Archive for November, 2009


November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Those four words, “he was lifted up,” is how Luke, in Acts 1:9, describes the ascension of Jesus back into heaven. Last week, in preparation for my sermon Sunday, I explored the New Testament’s teaching on the significance of this historic event. What I found surprised me. In addition to the future implication of Jesus’ ascension (our own ascensions into heaven), there are multiple ways in which the ascension of Jesus shapes my life now.

Here are four ways that I mentioned Sunday:

  1. SPIRITUAL PRIORITIES AND THOUGHTS: Since Christ has ascended to the right hand of God, I should seek those things and set my mind on things that are above (Colossians 3:1-4).
  2. COMFORT AND COURAGE: Stephen, as he was about to be stoned to death, saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56). It was this visual reminder of Christ’s exaltation that gave Stephen the comfort and courage to persevere through persecution and be faithful to death.
  3. POWER: God’s power is at work among Christ’s followers (Ephesians 1:19; 3:20). This power is the same power that was at work when God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand (Ephesians 1:20-21).
  4. HUMILITY: Jesus’ exaltation to the right hand of God was the fitting reward for his life of selfless obedience (Philippians 2:5-11). Those of us who desire to be exalted by God will have Jesus’ mind in us and will choose the lowly path to exaltation, which is the only path to exaltation.
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November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

This post is obviously not for everyone. If I knew I would never have to write another research paper, I would not bother reading beyond this period. If you, however, are one of the unlucky ones who still must occasionally write research papers, perhaps these tips will help you tame the research paper beast. I’ve discovered these strategies to help me immensely. See what you think:

  1. GET ALL SOURCES. First thing I do is print off all full-text articles online. Then I make copies of all the other journal articles. Then I find and locate all the books and encyclopedia articles and copy the sections of each that I need, including cover pages (this way I don’t have to carry all my books around and can write on the copied pages). I then put all my sources in alphabetical order.
  2. TYPE BIBLIOGRAPHY. Once all my sources are in alphabetical order, I type my bibliography. I like the sense of accomplishment I feel this early in the process. Plus, already having the bibliography done comes in really handy when you start writing your paper.
  3. READ EVERYTHING. Next I familiarize myself with all my materials, reading through my stack of sources, making marks in the page, jotting down selective notes on a legal pad, and constantly thinking about the best way to organize my paper.
  4. REVIEW EVERYTHING. Once I’ve pretty much read through all my material, I flip through all the pages of material again, paying special attention to my marks and highlights. It’s at this point that I write down the source and page number of important info on the appropriate page in my legal pad/ appropriate section of my outline.
  5. WRITE THE PAPER. At this point, the tedious work is done and the writing process is much more enjoyable (as enjoyable as a research paper can be, obviously). Since I have notes on each section of my paper and since my materials are still in alphabetical order, finding the right quote or support for a point is a piece of cake and writing time is dramatically reduced.
  6. PROOF THE PAPER. Once the rough draft is complete, I proof the paper a couple of times and have some trusted friends do the same. I make my final changes, hand in my paper, and sigh a big sigh of relief, having successfully tamed the research paper beast.
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November 25, 2009 2 comments

Why do we let so many days pass without telling our loved ones how much they mean to us? Allow 6 year old Elena to inspire you to write a note today to someone you love.
Warning: There is a 99.99% chance you will cry when you watch the video.

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November 24, 2009 2 comments

The promo says it all: From the creators of Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

Translation: Grab the box of tissues and get ready for a cry fest.

I know I’m a sucker for sappy shows, but good grief, they sure don’t make it easy on us see-how-many-tears-you-can-hold-in-the-bottom-rim-of-your-eyes-before-one-sneaks-out guys. I sat down with Haven last night to catch a sneak peak of Find My Family, and it was Game Over for me 5 minutes into the episode.

They had me right where they wanted me as a mom tearfully retold the story of handing her newborn across the desk to the adoption agency some 30 years ago, as the couple talked about the sadness they’ve since felt each year on the birthday of their daughter they had to give up, as the 29-year old daughter shared how her adoptive mother and she prayed each night for the lady who gave her up, as the daughter sees pictures of her biological parents for the first time, and as the parents see pictures of their biological daughter and grandson for the first time. And all that was comedy compared to the grand finale, which had the parents walking up a hill to the “family tree” and embracing their daughter for the first time since she was born.

As I watched the parents–parents who had longed for the day when they could begin a relationship with their daughter–as I watched these parents make their way along the narrow path up the hill, I couldn’t help but imagine God making that same journey. He, too, had children who bore His image. He, too, lost the closeness to these children that He once cherished. He, too, desired more than anything to see these relationships restored. He, too, for years pursued His offspring. And He, too, in his search of his children, was lead to a dead tree atop a lonely hill.

And, much like the daughter, it was there I first embraced my Father. It was there I met my Savior who was willing to trudge the hill in search of me. It was there the One who formed me, found me.

It was there I found my Family.

