Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, February 25, 2012


So when you pray, you should pray like this: (NCV) Matthew 6:9a

      In some ways, Harold Henderson could be considered a book worm. He can often be found at the local library or book store looking for a book he hadn't read yet. Yesterday while at the book store he found a book that he was sure would revitalize his life and maybe even the Pupperville Church and all for only $5.95 plus tax.

     After spending most of last night pouring through the book, he decided that he needed to go to the church and find Randy. When he got to the church he found Randy in his study praying. Instead of being quiet and letting Randy finish his praying, Harold started shouting with excitement, “Randy, Randy, Randy, I've got it, I've got it, I've got it.”

     “Excuse me!” Randy said as he looked up in disgust, “I'm praying.” “Perfect!” Harold squealed in delight, “what are you praying about?” “I was praying about my Sermon for Sunday,” Randy told him, “Or at least I was until you interrupted. I hope this is important.” “It is, It is.” Harold chirped back.

     “Okay,” Randy said, “What is so important that you had to interrupt my pray time?” “It's this new book I got about pray.” Harold told him, “It's called “Prayers For Every Occasion. And it,s absolutely fantastic. It's got prayers for everything including one on preparing a sermon.” “Well, I suppose that could be handy.” Randy said, “How does it go?

     “It's right here on page 52.” Harold said as he flipped to the page. “It goes like this - Dear Lord, I'm stuck here in my study, While my kids are getting muddy, I'd rather be out there, Than sitting in my chair, So help me with my sermon, So I can be with Herman.” “Isn't this great” Harold said after finishing the prayer “And there are hundreds more.”

     As Harold carried on about all the different prayers he had found in his new book and how he thought everyone in the church should have a copy of the prayer book so they could recite the prayers, Randy decided to interrupt him and ask him if he had a prayer for when you're about to be eaten by lions or for when you're in the belly of a sea monster.

     Without missing a beat, Harold promptly found a prayer for both situations. After reciting them Randy asked him if he thought Daniel or Jonah would have been satisfied with reciting those prayers. After thinking about it for a moment Harold said they would have like the prayer on page 76 better and than skipped off to tell someone else about his new find. As for Randy, he decided to stick with his own prayer.

     There is a prayer found in Matthew 6 that has been mistakenly called the “Lord's Prayer” and recited as if its our prayer. The prayer in Matthew 6 is neither the Lord's prayer (why would He have to ask for forgiveness) nor is it our prayer to recite but rather a model to help us know how to pray and yes we are to pray for in 4 of the 5 verses preceding this prayer Jesus uses the words “when you pray,” not if you pray.”

     Of course, not everyone is familiar with prayer. Two men were out walking one day. One guy challenged his buddy by saying, “If you’re so religious, let me hear you quote the Lord’s Prayer. I’ll bet you $10 you can’t do it.” The second guy responded, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” The first guy pulled out his wallet, fished out a $10 bill and muttered, “I didn’t think you could do it!” - How many of you can remember learning this prayer as a kid. How many of you, if challenged in such a way could recite the “Lord’s Prayer?” - Mt 6:9-13 puts it this way in the 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 'Give us this day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.' (NAS)

     When you look at this model you might notice that it's not full of fancy words or ramblings. Fancy words and ramblings are for those who only want to look good, to look religious. Jesus warned against such praying just before he gave us this model.

     We also find this prayer in Luke where Jesus' disciples are recorded as having asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. What they didn't ask was teach us a prayer to recite. There's a big difference between knowing how to pray and how to repeat someone else's words. Prayer is to be personal, it is to be one on one with God. Can you imagine one of these two characters from the Old Testament reciting some packaged prayer.

  • While it wasn’t by his choice, Jonah got away to pray, one on one with God, in the stomach of a fish - Jonah 2:1-9
  • While he had nothing to do with it, Daniel was about to be executed. Time for some one on one with God, - Daniel 2:20-23
     The ship was sinking and the captain was passing out the life belts. Suddenly he called out to the passengers, and asked if anyone there knew how to pray. A preacher among the passengers eagerly announced that he did. "Thank goodness for you," said the captain. "We are short one life belt." - Time for fancy prayers? Time for reciting the “Lord’s Prayer?” What would you be doing on such an occasion?

