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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Report on BQF Nationals 2017

It is Sunday. Last Wednesday began the 2017 Bible Quiz Fellowship National Tournament. The ministry I serve (Midland Ministries) hosted; and thus we had the prep and post work (of which there is a massive amount).

If you are not familiar with Bible quizzing (BQF style or any other), learn more here.

Forty-five teams of seven from about 14 states participated. This year's tournament was held in Kansas City, which has a large Bible quiz presence. It is only 45 minutes away from Midland's location in and around Saint Joseph, Mo. Many parents, grandparents, and other family members showed up to encourage and watch.

All tournaments have their own flavor; but this one seemed particularly sweet. Interaction among the teen competitors appeared friendly, respectful, and it was great to hear laughter; and great to see a pair or a group of quizzers praying together.

Quizzers (and staff) speak of "PND" (Post-Nationals Depression). Though probably not diagnosable, it is very real thing for many...intense days of competition laced with moments of hilarity and periods of heartache...As I say probably too often...Nationals has such uniqueness that it is like, to me, combat or matter how much you hear; how many videos you watch..unless you've been there, you've no idea.

You'll note I'm not displaying the team placements, or individual achievements. They are important, the teens work very hard for them; but whether they finished at the top or at the bottom; they've all memorized several chapters of Luke...Thus they are all victors.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Drudgery Sanctified

When asked what ministry looks like, I occasionally grin and reply, "We set up chairs, take down chairs; set up chairs, take down chairs..."

It is said we do a lot of the stuff we'd rather not do in order that we can do what we wish to do.

This from Oswald Chambers cleans it up and clears it up (and perhaps convicts it up?)

"Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


When we celebrate Christmas we are celebrating that amazing time when the Word that shouted all the galaxies in to being, limited all power, and for love of us came to us in the powerless body of a human baby.
Madeline L'Engle

Friday, September 2, 2016

Pondering Psalms...

Psalms. I still try to read five a day and thus all each month.

Why? Among other reasons, the psalmists record a wide range of emotions and realities. Sometimes life has "blah" moments; other times life is full of excitement and high emotion. 

There are other times in (honest) Christians' lives when life just sorta sucks, and God is questioned. 

All these realities and more are recorded in psalms.

Doesn't quite go in with the flashy, prosperity-geared hype of much "Christian" television. Doesn't "sell" well. Goes against the "glitter." Exposes the lies. 

But it is genuine. "Speaking the truth in love" is too-often cited as the proper way to give criticism, but the essence is to speak the truth. Methinks there are far too many followers of Christ wallowing in self-induced misery because they feel they are the only ones to be going through a dry spell, a time of doubts, a time of listlessness.  Why?

Because believers too often not only don't speak the truth, we lie. "How ya doing?" "Great, praise the Lord," when, in fact, we are close to dying inside.

Vulnerability isn't "safe," and no one wants to be around someone who is always whining, but we all need to work at being real, genuine, and open with our brothers and sisters in Christ. That "we all" does, of course, include me.

Motives for not sharing? Perhaps some don't think "real" Christians go through down times? Others don't want their particular issue to be other words, we don't trust those to whom we might be vulnerable. 

Some don't want to admit to having any less-than-mountaintop-experiences.

Perhaps some just don't want to run the risk of making another "down" because of our "downess"? Not sure if that last sentence conveys what I'm attempting to say...

The Psalms are a look inside the heart as well as head of David and the author psalmists. Superintended by the Holy Spirit, the recorded words are sometimes shocking, other times comforting, occasionally confusing.

Sort of like life. Real life. Redeemed life. Life for which we can be certain of one crystal-clear fact...the Lord is with us 24/7...and though He rejoices with us when we rejoice, He weeps with us when we weep...and equips us to do the same with one another.

In a valley? He is with you now...not "just" at the other end.

And the way out of the valley is through the valley...with the Lord your God taking the "point."

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Not Just for a November Thursday

Giving thanks...
"give thanks in all circumstances..." NIV, ESV
"in everything give thanks..." NKJ
"give thanks in everything" HCSB
"No matter what happens, always be thankful..." NLT

Just a few versions of 1 Thessalonians 5.18; and all conclude pretty much the same, "...for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Wanna know God's will?

Can't tell you specifically (nor can any other human) what His will is for your life, but we can see one of the few places in scripture where "His will" is specifically defined (there are at least three others) be thankful.

But notice we are to be thankful in all situations, not for all situations. We need not be thankful for cancer, divorce, crime, war, gossip, etc. But we can trust the Lord and His sovereignty (to include Romans 8.28, which is a delightful verse to quote to other people!) and be thankful in the valleys, in the bad times, in the doubt and confusion. Important distinction...

