Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cooper and Penny around and about

Penny's happy visit from cousin Aidan ...

All partying stops when "Olivia" comes on ...

Running around Bartlett Baptist during their great-great aunt Sissy's 85th birthday party ...

Penny helps me out when I had to fix (then replace) the garbage disposal ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Who is Jesus?

My Life Group lesson from Sun., Sept. 7 ...

THE BOOK OF HEBREWS

Today we start a 13-week study of the book of Hebrews:

--- We don’t know who wrote Hebrews. Possibilities include Paul, Barnabas, Luke, Mark, Phillip, Silas, Apollos, and even Priscilla (Aquila’s wife). Whoever it was had extensive knowledge of Jewish customs and the scriptures, and was possibly heavily influenced by Paul. Only God knows for certain.

--- We don’t know exactly when it was written. Probably just before 70 A.D. and the fall of Jerusalem.

--- "The letter of Hebrews is more like a sermon, delivered to a group of people who are thinking of giving up on the Christian faith." (From the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook)

--- The writer is like a preacher drawing them back to spiritual safety. Hebrews calls us to stay strong in the faith, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

*** QUESTION TO OPEN THINGS – How do you explain God and Jesus to your kids, nieces and nephews, or how did your elders teach you as a child? Did they simplify it?

--- How do you clearly get across the point who Jesus is and what He did?

--- To my kids I try to keep it simple: God loves you, He always has, He always will, as the book goes from David Jeremiah, who coincidentally is also the editor of this study guide!

--- The author of Hebrews goes back to the basics. You’ve probably heard Pastor David tell the story of legendary college basketball coach John Wooden. He would start the first practice of the season with what you would think is the simplest of the simple: How to put on your socks correctly. If you don’t do that, you get bad feet and right away you’re useless.

--- Today we’re going to look at the basic but very important question: “Who is Jesus?”

Now let’s break Hebrews 1:1-4 down, verse by verse. The main idea of today's lesson is that as God’s Son, Jesus revealed God finally and without equal.

GOD SPEAKS (Hebrews 1:1-2a)

1 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2a In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

*** Verse 1 - Long ago, in a galaxy far far away …

Many stories begin with a phrase such as, “Once upon a time,” “A long time ago,” or “Once there was a...” These opening lines usually lead us to a story that’s full of fantasy, such as fairy tales or science fiction.

But the author of Hebrews begins with the words “Long ago,” not to take us away from reality, but to show that this wasn’t a new message, but one foretold for centuries. The message refers to the times of the Old Testament when God spoke to His people through the prophets – including Moses, Samuel, Elisha, Isaiah and Jeremiah.

--- God told the Israelites to trust the prophets:

Amos 3:7 - Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophet.

Moses: Deut. 34:10 - And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face...

Samuel: 1 Sam. 3:20 - And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.

Elisha: 2 Kings 3:11 - But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” An officer of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah."

Isaiah: 2 Kings 20:1 - In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

Jeremiah: 2 Chron. 36:12 - He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord.

--- These prophets faithfully spoke God’s words to the people of Israel. Yet they also pointed to the coming of One—Jesus Christ—who would be God’s perfect Spokesman. Jesus said that that in Matthew 5:17 - “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

--- Isaiah 9:6-7 - 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

-- Jeremiah 31:31-34 - 31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.34 No longer will they teach their neighbor or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

--- However, the Jewish Christians of the late first century hadn't heard from God in centuries. Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, was written about 430 B.C.

--- QUESTION - It's been 2,000 years since the New Testament was written. We know that Jesus was the new covenant and the scriptures speak to us. But do you think that makes a difference when trying to explain Jesus and the Bible to nonbelievers?

*** Verse 2a - In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

*** "The last days" refers the time from Jesus' birth forward, not necessarily saying that we are in the end times. The phase is talking about the separation of the two ages, before Jesus and after Jesus.

