Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 151- A Bug First

I was in Wal-Mart a while back and I saw a Bug Zapper for sale. I thought that it looked like fun but didn't buy it. Several days later I was back in there and saw it again. It hit me; there's a pretty fun "first" waiting to happen.  I bought it.  Tonight, I pulled it out and killed bugs with my bug zapper for my "first."

Joel has been bugging me (pun intended) about using the Bug Zapper ever since I bought it.  He asked about it tonight and I needed a "first" and so Joel put the batteries in and outside we went.  As good hunters, we sort of baited the bugs.  We turned the porch light on.  Hannah Grace and Laura said they didn't care to participate in this "first."  Joel and I could not figure out why not.

It worked pretty well.  If you hit a bug with it, you can light him up.  We hunted the porch lights first, but then walked around in the dark just swinging it and killing some. My son thinks this is awesome; his word. He is looking forward to some fun this summer with the bug zapper.

Was wondering how this would work as a paddle; just kidding of course

Joel was having lots of fun with this.  Hannah Grace heard him laughing and having a good time and decided to give the bug zapper a try.  She said it was kind of fun and kind of sad

We don't like bugs much at our house.  The mosquitoes in particular give Joel problems.  They seem to like to bite him more than anyone and he tends to react worse to them than anyone.  So, we like to eliminate the bugs because of the aggravation they cause. I was especially glad to kill a horsefly tonight with my Bug Zapper. I hate horseflies.  Those rascals bite hard and they are really fast. I don't fool around with a horsefly. I try to eliminate them as quickly as possible.

This reminds me of how we ought to treat sin.  I need to hate sin like I  hate horseflies.  If I did, I would not want to be anywhere around sin. I would not enjoy it at all. Sin would be absolutely repulsive to me.  This reminds me of Romans 12:9, " Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."  I do need to hate what is evil.  Sin is evil.  When I lose my hatred of sin, it helps me to think of what it cost Jesus to pay for my sin.  When I contemplate the sufferings of our wonderful Lord and think that was for my sin, that thought helps me to remember to hate sin and see sin as evil.

Hating some things for the abundant life

3 things I thank God for today
1. Cheerful Vacation Bible School workers on VBS work day
2. Reminders to hate evil
3. Joel's baseball pictures

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 150- A Swim Meet First

Today, I went to Hannah Grace's first official swim meet for my "first."

A few days ago I posted about going to a practice swim meet for my "first." Today was the real deal.  I was a bit more prepared. I now know what a bullpen is. It's like the on deck circle in baseball.  When your race is only a few races away, you go to the bullpen so you are ready to step up to the starter's block when your race is announced.  Her team swam with 3 other teams tonight. I'm still not sure how this works.  At the end of each race (and there were a lot of races; somewhere in the neighborhood of 80), the scoreboard would flash the lane number, what place the person in that lane finished in, and what their time was.  They did not announce who the winner was and I never saw anything that said if our team was winning or some other team was winning. I'm not sure if team scores were kept.  Maybe they were and I just did not know where.  One really good thing is that I did not hear any parents yell at the referees tonight. That does not seem to be a part of swim meet activities. Of course, the referees don't have as many decisions to make (it seems to me; I could be wrong) as in baseball or basketball.

The swimmers all did great.  There was one boy about 6-8 years old that swam to one end of the pool and was supposed to swim back to the other end. He was not very quick on the turn.  The coach was saying, "You can do it, you can do it."  He seemed to be talking back to her. Though I could not hear what the boy was saying, the body language said, "No, I can't. No, I can't."  They engaged in this conversation (during the race) for about 5-10 seconds and then off he went to the other end.  His coach continued to yell (nicely), "You can do it, you can do it."  He did not seem too sure and neither was I.  I thought I was going to see a lifeguard rescue in my first live swim meet.  He indeed did make it.  We enjoyed our first swim meet.  We were very proud of Hannah Grace for competing.

