It was the hugs.”

Imagine with me what it must have meant to the leper that Jesus touched in Mark chapter 1. In Jewish society at that time, it was illegal to touch a leper — illegal. Lepers walked while speaking the warning, “Outcast, unclean. Outcast, unclean,” so people could stay clear and completely avoid any possibility of touching. It’s hard to think of someone who would crave the touch of another human more. Disregarding man’s law Jesus reached out. His physical touch accomplished amazing things with the leper. I want to encourage you to get in the habit of physically touching those you love. And beyond that, find others who will be encouraged by your touch — you know who they are. Show people God’s love. Do as Jesus did — touch them.

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

Mark 1:40-42

Glass Repair Man Rescues Five From Austin IRS Building Fire/Plane Crash

So Robin Dehaven is driving his glass repair truck in Austin, Texas in the vicinity of the IRS building when he sees a small plane flying low, coming in for an approach to a runway, only problem — no runway. He watches as this small plane crashes into the IRS building. He decides to pull into the parking lot and see what he might be able to do to help. (CNN article)

This turned out to be a good thing for five occupants of the building.

CNN reporter Mike Ernest, who witnessed the aftermath, said,

“I just saw smoke and flames. I could not believe what I was seeing. It was just smoke and flames everywhere.”

(CNN article)

Another witness, Lyric Olivarez, said,

“People on the second and third floors were busting out windows, screaming, ‘Help me! Help me! Get me out of here!’ waving handkerchiefs or whatever they could find,”

(CNN article)

So Dehaven pulled into the IRS parking lot, grabbed a ladder from his truck, positioned it under a window, climbed it to a 2′ x 4′ ledge, broke the window, and rescued five occupants. (See Facebook)

Nice work Robin.

Robin’s actions and the actions of other bystanders at this scene greatly reduced the number of casualties that might have been caused by the tragic, and apparently intentional, plane crash into the Austin IRS building.

A video of the IRS building fire is below.

Your Life:

Someone reading this blog has it within his or her power to help somebody. If your that person, this is a word for you. Take the initiative.

John Masters once said,

“You have to recognize that every ‘out front’ maneuver you make is going to be lonely, but if you feel entirely comfortable, then you’re not far enough ahead to do any good. That warm sense of everything going well is usually the body temperature at the center of the herd.”

When we take initiative it often feels a bit awkward. You, I, we have to realize that this is the normal state of most any human being who’s taking initiative to venture outside the comfort zone. Remember that God is much less concerned about your current comfort than He is about your eternal condition. (Jon Courson / Applegate Christian Fellowship)

In order to be used by God to show people His love, you must take the initiative.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

James 4:17

Marine Shot in Head, Walks Away

Photo From DVIDSHUB

Like many of us, Marksman Lance Cpl. Andrew Koenig went to work on Monday (February 15) but his job was somewhat more of an adventure than yours or mine. Somewhere near Marjah, Afghanistan, Lance Cpl. Koenig’s assignment was to make the roof of his outpost and find Taliban targets to shoot. But before he even fired one shot, a Taliban marksman shot and hit him, in the head, a direct hit, nearly between the eyes. He was knocked backward to the ground and immediately cried out that he was hit. Only thing was, he wasn’t bleeding. To the surprise of those who saw him shot he popped up and made his way, under his own power, down off the roof to a medic. Lance Cpl. Andrew Koenig’s kevlar helmet took the bullet leaving nothing more than a welt above his right eye.

“He’s alive for a reason,” Tim Coderre, a North Carolina narcotics detective working with the Marines as a consultant, told one of the men. “From a spiritual point of view, that doesn’t happen by accident.”

Michael M. Phillips, Wall Street Journal

Koenig’s supply officer teased him about turning in a damaged equipment report.

Within an hour or two Koenig was back on the roof looking for Taliban targets.

Amazing.

Your Life:

While we should never tempt the Lord by living a foolish self destructive lifestyle — Matthew 4:7 Jesus said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” — nor should we live in fear of our death, for God has numbered our days. Jesus also said,

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:28-32

Girgis Baroumi — Is this kid innocent?

Is this kid innocent? According to the Pakistan Christian Post Girgis Baroumi has been accused of sexually assaulting a 12 year old girl. He is currently incarcerated in Egypt and will stand trial in an Egyptian court. I’m not saying that the 12 year old is not telling the truth however some facts will shed light on current attitudes in Egypt toward Christians.

Girgis Baroumi is a Coptic Christian. There is no forensic evidence to support the accusation, no witnesses, and no lawyer volunteered to take his case — one had to be brought in from Cairo.

In sharp contrast consider the case of Hammam al-Qomy, Oreshi Abul Hagag and Hindawi Sayed Hassan. All three are Muslim. On Christmas eve as people were leaving a Coptic Christian church service in Nag Hamadi three men shot and killed five Coptic Christians and wounded seven others. Two days after the incident the three above named men were found hiding in a field near where authorities found the vehicle used in the drive by shooting. (See the Christian Post for more information.)

They confessed.

Later they recanted. 25 lawyers volunteered to defend them. The Muslim community is trying to link Baroumi’s alleged sexual assault to the drive by shooting.

Habib el-Adly, Minister of Interior, said on January 24, in an interview on the Egyptian TV programme “City Talk” that el-Kamony is a hired killer, but “he got so upset about the rape and the videos of nude Muslim girls with Christian men, that it triggered the shooting urge in him.”

Pakistan Christian Post

“…triggered the shooting urge in him.” You can hardly blame a guy for killing five innocent people and wounding seven others if his shooting urge has been triggered. Right? Discrimination is one thing but wow, when the Egyptian Minister of Interior makes public statements like this it is incredible! Even if Baroumi’s charges aren’t trumped up, which is very debatable.

Your Life:

Ever get nervous about being open with others concerning your relationship with Christ. Consider the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Only 12% of the Egyptian population are Christians and they are indeed discriminated against. What most of us endure is merely annoying by comparison. Jesus said that “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18   Jesus also said,

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

Luke 6:22, 23

Be strong in your faithfulness to Him.

Pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

Pray for Girgis Baroumi.

Tragic Shooting at U of Alabama Huntsville – Video

Amy Bishop, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was arrested for killing three of her fellow professors and wounding three additional University employees. In a faculty meeting, after sitting quietly for thirty minutes or so, she pulled out a 9 mm and started shooting. Some believe that the motive for the shooting was the University’s denial of her tenure. Bishop is a woman who was apparently successful in business, as she and her husband have recently invented an automated system that cultures cells — if successful their system could replace the petri dish. Yet she’s been quick to complain, even to new acquaintances, about the unfairness of her not making tenure. Complicating this recent tragedy is a report that 23 years ago, Bishop also shot her then 18 year old brother.

For more information go to Shaila Dewan’s article in the Salt Lake Tribune and a second article in The Huntsville Times.

Your Life:

Beware of unforgiveness!

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Matthew 18:21, 22:

Why did Jesus so emphasize forgiving others? Like every other admonition that God gives us in the Bible, it’s for our good. Dr. George Vaillant, the head of a Harvard University Study that followed 268 men over a 72 year period was asked,

“What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” (Joshua Wolf Shenk, The Atlantic)

It’s been said that not forgiving is like drinking poison then expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness is freeing. Forgiveness opens up a life that is God’s best life for you. Having trouble forgiving someone? By far the best way to help yourself to adopt a forgiving attitude is to spend time with Jesus Christ. “And just how do I accomplish that?” you may ask. Spend time with the body of Christ in church, spend time in prayer, spend time in His word. Take communion and remember how He has forgiven you.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:14, 15

Applegate Christian Fellowship / Jon Courson

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