*** The Old Testament has books by 17 prophets, all revealing bits of prophecy about Jesus. He even said as much while walking with the disciples after His resurrection: --- Luke 24:27 - And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

--- The first age pointed to what would come in the second: 1 Pet. 1:10-12 - 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

GOD REVEALED (Hebrews 1:2b-4)

2b God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

*** Seven truths about Jesus are revealed in verses 2 and 3.

(1.) Christ is the “appointed … heir of all things.” - This phrase alludes to Psalm 2:8, where the psalmist foretold that the Messianic King from the family line of King David would be given the ends of the earth.

(2.) Christ is the one through whom God made the universe. - Jesus is the Heir of all things precisely because He was with God in the beginning as the Agent of creation.

--- John 1:3 - Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

--- Colossians 1:16 - For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

(3.) Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory.”- This phrase means that to see Jesus Christ is to see the glory of God.

(4.) Jesus is the “exact expression” of God’s nature and being. - Once when Philip asked Jesus to show the Father to the disciples, Jesus responded by declaring that to see Him was to see the Father (see John 14:8-9 - 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?). While the Father and the Son are distinct Persons, they are of the same divine nature.

(5.) Jesus upholds all the created order. - Unlike the mythical deity Atlas, who is pictured as holding the earth on his shoulders, Jesus is the Creator and Commander of all created things. He sustains everything by His powerful word—and He is not the least bit taxed by the effort. It is deeply assuring.

--- QUESTION - What are some things that might cause Christians to question whether Jesus is in control of all things?

(6.) Jesus makes purification for sins. - This is a preview of a major theme in Hebrews, Jesus sacrifice for our sins. In Old Testament times, the high priest offered an atonement sacrifice once a year for the Israelites' sins, but none offered themselves as a perfect sacrifice. None were qualified. Jesus was and is.

(7.) He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. - Jesus the Eternal Son of God lives and rules with the power of God the Father, doing so with all authority as the One who bears God’s own name.

*** QUESTION - What keeps people from trusting Jesus with every aspect of their lives? How do these verses strengthen your resolve to endure in faith?

*** Verse 4 - So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs.

*** Jesus the Son, through whom God has now spoken in a full and final way, is greater than the angels.

*** QUESTION - Why would it have been important for the writer of Hebrews to establish the fact that Jesus has a higher rank than angels?

--- The writer of Hebrews adds in verses 5 through 14 that no angel shared the relationship Jesus the son and God the father. Angels are servants; Jesus is the Divine Son. We need to remember that the first readers of Hebrews might have been tempted to return to Judaism. They needed to understand that Jesus surpassed the nature and role of angels in the Old Testament just as He surpassed the prophets.

--- Given who Jesus is, then, we can trust Him in everything. That was the writer’s intention for those early Christians and also for us today.

*** Question - What makes some people uncomfortable when asked to speak about what they believe about Jesus?

*** So who is Jesus? Adrian Rogers writes:

“Nobody knows the exact date of His birth, and yet His birth has divided all of history to A.D. and B.C. As far as we know, Jesus never wrote a book, and yet more books have been written about Him than any other person who ever lived. He never painted a picture or composed any poetry or music that we know of, and yet He has been the inspiration of the greatest music, art, and poetry that the world has ever known.

“Jesus did not travel extensively, and yet His influence is worldwide. He never had any formal education, yet more schools, colleges, universities, and seminaries have been founded in His name than any other person who ever lived. In His own life, He was relatively unknown outside of His own friends and countrymen.

“That’s who the Lord Jesus is, and, friend, we need to understand this: Never has there been another like the Lord Jesus Christ! And there never will be.”

(Love Worth Finding)

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

*** Think of someone who needs to know that God has revealed Himself in Christ. Pray for that person this week.

*** If that person is you, seek out the Bible for answers. Talk to someone about it.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Our Work With God's Creation

Sunday morning our life group talked about how God has given us responsibility over His creation ...

*** Question - What chores were you responsible for growing up? What chores do your kids do?

With new freedoms growing up comes responsibility. Getting a pet means walking out or feeding it. A driver's license means running errands.

