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Because It’s There

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Because It’s There | August 24th, 2012

Because It’s There

Mount Whitney

When George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, he famously responded, “Because it’s there.”

Tomorrow I will be climbing Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. It’s not Mt. Everest but it does tower 14,500 feet in the air. I’m not sure why George Mallory climbed Mt. Everest. It might have been for the challenge. It is more likely it was for some sort of personal glory.

Moses once climbed a mountain for glory. It was not his own but to stand in the presence of the glory of the Lord.

I am climbing more for the second type of glory than the first.  I’m climbing with eight other men in part to spend time together and also to raise money for the India Gospel League as they attempt to win India for Christ.

I don’t believe God is any closer on the top of a mountain but at least a part of me expects to feel closer to him. I think the biggest reason for that is I will be so far away from all the familiar things of my life. The one thing I will have still with me is him.

Please spend some time praying for India today. It is a country that desperately needs the light and love of God.

And when you do pray for us as well. Pray that we might see something of the glory of the Lord in the magnificence of his creation.

PS. If you would like to do more than pray you can check out the website adventures4christ.com

PPS. While Bob is going to continue to post blogs for RedLikeBlood.com, I’m going to take a break to get the creative juices flowing again. Thanks for all of your encouragement the past eighteen months.

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Baby T.J.

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Baby T.J. | August 3rd, 2012

Baby T.J.

A year ago we competed our first Micah 6:8 Bike Challenge. The idea was to raise money for justice and mercy ministries around this area. One of the ministries we focused on was Pregnancy Services and Solutions. PSS is a unique ministry that tries to save the unborn. Their strategy is to outfit an RV with ultrasound equipment. They park the RV near an abortion clinic and offer women a free ultrasound just so they can see what is growing inside of them. They also offer counseling and diapers for a year if someone decides to have the baby.

Through the bike challenge we were able to purchase and outfit an RV. They named it MICAH.

Soon after MICAH hit the road PSS got a call. The girl was 14 years old. She thought they were abortion providers and called to schedule an appointment to terminate the pregnancy before her mother found out. They asked her if she wanted to come in to talk about it and maybe take a look at an ultrasound of what the baby looked like right then. She said she wanted to but couldn’t drive and of course didn’t want to ask her mother.

PSS asked if there was a parking lot near her house. She directed them to a strip mall within walking distance. When the RV arrived they gave her a call. They sat with her and spent time talking through all that was happening. They showed her an ultrasound. She decided to have the baby.

The photo you see is T.J.  He is one of over 50 children saved since MICAH hit the road.

I just wanted you to go through today knowing that justice and mercy is finding it’s way out of our church and sometimes results in a life being saved…literally.

Beautiful little T.J. is alive because someone had an idea to put an ultrasound in an RV and make it mobile. I love when God gives us simple ideas to do more than we could ever imagine.

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Who Will Mend the Garment?

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Who Will Mend the Garment? | July 27th, 2012

Who Will Mend the Garment?

Sometimes I think of the world as a fabric. God created it to be a magnificent garment full of beauty and amazing detail and symmetry. This past week headlines have reminded us how quickly the fabric can be torn. I realize there are always headlines reminding us but this past week with the Colorado massacre and the Penn State penalties handed out it seems more obvious.

I will be honest. Both events have made me very sad. There is a wickedness buried deep within both that hurts my heart.

It’s interesting though. This week also happened to be the first Micah 6:8 weekend at CCC. Micah 6:8 is a call to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. In short it is a call to mend the torn fabric of our society.

The weekend was designed to allow our people to do that with sheer abandon. The leadership of the church decided that all the offering would go toward the ministries of justice and mercy and the church would forego any operating expense for the week.

Our people leaped at the opportunity. Checks were being written with tears of gratitude at the chance to bring justice to the oppressed. One of the ministries we featured was Destiny Rescue. They rescue children out of the sex trade in Southeast Asia. The workers from Destiny Rescue came up to me after the third service and said, “We have never seen anything like this before.” They were completely overwhelmed.