      James 5:16b says The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Maybe the reason a righteous man’s prayer accomplish much is because they're not someone else’s, they’re his from the heart. So, how about you? Are you ready to pray your own prayer?

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you repeat some patterned prayer just to say you prayed?
  • Are your prayers from the heart?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Series On Prayer

     If all goes well, I plan to put together a series on prayer over the next 12 weeks based on a sermon series I did many years ago entitled "Are Yo Ready To Pray."  Some of those messages were posted on my Craziest Dad blog and are there to read in more detail than I will have here.  Along the way I hope to introduce a few more of my new puppet characters.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. - Ecclesiastes 5:5 (NLT)

      “Where is he? Where is he?” Tracy McDonald muttered to her self as she searched the Peterson’s backyard. “He’s not going to get away from me this time.” “Um!” said a man’s voice, “Who are you looking for, Tracy?” “HAROLD” Tracy shouted as she whirled around to see who was talking to her. It was Harold’s dad Bill.

      “The last time I saw Harold,” he said, “Muffy was sitting on top of him. But I would say the chances are pretty good he is chasing Muffy which means he could be just about anywhere.” “Good thing I brought my dog whistle then.” Tracy told him, “I will just blow it and than Muffy and Harold will both come.”

     “A dog whistle!” Bill exclaimed, “Not a good idea.” And before he could stop her, Tracy gave a blast on the whistle. A few seconds later Muffy came running toward Tracy at full speed. Bill quickly jumped behind a tree and Tracy got flattened. “HAROLD!”she yelled “GET YOUR DUMB DOG OFF OF ME!”

     As Harold came running into the back yard, Muffy got up and ran off and Tracy jumped up and tackled Harold. “We need to talk.” she said as she dropped him to the ground. “If it’s about Muffy” Harold started to say but never got to finish. “It’s not about your dog.” Tracy interrupted as they sat up. “It’s about your promise you made to me because you got my Dad lost.”

     “Promise.” Harold scoffed, “Yes.” Tracy responded, “And you’re going to keep it, this time.” “And who’s going to make me?” Harold said as he started to take off after Muffy. “I will!” said Bill as he stepped out from behind the tree. “Dad!” Harold shouted in surprise, “Where did you come from?”

     “But, Dad,” Harold started complaining, “She wants me to take her to a movie about a girls club. I’ll just die if I have to take her.” “Well,” Bill started to say, “I might be able to get you out of taking Tracy to the movie.” “Oh thank you, thank you.” Harold said happily, “I knew you were a great dad.”

     “Instead of taking Tracy to the movie you can do her chores for a week.” Bill told Harold. “That’s a great idea.” Tracy said with a giggle, “I’m sure he’d love to clean out the cow barn for me.” “Clean the cow barn!” Harold shouted “Cow manure stinks! Why did I make such a stupid promise. What time is the movie?”

     How many of us have played the role of Harold, we've made a promise and than tried to to wiggle out of fulfilling that promise? Part of Harold's problem, make that one of Harold's problems was not defining his promise exactly and so was the problem of the man called Jephthah.

     The story of Jephthah takes place in Israel during the time of the judges, a time when Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord … And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, … They went after other gods, … And they provoked the Lord to anger. … So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies,... Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Judges 2:11-16 (ESV)

     If you would like to read his entire story, you can find it in the 11th chapter of Judges. It is there that we learn that while Jephthah was a mighty warrior, he was also the son of a prostitute and was kicked out of his family by his brothers. We also learn that he settled in the land of Tob where he collected a band of worthless men, and sired a daughter.

     Now trouble was brewing for the Israelites for the Ammonites were making war with them and they were in need of someone to save them and Jephthah was the man who was looked to for help. Jephthah said he would help them if they would make him their leader and the people agreed and he went to work.

     After a battle of words between Jephthah and the king of the Ammonites over who actually owns the land that Israel was possessing in which Jephthah tried to convince the Ammonite king to leave, it was time for war.

     Before heading into war, Jephthah thought it right to have the Lord on his side and he made a vow, a promise to God, that if He would give the Ammonites into his hands that whatever came out from the doors of his house to meet him when he returned in peace from the Ammonites would be the Lord's, and he would offer it up for a burnt offering.

     Jephthah won the battle and when he returned home the first thing to come from his house met him not with bleating or mooing but with singing and dancing. It wasn't an animal but his only child, his daughter. His promise came back to haunt him.