*** God has given us freedom to enjoy His creation, but with responsibility to take care of it.

Creation of man, woman and the earth was supposed to be a relationship of perfect harmony. In Genesis God places Adam in a beautiful garden and provides his needs according to God’s rules. God asked all humans to be stewards of the environment in Genesis 1:28, when He said to Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Genesis 2:15, Adam and Eve obey God’s instructions both to ‘work’ the land and to ‘take care of it’ (2:15). Sadly, it is not long before everything is spoiled by human sin. (Truth For Life Resources)

Leviticus 25:1-3

25 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land I am giving you, the land will observe a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 You may sow your field for six years, and you may prune your vineyard and gather its produce for six years.

*** The Israelites were coming out of slavery and 40 years of wandering the wilderness. In the Promised Land they would have freedoms not known for generations.

*** It's important to remember that our enjoyment of God's creation should encourage us to praise Him and give Him glory.

*** Question - For you, is caring for creation a political issue, a biblical issue, or a non-issue? Why do you think environmental issues become so political?

--- Politically you have the folks who would get rid of humanity to save the planet, and others who say we are the top of the food chain and can exploit natural resources as we wish.

Leviticus 25:4-5

4 But there will be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land in the seventh year, a Sabbath to the Lord: you are not to sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You are not to reap what grows by itself from your crop, or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. It must be a year of complete rest for the land.

*** God was teaching the Israelites a lesson, that everything comes from the Lord, and the way we use it shows our level of trust in Him.

--- By giving the land a year of rest, the Israelites were almost totally dependent on God as their provider. This wasn't a random test. All God's command are for our benefit. For example, it helps the land to let it lie fallow for a season. Doing so replenishes the soil, leading to stronger crops in the yard to follow.

--- QUESTION: Do you have enough faith to not work for a year? Could you save up during the six years, and then just not work your land, so to speak, for the seventh?

*** God desires for us to recognize the same truth as the Israelites 2,000 years ago:

--- He has given you what you have.
--- He is the One taking care of you now.
--- He will continue to be your ultimate provider.

Leviticus 25:6-7

6 Whatever the land produces during the Sabbath year can be food for you—for yourself, your male or female slave, and the hired hand or foreigner who stays with you. 7 All of its growth may serve as food for your livestock and the wild animals in your land.

*** God teaches the Israelites that as they are provided for, they must provide for others, such as servants, hired hands, and livestock.

God's command is to use what He gives us to take care of ourselves and benefit others. The study guide asks us to consider these questions:

--- If you're an employer, how are you taking care of those who work for you?

--- How are you using what God has given you to benefit those less fortunate than you?

--- How are you using what God has given you to help people around the world?

*** Do not draw attention to yourself as giving handouts; draw praise to God as the ultimate provider. The greatest blessing will be more people coming to know Him for eternity.

*** QUESTION – Do you use cloth diapers? Do you follow Sheryl Crow’s advice to use one sheet of TP? Are low-flow toilets and showers evil? What are some changes you can make in your lifestyle that will fulfill God’s desire concerning your care of His creation?

*** There is actually a Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative. It’s an independent coalition of Southern Baptist pastors, leaders, and laypersons who believe in stewardship that is both biblically rooted and intellectually informed.

(1) Humans Must Care for Creation and Take Responsibility for Our Contributions to Environmental Degradation.

(2) It Is Prudent to Address Global Climate Change

(3) Christian Moral Convictions and Our Southern Baptist Doctrines Demand Our Environmental Stewardship.

(4) It Is Time for Individuals, Churches, Communities and Governments to Act.

LIVE IT OUT

How can we fulfill our responsibility to care for God's creation this week?

--- Steward your space. You can't fix the world, but you can make a difference where you are. Choose to take a small step by recycling, picking up trash, planting a garden, etc.

--- Shop responsibly. Reward companies that have taken steps toward carrying for God's creation.

--- Serve the world. Do missions to experience the joy of giving to others because of what God has given you.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

God's Amazing Creation!

In Sunday morning's lesson we talked about God’s awesome work!

The Point: Everything in creation is the work of the God who loves us.

*** QUESTION - Are u the kind of person who walks into a meadow and immediately finds a manure pile? Or do you see the beauty?

--- Today we’re going to talk about finding joy in God’s creation, and recognize just how incredible our universe is that He created.

