Monthly Archives: December 2006

Much with little

1-4143-0204-5.gifI mentioned the The One Year Bible the other day. I’ve had several folks ask me about it since then. So, I thought I’d explain a little.

Reading through the Bible can be a daunting endeavor. With The One Year Bible you can spend 15 minutes daily and actually accomplish the seemingly impossible. You read a section from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. Tyndale House is the publisher; I recommend the New Living Translation version.

That’s it. It really is that simple.

My buddy, pastor Jeff, is going to give it a whirl this year. Anyone else up to giving it a try?

Dang Thoughts!

Crazy thoughts . . .

I hate it when I have them! I especially hate it when they rudely burst to the forefront of all my other thoughts. Like when I’m pleasantly sleeping with visions of sugar plums and candy canes merrily dancing in my head. Or when I’m trying to concentrate on blog4.jpgwork, or reading, or talking, or eating. They just come. I’ve not invited them.

An example. We’re making a trip to Brasil in a few weeks. One of our prime reasons for the trip is to work with the children there and to begin involving the new Christians in becoming a real church. So, we’ve been making plans, working out logistics, preparing, etc. Nice, neat, orderly. Then, pow! In the middle of the night the faces of these kids wake me. They just look at me. They don’t ask for anything. They just look. When I try to go back to sleep, I just see more faces.

blog2.jpgDang it!

Some folks worry about work, about finances, about family, etc. (they are on my list, too!). I sure would like to be normal and just be fixated on those things. That would actually be pleasant. I know you can’t “fix” those things — that’s why it’s called “worrying” — but at least they are at your finger tips and you have the leisure of thinking, and worrying, about them when you have the time. But these kids! Rude, obnoxious, inconvenient. They’re always present and they’re not welcome.blog3.jpg

How do you purge your head of such crazy thoughts? Just telling yourself to stop is as effective as telling the rain to stop falling. It doesn’t work very well. I try telling others, absurdly thinking that getting it out will remove the urgency, kinda like forcing yourself to vomit when you’re nauseous so you’ll feel better afterwards. But nope, that doesn’t work either. In fact, I think it backfires and makes me think about it even more!

adopt_small.jpgPastor Jeff always emphasizes doing the best that it’s possible to do — that is why the Jesus-Sender put us here. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me . . . there is no way in the world that I can “fix” the poverty that these kids live in but everything in me screams that I have to try. I see people around me living in luxury — and not having a clue that they are — and who could care less about the plight of these children, or anyone anywhere else in the world for that matter. Out of sight, out of mind. Just look at the initial response to the tsunami diaster in the far east a year ago. Once the hoopla died down no one has had a second thought about it. Their situation today is still as desperate now as it was then, but there is no help coming.

Like I said, I hate these stupid thought! They drive me crazy . . .

Stupid Resolutions!

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution. There! I’ve confessed.

I’ve always thought them stupid. Still do. People make some big whuptodo about how they are going to stop doing stupid things or start doing smart things, overnight, instantly. Not gonna happen. Everyone knows it, so why act stupid and declare to everyone that you are going to fail miserably?

Allow me to digress for a moment . . .

I’ve been using the One Year Bible every day since January 8th, 2003. It began as a challenge:  attempt to read the Bible entirely in one year, one day at a time. A group of us decided to give it a whirl. Two amazing things happened. One: I did it. Two: it changed me. I antecipated #1; I was clotheslined by #2.

I’m on the last pages to complete year #4 of doing the same thing. Have done it consistently and intentionally for four years. That is amazing! What is stunning is that every time I read through the Word, I’m blown away by what I discover. I’m continually asking myself: “Didn’t I read this last year? I don’t remember this at all!” I find that my life situation modifies how I understand what I’m reading. The same message that helped me last year in a difficult scenario helps me this year in an entirely different setting. How did He manage to put it together so that it does that?

Coming back to stupid New Year resolutions: on my birthday recently I read the passages for that day. The Old Testament passage was the prophet Haggai.

Think carefully. I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”   Haggai 2:18-19

The whole book shocked my world. These two verse were the real cattle prod.