     When it comes to making promises and keeping them, we have a great example – God. Joshua reminds of that in Joshua 23:14-15 - It’s almost time for me to die. You know and fully believe that the Lord has done great things for you. You know that he has not failed to keep any of his promises. Every good promise that the Lord your God made has come true, and in the same way, his other promises will come true. He promised that evil will come to you and that he will destroy you from this good land that he gave you. (NCV)

     When it comes to the rest of us we too need yo keep our promises, especially to God.
  • Deuteronomy 23:21 - If you make a promise to give something to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, because the Lord your God demands it from you. Do not be guilty of sin. (NCV)
  • Ecclesiastes 5:4 - If you make a promise to God, don’t be slow to keep it. God is not happy with fools, so give God what you promised. (NCV)
     When we make promises, we need to not only be careful to keep them, but we need to be clear about what we promise lest we end up doing something we never intended to do.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Are you careful to promise only what you are willing to keep?
  • Do you try to get out of promises?

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Beloved, let us love one another, - 1 John 4:7-11 (NKJV)

     It was the second week of February and every where one went in Pupperville there were heart shaped signs advertising Valentines Day. For some people Valentines is a wonderful time of the year but for others it’s a day to be gotten rid of. So was the case of one Barney Lee.

     Knowing how good Harold was at getting out of things, Barney was heading to his house to see if Harold would help him with his Valentine problem when he met up with Harold’s Grandpa. “Maybe Robert, can help me.” Barney thought to himself, “He’s been around along time and Harold had to learn all his tricks from somebody”

     “Mr. Gray!” Barney called out, “I’ve got a B I G problem and I was wondering if you could help me.” “I might be able to help you.” Robert said as he walked over to him, “What do you need?” “I need to get rid of tomorrow.” Barney said

     “I don’t think that is possible.” Robert told him. “I didn’t think so.” Barney said, “I don’t think I’m going to make it through tomorrow.” “Do you have some big test tomorrow that you didn’t study for?” Robert asked him trying to find out why he wanted to get rid of tomorrow. “Well........ Yes, but that’s not the reason,” Barney told him, “Tomorrow is Valentines Day.”

     “And there’s something wrong with that?” Robert asked. “Yeah.” Barney replied, “Girls! And to make it worse our teacher at school is making us give mushy Valentine’s cards to them.” “Mushy!?” Robert questioned, “Are you sure they’re mushy?” “Well, maybe they’re not mushy” Barney told him “But, but I don’t like girls much less love them.”

     “It can’t be that bad, can it” Robert told him. “Oh yeah!” Barney exclaimed “Last year one of the girls tried to kiss me. I don’t want to be anybody’s Valentine and I don’t want anyone to be my Valentine. I don’t want to love anybody and I don’t want anybody to love me.”

     You know,” Robert said as he sat down on a bench, “love doesn’t have to be mushy.” “It doesn’t?” Barney asked somewhat confused. “I thought all love was mushy.” “I love you” Robert told him. “But you’re an old grandpa.” “Thanks a lot!” Robert exclaimed “Maybe I don’t love you.” “I’m just kidding.” Barney quickly replied

     “Do you love your mom and dad? Do you love Harold? Do you love God?” do they love you?” “Alright” Barney interrupted, “I get your point,.” “Just remember what the Bible says.” Robert tried to encourage him, “1 John 4:7 says let us love one another, for love is from God”“I know” Barney said looking a bit discouraged, “But there’s still girls out there.”

     Depending on who you are, you may have different ideas as to what Valentines Day is all about. As a kid Valentines day meant getting cards with candy and gum attached to them and it also meant giving them to girls, I did not like girls. That was then, Now I am grown up, girls aren't so bad, I married one and God gave me four more. The meaning of the day gas changed for me as well Now it's more of an opportunity to show my family how much I love them – the girls and the boys.

     Speaking of love, have you ever tried to get out of loving someone? When you turn to God's word we find a lawyer who tried. His story is found in Luke 10.

      And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise." - Luke 10:25-37 (ESV)

     I'll talk about what love is some other time but if you can't wait you can read about it in 1 Corinthians 13. In the mean time I'll let you know that love is not usually mushy and as you can see in Jesus' story, love was not mushy.