PSALM 104:1-5

1 My soul, praise Yahweh! Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with majesty and splendor.2 He wraps Himself in light as if it were a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy,3 laying the beams of His palace on the waters above, making the clouds His chariot, walking on the wings of the wind,4 and making the winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants.5 He established the earth on its foundations; it will never be shaken.

*** Verse 1 proclaims that God is great. VERY great!

*** Verse 1 also proclaims that God is clothed with majesty and splendor.

*** Verses 2 through 4 describe God's amazing work in creation that reflect God’s:

--- Majesty
--- Tenderness
--- Power
--- Creativity

*** The sky seems to go on forever and is filled with stars and clouds in ever-changing patterns, stretched out as simply as a tent or canopy. If you’ve been our west, look up at night in the clear sky, free of humidity and trees, and be amazed.

*** I get a tired of the lead stories in the news, so I love to check out the science sections instead to see how humanity is still exploring new wonders and learning about just how awesome God’s creation is. For instance:

Scientists at the Univ. of Hawaii said, if you assume a grain of sand has an average size and you calculate how many grains are in a teaspoon and then multiply by all the beaches and deserts in the world, the Earth has roughly 7.5 x 1018 grains of sand, or seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains.

Scientists estimate there are 12 sextillion stars in the universe. That’s 10,000 stars for every grain of sand on our planet. There 100 billion stars just in the Milky Way! If you took a spacecraft at the fastest speed possible now, it would take 75,000 years just to get to the nearest star.

So that makes stars the champions of numerosity, no?

Ummm, no.

If you took 10 drops of water and counted the number of H2O molecules in those drops, you'd get a number equal to all the stars in the universe.

--- Now think of it this way: Psalm 139:17-18 - “The sum of God’s thoughts toward me number more than the sand.”

*** Amazingly, in all of God's magnificence, majesty and splendor, He has chosen to love you.

PSALM 104: 24-26

24 How countless are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. 25 Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. 26 There the ships move about, and Leviathan, which You formed to play there.

--- QUESTION - How have you seen God's wisdom reflected in the natural world? We don't have to be Bear Grylls to understand the power of the natural world.

--- QUESTIONS - What are some of your favorite natural vacation spots? What is it about that place that makes it your favorite? What vacation moment (even if you were in your own backyard) this summer made you think of the wonder and power of God’s creation?

*** There is a place for everything. Everything in its place. Placed by God.

--- Jeremiah 23:24 – “Can a man hide himself in secret places where I cannot see him?”—the Lord’s declaration. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?”—the Lord’s declaration.

--- He has designed you, created you, and placed you in this life for purpose that will bring you joy as you walk in relationship with Him.

*** QUESTION - What hinders us from recognizing God's continual activity in sustaining creation?

PSALM 104:27-30

27 All of them wait for You to give them their food at the right time. 28 When You give it to them, they gather it; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things. 29 When You hide Your face, they are terrified; when You take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 30 When You send Your breath, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth.

*** God's creatures wait for Him. They understand that He is the One who provides food for them. He is providing what they need for life; therefore, they wait for Him.

*** God faithfully provides.

--- The psalmist explained that God provides His creation with food "at the right time." He desires to provide for us on a regular basis, all the time.

--- Just as you give your family good food because you love them, how does God’s provision show His love?

*** Verses 28-30 stress how God acts: "You give ... You open Your hand ... You hide ... You take away ... You send ... You renew."

--- He is powerful. He is powerful enough to speak things into existence. God spoke, it exists. He is wise. He designed every detail of the earth and its’ inhabitants precisely and perfectly, working in perfect rhythm and harmony in relationship with one another. God is also a loving God. He sustains that which He created out of love for His special creation, mankind.

*** QUESTION - How do we savor God as our Creator and appreciate His work?

LIVE IT OUT

--- How we think of God has much to do with how we think of ourselves. We need to see ourselves as the creation of Almighty God with a purpose. (Adrian Rogers)

How can we respond to the work of God as our Creator?

*** Enjoy God's creation. - Make it a point to get outside and enjoy different elements of God's creation. Allow the natural world to serve as a launching point for your communication with God, your Creator.

