About the Chief Outkicker

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Dayton, Ohio, United States
I've accused my friends, Jeff and Jonathan, of reaping more out of life's harvest than they deserve. I joke about this with them, but in reality, I am actually the one who has been blessed way beyond what I deserve. I have a wonderful wife who loves the Lord and who loves me. I have three great kids. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is my great provider. I have done nothing to deserve the good and wonderful gifts I have been given in this life. I am the one who is "outkicking my coverage" daily. Life is good. I am a teacher (18 years and counting), a husband, and a proud father. Most of all, I am a Christ follower. My desire is to follow Him so closely I am covered in the dirt of his sandals. Follow along as I work on allowing the Spirit of God to help me navigate this blessed life He has given to me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Which Way?

"The Christian's life in all its aspects-- intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness-- is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all."

-J.I. Packer-

Last Christmas I received a GPS from my in-laws. I don't travel much, but I really like having my Mio Moov 200 there to guide the way. You see, I have been known to stress-out when dealing with directions. To hear someone give directions to a location, and end the conversation with, "You can't miss it", makes me break-out in a cold sweat. I CAN miss it, and I most likely WILL miss it. That's why I love my GPS. She guides me to where I need to go.

Last weekend I took my daughter Taylor to a swim meet in Milford (where the heck is that?) at 6:00am. Without Claire (the name I gave my GPS), I would have been a mess. We got to the meet in record time, and I never once had to turn on the light and frantically try to read printed-out directions from Mapquest. I was really happy with Claire. In fact, I think I even uttered to Taylor that I loved her (it). Taylor looked at me kind-of weird, but I think she got the heart of what I was trying to express. Having something or someone to lead the way is wonderful. It is empowering and encouraging to know that every decisions for every turn does not depend on my judgement and short-sightedness. I was free to just drive.

On the way home from the meet I wondered to myself why I don't use Claire the GPS more often. In fact, many times I just leave it in the electronics drawer under out TV at home. It doesn't do me any good there. More often than not, I miss-out on the direction it could give me to get from one place to another. I subject myself to the pressure (check that...stress) of finding locations while also trying to drive my car. Anyone with any kind of sense would encourage me to keep the GPS in my car and use it regularly. It is downright stupid to not use it.

My contention is that I and many, many other believers in Jesus Christ do the same thing with God's Word. All of us, at one time or another have acted in obedience and consulted His Word. We have reaped the blessings of guidance, peace and security that can only come from God. Then we do the unthinkable. The stupid. We forget about it. We ignorantly forge forward with how we feel the Christian life should be lived, without consulting the true source for wisdom, knowledge, and instruction.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." -2 Timothy 3:16

This past week I had a conversation with at friend about the need for believers to be constantly fed by the reading of the Word of God. These are the questions that arose from the discussion: Does a believer really need to be in the Word in order to know and please God? Can he/she simply know God by serving others, through fellowship with other believers and by listening to K-LOVE? What if he/she is a poor reader or even a dyslexic? Surely God wouldn't ask us to frustrate ourselves by asking us to do something we find very difficult. Right? Isn't that equivalent to asking a physically disabled person to run in the Turkey Trot 5K?

In Jeremiah 29:13 God says to the exiles in Babylon, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Does that mean we are left on our own to make the decisive move toward seeking God? Do I really know how to seek him with ALL MY HEART? I have to say that this one is hard for me to figure out. Does it mean that He won't act until I figure out how to seek Him in this seemingly impossible way? This puts a lot of pressure on the believer. How can this be accomplished? Is it even possible?

Encouragingly, it is possible. Not through our own power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. Look back 5 chapters in Jeremiah for the context in which Jeremiah 29:13 was written. Read what God says in Jeremiah 24:7 to those same exiles in Babylon: I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”

Pastor and theologian, John Piper recently chimed in with this commentary of Jeremiah 24 and 27: "This is one of the most basic things people need to see about the Bible. It is full of conditions we must meet for God’s blessings. But God does not leave us to meet them on our own. The first and decisive work before and in our willing is God’s prior grace. Without this insight, hundreds of conditional statements in the Bible will lead us astray. Let this be the key to all Biblical conditions and commands: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). Yes, we work. But our work is not first or decisive. God’s is. “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). "

The Word is essential! There innumerable ways to excuse our individual decisions to neglect the Word, but none of those excuses hold any water. We are not left on our own to seek God with all our hearts. He works in us to give us the heart to do this. We are not left on an island to figure this out on our own. We are given power to get this done. The guidance is there. Why don't we more often tap into it?

I Corinthians 11:31 says: "But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged." We are called to take a serious inventory of ourselves as believers. Are we growing in Christ, or are we just treading spiritual water? Over time, others can look at us and tell. Dr. David Jeremiah is quoted as saying, "There is no standing still in the Christian life since the plan of God is continually moving forward. To fail to grow is to lose ground in the kingdom of God." Am I, are you where you should be in regard to our spiritual growth?


