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Bye Bye Barbara

The death this week of Barbara Bush was sad but not unexpected. Word of her failing health had been spreading quickly. As First Lady she was someone I really respected. As years went by I always felt she carried herself like an awesome grandmother; a little ornery, always quick with a comment, but really loved her family. I never really knew my grandparents on either side but if I had to pick a grandmom, I think Barbara Bush would have been great. She was tough but caring. She told it like it was and you knew the truth was in what she said.

Maybe parents and grandparents today could use some Barbara Bush mentality. We need to love our children and grandchildren, but also prepare them with the truth. Nothing is a substitute for the truth of God’s Word. I said in last week’s message that every child in every generation is going to touch the stove to see if it is hot. Every child someday will have to stand up on their own faith in God and deal with the challenges, trials and temptations of this life. Let’s make sure we provide a Christ-like example, the truth of God’s Word, pray for them like crazy, but keep it real.

We will miss you Barbara Bush. Thanks for being a First Lady and a Grandmother.

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Bye without a bang!

The death of physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking this week was met with respect and admiration. He was arguably one of the leading scientists of our time. I don’t track a lot of “science talk” but I did follow a few of Hawking’s theories, one being the whole black hole thing. Basically, he said that a black hole was not a black hole when it exploded. Maybe that is why when I forget things they go into the black hole of my mind and explode, new excuse for my wife! What really stuck out for me even more so than the science was Hawking’s ability to overcome such severe physical challenges. In 1963, he learned that he had Lou Gehrig’s disease and was given only a few years to live. He managed his illness with much dignity and tenacity. It really did not prevent him from doing what he was gifted to do. 
One thing he was not shy about was his belief that God had no part in the creation of the universe or much else for that matter. I wonder if that position softened as he approached his death. Often, such scientific intellectuals struggle with the simple but powerful scope of Christ’s love. It always amazes me that so often the people that are so brilliant have the hardest time believing in God.  
They say his mind roamed the cosmos. I am not sure what that means, but I will tell you his little electronic chair of his sure got around. 

Don’t forget the Altar

Quite often in church we talk about “coming down to the altar” or we remember a powerful experience where we really encountered God at the altar in church. Growing up I attended churches that actually had altar rails with pads where you could kneel and pray. Shortly after we moved into the auditorium at the Wilmington Christian School, we purchased kneeling pads to put at the stage to create that “altar time experience.” Likewise at Coffee Run the new worship center will have a similar design. The phrase “altar call” might be a slightly dated evangelical church term, but there is nothing dated about the power of encountering God.
The word “altar” appears 384 times in the New International Version of the Bible with the majority of those in the Old Testament. There we would see a host of things happening from sacrifices to presenting offerings to making covenants. Most everything centered around a sacred moment or transformation of the heart. No question it is not the altar itself or walking down to it that changes lives, but it is a platform from which the Holy Spirit can do so much.  
I thank God as a church that we have multiple opportunities to approach the altar: before and during worship, and at the end of a service where we intentionally leave time for a response to God’s call and as He leads. I would encourage you to encounter God in this powerful way as His Holy Spirit leads you. No doubt responding to an altar call requires letting go and having faith and trust in God. It is an incredible way to embrace God and experience His life changing power.     

One more shout out to “America’s Pastor” 

For quite a few years I have been preparing to write a few thoughts about Dr. Billy Graham on his home-going. When someone is closing in on the century mark I guess that is what you do. I was blessed to attend his last crusade in 2005 in New York. It happened to be his 417th crusade as well. Even in his late 80’s his passion and love for communicating the gospel was so powerful.

I believe that no one in recent generations has impacted the world for Christ like he has. No one could cross over denominations and doctrinal challenges like he did. For Dr. Graham it was all about Jesus, believing in Him and asking for forgiveness. It was about spending eternity in heaven with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

His life should be a powerful example for us as to what is important. Do we spend too much time arguing about theology and political issues that do nothing but separate us from the truth of God’s Word? If a man can develop a working friendship with 12 consecutive presidents he must be very good at striking the right balance.

I praise God for the example of Dr. Graham and hope I can continue to learn and model many aspects of his life.

Courage in the face of horror. 

Tragically, I cannot recall how many times I have written about horrific shootings in schools, clubs, movie theaters and other places throughout this country. There is a sad numbness that I feel as I think about these events.  My faith in the Lord does not waiver nor does my belief in the power of prayer and healing. The issues of hate, violence, anger and mental illness are way too complex for me to try and tackle in just a few paragraphs.  
One story within Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida that really touched me was that of Aaron Feis. He was an assistant football coach and security guard at the school. Aaron selflessly shielded students from the shooter and was shot and killed while doing so. What a powerful story of courage amid such a horrible massacre. He was also a 1999 graduate of the school and his heart for the students was so obvious in this ultimate sacrifice. 
I thank God for courage shown in the face of evil that such a selfless act could come out of an unspeakable tragedy. By the time you read this, families will be trying to move on with planning funerals and memorial services for the loved ones they lost, their pain, grief and sadness still raw and immeasurable.  Let’s continue to pray for them and think about heroes like Aaron Feis.     

Final thoughts on Superbowl 52

When the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl 52, I experienced a lot of different emotions which ranged from relief to joy to being surprised. I have seen too many Patriot wins take place in the last few minutes of a game.  When the game was finally over the biggest emotion and feeling of satisfaction came for me when I saw how God was glorified. The testimony of the coach and all the players standing on the platform to receive the Super Bowl trophy was so powerful. I have heard a lot of influential people talk about their faith but rarely with such conviction and poise. What an example for us all. God’s Word says, “… the meek will inherit the Earth.” That does not mean the weak. The meek inherit the earth because they make their situation all about Jesus. These coaches and professional athletes made their success this season all about Jesus. What an example to follow. How about you? Is there a success or a strong area of your life that you need to make more about Jesus? There is such strength and witness in giving God the glory for all the things he has done.  Try it this week. Surprise someone. Make it all about Jesus!

Yes this was from last week  

Ever since I started writing this slightly significant little blog, I always try and preview the Super Bowl commercials that are scheduled for the big football weekend. In the past, I usually will suggest which ones are funny, weird and especially the ones where the kids might need to leave the room. Well, this year is different. Obviously with our local team in the big game I could care less about the commercials. However, I am intrigued to see anything that someone would spend six million dollars on for only 30 seconds of viewing. So on to the game! As a Philly sports fan since the early 70’s, I am accustomed to the lows… and the lows. However, this year’s Eagles squad is really special, such character, so many strong believers, and they really seem to be on a mission. On paper and everywhere else I believe the Eagles are the better team. However, the coach and a quarterback combination of their opponent is nothing less than incredible. In the history of Super Bowls, back-up quarterbacks have won over 85% of the games. Then again their opponents’ experience in big games dwarfs our local boys. I guess I could go on and on. OK, here it is, the big prediction… I am going with the Eagles! 

 

The above is for recreational purposes only.