Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Sunday: The Sixth Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Kill


This command is easy to misunderstand and if often misapplied by those who use it as a convenient proof text.

What about animals?  Capital punishment?  War?  Self defense?  The military?  Law enforcement officers?  We’ll answer those questions.

What about abortion?  Infanticide? Euthanasia?  We'll take a look at those topics too.

Does blood cry out from the ground?  

What about killers who shed innocent blood? Do they get away it, or will God avenge these deaths?

And you will be astonished how Jesus expanded this command in the NT.... making it applicable and unavoidable on a personal level.

This is a message you don’t want to miss.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spaghetti Sauce


Fixing to make spaghetti sauce from these ingredients.  Everything in this photo is home grown.


Today's Picking



Garden Pictures










Monday, May 26, 2014

Starting a New Venture


I’m an entrepreneur at heart.  I’ve started two businesses.  Then I became a church planter.  I’ve also attempted a couple of ventures that failed.  Throughout this journey I have learned a lot.

Maybe you’re thinking about starting something new – a side business or maybe a second career.  If that’s you, I’d like to offer you three suggestions of the kind of thing you should start.  

#1.  Start Something that Matters.  Starting things is in my DNA.  But as I have grown older I am far more selective about the things that get my time.  I’m only interested in doing the things that really matter.

Just because something is an opportunity doesn’t mean you should do it.  Opportunities are not obligations.  Just because something has a market, doesn’t mean it needs to be your market.

When you’re looking for something to do with your life – a career change, a new venture, or retiring to pursue your interests – make sure you pick something that really matters.  

#2.  Start Something you Love.  Too many people are doing things that someone else loves – working hard to fulfill someone else’s dream or meeting someone else’s expectations.  Life is too short for that.

Find something that really matters – but it also needs to give you a deep sense of fulfillment.  And that goes way beyond money.

#3.  Start Something that Works.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  It's probably the most important thing.  If money is no object, there's no need for you to read any further.  But if you need to make a living, read on.

I know people who are doing something they love, but it just doesn’t work.  It keeps struggling and falling short.  This leads to frustration and failure.

The phrase "starving artist" comes to mind here.

In business, you can’t live on passion alone.  It’s great that you are passionate about your product or business idea, but it also needs to WORK.  Words like market share, market niche, and business plans need to enter your vocabulary.

If you love it, but it doesn’t sustain you, it’s not going to work.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Sorry, I Do Not Feel Your Pain


President Bill Clinton popularized the line: “I feel your pain.” 

He could say it with such pathos in his voice, you felt - at first, anyway - that he just might do that.

I suspect that line is said too easily and too often. And I can almost guarantee that hearing the words does not give comfort to the one hurting.

For the last several years of his life, my father had cancer of the throat and lungs.  He had a great deal of trouble breathing.

There were times when he would look at me with pained eyes and say, “You have no idea of how it hurts.

And I didn’t.

I could see the pain.  Imagine the pain.  Empathize with it.  But really, I had no idea.

Only he and Jesus knew the depth of it all.

I was outside of his pain, a spectator at times, a participant at times, but always outside of.  My heart hurt for him, but I was helpless.  He may as well have told me he was being tormented by aliens from Mars for all the good I could do him.

Anyone who looks at another human being to “feel” his pain, to understand it, and sympathize with it, may be assuming a burden to heavy to bear.

No one can actually feel the depth of your pain.  It is enough that they are there for you.

There is only One who truly understands your pain and knows what it feels like to be you.  His Name is Jesus Christ.  He is touched with the feelings of your infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).

He knows.

So don’t be too disappointed in your husband, or wife, your counselor, or your pastor, for not being able to enter your pain and experience it the way you do.

In a real sense, you don’t want them to.

Truth be known, you wouldn't wish that agony on your best friend.  Furthermore, it’s a tough job to be called to suffering – so why not you?  (smiley-face goes here).

If I’m sick and in the hospital, I don’t want the nurse weeping and blubbering all over the place every time she enters my room. “Oh, Mister Ron, my heart is broken over what is happening to you.  This must be a crushing experience."

NO THANKS.  Take your pity down the hall.

I want her upright and strong, clear-thinking and capable of doing her job!  That’s the best help she can give me.