Pre-race meal at Hannah Grace's favorite restaurant; Chik-Fil-A

Hannah Grace swimming



As I watched the young man I mentioned above struggling through his race, I sympathized with him. We've all been in places where we were tired and ready to quit.  I was amazed that he didn't. Then I thought, well, if you were to get in trouble in the water, a swim meet is the place to do it. There were lifeguards there.  In fact, they swapped out a few times during the night. There were a lot of swimmers there.  There were also swim coaches that you would think could probably swim pretty well.  There were also parents of swimmers and you would think some of them could swim well (not me, but you would think some could). If someone had gotten in trouble in the water, they would have been surrounded by swimmers. The place was full of qualified people to help.

The church ought to be something like that.  If someone in a church gets in trouble, they are surrounded by people who should be able and willing to help. If a church member is struggling with temptation, gets caught in a sin, has family troubles, or something like that, there should be plenty of people around to jump in and help. They are surrounded by professing Jesus followers who are supposed to love their neighbors as themselves.

Sadly, that is not always the case.  Sometimes the person in trouble refuses to ask for help. If a person is drowning in the water, I would expect them to yell for help. That is their responsibility. Sadly, Christians are sometimes too prideful to do that.  If help is offered, they sometimes still refuse.  They would rather pretend everything is OK; a bad choice for a drowning person.  Sometimes the people around him are hesitant to offer help. They are afraid it might be refused, afraid they won't be able to help very well, or maybe they are just too self-centered.  Whatever the reason, we need to be on the lookout for fellow Christians in trouble and be ready to help. If we are having trouble, we should not be too self-centered to offer help.  We don't need people drowning surrounded by swimmers.

Galatians 6: 1-2 says, "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Grateful for others living the abundant life around me

3 things I thank God for today
1. Lifeguards
2. Chik-Fil-A
3. Cool evening at the end of May

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 149- A "No You Didn't" First

Today I was with a friend and her son who was having a surgical procedure done.  So try to picture this; we were in little rooms that are only separated by curtains while she was waiting for her procedure (more of a test really). While a person is waiting for surgery, different people come in and ask you all manner of questions like:
What is your name?
What are you here for?
Are you allergic to any medicines?
When is the last time you had anything to eat or drink?
Have you ever been put to sleep before?
Did you have any trouble with the anesthesia?

Boy, I know way too many of these questions.  I've been to a lot of surgeries.  Maybe I can be the question guy for surgeries when I retire.

Anyway, you can hear the people in the room next to you when the questions are asked in this hospital because they are only separated by a curtain.  So much for the patient privacy.  Today the nurse was asking the guy next to us (separated by a curtain) the questions and I could hear them pretty clearly.  I was not trying to eavesdrop, but it's hard not to hear.  OK, I was trying to eavesdrop a bit; we'd been waiting there for over an hour and a half at this point and there was no TV in the room.  Entertainment was hard to come by.

The man looked to be in his 70's or 80's.  The nurse asked him how tall he was.  He was 5'10". She then asked him how much he weighed. He weighed 206 (not that I was listening).  Before she could ask the next question, he asked her how much she weighed.  I thought, "OH NO YOU DIDN'T."  But he did.  You know the possibilities of something good happening at this point are pretty slim.  Before she could gather herself to answer that question, he ventured a guess.  I wanted to holler, "Whoa buddy, hold on there. You are about to need more surgery than you came in here for."  He guessed 125.  I breathed a sigh of relief figuring he had guessed low. The worst thing at this point is to guess high. I had not seen the nurse go in there, but I'm thinking 125 is pretty safe. He guessed too high. Seriously.  He guessed too high. The nurse said, "Actually, I weigh 115 but I'd like to weigh a bit less.  And I'd like to smack you with a bedpan."  OK, she did not say the part about the bedpan, but she did say the part about 115.  I'm thinking, "Dude, not only did you try to guess her weight, you guessed high.  You never guess high." See, you don't guess but if you lose your mind and do guess, you have to guess low.  You just have to.  I did notice she corrected him.  I wonder if she had weighed 135 if she would have said, "125 is pretty close."