*** Give thanks. - Make a list this week of everything you're thankful for in your life. Be sure not to skimp - make it a long list! Then spend time expressing your thanks to God.

*** Love others. - Because God loves you, seek out an opportunity to reflect God's love to someone who needs it in the days to come.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cooper and Penny's first day of MDO

Val took some pictures of the kids before their first day of Mother's Day Out today at Faith Baptist. Cooper's an old pro, while it's Penny's first year, and unsurprisingly her note at the end of the day said that she has trouble with obeying the first time she's told to do something, and she wouldn't stay quiet at nap time. That's my girl.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Victorious Faith

(Jeff note: I am going to start posting my Sunday School teaching notes. Why use them just on my class where only 20 or so of us discuss it? Right now we are using the Bible Studies for Life guides from Lifeway:

This is the last of the series Resilient Faith and how Christians are to deal with trials and suffering.

*** When was the last time you had to “just grin and bear it,” “roll with the punches,” “bite the bullet,” or “weather the storm?” All are common phrases of encouragement when someone’s going through a tough time. The apostle Peter writes that we shouldn’t rely on ourselves to get through it.

*** Everyone loves a winner. Isn't it more fun to go into a situation when you know you're going to win? You know you're going to beat the other team. You know you're going to ace that test. You are totally going to beat the old ladies to the potato salad at the church potluck.

Today we're going to talk about the ultimate victory. Despite difficulties and opposition, we are not left alone. The Bible shows us what happens when we drop the self-made approach to faith and rely on God. We are winners!

1 Peter 5:6-7

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

*** What’s the danger of trying to handle life on your own?

*** Christians and depression in light of Robin Williams’ suicide. A tough subject, but is it one that churchgoers don't recognize or ignore?

Do Christians have trouble asking for help? It speaks to the struggles of a human soul and to the necessity of a local church. When we hear about a believer doing such a thing we might think, “where was the church, how did they get to such a dark place without others in the body knowing. Did others know?” Our local church community should be so tight and close that anyone who is going through such things has many saints whom they can confide in and seek help to.

How can we lead Christians who are depressed and suicidal to help them let God turn them around?

*** In verse 6 Peter tells us to “Humble yourselves.”

--- This means we are to submit to the will of God, even – especially - when it includes pain and suffering.

*** In verse 6 Peter also writes that we should do this “Under the mighty hand of God.”

--- It may be hard to accept but Peter encourages us that difficulties can come into a Christian’s life through God’s will:

Job 30:21 - You have turned against me with cruelty; You harass me with Your strong hand.

Psalm 32:4 - For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat.

Deuteronomy 9:26 - I prayed to the Lord: Lord God, do not annihilate Your people, Your inheritance, whom You redeemed through Your greatness and brought out of Egypt with a strong hand.

Ezekiel 20:34 - I will bring you from the peoples and gather you from the countries where you were scattered, with a strong hand, an outstretched arm, and outpoured wrath.

*** Cast your cares on Him.

--- Worry, burdens and anxiety distract us from God’s care and concern for us if we focus on them too much.
--- God cares for you right now, wherever you are in life. He doesn’t sit quietly off to the side as His people suffer.

*** Why do you think Peter uses the term “humble yourselves” in verse 6? What do you think that means in our everyday walk?

1 Peter 5:8-9

8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

*** Peter makes it clear that we have an adversary. Do we take Satan seriously enough? Is it harder to believe in an evil power than in a righteous God?

*** Do you remember the traffic signs with the bees on them that said: "Bee alert, arrive unhurt!" We give the same message to the drivers who look down texting while driving, or doing the lean while talking on the phone in the car.

Likewise, in verse 8 Peter tells us to be serious and alert for those things that could derail our Christian witness.

--- Matthew 26:41 - "Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

--- Acts 20:31 - Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears.

--- 1 Thessalonians 5:6 - So then, we must not sleep, like the rest, but we must stay awake and be serious.

*** It is easy for Christians to lose focus and fall away from the church, and even turn to things like drugs and alcohol for false comfort.

*** The study guide points out two steps Peter tells us we can take to resist the Devil: Know what you believe and why you believe it.

*** What are some of the most common attacks we experience from Satan?

1 Peter 5:10-11

10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.