I don’t need you to “feel” my pain.  Just appreciate the fact that I am feeling it and help me as much as you’re able.

The rest belongs to Jesus.


An Open Letter to My Grandchildren


It’s official.  I am a grandfather.

Have been for a couple of years now.

My son Jonathan and his wife Jamie have given birth to two beautiful children; a boy named Nolan and a girl named Taylor.  My wife Renae is now officially “Nay-Nay” and I am officially “Pappy.”

Dear Nolan and Taylor,

I am your grandfather.  Rumor has it you will be calling me “Pappy” and my wife, your grandmother” Nay-Nay.”  If you learn to say those words correctly, fine.  If not, that’s okay too.  I’m sure whatever you start to call us will stick, and we will love it.

I remember when your father was born.  I was one of the first to hold him, and I was also there to hold you shortly after you (Nolan & Taylor) were born.  Both of you are just as beautiful as he was.

Your fathers’ name in Jonathan, which means “Gift of God.”  And your uncle’s name, Nathan, also means “Gift of God.”  Your grandparents, both on your mother’s side and on your father’s side, are all devoted followers of Christ.  This is your heritage - the stock from which you came.

There are some things you should know as you enter this world.

First, you are deeply loved by everyone in your family tribe.  There is nothing you can do to make us love you more and nothing you can do to make us love you less.

Secondly, and more importantly, you are loved by God.  His love for you is infinitely greater than ours.  Never forget that.

Third, your father is my son.  That may seem strange to hear, but I love him just as he loves you two.  He will always be my son, even as you (two) will always be his son and daughter.  And in a very real sense, it is my love for him that overflows into your life.

Finally, I want you to know that even now I am praying that you will have the same relationship with Christ that I have, that Nay-Nay has, that your mother has, and your father has (as well as your other grandparents, all your great grandparents, and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins).  It is the most important thing in our lives, and in truth, it is the only thing that really matters in this life.

I long for your emotional health, your physical health, and your relational health.  I hope you fall in love, get married and have a family… but all of those things pale in comparison to eternity and your standing with Christ.

More than anything, I hope to live in heaven with you and with Christ.

So, for now, know that you are prayed for (by many).  Faithfully.  In fact, if you ever wonder if anyone this world is thinking of you and praying for you, rest assured….

Nay-Nay and I are.

God wanted you born.  He made you to love you.  More than that, you were made to love Him.  And serve Him. 

There is only one Nolan Christian and only one Taylor Christian, and you are that person.   I cannot wait to see what you will do with your life.  As long as I live, I will support you and point you towards Christ.

Pappy.


Last Sunday - Gary Wieborg


Thank you pastor Gary for the home run message last Sunday.  Not only was the PCC congregation edified, but it enabled me and Renae to have some time off together this week on a mini vacation.  Really enjoy your ministry.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

Federal Mandate Kills Hundreds of Thousands of Red Snapper in Gulf of Mexico



Staccato Preaching


Preacher, stop yelling and talking so fast.  It’s unnerving.  And unnecessary. 

Fast talk, loudness, rapid-fire delivery, and overpowering theatrics take away your listeners’ ability to think about what you’re saying.  All that demonstration is distracting.  And it feels like you're attacking people.

The staccato delivery of some preachers – of some entire denominations – is a wonder to me.

It’s not in the Bible.

They’re clearly learning it from one another.

As though people in the Bible imitated Jacob’s limp or Moses’ lisp.

Come on, guys.  Stop it.

Nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus shifting into oratorical overdrive and putting on a show or demonstration for people.  Instead, He talked to them, explained things, and taught them.

Scripture even says He “sat down” to teach.

Stop pacing back and forth on the stage like a caged lion, waving your arms wildly in the air, and trying to wax eloquent.  It’s distracting, immature, and doesn’t add one iota of anointing.


Frugal Living


1.  The main goal is to spend less than you earn.  Your income must be greater than your expenditures.  Cut the fat.  Cut unnecessary expenses and purchases.   Be “in the black” with every paycheck you earn.  Every week, every pay period.

2.  Never pay retail.  That’s right.  Never pay retail.  Look for sales.  Learn to barter.  Learn to dicker.  Use coupons.  Ask for discounts.  Buy used.

