A Dude Walked a Tight Rope Between the World Trade Center Towers

One of my kids and I read a book together last night about a dude that walked a tight rope stretched between the World Trade Center Towers in New York City.

That’s right.  His name is Philippe Petit and he’s a Frenchman who is obviously crazy.  He pulled the feat off back in 1974 while the twin buildings were still under construction.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at the video below.

Yeah, well, I guess they did make a motion picture about this back in 2008, but I’m a little behind the times.

Sunday Worship: Leave Your Gift and Go

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  (Matthew 5:23-24 ESV)

These words are in red.  We know what that means, right?  These are the words of Jesus and He has an important message for us this morning.

In this passage, He’s telling us that if we know someone has something against us, it’s more important to go and reconcile with that person than even to participate in a religious activity where we are offering a gift to God.

Why is this?  Why would this be?  After all, isn’t our praise and worship to God more important than anything?

Well, obviously, it’s important for us to genuinely want to offer our worship and praise to God.  But in this case, what Jesus is telling us is central to our relationship with Him — and to others.

To follow Jesus Christ, we must forgive others.  If we withhold forgiveness, we are expressing that we don’t truly understand the gospel and there are some serious eternal consequences for that.  So when we reach out to others to help them experience forgiveness — even if it is to forgive us — we are helping to deliver the message of Jesus Christ.

And, obviously, when we go to others to bring reconciliation, they will probably bring up a bunch of things we did and we probably won’t agree with them and then we’ll get angry.  Do you think that’s what Jesus is trying to dredge out when He encourages us to go to the offended party?  It’s very possible that in our religious activity that we act like are “all good,” but really, we’re not.  Ultimately, if we are also holding a grudge against the other person, we are called to release that grudge and extend forgiveness.

Finally, God doesn’t need our sacrifices.  He likes them, if they are done with a right spirit, but He doesn’t need them.  We could say that “God is all about relationships,” but I think what would be more accurate here is to say that if we bring a sacrifice to God, we are warned to come with a right heart.  If not, we are better off to take care of the real problem — the problem that is affecting our heart — and then return with our sacrifice.

This passage is hard, but it cuts to the heart of the matter.  There have been times — maybe fairly recently, where I failed to obey Jesus in this way.  But regardless of what we’ve done in the past, let’s really think through this to make sure we are honoring Christ.

Let us consider these things today before we go worship Him.

“Sunday Worship” is a weekly series that can hopefully be used to help prepare our hearts to worship God Almighty.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.

Saturday Music: Come On Eileen

Let’s go back to 1983 and travel to a very small school located in central Alabama.  Let’s go back to spring of that year and baseball season.   Have you made it yet?  Good.

That was my school and I was on that team.  Though our school was really small, that year we had an especially large baseball team.  That was due in part to a lot of seniors on that team and due in part to an unusually large number of us freshmen on for the team.

One of my classmates on that team was a guy with a last name of “Rettig.”  Being the clever school boys that we were, we quickly hung the nickname of “Otis” on him because his last name was way too close to Retting, the last name of the guy who sang “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”  Otis didn’t like being called Otis and that made things even better.

That brings us to today’s musical entry, “Come On Eileen,” the one-hit of one-hit band Dexy’s Midnight Runners.  This song was released in 1982 and by the spring of 1983 it was still in heavy rotation on Birmingham radio stations.  Also, it was in heavy rotation on the boom boxes carried along on the athletic bus that drove our baseball team to its away games.

How does that relate to Otis?  Well, the words of this song were quickly adapted from “come on Eileen” to “come on Otis” and every time the song was played, the bus turned into our own little version of High School Musical as we serenaded Otis.

It might have been funny for a time if we sang it a few times and then moved on to something else, but this song infiltrated all of life.  We sang it — at least snippets of it — for years on the high school bus, we’d sing it when Otis was waiting in the on-deck circle or when he was batting and we sang it in the school halls.

Hopefully, Otis gave us a pass on wearing this into the ground because he was definitely a good friend and we loved him.  But to this day when I hear this song, I can’t help but hum “come on Otis…”

“Saturday Music” is a weekly blog series about the music of our lives.  Click here to read all of the posts in this series.

Friday Picture: Yard Fun

img_1516Last Friday, Sweet Wife and rented this bad boy to dig up some shrubs in our yard.

Oh yeah, did we did up the shrubs.

This Terex excavator, also known as a track hoe, is the funnest tool I have ever rented and using it was by far the most fun I’ve ever had working in the yard.

The best part is that it worked.  Using it, we dug up about 30 or so shrubs in a couple of hours for only about $218.  That, folks, is sweet.

“Friday Picture” is a weekly blog series about life…one picture at a time.  You can read all of the posts in the series by clicking here.

What Will This Day Hold?

Back when Sweet Wife and I were expecting our first child, I was hit with the notion that I shouldn’t waste or wish our days away, so I adopted the policy of never saying, “I can’t wait until…”  I was telling myself to slow down and enjoy each moment because I knew the moments would fly by and be memories before I could blink.

That policy is being seriously tested at this point in my life.

Work has been extremely stressful this year — the kind of stress that you know puts you into an early coffin — and as the kids get older the stress related to them gets more intense.  As I sit here, I know (or at least hope a whole lot) that things at work should be better in several months.  I know that (or at least hope a whole lot) that time will allow us to digest certain issues and should be better in a few months.  But until then, the temptation is to say, “I can’t wait until January 1st!  Man, I know things will be so much better then!”

