Faith

Loving The Least

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Christian Walk, Faith, Jesus, Loving Others | 0 comments

I remember a poster on a dorm room wall during my days in college. The poster was a picture of a homeless man lying in a dirty gutter holding a bottle in a paper bag by his side. The inscription on the bottom was a quote from Mother Teresa. It read, “You love Jesus only as much as the person you love the least.” For all that we don’t understand about the life of Jesus and the true nature of God, there is one truth that he made completely clear. The Christian faith is about service and humility. It’s about helping those who can’t help themselves. It’s about loving others more than we love ourselves—even the most unlovable among us. When the disciples found a few minutes alone with Jesus outside the temple, the question they posed is the same one that you and I probably would have asked. “Will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3). But his answer had more to do with us than it did his return. Through parables he showed his disciples the basis upon which the chosen will be chosen on that day. “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me” (Matt. 25:35-36). What is the sign of a true follower? Is it the amount of knowledge that we have? Is it the money we give to missions? the degrees we’ve earned? the number of people we’ve preached to? the hours we’ve spent worshiping in church? the books we’ve read or written? According to Jesus, the sign of the saved is their love for the least. It is said that when Francis of Assisi left his wealth behind to seek God, he stripped naked and walked out of the city. The first person he encountered on his journey was a leper on the side of the road. He first passed him then turned to go back. He embraced the leper in his arms before continuing his journey. A few steps down the road he turned and the leper was gone. Until his dying day, Francis of Assisi was convinced that the leper was Jesus. Even if he was wrong, he was right. Excerpted from Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day With a Heart Toward Heaven, by Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, Frank Martin, Tyndale House,...

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My Thoughts on the Miley Cyrus Controversy

Posted by on Aug 30, 2013 in Faith, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Miley Cyrus desperately needs Jesus. Under the Mercy, Frank

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What Kandilyn Knows

Posted by on Jun 6, 2010 in Faith | 5 comments

Our youngest daughter Kandilyn graduated from High School last week, and recently decided what she wants as a graduation present. She wants to go sky diving! And she wants to take two of her best friends with her. My wife isn’t too keen on the idea, but I think it’s awesome. Ruthie is thinking, Why on earth would she want to do that? I’m thinking, Of course she wants to do that. Kandilyn also wants to learn how to ride a motorcycle this summer, so I’m looking for a class to enroll her in. She knows her mother would never let her have a bike (though her dad would kind of enjoy having a riding buddy), but she wants to learn anyway. She’s been my riding partner for several years, so I guess she’s getting tired of riding in the back seat. Several weeks ago, Kandilyn and her brother, David, announced that they wanted to spend a couple months backpacking across Europe. We didn’t say no, but we did say not yet. Not at 18. We’ll have to readdress that one in a few years, I’m sure. Kandilyn has always been the adventurous type—always looking for some new experience. I tell people she’s been 21 since she was 4, but the reality is, she just loves pushing the envelope and trying new things. And she hates being held back. Quite honestly, she’s a little too fearless, but I love her spunk. She definitely has a good time. And that’s what I admire most about her. Kandilyn instinctively understands a truth that we would all do well to learn. She knows that life is short and meant to be lived with gusto. That we’re all put on this earth for a divine purpose, for sure, but also for a staggeringly short season—a season that is as brief as it is precious. God put us here for a reason, and part of that reason is to enjoy life! To work hard, play harder, love deeply, laugh heartily, pray expectantly, and worship with abandon. You and I are plucked from this earth almost as soon as we’re planted, and we should never take the time we have for granted. We were created for eternity, but too often we forget that eternity begins the day we’re born, not the day we die. So why wait until heaven to enjoy all that God has in store for us? Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John  10:10). It’s hard to have a full life when you spend half your time worrying. Kandilyn certainly doesn’t, and maybe you and I shouldn’t either. Be Adventurous!...

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Judging Others

Posted by on Apr 6, 2010 in Faith | 11 comments

Last night my wife was baking a pie and ran out of eggs. This was a crisis of monumental proportions in my book, so I quickly volunteered to run to the store and pick some up. I hopped into my truck and pulled out onto the dark street, hoping to make it back before my TV show was over. I was less than half a block from the house when I came up behind a small, dark Toyota, going all of 25 mph, even though the speed limit is 30. There is only one road leading out of our subdivision, and it’s a long, winding one, so I sighed and settled in behind him, trying to have a good attitude. Until he slowed down even more, to about 20. Are you kidding me? I thought. What is this guy’s deal? I don’t tailgate as a general rule, but sometimes you can’t help it, especially when someone is going this slow, so I quickly found myself right up on his bumper, close enough where I could see the reflection of my headlights in his rearview mirror. I was hoping he’d get the message. But he didn’t. In fact he slowed down even more! This time to about 10 mph. Now I was getting irritated. I was certain this guy was just some narcissistic egotist with a need to control every situation. He obviously could tell I was in a hurry and wanted to slow me down, simply because he could. Or maybe he’d just had a fight with his wife and now decided to take it out on me. Whatever the case, I was not happy, and inched up even closer to let him know that. Just then he put on his brakes and pulled over to the side of the road. I wasn’t about to get into an altercation with a rageaholic, so I slowly pulled around him, and went on my way. As soon as I did he immediately sped up behind me, right on my bumper. He turned on his high beams and stayed right on my tail, his headlights glaring into my rearview mirror. I couldn’t believe it. What is wrong with this guy? I thought. What is he trying to prove? If he thinks he can intimidate me, he’s got another thing coming! I was determined not to let this bother me, so I just kept my speed steady and pretended not to notice him. What an idiot! And that’s when I noticed it. Something that changed everything. I glanced at my dashboard and realized that I’d had my high beams on the whole time. Not only that, but my truck was a solid foot higher than his Toyota, so I’m sure my brights were completely blinding him as I tailgated him down the street.  I immediately turned them off, and then looked back to see him do the same thing. Then he slowed down to put some distance between us. It was an embarrassing revelation. I suddenly realized what had made him so angry, and I felt terrible. I waved my hand in a pointless effort to say I was sorry, but I’m sure he didn’t see. At the end of the street I turned right and he turned left, so I slowly crept away, glad that we were going separate ways. It’s amazing how quick we are to judge the actions and motives of others.  Someone does something that makes us angry and we immediately start making assumptions about them. And our assumptions are almost always wrong. Jesus asked the question, “Why do...

