Friday, September 30, 2011

What You Can Learn From A Pug...

Having two pugs has been quite the experience for our family. For those who've never been around pugs, they really are sweet dogs. Even though my pugs aren't necessarily the most beautiful dogs in appearance, and have been the punchline of many jokes, I have learned some valuable lessons from them :) The kind of lessons that anyone could benefit from. Lessons that could make a difference in your day. Firstly, my pugs are loyal. I guess this is a very common trait with most pugs. They stay close and are loyal through thick or thin. Webster defines loyalty as being "true to any person to whom one owes fidelity." Regardless of what may have been said or done, pugs are loyal. Loyalty is something that's frequently lacking in our culture, but if a pug can be loyal, surely we can be too? Secondly, pugs love people. They love being around people. They don't like being alone and need people around them. This is such an important lesson for us to learn. As people we were made for relationships, not simply to be isolated or alone. Finally, just as we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, we shouldn't judge a pug by its looks. Pugs are friendly, kind, sweet, playful, sincere and fun-loving. If you simply looked at them I'm sure you'd miss all the wonderful things I just mentioned. It's the same way with people. Some of the most incredible people I know may not be the most beautiful, athletic or talkative, but they are gems! By simply taking time to get to know them, I've been so blessed. Although these things are very simple, they can make a huge difference in your day :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Impact of a Few Words

I love receiving cards and notes. In fact I've kept most of those I've received over the last 20 years. Sometimes I'll go back and read through the kind words written to me. This week I received this simple note of very few words and must admit, it definitely encouraged me and brightened my day. All of us cherish and appreciate receiving words of affirmation or encouragement. Those who know me would tell you that I love sending cards or notes to people, thanking them, encouraging them or affirming them. For years I've done this and have probably written hundreds and hundreds of cards or notes to people. Why would I take the time to do this? The main reason I take the time to write notes and cards is because I've seen the impact and power a few simple words can have. I also love sending notes and cards anonymously, just to let people know how much they're appreciated :) It's one thing to tell someone verbally, but it's another thing to take a few minutes to write down what you're thinking. There are people this week that need to read some kind words from you. People who need to be encouraged or affirmed. Take a few minutes to put your words on paper, and then send it to them. You may never know the impact of those few words you wrote down :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Are You the Same Person When No-one is Watching?

I remember someone once asking me about the things that are important to me. I know it's a random kind of question, but I definitely think it's valid. What would your answer be? What things are important to you? I didn't hesitate and responded, "Integrity is important to me." They were taken back by my response. To me integrity is doing the right thing, whether people are watching you or whether you're alone. It's easy to do the right thing when others are watching you, but when you're alone and no-one else can see what you're doing, sometimes it's a little tougher to do the right thing. To me integrity is a non-negotiable. We all know how awkward it can be dealing with a person who doesn't have integrity? As Christians I believe integrity must be a priority, especially when the world sees us as hypocrites. Moral soundness and Christ-like character must be obvious in our lives as Christians and can definitely be attractive to a world full of deception and dishonesty. Do people see you as a person of integrity? Today we'll all have an opportunity to allow this quality to shine wherever we go :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pain Will Teach You What Pride Won't Let You Learn

With 2 children in high school, I've realized the importance of planning and strategizing, especially when it comes to finances. I have a new teen driver, which meant a third car, insurance and gas, college tuition, 2 kids with braces, 3 kids playing school sports, plus much more. Unfortunately, something I hear from a lot of people is "I wish I'd planned better and not been so surprised." I realize that there will always be things that come up when it comes to finances. In 2010 we needed to replace 3 major appliances and a vehicle. I must say the Lord was so faithful to take care of us. However, I'm talking about things we usually know about, and yet don't plan or prepare. There have been many students who have wanted to attend HITC. As you can imagine I've tried to prepare them and lay out a strategy which would allow them to attend. Unfortunately some of them don't stick to the plan, don't have the finances to attend, and end up not attending. Was the goal attainable? Of course, but sticking to the plan is essential! How are your plans coming for things that you're aware of? What things are you doing? Don't let fear cause you to hide or run. Don't let pride hold you back. Jump in and get going. It's time to plan and lay out strategies for success. If you need some help, find someone who can help you. It's never too late to get moving in this area. Proverbs 24:5 tells us, "The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger." (NLT) The encouraging thing is that God is a generous giver of wisdom for those who ask. Today is the day to start! I have this little saying in the front cover of my Bible, "Pain will teach you what pride won't let you learn." Be humble, learn and plan :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Being Married to Your Best Friend

