Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Secret of the Omnipresence of our Creator


As my older sister aptly reminded me yesterday, we were raised Presbyterian and one of the great mysteries of hearing my dad preach was when he would talk about "predestination".  

I was analytical even as a child and I remember thinking how futile everything was if God had everything already set and we couldn't change anything about the future.  

One of my favorite new shows is called Frequency.  It is about a young girl who learns how to use the ham radio with her father, who was an undercover cop.  He is killed and 20 years later she becomes a cop in the same precinct.  Through a series of events, he begins talking to her - in real time for both of them - over the ham radio.  She assists him in warding off his own murder and then watches, in horror at how that change has a ripple effect.  A twist on time travel and what we saw in Back to the Future with Marty helping Doc avoid his own death and changing the outcome of everything.

Well, these examples of motion picture and television fiction imply that we can actually change the outcome, by our actions.  For the better and for the worse. 

So which is true?  Is everything predestined and we cannot battle fate?  If we try, do we mess everything up? 

One day about 10 years ago I was flying over New York city and for some reason I was pondering the notion of God being the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  

My life chapter in the Bible is Psalm 139 and it clearly says that He knew me before I was born.  He equipped me.  He is with me in good times and bad and He knows my thoughts before I know them and He knows every day of my life.   

How God?  How do you know without dictating what I do??

Well, if you play chess, you will understand the concept of making something good come out of even the bad moves.   Keep that picture in mind.

Then think about the gift of choice.  I think that was the ultimate sacrifice of creation.  God could have made us perfect - no sin, no desire to sin, beautiful little puppets, doing His bidding, night and day.  But that is not what happened.  He gave us the power to choose - to love and serve him, or not and to do what is in alignment with the perfect plan, or not.  

I call that last point the Israelite option.  It only takes about 18 days to walk from Egypt to modern day Israel (the promised land).  Because of their unbelief and disobedience, it took the Israelites 40 years.   

I don't want to choose that option for my own life.  I'm not that patient.  Give me the promised land now.     

So back to how God can be at the beginning, the middle and the end and how He can know the outcome.  Let me give you an easy visual that will demonstrate His omnipresence.

Picture the New York marathon at around 11 am on a bright sunny, clear morning.  There are runners already nearing the finish line, reaping the rewards of months and months of rigorous training and their guaranteed entry status and position.  All along the course, there are more runners, perhaps that have not trained quite as diligently, each with different stories, not only about their training leading up to the race, but what they ate and drank in the 24 hours before the race and how much water they consumed to ensure that they are properly hydrated.  And at the starting line, of the 50,000 total runners there are still more that haven't even begun their run (or their speedwalk), as they didn't qualify to be near the front. Some were perhaps foolish enough not to train at all or to think that they could party until the wee hours and still be able to make it the entire 26.2 miles.   Not likely. 

Above it all is the news helicopter.  From its unique vantage point, it can see the beginning, the
middle and the end of the race course.  The news crew's cameraperson can use the powerful telephoto lens of the camera to zoom in on individual runners, seeing their triumph, their pain and the agony of those that can't make it all the way to the end.

Just think of our omnipresent God in the same way as you see that helicopter in your mind.

We always have the power of choice   It was his gift to us.

What we do not have is the power of choosing the consequences.

The runner that drinks until dawn and stumbles to the back of the starting line does not get to choose the outcome of running the race in under 4 hours, with a triumphant charge across the finish line, hands in the air.  No, he or she will be lucky to even make it a few miles into the course, since alcohol dehydrates you severely, which impacts your muscles ability to respond when your brain tries to tell them how to respond.  Guaranteed bad outcome.

The one that lives in a virtual state of training throughout the year has a much better chance to complete the race with a victorious gate to their run, but even the most experienced runner occasionally cramps up or stumbles.

Like that chess game, if we make a wrong choice or a bad decision, if we can come back to our Creator for direction and let him get us back on course, He has promised in Romans 8:28
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Train well.  Consult your Creator about even the most mundane things in your life.  He will provide direction and He will right your course if you just ask Him how.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Twilight Zone Buffet (aka the 2016 Presidential Election from a believer's perspective)