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Cursing

Posted by on Mar 26, 2010 in Faith, Uncategorized | 5 comments

A few days ago Joe Biden whispered the “F” word into Obama’s ear during a press conference and the microphones picked it up. The press has been playing the clip ever since, mostly as a tongue-in-cheek news story. No one seems surprised that Biden would use this kind of language, including me, just a little shocked that he would do so while the whole world was watching. Is it a staggering lack of judgment on Biden’s part, or simply the result of a man who is so accustomed to foul language that he no longer notices he’s using it? I’m going with the latter. I’m not sure many people see Biden as a role model, even though he is the second-most powerful man on the planet. Most see him as just another narcissist personality who was lucky enough to stumble into a career that feeds his ego—not unlike most politicians. But still, it seems sad that so many children had to witness it, along with the jokes and giggles from the press afterward. This kind of language has become so commonplace today that people aren’t even shocked by it anymore—and that’s what really breaks my heart. I subscribe to a number of blogs, and Biden’s gaff has been the topic of conversation on many of them the last few days. Not surprisingly, most people don’t seem to think it’s that big of a deal. A lot of the blogs I frequent are Christian oriented, and Christian teens make most of the comments. Quite honestly, I’m a little stunned by how few of them were offended by Biden’s language. “Times have changed, and most people don’t see much harm in that kind of cursing these days,” seemed to be the general consensus. Many of the Christian teens admitted to using the “F” word themselves, usually in conversations with their friends, though they would never do so around their parents. One teen wrote, “It’s not like I’m taking the Lord’s name in vain or anything…” It made me wonder, Is that really true? How is it not shameful and degrading to the Lord’s name when a follower of Christ uses crude and obscene language? And how exactly is that not taking his name in vain? I’m not a religious prude, advocating a return to the puritan lifestyle. And I’m not so old that I don’t remember what it’s like to be a young person struggling with peer pressure. I know it’s tough being a Christian teen in the middle of an increasingly secular world. Being an adult these days isn’t much easier. But isn’t this one area of our faith where Christians just can’t afford to compromise? Can’t we admit that using foul and obscene language is such an insult to the name of Jesus that it’s simply wrong to try and justify it? Using careless and unwholesome talk is a sin, pure and simple, and not because this old fuddy-dud of a blogger said it was—but because God’s Word tells us it is. Paul said in Ephesians, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity,… because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place… Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” (Eph. 5:3-12) I’m pretty certain Biden’s flippant language qualifies as impure, improper, obscene, foolish, and coarse. That’s not a cultural thing—not in the eyes...

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Trust

Posted by on Mar 24, 2010 in Christian Walk, Faith, Jesus | 8 comments

There is a young paraplegic boy who attends our church. He lives his life in a wheelchair. Black and brown straps hold him tightly in place, keeping him from sliding out onto the floor. There are straps around his chest and legs and arms, even around his forehead. I once found myself wondering how uncomfortable that must be, but then remembered that he likely doesn’t feel a thing. Still, he is fully alert—you can tell by the way his eyes dart back and forth as his family wheels him through the hallways. I see them almost every week, this faithful family, the father guiding his wheelchair from behind as his mother walks ahead of them, paving a way through the crowd as they make their way to their regular seat. I often find myself feeling sad for the young boy. What must it be like to be so helpless and unresponsive, completely dependent on others for even your most basic needs? To depend on others to dress you, feed you, carry you, bathe you, even hold the straw as you struggle to take a drink? If I am brutally honest, I can’t imagine a more maddening and frustrating existence. I’ve always treasured my independence, prided myself in the fact that I don’t need help, that I can get by on my own, even bragged about my competence and self-sufficiency. I love setting out to do something and then doing it. I take pride in my accomplishments—in the businesses I’ve run, the comfortable lifestyle I’ve created, the books and articles I’ve written. The great things I’ve done for God. And yet each week I see this young boy who can never dream of doing any of these things. He’ll never hold down a job, never run a business, never start a family, never write a best-selling book. He will never be able to do great things for God. And knowing that fact begs an important question. Perhaps the most life-altering question any of us can possibly ask. Does that make him any less valuable to God? What if I am the boy in the wheelchair? What if there isn’t anything I can possibly do for God that this boy can’t do? What if all the things I’ve accomplished have been little more than distractions from the one thing God most wants of me? Could it be that all God expects from any of us is to lean into his love? To gaze into his face and receive his gentle mercy? To immerse ourselves in the warmth of his unquenchable grace? Maybe all God wants from any of us is to trust him. I’ve never met the young handicapped boy, but I owe him a debt of gratitude. His very presence has given me an eternal glimpse into the heart of God. I hope I get a chance to thank him. Under the Mercy,...

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