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Come with me on a spiritual Journey!

Pete Maravich: The Interview

Pete Maravich was a basketball magician who was voted as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.  Yet deep down all through his playing career he was lost.  He tells about having large sums of money and yet wanting to kill himself.  Pete only lived 40 years but the last few were his most joyous.  He met Jesus Christ and his life was never the same!  You will be moved by his living testimony that is still so powerful long after he has gone to receive his higher reward!

 

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You Can’t Shake Hands With A Crocodile!

Has there ever been somebody in your life that you cannot please no matter how you try?  Someone who might be nice to you to your face but talks bad about you to others?  Do you try really hard to make them like you and only get frustrated?  Jesus had groups of people who had that attitude toward him.  They were called the Pharisees and the Sadducee’s.  They sat and listened to Jesus and plotted ways to kill him.  Their whole agenda was to bait him and used innocent sounding questions with traps all through them.  Matthew chapter 22 verses 15-17 states:

15 Then the Pharisees left the place where Jesus was teaching. They made plans to trap Jesus with a question. 16 They sent some of their own followers and some men from the group called Herodians.a]”>[a] These men said, “Teacher, we know that you are an honest man. We know that you teach the truth about God’s way. You are not afraid of what other people think about you. All men are the same to you. 17 So tell us what you think. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  Now what was the purpose of this question?  Was it a friendly question to help them love God more?  NO, It was designed and probably mulled over for hours as a question to ask Jesus to trap him.  If he said to not pay their taxes they could turn him over to the government on charges of treason against their country.  Jesus knew what they were trying to do and his wisdom was amazing!  In verses 18:22 he answers

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

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Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Notice how they complimented Jesus to try to get his guard down.  Notice also how the compliments led into their trap.  Jesus knew that these people were against him and didn’t fall for their trap.  He didn’t hang out with these fake followers with their fake questions.  While they were concerned about their appearance in society, he looked at their hearts.  He saw that their hearts were evil.  He saw that these were not his friends.

Jesus also looks at our heart.  He is looking for a heart of love, compassion, and forgiveness.  That is in effect the heart of God.  We are to have that kind of heart.  He told us to love our enemies.  In Matthew 5:43-48 he states 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbora]”>[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.Image result for love your enemies photo

The fact that we are called to love our enemies means that we will have enemies. Many Christians will read the  passage above and conclude that they need to not only be nice to people who are against them but constantly try to change how they feel about them.  They may feel that forever trying to please them is a way to change their attitude.  A lot of energy is wasted by Christians trying to change what only God can. The old saying is true “you can’t please everyone.”  Yes, it is true we need to love our enemies.  That doesn’t mean we have to constantly be around them.  It means that in our heart we do not harbor hate and that we have a loving attitude toward them.  It means that we truly care about them no matter how they feel about us.  What it doesn’t mean is that we have to waste energy and time being what they want us to be.  We must be ourselves and follow our Godly principles and if they hate us so be it.  The old saying “Like water off of a ducks back”  applies here.  Like a duck when they feel the water hit them we need to quickly shake it off.  Common sense tells us though that it isn’t safe going over a waterfall.

You Can’t Shake Hands With A Crocodile
By Lewis Hamilton

The Crocodile is strong
and will do you harm
They have a mouth
as long as their arm

They may act friendly
but here is the deal
If you get close enough
You’ll be their next meal

Crocodiles are cunning
They live where it’s wet
They will drag you and drown you
Now that’s a safe bet

So why would you go there
and offer your hand?
Has your head forever
been trapped in the sand?

You won’t have an arm
to use or to bend
If you continue to desire
Crocodiles as your friends

So stop trying to travel
the extra furlong or mile
and quit shaking hands
with those Crocodiles

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Footnote: There used to be a guy at the church I attended who gave the hardest handshakes.  I dreaded shaking hands with him because he always crushed my hand and it was painful.  One day I talked to a friend and told him the situation and he gave me some sound advice.  When shaking his hand take the initiative and get deep into his hand with yours.  That will lesson the force he can apply to your hand.  Maybe that is the kind of advice we need for this story.  Be aware of the danger your enemies present and have a plan.

The Trophy Wife

The year was 1976 and Jeremy was a high school senior.  An announcement that he recently had heard gave him a vision.  His school Portage Northern High School was having a talent show and Jeremy wanted to be in it.  The only problem was that Jeremy was a shy introverted kid.  At that time he had written over 400 songs but they sat there in his basement.  Jeremy’s vision was to play one of his songs at the talent show.  From an early age Jeremy was exposed to music.  He learned the piano and the guitar was soon to follow.  Jeremy grew up loving the Beatles and his sound was inspired by them.

Open Your Heart

Jeremy loved playing the guitar and singing but he needed something else.  It was the approval of his peers.  He dreamed of getting done with his song and winning the trophy that went with the first place honor.  What he really wanted though was for people to appreciate his music.  He would like his fellow classmates, even people he didn’t know, to pat him on the back and tell him he did a great job.  That would legitimatize all of the practice he had put in to acquire the skills he had developed.

Jeremy was also a Christian and he had faith that maybe God would allow him a break through moment.  Perhaps somehow he could glorify God with his singing and what better way than to be recognized as the winner of the talent show contest?   All of these thoughts had left his mind as he was walking on the stage with his guitar.  He had picked a song that he wrote called “Fading Away” but as he walked out on stage he felt like he was the one fading.  He was literally shaking as he started his song.  As Jeremy kept playing he began to relax a little bit.  Still it was different than anything he had attempted before.  Though he was uncomfortable, he was still able to sing his song flawlessly with expression and feeling.  When he finished his fellow students gave him a warm round of applause!

Now the waiting began.  Who would win the prize and the recognition that came with it?  Jeremy knew he did his best and felt confident.  When the judges made their decision however it was two other acts that took the honors.  First place went to a guy who did a drum solo playing “Wipe Out.”  Second place went to a two girl dance team who did a dance to one of the songs from the Jesus Christ Superstar Rock Opera.

Jeremy was heartbroken.  He wondered why his dream didn’t happen like he thought it would.  One of his teachers who happened to be a contest judge wanted to talk to him.  It was Mr. Gianunzio, his English and Creative Writing teacher.  “I want you to know”, Mr. Gianunzio began, “that I voted for you.”   “That other act did not show any creativity like yours did.”  Mr. Gianunzio’s words were a welcomed compliment from somebody Jeremy truly respected.