The guidance and power is at our fingertips. God has pre-ordained it. Will we use it?

"God never puts anyone in a place too small to grow"

-Henrietta Mears-

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What will HE say???

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2
Stories about people who died after living Godly lives are stories with happy endings. I think about a funeral I attended within the past year. It was the funeral of Dr. Dan Grabill, a former pastor, teacher, high school principal, mission trip leader, and counselor to myself and scores of others over the years. At that funeral, a packed house of well over 1,000 people, individual after individual spoke of how Mr. Grabill allowed himself to be positioned and used of his Beloved, the God of the Universe, throughout his life. It was inspirational to see the ripple effects of a life lived-out with one overreaching goal -- to know God and to make Him known. It was clear to everyone in the room that the words these people were saying were not hollow words. They had seen Christ through him. Mr. Grabill's character mirrored the man that the Apostle Paul had become at the end of his life.

...I am about to die, my life an offering on God's altar. This is the only race worth running. I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that's left now is the shouting --God's applause! Depend on it, He's an honest judge. He'll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for His coming. --2 Timothy 2:6-8

Wow! What a legacy! To say that one is confident that God will give him a standing ovation for his priorities, intentions, and actions for Him is an awesome thing to express. Without a doubt, I know that Mr. Grabill stood before the Lord with the same confidence as Paul.

Funerals and scriptures, such as the one from 2 Timothy above, inevitably lead me to start thinking about what my funeral will be like one day (hopefully not any day soon). What will people say of me? No one ever makes negative comments about the recently departed at at funeral. In fact, the reality is that the truth is often stretched during eulogies, creating a semblance of a meaningful life. Have you ever been at a funeral where you had to take a second look at the shell in the casket to make sure the speakers were talking about the person you had actually known? Did you say secretly in your mind, "He really wasn't that great of a person"?

Will the speakers at my funeral be able to speak honestly about me when I die? My prayer is that my life will have significant ripple effects for the cause of Christ, much like the ones created by Mr. Grabill. Man, I don't want to waste my life so that people have to strain themselves to find kind things to say about me as an obligation of kindness to my family.

In his book, Crazy Love, Francis Chan makes the statement, "The truth is, some people waste their lives. This (statement) isn't meant to bash those who are gone, but rather to warn those who are alive." This statement refers to believers who have not lived-out their destiny of being and preaching the gospel. A.W. Tozer once was quoted as saying, "A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man's greatest tragedy and God's heaviest grief." A Christian, one who has been saved by grace, can actually live a wasted life -one that doesn't center on anyone but himself.

God is teaching me that my greatest concern should not be for others to say glowing things about me after my demise. My primary concern should center around what God says about the condition of my heart and the works I did for Him while I was alive on earth. When I die and stand before God one day, the hollow compliments of those left on earth won't matter at all. What will matter most is the TRUTH. Before God, my worldly reputation won't matter at all. All that will matter at that point is the reality of who I am and what I did before the God of the Universe.

Paul speaks of the day we all will experience; the day of our earthly death, and our judgement before All-Knowing, and completely Righteous God:

"His work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." --I Corinthians 3:13-15

I don't want to squeak by and get into heaven by virtue of the "fire insurance" that I attained at the day of my salvation. That would indicate that the efforts of my life and the time that I spent on earth was largely wasted. I, too, want to be "poured-out" like Mr. Grabill and the Apostle Paul. I want to live an unselfish life that serves others and leads them to a relationship with the all-knowing, all-powerful, omniscient God of the universe. My natural tendency is to do the opposite, but I know this: With prayer and constant reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to make me something that I am naturally not, I can live a life that wasn't wasted. All that matters is knowing and letting others know our King and God. I am most concerned with what He will say to me on that day.

Friday, August 14, 2009


This summer, after many years of dragging my feet- refusing to use my time wisely, I finally relented and started studying God's Word. Over the years, I have studied many books, but have, in a large part, neglected THE BOOK that should be the primary source for wisdom, strength, and life decisions. I finally acted in obedience and started to do as Paul instructed the Ephesians to do in Ephesians 5:15-16:

15Be careful, then, how you live— not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

I asked God to help me find the desire, time, and opportunity to study His Word, the Bible, the way it should be studied. God is good. He always is. He gave me all of the above this summer. It was in studying His Word that He showed me some lessons that have completely changed my perspective. These principles can be applied to any career or sphere of influence in which you find yourself.