Picture if you will a buffet.  A last supper if you will.  For the next four years, whatever you choose is what you will eat.  
As you walk through the door, you are amazed at the darkness of the room.  The tension is palpable. Your stomach rumbles and then you see it, the buffet.  It is unlike any buffet you have ever seen.   
As your eyes adjust to the darkness, you can see that it has three sections, each separated by a curtain. A half wall hides the contents of each section, so you can't clearly see what is on each section, but a sixth sense tells you that you will be forced to choose and as you look at each choice, you may not have all the facts to allow a quick decision.   
Milling around the room are people with signs.  You are curious about that, as some seem to be touting being a vegetarian and the others are clearly the meat eaters. You have always been a meat eater and you are looking forward to the broad array of protein choices that are normally found on a buffet.  As you look past the people, noticing an occasional skirmish between the two groups, you see that the first part of the buffet is heavily lit from above, with TV screens behind the section with talking heads telling you the virtues of this particular choice.   You have never seen so many TVs, with so many different groups telling you how amazing their choice is. There are strobe lights and upbeat music and you can see a net above the buffet filled with balloons, as if poised for a celebration.  Next is another section, with just one TV, plus audio and posters telling you why this choice is really not good for you.  Third, is a very small section, barely visible, no fanfare, nothing to provide direction or input on your choice.
You tentatively move into the first section, following the line in front of you.  
In the first section you see platter after platter of boiled okra.  You hear from the TV announcer how this will help you slim down and get rid of all that unwanted fat and how it doesn't contain any of that evil protein that made you fat in the first place. After all, you don't need it to survive.  The okra is getting cold, as the platters are actually sitting on ice.  You wonder if that somehow improves the taste.  Now you see the slenderizing mirrors behind the buffet, interspersed with pictures of slender, attractive people of all colors and races.  They are all smiling.  You notice there are no children, but you dismiss that thought as quickly as it entered your psyche. 
You don't like slimy foods and your body actually thrives on protein, so you move on to the second section.  But you see many people in front of you have loaded up on okra, espousing its benefits and looking down on you for not taking advantage of this tasty treat.  
In the second section you are clearly dismayed.  Here, instead of a wide selection of steaming pork, chicken, sausage and grilled meats, you see platters of oysters on the half shell, again on ice.  Yes, raw oysters. You look down and see some of them have some dirt on the shells.  You cringe, but in contrast to the boiled okra, you at least know that you would get protein to provide sustenance.  Behind the buffet you see more mirrors, but this time the mirrors are like that of the carnival, they distort your appearance, like a cruel session on your teenager's SnapChat.  Some make you very, very fat and some make you look like a freak.  And the voices on the lone TV and the audio being pumped into this section continues to discourage you from eating the oysters, reminding you that what you really want is a big juicy steak. The posters remind you of the days when steak was plentiful and children were everywhere, laughing and playing.   
Even though the raw oysters would provide the needed protein for the next four years, you remind yourself how much you hate slimy foods and you decide to pass again, and hold out for what is in the third section.   
As you pass through the curtain that is strategically placed between the other two sections, you are shocked to see the third section filled with empty plates.  It is too late to go back.  You see an immovable turnstyle behind you that you hadn't noticed as you came through.  In front of you, you see someone that has selected that plate and the server behind this section, who you hadn't seen before, quietly takes the empty plate and hands them a plate from the first section, filled with slimy okra, plus a hand full of coupons to come and refill your plate as often as you wish, extending the time horizon from 4 to 8 to 12 years or more.   
Now you are absolutely certain that you have entered, the Twilight Zone.

                              #    #    #    #    #    #    #    #    #    #

As I was spending time with God this morning, he showed me a little bit about our Country and our elections.  He spoke in parables throughout His Word, so I wasn't really surprised when He showed me the Twilight Zone buffet.

Through that parable, he showed me that our Country, which was founded on Judeo Christian principles, is like the group of vegetarians (my apology to vegetarians), systematically removing all of the proteins and fats (the basic values that are espoused in the Torah, the Bible and the Constitution) from our lives and our cultures.

And contrary to public meat eater opinion, the vegetarians are NOT the Democrats.  They are those in either party (or who have no party at all) that do not acknowledge that God is in control and that He is our Creator, the author and the finisher of our faith.  Perhaps they are even former meat eaters that have just gotten lukewarm about their love for meat.

Whether we participated in the removal of these values by actively becoming vegetarians (enthusiastically following progressive theory that is devoid of God), or we let it happen by not voicing our opinions through our right to be informed voters for all parts of the ballot, we are complicit in what we've become as a nation - no longer one nation under God and definitely not indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

God reminded me here how many that consider themselves "evangelical Christians" stayed home in the 2012 election.  It was definitely enough to get a God-fearing man into the White House, whether Romney was your cup of tea or not.  

Those vegetarians in power are convinced that the restaurant (our government) can and will take care of the masses, providing unlimited meals and shelter and all that we value, paid for by getting the meat eaters to pay for the food.   They don't encourage individual thinking, they would like to control education and especially the media.  They are encouraged and their efforts funded by those outsiders that believe that only by removing the fat, meat eaters from the world, can we truly achieve a Utopian society.

The meat eaters remember a day when they took care of their own, ensuring that no one goes hungry or without shelter or clothing.  The vegetarians don't trust that the meat eaters will do what they say and instead levy a tax on them to ensure that there will be enough to take care of the "less fortunate".

While the original goal of becoming a vegetarian may have been to shed a few pounds, now our nation is like the young teen, suffering from bulemia or anorexia, not seeing themselves clearly when they look in the mirror, nor do they see the danger of truly starving ourselves from what we were meant to eat to survive.

Here as God shared the story of the buffet with me He was not referring to vegetables or meat, okra or oysters but the Word of God and building His Kingdom as our long term goal.   This isn't about any one individual's legacy.  If we think that being His follower makes us somehow weak or dependent, then we don't understand the power that we are given as His children.

The vegetarian group that is lobbying the others in the foyer of the buffet do not acknowledge Him as master of the universe that He created.  They have convinced themselves that wrong is right and that we need to "live and let live".  Like the serpent in the garden, they have convinced themselves that they are smarter than God, if there is indeed a God.   If there were, and He loved you, certainly you could eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil!

Many in this group simply call that creation force the Universe, not wanting to offend those that don't believe. They do not recognize the foolishness of that observation.  It as if the Mona Lisa painted itself , with the elements of the paint coming out of nowhere and believing there is no such thing as DaVinci or that the great masters of literature were penned without an author.   The created must have a Creator.

Unfortunately, after being beat down by the vegetarians, the meat eaters are afraid to criticize, for fear that they will have to support even more vegetarians, who seem to be pouring into our country daily, expecting to be clothed and fed and sheltered or in the vernacular of today, they are afraid to be asked to bake wedding cakes for the vegetarian weddings, even though they do not believe in a life without God's presence.