Today, I heard a man guess his nurse's weight that he did not know and guess too high for my "first."

My man next door was thinking slow; perhaps not at all

In case you are wondering, he made a bad decision

Here's a resolution for the men; never try to guess a female's' weight 

Guessing a female's weight is probably unchristian

My face upon hearing the man guess the nurse's weight 

Oh no you didn't

The nurse (not really)
I thought of a Bible verse as I thought about this exchange.  It is James 1:22- "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." This dear brother needed to listen to the nurse's question and be very, very slow to speak.  The nurse did a very good job of being patient.  I've thought of two possibilities for why this verbal exchange went the way it did. One is the guy was old and figured he could get by with this.  One of the few things I'm looking forward to about being old is that you can get by with things that the rest of the population can't get by with.  You can wear things, say things, and make bodily noises and get by with it. I'm not sure who made that rule up but it was probably an old person. The other possibility is that the man had brain damage.  After all, we were in a hospital.
 Here's a good verse for us.  Psalm 19:14-  "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." Our words have great power. They have the power to build up and the power to destroy.  We can make someone's day and we can put someone in a foul mood pretty quickly by our words.  We can point people toward Jesus or the devil with our words.  We can confess Jesus and we can deny Jesus. Let's be careful that our words are used to build up and not tear down.  As one person has noted, "We have 2 ears and 1 mouth. Maybe we should learn something from that."
 Ugly talk is not just a bad habit according to Jesus. It is a reflection of an ugly heart.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:34- "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." I've had a bit of fun with the guy guessing the lady's weight, but our words are really serious. Jesus said they show what is in our hearts.

Needing to speak well to live the abundant life

3 things I thank God for today
1. Patient nurses
2. God's truth about our words
3. God is not Dead movie

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 148- A Gas Pump First

Today, I left money at the gas pump for someone to find as my "first."

The Internet and phone service is out at our house and church today.  So, I was in town and the thought hit me that if our service does not get fixed today, I'm going to have a hard time posting a "first."  The idea of driving to town after church tonight and posting is not appealing.  Posting using my phone does not sound like a whole lot of fun either. One of those will happen if the phone/Internet service does not get fixed today if I am going to post a "first." With these thoughts swirling in my head while I'm at the gas pumps, I think/pray/wonder about what my "first" will be.  As I look at the gas pump and the little credit card slot, it hit me that I could leave some money right there.  I wrote a note that said "Jesus loves you" and wrapped it around a dollar and left it there.  It's not a huge "first."  At the same time, there does not seem to be any big drawbacks to it.  Hopefully, someone will be reminded of Jesus' love and smile.

When I started writing this, I realized that one dollar was pretty cheap.  I also messed up on the writing and had to scratch out.  I wish I had done this a bit better.  Here's the thing; many things we do for Jesus and others will not be perfect. I did not have any more paper in the truck that I could find so it was use this scratched out piece or not do it. I could have left more money, but it just did not occur to me to leave more than a dollar.  While I wish I had done this better, I'm still glad I did it.  God can use imperfect acts of service.  I know people who struggle when they do something for the Lord and it's not perfect.  Well, we'd all just have to quit if it has to be perfect.  I guess every sermon I've preached, I wish it had went better.  I could have said something better or given a better illustration. I'll  never preach again if it has to be perfect.  Sometimes when I do a "first" it doesn't go as well as I had hoped. Sometimes when I do something for my family, it does not turn out as well as I had hoped. I don't want to let the prospect of "less than perfect" deter me from trying.  Jesus was and is the only perfect one.  I heard a guy say one time if he was going to fall, he wanted to fall going forward and not backward. That sounds something like Paul's words in Philippians 3:13-14 when we wrote, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

No, you and I are not perfect. However, if you are married, you are the best spouse your spouse has.  If you have children, you are the best mother/father your child has.  If you teach a Bible Study, you are the best Bible study teacher your class has.  Press on hard toward Jesus. When you mess up, confess it, repent, and  trust God to restore you. Then, get up and get moving.  You will be blessed and probably someone else will along the way. 