Yesterday we celebrated my beautiful wife's birthday. I can't believe how time flies when you're having fun! Years can seem like days and days can seem like seconds. The Lord knew exactly what He was doing when He brought Katherine and I together (in January we'll celebrate 20 wonderful years). He knew what she needed in a husband and what I needed in a wife. Other than Christ, Katherine has been the most amazing thing that's every happened to me in life :) I am so thankful for her love, strength, encouragement, loyalty, wisdom and willingness to speak what I need to hear. I couldn't agree more with Proverbs 18:22..."He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord." Sadly in our culture marriage doesn't look as the it should. The number of people making vows and then breaking them, leading to divorce or separation, is on the rise. Infidelity and unfaithfulness is rampant. Even seeing the number of people who are miserable in marriage, is staggering. Ernest Gentile prophesied over Katherine and I that "your marriage will not be a peace treaty..." Unfortunately too many marriages are just that, peace treaties. Couples who are married, living under the same roof, and that's it. God desires marriages to be so much more! Although I think marriage is incredible, I must say at times it certainly isn't easy. It does take work, sacrifice and humility. For a marriage not to simply be a "peace treaty" several things must happen. To start with Jesus must be the foundation! Secondly, both people must not focus on what they can get out of marriage, but what they can give to it. Lastly, both people must prefer one another. I realize these are only a few simple yet important things, but these three can make a huge difference. I challenge you today to make some changes in your marriage where they are needed. Decide to no longer live in a "peace treaty." Make Jesus your foundation, give to your marriage and not just take from it, and prefer your spouse :) Marriage is incredible when modeled after what the Bible says.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This is Too Important to Ignore

As a young man I remember how time seemed to be endless. Days would last forever. It's funny how things change as you get older. Now time seems to be moving ahead at warp-speed pace. If you're not careful you'll have too much to do in the time you have available. In one of our classes at HITC recently we were discussing the topic of "rest." It was interesting to see what some did to rest and what others did. I think sometimes it's easy to forget that rest is part of God's plan. In Genesis 2 we see that even God Himself rested after six days of creating. So what does rest look like to you? It's interesting to me how many people can't respond to the question "what do you do to rest"? As I look back throughout the years, I see how the things I do to rest have changed. And as I get older I'm seeing what I do to rest becoming simpler and simpler. Here's two of my favorites when it comes to rest :) I love walking around our subdivision after dinner holding hands with the woman of my life, my wife Katherine :) We're not breaking any speed or distance records, but are loving that time together. Another thing I love doing to rest is sitting in a very comfy leather chair at a Starbucks, sipping on an Earl Gray tea. Usually I'm reading a book that I don't have to read, but that I've wanted to read. I love times like these because to me they're restful. I don't spend hours doing them, in fact 10-15 minutes is usually as long as they last, but to me they're wonderful. Maybe you should start thinking about what things you could do to rest? If you don't control your time, your time will control you. Take the time to fit in a few minutes of rest to recharge your batteries today :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thinking Junk?

Have you ever driven by one of those informational signs that's had something on it that makes you chuckle or smile? I've been driving by one this week that says "Your attitude is your thought life turned inside out." If this doesn't make you think a little I don't know what would :) Obviously what is shown on the outside is the fruit of what's going on in the inside. Have you ever wondered what someone was thinking? At times I'm sure you wouldn't want to know what they're thinking, but you'd probably have an idea because of their attitude. Just like everyone else I have to make sure my thinking is on what it should be. One of the most impacting Scriptures in my life has been Philippians 4:8, which explains, "'ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse"(The Message). So what am I going to fill my mind with today? What am I going to meditate on? If we choose to do what the Bible instructs in this verse, today we'll need to make some choices. As Christians, we shouldn't be filling our minds and meditating on junk, gossip, slander, doubt, etc. As Christians aren't we supposed to be better than that! Don't forget that what we think about today will be very obvious to everyone around us, because of our attitudes and words. Life is too short to think about junk! Today let your mind think on the things it should :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"AAGGHH" moments...