The meat eaters sometimes forget that God loves all vegetarians and that when we were commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, that He wasn't talking about just meat eaters.  Instead of mirroring God's love, they are actually called the haters by the vegetarians (and not so secretly).

How did things get so twisted?  I'm not sure whether I was asking God this or He was musing himself.

Of course the answer is CHOICE or what meat eaters refer to as free will.  God did NOT create puppets.  He gave us the right to choose HIM or not.  It grieves Him when we don't, but He is a gentleman and will never force himself on us.

So after seeing the choice of the boiled okra and the raw oysters, both of which are slimy, the meat eaters simply say that they are no longer going to the restaurant (aka the polls to vote). They are either staying home and starving, quietly and with dignity.  Or, they go to the restaurant and elect to have the empty plate, not realizing that they will be served the okra anyway. Or, they jump over the facade of the empty plate and just go ahead with the plate of boiled okra.  The outsiders have seen to those choices by controlling the TV,  the mirrors and the posters (the media).

The vegetarians don't see that as you take more and more from the meat eaters, that there will be nothing left to sustain them over time, as they will have to cut back on their efforts to employ both vegetarians and meat eaters alike.  We can't indefinitely rob from the rich to feed the poor.    It simply is not a sustainable model.

While this particular analogy sounds partisan, it is actually the picture that God wants us to see of our willing participation in being relegated to minority status, versus knowing that we are children of the King and that we have incredible power if we will just recognize that He is still at the helm, no matter what we see and no matter what we hear.....and by the way, who is elected President.

If, like the Prodigal Son, we strip ourselves of our robes and go out and eat, drink and be merry without regard for how long the fortune that we are squandering will last, then we will eventually forget about the Father at home, waiting with the robes, the fatted calf and the ring to welcome us back into His home.  Or worse, we will think that if we do go home, we will have to simply be a servant, versus taking our rightful place as heir.

But if we do nothing, the restaurant will end up having to borrow from others to pay for the food once the meat eaters are no longer able to pay their "fair share".  Those that loan us money are salivating, as they never liked steak anyway.

Money is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible.  And for good reason.  Money IS power and whoever is funding our Country will eventually be in control of our future.  We cannot be nearly $20 trillion in debt as a Country and remain a world power.

To understand the importance of this point, you need to understand the forces behind the radical, progressive agenda and what has caused our media to be so biased, versus being journalists and what has caused our justice system to embrace injustice, overlooking crimes made by high level officials.  Watch carefully where the money is flowing from and to.   You can begin with George Soros who has contributed over $25m to get vegetarians in office.  Again, this isn't about a party, it is about a godless agenda.  Please do your own homework. 

The next group, the meat eaters, is still holding on to the good old days, when their group was not vilified for holding on to God's Word, the Constitution and the sanctity of life.   They know that we were created male and female by our Creator.   They remember when one man married one woman and the government didn't fund the killing of more than 40 million babies a year.   They know that from babies, come little children.  No wonder there are fewer and fewer children.  Choice trumps murder.  Our God is our belly.   Live and let live.

The meat eating leaders are upset that the meat and the robust selection of proteins have been replaced by the selection of just the raw oysters, with dirt in them at that.  Both those that serve their Creator and those that just visit Him in His house (weekly or on Easter and Christmas or on the High Holy days) are equally offended by the dirt and worried that if they dig too deeply and look under the oyster and around the shells, there will be more dirt.  They move as quickly past the second section of the buffet as possible to create as much distance as they can.  And they secretly wonder if any of their dirt will ever be exposed.

Clearly that is how many see our choice of candidates in both parties.  Flawed.

They don't see the impact of the time that they spend reading books and watching movies and TV shows that contain blatant sex, often extramarital or homosexual and that glorify a life without God.   I read this week that over 125 million copies of 50 Shades of Grey have been sold.

They don't see around the end of the buffet where there are fresh water fountains to rinse them (God's grace) and pots to cook them, with spinach and bernaise sauce to mask the slimy texture.  This is what awaits us if we return to the Father's table, even if we are the prodigal.

A recent book by Lance Wallnau suggests that if indeed God has chosen Trump as the imperfect and very raw oyster (he calls him the Chaos Candidate) to be our protein for the next four years, that it is within His power to surround him with godly men and to achieve His will despite Trumps severe flaws.

The same is true of how we could recover from an ultra-liberal Supreme Court or having a philanderer back in the White House, albeit as first spouse and whether or not Hillary is truly an enabler of that behavior.

Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat eater really doesn't matter.

God is in control and He calls each of us to fulfill our destiny.  If it is Hillary's destiny to be President or Donald Trump's destiny is truly not our call.

We should actually take comfort in the fact that God won't be surprised at all on the morning of November 9th.
Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Whether Clinton or Trump know Him personally or not, or just visit His house on occasion as a gesture, He knew both of them before they were conceived.

Some heard this verse for the first time when Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence quoted it in the VP debate.  It is from Psalm 139 v13-16
13 
For you created my inmost being;    you knit me together in my mother’s womb I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;    your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body;     all the days ordained for me were written in your book   before one of them came to be.

Remember before you pass judgement on either candidate.  Many of us are put in roles that in our own eyes or the eyes of others we are not prepared to fill, perhaps not even deserving.

Take comfort in the fact that our founding fathers created the three branches of government for a reason, one of which is that no one individual have the power to dictate how the country would be run.

