Friday, August 3, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
No explanations are needed. Come as you are and tell us how your week was.
Friday, September 30, 2011
“Love Lake Park” is an opportunity for you to share the love of Jesus while making a tangible difference in someone’s life. We will be painting a house and providing clothing and other household items for families in need.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Many of us were familiar with the film critic duo Siskel and Ebert. Gene Siskel died in 1999. Then, in 2006, Robert Ebert lost his lower jaw and his voice to complications from cancer. He has since relied on Post-it notes, his writing, and various automated voices. The kind you find on your laptop. He types in the words and then pushes a button that translates his written words into spoken words that come out of his speakers.
One voice was called Alex. A generic American accent with no emotion. Very robotic. He had used a British accent named Lawrence. But no off-the-shelf automated voice matched his distinctive voice, a voice that millions knew from his show, At the Movies, for so many years. The voice he most wanted was his own.
Enter CereProc. a Scottish company that customizes text-to-speech software for voiceless customers. robot.1 The company custom-builds voices by mining an individual’s own archived voice recordings and piecing together, syllable by syllable, Ebert’s voice. When it finishes its work, Ebert will sound like Ebert. At least more so than Alex or Lawrence do.
Sometimes we don’t miss a voice until it goes silent. At the end of the Old Testament there is a period of 400 years often referred to as “the silent years.” Years without any prophets or leaders whose words or lives were recorded in Scripture. Years where there was no voice from God.
But before the silence Ezra read the word of God to the people. His desire was that they rebuild the wall around Jerusalem for protection. And God’s greater desire was to rebuild the hearts of his people. The men, women and children gathered together. They heard the word. They understood the word.
And then they did the word.
You can hear God’s voice in the same way these people did. Through his word. When you hear it there will be a response. The Israelites wept. Others have repented. Still others have heard good news and rejoiced. And you? If you hear it today, it can rebuild your life.
God’s is still speaking today. You only need to gather the men, women, and children, open his book, and listen.
© Zondervan 2010
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Sometimes you may feel like life is a big gamble. Like the outcome of your life is resting on how the dice roll for you. If they roll right, you get “lucky.” If they roll badly, your life goes down the tubes.
There are times when the stars seem to align just right and you find yourself basking in a bundle of bless- ings. Then there are times when everything seems out of sync and you find yourself drudging through a junkyard of disaster. Some would call this a coincidence. Others would call if pure luck. But another group would say that someone is working behind the scenes working out your destiny. And they’d be right! But is more than just someone.
Esther would understand. She is minding her own business as her people are captive in Persia. Mean- while Haman—who has been given great authority by the King of Persia—is developing a hatred for Jews. In particular, he hates Mordecai. It seems Mordecai will not bow down to Haman whenever he parades through the streets of Susa.
Haman decides to teach Mordecai a lesson. He gets King Xerxes to sign a decree that on a certain day all the Jews can be killed. And anyone killing a Hebrew would be allowed to keep the personal possessions of the deceased Hebrew.
To determine the exact day when the Hebrews will be exterminated, Haman rolls the dice. Adar the 13th becomes the target date.
In the meantime, the king is having some issues with the queen. She refuses the king’s summons so she is released of her queenly duties. Then, because he needs a new queen, he holds the first “Bachelor” contest to find a new wife. The short story is that Esther gets the rose and becomes his queen.
Yet Xerxes did not know Esther was a Hebrew. Nor that Esther was kin to Mordecai. The king adds another edict that will allow the Hebrews to defend themselves, which turned out good for the Hebrews and bad for any Persian that attacked a Hebrew on Adar the 13th.
And Haman? Well, in a strange twist of events he wound up impaled on a pole he himself had erected for Mordecai. Not sure he got “the point” of the story, but I hope you do. Oddly enough throughout the book of Esther you will never find the name of God mentioned. Not once.
There are days you may think he is not around either. But the story of Esther reminds us that he is, some- times behind the scenes, working things out for “good for those who love him” (Romans 8:28). And when you don’t feel he is around, that’s more your problem than his.
He has put you right where you are, right now, so you can make a difference. You can say the words someone needs to hear. You can be the example someone needs to see. You can help someone find freedom from sin. So let others roll the dice and you let God take care of the rest.
© Zondervan 2010
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Have you ever started a book you didn't finish? What about a diet or a project?. Do you finish everything you start? I imagine not. And to be honest, some things aren’t worth finishing.
But don’t think, even for a second, that you can put God in your collection of unfinished projects. For starters, he isn’t a “project.” Besides, he’s not going to sit on a shelf contentedly waiting for you to give him your attention once the kids are grown or the retirement is funded or other tasks are completed.
The Israelites learned that lesson the hard way. They returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the temple. They started strong but in time turned their attention to other endeavors. What was important to God became unimportant to them.
Sixteen years passed without any work being done on the temple. So God allowed drought and downturns and difficulties to come upon them. And he said, “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:5, 7).
God is either the main thing in your life or he is nothing. At the end of the day, each of us are respon- sible for our own schedule. There is really no such thing as partial obedience. God begins as the priority and then we schedule time with him. We schedule the things that are important to him. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God . . .” (Matthew 6:33).
The Jews eventually got back to God’s priorities and took part in one of the greatest works of heaven. You can too. There are some things worth finishing.
© Zondervan 2010
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Sometime after Adam and Eve committed their world-changing act of disobedience in Garden of Eden, I can imagine Adam walking with his young sons Cain and Abel. They happen to pass by the ruins of the Garden of Eden. One of the boys asked their father, “What’s that?”
Adam replied, “Boys, that’s where your mother ate us out of house and home.”
A lot happens in Scripture following the time Adam and Eve took that bite of fruit that gave mankind perpetual indigestion. As a result, they attempted the first cover up. But since their leaf loincloths were not very practical, God sacrificed an animal to clothe them. The pair was banished from the Garden and began life anew as exiles away from their homeland.
It wasn’t the only time God’s people lived as exiles. They spent a few summers in Egypt. Then more wandering in the wilderness of Sinai. Later, the Babylonians captured the nation of Judah and deported its people to captivity.
The first group deported included the young, elite men who would be trained as leaders. In that group were Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Shadrach, and Azariah. They were given the Babylonian names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. (If you decide to give your child a Babylonian name, you might try “Intobedwego.”)
While in exile these young men lived powerful, purposeful, prayer-filled lives. They remained on a diet that helped them find more energy than other workers. They prayed to their God when they were told not to. They were bold to do what was right regardless of the obstacles placed in their path. And they made a difference.
It may be difficult to put yourself in their shoes, but according to 1 Peter 2:11-12 those who follow God today are exiles too. Peter writes: “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the Gentiles that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
You may have days when you just don’t seem to “fit” in this world and that’s a good thing. It’s simply because as a child of God you don’t. You were made to live with him. Until we are home in heaven, you and I are exiles. Until then, we have things to do. We can add some good to this life so that others can get a glimpse of God. We can make a difference.
According to Peter there will be a day God will “visit” us. That’s when the exile will end. And that’s when you and I will “fit.”
© Zondervan 2010