Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weight Loss for 2012

One year ago I embarked on a journey, an uncertain journey. About 500 miles later, I'm 45 pounds lighter. My best was at 47 but we've just experienced the holidays and the snow canceled a few trips down Rushing Road. That's pretty good and I'm well on my way to longer life. I'm convinced that if I die of a heart attack or stroke today I've lived longer because of the exercise. And if I live to be 80 plus years old, I believe some of those days or years can be traced back to this year.

So many have made the journey with me and I appreciate all of you. Whether you laced up your running shoes with me or encouraged me or "liked" my posts or lifted my name in prayer, thank you! I still have more to do and will need you on the team. I'd really like it if more of you would hit the road with us. One reason is that we like to "share" Forrest with as many people as we can!

Forrest Grimmett is the instigator in all this. At our church Thanksgiving dinner over a year ago, Forrest suggested we start walking or running at the first of the year. I knew he was adopting me as his project but I didn't know the extent of his commitment at first. As the year progressed I understood. I couldn't ask for a better friend. Few have ever invested as much in me as Forrest has.

I'm ready for Rushing Road to thaw and clear so I can get started on my 2013 goals. Twelve months from now I want to weigh less that 200 pounds. That will require a loss of 49 pounds; a total of 94 over two years. During 2013 I will run at least 600 miles. I will participate in at least one 5K race improving upon my personal best time of 33:53.

Here are a couple of other goals for 2013. I will read the Bible completely. It's easy to read the easy parts of the Bible. Some of us get bogged down with some parts so we either skip it or quit. God's word is good - all of it. I've read it through a few times, most recently this year. If you want to join me, get a plan like the ones offered at that will help you stay on track. Apps for smartphones are available, too.

I will complete my doctoral work this year. It's time. This will challenge me and my church but we'll all be better because of it. Your prayers and encouragement will go a long way to seeing this goal completed.

Have you ever listened to a congressman make a speech on the floor of the Senate or House? They will say something like this: "I reserve the right to correct or extend my remarks." That means that they'll probably add to what they are saying later. So I might do that, too. Maybe I'll up the mileage goal or add something related to my family.

Will you set goals for 2013? Goals are good; life is aimless without them. Share your goals with me and some other folks. We'll try to encourage you and pray for you as you try something new, something hard, something scary, or something necessary. Let's all set a goal of loving God and loving each other and making disciples of all nations.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Christmas Morning

The living room is quiet. The tree's lights glow on an empty floor beneath it. The physical remnants of gift-giving are just a few stray pieces of wrapping paper, a gift for a friend yet to be seen this season, and the glow of electronic devices on the faces of everyone in the room. Such is Christmas morning.

Yes, the gift-giving is over and my birthday is 126 days away. As that thought passes from my mind through my fingertips onto the screen and into your eyes, I realize what an inwardly pointing thought it is. We - I am too ashamed to take all the blame myself - have made Christmas all about the gifts we give and receive. Those gifts with a return receipt should they not "fit."

A better perspective might be to focus on the gifts both given and received that didn't come from a department store, weren't charged to a card, can't be exchanged, and never wear out. Time spent with those you love is a good gift and I'm so glad to have given and received that this year. I've spent way too little time with my grandmother, my dad and stepmother, and my adult sons lately. I corrected that this year and that makes this Christmas a special one.

Serving others who have no way to return the favor is another good gift. I've been on the receiving end of this special gift so many times. I'm thinking of people who went out of their way to help me and I am thankful. So I felt blessed to be able to help in a food kitchen this weekend. The idea came over a year ago while sitting in luxury enjoying the fine things of a holiday gathering. A guilty conscience can be a good thing. My family and I will volunteer regularly throughout the year. I do actually get something in return: the gratitude of those we serve is so obvious and heartwarming.

All of this turns my thoughts to Jesus Christ. He unselfishly served and gave. That's really why we celebrate Christmas. I hope my celebration reflects this as I give and receive gifts, spend time with my family, and as I serve others. I want to love others the way Jesus loves me. If it shows then I'm doing it right.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weekly Devotional - December 21, 2012

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Christmas is next week and our family get-togethers start tomorrow. I've always heard that each family probably has an uncle that just doesn't quite fit. I look around my family and just don't see him. Does that mean that I'm him? I think I'll take a closer look and see if I can spot him.
You probably won't be able to change that person that rubs you the wrong way or makes you cringe when he starts to talk. Demanding better table manners might not get the results you long for. Sometimes he (or she!) is doing it on purpose just to see how you will respond.
Your response may be the only thing you can change. And change might take a supernatural effort. That's why God gives us the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Our ability to change is very limited. Getting my boy to change socks might be easier!
So the Spirit changes me. That's good on several levels. First, he's more powerful than me so he can make the hard changes. Second, he's smarter than me so he knows what changes really need to be made. Third, he has the big picture in mind rather than just the immediate circumstance.
I am so encouraged thinking about what the Spirit can do in my life! Those attitudes and actions that he will bring about in me will help me be a better Christian, husband, father, friend, pastor, and UNCLE! And the changes will help me see others differently. I may or may not get to the point that I don't notice the blemishes on others but I should be able to not focus on them.
The only thing standing in the way of the Spirit's good work in my life is me. He is all powerful and patient at the same time. He can force these changes upon me but often waits until I surrender my will to his. Pray that God will help you surrender your will to his so that you can become the new creation he desires.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Worth Another Look...or a First Look

Liza Long has a child suffering with mental illness. As the events of Friday, December 14 unfolded in Newtown and came to us on all sorts of media outlets, calls for both tighter and looser gun control laws dominated the noise. Liza's perspective is a bit different and perhaps and bit more on target.

