Sunday, December 27, 2009
New Year’s Day is the biggest day of the year for people to choose to change. Most of them don’t change at all. Ever. But they decide to change every year on New Year’s Day. New Year’s Day could be a party for you or just a night to stay up really late, but it is really not much different than all of the other days of your long life. You just have to start writing a different year, and you have to decide if you are going to call it two thousand ten or twenty ten. It is just a day, but writing a new year, starting a new year, the first day of a new decade is a good time to think about who you are, how you act and what you want to change.
A change on New Year’s Day is called a New Year’s Resolution. A resolution is a sure choice, something that you won’t change your mind about. I think a New Year’s Resolution is a good idea. You might even make a list of two or three or four things that you are for sure going to do this year that will make you better than you were last year.
Jonathan Edwards is a famous revival preacher who was born more than 300 years ago. It’s hard to believe that people way back then knew anything, but they did. Jonathan Edwards is a great man to study and you can start right here on this page. When Jonathan was 19 and 20 years old he made a list of resolutions. His list had 70 things on it. For normal people, that is too many. Also, he didn’t make his list just at New Year’s. He worked on it for a couple of years. But he had a lot of great ones and he had some great ideas about how to make them work. First he read his list every week. That helped him to remember what the list said and remember to do the stuff on the list. Also Jonathan Edwards knew that he could not follow the list all by himself, so he prayed for God’s help and God’s power to help him do the good things that he put on his list.
It would be great for you to do some of the same things that Jonathan Edwards did, but his list is sort of hard to read. I read his list and put some of my favorites into easier words for you to read. Read Jonathan’s list and pick a few for you to do.
1. Never lose time. Never waste time. Use every minute in the best way I can.
2. Live my life with all my strength, while I live.
3. Never do anything that I would be afraid to do if I knew I would die in one hour.
4. Any time I feel pain, think about two huge pains: first people who die for God and second hell.
5. Any time I think of a question about science or math or God, I need to find the answer.
6. If anything makes my pride bigger, makes me think that I am great, throw that thing away.
7. Never do anything for revenge. Never try to get back at someone.
8. Never be angry at something that can’t think like a dog or a toy or a baby or a snowflake.
9. Never say bad words about another person.
10. Be careful to eat right.
11. Find anything in me that doubts the love of God and fight against that doubt.
12. Read and study the Bible more and more so that every day of my life I know more of the Bible than I did the day before.
Just 12 of the 70 great resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Pick something from this list or pick
something else, but remember to write it down and read it every week. And pray for God to help you do it.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Really Read It: I Peter 2
Memorize: I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
That little alien had a flawless plan. His one man ship was small enough to slip past the airplanes and the star watchers. He landed at night outside of town where no one would see. It all worked perfectly. He got to earth secretly. The next morning he went to school. That is when his plan failed. He could do nothing secretly. He didn't look normal in math class because he was the only one with green skin. He couldn't blend in during reading because he said, "veem, veer, veez," instead of "A, B, C." P.E. class went wrong when he jumped into the basketball hoop instead of throwing the ball in. After all that lunch was the worst part of his day. He ate the trash can instead of his food. He didn't look the same, he didn't act the same, and he didn't think the same as anyone else at school. He could not fit in. He could not blend in.
Peter told the Jesus followers to be aliens. Peter is famous for being one of the top guys with Jesus. He is known for some of the biggest mess-ups but also for some of the biggest hero moments of the Bible. After Jesus went up to heaven, Peter was the main leader of the church. One of the things he did to lead the church was to write down some important stuff. Some of Peter's words are in the Bible. In I Peter 2:11, Peter calls God's people aliens. I don't think that Peter had any ideas about little, green men from space. He used the word to mean a person from a different country. But the idea is the same. Peter was telling those people that they should be aliens. If you look at a regular person and then look at a God person, there should be big time differences that are easy to see. The way they act, the words they use, the way they think.
When Peter told those people 2,000 years ago to be aliens, it was really God telling them. And God has the same words for you today. If you are a child of God, then you should be an alien. It should be easy to tell that you are different from the normal kids of the world. If you want to learn how to be different, you can read the rest of I Peter 2 and the rest of 1 Peter really. Peter has a lot of ways for you to be an alien.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Grandpa Jacob was the grandpa that I hardly knew at all. He was my dad’s dad. My mom’s side grandpa I always saw a lot from when I was even a baby. Grandpa Jacob I only met when I was six and I only even saw him three times. But that last time I saw him was the best big-time day of my whole life and I know it’s gonna stay that even when I am grown up and then when I am old. That day will always matter more than all of my other days. I went to see him with my dad and my big brother. When Dad talked to us on the way he sounded sad, but also serious. I could tell he thought this was a big deal.
“Boys, I am taking you to see my dad, your grandfather, and… and I think he is dying.” Well that did not make me think it was a good day. I didn’t really want to watch a old guy die and like I said I didn’t really know him. But dad kept going and how he talked made me sort of scared but not only scared. “My dad is going to talk to you, and he is going to say important words. You see, God talks to my dad and God blesses my dad more than anybody else in the world. And God is going to tell him what to say about you. He is going to say God’s words to you.”
Wouldn’t that make you a little scared? Maybe you’re a wimp and it would make you a lot scared. You’d have to be a fool to not be at least a little scared by that. God is going to tell me all about my life. I’m just a kid. I’ve got a lot of life left. I hope.