If you believe that there is a grand plan and that our Creator will prevail, then you know that He has used many imperfect people before, even those that are seen as evil, in order to demonstrate His power and his glory.   He used murderers, liars, thieves, prostitutes as often (or more) than he used the ones deemed (or self-proclaimed) as godly.

Right now, I believe that He is calling us to our knees as a people, as we are in a crisis.  We are being called back to Him. We are called to love and to forgive and most of all to allow God to be God.   This is a God-sized problem we are facing.
if my peoplewho are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.






No matter which camp you associate with, or whether you do not associate with any camp at all, we are Americans and I believe that we are at a Joshua 24v15 moment.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. 

But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”




Friday, February 21, 2014

The John 9:25 Project - A Challenge for Churches

Today I am teaching a session at a pastor's conference about social media.  While those two topics don't seem to fit, I can assure you that they do.

I am using the framework from a book called The Dragonfly Effect.   The bottom line is to help the pastors use storytelling as the center of their marketing strategy.

Wait a minute.  Marketing the church?  You bet.  Marketing Jesus?  Even more important.


I'm not talking about traditional marketing, but with the massive numbers of people leaving the church, there is clearly some major image building that needs to occur.

The fact is that the church gets a really bad rap.  I don't know how many times I have heard people say, "I don't like religion.".  Well guess what?  I don't either.

What I do like is hearing about the amazing changes that occur in people's life (my own included) when they step out of the driver's seat and let God take his rightful place as "Maker".  

So, I am wondering what would happen if church websites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter pages and the like contained some of these amazing stories.

In John, chapter 9 we find the story of the man who had been blind from birth.  The church leaders of the day (the Pharisees) were questioning him after Jesus had healed him by rubbing mud on his eyes on the Sabbath.   Of course, he immediately told everyone that he could see.  The Pharisees chose to focus on the fact that the incident (as if it had been a bad thing) had happened on the Sabbath.

Rather than getting into an argument about whether Jesus was a sinner for doing such a thing, he simply said "Once I was blind and now I see.".  That sums it all up.  That is story telling at its finest.

What if the navigation on your church website began with Life Changing Stories in our Church?  

I am challenging church leaders and webmasters to join me in the John 9:25 project to do just that.

Have your people tell their stories.  Share them with one another and in fact, with the world.

Do it on your websites, in your blogs, on your Facebook page.

It could be as simple as having a picture and a short tag line "once I was......", or it could be full stories or even short video interviews.

The point is to FOCUS on what Jesus has done. You have to start by talking about the darkness before people can appreciate the light.  There is power in sharing your story transparently and openly.  In vulnerability there is strength.

NOTE:    For sensitive stories, if you want to preserve the individual's anonymity, simply use the facts about the person (a 21 year old college student or a young wife), versus naming names, so as to protect them from any harm that might come from full disclosure.    

Next, you need to GRAB THEIR ATTENTION.  This is the discussion of the light that has come into your life since your encounter with the Creator of the Universe.  It is the contrast that helps people see their own situation in a different light.

Then you need to ENGAGE them.  In this part of the Dragonfly Effect model, you need to help people relate and even think about whether they have the same need or whether they know someone that does.
Lastly, encourage them to TAKE ACTION.  Remind them that it was an encounter with the living God that brought about the seismic change.

Then at the end of each story, put a link to the page on your site with your address and service times and a link to get driving directions.  Make it compelling with pictures from your services and any special events.

And make it easy for them to come.  If they need a ride, provide a link to request one, getting their email address, their phone number and their home address.  Assure them that it will remain private. And then mobilize your church to make their visit happen, calling them the night before to remind them what time someone will be there.   Have a team that rotates through as the "pick up team".

If you take me up on the challenge, please comment here and let me know the results of the shift in marketing and what you are seeing, even from your own people within the church.

  





Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Day for Missions - Marketplace Ministry


For the last week I have been in in Gryfow Slaski, Poland on a mission trip with my nearly-16 year old daughter Kiera.  This is our second year on this same trip.

We stay at this beautiful facility that was once a mafia-owned hotel.  We do a conference for pastors, many who left the mafia to help rescue others from the grip of the very things that were a daily part of their previous vocation - drugs, alcohol and gambling, to name just a few.

I am not a pastor.   But I am, what I will call, a marketplace minister. What that means is that I use my God-given talents and resources to help His kingdom grow.

I am a strategist by trade. I help companies grow. With growth as a focus, there are many tools that can be used.   And I have found that these tools can also be used to help churches grow.

Last year, I shared social media with a group of church leaders. The message was all about relationship and engagement, and the role that relevance plays in increasing both, in real life and online.



The graphic here shows both the Polish version and the English words behind the concepts.

The ladder represents the various level of communication that we have with one another, both personally and in business.

Tomorrow I will be teaching a message extracted from the book The Dragonfly Effect.  The book is about storytelling, using social media.

The book helps the reader to understand how to use Social Media to effect "seismic change".

My job is to make it relevant and practical for the 50+ pastors attending a three-day conference here.

When you think about it, just about any pastor could benefit from ensuring that every time they give a sermon that they use the Dragonfly Effect tenets as a checklist:
  • FOCUS
  • GRAB ATTENTION
  • ENGAGE 
  • TAKE ACTION
The church as a whole has done a poor job of ensuring that their message is relevant and practical.   After reading this book written by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, it struck me that storytelling may be the answer.

When churches do use social media, the communication is often about the church itself and their hours, location and their staff and programs.  And they use impossible "churchy" language.