That may sound good, but there’s a lot of bad in that thought.  I need to live in today and make the moments of today count.  Sweet Wife and my kids need to me to be connected to today because they have needs and wants that need to be met in the here and now.  They don’t need a dad who is checked out until next year.

And guess what?  When January gets here, there will be stuff that pops up then too.

Today at just before noon, I’m scheduled to sit down with a business associate and I will have a very tough conversation with him.  I have practiced the conversation out and planned in my head how it should go, but the conversation still has to happen and I still have to deal with my associate’s reaction.  There’s a chance he’ll buck pretty hard and we’ll be forced to separate permanently.  There’s a chance I’ll find out some even worse news than I know.  There’s a chance his feelings will get hurt somehow and our relationship will be permanently damaged.  To sum it up, there’s a chance this will be a very bad day.  It is so tempting to wish, wish, wish this time away.

How does that happen?  Well, it get totally distracted with what’s about to happen.  No matter where I am, who I’m with or what’s going on, there’s only one thing on mind.  I also get short-tempered and I’m ready to hammer into submission whatever situation comes up.  I also just want the time to pass and the even to get here, so I usually go to bed way too early and that throws a lot of stuff out of whack.  There’s probably some other stuff too and when you add all of this stuff up, I wind up wasting my day.  I wind up under using the time God has allocated to me.

So tomorrow is a big day.  There’s no telling how it will go.  I’m focused on nothing else.  I’m wound up tighter than a cheap clock.

What should I do?

Well, this is the time to turn to God’s word.  This type of stuff is why we need Scripture.  Right now, I near to hear what God says.  I need to hear Him say don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will have enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).  I need to hear that I can cast my cares on Him because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).  I need to hear God tell me to deny myself daily, to take up my cross and to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  There’s obviously a lot more I need to hear, but I think you get my point.

What I need now is a perspective adjustment.  I need to fix my eyes upon Jesus and get my mind right.  I need to pursue the day looking for how I can honor Christ in this mess and I need to trust that He cares for me and will help me.  Ultimately, I need to remember that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).


OK day.  Here we go.

Pray for South Sudan

Well, in case you missed it, South Sudan descended into chaos this past summer:

Over a single week this summer, government soldiers gang-raped U.S. and other aid workers, shot at U.S. diplomats and ransacked and looted a U.S.-funded aid-agency base, people who were there said, as the world’s youngest nation moved closer to becoming a failed state.

The attacks came as the battle-scarred capital of Juba was plunged into violence in July, with government and rebel forces—fighting a civil war that erupted in late 2013—killing dozens of civilians and raping hundreds of local women.

As the article mentions, South Sudan is a very young country with its founding only back in 2011.  But the Sudanese region has been a hot bed of strife for decades with at least three civil wars in the region since the 1950s.

The United States has tried to help

At the forefront of that debate is the U.S., South Sudan’s leading donor, which has poured $1.6 billion into the country since the civil war started. The U.S. had supported the split of the mostly Christian south from Muslim Sudan in 2011.

…but that investment is at serious risk at the moment:

In a press conference in Nairobi in August, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that U.S. taxpayers wouldn’t continue to help South Sudan if its leaders don’t stop the atrocities, but he also announced an extra $138 million in assistance.

That seems a little odd to me.  We’ve invested over $1.6 billion into the region…why?  Why would we invest so much and not demand the atrocities stop?  It seems rather foolish to me to pump so much money into the country and then walk away when the rogues.  And when you read about the war atrocities, it seems like our demands should be very loud:

On July 11, nearly 100 soldiers entered the Terrain compound, a collection of bungalows and apartments near the U.N. base. They beat foreign aid workers, raped at least five of them, and killed one local staff member of a nongovernmental organization. When one of the Western aid workers texted her employer’s security officer to alert him to the raid and ask for advice, he told her to stay calm. “You are not targeted,” he texted back.

For the next 12 hours, she was gang-raped by five soldiers and watched some of her friends get brutally abused too. Several victims said U.S. citizens were singled out, one being told to tell her embassy what they had done to her.

A U.N. panel of investigators believes the attack at Terrain was orchestrated, targeted and deliberate, not a random act by unruly troops.

Others don’t share this opinion:

Some in the aid community are advocating leaving the country entirely. “The best thing we can do in my opinion, and it’s harsh and hard, is to leave,” said Mukesh Kapila, a veteran former U.N. director who in 2004 was removed as resident representative in Sudan after he pulled out his staff and called what was happening in Darfur a genocide. “By providing that modicum of a fig leaf, we encourage the local authorities. We are condoning their actions by remaining silent and not speaking up.”

Whether one agrees with me or not, we need a couple of things for this area of the world.  First, we need to pray for this country, for its innocent people and for the aid workers who are volunteering to help in this part of the world.  Second, we need leadership to in this area of the world to help stop the chaos.

He Numbers and Gives Their Names

He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.  (Psalm 147:4 ESV)

Our God determines the number of the stars and He also gives each one of them a name.

Think about that for a moment.

To determine the number of the stars means God decides how many there will be.  There’s a bunch of them and He made them all.

He also gave them a name that He remembers.  That’s right.  Some of us have trouble remembering all of our kids’ names or the name of a teacher in elementary school, but God no only made the stars, but He can remember all of their names with no trouble.

So today, let’s let this change us.

Let’s remember that God is a God who is all-powerful enough to make the stars and He cares enough about all of the details of things to even remember their names.

He cared enough about us to send a Savior for us, His son Jesus Christ.

Let’s let this change us today and let’s worship Him accordingly.