A black and white trade ad for the 1965 Rolling Stones' North American tour. The members of the band are sitting on a staircase with either their hands clasped, or arms folded, looking at the camera. From left: The front row contains Brian Jones, Bill Wyman; the second row contains Charlie Watts and Keith Richards; the third (and final) row contains Mick Jagger.

I’m reminded of a song not by Jeremy’s favorite group The Beatles but by the Rolling Stones.  The chorus states that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.  With God it isn’t us trying it’s us being in his plan.  If we love him and put him first in our lives he will meet our needs and give us the desires of our heart.  Proverbs 3:5 tells us to Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  Isaiah 55:8-9 states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts to your thoughts.”

Sometimes when we feel like things are not going our way it is hard to remember these simple verses.  Could it be that God has a different plan for us when our plan fails?  Often God has a way of setting us up for blessings.  Since he can see our future doesn’t it make sense to trust him with it?

Besides Mr. Gianunzio there was another person who comforted Jeremy in his pain.  One of the girls from the second place team named Kathy sought Jeremy out after the results were made known.  Kathy had talked to her partner and they both agreed to give their trophy to Jeremy.  They really felt in their heart of hearts that Jeremy deserved the honor.  Jeremy was humbled by the kindness of Kathy and her partner.  It was an act of selflessness that is rarely seen.  Still Jeremy would not accept their trophy.  He wanted them to have it because they won it.

Through that chance meeting Kathy and Jeremy became close friends.  It was three years after that initial meeting that they were married.  Today 5 kids and 4 grandchildren later Jeremy and Kathy are still going strong!

I was re-telling this story to my son the other day  and he said something that I hadn’t thought of.  When I told him that Kathy wanted Jeremy to have the trophy he smiled and stated, “She’s just the kind of person that would do that!”  I hadn’t thought about that angle of the story.  You see God was not only working in Jeremy’s life but he was also working with Kathy.  The act of kindness that she displayed showed just the kind of person she is and just what Jeremy needed.

As I sat there hearing Jeremy share the story in church tears welled up in my eyes.  You see Jeremy is the pastor of our church and his wife Kathy is right by his side helping everything go smoothly.  It was a match made in heaven literally!

The second place trophy was kept by Kathy’s partner.  Somewhere in a closet or her basement somewhere it may still exist.  It’s too bad that Jeremy and Kathy don’t have it.  Seeing it would bring back tremendous memories.  Come to think of it they don’t need the trophy to remember the beginning.  All Jeremy has to do is look at Kathy.  After telling their story he concluded by saying “and that’s how I met my trophy wife!”

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The Obstacle Course

It was a crazy idea and yet very intriguing.  ABC Sports started it in 1973 and the competition had me glued to my TV set.  Dick Button the famous figure skater in the late 40’s and early 50’s came up with the idea.  Button won the Sullivan Award in 1949 as the best amateur athlete of the year yet he admitted that he was a terrible athlete.  The idea was developed in his mind over many years.  It would be a competition to see who really was the best athlete.  His idea was to take athletes from many different sports and have them compete against each other.  The thought was to have them do battle in things that were not related to their sport.  Baseball players could not participate in the baseball hitting contest, golfers could not enter the golf competition and so on.  At the end of the competition a Superstars winner for that year would be determined and the money that went with it.  Along the way contestants were rewarded for placing in contests with cash prizes too.  The last event which usually determined the winner was called the obstacle course.

I can picture it in my head how the obstacles were arranged.  First there was a giant brick wall and a rope and somehow they had to get themselves over the wall.  Then there was a cement tubular tunnel they had to run through.  After that they had to push a blocking sled about10 yards  before getting their feet in 10 tires that were lined up in 2 sides of 5.  After that they had to jump over a water obstacle and then do a high jump onto a padded landing bed.  Next was 2 hurdles they had to jump over before they reached the finish line.  If any of the obstacles were missed in any way the judges would raise a penalty flag and 5 seconds was added to their time for each obstacle not completed properly.  Image result for superstars obstacle course pictures

Over the years I have seen many athletes that were in the running for the top prize lose it on the obstacle course.  They might have had trouble pushing the sled or maybe they missed a tire.  There were times when everything was going so smoothly until they failed to clear the high jump and knocked the bar down.  Each obstacle had it’s own difficulties and contestants seemed to do some better than others.  Someone might be strong on the blocking sled but had trouble with the tires.  Others might have trouble with the high jump or the wall.  Image result for superstars obstacle course pictures

The obstacle course was the final event and culminated the worthiness of the person being named that years Superstar.  The first competition in 1973 the obstacle course was not an event.  1974 was the first year for the course.  It was a culmination event that made the contestants earn their prize.  Instead of one skill which all of the other ones were this event covered a multitude of skills that had to be performed one after the other.

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Bob Seagren was a pole vaulter in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics.  Bob never won any money doing his sport because to keep his amateur status he couldn’t.  Winning money in the Superstars was different.  He did not lose his amateur status because he wasn’t competing in his sport.  It could be argued that Bob more than any of the other athletes in that first competition was hungry for that prize money.  It made sense, Bob was not rich like many of the other competitors were.  He was the only amateur in the field.  The prize money increased his desire because he had not been lavished with big earnings.  Bob won the 1973 event and accumulated $39,700 in winnings!  In 1974 Bob came in second place to an athlete that nobody had heard of named Kyle Rote (an American  soccer player).  It was the first running of the dreaded obstacle course and Bob won it capturing the 10 points for first place.  Through the years Bob totaled more than $206,000.00 competing in the Superstars.  After his first victory he and his wife were able to buy a house that would have been way out of their price range just a few months earlier.

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Saint Junipero Serra was an 18th century priest who founded the first nine Spanish missions in the state of California.  He came from Spain into the new world because he had a desire in his heart that God had placed there.  It was a desire to spread God’s love in this new place.  His life motto was “Keep Moving Forward.” With God’s help Serra was able to accomplish a legacy that is still alive today.  It is a legacy of not only what he did but the continuing faith that still lives on!  Saint Serra had many obstacles in his way but his keep moving forward philosophy kept him on the path God desired for him.  Saint Serra’s motto is a good philosophy for all of us.  When things get in our way trust God and keep moving forward.

Life is a lot like that obstacle course.  There are always things in the way threatening to block our dream.  I always noticed in the midst of the competition that the competitors kept their eyes straight ahead.  They attempted to the best of their abilities to successfully complete the obstacle before them.   After they did  they went straight to the next obstacle on the course.  They didn’t skip any obstacle in their path. They were determined to go from point A to point B no matter what was in their way!