But if the church would just tell some of the stories of those who have found new life, I think that more people find God himself more attractive.  Most believe He is angry with them, or at the very least, grumpy.

God's message is simple.  Unconditional love is quite literally at the heart of the Word.

And if you ever wondered what your life's purpose is, check out Psalm 139.  Your own story was written before the foundation of the earth was formed.

Back to marketplace ministry.

Giving of our time and our talents, and yes our treasures, is what ministry is about.

On this trip we have adults, some pastors and many of us not, and we have teens/young adults. There is a role for everyone.

You don't have to know how to preach, or even how to pray or lead worship, but if you can do face painting or make balloon animals or even teach about social media, there is a role you can play.

Even just sharing your story can be ministry. Last year I shared my own personal story with the women attending the Pastor's conference.

If you have an opportunity to go on a mission trip, my advice is, do it.  You too can be a marketplace minister.













Thursday, July 18, 2013

Memories

Check out this video I made to commemorate the life of Julia Fitzgerald for her Memorial - July 17, 2013

Pictures play such an important role in putting memories together.

Don't wait for death. Celebrate life.

http://animoto.com/play/XAS03LeaZGHwIX0w4z1xvg

Monday, July 08, 2013

Rest in Peace Julia

Julia Fitzgerald - April 4, 1921 - June 28, 2013

The grand lady is in heaven with Jesus.

She passed from death into life at 1010am Friday, June 28, 2013.

She is enjoying all the comforts of home. She has run and finished the race. Well done Mom. We will miss you but look forward to a great reunion.



Friday, June 28, 2013

Every breath counts

Although death is an everyday part of life, unless you work in hospice care, most of us do not get to see what is called "active death".

The past few weeks we have been watching the rapid decline of my mother-in-law, Julia, who was diagnosed just three short weeks ago with pancreatic cancer.

Today, the hospice nurse told us that she is now actively dying. So we continue to sit and wait. Her breath is very erratic, even as I write.

Breath of life now has new meaning.

As the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, I grew up with traditional hymns. Although I now attend a non-denominational church and prefer contemporary worship, I remember the old Hymn Breathe on me Breath of God, Fill me with life anew.

I pray for her tonight that she would be filled with new life.

Now, one of my favorites is John Waller's Breathe on Me. Listen and be renewed and refreshed.

http://youtu.be/HVgaWJtg7w4

Hover over me
fill me spirit, breathe on me

I want to walk in signs and wonders
I want to speak with tongues of angels

Breathe on me
sprit I receive
empower me to be your witness
rest on me and Jesus let me see
even greater things than these
when you breathe

Let me bind up the broken hearted
I want the world to see your power

I believe, I receive everything you have for me

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Ultimate Journey

Psalm 139 says that every day of our lives has been ordered from the foundation of the earth.

On Saturday the 8th of June, we learned that my mother-in-law was nearing the end of her life's journey, having been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Now, as I sit by her bedside I'm left wondering what I should say, what I should ask or whether I should just be quiet.

God's Word wisely tells us to be still and know that He is God.

That works for me.





Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Engagement Ladder for the Polish Church

The church is changing. No longer is it enough to just ask friends to come to church with you in order for the church to grow.

To reach the world, we must expand how we communicate.

The Engagement Ladder helps us visualize the various levels of communication and the result on relationships and engagement.



Wednesday, November 07, 2012

It's a new day and my God's not dead

Today is a difficult day for many and a joyous day for others.  But the sun rose the same as every other day.

Here in Florida, where I'm not even sure if we ever came up with an answer on the presidential race, the weather is glorious and today's sunrise was spectacular. 

I know my friends in the Northeast are not so fortunate.  Our prayers are with you.

No matter the outcome of the election, today I remind my friends, my colleagues and those of you who just stumbled on my faith blog, God is in control and it is a new day.  He is NOT surprised by the outcome.

My God's not dead.  He's surely alive.  ......  I'm lost in Your freedom!








Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'm so glad that Joanne Schieble did not get an abortion

If in 1954, you could simply walk up to a Planned Parenthood office and obtain an abortion, the world may not have ever seen a Macintosh or buy an iPhone or an iPad.

That is right, in 1954 Joanne Schieble, an unmarried coed from the University of Wisconsin in Madison got pregnant.  Her parents were not thrilled that the baby's father was a Syrian Muslim.

While she could likely have found a way to abort the baby, she instead chose to move to San Francisco and put the baby up for adoption.  Lucky for him and lucky for us.

The couple who was matched with the baby refused to take him, as they wanted a girl.  So another couple was contacted and they enthusiastically said yes.  One stipulation that the biological mother made was that she wanted the adoptive parents to be college graduates.  She initially refused the second couple, as the wife was a college dropout and the husband hadn't finished college.  They promised to send their son to college, so she signed away her maternal rights.

Well, he went to college alright.  For a whopping semester.  Then he dropped out.

The rest of the story?  His adoptive parents were Paul and Clara Jobs.  And yes, the world was blessed with an initially unwanted baby named Steve.

I for one, as a long time Mac aficionado, cannot image a world that never included Steve Jobs.

I am also an adoptive parent and I can't imagine what we would do today if our son's mother had opted for an abortion.

According to the CDC, abortions in the US peaked around 1990 at roughly 1.4 million. The current number is fairly stable at a little over a million/year.  

I'm wondering what those babies would have invented had they lived?

Choose life.   



Take a stand - The unintended consequence of abortion legislation

We all have choices.  In fact, we are reminded in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NCV) of our free will (aka freedom of choice), which is actually a gift from God.