Stumbling along in the abundant life

3 things I thank God for today
1. Clouds
2. The blood of Jesus that washes our sins away
3. Youth camps

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 147- A Swim Practice First

Today I went to a practice swim meet for my "first."

A few weeks back, Hannah Grace asked to try joining the local swim team here.  She's been going to swim team practice for a few weeks and tonight they had their first swim meet practice.  I had never been to a swim meet or a swim meet practice.  We were more of a baseball, football, and basketball kind of family. 

This was new to me. The practice is important so that the swimmers get a feel for lining up, diving in at the sound of the start button, getting the feel of competition, and those kinds of things. I did not know there was a bullpen in swim meets.  There are no bulls or relief pitchers in the bullpen.  I think that's where the swimmers hang out that are not currently swimming.  I did not ask someone why that was called a bullpen, but that would be a good question it seems to me.  The swim meet is mostly the swimmers competing in different races.  They suggested that we write what races Hannah Grace would be swimming in on her arm. That turned out to be a very helpful suggestion.  That way, she did not have to keep up with papers or try to remember what race she was in.  Just a glance down at the arm and there's the info.  It's kind of like a quarterback glancing down to get the plays.

Hannah Grace enjoyed her first swim meet practice.  The parents and coaches were very encouraging people.  The swimmers did a good job of cheering for each other.  They swim a lot.  Hannah Grace swam in about 6 races (that's more than a real meet, but they needed to get times on the swimmers).  She swam about 175 yards freestyle and 100 yards backstroke total.  She was pretty tired and hungry afterwards. We were also proud of Joel. He did a great job of cheering for his sister.

 I did not notice the tree on her head

Backstroke Hannah Grace

One thing I noticed about the swim meet was that it was not necessarily the first person in the pool that won but the person that finished first.  Some would go strong for a while and then fade in the end while the stronger swimmers would catch up and pass them.  Of course, this is what the practice meet is for; to let the swimmers kind of figure out how to pace themselves and things like that.  The cool thing is that all the swimmers finished.  Nobody quit in the middle of the race.  Nobody quit because they got tired (though they were very tired). Everyone finished.

There is a great lesson that we adults can learn from these young swimmers. Finish strong! Don't quit. Don't give up.  If someone is doing better than you or worse than you, keep doing your best.  You will help the team by doing your best.  Our "team" is the body of Christ.  We have too many that get tired, discouraged, or see something else they would rather and get out of the pool, in a manner of speaking.  They quit or get very weak.  Some quit by stopping church attendance (or get very sporadic and are not contributing much), attend but simply go through the motions, quit striving to be Christlike, quit trying to lead others to Jesus, quit their marriage, quit forgiving people and I think you get my drift.

We might see Jesus tonight or tomorrow.  We don't know how many days we have left or how much time before Jesus comes back.  Let's finish strong!  1 Corinthians 15: 58- Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Continuing on for the abundant life

3 things I thank God for today
1. Smiles
2. 1 Corinthians 15:58
3. God is a giving God

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 146- A Bragging First

Today I bragged on my wife in her presence to a complete stranger for my "first."

A sweet friend of ours watched our children for us so that Laura and I could have a date night.  We love date nights.  I was buying our tickets to a movie and the nice young lady asked me if I had a rewards card.  Well, I did not.  I said no mam, I don't and then a thought just hit my brain.  This was unplanned; completely spontaneous.  Spontaneous is a bit dangerous for me because I can say things I regret later at times.  I jumped in on this one.  I told her I did not have a rewards card and then said, "Do you want to know a big reward that I do have."  She said, "What."  I said something along the lines of, "One of my greatest rewards is my wife right here.  I am married to one of the sweetest ladies in the whole world."  This lady who appeared to be around 20 years old said, "Awww, ya'll are so sweet."  She seemed tickled that I would brag on my wife like that. She told me that was way better than the rewards card she offered me and I heartily agreed.  I then told her that I married way above my head and was proud of it. I did notice that Laura did not dispute that assertion at all; not even a little bit.  Well, I guess one should not dispute truth.

