When Winning Is Really Losing

winningMatt Emmons had already won one Gold Medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.  One final shot remained for him winning another Gold Medal victory when he made the oddest and most costly of mistakes.

One of the surest shots in Olympic rifle history, Matt held a commanding lead going into the final round. All he had to do was hit the target.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  Just hit the target. He took his usual deep breath as he viewed the target through the sight on his rifle.  Slowly, he pulled the trigger and fired a bullseye on the target in Lane 3.  The problem?  Lane 2 was his target.  He fired a great shot, but at the wrong target.

Taking Aim

Unfortunately, I have made the same mistake in regular life, and I know many others have as well.  We celebrate our victories in battles that were either unnecessary or unimportant.  We can easily fool ourselves into think we are doing great when we look at these victories. However, these hollow temporal victories keep us from the more important eternal battles.

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Stupid Question, Or Not?

“Well, THAT was a stupid question.”bethesda

Most people hesitate to ask a question for fear their question is stupid.  MOST of the time, nothing is further from the truth.  I love answering questions and helping people understand. Every now and then, however, someone usually comes up with a doozy.

Usually  someone who didn’t listen or pay attention that question.  Consequently, they ask a question already answered.

Jesus’ “Stupid” Question

It seemed as though Jesus had asked a very stupid question. Let me set the stage for you.

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Mr Potato Head, a Bible Verse, and Our Division Problem

Potato Head

 

Mr. Potato Head has been around a long time.

I remember playing with one way back in my childhood.  Mr. Potato Head could help illustrate a Bible verse that can help us overcome one of our gravest problems.

The Problem

We have a problem today with division.  Not the math kind, but the relationship kind.  Families, churches, and in a greater sense all of society has difficulty solving division problems.

Family members remain at odds with one another because they refuse to take the difficult path to conflict resolution.  Churches split and the cause of Christ suffers because members value their pride more than resolution.  Myriad examples exist of the deep divisions in our society. Never before have I felt pulled in so many directions by others expecting me to “side” with their cause.

Whether a family squabble, church dissention, or societal division, I see a trend that people have lost their objectivity.  Too many try to pull splinters out of the other side’s eye with a huge limb protruding from their own.

The Solution

The BEST Math books provided in the back of the book answers to the the exercises at each chapter’s end.   The answer to all of life’s division problems are not in the back of the book, but in the text. One particular Bible verse, with Mr. Potato Head’s expert illustrative assistance, can provides the answer we need.

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I Am Offended!

offendedI AM OFFENDED by so many people being offended!

We throw the word “offended” around so much these days that we have obfuscated its meaning.

Some take “offense” with flags and statues that refer to a dark part of our actual national history. Others take “offense” with people exercising their displeasure with social injustices by choosing not to stand during the national anthem. Still others take “offense” with others who fail to see their point of view and take their side in any issues.

What Is an “Offense”?

In a biblical sense, “offenses” translates the word skandalon from which we get our English word “scandal.”  The word has two basic meanings.  On the one hand it refers to causing someone to stumble or sin.  On the other hand it refers to considering someone (usually Jesus) or something (usually the Gospel) worthless or undesirable. Neither scenario was considered a good thing.

Today, however, we claim offense when something runs contrary to the way we think it should.  We equate an offense with disagreement or dislike.

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Hope in the Midst of Racial Chaos

hope

The alt-right movement represents the worse in the heart of sinful mankind.  They spew hatred and spawn violence, many under the guise of what they call christian.

I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old.  I have studied the Bible for years and think I have a grasp of what Jesus expects from His followers.  None of His expectations include hate, disdain, division, violence, or racism.

As an anglo-American Christian, I have a responsibility to speak out against those who may look like me but represent something else entirely.  My African-American brothers and sisters need to know where I stand.  I will not risk misunderstanding by remaining silent.

I do not stand with those hate groups who hold to white-supremacy.  Count me with my brothers and sisters who name the name of Christ regardless of their color, economics, politics, or language. The Bible recognizes only TWO RACES – the race of the first Adam and the race of the second Adam, Christ. Sin, not skin is the determining factor.

Our country’s problems are not racial, economic, political, or educational. The primary problem is a SIN problem, and we have the answer – the Gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Four Vital Truths that Give Us Hope

I want to share four universal truths to which you and I need to awaken so that God can use us to bring healing to this land.   Each of these truths comes with accompanying Scripture for you read and consider.   I ask you to affirm these 4 truths with me.