3.  Buy only what you need – not what you want.  In our society “wants” and “needs” mean the same thing, but when it comes to saving money they are polar opposites.

Your basic needs are food, water, shelter, and transportation.  You need these things to survive.  But take a closer look at these basic needs.  Just because you need food doesn’t mean you need to eat out all the time.  Dine at home instead.  You can make a large meal (and healthier) for pennies on the dollar compared to eating in restaurants.

4.  Save money.  Pay yourself with every paycheck.  If you have budgeted money to make a car payment or other bills, then you can set aside money in your budget to pay yourself.

5.  Plant a garden.  There are few things more satisfying than planting, cultivating, and harvesting a garden.  Besides, raising your own food saves a little money and is healthier than what you can buy.  Guaranteed. 

6. Be healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.  Nothing can send you into a downward financial spiral like medical bills, planned or unplanned.  Maintaining a healthy body through healthy living is essential.  Do everything in your power to be healthy and you can save hundreds (and thousands) of dollars in medical bills each year.

7.  Do it yourself.  DIY has become an acronym for those brave hearts who take on and complete projects themselves.  You Tube is one of the greatest learning tools available today.  If you have the skill set and willingness to learn, you can complete almost any project yourself and save a lot of money doing it.  Gardening, for example, can be counted as a DIY project.

By completing projects yourself, you will save money.  You can paint the house, sew curtains, refinish furniture that you picked up at a garage sale, build a fence, re-work clothing, and repair equipment – the list of DIY projects is endless.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Make Your Kitchen the Best Restaurant in Town


Stuffed Sweet Peppers before going on the grill


Fresh off the grill.
This is how we rock around here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Six Reasons to NOT Live a Simple Life


I’ve been dreaming about homestead living (and living a simpler life) for a long time now.  I’ve even taken tangible steps in that direction and have gotten my feet wet to get a feel for what it’s like.

One thing I have discovered about simple living is there is nothing simple about it!  There’s a lot of hard work, manual labor, and sweating involved – not to mention the realignment of priorities. 

Here are a few reasons to NOT live a simple lifestyle:

1.  I won’t be “connected” as much.  Less TV.  Less internet.  Little or no Facebook.  Less cell phone.  And God forbid, I won’t know what happened to those celebrities in LA or the Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Good Morning America is out too.

If you will miss “being in the loop” to this kind of information, then sitting on the back porch sipping on a glass of tea watching the sunset will have little appeal.

2.  It’s just too much work.  Baking from scratch?  Cooking fresh vegetables?  Whatever happened to picking up those nice greasy pizzas at the local take out joint?  And what’s up with “real food?”  I’m pretty sure the Hamburger Helper I served last night was real… it came out of a real box!

3.  Raising animals?  Sounds stinky.  Cleaning out pens, buying feed, and collecting my own eggs.  What’s wrong with paying .99 cents for those white colored eggs from Wal-Mart?  Besides, farm-fresh eggs with brown shells look so funny when your crack them open – the yolk is not yellow, it’s orange!  And seriously, why would you want to raise chickens?  Don’t you know they make chicken nuggets in factories and put them in packages for sale?

4.  What’s wrong with mainstream goodies?  If over-consumerism is your path to pleasure, don't get out into nature and don't let your kids play outdoors.  You’ll be miserable listening to birds and watching them build nests.

5.  And seriously, who needs to be organized?  If you are a hoarder you might get yourself on TV.  To be organized, however, means you would have to downsize and clean out all the time.  It would mean getting rid of that closet full of clothes and shoes that you haven’t worn in the last 2-3 years, the stack of papers in the corner, and all the junk in your attic.  If you would rather look for the TV remote under that pile of debris, instead of living in an uncluttered house, then a simple life is not for you.

And for a bonus….

6.  Why would anyone want to be debt free?  If you believe life is not worth living unless you can indulge in every want and whim – the nicest automobiles, clothes, restaurants, movies, entertainment, clothes, and the biggest house on the block – then simple living will be a bummer for you.  A simple lifestyle means to be free from those fleeting pleasures (and the anxiety the accompanying debt brings). 