     Adding to the command to love your neighbor, Jesus added a command to also love your enemies - Matthew 5:43-44 - You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (HCSB)

     In Romans Paul comments on loving your neighbor with these words Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. - Romans 13:8-10 - (ESV)

     While Paul gives us a great reason to love, John gives us an even greater reason - 1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (NKJV)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you say you love your neighbor or do you love you neighbor?
  • Will you use Valentines Day to let people know you love them?

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Trust in the LORD with all your heart Proverbs 3:5a (NAS)

      Many family's have boys and many of those family's have a boy named Michael. One of those families is the Henderson's. On a normal day, Michael Henderson is full of energy running here and running there not because he can't sit still but because he loves to run but running isn't the only thing he loves. Michael also loves any type of sports.

     Some of his favorite sports include soccer where he plays as a halfback running all over the field, track and field, and American football where he loves being a wide receiver and is always running long to try and catch a pass. But lately he hasn't been loving much of anything, not even running.

     Like many sports fans, Michael has favorite teams form each of his favorite sports and when it comes to football his team is, well, he doesn't want to talk about it. Not only did his favorite football team not make it into the playoffs but it had the worst season it had ever had. As a result, Michael has just been moping around the house as if the whole world was coming to an end.

     Michael also has a mom, her name is Florence, and she's getting tired of seeing her son moping around the house. She's tired of telling him he has to get out of bed and he has to go to school and he has to do his school work and on and on. If it had only been a couple of days she would have had no problem but it has been over a month since the end of the regular season.

     Florence was also tired of his excuses for his moping around. “It's all the coaches fault, I can't manage my time right anymore, or, It's all the running backs fault I can't pick anything up, or it's the defenses fault I'm getting bad grades, or I'm too embarrassed to show my face.” and on and on went the excuses, always tied to his favorite team's poor performance.

     “Michael! I'm giving you an ultimatum.” Florence finally told him. “Either you quit moping around and start doing as you're told or I'm not going to allow you to join the track team this spring or the soccer team this summer.” When Michael heard that he about flipped out. “You can't do that!” He protested. “Not only can I,” his mother told him, “I'll also sign you up for ballet.”

     The thought of having to wear a tutu gave Michael the shivers and the next day he was out of bed bright and early, he cleaned his room, did his school work and joined the cross country ski team. “I'm glad you're back to normal.” his mom told him that night and he had to agree, it was great to be back to normal.

     Do you ever get stuck in a rut like Michael, one of moping around because someone or some group let you down? They didn't preform to your expectations? All too often we tie are selves too closely to people and leave God out of the picture and find ourselves being let down and in trouble with God.

     It's sort of like Isaiah said in Isaiah 31:1 - How terrible it will be for those people who go down to Egypt for help. They think horses will save them. They think their many chariots and strong horsemen will save them. But they don’t trust God, the Holy One of Israel, or ask the Lord for help.(NCV)

     One such man in the Bible who put his trust in men even though he new God's power was King Asa. We can read about him in 2 Chronicles 16. - In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa's territory in Judah. Asa responded by taking the silver and gold from the treasuries of the LORD's Temple and from the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message: "Let us renew the treaty that existed between your father and my father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone." Ben-hadad agreed to King Asa's request and sent his armies to attack Israel. They conquered the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all the store cities in Naphtali. As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah. Then King Asa called out all the men of Judah to carry away the building stones and timbers that Baasha had been using to fortify Ramah. Asa used these materials to fortify the towns of Geba and Mizpah. At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, "Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the LORD your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. Don't you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and horsemen? At that time you relied on the LORD, and he handed them all over to you. The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on, you will be at war." (NLT)

     At the end of the chapter we read of the results of his trusting men to the very end - In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Even when the disease became life threatening, he did not seek the LORD's help but sought help only from his physicians. So he died in the forty-first year of his reign. (NLT)

     According to Jeremiah 17:5 This is what the LORD says: "Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans and turn their hearts away from the LORD. (NLT) Michael tied himself to his favorite team, his team let him down and he got pulled down with them. Now I don't think there is a problem with having a favorite team but we need to be careful not to become tied to them, we need to be tied to God or as the Psalmist wrote - Some trust in their war chariots and others in their horses, but we trust in the power of the Lord our God. Psalms 20:7 (TEV)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Are you relying more on man or God?
  • When people fail you – do they pull you down?