I think all of us have experienced times of wanting to scream "AAGGHH"! Well I can totally relate :) A funny thing happened to me yesterday. I was out in front of my home with my son. I had strategically placed my Blackberry on the trunk of our car, which was out in the driveway, so I wouldn't forget it. After 15 minutes I went inside, while my daughter drove off to her volleyball practice at her school. You guessed it, the same car that was in the driveway, with my phone sitting on the trunk. For a few minutes I couldn't remember where I'd put my phone. I searched everywhere trying to find it. Then it came to me, that it was on the trunk! I immediately called my daughter and had her run out to the car, in the parking lot of her school. She said my phone was on the trunk. Incredible! After many turns, bumps and 2.5 miles, my Blackberry had stayed where I'd put it. Here's the lesson I learned yesterday. I was processing how my phone could stay on the trunk? Everything indicated that it should have become a squished Blackberry somewhere on Cherry Lane. Proverbs 18:24 tells us that "...there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."Just like my phone stuck to the trunk of my car, is the same closeness that Jesus wants with us to have with Him. Regardless of the bumps, turns and obstacles you may go through today, Jesus will stick with us. He won't let us go! "I will never leave you nor forsake you" is His' promise to us. Today you may have one of your own "AAGGHH" moments. If you do, you will have an important choice to make. Will I become frustrated? Angry? Complain? Retaliate? Or will you choose to keep your eyes on the Lord, trusting completely in Him? Knowing that He is with you, and staying so close to you :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Go Back to that Person

We are four and a half weeks into Semester One of HITC and the students are learning some valuable lessons, which is kind of why they're in school, to learn and grow. One of the biggest things that's being learned involves communication. The world we live in seems to be slowly moving away from person to person to contact, and at the same time is rapidly increasing in electronic communication such as Facebook, email, texts, etc. We've had several instances just recently where things were communicated to the students, and yet what was being communicated was not fully understood by them. They had questions, ideas, thoughts and other things that needed clarification. So what were the students encouraged to do? To go back to the person who was communicating to them and clear it up :) Too often we don't or won't do this, going back to the person we're not on the same page with. If we don't go back to them, one of two things will probably happen. Either you'll be bewildered and confused, which often leads you to do nothing. Or secondly, you'll go to others and tell them about what happened, as if you're trying to align them to your point of view, putting the other person in a negative light. Either of these choices won't solve the issue, and will more than likely make it bigger. What's the solution? Go back to the person and communicate with them. Be open and solve the issue at hand. As students this week have gone back, they've been able to communicate, clarify and understand :) This has frequently resulted in the student being able to do exactly what's needed and not having to do things that weren't needed. It's been the solution for them. Are you going to go back and do the same?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I Remember the Most About Him Is...

I came across this photo of my grandfather yesterday in a box of old photos. He was better known by those who knew him as "Pop." He was one of the most amazing people I have ever known, not because he was a decorated World War II hero, but because of who he was on the inside. My son's middle name was given to him in honor of my Pop. He was a gentle, kind and giving  man who never wanted to talk about the war, because of the things he'd been involved in and seen. As I remember my Pop, several things jump out at me about his life. But what I remember the most about him is shared in Romans 12:10, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another." This was my Pop, a man who loved people, and was a great example of someone who preferred others, always putting others before himself. He was a servant, who never did anything for recognition, but whose goal was to help others. We live in a world where people can't stop tearing others down and where people do everything to put themselves first. But think for a moment if people began living out Romans 12:10. Can you see the impact it would have and the way our world would be different. When self promotion and looking out for number one is a god in our culture, let's live differently today :) We will all have many opportunities today to put others first, don't miss your moment to give preference to them today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Wish I Had...


I recently became the proud owner of a 1987 Ford Ranger. It's an older truck with high miles, yet it has been well looked after by its previous 2 owners. One of my kids was helping me recently as I was washing and vacuuming it. They asked why I vacuumed it out every week and washed it as often as I did. As a  dad I immediately recognized the teaching moment I had before me :) There are so many people who wish they had a nicer car, a bigger house, a better job, and so on. However, they can't seem to care for the car they presently have, or maintain the home they presently live in, or be excellent in the job they presently have. There's such a desire in people for more, and yet we can't even take care of those things we presently have. The Bible calls us "stewards" and as a steward we're simply to take care of what's been loaned to us by the Lord. Everything I have belongs to the Lord and is His, not mine. I'm simply His steward. There's a principle to be learned with this. Before the Lord can entrust anything more to me, I must show myself faithful to what He's already given me. So in response to the question from one of my kids, I shared about this.  The Lord has blessed dad with this 1987 truck. It doesn't belong to me, but Him. My responsibility to the Lord is to be a good steward and to take care of it as well as possible. My desire is to show my faithfulness and gratitude to the Lord. Daddy is showing the Lord that one day, whenever the Lord wants, there's a possibility He'll bless dad with a nicer vehicle, but my priority must be looking after this one first :) Be thankful for all the Lord has blessed you with and be an excellent steward over the Lord's belongings, whatever it may be. Remember that even an old 1987 Ford Ranger belongs to the Lord.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Whose team are you on?