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Fact Check that Story Before You Share

fact checkAlternative truth. Fake news. Fact check. The political arena has added some new terms to our vocabulary over the last couple of years.

As I peruse the social media news feeds of fellow Christians, I see a lot of unchecked facts. We too quickly hit the share button on “news” of people, businesses, and organizations accused of offending our Christian sensitivities. Upon further review, many of those stories are not true.

Starbucks is one of the most common targets of fake news. They have been accused of refusing coffee to Marines and telling Christians they don’t want their money. Liberal politicians find themselves the subject of some pretty wild conspiracy theories. Many posts tout news that means the “end” for someone. Other posts purport to expose some nasty things found in the food at popular restaurants.

If only we shared the good news about Jesus as faithfully as we share the fake news about these non-stories.

Reasons We Need to Fact Check Before We Post

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Remove the Do Not Disturb Sign from Your Life

disturb“Do not disturb.”

You’ve seen the sign hanging on hotel room doors. The sign means that the occupants want themselves and/or their things left alone. Maybe the occupant needs to sleep in. Perhaps he or she has valuable items that they do not wish for others to see.

Whatever the case, the message is clear. Be quiet and stay on your side of the door!

Our Personal Do Not Disturb Sign

How often have you wanted to display a Do Not Disturb sign prominently on your chest? We prefer an undisturbed life. We want our plans to succeed, our families to grow, our businesses to profit, and our health to stay strong. If we were to get our way, nothing bad would ever come our way. No one or nothing would ever cause us heartache or disappointment.

But that is an unrealistic expectation isn’t it? All of us experience some disturbances now and then. My good friend Bobby Simpson (Higher Ground Softball) reminded me that those disturbances are not necessarily bad things. In fact, we find our faith grows better in the fertile ground of challenges and trials. (See James 1:2-4, and 1 Peter 1:6-7). Sometimes, as Bobby says, we need disturbing.

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Jesus Sat Down, So You Can Too

Jesus sat

Sitting down can be a good thing.

I had to move some furniture around the other day and sitting became my friend. Thankfully, my friend and experienced hard worker, Randy Toney, was there to make it possible. We moved my daughter’s old bedroom furniture to the church for our yard sale. Then we moved the furniture from my mom’s guest room to my daughter’s bedroom.

After loading up the “new” furniture, we decided it was time for a lunch break at Chick-fil-A. I have never sat and eaten so slowly. I needed that sit down. In fact, I found it difficult to get back to work after sitting for lunch.

We finally unloaded and set up the furniture. I didn’t mention that we also moved a large TV to our house. Our TV from our den went to my daughter’s bedroom, and her TV went to our bedroom. So after unloading the furniture, I set up everyone’s TV and took the best shower I have ever had.

After enjoying a delicious meal at our friends, The Griffins’ house, I went on to church for a committee meeting. I finally got back home and was able to sit down…really sit down. This time, I sat because I was finished with all I had to do for the day.

Where Jesus Sat Down

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Are Your Prayers Analog or Digital?

digital

My first Internet service provider was AOL. Dial Up. Slow. Unreliable.

I can still remember the sound of the screeching modem and the voice that said, “Welcome.” I remember the anticipation of waiting for the announcement, “You’ve got mail!”

I also remember surfing with the anticipation that I would suddenly lose my connection and be “booted” offline. As long as I was connected to the service I was “online.” However, after choosing to log off or being booted off, I was no longer connected to the service.

Internet Service Providers eventually introduced DSL and other high-speed connectivity options. These services not only promised high-speed internet surfing, but also an “always on” connection. Users no longer needed to log on to get service. The service was automatically available as long as the computer remained on and connected to the modem.

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Truth that Heals a Troubled Heart

troubled heart

I want to share one last post reflecting on the recent passing of my mother.

Monday, I had the blessing of preaching at her funeral service.  I shared with those gathered from John 14, some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples.  He began the discourse by saying, “Don’t let your heart be troubled.” Jesus wanted them to know some truths that would set their hearts at ease.

I will miss my mother greatly, but only temporarily since I know I will see her again n heaven.  She and my dad provided a Christian home for our family where I learned the precious promises of God’s Word.

Truth for the Troubled Heart

Because of four things found in John 14 that my mother taught me, I have a sad but not troubled heart.  I have posted the video excerpt of my sermon below in hopes that it will encourage you as well.  The four truths my momma taught me are true for you as well.  If you believe them and live them, they will bring encouragement to your troubled heart.

Ann Duggan Memorial Service from Jim Duggan on Vimeo.