Like Bob Seagren we need to be hungry for success, not for our own glory but to glorify God!   Are we going to let one of the obstacles in our path get in the way of our goal?  That would be the equivalent of would be winners of the Superstars event losing at the last minute because of an obstacle in their way.  The apostle Paul said it well in I Corinthians 9:24.  “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way to get the prize.”

So how do we win the prize?  How do we keep moving forward when multiple obstacles are stacked against us daily? How do we keep our faith in a world of chaos and despair?  How do we proceed with our vision that God has given to us and never quit or get weary?  Relying on our faith and the spirit within us and not on our sight puts us past the obstacles and over the finish line!  Hebrews 11:1 states that “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”,  II Corinthians 4:18.  Proverbs 3 verses 5 and 6 makes how we should be advancing forward very clear.  It comes from our knowledge of how we get true victory. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.”

The X-Ray Question

The doctors don’t ask you, they tell you.  “We’re going to need an X-Ray on that.  It could be any part of your body and it could be for a broken bone or anything else.  I had an experience like that a few days ago.  I was experiencing discomfort in my leg.  When I checked the source of the problem (right below the knee) there was a knot maybe the size of one of those boulder marbles some of us used to play with.  It was sore and when I twisted funny it would cause pain.  I put ice on it and that seemed to help for awhile but the swelling wouldn’t completely go away and there continued to be periodic pain.  Finally I went to the doctor and he felt the knot and then he informed me that they were going to do the X-Ray.  He was pretty certain it wasn’t anything serious but the X-Ray would remove all doubts as far as a tumor causing the problem.  So I had the X-Ray and he showed me the pictures.  Of course the pictures came from underneath the skin and revealed everything.  In my case it was added bone like you get with a bone spur.  It was my bodies defense mechanism to protect it from the inflammation that I had experienced.

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I’m sure most of you have heard of the Reverend Billy Graham.  Recently Billy passed away at the age of 99.   After He passed away I saw a cartoon that described a scene that might have taken place in heaven.

Through the years millions of people have prayed the prayer of salvation after Billy had preached a message at one of his many crusades.  Through the years I have listened to many of Billy Graham’s messages at his crusades on TV.   The things that I always noticed were that his messages were not unlike any that I have heard before.  He kept it simple and easy to understand.  The difference though is that he talked to a large number of people every time and he always received a great response when he asked people to come forward and pray.

It started many years ago.  God put a vision in Billy Graham’s heart that wouldn’t go away.  It was a vision of standing in front of multitudes of people and presenting the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  Through the years Billy was led to build on that vision and traveled all over the world with his message.  Billy Graham was sold out to Jesus Christ and only wanted to share the good news with everyone.

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Like Billy Graham Jesus has called all Christians to go into all the world too.  In Mark 16:15 Jesus said …And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He didn’t say Go into all of the world and get people to come to church.  He didn’t say Go into all of the world and bring people to your pastor.  There is a statistic that 95% of Christians have never led anyone to the Lord.  This is a very sad statistic that needs to change.  Most of us do not try to lead people to the Lord because we don’t know how.  Another reason we don’t try is we don’t have a plan.  We don’t think about anyone else getting saved as long as we are.  We may think that we can’t go all over the world but Jesus is talking about people we come across in our world.

So how can we be an excited witness for Jesus?  Some of you will not try because you are convinced it is a talent.  I am here to tell you that it is a skill.  With a skill we can acquire it if we practice.  How many of you can ride a bike?  I’m thinking a great majority of you.  Now when you first tried to ride the bike did you take right off?  Probably not…there was undoubtedly falls on the way.  But you kept trying and got better at it and before you knew it you were not falling at all.  That is how it is with sharing Jesus too.  It may not be comfortable at first but the more you do it the easier it gets. 

The first step as in anything we do in life there has to be a plan.  I have learned a simple short way to share the Gospel with people.  It starts with memorizing 4 Bible verses.  Here are the verses. 

Romans 3:23  For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 1:12 states that Whoever receives him he gives the right to become children of God and

Revelation 3:20 states this (this is Jesus talking) Behold I stand at the door and knock if anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in. 

You may say to yourself I can’t memorize these verses but I’m telling you that you can!  Remember back in your school days when you had to remember many times more than this.  This is four verses that will help bring people into the kingdom of God!  Are you willing to try and let God use you to rescue the lost? 

Jesus Calling James and John

When Jesus called out some of the fishermen disciples he told them that he would make them fishers of men.  The parallel is really good between fishermen and our calling.  When we fish we don’t chase the fish.  We don’t get in a motorboat and track them down.  What we do is bait our poll and wait.  When people come our way we look for chances to witness to them.  So how do we get on the subject?  When I meet someone I might offer that I write Christian stories on the internet.  You might offer that you go to such and such church or how God has changed your life, or you might just ask them if they like to talk about spiritual things?  It is important that you don’t violate anyone’s free will so if they get angry you should back off. 

After I mention one of the above I ask them if they are a Christian?  Whether they say yes or no really doesn’t matter at this point because the next question is the X-Ray question.  So whatever they say yes or no or I’m an atheist or whatever ask them this.  If I were to ask you what a Christian is what would you say?  If they answer that it means that you are saved by grace or words to that effect and state that they are saved you can cut right to the prayer at the end and ask them if they would mind if we agreed to re-dedicate our lives together?  Otherwise, after they tell you one of the many other answers (and there are many) ask them this…Would you mind if I shared 4 Bible verses with you about what a Christian is?  If they say yes then end it right there…If they say they wouldn’t mind then say this…

Romans 3:23 states that All have sinned and come short of the glory of God 

Romans 6:23 states that The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord 

John 1:12 states that For as many as received him to them he gave the right to be children of God and

Revelation 3:20 (Jesus talking) Behold I stand at the door and knock If anyone opens the door I will come in. 

Then Mention their name..Dave, Jesus wants to come into your heart right now  Will you let him in?  If they say yes ask them to pray after you..Lord Jesus……Come into my heart and save me…….Forgive me of all my sins……Be my Lord and Savior     Amen 

Image result for will you let jesus in photo

It’s that simple.  We are not out recruiting people for our church.  All we are doing is sharing the good news!  A friend of mine mentioned that when he was quite small he was standing at the end of the diving board crying.  “What’s wrong?” his mother asked him.  “I’m afraid to jump in”, was his reply.  It wasn’t long before he felt a push on his back and the next thing he knew he was in the water!  It happened so fast and he came out of there with a big smile on his face!  For the rest of that afternoon he jumped in the water a number of times and loved it.  That is the push we need sometimes as Christians.  Once we experience it we will want to do it over and over because the Holy Spirit gives us such a good feeling that we are doing exactly what we are called to do!