Plus, being debt free will mean having to come up with  a budget and doing super-boring things like balancing your checkbook, putting some money in savings for the future, and paying your bills on time instead of picking up Chinese takeout on your credit card.  Where’s the fun in that?

On the other hand, if things like independence, self-sufficiency, breaking free from consumerism, being the head and not the tail, saving money, having freedom, being outdoors, being with family and pursuing the simple pleasures of life are appealing to you, then it’s worth the effort.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What (we) the Redeemed Know that Unbelievers Cannot Understand


“But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, for the are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).

I was sitting in church recently during the song service thinking about what unbelievers say concerning our worship of God and how we practice our Christian faith.  Most simply do not get it.

1.  Some say we are taking the easy way out, that we use Jesus as an escape or crutch.  My main response to this is laughter.  It’s anything but easy, but only a true believer would know that.  We’re swimming upstream in a downstream world.  What’s easy about that?  Nothing.

I know a lot people who suffer greatly for the cause of Christ.  If it were easy, they would have bailed a long time ago.

And let’s not forget about the 300 girls in Nigeria who were recently kidnapped by a slave trader.  Many of these girls were Christians in their faith.  No, it’s not easy being a follower of Christ.

2.  Some say we give money (tithes and/or offerings) to buy God’s approval.  Another joke.  As I dropped my tithe into the offering bag last Sunday, I thought about this too.  The amount of the check represents a significant sacrifice for me.  And yet, I make the check payable to PCC and send it on its merry way, knowing what it will accomplish for our church and for Christ’s work.

And you think I’m trying to earn favors with the Heavenly Father?  Not even close.

Those of us who are truly redeemed give out of gratitude and faith, out of obedience and love.  Period.

3.  Some seem to think we follow Jesus because we are afraid of dying lost.  Again, they missed it by a country mile.  Sure, I don’t want to die lost.  And I don't want to spend eternity in a place of torment.  But honestly, I rarely think about going to hell anymore.  Jesus Christ has taken that burden from me.  “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

But I must confess that fear of dying lost was an initial motivator for me to surrender my life to Christ.  But that was half a lifetime ago, and I am so glad the burden of it has been lifted.

There is so much more that unbelievers simply do not understand:
  • The nature of Scripture and why we love it
  • The reason for our obedience and why we delight in obeying His commandments
  • The love we have for one another
  • Our humble courage and our courageous humility
  • Our imperfections and the unlimited grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
  • And why we work for the Lord – not in order to get to heaven – but because we are grateful for His goodness towards us.

This is why our Lord put one massive, earth-shattering requirement on anyone who would enter His kingdom:  You have to become as a little child (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:16; I Corinthians 14:20; I Peter 2:2).

And let’s be honest.  That is a deal-breaker for many people who pride themselves on their intellect or self-determination.

How does a brilliant man or woman – one with a superior mind – go about humbling himself or herself and “becoming as a child?”

Most can’t. 

They are spiritually blind.

And only a sovereign act of God can change their blindness.

Turn to God and He will not turn you away.

You’re invited to the inside.  It's time to come in from the cold.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dinner Tonight


BBQ Chicken and grilled vegetables (potatoes, onion, carrots, sweet peppers, garlic scapes, and freshly sliced pineapple).


Early Onion and Garlic


Today I thinned my onion and garlic. This is what I brought home for immediate use. The rest should be ready for harvest in 3 weeks, and will be very large at that time.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Garden, May 2014



This is a large garden
Cucumber Vine

Cucumbers are starting to put on


Bell Pepper

Squash Plant


Squash are beginning to put on

Onions are beginning to bulb
Potato blooms

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday Mind Dump - May 4, 2014


I was very challenged by today’s message – not only on a personal level and the way I live my own life (regarding idols of the heart) – but also as a preacher and having to say those things.  I believe I was as accurate (and faithful) to the text as I could be, but it is always difficult for me to say challenging things.  And, I always recognize that a sermon like that has the potential for a lot of push back.

That message went through endless revisions.

I always have to remind myself that even Jesus Himself did not please everyone who listened to Him.  And I also have to remind myself that God’s people – those who truly have a sincere heart to please Him – will be receptive to His Word.  If I succeed in edifying none but these, I have accomplished God’s work.  

