Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to School: How to Avoid Detention

This morning's message continued our series: Back to School. We looked at how to avoid detention.

Listen here

Here are some of my notes:

You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. You have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. -Matthew 5:38-47

Seven questions we must ask:

1. What are you more likely to change: the other person or your reaction to the other person?

2. The first question we must ask: Have I examined myself and taken responsibility for who I am?

Read Matthew 7:3-5

3. Would others say I overact to small things in a relationship?

Read Psalm 145:8 and Ecclesiastes 7:9

Always listen and get the Total Picture, find the appropriate Timing, and use the right Tone

4. Do I try to see things from other’s point of view?

Read Romans 12:3 and Luke 6:36

Instead of putting others in their place; we must put ourselves in their place.

5. Do I care enough to confront in the right way?

Read Matthew 18:15-17

6. Do I put situations ahead of my relationships?

Read Matthew 7:24-27

7. Do I treat others better than they treat me?

Read Luke 6:38

Keep a fair-sized cemetery in your back yard, in which to bury the faults of your friends. -Henry Ward Beecher

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Industrial Arts

The sermon this week is based about building a life of integrity.
Back to School: Industrial Arts
Building a Life of Integrity
You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. –Exodus 20:7

You must not testify falsely against your neighbor. –Exodus 20:16

“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” –Matthew 5:33-37

Behind all God’s law is the desire of a loving God to create a society in which it would be a joy to live.

Life can’t be compartmentalized into “God is involved here” and “God is not involved here” sections. God is involved in all that we do, say, and think.

The challenge for us is that our words and lives are consistent, whether we are in church or out of church.

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. –Oprah Winfrey

One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present. In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present. –Steven Covey

Always do right—this will gratify some and astonish the rest. –Mark Twain

Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip. –Will Rogers

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. –Matthew 7:24-27

Character doesn’t make you a leader, but it does make you a leader worth following. –Andy Stanley

Saturday, August 23, 2008


People are like icebergs. There is so much more to them than meets the eye. When you look at an iceberg, generally only about 10% to 20% of the iceberg is visible. The rest is hidden below the surface. People are like icebergs. There’s much more to them than meets the eye. The world may see 10% of us. Those closest to us may see 20% of us. But 80% of us is hidden below the surface.
  • What do you think about and never share with others?
  • Who are you when nobody is looking?
  • How do you react to everyday aggravations?
  • How do you handle failure?
Scientists now say that a series of slits, not a giant gash, sank the Titanic. The opulent, 900-foot cruise ship sank in 1912 on its first voyage, from England to New York. Fifteen hundred people died in the worst maritime disaster of the time.

The most widely held theory was that the ship hit an iceberg, which opened a huge gash in the side of the liner. But an international team of divers and scientists recently used sound waves to probe the wreckage, buried in the mud under two-and-a-half miles of water. Their discovery? The damage was surprisingly small. Instead of the huge gash, they found six relatively narrow slits across the six watertight holds.

Small damage, invisible to most, can sink not only a great ship but a great reputation.

No one can expect to succeed without strong character below the surface to protect his talent and sustain him during difficult times. Character holds us steady, no matter how rough the storm becomes. Or to put it another way, Character is the pedestal that determines how much weight a person can sustain. If your character is the size of a tooth pick, you can only sustain a postage stamp. If your character is as thick as a column, you can sustain a roof.

Martin Luther King asserted this:

  • Cowardice asks the question: Is it safe?
  • Consensus asks the question: Is it popular?
  • Character asks the question: Is it right?

I pray for all of us that we will build lives of character and integrity that help us live our lives in a way that makes sense and glorify God.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


This morning's message was about developing a healthy world view on sexuality. It was a tough message to prepare for. Listen here.

Here are some of my notes:

Parents: It’s your responsibility to teach your children about sex.

You have heard the commandment that says, “You must not commit adultery.” But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. You must not covet your neighbor’s spouse. -Matthew 5:27-28

“The more we are filled with thoughts of lust the less we find true romantic love.” -Doug Horton

You must not commit adultery. -Exodus 20:14

Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not their spouse.

You must not covet your neighbor’s spouse. -Exodus 20:17

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny. -Unknown

So if your eye - even your good eye - causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand - even your stronger hand - causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. -Matthew 5:29-30

What lust is not:

Appreciation of someone’s beauty

What lust is:

Uncontrolled and consuming sexual passion that is considered and committed in the mind

One of the most common questions I get as a pastor goes something like: “Why would God tell me not to do something if it is a) enjoyable and b) it doesn’t hurt anybody?” My reply always has something to do with the latter and not the former. God loves us and wants to protect us from harm. Often when we lust and cross inappropriate boundaries the victims are the people we love the most. And if that isn’t enough, the most likely victim is ourselves. -CF

As a child we play games and if things don’t go right, we call it a do-over. As adults, it is a gift from God and we simply call it grace. -CF