 

Peace In The Storm

We’ve all been through big storms.  The rain comes down hard, the thunder is loud and darkness is all around.  The sun is nowhere to be found and the only light that we see is periodic lightening brightening the sky.  If the electricity is still working we hear news of thunderstorm or tornado warnings.  We may be directed to enter a safe place in our home until the system passes us by.  All of these factors can be very alarming.  Yet I have been through numerous storm warnings in my life and I am sure you have too.  The best way to get through the storms is to get to a safe place, and stay there until the storm passes.  The main thing we must remember is to stay calm because then we can think straight.  We won’t panic and make decisions based on our panic state.  Knowing that we have been through hundreds of storms before and each one went away helps us to live through yet another one.

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In our Christian walk we are going to go through storms.  Nobody said that once we become a Christian storms will automatically pass us by.  The disciples of Jesus were in a boat one time and a sudden storm hit.  All of the sudden they were fearing for their lives.  The waves were beating heavily on the boat and the boat was rocking from side to side.  In the midst of the storm Jesus was in the back room of the boat sleeping.  Scared out of their mind the disciples woke Jesus.  “Jesus”, they said “Don’t you care that we are going to parish?”  Jesus got up and the first thing he did was admonish them.  “Oh ye of little faith”, he said.  Then he commanded the storm to calm and the storm was no more.

It’s interesting the words ye of little faith that he used.  In our daily lives when the storms hit us we tend to panic like the disciples did.  Just like in their case where Jesus was in the boat he is in our boat too if we have asked him into our heart.  With Jesus on board there is no reason to fear no matter how scary the storm is.

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So I ask you this question today.  Do you have little faith or big faith?  Little faith is faith that everything is OK as long as everything is going well.  Big faith is faith that everything is OK no matter what the circumstances are.

When Jesus comes into our hearts he gives us a peace that passes all understanding.  The problem that we have is that we don’t always live in that peace.  We can be like ten of the twelve spies in the Bible who came back and reported that the enemy was too big.  They were looking at the problems instead of the promise.  Isn’t that what we do when we get all upset because all we see is the obstacles?  So how do we keep the peace even through the tough times?  How do we go through the storms with big faith?

We will keep the peace if we are honest with everyone.  We cannot be at peace inside when we are not truthful.  II Corinthians 10 verses 4 and 5 tell us to Cast down imaginations and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.  When we don’t believe that God will get us through a situation aren’t we not casting down these imaginations?  Have you ever heard that 95% of the things we worry about never happen?

When you are in the storm remember who is on the boat with you.  Remember all of the storms that you have been through in the past with his help.  Find the peace that only he can give.  Lean on the Lord and seek his peace above all else.  Remember that whatever you are going through will pass.  After it is over you will have a story to tell.  You see without a test we have no testimony.  The weather in our heart can be sunny and warm even when the storms on the outside are at their worst.  Always remember who is the center of our peace with this saying “No Jesus, No Peace—Know Jesus, Know Peace!”

The Weather of My Heart

by Lewis Hamilton c 1997 From the book “The Gardener and My Garden”

We call the weather line
it’s such a big concern
will rain ruin our weekend
or will the weather turn?

Is there a storm brewing?
It’s very important to me
Turn the TV on right now
and switch to channel three

The weather alert is flashing
there’s a “W” on the screen
The “W” stands for warning
what kind of warning could it be?

We plan our daily activities
from data we have found
wanting to make good decisions
from information that is sound

Do you ignore the weather
that goes on inside?
Is the river of your heart at peace
or is there a high tide?

Are your insides dark and cloudy
and is there always strife
from winds racing out of control
every day of your life?

You can see the forecast on your TV
the screen’s within your eyes
Are they raging from tornado winds
and seas about to rise?

Do you ignore the inside storm
denying that it’s there,
or should you take some action
to show you really care

The Lord saw my stormy inside
and said he’d calm my sea
He’d make my sun shine all the time
his peace he’d give to me

Now my inside weather’s peaceful
although outside it may rain
I’ve discovered who can control
my inside weather vane

I know now just as I’m concerned
what the weather report will be,
It’s more important what the weather is
deep inside of me

For Jesus spoke to my sea that day
He called, Peace be still
There is sunshine every day for me
as I live now in his will

Dane’s Pain And Gain

There was no freedom.  All of that had been taken away.  It really seemed there was no hope.  Locked in a tiny prison cell all he could think about was what went wrong.  I didn’t know Dane very well growing up.  Kevin his brother who was my friend in our high school years told me that it was hard getting close to Dane because he was never around.  Dane had run away from home a few times.  Each time he was found and returned.  Why did this happen I wondered?  Dane explained that he was one of six kids and always felt like he was the black sheep.  He was a free spirit and felt confined at home.  This was my conclusion from trying to piece his story together.Image may contain: 1 person

One night while Dane was drunk and strung out on drugs an army buddy called.  There was a house he knew of that was ripe for the picking.  It was open and nobody was home.  It would be easy to enter and take whatever they needed or wanted.  When Dane arrived he found the house just as described.  Him and his buddy ransacked the house as Dane took an expensive stereo system and a nice guitar.  Somehow they must have made mistakes in what they thought was a perfect crime.  Dane had taken the stolen merchandise back to his friends apartment and fell asleep.  He was awoken by the sounds of sirens from police cars.  Busting into the place they found and arrested Dane.  He was too out of it to even care.  So that was the beginning of what Dane thought was his pain.  In truth his pain had been going on for a long time.  Before he was in prison he lived in an invisible prison.  Yes he could come and go as he pleased but inside he was in bondage but didn’t know it.Image result for sunrise picture