"Today I ask heaven and earth to be witnesses. I am offering you life or death, blessings or curses. Now, choose life! Then you and your children may live."

One of the most controversial issues of the 2012 Presidential Election is the stand on Abortion and Women's Rights.
I would like to go on record that I am pro-life and I am pro-blessing.    
But I must begin by saying that I personally know more than a dozen women that were sexually abused by fathers, uncles and neighbors, not just once, but repeatedly throughout their young lives.  Others of my friends made bad choices in marriage and found husbands that were just as abusive as those that abused these other women in childhood.   My heart goes out to these friends.  I have watched up close the impact on their lives and what it has taken for each one of them to overcome what has become a part of their life story.  Their courage is amazing and they have healed over time and with lots of prayer and learning about the power of forgiveness, even of their abuser.     
Rape and incest are horribly wrong on so many levels and the pregnancies that stem from them are indeed tragic.  The men that perpetrate this behavior on young women have already chosen death and curses on their own lives and when there is a pregnancy that results, it often ends in physical death (abortion) but more often a tiny piece of the young woman dies.
But this discussion is not about them.
My tale of unintended consequences today is about what happens when we make abortion not only completely accessible, but socially acceptable and an alternative to an unplanned pregnancy, simply for convenience.   A woman's right, if you will.  If she conceives and doesn't want the baby, let her decide what to do with her own body.
This discussion is not about the morality of abortion and when life begins.  I've been pregnant and seen the heartbeat on the ultrasound and I think that issue is fairly well substantiated by science.    
What I want to do here is take that decision down from a mature woman making a decision about an unplanned pregnancy to that of a minor.
  • A young girl today can choose at any age to have sex.  Exercising her free will.
  • If she gets pregnant, she can choose abortion.  Exercising her free will.
But here is where the unintended consequences come in.  She cannot control the heartache that can occur when abortion becomes a part of her life story.  And since her privacy is protected under health care reform, her parents may not even know in order to be able to be of support during the recovery process.  And even if the abortion is "done well", she can't choose the physical implications, which may include not being able to have a child later when she is in a loving marriage.  
Yes, we have the freedom to choose.  Even God is pro-choice, or he would have made us all robots, doing his bidding, day after day.  But he gave us a choice.  If we choose death, we suffer the resulting curses.  If we choose life, we are blessed.  
If you are a parent, particularly one of a teen girl (or boy), think the unintended consequences of a pro-abortion culture through carefully.  
I encourage you to vote for a President that chooses life and morality.
Vote your conscience, but please vote.  

  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Freedom of Choice and Unintended Consequences of Unbridled Spending

I am convinced that there is no more important election than the one that is just 7 days away.

While I have seen some bloggers say that blogging on the topics of politics and religion are dangerous, here I choose to fly in the face of both recommendations (iconoclast that I am) and make it clear where I personally stand.

Joshua 24:15 says "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".  

Recorded history begins with Adam and Eve living in paradise.  We call it the Garden of Eden, but it wasn't just physical paradise - beautiful, with unlimited, yummy provision. Their paradise was being in relationship with God.

Here's the interesting thing.  The situation with the apple and Eve choosing to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was not an accident.  God is the author of freedom of choice regulation.  Yes.  Christians call it "free will".  But what he did not give us is freedom of consequences.

My son is 12 years old and he has freedom of choice to stay out and play in the neighborhood after dark when we've asked him to come in as dusk sets in.   Our rules are in place to keep him safe, not to make his life miserable.

When he chooses to stay out late, the consequence is that we are not happy and invariably, one of the things that he loves (iPAD, Wii, TV, computer or all four) are taken away for some period of time, depending on the severity of his offense and of course his attitude along the way.

Losing privilege is the unintended consequence of my son's choice.

There are some major issues at stake in this election and there are unintended consequences that are out of our control if we do not take a stand.

Today I want to talk about Unbridled Government Spending.

No matter how laudable the various programs are that the government wants to support, we simply can't keep spending more than we make as a nation.

You can't do it at home for any length of time and not eventually suffer the consequences of bankruptcy.  You can't do it as a business and stay in business.

Government is no different.  Leverage is leverage and plain and simply, if you borrow, you are ultimately beholden to whomever you borrow from.


The Outstanding Public Debt as of 30 Oct 2012 at 04:17:03 PM GMT is:

$16,212,402,629,650.59
The estimated population of the United States is 313,779,933
so each citizen's share of this debt is $51,668.05.


We have bailed out major institutions in our country and we have tried stimulating the economy.

We have borrowed a frightening amount from China and the deficit is growing daily at a rate of $3.88 billion, now in excess of $16 trillion dollars.  The unintended consequences of continuing the policies of the Obama administration could be becoming the United States of China.

This is no different than the bank repossessing your house when you can't pay the mortgage.  It is just on a much grander scale.

While I realize that this is a bit outrageous to think about, just watch this video and think about what you can do to keep this from becoming a reality.

                   http://defeatingthedebt.com/index_submit.html

We can't live on promises from someone who made the promises four years ago and took us multiple trillions in the wrong direction.



The unintended consequence of making promises, even promises about good things, and not delivering is out of Obama's control.

Choose this day, whom you will serve.  Vote your conscience and vote for the future of our children.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Not ready to leave, but "ready to go"

In the space of the last two weeks, I've had to say goodbye to two friends/colleagues from the travel industry, Glenn Martin (49) and Mike Pusateri (53). 