Daily study in the Word took me to the Book of Acts. This is a New Testament book, which was written by the apostle Luke around A.D. 63. This book was written before the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Luke's primary purpose in this book is to show how God used the apostles and new Christians to rapidly spread the Gospel of Jesus to all people from Jerusalem to the entire Roman Empire. The actual original title of the book is "The Acts of the Apostles." Acts chapter 4 tells the true, historically accurate story of Peter and John healing a lame man, and then preaching in the temple about the One who gave them the power to do this miracle. They are called before the religious leaders in Jerusalem (the same ones who executed Jesus) to account for themselves. At this point, Peter and John said something to these important religious men that caught my attention.

19 But Peter and John replied, Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.
20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.

What had they seen and heard that spurred them to be so bold? I mean, come on, they were talking to men who had already exercised the power to kill God's own Son. Do you think they realized that they could be killed for what they were saying here? What had they seen and heard? They had seen the reality of Christ as firsthand witnesses. They had His power can transform a lives...many lives. They had seen that God incarnate wasn't just a fairy tale story. He was historically real. He lived. He died. He rose again. After his resurrection, he was seen by no less than 500 witnesses. He promised to prepare a place for those who accepted His free gift of eternal life. He ascended into Heaven. He was at work in their lives through the Holy Spirit. The apostles had seen and heard all of this, and they couldn't be shut up. They didn't want to shut up. They had a boldness that can only come from one place... from God.

The religious leaders were amazed at the authority and knowledge from which Peter and John spoke. They let them go with a warning, not knowing how to punish them. Immediately following this exchange with the Sanhedrin, they went back to their group of believers -probably the equivalent of our modern-day church body. After telling the church about what had happened, the church members pray this amazing prayer:

24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. Sovereign Lord, they said, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.'

27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.
28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

In essence, they began to grasp the true concept that God was sovereign. He was in charge. He had allowed Pilate and Herod to put Jesus to death. It wasn't an accident or mistake God made. They had an "AHA! moment". He was sovereign. He was and is in control of everything that had and would take place on this earth. I love verse 29. In his video series, Pastor Andy Stanley says that in this verse these early church believers were not asking God to protect them, or bless them, or comfort them in light of the threats of their religious and political leaders. They are asking him to USE THEM. They realized that they had been invited to participate in this awesome sovereign plan of God's and it energized them. They asked for the boldness to do it. This is the kind of boldness that can only come from the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the one who Christ promised to send to give them to power to participate in His plan. In verse 31, God honored their prayer and gave them the power and boldness to share the Gospel.

What God has taught me from this study is that He is in control. I am fully aware that my life will most likely not be in jeopardy for sharing the gospel. Being killed for my faith and witness for Christ most likely won't happen to me, But I realize that I have often acted (or more correctly -not acted) out of fear when it comes to influencing my immediate world with the truth of the Gospel. In full knowledge of God's sovereignty, I have begun praying a prayer that goes something like this:

Sovereign God who is active in this world,

Enable me to speak your story with boldness.

Give me courage, opportunity, and sensitivity to share it with the ones you have placed around me.

Thank you that I am not responsible for outcomes, but that I can trust in your sovereignty to bring about the results.

Make me bold.


My hope and prayer is that you and I will grab on to the security of the truth that God is in charge. To truly believe this, and to rely on His power to participate in His plan...that's what brings hope and puts our anxiety to rest. GOD IS SOVEREIGN!!!!

2 Timothy 1:7-8 (NIV)
7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's Alive!!!!!

Recently one of our pastors, David Faile, used a trailer from the 1931 movie classic, Frankenstein's Monster, to illustrate a point from his sermon on Colossians 2:12-3:4. (See a clip depicting the scene from the inset picture http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5URYhXE55bo&NR=1)
The message was that before we accepted the gift of Christ's atonement for us, we were all dead in our sins. We felt dead and we looked dead. We wore grave clothes, and were basically slaves to sin. We were paralyzed by spiritual rigor mortis. The work of Christ gave us the opportunity to be truly alive. We are free to embrace the change that only his Spirit can give. We have the opportunity to go from being a collection of dead body parts to being fully alive in Christ. Being alive in Christ requires a new way of seeking, thinking, and living. That's the gist of Pastor Faile's message. My hope is to use this message as a springboard to show something new that God has put on my heart to share with you.

Last week I read though the Book of Galatians as I wore myself out on the elliptical stair stepper at the gym. There is nothing like immersing the mind and spirit in the study of God's Word to take your mind off the pain of exercise. The Word was helping to build me up in more ways than one. Anyway, the Book of Galatians was written by the Apostle Paul around AD 49. It was a letter written to the Christian churches at Galatia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe to refute the teachings of an extremist Jewish faction of leaders called the Judaizers. This group of Jews was teaching that all new believers must fully obey all of the Jewish laws in order to be a part of the family of God. They said that even the newly-saved Gentiles (non-Jews) had to convert to Judaism and completely follow the Jewish law in order to please God and earn salvation.