It was obvious as he sat in that little cell day after day that this was the real thing.  Day after day he had nothing but time.  Time to think, time to regret, time to worry, and time to go crazy.  He had a picture of the sun rising that he had in his cell.  That picture kept him going when he knew he wouldn’t see the actual sun.  There were times that Dane was put in a cell with as many as thirty other inmates.  Other times he was in a cell by himself.  Then there were times that he got into trouble and they put him in what they called “the hole.”  This was a place where he was alone with absolutely nobody around.  This was the punishment for mouthing off or doing some other act that caused extra punishment.  Dane wondered if he could keep his sanity and many times he was sure he couldn’t.  He mentioned that he preferred a cell without cell mates.  Unlike the hole these cells at least had noise and action going on around him.  The scariest cells were the ones shared by many other inmates.  Dane feared that another inmate might attack him and he was always uncomfortable and on full alert when he was forced to live in this situation.Image result for prison cells

His mind drifted to when he arrived at this Portland Oregon Prison.  It was called Rocky Butte and it was built in the rocks right off of the highway.  A whole bus load of prisoners were dropped off including Dane.  They were all strip searched and given prison uniforms.  That was the beginning of Dane’s hell.  So much time to think about things in his life.  So much time to analyze his mistakes.  He was at his lowest point many times.  He stated that it was a case of keeping sane in a place where sanity was hard to hold onto.  Just when things were at their darkest a small light entered Dane’s life.  It came in the form of a pastor who cared.  Dane was to the point where he thought nobody cared.  He had received mail when he first arrived and eagerly looked forward to getting more.  Slowly the mail stopped coming in.  He was a dying man reaching for a saving rope and little did he know this pastor was throwing one to him.Image result for picture of the Bible

Dane listened intently at the message the pastor was delivering.  One thing about prison that is very clear is the words in the Bible that all have sinned.  Seeing the dark side of life helped Dane recognize the light.  It was like he was in total darkness and someone had pulled the curtain up where a little light shined.  Naturally Dane gravitated to that light.  He had heard about Jesus and wanted a way out of his darkness.  You see not only was Dane in a dark place physically but he was empty on the inside.  The pastor made it clear that he needed Jesus and he accepted Jesus into his life.  The pastor gave Dane a Bible and Dane got busy reading.  Jesus became real in his life and from that time on he had peace in the midst of his prison surroundings.  From that day many years ago until now Dane has lived with a peace that only God can give.  He was released from prison years ago but the pain that he felt is still remembered.flag

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and obviously it is a time to remember our fallen heroes from the Military.  Dane would like us to remember other people also.  They are prisoners who are living their lives in bondage.  Pray that someone comes along like the pastor did for him and gives them an opportunity to receive Jesus.  Pray that they will not give up hope and not give up on life.  We have a tendency to forget the people who are in jail because they are not walking among us.  Sometimes we say to ourselves “they made their bed now they have to sleep in it.”  Dane recognizes from experience that there are many lonely hurting people that made mistakes and are paying for them.  In Luke chapter 7 verses 41-43 Jesus tells this story.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Pray that those who had sinned much receive forgiveness.  These are people like the Apostle Paul who were going 100% in the wrong direction.  Paul was determined to kill as many Christians as he could and felt he was doing the world a favor by doing it!  That was until he had an encounter with Jesus on his way to Damascus.  Many times people like Paul when salvation comes their way are the ones who turn completely around and go 100% the right way.  The world needs their testimony because they are  people that Jesus can use because their testimony is so drastic! In a dark cell tonight there is a person like Dane who will have a story to tell.  They may feel lost and lonely tonight but someday there will be freedom and peace.  Pray for and contribute to prison ministries for when you do you may be adding a crusader to the kingdom!  To this day Dane has and reads the Bible that pastor gave him.  It’s a nice reminder of someone who cared enough to come into his dark world to share a beautiful light of love!Image result for I was in prison picture of jail ministry

How to Deactivate A Bomb

Clever. The Road Runner is seen as clever in this picture because he switches the TNT to when Wile E. Coyote pushed the lever it blew up on himself.

I guess the first sight of a bomb I ever had was of the cartoon variety.  It might have been when the Coyote was trying to kill the Roadrunner and lit the fuse of a black bowling ball looking object. All of the Coyote’s explosive devices were purchased from a company called ACME.  As kids we didn’t think about how the Coyote was able to afford all of these high powered devices and why he kept going back to them after constant failures.  For you kids out there too young to know about the Roadrunner cartoon and his rival Wile Coyote I can only tell you this.  Every effort of the thousands that he tried to blow up or smash the Roadrunner boomeranged on him.  The Coyote was amazing when I look back because after every explosion, fall, or smashing he received, he was always back in the next clip trying again.  He was totally obsessed with getting the Roadrunner and stopped at no means.  When we truly analyze the cartoon (and take all of the fun and adventure out of it), why would the Coyote be so obsessed with getting the Roadrunner?  It certainly wasn’t for a meal.  The Roadrunner was a bony bird with very little meat on him.  It had to be more of a challenge to him.  With each failure there was hope that the next bomb that was purchased would be the one that would work.

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Although bombs have gotten a lot more complex over the years the first bombs looked very similar to the ones the Coyote and other cartoon characters used.  They had a containing holder along with a fuse to be lit.  The holder was filled with gun powder and that was where the explosion occurred when the fire hit the powder.  Once people got the idea of causing an explosion from a specific spot ideas started flowing as to different ways of causing an explosion.  Today there are many different ways to set a bomb off.  We have all seen the skits where someone receives a package in the mail that is ticking.  Right away we gasp knowing what is actually on the inside.  Of course the characters usually seem dumb as they wonder what the ticking noise is.  Bombs can be programmed to go off from a timer.  We saw that many times on the show of the 1960’s called  “Get Smart”.

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In everyday life we hear the term “short fused.”  It is normally used in the terms of a person.  That Joe has a short fuse.  What does it mean?  It means that it doesn’t take much for Joe to blow up.  Anything that goes wrong or anything that doesn’t go Joe’s way and Joe’s bomb explodes.  Unfortunately Joe isn’t the only one with a short fuse.  I can’t tell you what percentage of people have a short fuse but I can tell you what studies tell us of people who do.  Dr John Barefoot now of Duke University did a study on law students scoring the highest in hostility and found that they were 5 times more likely to die of heart disease than their less hostile classmates.  In a similar study he found that students scoring high in hostility had four times the probability of dying within the next 25 years.  These facts alone should be enough to tell us that it isn’t healthy to be a walking time bomb.  Yet many of us will make excuses as to our behavior.  We will say that we can’t change and that was just the way we were made.