Clearly both were way too young to leave this world and while neither was ready to leave their families, their friends, their companies/careers, I am comforted to know that both were "ready to go".

While being ready to leave and ready to go sound the same, I invite you to think about taking a trip and then we'll talk about this thing called life - and what we know as death.

In the travel analogy, when getting ready to go, first you think about what you will need for the trip.  You may have to make a trip to the drug store to get some last minute items, or apply for a visa for international travel (which may entail finding your passport if it has been awhile since you traveled).  
Some of you do this way ahead of time, and others (like me), throw everything in the suitcase at the last minute. 

Once the suitcase is packed, if it is a business trip, you may also need to clear your desk, give some instructions to those that you are leaving behind and get your briefcase ready.   Whether a business trip or a personal one, you may also throw a book or a neck pillow in a bag and perhaps even some snacks. 

You may have packed and gotten everything that you need for the trip, but you are not ready to say goodbye and actually get the trip underway.  Think about how many times you have turned to a friend or a loved one at the airport and said "I'm not ready to leave yet!".   The thing that makes it easier is that you generally know that you are coming back, so there is still time to do, share, be, enjoy, etc.

Getting Ready to Go

In this thing that we call death, getting ready to go is actually a pretty simple thing.  You may think it is akin to packing and there are all kinds of dos and don'ts and prerequisites.  Nope.  That is what the "church" may have told you.  But here is what God's Word says. 

Even if you don't go to church, most are familiar with John 3:16, quoted here from The Message Bible, extending to John 3:18. 

 16-18"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

If you have never acknowledged this truth, just close your eyes right now and thank your Maker for what he did in acquitting you.  You can't earn it.  You can't be good enough for it.  It is a gift and it is free. 

Then get ahold of a Message Bible (way easier to read than many other translations), either at your local Walmart, on Amazon or even on your iPad or iPhone (my favorite is YouVersion.com, which allows you to look at other versions as well).  Get to know Him first by reading about Him. 

Start with what he says about you and your life.   Psalm 139 is where that can be found. 

Then, to build on that little mustard seed of faith that is sprouting in you (whether you can see it or not), find some others that are on a faith journey.  You'll be amazed at how many people you know actually have already been on this particular journey.  Church is clearly a place to start, but if they have a long list of do's and don'ts and you don't hear about love and grace when you go, search for another one.

Here is a link to messages from my Pastor, Dan Dunn of Real Life Church in Tampa.  You'll definitely learn about grace here. 

That's it.  He does the rest of the work in you, from the inside out.  Should your time come, you are ready.

Being Ready to Leave

"When you were born, you were crying & everyone else smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one smiling & everyone else crying."

Now being ready to leave in life is quite a different thing. 

Start by living, loving and laughing and most importantly re-prioritizing.  

I will leave you with a story about priorities from James Patterson.

Imagine that life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The five balls are: family, friends, health, integrity, and work. And you are keeping all of them in the air.

But one day you finally come to understand that "work" is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

The other four---family, friends, health, and integrity---are made of glass. And if you drop them, they will crack, chip, or shatter.

Once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will be ready to life your life in such a way that while you may not be ready to say goodbye, you will have lived life to the fullest, appreciated those around you and you will have left a legacy to those that you will someday leave behind.

The good news is that if you are "ready to go",  it is so much easier to also be "ready to leave", because you know that you will one day be reunited with those that are left behind.

Are you ready to go?

 



Monday, October 17, 2011

The Word is Out - If you ABIDE in Him, He will ABIDE in you

We just completed another amazing Tres Dias weekend in Tampa Bay (#28).   Melissa Buzetto and I were blessed to sit at the Table of Ruth, sharing in the spiritual journey of six women that were hand-picked by God himself to share the weekend with us.  
 
The theme of the weekend was to abide in Him and He will abide in you.  This comes from John 15.  I love how the Message Bible reads on this topic - make your home in Him and He will live in you.  Whichever version of the Bible you prefer, the bottom line is LOVE.
John 15 The Vine and the Branches
 1-3 "I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.  4"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
 5-8"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
 9-10"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love.
 11-15"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father.
 16"You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
 17"But remember the root command: Love one another.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Girl's Guide to Life by Katie Meier

Are you parenting a teenage girl?  Before I begin by offering my condolences, I will remind myself that I am just a few years away from being in your shoes.  So I will offer something much more substantial that you will hopefully return in a few short years.

I just finished reviewing "A Girl's Guide to Life" by Katie Meier, and if your daughter is already "falling in love" routinely, this is a great book for her!  I found it a little advanced for my 12 year old, but know I'll be pulling it out again soon.


Click to order
The book is divided into three parts, Mind, Body and Soul and each chapter has a practical layout with places for your daughter to personalize her own experience in each area.  It also includes "Big Myths and the Real Deal", hitting many tough subjects head-on. 

Katie Meier addresses everything from prejudice and perceptions to sex and sexuality and everything in between.  She ends the book with "Who You'll Choose To Be".  I like the fact that she reinforces that who you are is a choice and that it isn't about what you like to do, but who you really are inside. 

As the sub-title says, this book is the truth on growing up, being true and making your teen years fabulous.  I can only hope that mom and dad benefit from the learning that a teen girl gets from the book and that it will minimize the need for condolences when my 12 year old is ready for this book!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Don't Settle for the Ordinary

This song by Third Day is told from the perspective of Moses and talks about how he couldn't settle for less once he had seen God's glory.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to settle for ordinary things if I can see His presence and His face.  It seems that His presence is even more palpable when things are challenging in my life.  How about you?