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November 23, 2009 1 comment

Dear Miss Hope’s 5th grade class,

My sister has told me that you guys are super creative, technologically savvy, and very intelligent. It sounds like your education is off to a great start and you’ve got a bright future ahead of you. My sister has also told me that, among other things, you are studying letter writing and are about to read Bridge to Terabithia. Sounds like fun! Is she a great teacher, or what? (Don’t say “or what”)

So here’s the deal with this post. I just wanted to to tell you that my sister is really proud of you and to encourage you to view reading as a great adventure. For a long time I thought of reading as a chore, and as a result missed out on a lot of enjoyment that’s to be found in books. It wasn’t until I was much older than you are that I discovered what it meant to get lost in a book. Some of you, I’m sure, have already made this discovery; you know what it’s like for the words on the page of a good book to introduce you to interesting people, transport you to far away lands, and take you on exciting adventures.

Yep, reading will most certainly entertain you. And, beyond that, it will educate you. The more you read the more you’ll know, the clearer you’ll think, and the better you’ll write. Reading will open doors in your mind and to your future.

So what do you say you immerse yourselves in Bridge to Terabithia, continue to acquire a taste for a good read, and discover what an entertaining education is all about? Believe me, you’ll be glad you did! And so will my sister.

Happy reading,

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
— Groucho Marx

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November 22, 2009 Leave a comment

For a long time now I have loved the first 14 verses of Ezekiel 16, where God opens his journal and reads the graphic, love-soaked words to his beloved bride, Israel. Detailing his faithful love from her birth, through adolescence, and into womanhood, God tugs on the heartstrings of anyone who has ever held a child, invested in a teenager, or loved a spouse. Powerful. Intimate. Beautiful.

Hideous. A sudden shift occurs in verse 15. In spite of God’s devoted commitment to the marriage, his bride has left him broken hearted. Jealous, angry, and hurt, God reveals his disgust with her adulterous ways. He unloads: “You’re nothing but a prostitute. No, I take that back. You’re worse than a prostitute. A prostitute gets paid to sleep with strangers. You, on the other hand…you do it for free. Even worse, you’re the one paying for the sleazy service.” A little later in the one-sided conversation, God continues: “You’re as bad as Sodom. No, you’re worse than Sodom. As a matter of fact, you are so much worse that you make Sodom look good.” Heart wrenching. Pitiful. Disgusting.

Amazing. Another sharp break comes in verse 60. In spite of Israel’s rebellious ways, God vows his continued faithfulness to the marriage. God won’t let go. He can’t give her up. He renews the vows that she broke, pledging to establish an everlasting covenant with his wayward bride, atone for her heinous crimes, and someway, somehow rediscover the close relationship that has been lost.

Just in case you’re wondering, this story is not unique. It’s my story. It’s your story. It’s humanity’s story. Praise God for his amazing grace!


November 21, 2009 2 comments

Curious as to the identity of this silhouetted man? Maybe a few vague, suspense-building clues will help. He’s a guy (hence the personal pronoun at the beginning of this sentence and the word “man” in the first sentence). We met when we were in elementary school, although we went to different schools in different states together. He was my suite mate in college for ONE year, during which time he became convinced to propose to his girlfriend, start planning a wedding, and never step foot in Benson dormitory again. (Coincidence? I think not.) He was a groomsman in my wedding. He’s a coworker of mine and one of my closest friends. And one thing I should mention about the silhouette to avoid any confusion: the dip on the crown is not a wave in his hair; it’s apparently a dent in his head that I hadn’t noticed before.

How about a drum roll? Okay, nevermind. I’ll just tell you. Justin Gerhardt is the person of the week. And here’s why:

  1. Justin is super TALENTED. Among other things, he’s a great thinker and a brilliant writer, as you’ll see by taking a look at his blog. He’s also a gifted communicator who’s effective when speaking to an audience of 800, teaching a class of 30, or counseling 1. He has a way of connecting with people, and in turn, connecting these people to Jesus.
  2. Justin is also a great FRIEND. When you need someone to listen, he’ll listen. When you need someone to make you laugh, he’ll say something ridiculous. If you still need a laugh, he’ll say something even more ridiculous. If you’re tired of laughing…well, you get the idea. When you need someone to tell you you’re an idiot, he’ll get the message across and somehow leave you feeling pretty good about yourself. When you need someone to critique a sermon or paper or plan or whatever, he’ll share insightful suggestions that greatly improve the final product. When you need someone to sympathize with you, he’ll tell you he’s sorry and mean it. He’s just an all-round great friend.
  3. Justin and Jen have a MARRIAGE that’s the envy of many (envy in a good, I-want-to-make-my-marriage-better kind of way). If you were to ask Justin what he loves about Jen, I’d guess that somewhere on his long list would be the way Jen admires and supports him. And if you were to ask Jen what she loves about Justin, I’d guess one of the many things she would say is that Justin is thoughtful and affectionate. From the outside looking in, they seem to have the Ephesians 5 thing pretty much down to an art.

Well, there you have it. Now the only thing left for me to do is collect my $50 from Justin for including this excerpt from his autobiography in my blog. Just kidding.

He actually owes me $75.