We’ve all heard of the saying that it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  What does it mean?  It means that there was such a weight on the camel that the extra straw was too much.  He was at his breaking point and a tiny little extra weight put him over his threshold. Did you ever wonder where that chip on your shoulder phrase came from?  Apparently back in the 1800’s if someone was looking for a fight they would place a chip of wood firmly on their shoulder.  Anyone who wanted to take him up on his offer only had to knock that chip of wood off of his shoulder.  Unfortunately there are many walking around today with a chip on their shoulder.  You may be on your breaking point and are just looking for someone to rub you in the wrong way.  At that point the fuse burns out and the explosion occurs.

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So how do we cut the fuse of the bomb and stop the coming explosion?  How do we open up the time bomb and turn off the timing mechanism that will lead to destruction?  The answer is very simple and it can be found in the Bible.  “Peace I give to you”, Jesus stated.  In the sermon on the mount Jesus told us the golden rule.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  What does this mean?  Does it mean to do unto others as they do unto us?  NO, It means to treat them as we would like to be treated no matter how they treat us.

Many times I have noticed that so called christian people are bad offenders when it comes to anger and building up grudges.  It is time that we take inventory of where we are.  First of all have we accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Lord and Savior?  With that first step he puts a love in our being and a desire to please him.  Secondly have we strayed from our initial faith?  Do we truly love people the way Jesus wants us to or have we become cynical and hateful?  These are hard things to face but facing them can get us back on track.  Sometimes our train has just gotten off of the track and we need someone to put us back.  That someone is God and he can get us back to that blessed place of peace and love that we once had.

When the bomb within us is discovered it is important to take proper action.  Instead of trying to defuse the bomb ourselves seek an expert.  The expert is God.  Ask him to take it away and put love in your heart.  Forgive in your own heart all of the people that you are holding a grudge against.  Have him take that chip off of your shoulder where you are looking for a fight and replace it with a desire to lend a helping hand.  As much as God wants to help us the decision is ours.  We can choose to try to explode the Roadrunner (or our enemies) or ask God to give us real love for them.  The former will lead to destruction to ourselves while the latter will lead to peace, happiness, and life.

Have Mercy On Me

Bart Millard used to listen to cassette tapes of Amy Grant and other Christian musicians on his head phones.  It was a way that he could get his mind at peace after dealing with an abusive father.  There was no peace in the Millard household.  His father was quick to squash any dreams that Bart had.  Something must have drastically altered his fathers dreams years ago and now he was all about making sure that his son didn’t fantasize with his own dreams.  Mr. Millard was a heavy drinker and wife beater.  It got so bad that Bart was sent to a camp just to get him out of harms way.  His mother loved him very much and thought that the camp experience would be a good retreat for him.  Bart was a stranger in the camp which happened to be a church camp.  One person that befriended him right away was a girl named Shannon.  Even though Bart was slow to open up to her she liked him as he was.  Camp offered Bart a disciplined different view of life than he had at home.  All of the campers were given journal books and they were required to take notes of what they learned and what was important in their view.  Studiously Bart took notes and it became a big part of his camp experience.

After the two weeks Bart came home.  Surprisingly he found that his mom was missing.  He was angry as he confronted his father as to what happened to her.  His father told Bart she wasn’t hurt and that she had left him.  Bart was devastated as his mother was the only one that he felt loved him.  Through the strained relationship with his father Bart tried to find himself.  He liked football and became good at it playing on his high school team.  However even in his glowing moments he didn’t get help from his dad.  His dad was a star player in high school and after Bart had a big game his dad was quick to squash his victory.  “How many of them did it take?”, his father asked.  Not knowing what he was asking Bart asked the question back to him.  His father was a running back when he played,  just like Bart.  He explained what he meant.  “How many did it take to bring you down?”  Bart said “Two or three, I don’t know”.  “Two or three couldn’t bring me down, It took the whole team to bring me down.”  Through all of the negative Bart still kept his football dreams alive.  That was until one play that happened near the end of the season.  Bart was running for the goal line when he was hit simultaneously by two different defenders.  The result was a broken leg and Bart was left without his football dream.

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Bart needed to be in another class because he was not able to play football.  He hobbled into the Dramatics class that first day and fielded the teachers questions.  “Can you act?” “Can you sing?”  Bart told her that he could neither act or sing but that he had to pick up a class to make up for not playing football.  His teacher said that he could be in charge of the sound then.  Bart began to love the sound position confident that he knew something about sound from his early days of loving the sound of Amy Grant and other top Christian artists.  One day he happened to have his head phones on as he was listening to a tape.  His teacher happened to walk by.  Unaware of her presence Bart was singing along to the music.  His teacher couldn’t help notice the beautiful vocals that were coming out of Bart.  When the cast for the upcoming musical Oklahoma was announced Bart was horrified to learn that he was cast for the lead.  “Oh no, there has been some kind of mistake here” Bart commented as he confronted the teacher.  She listened to all of Bart’s reason why he couldn’t do it.  The last one was that he had the broken leg.  “The play isn’t for six weeks she said.  You will be well by then.”  She informed him that he would perform in the play if he wanted to pass is class.  Through all of the disguise his teacher saw something in him that he didn’t know was there.  For that time she took the place of an encouraging parent that see’s things in their children and helps prepare them to use their gifts.  Bart didn’t have that at home and for the first time he was given hope.

The play was a great success and Bart was the star of the show!  He found his niche in his acting and singing role and everyone who watched was amazed.  One of the amazed people was Shannon (his camp friend) who was a high school classmate and Bart’s girl friend.  One person who thought he was wasting his time was his father.  One day his father was at a bar and he saw a brochure of the play and Bart’s name in the lead role.  Then he was overcome with pain and tumbled to the floor.   He found himself in the hospital and the reports were not good.  Bart’s father was suffering from cancer and he didn’t have that long to live.  Bart never knew about this diagnosis.  His father kept him in the dark and said that he was fine.  After high school Bart could not live with his father anymore.  He didn’t know where he was going but he needed to be somewhere else.  He hooked up with a band and became their sound man.  The band was missing one thing a lead singer.  Bart offered that he could help.  He mentioned that he could sing and become their voice on stage.  That is how he became the lead singer of the group.  He also formed the name of the band.  His grandmother always said to him “Mercy me Bart” when she was amazed at something he said or did.  The band became known as MercyMe.