Flash Animation 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Faithfulness

2Thesselonians 3:3  The Lord is faithful and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

Faith is believing without seeing.  It is like the sun, that although absent from our vision at night, it always comes up each morning. God is as faithful and as powerful as the sun, penetrating the darkness in our lives.

Faithful is one who doesn't change.  Hebrews 13:5 says He will not leave you or forsake you, let you down or relax His hold on you.  He is faithful. He can't change, any more than the sun can stop shining and the earth can stop its rotation around the sun. 

Faithfulness is a description of the character of faith that truly equates to love.  "I will be faithful and true" is a promise that we make to our spouse when we marry - even on days when we don't like them very much.  Faithfulness is God's very nature.


Unconditional love is faithful.  It strengthens and protects, no matter what. 

Lord, help me to love unconditionally and to be faithful to those around me, strengthening and protecting through what I say and do.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Leadership: Integrity of the Heart

Psalm 78:72  And David shepherded them with integrity of the heart, with skillful hands he led them.

David was hand picked by the Creator Himself to lead God's chosen people.  For decades, God's people had been disobedient, not paying attention to the blessings and mercies of God.  In God's wisdom He gave them a shepherd - who guides errant sheep - and one with integrity of the heart.

Leadership is abut demonstrating integrity of the heart.  This means consistency of actions with intentions.

Lord help me to be consistent in serving you, serving others and serving my family.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

He causes the waters to flow - Welcome spring!

Psalm 147:18  He sends forth His word and melts them [ice].  He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.

We have been in a financial season that seems like hard winter.  Our resources have been frozen, like ice, stolen, unavailable to us.

He sends for His word - prosperity, provision, goodness and melts the situations around us, as we pray for His will in our lives.  His warm winds blow because He causes it to be so and now the waters begin to flow.

Thank you Jehovah Jireh for your Word, the wind and your provision.  Than k you for spring and returning to us what was stolen.  You word [Zechariah 9:12] says that it will be restored two-fold to us.  Thank you Lord that your Word is true.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Find refuge

Psalm 91:4  He will cover you with feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.

LIke an eagle that spreads his wings to provide a covering for the eaglets, so will our Papa God spread His wings for us.  He will cover us and provide a place of peace and safety.

I will sit under the wings of the most High and rest in His covering.  It is not my job to stay dry and keep myself from harm, but it is His will and good pleasure to cover me.

Lord, may I rest in your covering and stop striving to remain dry and stay safe in the midst of the storm.

Chicke Fitzgerald - One who seeks His face

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm back - Today's topic: It isn't ours

After a long time of not blogging about what is the single most important thing in my life - my faith, I am back. I've been very busy, but know that in order to get proper momentum, reduce friction and to get really focused, I have to come back to my core. That core is the "owner's manual" for my life - the love letters written by my Creator.  In short, I need to slow down before I speed up.

I was not created without a plan. Every step of my life has been ordered. Psalm 139 outlines that so clearly for me.

The text for today's topic is 1 Chronicles 29:12:12

11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.

12 Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.

David made this final prayer public after amassing hundreds of tons of gold, silver and precious gems and stone for the temple. He acknowledged God as the source, HIS source when he clearly could have touted his own wisdom and strength.

Nothing that I have belongs to me. Not even the banks own our house, our cars or our boat. They all sit in the hands of God. It is in His hands that we are exalted and favored or are bankrupt.

Lord, I sit at your feet, astounded at your mercy and amazed by your grace. Thank you that Jesus died for me, so that I might escape the hands of justice where my sins bring down judgement on me.

You are exalted Lord. Thank you for the Kingdom of heaven that is not visible, but that is in control of my every move and my every venture.

There is power in understanding "whose" you are, even when you think that there is security in "who" you are. David knew that and gave honor where honor was due. He was known as a man after God's own heart.

I am after you Lord God. You are my Jehovah Jirah, my provider.

Chicke Fitzgerald, Tampa, FL

Friday, August 21, 2009

I LOVE AFRICA Event next Thursday in Tampa at Grace Family - Don't miss it

Please join Deb and Mike Gilbert this Thursday at Grace Family Church in Lutz for I LOVE AFRICA. This event is sponsored by One City Ministries.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Social Media twist – Is Jesus Christ following you?

OK, those of us who are seasoned Twitter users know that Jesus is not in fact using Twitter and did not decide today at 538pm to follow me any more than the real Madonna chose this afternoon at 107pm to follow me. Full day on Twitter!

But it does give you pause to sign into your email and see this waiting for you.
Even more impactful is the normal Twitter banter in the confirmation email and how you choose to respond (or worse, ignore).


Hmmmm, so a choice to follow Jesus is as simple as clicking on a hyperlink in the email?

My own choice to follow Jesus was in 1972 before the web was a twinkle in anyone’s eye and not nearly as high tech, but it has been enduring. And fortunately, more than 4 people follow Him.

I wonder too about the implied ease in the Twitter email of rejecting Him and whether anyone would really consider BLOCKING Him, also through clicking on a simple hyperlink?

I don’t know who is behind the Twitter Account dubbed as AskJesusChrist. The location is Jerusalem (but of course). Time will tell if the virtual Jesus answers questions by using God’s Word and parables as Jesus did 2000+ years ago or whether as today’s banter reflected, he will use his own crude dialogue “Hell yes, I exist”.

The real question that this begs is “What would you write differently in your 240 characters if the real Jesus was in fact following you?”

Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15