Monthly Archives: February 2012

Faith Lessons From a Famous Beagle

Snoopy is a big hit at our house.  Either on DVD or VHS, we own every Peanuts special ever made.  My daughter has a stuffed Snoopy who has taken on a life of his own.  She constantly admonishes me to “make sure Snoopy behaves, or he doesn’t get his root beer.”  Lately he’s been sacked out on the sectional in our family room.  Seeing him there got me thinking.  Snoopy’s approach to life holds some valuable lessons for us Christians.  Here are some that come to mind, in no particular order.

1.  Eat heartily.  Snoopy makes short work of a full supper dish.  We believers should be equally ravenous when it comes to our spiritual food:  God’s Word.  We can never get enough of the Bible.  Every one of us should try to devour a heaping helping of it every day, even if we don’t always understand everything we read.  God honors our commitment to His Word, and blessings will flow from seeking it daily.

2.  Play, even when there’s work to be done.  Even when you’re setting up for that outdoor Thanksgiving feast of popcorn, toast, pretzels, and jelly beans, there’s still time for shooting a few baskets, or a quick game of one-man (dog?) ping pong.  No matter how busy life gets, we need to find joy and fun in the midst of it.  No task is so important that it can’t be interrupted for a brief look outside or a quick glance at a comic strip, or whatever brings a smile to our faces.  God gives us life to be lived to the fullest.  Take the opportunity to enjoy the little moments around you, even if it means winding up all the department store’s music boxes and dancing with a couple girls who think you’re really a funny looking kid.

3.  Some battles aren’t worth fighting.  That folding chair kicks ol’ Snoopy’s butt pretty good in Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  Sometimes we exhaust ourselves trying to prove ourselves right, or to win over people who just don’t see things our way.  How often have relationships been fractured by trying too hard to prove to the other person that we’re right?  Better to agree to disagree, and keep the relationship intact.  Who knows, eventually you may come to see things the other person’s way, or they may come to embrace your point of view by seeing your actions back up your words.

4.  We fight an unseen enemy.  Satan’s out there, trying to lure us away from Jesus by any means he can.  Just like Snoopy in his Sopwith Camel, hunting down his airborne German adversary, we too need to put on the Whole Armor of God from Ephesians 6, and be watchful and wary for sin trying to get the better of us.

5.  Indulge your imagination, even if those around you don’t get it.  Snoopy’s battles with the Red Baron are an escape from his ordinary, mundane dog life.  We need to escape reality once in a while too, whether it’s reading a book, watching a movie, meditating, whatever gives your mind a break.  Who cares whether those around you understand?  The Peanuts Gang don’t get Snoopy’s WWI flying ace routine, but does that ever stop him?

6.  Like Woodstock, Jesus will always be ther for us.  Woodstock isn’t always the most with-it or cooperative bird, but he’s there when Snoopy needs him, and Snoopy would do anything for him.  And it doesn’t matter to Woodstock what Snoopy does to him, in the end he forgives all and he’s still Snoopy’s faithful friend.  Just like Jesus still wants to hang with us, no matter what we may have done.

7.  Sometimes it’s best to just lay back, wait on the Lord, and see what happens.  Charlie Brown wants to fly his kite in the world’s worst way, but no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t seem to pull it off.  After throwing it away in disgust, it winds up in the hands of his sleeping dog lying atop his doghouse.  With absolutely zero effort, Snoopy has the kite flying perfectly in no time.  Often, our biggest victories come when we stop trying, give the problem to God, and let Him take care of it.  How much smoother things go with our Lord in control.

Now that I’ve put the images in your head, you know you want to go back and watch all those Peanuts specials again.  Thanks, Charles Schultz, for giving us Snoopy.  May we all learn to live our spiritual lives a bit more like him.  Then maybe my daughter will let us have our root beer.

Interview Today on The Christian Authors Show

I had recently taped an interview for The Christian Authors Show, an internet radio show, to promote my book Winns and Losses.  You can check it out here:

 

http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShowChristian.html

 

It will be running all day today, until midnight tonight.  It lasts a little over 15 minutes.

No Job Too Small

Battling a sinus infection this past week, I tried several options in my quest for relief from the congestion.  While some worked better than others, all were temporary.  As ailments go, mine was minor.  Certainly many suffer from much worse.  My approach to my situation got me thinking though.  Through it all, whether because of the relative insignificance of it, or because of human nature causing me to try to solve my own problem, the one remedy that never dawned on me was to just ask the Lord to heal me.  As Christians, prayer should be our first option, in all things.  But how many times do we overlook it in favor of more “common sense” solutions?

