Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Surfing's Iron Man?

Sixty-two-year-old Dale “Daily Wavester” Webster of Sonoma County, California, surfed his 13,000th consecutive day on April 6, 2011. Think about that for a second; when this crazy streak began, Gerald Ford was president, a gallon of gas cost 57 cents, and Kelly Slater was three years old. It was stoked along by all sorts of misunderstandings, one of which was about a wetsuit warranty—he thought it meant if he surfed in it every day for a year, he could take it back to be repaired. Over the 35-plus years, it’s morphed into a fanatic connection and dedication to the sea. Today, he almost never leaves Sonoma County. "One day I hope to get a PhD in surfing. I hope to teach the world how to surf, how to roll a wave and then you can send my mail to the Professor Daily Wavester, PhD in surfing, and that’s when dreams will truly come true. This 28 and a half thing is one thing, but if I can get my PhD in surfing — if I can teach the world to roll — that’s what I’m waiting for", he once told Surfing Magazine.

What are you waiting for? What would you never miss? What have you fixed your eyes upon? Hebrews 12:15 says, "Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God." Hebrews 10:25 says, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."

Adapted from Justin Cote's article "Surfing's Iron Man"

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Christmas Eve Prayer?

Our Father in Heaven, who so loved the world, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to become Immanuel--God also with us. In our gratitude and love, we remember your humble birth into our lives and pray for those who are without enough to eat. We remember the stable in which you were born and pray for those who have no place to live. We remember your challenging message of caring--even for our enemies and those who wish to do us harm. For these children are precious to you too.

So arm us with the grace we lack and the strength we need to become courageous peacemakers. Please, in your miraculous way, fill the hearts of those who are hurting and mourning at this time with the promised Prince of Peace. And guard our hearts.

God of all good gifts, we represent just a handful of your children. But on behalf of all your children, we bless You too and give You thanks in your Spirit who brings our hearts to life this Christmas Eve. Be our light in this dark world. And send us safely to our homes like the wise men, full of wonder and with joy in our hearts. Amen.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Real Friend and Brother?

Proverbs 18:24 (NLT) says, "There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother." Seven-year-old Cayden is unable to walk or talk on his own, but his nine-year-old brother Conner had an idea that would allow them to participate in sports together. A year and a half ago, they began competing in triathlons together. Conner swims while pulling Cayden in a raft, bikes with his little brother towed behind him in a trailer, and pushes that trailer when they run. Over the past 18 months, the pair from White House, Tennessee, traveled up and down the East coast to compete in races. Seeing the brothers working together has inspired onlookers, while bringing Conner and Cayden closer than ever. Their amazing determination and spirit is why the Long brothers are the 2012 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKids of the Year. Enjoy!!! Here's the full length ESPN segment too. Big thanks and WTG to JeffB for sharing.

Friday, January 18, 2013

February Film Fest?

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, his deed reverberated throughout the world—challenging assumptions about religious authority and how we are to approach God.

This classic black-and-white film presentation captures the passion of the life and times of the Great Reformer. Nominated for two Academy Awards, it traces Luther's life as a guilt-burdened monk through the monumental events that led to his eventual break with the Roman Church. In spite of its age, this film continues to be a popular classic to introduce Luther's life and will be what we're watching FEB 2 @ 7pm in our third installment of this winter's Film Fest. Free hot drinks and snacks and discussion follows. Join us!!! You do NOT have to be a member of Toledo First Church to participate.

Wall of Misconception?

Liberty Magazine has been arguing for full religious freedom for any and all—and for the right to change your belief or to have none at all—for 106 years now. From the beginning its editors have argued for the separation of church and state: a constitutional mandate designed to protect religious freedom. But some even in America would want us to rethink this separation. Lincoln Steed, current editor of Liberty magazine, writes in a recent editorial (click here to read in its entirety) that he recently received a copy of a book entitled Wall of Misconception. It is a rethink of the separation of church and state, and a redux of the godly state. More and more voices like its author are crying, “If we just morally cleansed our nation—our world—then God would stay His hand.” There is a half-truth here: God wants willing obedience and will bless it—but I, like Lincoln Steed, cannot imagine any mandated worship being pleasing or effective.

Why? Because God loves you like crazy! And because He is love (1 John 4:7-8), He is not willing to coerce or force anyone to follow Him (though current leaders in Egypt who this week gave 15-year prison sentences to a woman and her seven children for converting to Christianity apparently don't feel the same way). But even in America, this kind of sincere but dangerous thinking is alive and well. In the same Liberty issue quoted above, another article details how a devout Christian named Michael Salman was fined more than $12,000 and sentenced to 60 days in jail for the “crime” of holding a weekly Bible study in his Phoenix, Arizona home. If you think armed police raids of his property, repeated warnings against holding any form of Bible study at his home, and a court-ordered probation banning him from having any gatherings of more than 12 people at his home sounds more like Egypt than Arizona, think again.

Yes, life is (usually) (for many of us in America at least) good. And even when its not (as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:8,14), God is still good. And can bring good from evil (cf. Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). But Bergman had it right: God was not in the flagellant revivals, He was not in the witch hunts, He was not in the edicts of clergy or ruler—as always, He is found in the heart and the conscience of free individuals. And it is this freedom to love the God back who first loved us that we will be highlighting MAR 23 @ 11am and 2pm at Toledo First Church. Come meet Lincoln Steed and hear him share more fascinating stories of religious liberty concern from around the world.

Adapted from Lincoln Steed's editorial "Earth and Sky" found in the NOV/DEC 2012 edition of Liberty Magazine

Now What?

Well, the world didn't end on December 21st as the Mayans predicted. 2013 has arrived and the earth is still here "looking forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay (Romans 8:21).

As we begin a new year, I think of all the blessings God has given us through children. I love their enthusiasm to sing praise to Jesus. I love their willingness to actively participate and whole-heartedly worship. Whether it's singing the ABC's or doing the motions for our new fave songs "Side by Side" and I'm In The Lord's Army." I love walking through the halls of JMLC and TJA and hearing their laughter and greetings. They remind me of how I think God probably feels about us.

May God's grace save and make you more like Him this new year as we look forward to the day He returns. Whenever He does.