You may have already read this or heard about the article. It's worth another read, or a first read if you've not yet seen it. We often treat symptoms and fail to deal with underlying problems.

I Read "Frank's Wig" to the Children

This blog opened its doors for business in 2005. One of the first things I did was fill out the profile information. The profile offered a spot to write about a random topic. I didn't like the first topic so I clicked on the button to get a new topic. After doing that several times, the topic was to tell the kids a story about a frog and a wig. Thus the birth of "Frank's Wig."

In the church where I pastor I have a time in the worship service where I gather the kids down front for a children's message. I will occasionally read "Frank's Wig" to them. That's what I did this weekend since the kids who gather with me had not heard it before. Click this link for the recording of the author (that's me) reading his story to the children.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weekly Devotional - December 14, 2012

"O Lord, you took up my case; you redeemed my life."
Lamentations 3:58 NIV
Freedom is more than having no boundaries. Freedom is not equal to being able to do whatever comes to mind. Freedom is not the absence of oppression. Freedom is not exclusively a national thing.
Freedom is the release from the death penalty of sin. And it's accomplished only through redemption. Freedom is a spiritual thing more than anything else.
Have you ever been in a helpless situation? Maybe your car was stalled on the side of a lonely highway late in the evening. No cell service. No help. Then someone stops to help you. You can begin to understand redemption.
Redemption is necessary because all humanity is in a helpless situation. We are under a curse because of sin. We face an eternal penalty because of it. And there is nothing we can do about it. Oh, some will try. Maybe you've tried to resolve this problem on your own.
"If I can just do enough 'churchy' things maybe those will offset the bad." "I'm a good person; and I'm better than a lot of folks who go to church!" "I've never stolen or murdered or cheated." Keep going. Can you come up with some more reasons why you shouldn't be left to deal with your own sin?
God knows better than we know how bad sin is and how holy he is. And he says that sin must be dealt with effectively. His solution - the right one since he knows what he knows - is a sacrifice to make the sinner right with him. Hundreds of years ago, Anselm of Canterbury explained that God became man because only man needed the sacrifice but only God could be the perfect sacrifice sufficient for the need.
So God became man. Jesus was born. And Jesus died. He did this so we could be redeemed - set free from the clutches and penalty of sin. Have you trusted Jesus for your redemption? Pray that God will help you see your need for salvation and find it in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Promise to Pray for You

I had lunch today with about thirty other ministers from Pulaski Baptist Association and other churches in central Arkansas. We do this once a month and it's always a good opportunity to catch up with these guys. Sidney, David, Terry, Tim, and I sat together. I also talked with about five other guys. Each church has its opportunities and struggles so I come away with a short prayer list that I scribble in my memory while we talk.

Have you ever told someone that you'd pray for them? Christian people say that a lot but I wonder if we really do it. A friend told me to at least say a quick, silent prayer while I'm still talking with them so I won't be a liar! We sometimes forget to pray for each other.

Prayer is a powerful conversation with God about the opportunities and struggles you, your family, and your friends face. Instead of leveraging that power, we often go powerless and purposeless because we don't pray. And that promise you made to your friend...he may not get the boost he needs when you forget to pray.

Forgetting is one thing but sometimes we say we'll pray when we really have no intention of doing it. So we need to be honest, keep our word, and pray when we say we will. What helps you remember to pray? Some people keep a notebook and jot down requests one the spot. Others might use their phone or other electronic device. And a few people actually have good memories. If you are like me and don't have a good memory, then you have to come up with a plan so you don't let prayer requests fall through the cracks.

Someone is counting on you to pray. You told them you would. If you believe pray works, if you believe God answers prayer, and if you care about the people around you, you'll take it seriously the next time you say, "I'll pray for you."

By the way, how may I pray for you today? Leave a message and I'll do it. Promise!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Weekly Devotional - December 7, 2012

"So I will very gladly spend for you everything
I have and expend myself as well."
2 Corinthians 12:15 NIV
With Christmas fast approaching, a child might read this verse and get pretty excited. For that matter, most of us adults might perk up, too! If someone says they will spend all they have on you, well, you expect a lot.
I've received gifts that made me feel like the giver had spent everything on me. A toy pinball machine when I was about five years old, a shotgun when I was a teenager, or a piece of memorabilia from every Major League ballpark last year...these all made me feel like the giver was the most generous person in the world.
While these gifts weren't inexpensive, I think the most impressive aspect was that the giver spent a little of themselves, not just their money. They had to think about what would really be a great gift. They had to do more than scan the store shelves for something I might like. The gifts fit not because of a size label but because of something deeper.
Relationships are worth spending everything you have in order to develop and maintain them. And that means you'll need to expend yourself as well.
Paul felt invested in the Christians at Corinth. Because of his past investment with them he didn't think twice about investing even more with them. He visited them at least three times. He wrote them maybe as many as four times. He agonized over their mistakes and thrilled in their advances. He was glad to do it!
Do you have people in your life for whom you will gladly spend everything you have? And will you expend yourself as well? Our call as followers of Christ involves developing relationships like that so we can help others know Christ, live for Christ, and serve him. It's a costly investment but one that is rewarding. Pray that God will help you develop and maintain relationships by which you can pour yourself into the discipleship of others.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I Can't Even Walk

Back in the day, I promoted concerts, had a radio show, and sang in a couple of gospel groups. There is a small handful of people in Southern Gospel Music that I felt like I could call friends and they would call me their friend. Tony Greene was one of those. He's gone on to Heaven now and I miss him and his music. Everyone once in a while I put together a little Southern Gospel concert using YouTube and I'm the only one in the audience. This video made the show this morning. I sure needed it; maybe it'll help you today.