Sure, we pray for our cousin who gets cancer, or for our unemployed friend to find a job.  We hit our knees early and often for the so called “big stuff.”  But what about when we get a cold, or we can’t find our keys, or our computer program we worked on for three hours won’t compile?  More than likely we run ourselves ragged trying to fix our problem by our own devices.  Meanwhile, God is sitting there patiently waiting for us to come boldly to his throne.

As people we hate being bothered with trivial things.  Foolishly, we project that same attitude on God.  Truth is, God wants to take care of all our problems.  Nowhere in the Bible is the saying “God helps those who help themselves.”  Part of His perfect love for us is that He’s always there for us, no matter how large or small the request may seem to us.  His storehouse of help is limitless.  There’s only one condition.  We must ask in faith.  It’s not always easy, often for the same reason we didn’t ask in the first place.

We might take the time to pray, but deep down we think our problem is just too little for Him to want to bother with.  Our prayer becomes little more than lip service, and when it doesn’t seem to work, we lose heart.  Or, we pray, then we resume trying to fix things on our own.  Once we do that, we take God off the job.  What we really need to do is wait.  God doesn’t need our help.

So next time you’re faced with one of life’s “little” problems, get on your knees, put God on the job, and let Him get it done:  His way.

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Tebow-Lin Mania-Sanity

The legend of Jeremy Lin continues.  After hitting the winning three-pointer for the Knicks last night, Lin’s escapades have taken on the same level of public wonder that Tim Tebow and his miracle comebacks for the Broncos inspired this past NFL season.  Granted, Lin’s story is hardly a carbon copy of Tebow’s.  Lin played in collegiate obscurity at Harvard, was cast off by two other NBA clubs, and played in the basketball equivalent of the minor leagues earlier this year before injuries forced him into the New York lineup.  Oh yeah, he also was sleeping on his brother’s couch until very recently.  Tebow, lest it be forgotten, was a Heisman Trophy winner, a first round draft pick, and the object of a public campaign by Bronco fans to convince the team to make him the starting quarterback.  While not public knowledge, it’s also a good bet he has enjoyed the overnight comfort of at least a pillow top or memory foam for the duration of his NFL employment.

Yet there is another common thread to these men beyond their Paul Bunyanesqe athletic exploits.  Both have an unswerving devotion to Jesus Christ.  If you don’t know Tebow loves Jesus, you don’t know that Denver has thin air.  While some, even Christian former MVP QB Kurt Warner, may think his public demonstrations of faith are a bit over the top, few would dare question their sincerity.  By all accounts Tebow is as worthy a spokesman for Christ as you’ll find.  Though Lin maintains a lower profile about that aspect of his life, his faith has become public knowledge with his rise to fame, and he too is widely lauded for backing up his beliefs with his conduct.

Tebow is quick to sqash the notion that any of his on-field success was the result of divine intervention, whether that theory grew out of his vocal devotion, or because of his relative lack of skill as a professional QB in the eyes of most.  I have yet to hear the same theory proposed regarding Lin.  Perhaps that’s because he’s obviously a very good NBA point guard by the common standards used to judge such skills.  Perhaps it’s becuase Tebow has rendered it a “been there, done that” topic.  Regardless, I’m sure both men reject the notion that God tips the scales in favor of the team with the most ardent believers.

I totally agree with that stance, yet as Christians, we really shouldn’t be surprised at the individual success of either of these guys.  Acknowledging Christ before men should be rewarded.  Matthew 6:22 clearly states “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”  It’s not that far-fetched to interpret “all these things” to include athletic success.  Sports for Tebow and Lin is their ministry, and in today’s sports-crazed society, what better witnesses could the Lord choose?  So next time an athlete comes seemingly out of nowhere openly professing his faith in Jesus, don’t be shocked when sets his sport on fire.  After all, we’ve seen it before, long before Lin, or Tebow, with a guy by the name of…Kurt Warner.

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Idol Time

When we think of idols, the vision that usually comes to mind is some little bronze statue, or golden calf, or some sort of physical representation of a spiritual being other than the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.  Really an idol as the Lord speaks of it is anything that we give a higher priority than God in our lives.  For me, that idol is time.  Everywhere in today’s society, we’re reminded how little time we have.  Time is…money, fleeting, short, of the essence, a wastin’, running out…the list goes on.  Finite and un-recoverable, there is no more precious resource than the hours, minutes, and seconds that make up each passing day.  We all long to have control over how we spend our time.  For me, that is why time is my idol.  To have free time becomes priority one.