In this letter, Paul pulled no punches in setting the record straight. He addressed those who were accepting the Judaizers' false gospel, and he called them gullible Christians that were being easily fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ's message. The Christian believers in Galatia were being duped into believing that they did not have Christian liberty, but that they were tied to the law. Paul refers to them as putting themselves back into slavery to sin when they had already been freed from it. He was basically accusing them of choosing to have a dead faith that relied on works.

Paul wrote to the churches regarding his confrontations with the apostles Peter and James over the same issue. Paul wasn't a people-pleaser. He cared only about pleasing God by setting the story straight. Paul wanted the believers to see that salvation in Christ is NOT earned by following rules. In fact, it isn't anything that can be earned at all. The Good News of the Gospel is not just for groups of people who can follow a prescribed set of laws. The Gospel is for EVERYONE, and there is no hierarchy when it comes to salvation. It doesn't matter if you are Jew, Gentile, white, black, etc. Salvation is for all. There are no strings attached. It is absolutely a free gift.

Paul demonstrated that salvation is by faith alone, and not by careful rule following. Having laid the foundation, Paul builds his case for Christian liberty. We are saved by faith, and not by keeping the law. Our freedom means that we are free to love and serve one another, not to do wrong. Out of our gratitude for the free gift of salvation, Christians should carry each other's burdens and be kind to each other. In Galatians 5, he discusses the supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is available to all who accept him by faith. These are the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. The spirit gives us the ability to live good lives that bless others. It seems that the Judaizers had the cart before the proverbial horse. They taught that you had to do works in order to be saved. God's Word says that we are saved through grace, and that good works are an outpouring of our gratitude for God, empowered by His Holy Spirit.

Having read Paul's letter to the Galatians, I have to ask myself if I am living my Christian life like a legalistic Judaizer, or am I living like a believer that is constantly aware of the fact that he is saved by grace? Am I completely caught up in the do's and don't's of the Christian life? I think sometimes I get caught up in that trap. God has recently made me aware that I also unfairly judge others on their works, setting myself up with the delusion that I am more obedient or more holy than them. When I let myself slip into this trap, I am completely ineffective in my witness. I am choosing to put on those death clothes. I am choosing spiritual rigor mortis. I am choosing to be an ineffective witness for Christ, as I am not relying on the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in me. I am unwittingly and incorrectly relying on the law to bring me favor from God and others. When I fall into this rut, I am choosing to live as if I were dead in my sins.

I want to show that I belong to Christ by doing what Paul called all Christians to do: show that I belong to Christ by nailing my passions and desires of the sinful nature to the cross and crucifying them there. I want to live by the power of the Holy Spirit, following the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of my life. I want my life to be an outpouring of the gratitude I have to God for saving me. Without His power, I AM DEAD. I want to love others as Christ did. I want to embrace what J.I. Packer refers to as the True Christmas Spirit. As Packer wrote, "For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor-- spending and being spent -- to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care, and concern, to do good to others -- and not just their own friends -- in whatever way there seems need." I want people to see me and emphatically say, "IT'S ALIVE!!!! IT'S ALIVE!!!"

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Charlie Hustle, I Hardly Knew Ye

Recently, I started to study a book with a group of men from my church. The book is J.I. Packer's Knowing God. This past week's reading drudged-up for me a childhood memory that helped me connect what God was trying to teach me to something I had personally experienced. The connection is kind-of a stretch, but it was helpful to me. I hope it is helpful to you too. Here is my story:

Growing-up I was a huge Cincinnati Reds fan. I spent my formidable years going to an inordinate number of games in Cincy with my dad. When I couldn't get to a game or when the Reds were on the road, I listened intently to Marty and Joe call the games, as I lay in my bed listening to my transistor radio. No night was complete until I heard Joe say, "This is the old left-hander, rounding third and heading for home." Those years were good: World Series champs in '75 and '76, and NLCS in '78. It was the Big Red Machine, and I was completely obsessed with my hometown (well, pretty close) heroes. I can run-off the line-up right now, as if I had just gotten done watching a game. Bench behind the plate, Perez or Driessen at 1B, Joe Morgan at 2B, Davie Concepcion at SS, Pete Rose at 3B, George Foster in LF, Ceasar Geronimo in CF, and Ken Griffey in RF.

I loved them all, but I especially admired the Reds' scrappy third-baseman, Pete (Charlie Hustle) Rose. I loved how he ran-out everything... even walks. He ran into walls, stretched singles to doubles, and boy-o-boy could that guy hit. I watched Pete; I read books about Pete; I made a mural of Pete for my bedroom; and I even named my dog Petie in honor of my baseball hero. I learned everything I could learn about him. I was a Pete Rose fanatic.