When we got there Dad and Grandpa started talking to each other like we weren’t even in the room. And I started hoping they would forget about Grandpa telling me God’s words, but then I was scared they would forget about Grandpa telling me God’s words. I wanted him to but I didn’t. But I wanted it more than I didn’t.
And then Grandpa stopped right in the middle a story about when his wife died, looked right at us, and said, “Are these your sons?"
Dad said, "Yes."
"Bring them over here so I can bless them," Grandpa asked from his bed.
My whole body started tingling and I was more excited than ever and more scared than ever. My brain wanted to get God, but my brain was not my loudest talker. Inside of me there was something else that wanted what God was giving so bad.
Dad put me in front of him on one side and my big brother on the other. I found out that the side was a big deal. The little brother got a blessing from God, but the big brother got the best blessing. I had no idea when I stood there and Grandpa put his hands on us, but he blessed Dad first. Then Dad stopped him and said his hands were wrong. That was the whole thing about the oldest son gets the best blessing. And Dad was getting worked up about it.
"This one is the oldest. Put your right hand on him. Give him the best blessing."
Grandpa kept his hands crossed just like they were and spoke powerfully first to Dad and then to us. He talked about nations, and so many people that come from us, and big time money, and blessings. Most of the words made sense to my brain, but the greatest thing about those words was how they went deep down inside of me and I felt like my insides were alive for the first time ever. Sure I'd been breathing before. I did it since I was born. But when those words went inside of me, it felt like I was breathing better than I ever did before. It seemed like I could see better, colors were brighter, I could see more in things. More mattered. And was it because it of the words, or because it was Grandpa Jacob who said them, or was it because he crossed his arms and gave me the right hand, the better hand? I think all that stuff was good. But the real change was God. It wasn't really an old grandpa who crossed his arms. Really God crossed His arms and reached out to me with a better blessing than I was supposed to get. God gave me better than I ever should have had.
This is my guess about a great little story from the Bible. Grandpa is Jacob who tricked Esau, tricked his dad, and wrestled with God. Dad is Joseph who got a coat from his dad and was sold by his brothers. The kids are Manasseh, the oldest, and Ephraim, the youngest. But God and Jesus and you are in this story too. Over and over in the Bible, God put in stories to show what He is like and what he is going to do in Jesus. I think this is one of them. In this story God is like Jacob giving the blessing and speaking what will happen in your life. Jesus is the big brother. He is the first born of all the people ever made or ever born. And Jesus is the one who should get all of the greatest best stuff ever. You are the little brother, and you could maybe have the stuff that's left over after the big brother gets what he wants.
But God crossed His arms.
God reached out to you. God reaches out to you. And gives you the best blessing. He gives you the great things that only Jesus should really have. You get to have blessing, healing, power, wholeness, vision, peace, and fill-up-your-body life.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
A Quick Look: Matthew 2:7 – 12
Really Read It: Matthew 1 – 2
Memorize: Matthew 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Christmas is weird. Don’t get mad. Weird doesn’t always mean bad, but it is weird. A huge tree inside the house is weird. Hanging tons of toys and lights on a tree is weird. Little lights to show off the shape of your house is weird. Huge socks hanging up is weird. Chubby, bearded strangers holding kids is weird. Animal and baby statues on the lawn is weird. There are reasons for all of those weirds. You could find out if you want, but it might ruin Christmas.
This page does not tell about those weirds. This page is to get rid of one more Christmas weird that is a bad one.
It is weird to have a special day for Jesus and give Him nothing.
The good news of the Bible, the great news of Jesus is that God comes down to people. The Bible tells of so many times when God came down from heaven to help His people. And every time He came down, the smart people gave to Him.
Gideon is famous because he led a small army and wiped out a big army with God’s help. When God first showed up to talk to Gideon, Gideon made great effort to give God a great meal. He couldn’t pull a frozen pizza out. He had to kill a goat and make some bread from scratch. When God showed up, Gideon gave.
Many other smart men of the Bible gave dead animals to God: Abel, Abraham, David, Elijah. But a woman impresses me more than any of those guys. One evening when Jesus was on the earth a woman brought him a big gift, a jar of perfume. Most of you would be sad if your best birthday present was a $100 jar of perfume dumped on your feet. But for Jesus it was the perfect gift. God showed up on earth and that woman gave.
At Christmas the most famous givers are the Magi or the Kings or the Wise Men from the East. There are three of them in every Christmas story but the Bible one. The Bible does not tell how many Magi came to give Jesus stuff. What if there were ninety or them? We don’t know how many Magi came, but we know that when God came down, these guys spent a lot of money and a lot of time to take a trip. And on that trip they gave a lot of money to a baby. God showed up on the earth and the Magi gave, and gave big.
God keeps coming down today. A lot of people say that Christmas is a special day to say thank you to God for coming to earth. If that’s true then you need to give to God. But what does God want? I have heard that God doesn’t want money. He wants your heart. I would have to agree with that. God already has all the money and all of the stuff. God does want your heart, your loyalty, your strength. But God knows that money is connected to your heart. You cannot say, “God, I give you my heart and I keep all of my money for myself.” To give God your heart, you have to give Him stuff. A lot of stuff. If God has your heart then it will be easy to give Him more than you get this month.
Isaiah 9:2 – 7
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.