Saturday, December 6, 2014

A New Song: Play Skillfully

For nearly five hundred years, the cello has been played as a filler or background for some of the most incredible musical masterpieces. Occasionally, a cellist will get center stage, but typically, the same cello sounds come out. After hundreds of years and God knows how many tens of thousands of cello artists later, two men change everything. If you haven’t heard of 2Cellos, two Croatian men Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, and you have any interest in music, you should listen to them. (I’ll provide a link at the bottom of this post.)

These two gentlemen have transformed what many would consider a boring instrument into something that captivates your attention. Neither Luka nor Stjepan trained on anything different than was presented to all the other cello artists over the centuries. It was the same structure of thin wood, taut strings, and ornate knobs, but they turned it into something that is played at teenage rock concerts to standing ovations.

Nothing is different about the instrument. Nothing has changed. No cello creator would be offended as the instrument is in tact just as intended by the maker. The only difference…presentation of the material. The notes float off the same treble and bass clef that has existed for millennia, but the sound they create captures the imagination of the coldest of classical music haters.

The instrument is old, outdated, and many would consider it boring. In the right hands, however, the music can be just as sweet; it can change with the culture without changing the focus and can appeal to the youngest of minds…and the cello creator is not offended.

"Sing a new song of praise to Him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy."
Psl. 33:3

Instead, the craftsman is encouraged as new and innovative ways to honor such a beautiful instrument is pieced together so that the instrument does not fade into oblivion.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is considered by many to be old, outdated, and boring. One thing is certain, however, the center of that attention, Jesus Christ, is still just as sweet and soothing to the heart as He has always been.

“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” Psl. 119:103

The statistics have been clear for decades; the younger generations are tuning out the gospel message. Why not pick up that instrument of old and play a new song that captures the imagination of a teenager, college student, or grandparent?

The Creator will not be saddened by your new approach, but instead, He will be grateful that someone cares enough about the Good News of Jesus Christ that they picked up the same tool, played from the same sheet of music that Paul, Peter, and Martin Luther did, but with a new sound that captivates a new audience. The pages stay bound to the book, the words do not run, and the message is consistent: 

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). 

Perhaps simply because you earnestly sought God anew or begged for a new way to present the same message, the listener may hear the care, love, humility, and honor you give your Savior and see something different about you than other Christians.

The others seemed to them to simply want to stroke the same chord with little to no effort, concern, or passion for the person, but only wanting a notch in their Christian belt.

During this Christmas season when we sing, hum, or listen to Christmas songs such as Joy to the world or my personal favorite Hallelujah, please don’t forget the message of old continues to be a soothing sound to a troubled heart. The love of Christ is still just as peaceful as it was when the angels proclaimed His birth to rugged shepherds.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:10-11

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Adjust Coordinates

In the movie, Insomnia, Al Pacino plays an L.A. Detective seeking a suspect who has fled to Alaska. The movie takes its title from the fact that people who visit areas far to the north, such as Alaska, have trouble adjusting their sleep patterns to the eternal darkness and/or light, depending on the time of year.

Recently, I was far north and had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of what that feels like. It was during this recent cold snap that gripped the country, bringing an early winter to the States. When the sun would finally peak over the horizon, it was warm and welcoming…it brought hope and peace after a long fourteen-hour dark night. The interesting aspect is that shortly after the sun filled the air with its beautiful rays of optimism, it began to set again. It never reached that apex straight overhead that I am accustomed to in Florida. Instead, it stayed low on the horizon, as if moving from a moment of sunrise to hours of sun setting, and then quickly to a long and cold winter’s night.

As I watched this day-after-day, it struck me: the sun has not changed its position; I have. The sun is still going directly overhead at the equator, the center of the sun’s attention. The warmth of its glow is just as strong as it is on a sweltering August afternoon in Tampa. The only variance is my position to the sun.

The further I travel away from the center of its focus, the colder it becomes. Daily chores become harder with less time to complete them. The sun appears more distant and always fleeing as darkness predominates the sky.

If I desire the full day back, I need to adjust my coordinates
…the sun has not changed…
I have.

Often in life, I have found that life had become harder in the sense of not having peace in trials. What once brought me pleasure was now a task. My daylight hours felt dimly lit and cold, damp gripping darkness was not far behind. The funny thing is…it seemed to take me a long to time to realize that life had changed. It was a slow fade, not a sudden jolt.

Even Jesus looked and felt distant.

It was not Him…It was me.

His position is constant.

His bright, warm, and desired path had not changed.

I had moved…

I had somehow walked from the center of His will for my life and traveled far north.

He was not distant; I was.

When you find yourself in that position, as I have many times, check your coordinates. God has not budged. God has not forgotten you. God has not messed up. God is where He’s always been…and will always be.

At the center of His will for your life.

Rising daily to give you a glimpse of what could be if you would adjust course.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psl. 119:105

Get back into God’s word because it’s the only thing that can get you to where you need to be…


Don’t struggle with insomnia because you can’t adjust to the change. God didn’t create you to adjust; He created you to rest in His design, uniquely crafted for you and you alone.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Psl. 16:11

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Snow Melts

In the record-breaking blockbuster Frozen, the supporting character, who most viewers consider the main character, is a happy go lucky snowman named Olaf. I have to admit, he made me laugh several times, and his demeanor is hard to dislike. He sings the second most popular song in the movie called, “In Summer”. For those three people who have not watched this movie, here are some of the lyrics: “Bees will buzz, kids will blow dandelion fuzz, and I’ll be doing whatever snow does in summer…my snow up against the burning sand probably getting gorgeously tanned in summer.”