During the summer of 1978, I finally got the opportunity to meet Pete Rose, face-to-face. Pete had just joined the 3000 hit club, and I was so excited to tell him how much I really admired him. After a July double-header, I waited for him outside the clubhouse, by the player parking lot in Riverfront Stadium. I just knew that my hero would talk to me. Maybe he would ask me about my baseball team? Maybe he would put his arm around me and give me some secret hitting advice? I didn't know for sure what he would say, but I knew all about him and I was sure this encounter wouldn't disappoint. When he came out of the locker room, I was in awe. There was my mop-topped hero right in front of me. I held out my pen and a game program, hoping for a personalized message from Pete. Seemingly annoyed, he took my pen (man, was I excited!), signed another kid's program, put my pen in his shirt pocket, and then he got into his Corvette. What? He didn't ask me how I was. He didn't talk to me at all. This was a huge shock to a naive 8-year-old who worshipped this sports hero. I thought I knew all about Pete, but it turned-out that I didn't know him at all. He ended up acting kind-of like a jerk, and he took my pen!

I knew a lot about Pete Rose. In fact, I would venture to say that I spent more time than almost any kid in the tri-state area studying his stats, his approach to the game, and his play on the field. BUT...knowing about him wasn't enough. That summer day in the Riverfront Stadium parking lot opened my eyes to the fact that I DIDN'T KNOW HIM AT ALL. I didn't have a personal relationship with Pete anymore than I had one with the President of the Pope. I knew all about him, but I didn't know of him.

I started to wonder if I have taken the same approach to God that I took to Pete Rose when I was 8. Am I naive enough to think that knowing about God is the same as knowing Him personally? Am I fooling myself here? Over the past 2 years, I have dedicated my life to learning more about God. I have read probably 30 books about Him. The question is, DO I REALLY KNOW HIM? I am humbled and taken-aback by this question. The honest answer is NO. If I am telling the truth, I would say that my relationship to Him needs to grow in a huge way. I am excited about applying what Packer teaches in his book. I want to KNOW GOD, not just know about Him. I am thrilled to get to know God as a faithful friend. I know he won't disappoint like old Pete did.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Decisions... Decisions... Decisions...

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." -- Western-Union internal memo, 1876. Alexander Bell offered the patent for the Telephone to Western-Union in 1876 for $100,000. They declined. The telephone patent has been estimated as the most valuable patent of all time. Bell's Company, AT&T, later aquired Western-Union.

Modern history is marked by bad decisions. In addition to the one above, I can think of three other well-known big failures in decision-making. First, there were the potential investors Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to be the first to drill for oil in 1859. The investors were quoted as saying, "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try to find oil? You're crazy." Then there was the Decca Recording Co. that refused to sign the Beatles in 1962 because "guitar music is on its way out." Another notorious decison was made by was actor, Gary Cooper, who rejected the role of Rhett Butler in the Academy Award Winner Gone With the Wind. He was quoted as saying, "I'm just glad it will be Clark Gable falling on his face and not Gary Cooper".

Is anyone immune to making poor decisions? I know I am not. How do I make sure to make good decisions about my family, my finances, my marriage, and my career? Should I rely on information? Should I rely on my experience to guide me? Should I rely on the opinions of others?
In an earlier post, I quoted Proverbs 27:12-- "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." How can I go from being that guy who continues to go on and suffers from my unwise decisions to being a wise decison-maker that is blessed by God.

I believe the answer lies in a familiar passage of scripture that is often quoted, but rarely examined for the sage advice that it gives to the believer. It is found in Proverbs 3:5-7a:
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

7Do not be wise in your own eyes...

These are the words of King Solomon, the wisest man to live on the earth. When he was crowned as King, the Lord offered to give him anything he wanted, and Solomon asked for wisdom. God granted that wisdom to him, but Solomon's advice was to NOT trust your own understanding. If anyone could trust in his own intuition and reasoning, it would be Solomon, but this young king knew something that you and I don't readily recognize... The key to wise decision-making is not found in ME, it is found in the person of GOD.

Let's go back to the passage again:
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
I am called to lean on God, not my own wisdom or or intellect. The Hebrew word for "lean" in this verse means to prop something up against something else. I am being called to put my full decision-making weight on Him and the precepts of His Word. Pastor Andy Stanley is quoted as saying, "Direction doesn't begin with a search for knowledge or direction... It begins with submission to God."

6a in all your ways acknowledge Him,
I am also called to acknowledge Him in every area of my life. The word "acknowledge" means to literally make him the head or Lord of it. This means establishing a humble attitude before God with a decision to submit to His ways in every area of your life.

6b and He will make your paths straight.
This is one of those IF-THEN statements. If I acknowledge Him in all areas of my life, then he will make it clear for me which path (decision) to take (make).


God knows the future. I need to acknowledge my need for Him in all areas, and He will give me the decision-making ability I need.

