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Leave Rudolph Alone

Recently, the 1964 movie, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, has faced criticism for promoting bullying, talking down from parents, and being unfriendly.  Here are my thoughts on that...and more.

1.  This movie is a Christmas classic.  If you like it, good.  If you don't fine.  It's a over 50 years old and if it offends you, it's not the problem, your perspective (or overly sensitive feelings) are.  To add to this, if you're offended just now by something that has been around for 50 - 100 years, someone has gotten in your head.  That object hasn't just changed to become offensive.

2.  Why are you focusing on Rudolph being picked on for having a different nose?  Guess what, kids are mean, and adults can be meaner.  Why aren't we focusing on Rudolph shrugging off the criticism of his peers, ignoring the negative talk from his coach, and not letting the discipline of his parents (more on that next) turn him into a victim?  He was an overcomer.  He took all that negat…
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CHRISTmas is Coming!

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where what seemed like a complete coincidence had actually been carefully planned out ahead of time?  Maybe it was a set-up by friends with someone they wanted you to date, maybe it was a surprise party or celebration, maybe even a coach getting a technical foul that would inspire his team to play harder, or maybe you found yourself the victim of being "punked."  Sometimes the coincidences we think we see in life aren't coincidences at all, they are a part of God's larger plan for His world and our life.

Christmas, and Jesus' birth, is certainly no different.  This was far from an unplanned pregnancy.  Christ's birth had been foretold many years before.  One scientist actually calculated the odds of 8 prophecies of Jesus being fulfilled in one person at being 1 in 100 quadrillion.  We literally have better odds of winning the lottery (1 in 175 million) multiple times than that Jesus Christ would have fulfilled these…

I Want to Change the World - Now I May Know How

I have done a lot of observing over the past few years of my life.  Experience is a great teacher, but I believe that if I can learn from the experiences of others that I may be able to avoid some of the 'hard' lessons of life.  The lessons I've learned from watching others have certainly helped me grow and shaped some of my thoughts and beliefs.  A few of those have changed how I believed I could change the world and those thoughts are below.

1.  I used to believe that in order for me to change the world, I would need a fancy title or high ranking position.  I thought that I would have to become an executive officer, start a successful business, or make lots of money before I would have enough clout to influence those around me.  Guess what, the people I thought I needed that status to influence are often so set in their ways that nothing's going to change them.  Remember the saying, "It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks."

Through my current mid-lev…

How to Pray - Praying for Ourselves

This week's session on prayer is focused on what is a favorite topic for most of us - ourselves.  While it is important to pray to honor God, for His kingdom, and seeking His will, part of the Model Prayer has a line where we pray for our personal daily needs.  But part of discerning what those needs should be is in seeking God's will first so that we can better understand our true needs.

One such story of a prayer like this is found in Isaiah 38.  The prophet Isaiah delivered the news to King Hezekiah that he was dying and had only a short time to live.  Hezekiah did what many of us would do, immediately turned to God in prayer.  Why?  Because he wanted to live!  And he understood that the greatest need any of us have is for life itself.

And look at how God answered Hezekiah's prayers - Isaiah received a word from the Lord to tell the king, "I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears.  Look, I am going to add fifteen years to your life.  And I will rescue you …

The Teacher is Still a Student

Some may already know, but for those who don't, I've been teaching Sunday school for a little over a year or so I guess.  After starting out in your Young (and I use that term loosely lol) Adult class, Britt and I have started focusing more on the truly young adults - the College & Career Class with 20 and 30 somethings.

I'd be lying if I said that every week was easy.  It's not.  But every week is worth it.  Some weeks, I hope the class gets the most out of the lesson.  But other weeks, I know that the lesson was for me and something I've been dealing with.  Long story short, it's hard showing up week in week out prepared to teach and hopefully inspire, but when you're seeking God's will (as Jordan pointed out this morning) it doesn't matter if it's easy - you do what you've been called to do.

In this social media world, we always share our success, our cute pictures, and our wins, but what are my biggest struggles teaching?

1.  Making…

How to Pray - A Prayer of Surrender

Many of us (and with literally billions of users, don't act like you're not in this group) use social media on a regular basis to post, look at, or like pictures of ourselves, our friends, our pets, our kids, or any random object we find amusing at the moment.  With the movement of posting pictures of oneself becoming so popular that we've even gotten a new word from it, selfie.  But how does this selfie mentality fit into one's Christian walk?  One writer shared this, "The scene of someone being on their knees before God may be one of the only selfies that can convey humility."

It's hard to only talk about me, me, me, and still be focused on God, God, God.  Shifting away from this selfie culture toward surrendering to God's will is necessary for spiritual growth.  We rarely think of the word surrender in any positive light.  But when it comes to surrendering to God's will in our life, it is vital.

The Point:  Approach prayer with humble submissio…

How to Pray - A Prayer of Praise

This week in our Sunday school class, I asked the question:  "What's a name you associate with greatness?"  Instantly, one young guy responds, LeBron!  You can tell he's younger because even my much younger (brownie points!) wife spoke up and said that when she thinks of 23, she thinks of Michael Jordan.  We stopped the debate there in the interest of getting into the lesson as well as not starting an argument in church.

While we all likely have different names that we associate with greatness, we all recognize the importance of having an honorable name.  "Without question, one name above all others deserves honor:  the name of God.  Jesus taught us to honor the name of God when we pray."

The Point:  Our prayers are driven by the desire to honor God.

This week's primary verse was Matthew 6:9b, "Hallowed be your name," as well as Psalm 96:1-9.

Part 1 - Praise thru Proclamation
In the Model Prayer, Jesus directs us to place praise at the beginnin…