One man, a father, and a Pensacola Police Officer sent me a private message online asking me to send him the list of values (I mentioned in the sermon) that I would like to pass along to my two sons if I had only five minutes left to live.

Did you know that within PCC's congregation we have people who are not American citizens, or this is not their country of origin. We have people from Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, the Philippines, Germany, England, Australia, and Canada? Plus, we have many people of color who worship at PCC, and even a few inter-racial marriages. This is the flock I am the under-shepherd of and I am very mindful of this diversity, being sensitive to their concerns and perspectives. After service, a lady from the Philippines thanked me profusely for the general tone of the message. If you were there, you know the part. The sacred cows of American religion were skewered.

Facebook is loaded with good comments.

Our Safety Team really stepped it up today.  They had “eyes on” in a potential situation.  The service they provide for me, Renae, and our entire congregation is amazing.  Most people don’t realize the protection they offer us, but Renae and I (among many others) fully understand.  We feel vulnerable (sometimes) in a public setting with so many hundreds of people (in today’s climate of violence). Churches are soft targets for lunatics.  So it feels good knowing that a team of capable men have “got our six.”
BTW, I really like attending PCC.  We really do have a good church family.

This Wednesday evening we are having a Picnic On the Grounds in the PCC Park.  It is a Boston Butt cook-off.  Bring your lawn chairs, some side dishes, something to drink, a good appetite, and a few guests.

We have the best butts in town.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

GARDEN STUFF

I’ve had to repair my garden three times this spring; one due to freezing temperatures, and two times as a result of too much rain.

This last rain storm was the worst.  I spent three days (Thursday after work, Friday after work, and all day Saturday) repairing the damage.  But all is good now.

My garden is about to TAKE OFF.

The potatoes are in bloom and thriving.  I should be able to harvest them in 3 or 4 weeks.  I will have hundreds of pounds.

My onion and garlic are doing good too.  The onions are beginning to bulb on the surface.  I always get so excited to see this.  Onions and garlic are grow underground – they take about six months to mature – so I don’t always know what is happening.  So when they being to “show” themselves, I am very pleased.

I have cucumbers and squash putting on right now too.    Very, very pleased.

I think this year’s garden will be my best ever.

PERSONAL

We should get our house plans this week for a first review.  After a couple of revisions and engineering, they will be submitted to the county offices for permitting.

Renae and I can’t wait to build our new home.  We’re a little stressed about it, but we are up to the challenge.

We have faced so many mountains together in our lives thus far, that building a home will be doable. 

The more I think about our house plans, the more I like them and the lifestyle they will offer us.

The total square footage is a little larger than I thought we would decide on. But it’s not so big that it’s impractical for us.  Our last home was 1900 sq ft.  The plans we are working on now are about 2300 sq ft.  The extra space is the size of one large room.

In addition, we’ve planned a lot of porch space and a covered carport.  This adds to the total square footage of concrete we have to pay for – so this is where critical decisions have to be made.

The most important thing for us is that we will be living on a five acre parcel and plan to use it for a homestead lifestyle:  gardening, canning, fruit trees, raising chickens, etc.  It will be fun to have the grandchildren over for things like that.  We also look forward to family gatherings and large cookouts with friends.

Even now I take my grandson, Nolan, on tractor rides around the property.  He loves it. 

So do I.

It seems “grandfatherly.”

FISHING

I’ve gotten my fair share of fishing this spring.  Mostly in the sound, near the pass.  It’s been a lot of fun, but the weather has been challenging.  Too much cold.

With the recent rains, the water is now muddy and full of silt.  It will take weeks to clear up.

Good for me, I have a fishing trip planned for Lake Talquin in three weeks.  We will be fishing for Crappie.  Looking forward to it.

Mostly looking forward to a week out of town.

The cabin we stay in is on a bluff overlooking the lake.  It has a Million Dollar View.  The pure scenery is worth the cost of the trip itself, not to mention the 10,000 acre lake and 20,000 acre wildlife sanctuary surrounding the place.  Both are full of wildlife.  Especially beautiful.

Blessings.

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." (I John 5:21).