Friday, August 26, 2011

Grown-up School Supplies

This time of year you cannot escape the flurry of activity taking place at the local discount stores. Where there was once red, white and blue paper plates and plastic cutlery, the sale aisle is filled with glue, notebooks, markers, and packs of number two pencils with the little rubber erasers on the ends.

All those packs of paper and protractors remind me of back-to-school when I was a boy. I would have brightly colored folders, books with crisp pages and brand new, spotless clothes. Pencils, with their pristine erasers, having just been sharpened, stood ready to tackle anything the teachers could dish out. With summer passing into memory, and a new school year looming ahead, there was a brief moment of time each fall that held a golden opportunity, a chance to start over. I could make new friends, impress the teachers with my hard work, be a totally different kid if I wanted. Oh, the possibilities… Anything I could anticipate now, as an adult, pales in comparison to the breathless expectancy of those few days before school started.

I remember trying so hard to keep all the new stuff neat and clean at the beginning of the year. This lasted about a week. Mistakes were made, pages torn, clothes got dirty. My fresh start settled into a comfortable routine filled with the realities of everyday life. School became an exercise in wrestling with words and problems. And a lot of erasing.

You know, the guy who invented the eraser had the human race pretty much figured out.

A little back-story: Prior to the invention of the rubber eraser, people used bread to remove written mistakes. Bread. Try it sometime and you'll realize that it doesn't work very well. So, tired of huge, crumb-filled smudges on his papers, an enterprising fellow decided to put a rubber eraser on the end of a wooden pencil.

He knew that people make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of what makes us human. Everyone, at some time or another circles b and then realizes it should be c, or puts the wrong word in 23 Across, or writes a story with the cart before the horse. But the eraser is proof that there is an opportunity to change what is not correct, to take an idea and improve on it, to erase what has been written and start over.

What defines us as people isn't that we make mistakes, but how we deal with them. Having an eraser is a good thing. Using it is even better. Have the courage to rewrite anything that isn’t your best; a relationship that needs fixing, a way of thinking that has not yielded anything positive, you know where the mistakes are. Go at them with the determination of a fifth grader who wants a good grade. Make corrections; Today Counts!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Should I prepare or not?

I'm wondering if I should finish studying for this week's sermon. After all, Harold Camping predicted that the Lord will return on Saturday, May 21, 2011 around 6pm. Wow--should I study or not?

Regardless, I've had several people who have approached me with some great anxiety from this prophecy about the impending "end of the world." First of all, this isn't the first time he's predicted it. He did this previously predicting that judgment day would occur September 6, 1994. Furthermore, worrying won't change it--will it? Regardless, the bible doesn't indicate that the "world will end" for quite some time. (And that will only happen because God makes a new heaven and earth.) As far as his prediction of the return of Jesus for May 21, 2011, the bible says that no one knows the day or hour that of the second coming--not even Jesus. ("No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36) So Harold Camping knows something that even Jesus doesn't know. Wow, now that's what I call a hookup for inside information! But then let's not actually involve the bible in Mr. Camping's end time prophecy.

Consider this, the bible warns that in the last days we should be careful because of the many false prophets. In fact, the bible spends just about as much time talking about false prophets as it does prophets in the last day. Which should give you an idea that most of what you hear is a bunch of bunk. With that in mind, then these false prophets are actually more a sign themselves that Jesus is returning soon than are their prophecies.

Lastly, when people get misdirected on tangents like this, all it does is serve to discredit the rest of us who are trying to draw attention to Jesus. Much in the same way all of the silliness about the supposed confession that the president of Proctor and Gamble made on the Phil Donahue show a few years back. Never happened. No appearance on the show, no confession on the show, and sadly, no more clean clothes or toothpaste for many of these misguided followers.

Seriously people--focus. There is a conspiracy out there! It's the conspiracy that the devil uses to divert our attention away from the real gospel to these tangents that only serve to distract and ultimately discredit us. If you want to see some possible signs concerning the end times, pay attention to the speech that President Obama made concerning Israel this week. Maybe he's cashing in the collateral that he collected from the Osama Bin Laden killing. Maybe he thinks we're giddy with laughter to the point that our eyes are closed.

Lastly, if you are really rattled with anxiety about the Lord's return I have a solution for you, surrender your life to Jesus and you won't have to worry if it does happen.

One more thing, if Lord does indeed return tomorrow, will someone please shut the lights off in the cafe after the third service on Sunday?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Your Time Will Come

Spring training for baseball is upon us and the speculation on who will be this year's successes begins. You’ve probably heard the old saying, “they were just in the right place at the right time.” While on the surface it may appear that someone’s success was completely coincidental, I am persuaded that success is never an accident. In fact, it’s my observation is that it is usually a combination of preparation and timing.

Satchel Paige threw his first major league pitch at the age of 42. Actually, he was good enough to play in the majors at the age of 18, but he couldn't--Satchel Paige was black. However, seven years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, Paige, an undisputed superstar everywhere but in the major leagues, finally got his chance.

Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck was criticized for adding such an old man to his roster--some sportswriters and critics called it a publicity stunt. Others said Paige was finally getting the break he had deserved for years--though most doubted his ability to compete effectively at his age. Paige silenced the critics when he won his first three games as a pro…shutting out Chicago twice in the process.

All along he knew he was good enough to pitch in the major leagues, and when he finally got his chance, he proved it. He went on to win 28 games during his pro career, and even made a brief comeback at the age of 59, pitching three innings for the Kansas City A's.

He approached his major league pitching debut no differently than he approached any of the 2,500 games he pitched during his career. "It was just another game," he said. "And home plate was where it always was."

Though Paige had the ability to make throwing a baseball look effortless, he spent his life perfecting the art. And, eventually, he got his chance to show the world he was capable of competing with the best.

In the work that you do, you may have to wait years before you get your chance to play in the big leagues. And the fact is, the chance may never come in just the way you would like. But if you’ve invested the proper preparation, you can be sure your time will come—and when it does you’ll succeed.

Never give up on the dream of being the best—Today Counts.