I am so very grateful that God chose me in Him (and we don't have to understand stuff to be thankful for stuff!) before there was time. I'm grateful He called me to Himself.

I'm so very thankful for Jane...a Proverbs 31 wife who puts up with so much of "me" and still loves me. And I'm thankful for four great, wonderful, exasperating, prayer-provoking children.

I'm also grateful I get to "brag on Jesus" vocationally, and for those folks who pray and give that we might continue to serve as home missionaries totally dependent on "support/deputation."

And I'm thankful for you...a zillion things you could be doing, and you are reading this! Amazing!
Here's something from Elisabeth Elliott: "It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. one or the other becomes a habit of life."
And this chewable from G. K. Chesterton: "The modern world (he died in 1936) has had far too little understanding of the art of keeping young. Its notion of progress has been to pile one thing on top of another, without caring if each thing was crushed in turn. People forgot that the human soul can enjoy a think most when there is time to think about it and be thankful for it. And by crowding things together they lost the sense of surprise; and surprise is the secret of joy." (emphasis added)

In the midst of the hustle and bustle, remember the giver of all good gifts and give thanks to Him...remember to verbalize your love and thanks to those who are crucial, precious, irreplaceable parts of your life...and remember that an optimist is one who sees a 28 pound turkey on the dinner table on Thanksgiving and who, on Friday, asks "What's for lunch?" my opinion...there is nothing quite as good as a cold turkey sandwich loaded with onions late Thursday or Friday...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

So last night I decide to read Psalm 119. I do that fairly often since it is so focused on the Word of God (though using a number of, in my mind, synonyms).
As I read I spotted three verses that methinks will develop into a sermon...I share them for your own edification and/or comments:

Psa 119.133 Keep steady my steps according to Your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

Psa 119.165 Great peace have those who love Your law, nothing can make them stumble.

Psa 119.173  Let Your had be ready to help me, for I have chosen Your precepts.
Rather cool, huh?

I'm sure some will think it is sacrilege, but makes me think of an old Beatles tune:

Verse me to walk steady...don't let any sin creep up and get power over me

Verse God's law; guarantee, nothing can make you stumble (cue D.C. Talk..."what if I stumble, what if I fall; will the Lord still love me when the walk becomes a crawl")...Doesn't say we won't stumble; does say nothing can make us stumble...we stumble on our own...

Verse 173...because I've chosen His precepts, God's got my back!

Here's another great verse: Isaiah 41.13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who says to you, "Fear not, I am the One who helps you."

Monday, August 29, 2016

Simple Test - Profound Message

Take this quiz mentally:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier? The lesson?

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care. Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life.
I remember a teacher once saying that there were two kinds of people in the world, those who were interesting and those who were interested.
Interesting people spend most of their time telling you about themselves and are easily forgettable. Interested people on the other hand, tend to listen and act like they care. My best guess is the reason they act like they care is because they genuinely do.
If it's been a while since you've connected with and thanked a person of genuine influence in your life, maybe it's time? we proceed through life...may we all remember that people are more important than projects, those ministered to are more important those ministering ("as you've done to the least of these...") and that Jesus is vitally interested in individuals...and therefore so we should be...

Friday, August 26, 2016

Spurgeon Slugs

This slapped me the side of the head...

"Remember that your brethren and sisters in Christ, with whom you find so much fault, are God's elect. And if He chose them, why do you reject them?
They are bought with Christ's blood, and if He thought them worth so much, why do you think so little of them?
Recollect, too, that with all their badness there are some good points in them in which they excel you. They do not know so much, but perhaps they act better than you. It may be that they are more faulty in pride, but perhaps they excel you in generosity. Or if perhaps one man is a little quick in temper, yet he is more zealous than you. Look at the bright side of your brother, and the black side of yourself, instead of reversing the order as many do.

The drift of this lesson is this; as your heavenly Father has pity on you, have pity on one another. Jesus, the Compassionate One, covers our sins with the mantle of His love! Be as tender towards those who sin as the Master was. He remembers that we are dust; remember this of others. I will not find fault with you, my friend, if I can help it, because you will be one day without fault before the throne of God! If God will so soon remove your faults, why should I take note of them?"   Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Reconnected with one of my favorite quotations of all is from Peter Kuzmic. He was born in Yugoslavia (which became Croatia) and started a seminary there...

Anyway...the quote:
"Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future.
Faith is having the courage to dance to it today."
May we all have the courage to keep our feet moving in light of the hope that the Lord has stored up for us in heaven (see Col 1.5)
And, should you have a problem with the concept of dancing, read Psalm 150.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Finally - The Truth About Diets!

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting medical studies. 
1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
4. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. 
CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.