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I got up early this morning and had finished running 20 miles just before 8:00 a.m. It's interesting that 20 miles by myself is sometimes enjoyable as it can be reflective or peaceful. But it can be long and tedious as well. 20 miles with friends usually goes by pretty fast. I was joined by Todd, Chris, and Dave for the run this morning. We started at Peak Performance about 5:35 and finished 2 hours and 25 minutes later. Friends make the twenty mile journey more enjoyable. Friends make the journey of life more enjoyable as well.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Dark Day in Omaha

After my 8 mile, 5:30 a.m. run with Henryiard, I stopped at QuikTrip with 52 cents which for the last few months was the correct change for a 32 ounce Lemon-Lime Gatorade from their fountain. To my surprise, the 49 cent special is done. A 32 ounce drink now costs 89 cents. The money that I have been saving on gas in the last few weeks will now disappear at the soda fountain.

On the way to work, I stopped at another QuikTrip, just hoping the store manager at the other QuikTrip was having a bad morning, to get a mixture of 85% Diet Coke and 15% Lemonade. The price changed at that QuikTrip as well.

The 49 cent special is now history. A dark day indeed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First Day of School

I was talking to a person in the church who is sending their youngest child off to college next week. Definitely a transition for them and for the child. I spoke to a woman this morning whose youngest daughter started high school today. Another pretty big transition. As we dropped Benjamin off, I couldn't help but notice the families dropping off their children to Kindergarten. The PTA had tissue and coffee for the them. Big changes in the lives of these families. Transition can mean progress. Life will always change. And change isn't always bad, but it is always different.

Benjamin's first day of school wasn't one of the bigger transitions in life. He is in second grade now. He wasn't thrilled about going, but reported that the day "wasn't too bad." I'll miss having him around, playing with him, and taking him to the church. But he'll learn more about math, reading, and his favorite class -- science. He'll learn skills on socialization, music, art, and other things that second graders learn. Hopefully he will continue to realize that the world is a wonderful place with opportunities for him to love and serve and share. Life has changed again, but somehow I know that life won't only be different. It will be better.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


We start a new sermon series this weekend at The Water's Edge. It is a teaching on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, specifically chapter 5. Jesus talked about some of the most pressing issues of his day which happen to be some of the most pressing issues of our day: sex, integrity, relationships, and money. We start with the issue of sex this Sunday.

Frederick Buechner writes about sex:

Contrary to Mrs. Grundy, sex is not sin. Contrary to Hugh Hefner, it's not salvation either. Like nitroglycerin, it can be used either to blow up bridges or heal hearts.

At it's roots, the hunger for food is the hunger for survival. At its roots the hunger to know a person sexually is the hunger to know and be known by that person humanly. Food without nourishment doesn't fill the bill for long, and neither does sex without humanness.

One common view is that anything goes as long as nobody gets hurt. Sex is sinful to the degree that, instead of drawing you closer to other human beings in their humanness, it unites bodies but leaves the lives inside them hungrier and more alone than ever before. Who is to say who gets hurt and who doesn't get hurt, and how? Maybe the injuries are all internal. Maybe it will be years before the X-rays show anything. Maybe the only person who gets hurt is you.

Jesus was actually pretty soft on sexual misbehavior. Some of his best friends were hustlers. He saved the woman taken in adultery from stoning. He didn't tell the woman at the well that she ought to marry the man she was living with.

But he did have something to say about lust (Matthew 5:27-30, our text for this weekend) and he told the adulterous woman to go and sin no more. (Wishful Thinking, 107-109)

Sex is God's idea. Like many other things in life: it can be profane, ugly, and divisive or it can be beautiful, sacred, and holy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

We're Back

We are back from vacation. I'm rested and ready to get back to work. Lots of highlights.

Rest. Just doing nothing with the two boys. Spending some time with Amber. We went on a few dates. One of them even ended up at Nebraska Furniture Mart.

I weeded and mulched our gardens.

I ran an 8K race in Iowa. Tough race. I got 4th behind a few college cross country runners. I was about a minute behind the winner and closing fast. :)

I preached at the first church I served out of seminary. It was great to see all our friends at Grace Church in Spencer. I hadn't been back for five years!

Amber and I went to my 20th class reunion at Laurens-Marathon High School. I think about 20 of us were there. Great to reconnect with old friends.

Benjamin and David got to spend some time with my mom. She does a good job of spoiling them.

I got lost running in Kansas City.

We spent a week at Table Rock Lake. Amber and David loved swimming and riding on the boat. Benjamin loved tubing and riding the wave runner.

We went to Silver Dollar City for a day. Cool place.

Thanks so much to Brad Krebs and Holly Baker for speaking for me when I was gone. Thanks to Mark and Lori Hauptman for letting us stay at their cabin in Missouri. Thanks to my intern, Cayla, for staying at our house for an extended period of time while we were gone. Thanks to all who prayed for us during this time.