This coming week I get to give the grand total for the combined giving of the Bike Challenge and the 6:8 weekend. It is phenomenal. You will not want to miss it.

So, in a week where sadness was the predominant emotion it ended with rejoicing. And so it is with the Christian rhythm of life. The cross is followed by the resurrection. As quickly as the fabric of the world is torn by sin, Christians set to work to sew it up with grace.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more glad to be a Christian than this past week.

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You Gotta Do the Hills

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You Gotta Do the Hills | July 21st, 2012

You Gotta Do the Hills

I just finished up the CCC Bike Challenge. I rode my bicycle along with 17 other men from Cincinnati to Cleveland. We covered nearly 400 miles in 5 days. This is the second year we have done it.

This year was tougher on me. I spent probably the same amount of time training on my bike. The difference is I didn’t do as many hills as I did last year in training. Hills are the toughest part of cycling. I started riding the flats and kind of fell in love with it. I started avoiding hills and the more I avoided them the more I stayed away from them.

Now I know why a cyclist has to do hills. I labored at times on the trip. Here’s the thing. I find myself more often than not praying for good days. A good day is like riding the flats. I love a good day. And when God sends me a hill I wonder what is going on. But there are things only hills can do.

Paul the apostle was thrown more hills than most. He seemed like he got to the place where he liked them because he understood what they would do in his life. This is what he wrote in Romans 5.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

If you find yourself on a hill today or tomorrow this is what I want you to do. Don’t try to get off it right away. Lean hard into God and let the hill do the work in you that only a hill can do. Eventually the difficulty you are going through will finally pass and in its wake it will leave you with a strength you did not have before.

This bike trip was a reminder of what happens when I stay away from the hills. I needed the strength that only the hills give and I didn’t have it. So, it is back to the hills for me. I hope to see you there.

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When Things Get Dry

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When Things Get Dry | July 13th, 2012

When Things Get Dry

It hasn’t rained in a while. It’s funny, up here in Northeastern Ohio we tend to feel like we don’t get our fair share of sunshine. Well, it’s happening now. My lawn is crispy and it almost hurts to walk on.

I’ve noticed a few things. I’m always surprised at how quickly things get dry. It was just a month or so ago that it was hard to keep up with my lawn. Now I don’t have to even think about mowing. The second thing is while my grass is struggling mightily the weeds seem to be at the top of their game. Dryness agrees with nearly every type of weed I have. There are weeds worming their way up through the rock hard earth. Cracks in my sidewalk now have prickly sprigs peeking out. And the final thing is that I’m always surprised when the rain does finally come how quickly my lawn responds. It’s like the grass is longing for the thunderclouds to form and if my lawn could sing it would sing for all it’s worth at the first clap of thunder. My lawn was made to be soaked regularly and when it is it is so lush and beautiful my little dog runs out and lays on her back and wiggles back and forth just to feel the lushness envelop her.

I think God makes things in patterns. Always. I know I’ve said it before but it bears repeating because the patterns themselves repeat the truth of God in hundreds of ways every day. My soul gets dry sometimes. And when it does it always happens faster than I think it will. The weeds of my soul tend to grow faster in the drought and are prickly and pernicious. But when I do return to the living water I’m always surprised at how much I have missed it and how quickly my soul responds.

I’m not discovering anything new. The psalmist knew what it felt like to be dry and where to go to slake his thirst.

As the deer pants for the water brooks so my soul pants for thee O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Psalm 42:1-2

O God, thou are my God. I shall seek thee earnestly. My soul thirsts for thee, my flesh yearns for thee. In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

There are many things that can cause a spiritual drought in your life. There is only one who can end that drought and let it rain. May today be the day the rain starts in your soul and may you be drenched in the wonder of the God who loves you and claims you fully for his own.