Heading into the fall, for many people Thursdays through Mondays includes rooting for their favorite football team. Whether it's high school, college or pros, supporters will be cheering for their team. Usually it's easy to tell who they support, because of what they wear. The team sports apparel business is a billion dollar industry in our country. Now let's go from the natural to the spiritual. So if I'm a Christian, is it as obvious to see I'm a follower of Christ, as the team which I support? According to the Bible there are three things that should be obvious to everyone around us, indicating our relationship with Christ. By no means am I saying this is a complete list, but these three do jump out at me :) Firstly, our love will be obvious. 1 John 3:14 tells us, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death." For a more complete picture of what "love" should look like, 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a very detailed description. It's easy to say we love, yet our love must mirror the examples of love given to us in the Bible. Secondly, our obedience will indicate that we follow Christ. 1 John 2:3 says, "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments." The confession of a Christian will always be validated by their obedience to what the Word of God. Finally, one that's often ignored is good fruit. Good fruit will be an obvious product of someone who's following Jesus. In John 15:5 Jesus Himself explains, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." As Christians our good fruit will be very obvious, because of our relationship with the Jesus. As you live today as a follower of Christ, let your love, obedience and fruit confirm the wonderful relationship you have with your Lord and Savior. Let everything within us point to Jesus. This is my desire, and let it be yours also.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cease listening to instruction...

For many years I was a tennis coach, instructing those who were just starting to play tennis, all the way up to players who were top 50 in the world on the professional tour. Looking back on my those days, I'm amazed that people were willing to pay anywhere from $50-$200 an hour for instruction. When looking at education, people are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for instruction. As a parent, one of the most valuable things I can instill in my child is a desire to receive instruction and to be teachable. Proverbs 19:27 warns us "Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge." Instruction is something that we must value and desire. One of my favorite verses on this is Proverbs 4:13 which says, "Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life." Something tragic I often see is people who do not value the wisdom of verses like this. They do not like instruction, especially the receiving of it. Why is it that people are willing to spend huge amounts of money for some kinds of instruction, or make it a priority in their children's lives, and yet often they don't value it in their own personal life? The Bible is full of examples, for our benefit, of giving the benefits, value and rewards of receiving instruction. I am so thankful for instruction and have personally experienced the blessings of receiving it. I'm so thankful for the faithful men, women, young people and children who have instructed me. They have helped me become the man I am today. I have benefitted from them greatly. One of my daily prayers is that I would stay teachable and be willing to learn and grow. How will you respond to instruction today? Will you be teachable today? Proverbs 9:9-10 tells us "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." What an incredible promise to us :) Today you will have opportunities to be receive instruction, will you choose to become wiser and increase in learning? The ball is in your court...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

This area is a giant in my life.

In our Life Management class this morning we had a great discussion about time management, planning and schedule. As we were discussing this topic I couldn't help but think about some things I've seen a lot lately. We live in a culture that frequently hates structure, planning and governing your personal life. We live in a culture where constantly winging things is acceptable, lack of organization and planning is the norm, and mediocrity is satisfactory. I love it when Christians don't want to become conformed to the culture (Romans 12:1-2). When they take steps to rise above mediocrity and become a man or woman of excellence, the Bible promises us in Proverbs 22:29, "...that they will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men." I know that helping HITC students to plan and become excellent stewards of their time will bring good fruit that will remain! Have you thought about what your day needs to look like today? Or what the next seven days should look like? Today is the day to step up and overcome some of these things that have held you back when it comes to your time. Too many people are sitting on the bench of life because of this area and today is the day that God wants you to get in the game! Proverbs 21:5 promises us that "The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty..." Are you going to let lack of structure, planning and organization chain you down any longer? Today is your day to break free!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

That name sounds familiar...

In the current season of my life I'm amazed at how quickly the years fly by, let alone the days! It's caused me to value every day and cherish everyone around me. When I lying on my bed at night reflecting on my day, I want to be able to look back on it and have absolutely no regrets. I want to make every day count! As many of you know I'm a huge Boise State football fan. I was a fan through the dismal mid to late 80's and am thrilled at where they're at today. They have an amazing quarterback in Kellen Moore, who continues to dominate defenses and was even on the cover of this month's Sports Illustrated. I wonder how many people will remember Kellen Moore fifty years from now? As with so many sports stars, politicians, entertainers, etc, they're big for a season, and then they disappear. I've been thinking a lot lately about the legacy I want to leave. Not for any weird, proud or selfish reason, but simply because I want people to remember me for my love for Jesus and the life I lived for Him. If I choose to please the Lord in everything today, years down the road the fruit of my life is what will be impacting to others. What's your legacy going to be? Or will people only be able to utter, "that name sounds familiar"? Live today with no regrets!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your attitude reminds me of...