Laura thought pulling the fire alarm would be a fun first

It is good to brag on your family.  Too often people complain about family members, speak critical of family members, and point out family members' faults to others.  There is no real positive side to doing those kinds of things. Part of loving someone is speaking well of them.  It is good to speak well of someone to that person, but there is something powerful about bragging to someone else about people that you care about.  It can build security in some powerful ways.

I would encourage you to brag on your family to other people in their presence.  This can be especially powerful in bragging on your children.  If your son gets 3 hits in a baseball game and strikes out once and someone asks you how he did; brag on him. Don't talk about the strikeout.  Talk about how he ripped those hits into the outfield.  Brag on your daughters. Look for something they have done well and let them know you are proud of them.   Talk about how your children and spouse are fun, interesting, courteous, hard working, earn good grades, kind, or a whole host of other things. It will make a difference. It might just sustain them through some tough times.

God the Father bragged on His Son, Jesus. In Matthew 3:17 says, "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'"

Also, it feels kind of fun to be told that you and your wife are sweet by a 20 year old.

Grateful for those who share the abundant life with me

3 things I thank God for today
1. Cold milk
2. Jesus' baptism
3. Moths

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 145- A Church Deposit First

Today I preached on how if we make small deposits of time over time in certain areas of life it can make a huge difference. For example, if you take 20-30 minutes a day for 5 days a week and invest that time in a certain activity, it can make a profound difference in your life. If you took 20-30 minutes a day for 5 days a week for a few years, you could learn to play the piano, become an expert by reading on a certain subject, develop a stronger relationship with your family or with God.  We usually take an offering during the middle of the service.  Tonight, I moved the offering to the end of the service and asked the people to think about one area where they have made small deposits of time over time that have really made a big difference in their life (which is what I preached on).  After the offering, I gave the people an opportunity to share those things as a way of helping each other to find a way to develop some habits that are really helpful.  I asked the congregation to help each other apply the sermon as my "first."

Our people gave some pretty cool examples of some ways they have invested small amounts of time over time.  Some examples given were:
  • Reading a devotional book and then taking it to work with them to look at through the day (this lady liked the Jesus Calling book)
  • One guy prays the Lord's Prayer before he get out of bed in the morning
  • Calling your spouse during the day (both spouses work and leave home at different times) to just reconnect
  • Carrying a thanksgiving journal with you and writing down things you thank God for that day
  • Regular church attendance
  • A couple prays together each night before they go to bed.
  • One lady tries to spend some time each week with an elderly person or a person going through a hard time
  • One person know a few friends that are having a hard time and she sends them a text every day to encourage them.
  • When someone asks you to pray for them, pray for them right then.

That's a sampling of what was shared tonight. The church family had some great ideas. One that I would add to the list (because I enjoy it and have heard several Christian leaders mention it as being very important to them) is eating together as a family at supper each night.

Hannah Grace likes to invest time in bomb pops (it is a Popsicle)

Joel thinks you should take time to try a watermelon slush from Sonic

The thing is that we can't save time, we can only spend time. If we don't consider wise ways to spend our time, we will end up wasting our time.  If we waste our time, we waste our lives.  There are some really cool ways to invest small amounts of time.  I thought letting the church body help each other think of ways would be helpful tonight.

God has put us in a body and the idea is that we develop close relationships and help each other become the person that God wants us to be.  We can grow better and closer with each other's help.  God never intended us to live the Christian life as a lone ranger.  Helping each to spend our time wisely seemed to me a wise use of time.  I did not do this to have a "first."  But after church tonight I started wondering about a "first" and felt like this was the one for the day.  Why not ask yourself, "What is a wise way I can invest small amounts of time over time that I will really be glad I did 6 months from now, 5 years from now, and a million years from now?"

Investing for the abundant life

3 things I thank God for today
1. A responsive church family
2. Tater tots
3. Our youth pastor, Bro. Jim