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Light in a Pitch Black Darkness

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Light in a Pitch Black Darkness | July 6th, 2012

Light in a Pitch Black Darkness

I have a friend who is a counselor. She was approached by another therapist who was struggling with a client. The therapist was not a Christian and since his client was he wanted some insight from my friend. The issue was the homosexuality of the child of the client. The therapist asked my friend her opinion as to what he should tell his client. My friend said, “Tell your client to love her son. She doesn’t have to agree with the behavior, but she needs to love him now more than ever.” The therapist was stunned. He said, “You are the first Christian I’ve ever talked to who said that about a homosexual.”

That’s just sad.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” He didn’t say, “You are the hammer of the world.” Too many times Christians see themselves as the hammer and not the light.

One of the good things and bad things about being a part of such a large church is there is so much going on I don’t know. I’ve known for a while that our church has supported Rahab Ministry. I vaguely knew it was a ministry to prostitutes in Akron. Two weeks ago I went down to minister with Rahab. There were 6 of us, 3 men and 3 women. We sat and prayed together and read Scripture for about a half hour before we headed out. Then we went to the strip clubs. The men stayed outside and prayed and the women took gift bags into the clubs for the girls who worked there.

It was stunning.

Our team had a chance to pray with some of the women and generally remind them that there are people who care for them and a God who loves them and has not forgotten them.

“You are the light of the world,” Jesus said. Light is brightest when it shines in the pitch black. I was a witness of light shining in the darkness. It’s a ministry that happens almost every Friday night. A small group of Christ followers going where the need is overwhelming. We didn’t change the world but we were obedient to the call of Jesus and when we left there was a little light where there had been nothing but utter darkness.

I spend a lot of time in the light. I hope you do too. But every follower of Jesus needs to find a dark place to shine every once in a while. Find your place and let your light shine.

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That Idol That You Love, It Doesn’t Love You Back

That Idol That You Love, It Doesn’t Love You Back

The Apostle John ended his first epistle very abruptly: Little children keep yourself from idols. The End. No salutation. Not even a “Grace to you and peace.”

I think John did it this way to get our attention because idols have a sneaky way of getting us to love them and serve them. We are deceived into believing they love us and serve us back–but they don’t.

Keeping ourselves free from idols is a daily process and we often need help. That’s why I share this recent blog post from Justin Buzzard. It is jam-packed with insight. You’ll find many powerful sentences and one of them just might bring the grace and truth we need to keep ourselves from our idol-of-the-day.

Take an extra minute to read it slowly: [Read more...]

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Be This and Not That

Written By:
Be This and Not That | June 22nd, 2012

Be This and Not That

A lot of us are heading for vacation some time this summer. Our family loves water. We aren’t the only ones. Lakes, beaches, water parks and pools will be filled with people swimming, surfing, and just splashing around. There is something about water that seems to draw me. Maybe you feel the same.

I wonder why.

Jesus had an interesting relationship with water. His first miracle was to change water into wine at his command. Water joyfully obliged. Soon after that the disciples left Jesus on one side of the lake and took all the boats with them. Jesus asked water to change again and become solid under his feet. Again, water responded without hesitation. Later, Jesus was asleep in the bottom of a boat when a mighty storm whipped up. His disciples went into a panic and shook Jesus awake. (Side note: these were seasoned fishermen. Have you ever watched The Deadliest Catch? It must have been a heck of a storm to make real fishermen panic). Jesus stumbled up on deck and spoke to the wind and the waves, “Be still” and water became like glass. In my mind’s eye I see Jesus looking down into the mirror-like water and smiling.

The one time water was not able to respond was when Jesus cried out on the cross, “I thirst.” The water of the world trembled to rush to the mouth of the Master and was held back by the will of the Father.

I’ve wondered for a long time why human beings are so drawn to water. Maybe this is the reason. Water had a unique relationship with Jesus. It was ready at any time to obey his command. At any time Jesus could turn to water and say, “Water, my friend, be this not that.” “Be wine not water.” And water responded. “Be solid not liquid. Bear me up.” And water responded. “Be calm not turbulent.” And water responded. And every time both water and the Savior were filled with joy.

Maybe I was created to be like water. I am called to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice to my Savior. And so are you. Be this and not that.

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