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MercyMe was having moderate success playing to limited crowds.  With every little success Bart was living the dream.  Unfortunately his excitement with the band consumed him.  Shannon felt like she wasn’t important to Bart anymore.  She broke up with him and told him they were through.  Because of his father Bart didn’t want to let anyone know the real him.  He was afraid to dream even as he was having success.  Shannon sensed that and was very hurt that Bart’s world really didn’t include her.  He felt bad after they broke up and would call her from the road telling her how the band was doing.  Unfortunately he was always talking to her answering machine as Shannon had given up on him.  The group was fortunate enough to have an agent in the crowd one night.  He heard the sound and was somewhat impressed.  He liked what he heard but knew there was something missing.  The agent agreed to go to the next concert on the groups bus.  Once again he noticed the same thing..the music was good, the talent was there, but something was missing.  What was missing was discovered when he heard their last long.  It was a passionate song that moved the crowd to tears.  He told the group he was leaving them, but that he was leaving to find them a bigger venue and to bring some music industry heads to see them.  He also told Bart that the concert was just OK but that last song was fantastic.  “Try to sing all of your songs like that” was his advice.

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After the concert in the new venue Bart and the group sat in the dressing room awaiting the results.  Their agent was talking to the elite’s of the industry when Bart could not stand it anymore.  Against the wishes of the band Bart got up and disrupted the meeting.  He wanted to know what they thought.  The hard truth hit him like a brick in the back of the head.  They see hundreds of groups and to them MercyMe was nothing special.  They rated them as a local group that would never be anything more than that.  The combination of their words and the words that his father put in his head years ago was too much for Bart.  He returned to the rest of the band and told them he was through.  Maybe he was wasting his time after all.

Bart returned home to find that his father was treating him wonderfully.  Not knowing how to respond Bart let his father have it.  His father told him he had been thinking a lot about how he had lived and had been listening to a lot of christian music.  He had asked God for forgiveness.  Bart was not in the forgiving mood.  In his mind his father had destroyed his dreams and he was bitter.  Later he happened to be looking through some papers and there was the medical report on his father.  Now he knew his father was dying but the bitterness remained.  Bart was having a battle within himself that came to a climax when he found his father collapsed in the barn.  Instead of mercy he found himself with a baseball bat in his hands.  “Go ahead”, his father urged.  But slowly Bart put the bat down and helped his father up.  The act of helping his father as he put all of his weight on Bart seemed to open the door of forgiveness and mercy to Bart.  From that time until his father died Bart was his best friend.

After his father died Bart was in a state of self reflection.  He was amazed at the change that his father had demonstrated.  At the same time he realized he needed spiritual depth in his own life.  He reflected back to the time when he was at camp and took those notes in his journal.  He actually dug out his old journal and started re-living his thoughts at that time.  Page after page he noticed one line that was getting embedded in his head.  The line written numerous times in his journal was “I can only imagine.”  He got back with the band and that phrase was in the front of his mind.  He started writing a song from just that title and the words just seemed to flow.  They made a tape of the song and sent it to their agent.  Right away his agent knew they were onto something.  Bart sang the song with compassion that he had never heard before!  The agent sent it to people in high places in the industry.  Amy Grant heard the song and fell in love with it.  She wanted to do the song on her comeback tour with the groups permission.  Bart was in the audience as Amy was about to sing the song.  When the magic moment came Amy couldn’t do it.  Instead she called Bart from the stands to sing his song.  The crowd was in awe as Bart passionately sang his song that he dedicated to his father.  Deeply moved they gave him a standing ovation.  Amy gave the song back to Bart and the band and it became a number one hit on the Christian music charts along with a hit on the main stream charts too!  It was the song that launched the group MercyMe to heights nobody had imagined for them.  I Can Only Imagine was voted the number one song of the year!  They would go on to record other powerful hits because instead of just lyrics Bart was singing with a passion he had never had before.

In our christian walk like Bart we can lose the passion that we had when we first believed.  Slowly we may start questioning as the world puts their views into our minds.  The result is a dead listless doubting believer who has lost their uniqueness in the world.  Jesus addressed this problem in Matthew 5:13.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its
flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing,
but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.

In Bart’s case as in many of us our salt loses it’s flavor by our lack of forgiveness.  In life there are people or circumstances that if we let them can cause a deep dark unforgiving spirit to come over us.  This is not the will of God.  He wants us to have our hearts pure so that his love can flow through us.  Everyone who listened to Bart noticed how talented he was.  However his words alone weren’t able to move people.  It was only when he let God change his heart and take away the hurt that Bart was free to express his love and compassion.  The same thing affects many of us today.  We may say all of the right words but we are not convincing.  The flow of love has been blocked by hurt, anger, and an unwillingness to forgive.  Our passion has been replaced by the religious ritual of trying to do the right thing without true love in our hearts.  By forgiving everyone we open the door to God’s love and blessing.  When Jesus died on the cross for our sins he demonstrated his mercy for all of us.  By having mercy on those who have wronged us we exhibit his living love within us.  What miracles could God  do through us when we all have a forgiving spirit?  Using Bart’s words “I can only imagine.”

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footnote:  Shannon saw the change in Bart’s life and today they are married with 5 children.  MercyMe has released some of the most powerful Christian music in the last few years that were able to crossover to the adult contemporary stations!  A movie was made called I Can Only Imagine and it hit the big screen in 2018. The description of the movie was stated as follows… Based on the incredible true-life story that inspired the beloved, chart-topping song, I Can Only Imagine is a song that brings ultimate hope to so many – often in the midst of life’s most challenging moments. Amazingly, the song was written in mere minutes by MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard. In reality, those lyrics took a lifetime to craft.

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An Audience Of One

When Carson Wentz star quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles came into the league he wanted to start a Foundation.  His agent and others advising him advised against it.  “Most players coming into the league wait four or five years to do that”, they told him.  Carson didn’t want to wait.  Then again he wasn’t like most guys coming into the league because he thought quite differently than the average 24 year old.  He considered their advice but then a thought entered his mind.  I have no idea where I will be in four or five years.  Hopefully I will still be playing this game but nothing is for certain and it is no given I will be in Philadelphia still.  He wanted to make a difference in the lives of people and so a simple question popped into his mind “Why wait?”

Carson Wentz starts AO1 Foundation to help the less fortunate

The Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation

was launched in 2017 and its mission is to “demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need.”

Carson’s Foundation has three major objectives. To provide shelter, food and education for underprivileged youth; to provide hunting opportunities for disabled people; and to provide service dogs to those who need them  So where does this drive in a man so young to help people in need come from?  Maybe part of the answer can be found in his AO1 Foundation mission statement.  “To demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need.  In that statement we see “the love of God” and therein lies the drive in Carson’s life.  That and a tattoo that he has on his wrist “AO1” which stands for “Living for an audience of one, Jesus Christ.”