*** If you were going to visit a church, would you still go if you heard that the pastor had cursed and swore that he didn't know Jesus?

And yet this is the story of Peter in Matthew 26. Think of Peter - called The Rock by Jesus Himself - panicking in the face of trials like this. Have you ever been on a flight that had bad turbulence or a mechanical problem where it was clear even the flight attendants and crew were nervous? That’s when my anxiety goes way up. I think to myself, these guys have seen it all. and if they are this nervous, things must really be bad!

Knowing this, we will be restored after suffering trials just as Peter was restored. Note that Peter doesn't say that he will make sure that God doesn't let you suffer in life. He says that God will come through AFTER you have suffered, but only a little.

*** What forms of suffering do you think we can experience in this life that will help us to grow stronger in our faith?

*** Peter uses this experience to assure us four things in these verses:

--- God is our foundation for a sure hope.
--- God is the only One worthy of our trust and reverence.
--- God is the reason we can endure suffering and trials with resilient faith.
--- God is victorious.

*** Peter says God calls YOU, all of us, to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus. The Lord is the One who gives us strength and victory. He is worthy of all praise because there is nothing we can accomplish without Him.

LIVE IT OUT

How will we approach God for strength and restoration?

*** Don’t worry. – Be conscious of moments when you experience worry this week. Turn it into trust in God.

*** Be prepared. – Make a plan for dealing with attacks when they come your way.

*** Plan a retreat. – Take some time in the near future to get away from your daily routine and spend a significant portion of time with God – and only with God.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jeff's Top 5 Robin Williams Movies

They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

That quote in "Dead Poets Society" is one of my favorite scenes not just from a Robin Williams movie, but from any movie.

Williams was found dead Monday in his California home. His loss has been felt around the world, and not just because of his comedic and acting talents.

Williams' love of others is an example any of us can follow. He was a tremendous supporter of the military and servicemen and women, spending a lot of time around the world entertaining and spending time with them.

Williams was also amazing when it came to how he loved children who are dealing with severe illnesses.

He was a long-time supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital here in Memphis, appearing in multiple campaigns for the facility.

I could read stories like this all day that show how much kindness Williams brought to young patients and their families.

President Obama released a very nice statement of condolence:

"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien - but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most - from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin's family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams."

In his honor, here are my top 5 Robin Williams movies:

1. Dead Poets Society - Williams role here as a teacher who uses unconventional means to get his students is inspiring, touching and funny.

2. Good Morning, Vietnam - Has some of my favorite one-liners that I still use.

3. Good Will Hunting - Another teaching role here, Williams is a weathered professor who mentors Matt Damon and humanizes the movie.

4. The World According to Garp - I used to watch this every time it came on cable in the 80s. A little strange, unexpected, and Williams keeps it light.

5. Aladdin - He may have been just a voice of the Genie, but without his whirlwind of improv, this isn't nearly as entertaining.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Favorite Headlines

Haven't done this in a long time ...

"54th Cracker Day is Saturday"
A day? We can't even get our own month? That's racist!

"Winter weather cancels climate change event"
Attendees are advised next time to arrive in private jets and Hummers to get the temperatures warm enough.

"Floor pooper sentenced to jail"
At least there's a toilet in the clink.

"Cal State Northridge professor charged with allegedly urinating on colleague's office door"
Hopefully he'll be in jail with the floor pooper.

"Truck Carrying Laxatives Causes Backup On Interstate"
It actually made traffic flow smoothly.

"Goodluck Jonathan Retains Nigerian Presidency"
Badluck Pete loses again.

"Lady Gaga fan recovering after dying at Nashville concert"
Nothing at a Lady Gaga show shocks me anymore.

"Otter Signs Order Banning Health Care Reform"
When you've lost the sea mammals, you've lost America. Where are the beavers on this?

Cooper and Penny's July 4th, pt. 2

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cooper and Penny's July 4th, pt. 1

Everyone on Val's dad's side of the family gathered at Mammaw Margie's in Shelby Forest for the 4th!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Cooper and Penny at the Splash Park

Summer fun at the Navy base's splash park ...