7Do not be wise in your own eyes...
My pride, arrogance, and self-importance often get in the way of the good and perfect gifts God has for me. I oftentimes go it alone and rely on self in making life's decisions. God's wisdom is far, far, far superior to that of his creation, yet I rely on my own intellect to help me make my decisions. Information, wisdom, insight, and common sense are not enough. I need a Savior... I need to allow God to lead me.

It is easy to trust God and lean on Him in areas over which I have little or no control, such as my salvation, safety, health, etc. However, it is difficult to drop my pride in areas where I have experience and knowledge. It is especially hard to drop my pride in areas in which others see me as a seasoned veteran or expert. I am called to acknowledge Him in "all my ways". This includes my marriage, parenting, education, profession, etc. It is most difficult to acknowledge God in areas where I think I am in control.

I need God to guide me in making wise decisions that result in blessing, rather than curse. To get there, I need to develop an attitude of dependence on God. I need to acknowledge Him in every area of my life. THEN... He will show me what to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Death of "Independent Steve"

I can remember a few years ago when my wife asked me, "What do you want to do for Fathers Day?" My response was, "I want to be left alone." Sounds like a sarcastic answer, (and I will admit I have been accused of being a bit of a smart alec) but at that time I really meant it. At that point in my journey, I felt like I needed to be alone. I needed to connect with myself. I needed to meet my need to recharge and rediscover "Independent Steve."
I tell you, God has brought me a long way since that Fathers Day not so long ago. He is doing a work in me. He is doing it through a great group of people he has placed in mine and Kari's lives. They are our Small Group Bible Study group of friends. Because of these people, I am no longer that guy who is constantly concerned about killing "Independent Steve." I enjoy the company of good friends who get me. I really like it when they laugh at my jokes too. Tonight we spent about 5 hours (seemed like not enough time) just hanging out while our kids played. Our hosts were the McCaskeys (see Chris in the pic, the hairy guy is not Becky nor Scott) -awesome hosts, and great company to boot. I wouldn't trade evenings like tonight for anything in the world.
Because I love you all so much, I have decided to dedicate this post of Outkicking My Coverage to the members of our small group (we need to come up with a catchier title than that). I was told Saturday that my posts on this website were not as funny as someone (Becky Mc) had expected them to be. I was hurt by this. I cried a little bit, but then I decided to get over it and be the bigger person. I chose to express my love for that person and the other people of our small group by sharing something I find hilarious. I have found a quote from Jack Handey for each of you. Some are well-chosen, and some are completely random. So here it goes:

For Edge and Dee:
Whenever you read a good book, it's like the author is right there, in the room talking to you, which is why I don't like to read good books. (this one is esp. for Edge)
It takes a big man to cry... but it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man. (this one is esp. for Dee)

For Russ and Becky Mo:
There should be a detective show called "Johnny Monkey," because every week you could have a guy say "I ain't gonna get caught by no MONKEY," but then he would, and I don't think I'd ever get tired of that.

For Chris and Becky Mc:
Somebody told me how frightening it was how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.

For Kari:
If you go flying back through time, and you see somebody else flying forward into the future, it's probably best to avoid eye contact.

For Scott and Heather:
If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did."

For David and Janet:
Ambition is like a frog sitting on a Venus Flytrap. The flytrap can bite and bite, but it won't bother the frog because it only has little tiny plant teeth. But some other stuff could happen and it could be like ambition.

I love you all! Thanks for killing "Independent Steve." It was time for him to go.
Happy Father's Day to you all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat

"...I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat'... We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, 'Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.'"
-Winston Churchill,
May 13, 1940 In his first speech to the British House of Commons

Churchill's task was a daunting one --to preserve England in the face of the evil of Nazi fascism. His words were strong and resolute. Churchill stood before the world and laid-out his plan. It was a simple one: Victory, no matter what the cost. There were no options. This was about the survival of his people, the British.

Churchill's resolve got me thinking that if Churchill could say what he said about the preservation of England, how much more should you and I do the same in our quest of defending the truth and the message of the Gospel that God has entrusted to us?

Writer, G.K. Chesterton stated, "We have lost modesty, and it's dislocated from being confident of what we believe. We have become confident in ourselves, rather than what we believe... We are producing a generation of theologians who are too modest to even believe in the multiplication table."

Truth has definitely taken a hit. Today's society values thinking for yourself, challenging what you have always thought to be true. Colleges today are especially guilty of encouraging this way of thinking. They are producing young adults who are confident in who they are, but hardly confident in what they believe. Does higher education knock faith out of an individual? Students are taught that it is OK to deviate from what you have been previously taught. Pastor and Christian Apologist, Ravi Zacharias has an answer to this trend. He is quoted as saying to a group of college students, "You better hang on to your confidence in what God has promised you is true in the scriptures. Then when you face all kinds of odds, you are still able to triumph."