Wentz found the Lord while in college at North Dakota State. He went to church weekly growing up but it wasn’t for spirituality as much as it was for his family.  It was something that he thought was a good thing and went without a deep commitment.  In college all of that changed.  He joined a prayer group with some of his teammates.  Again it seemed like the right thing to do as he built relationships with guys on the team.  As a freshman he was approached by the senior quarterback on the team named Dante Perez.  As they were stretching during a practice Dante asked him if he ever reads the Bible?  Wentz first thought was that the guy was bringing his religion to the wrong place.  After all we were at football practice not church.  Then they ended up meeting and Dante mentored Carson in his faith for about a year.

“I remember just having some college mentors, some former teammates kind of just help walking me through the Word,” he added. “And I ended up reading the whole New Testament of the Bible in the first three months of my freshman semester, and it just became real to me.”Carson Wentz

 That realness grew the remaining years of his college experience.  At the time of the 2016 NFL Draft Carson was rated as one of the top Quarterbacks coming out.  But something far deeper was on his mind.  I just remember praying almost every day. ‘Lord I don’t know where I’m going to be, but just put me in a place where I can grow closer to you.’ He came through big time,” Wentz said.  As the number 2 pick in the NFL Draft Carson was off to Philadelphia where he found the perfect fit!
In his rookie year Carson was named the starting Quarterback when Sam Bradford was unexpectedly traded to the Vikings.  The team originally planned to have Carson sit and learn his first year.  Obviously his practices changed plans as the Eagles traded their starting quarterback and named Wentz their quarterback for 2016.  Wentz did not disappoint.  He became the first rookie quarterback since 1970 to win his first two games of the season and not throw an interception. Carson started all 16 games and the Eagles finished with a 7–9 record.  He threw for a league-record 379 completions by a rookie. His 379 completions also set a single season franchise record.  The Eagles were very happy with their first year quarterback and the future looked bright!  But nobody could have predicted how unbelievable the 2017 season would be!
 Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams

In the first 5 games of 2017 Wentz threw for 1,362 yards and 10 touchdowns against only 3 interceptions.  NFL insiders and reporters mentioned him as a Most Valuable Player candidate.  Week after week Wentz led the Eagles.  They didn’t win every game but they were winning most of them.  The Eagles fans had been waiting for years for a quarterback that could lead them to a Super Bowl win.  Since their last championship in 1960  several had taken them to the cusp only to disappoint in the end.  13 years ago another young quarterback named Donovan McNabb started the season 8-1 just like the Eagles record with Wentz after 9 games.  That team finished with a Super Bowl appearance but they lost the big game.  The Eagles fans were hopeful that Wentz could take the team one more step and win the Super Bowl.  This feeling left a Philly fan to be quoted as saying in a recent ESPN the Magazine article that the Philly fans were “cautiously hysterical.”

As much as Wentz and his teammates were stirring up the Philly fans Wentz was also stirring up the Philly clubhouse.  His vibrant faith led to some of his teammates wanting a relationship with God that he had.  What they saw was expressed by the words of Carson himself “I’m very open about my faith,” Wentz said. “I’m not going to hide from it or back down. I also like to try to walk the fine line in being too much and hitting people over the head with the Bible – that’s not what I’m about.

Prior to their October 12th game against the Carolina Panthers, wide receiver Marcus Johnson requested to be baptized at the team hotel. “Seeing how they’re living, how they’re committed to it, I felt like it was God just pushing me, like, ‘look, you can’t keep making excuses anymore. You’ve go to make that decision. Are you going to take that next step in your faith, or are you going to continue to make excuses?”

The Eagles have formed a band of brothers who have Bible Study together and pray together.  They have several members of the team in the brotherhood.  The significance  of their faith as it relates to football was best expressed by linebacker Jordan Hicks.  “When you find something or someone to play for, and you’re not just playing for yourself, naturally it will make you play harder and give you a purpose,” Hicks said. “We play to honor Jesus Christ. That’s what we play for. It takes [the pressure] off our shoulders. Honestly, it makes us play harder in a sense, just understanding the humbling fact that it’s not about us, it’s about him, and glorifying his name.”

It was late in a week 14 game against the Rams. Carson and his team were near the Rams end zone and Carson went back to throw.  Nobody was open so he started to run.  As he neared the goal line he got sandwiched between two Ram players.  He scored the touchdown, which was called back because of a penalty, but Carson was hurt.  He stayed in the game and threw the ensuing  touchdown pass but something was wrong with his knee.  An MRI showed that his ACL was tore and would need surgery.  His season was over and apparently the hopes and dreams of the Eagles and their fans. usa-nick-foles-eagles.jpg

A Christian brother on the team named Nick Foles stepped into Carson’s role.  He was a veteran quarterback who was disillusioned with the sport he loved only 18 months earlier and questioned whether he should stay in the game.  He decided to sign with the Eagles and back up Wentz.  Little did he know the circumstances that would come about.  Now he was depended on to lead the Eagles the rest of the way.  In a fairy tale ending the Eagles led by Foles advanced through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl  Foles was brilliant against the powerful New England Patriots and Philadelphia had won their first championship since 1960.  Their fans were hysterical and the city of Philadelphia was proud of their Eagles! 

When the game clock showed the game was over the Eagle players celebrated on the field.  The Super Bowl trophy was presented to the team in a special ceremony and smiles and high fives were everywhere.  It is a time when many winning team members of the past would go out and celebrate their victory with drinks.  That is why the unusual scene that took place in a little room was so nice to hear about.  It came from a twitter tweet from Tony Dungy (the ex NFL coach).

After all the celebrations and confetti Justin caught up with the 3 Eagles QBs Nick Foles, Carson Wentz & Nate Sudfeld along with Zach Ertz who scored the winning TD. They were in a room by themselves—praying and thanking God. It was great for him to see that.

Many of the Eagle players were soaring.  Yes it was wonderful winning the Super Bowl and making thousands of Philly fans happy.  But there was a more powerful force working on the team and in the community.  Jesus had become real to an Eagle team that will be remembered for their faith long after their Super Bowl glitter fades.  When Carson Wentz found out his season was over he tweeted Proverbs 3:5-6.  The Bible verse Wentz cited reads: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart / And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”  Clearly that path is heading straight in the game of life no matter what happens in the game of football.  His audience of one is surely pleased!

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