Of course the humorous thing about this melody is everyone knows what will happen to this poor snowman in summer…

he melts.

The snowman has limits, and unless or until he learns to embrace those limits, he will surely do whatever it is that happens to snow in summer.

Here is the unshakable reality of life:
Truth will always dominate one’s hopes, beliefs, and aspirations.

In fact, everything created has limits. Nothing is exempt from the actuality of our physical laws that hold us together as well as the often-ignored spiritual laws that, if followed, keep us mentally together. We are both physical and spiritual. We have a physical being that is useless without the spirit that makes it alive. That is, all the DNA, RNA, and billions of cells can do nothing without life being breathed into it and we call this our soul…our spirit.

Health conscious people are cautious about what they eat, drink, and think. The interesting thing is that most of them miss the reason they are limiting themselves…

They live with self-imposed restrictions not just to look good, but so they can
“feel” good.

Feelings come from our spirit, not from nerves, electric impulses, or genetics. It is our spirit’s interpretation and assimilation of that constantly fluctuating data that makes someone ‘feel’ good. Our gray matter is our brain, but our mind/spirit cannot be located…it is this mind/spirit that allows us to feel anything.

If you live your life ignoring your physical limitations, you will feel it spiritually.

You will melt

Olaf’s friends hesitated to be honest with him and tell him exactly what happens to snow in summer. If they truly cared and loved Olaf, they would humbly inform him and suggest he daydream about summer, but seek the artic north. For Olaf, he can only prosper and remain happy-go-lucky in the cold.

For humankind, we can only prosper and remain happy-go-lucky by accepting and living the way our Creator has informed us via sixty-six books that we call the Bible.

God, because He IS love:

Warns His beloved that we will, in a sense, ‘melt in the summer sun’.
He humbly requests, does not demand, that we follow His leading because He knows how we function properly, and He desires for us to spiritually prosper.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is not a book of rules…it is sixty-six books filled with unquestionable wisdom that transcends time, the whims of man, and the silliness of momentary cultures.

Read it.
Study it.
Apply it.

It is from these truths that you will thrive. God is on your side if you would trust and allow Him to lead, you will realize this amazing certainty.

Don’t be an Olaf living in a false fantasy. Live in reality and embrace your boundaries as our loving God has articulated.

Limits are not a bad thing; they keep us alive and keep us 

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’" says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jer. 29:11

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tunnel Vision

I grew up near Pittsburgh, and since I’m now living here for a while, I’m reminded of the “Tunnel Monsters” of the Burgh. Everyone, and I mean everyone, slows from 65mph to 10mph…and sometimes, 0mph, simply because they have to drive through a tunnel. Since there are no obstructions, no surprises, and cops stay away for fear of slowing us down even more, the Pittsburghers decided a Tunnel Monster must occasionally show up and eat a car or two, and people fear they could be next.

While the Tunnel Monster is a humorous means for locals to deal with their daily frustration of tunnel crawl, we as Christians tend to do the same thing. That is, day-after-day, we travel the road of life with God in the lead. While walking our path He set before us, occasionally we see a mountain or possible trouble in the distance so we slow down and begin to question His wisdom.

Are you sure, God?
I know you have gotten me through, over, or around other mountains, but that one is huge—are you sure?

We not only slow down ourselves, but those around us in our sphere of influence. I wonder how much people watch us and wonder if we see a tunnel monster or some other evil greater than God’s power.

Why are you hesitating?
Why do you slow?
Where is your faith?

"I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

We tend to mock the Israelites because, despite unbelievable demonstrations of God’s might, they continually questioned Moses and God. The Israelites’ path caused them to face death at every turn due to starvation, dehydration, impassable mountains, the Red Sea, warring armies, and giants. Most of us, at worst, might face a harsh word, leaving family and friends, and the unknown, so we slow, stop, and some turn around and go back to “Egypt”, our place of comfort, "I know, but my family lives here…so..."

The problem is not what they did…it is what we do or don't do.

We have watched God do things in our lives, in the lives of others, and the world that we live in, and yet, we question Him daily.

As we get closer to the mountain, we sometimes find that God has provided a tunnel or a way through the problem. We are relieved we don’t have to hike this one. Going over the mountain is exhausting and can take lots of time, energy, and courage. But this time God carved a tunnel, so we should be good to go—right?

Sadly, wrong!

We still slow down. We still question. We still double and triple look for a tunnel monster.

What if, however, there is a note-worthy opponent—so what! The God who created everything, transcends time, and raised Jesus from the dead is leading you on this path. You can run and cower by yourself or stand firm with the clout of God’s might.

It’s your call.

As ridiculous and absurd as the Tunnel Monster is in Pittsburgh, so are we who daily question the God who created us, loves us, and died to save us from His wrath to come.

Isn’t it time to move forward with maximum speed?

Isn’t it time to take our foot off the brake and put it back on the gas pedal?

We need to stop slowing down; our indecisiveness affects the progress of the gospel!

The other side is on the other side….DRIVE ON!

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” Mth. 21:21-22

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