Zacharias has been quoted as saying,"You can have confidence that whatever it is you are facing: whether it be trials or no trials: whether it be heartache or no heartache; whether it be struggle or no struggle; the fact of the matter is IF YOU HONOR GOD, VICTORY IS GUARANTEED TO YOU."

We need to be willing to stand up for God's Word --the ultimate truth in this world of relativism where truth seems to change with each gust of the wind. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to empower us to be modern-day Joshuas who will be "strong and courageous" in the face of the enemy -the father of lies.

In Joshua chapter 1, after Moses died, God gave Joshua the same kind of challenge, but promised that he would be there to guide him every step of the way. He extends the same challenge and He makes the same promise to us today. Will we stand up against attacks on His truth?

Joshua 1:6-9 (The Message)
Joshua 1 1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses' assistant:
"Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I'm giving to the People of Israel. I'm giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It's all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I'll be with you. I won't give up on you; I won't leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don't get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you're going. And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed. Haven't I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take."
How willing am I to give my blood, toil, tears and sweat to the defense of the Gospel? How willing are you?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't Want to Be Like Harry

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."
-Proverbs 27:12

I recently read a story about a man named Harry Truman (not our 33rd President) which really got me to start thinking and praying about the paths I have chosen in life and where they are leading.

Mr. Truman was a cranky, colorful man who became a media celebrity in Washington state in the winter and spring of 1980. You see, Harry built and owned the Spirit Lake Lodge, which was located within spitting distance of beautiful Mt. St. Helens. When geologists discovered that the "mountain" was indeed a volcano that had been dormant for many years, people within a 100 mile radius began to make plans to leave the area. This was about survival. A volcanic explosion would result in certain death for anyone in its near path. As it became clear that the volcano would erupt in the spring of 1980, Harry Truman refused to move. Two months before the volcano blew, he was quoted by the The Daily News as saying, "If I left this place, it would worry me to death. If this place is gonna go, I want to go with it, 'cause if I lost it, it would kill me in a week anyway." Harry even told reporters that he had a secret cave where he would take refuge during an eruption. Later, his sister said there was no such cave, although in any case he wouldn't have had time to reach it. When rumblings of Mount St. Helens' first eruptions prompted evacuations of the Spirit Lake area, Truman stayed true to his ornery promise. He refused to leave. Then, at 8:32 am(PDT) on May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens completely erupted. The blast obliterated all traces of his beloved lodge and buried Truman and the site in ash. He was 84 when he died.

By all accounts, anyone with an ounce of sense would consider Mr. Truman to be the fool of all fools. How could he ignore the sure signs of the coming disaster? He knew what was coming, but he did nothing about avoiding the danger. I would never allow myself to be caught in a similar circumstance, leading to a sure consequences or even death. I am too wise for that. Really? Am I? When I consider some of the paths I have chosen, I find that I am just like cranky, obstinate Harry Truman. I have to ask myself if I am following the same path he followed when it comes to different areas of my life, such as my health and my finances? Am I headed toward disaster? I have always had good intentions, but intentions don't affect the end result. I have been convicted that I need to invoke the power of God to make the decision to be very intentional about how I live my life. The choices I make with my lifestyle today will determine the end result for me and my family. I don't want to be a Harry!

I have begun praying a simple prayer that I heard Andy Stanley pray on a recent podcast of one of his sermons, tiltled Destinations. It goes something like this:

Help me to see trouble coming long before it gets here.
Give me the wisdom to know what to do.
Give me the courage to do it.

The writer of Proverbs calls the man who sees danger and does something about it prudent or WISE. I want to be that man. I don't want to be the SIMPLE man like Harry Truman who keeps going on the same path, knowing that it will have a bad result. That man (and his family) will suffer for it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Why Pray?

June 28, 1787, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
"How has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights ot illuminate our understanding? In the beginning of the contest with Britain... we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard... God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, it is improbable that an empire can rise without His aid."
-Benjamin Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention

I have been thinking a lot about prayer. I can remember about 7 years ago, when our family went through a really traumatic experience, feeling really helpless and unsure if my prayers were even being heard. A trusted and Godly family member told me to continue to pray for this situation because, as she put it, "God is moved to act when his people pray." That stuck with me, but I still didn't get it. Do my prayers actually have anything to do with what God does? Who am I to even think that I could have a bearing on whether or not God moves in a situation?
I got into the Word to try to answer this question. My search took me to James 5:16.
--"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Wow! My prayers to have power. But why is the God of the universe moved by my requests? My search then took me to John 1:12.
--"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become sons of God."
God is moved by our prayers because when we accepted Him as Savior, He immediately regarded us as His children. As children we have access to his throne. OK. This seems to good to be true. It's God's Word, so it is sure to be true. I think that is is absolutely amazing that through Christ's sacrifice, we are seen by the Father as worthy to approach Him with our requests.
I am currenly reading a book co-authored by Jack Hayford and Stormie Omartian, titled The Power of a Praying Church. In this book, Hayford has described the power of prayer in a way that has made the information from the paragraphs above make complete sense to me. I am a word picture guy, so sometimes I need to see God's Word in flanelgraph or on Powerpoint before it registers. I hope this word picture of prayer helps you understand our role in effecting God's will as I have. Hayford compares the power of prayer to the engine of a car. There is very little power in the keys of a car without being put into the ignition. In other words...I don't have the power to go outside and get myself going 60mph, but I have access to a resource that can get me moving at that speed. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus said, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven." According to Hayford, "keys" means authority, privelege, and access. Some things will not be turned on unless I turn them on. Some things will not be turned loose until I turn them loose. Some things will not be set free unless I set them free. The key doesn't make the power (we are powerless in ourselves), it releases the power of the engine (God's power). Because Jesus has given us the keys to His kingdom, we are given the right and responsibility to come before God in prayer, expecting Him to move. It is an awesome thing to know that through prayer we can move God to act. We are responsible for our part in the partnership with God in prayer. If we don't use the key of prayer, it is likely that nothing will happen. In other words, nothing will be released or unlocked.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Reality Check for Husbands

I enjoy listening to podcasts of sermons on my iPod. It helps pass the time as I exercise (not often enough) or wait for my daughter to finish her swim practice. More than just passing the time, I have found that listening to the preaching of the Word has had a huge impact on my behavior. Weird, huh? My feeling is that it is impossible to be inundated with the Word without putting it into practice. Further improving my power to do this is the Holy Spirit. He helps me to be a "doer of the the Word." Anyway... I digress.... Some of my favorite preachers to listen to are Ben Hardman (actually my wife's cousin) from a megachurch in Louisville, Andy Stanley, and Dr. James McDonald. I was listening to a sermon from Dr. McDonald's website "Walk in the Word" the other day where he preached from a familiar scripture that I haven't ever thought much about before. It was I Peter 3:1-7.
I would like to share with you the 3 main points that Dr. McDonald shared regarding this scripture, as they have been areas that I am allowing the Holy Spirit to work on me.
1. Spend time with your wife. The scripture says "live with your wife." The word "live" literally means to spend time with her. Dr. M suggests trying 15 min. per day, 1 evening per week, 1 day per month, and 1 weekend or more per year. This time commitment will show her that you value her.
2. Study your wife. "...in an understanding way" means that we men need to realize that our wives are very different from us. Duh! We need to take the time to observe them, and try to meet their needs in a way that they will appreciate.
3. Honor your wife. "Showing honor"... "Honor" in the Greek is a military term for how a general publicly commends his soldiers. We need to publicly recognize and praise our wives for their efforts in our lives and homes. We need to do this in front of our children, our wives' friends, our families. Proverbs says, "Don't withold good when it is due."
Dr. M concluded his message with the statement, "Do these three things consistently, and it will transform your marriage." I am giving it a shot. Guys out there: The challenge has been brought. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you to make your marriage all that it shoulg be?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Happy Unbirthday!

Today we celebrated my wife, Kari's, birthday... again. It is the tradition in the Skolik and Taylor families to drag out birthdays over a three-day period or longer. Her official birthday was Friday, but she reminded me on Saturday and Sunday that is was still her birthday. The conversation went something like this: "Steve, will you rub my sore feet? You know, it's my birthday." My response: "Your birthday was yesterday." Her response to my response: "The whole weekend is my birthday." My response to that: "OK, I'll do it." I am actually glad to do it. She is everything to me, and I don't tell her of show her enough. Once again, I am telling you that I have totally outkicked my coverage (Don't worry... this will not be the subject of every post I write). I am amazed that the God of the universe would care deeply enough about me to give me the exact person I needed to get me on the road to being the man that I need to be. Those of you know me now, but didn't know me 13 years ago, before I married Kari, would not believe the difference she has made in my life. She has been the catalyst that God has used to make me mature in a lot of different ways. So today on Kari's 36th birthday (again), I wish you a good night, and I wish her a happy birthday (once again). I can only pray that you find a spouse, soulmate, and friend that will affect your life the way Kari has affected mine.
God is good all the time,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why Am I Blogging?

This is my first blog... ever. I think I might be doing this because my old friend, Jeff, is doing it. I've always admired his writing. Or maybe, I am frustrated with having a lot to say, but few people to listen. I have been accused (mostly by my lovely wife) of talking too much. Maybe it's just a case of out-of-control narcissism. I don't know... but I am excited about having this outlet. Check in every few days to see what pearls of wisdom (acutally it will usually be comedy) I have to share with you.

Grease for peace,