A beautiful poster of a sailboat on the ocean caught my eye recently and its words made me think. It read..."Attitude: The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects the wind to change. A leader adjusts the sails." Today everyone will encounter and experience things, whether expected or not. They may be desired or undesired. They may be pleasant or difficult. Regardless, they will happen! The question we have to answer is what will our response be? Culture says that complaining is mostly justified so it's it's fine to respond however you want. As for me, the attitude I'm challenged to have today as a Christian, is one of faith and trust in the Lord. Philippians 2:5 (NLT) encourages us to "...have the same attitude that Jesus Christ had." If I call myself a Christian shouldn't the fruit of my life declare that? And as John Maxwell explains, "Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond." Today I choose to respond as Christ would. Whether things go my way or not. Whether I'm wrongly accused, misunderstood, criticized or whatever else, may people see Jesus in my response and attitude. People will be watching you today, whether you're aware of it or not, and who will your attitude remind them of?

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Have You Been Missing?

Have you ever stopped to think about the world we live in? It's fast paced, usually busy and often complicated. We can get up in the morning and before we know it life can be screaming at us. We've barely had a chance to prepare for the day and already we're knee deep in it. Our days can be so packed with stuff that we often miss the simple and beautiful things in life. Lately I've made a conscious effort to slow down on things and see what God wants me to see. I'm surprised at all the incredible things that I've been missing simply because I've allowed life to dictate the pace at which I live. Before I didn't even see the roses as I travelled at 100mph in life. Not only do I now see them, but I'm taking the time to smell them :) I encourage you today, to be on the watch for the simple and beautiful. Don't allow the speed of your day to dominate you. Hug your loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you. Slow down at the store! Take time to look people in the eye when you're talking with them. Allow "thank yous" to flow from your mouth. Ask how people are doing. Take the time to appreciate all those little things that you've been missing. I'm so thankful for the example that Jesus gave us. Even after a busy day He always took the time to notice who and what was around Him. This is my desire too :) See your roses today and take the time to smell them. Blessings :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Etched in My Mind Forever

There are some events that happen and become forever etched in our minds. I was in the University of Oregon bookstore on 1/28/86 when the Challenger space shuttle exploded. And when terrorists hijacked 4 planes on 9/11/01 and the ensuing tragedies that followed, I was in the front room of my parent's home in Auckland, New Zealand, in the midst of a vacation with my family. As I began watching the 9/11 tragedy unfold, I was struck by the many stories of heroism, tragedy, loss, unity and sacrifice. One of the most unforgettable things I witnessed was the courage and bravery of so many men and women who chose to help others, even in the face of death. And as we're all aware, so many did pay the ultimate price in their efforts to help and save others. They sacrificed their own lives in order that others might live. And as I remember 9/11 today and everything that transpired,  I can't help but think of one other picture that's etched in my mind. This picture is of Jesus Christ hanging upon a cross for my sins. Romans 5:8 states that "But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." The picture of Jesus hanging on a cross because of my sins and what He accomplished on that cross, have changed my life forever. Today as a nation we remember the somber events of 9/11, yet I also think of the freedom and life I have been given because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Both of these will forever etched in my mind.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Attitude of Gratitude

Do you ever catch yourself thinking about what you don't have or those things you wished you had? Maybe having more of this, or a bigger that. I think everyone can attest to this. Have you ever stopped to think about what you do have and how much the Lord has blessed you? All too often we focus so much on what we don't have and completely miss everything we do have. In other words, when an attitude of gratitude should be in order, we can't seem to find it. Today everyone will have a multitude of choices and decisions to make. A lot of those decisions will come down to this...Am I going to be grateful and thankful or not? We have such an incredible opportunity. I'm reminded of Psalm 100:4 which says..."Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.Be thankful to Him and bless His name." When we are thankful, we bless His name. Today millions of people will choose to grumble and complain, will you choose to join them? Or will you choose to be thankful and have an attitude of gratitude? 

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's time to blog

I did it! I am a blogger! Like so many others, you want to do something, yet never take that initial first step. Today I took my first step, even if it was only a little one.When it comes to blogging a step is a step, even if I did have a little help :) I'm going to share my insights as the HITC pastor. I have so many wonderful things to say. I'm blessed with what I have the privilege of doing on a daily basis and I know there are things that others can learn from my experiences. This is where it will happen :)