Before my daughter came along, it seemed like I had a lot more time.  I could play video games, read, write, pray, do household projects and rarely feel rushed or have a sense that I was neglecting some important aspect of my life.  Ever since I became a parent, it seems as if I have no time at all.  Truth is, I have the same amount of time I had before I became a parent, it’s just that the activities and responsibilites that fill it have increased, seemingly exponentially.  Prioritizing is more of a challenge than ever.  Many times I find myself responding to my daughter’s requests with “just a minute” and often that minute turns into five, or ten.  I look back and realize that usually whatever it was I was putting her off for wasn’t nearly as important as spending time with her.  I was just trying to hold on to time, to make it mine and mine alone.  As bad as I am with her in that regard, I’m a hundred times worse when it comes to time with the Lord.  My kid might have to endure a five or ten minute delay before playing Barbies or hide and seek or whatever game she’s picked out for us.  Jesus has to endure an entire day.

It’s especially poor form for a guy who chose Matthew 6:22 as his “life verse.”  A brief history of my attempts at “Seek ye first:”  I used to pray in the shower, but I didn’t think that was giving Him quality time.  I used to pray in the car on the way to work, but I risked missing somthing funny the guys on the radio were talking about.  So now once the TV’s off, the laptop’s set to hibernate, and sleeping clothes are on, then, finally, I hit my knees for a yawn-filled, half-conscious, spare change worth of time with my Lord.  Quiet time?  Sure.  Quality time?  Hardly.  “Seek ye first?”  The first shall be last, apparently.  Time seemed more valuable doing something else, so Christ gets the leftovers.  It’s an easy trap to fall into.  Unlike my daughter, God doesn’t beg for us to spend time with Him.  He wants us to, for sure.  More than anything He longs to commune with us, but He never nags for it.  What happens is the One we most need to spend time with becomes the One most easy to neglect.  In this world today, where time seems scarce and obligations seem never-ending, more than ever the most critical time is the time we spend on our knees.

As for me, I’m going to ask Him to help me live up to my life verse’s admonition and let go of my idol, time, by offering it up to God.  I’m pretty sure if I put Him first, there will be plenty of time for everything else.

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Objects…of our Respect

Recently, the radio station whose morning show I always listen to ran an internet contest:  pick the bikini you want their “Rock Girl” to wear at a local boat show.  Hearing that made me realize we still are an incredibly sexist society.  No radio station has a contest to pick which banana hammock their “Rock Dude” wears to a boat show (let’s hope it stays that way.)  Despite all the advances women have made over the last fifty years toward equal footing with men, our society still treats them largely as objects.  No further proof is necessary than this coming Sunday.  I’m sure GoDaddy.com will have at least one or two ads running during the Super Bowl, and you’d have to be living under a rock to think they’re really selling domain registration.  Not that men can’t be treated as objects too.  It’s just carried out more blatantly against the fairer sex.

Since I became the father of a daughter, I find myself much more conscious of how I look at women.  When I was in high school, I had a crush on a girl a grade up from me.  She was one of those early-bloomers who were so well endowed that they need not consider a guy who’s age didn’t have a “2” in the tens column.  I tried wooing her with flowers, notes, all kinds of stuff.  It never dawned on me to actually talk to her, to get to know her as a person.  What would have happened if I’d taken advantage of the time she actually gave me a ride home from school to really talk to her, start a friendship, get to know her, treat her like, you know, a real person?  Who knows, but I’m sure she’d have thought a lot more of me than she did with the approach I was taking.  I’d made her into an object to be won, not a person to relate to.  Would I want some guy thinking that way about my daughter?  Hardly.  I would hope she’d react the same way my high school crush did:  a polite but clear stiff-arm.

Today’s media makes it harder than ever not to treat people as objects.  But every woman or man is a child of God, a person with hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes.  They’re also all somebody’s son or daughter.   Those of you who are parents, next time you catch yourself paying too much attention to a person’s physical endowments, stop and ask yourself if you were that person’s parent, would you want someone thinking about your daughter or son that way?  Those of you who aren’t parents, realize that when we fathers of daughters joke about sitting on the porch with a shotgun, it’s only half joking.  Respect the person as a person and it’s a lot harder to view them as just an object.  Even if it’s Danica Patrick during the Super Bowl, telling you where you can register your website.

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