So what’s this got to do with stupid New Year’s resolutions?

Any thought of making a life change resolution on my part has always fallen short if I was responsible for it. So, I’m not going to be. The Jesus-Giver insists that He’s big enough to take care of things. I’m going to take Him up on His word.

I’m going to do something really stupid. My stupid resolution is to not try to make things happen myself. He’s got the ball. My year is going to stand or fall because I’m letting Him call the shots, open the doors, slay the dragons, etc.

Is that stupid or what?!

Without ME, it’s just AWESO

Bumper sticker I saw today . . .

                                    Without ME, it’s just AWESO

Never thought of it that way.

Miss Bikini World 2006

Sorry. Just had to do that. I saw a reference to the Miss Bikini World 2006 competition and I’ll readily confess that my head freely swiveled.

But, now that I have your attention . . .

Have you ever wondered what makes someone put on very little and parade around practically naked but think they are fully clothed? If you simply changed the name from “bikini” to “bra and panties,” the same individual would now be embarrassed. What’s with that?

To answer my own rhetorical question, its a clash between perception and reality. In the above bikini situation, the perception is that one is fully and appropriately clothed. The reality is that you are running around in your skimpy underwear. Replace perception with reality and you have embarrassment.

I see this every day with people who come to see me with health problems. Their diets and lifestyles are lousy, but they are “healthy.” “I just can’t understand why I keep getting sick?” Their perception is one thing, the reality is totally different. Change your perception and you change your reality.

One of the hallmarks of any community — church, country, business, social organization, political party, etc. — is that when members of a community act contrary to what the community stands for, it reflects negatively on the rest of the community. An athlete uses steroids, the sport gets a black eye. Soldiers torture prisoners in Iraq, the image of America is damaged.

Am I responsible for their behavior? Not really. But I feel the burden of their behavior because I am a member of the community. In actuality, that burden has very little to do with what I think or believe. It’s how others around me perceive my community. Yet, if I want others to be a part of my/the community, the perception of the community will override the reality of it.

That is why Christians can do the equivalent of running around in their bra and panties and call it a “bathing suit”  That is why a radical lifestyle is seen to be fanatical, extreme and foolish. Perception is more powerful than the reality.

I am out to change my own perception of who I am as a stand before the Jesus-Sender. I want my perception and my reality to fully blend. I don’t want to be an oxymoron (e.g., “honest politician”) before the World-Creator. I don’t want my perception to be overturned by my reality and be embarrassed. I need to reflect Him. If I’m running around in my skivies, but am calling it a tux, I don’t think He will want to have my shadow pointing in His direction.

Just something to think about as we slide towards 2007 . . .

Christmas Afterglow

Remember the song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas?”

I guess the question is really kinda stupid because it, along with so many others, has played nonstop over the last few weeks. In fact, driving back from my folk’s house tonight, every single radio station was playing Christmas music, and I commented to my bride: “I’m sick of Christmas music.” That doesn’t necessarily make me a Scrooge, it just means I’m sick of Christmas music.

But back to the song. Written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane and made famous by Judy Garland in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is tearfully sung by Garland to child star Margaret O’Brien in the movie. The movie chronicles the change in seasons and times of St. Louis including the Christmas season. The song was meant to be a meloncholoy farewell to the past with an acknowledgement that the future was uncertain. A real bummer.

For me, this year, I really did have a merry little Christmas. A bummer it was not.

My merry little Christmas? No rushing around like a crazy person, spending money I didn’t have on things no one wanted. We forewent that experience. Partially on purpose, partially forced; yet, the end result was surprisingly nice.

We gave, but not in the way we would have expected. We gave of ourselves, not intentionally, to people in need. We reached out, practically by accident, and helped the downtrodden. We were ourselves, but that, to some, made us angels in disguise.

We attended an Christmas Eve service unlike any before. We sat around a table and listened to incredible tales of hardship, loss, sadness and, unpredictably, hope. We gave someone a ride home who would spend Christmas alone, far from his wife and three children whom he hasn’t seen in almost two years. He bid us a very merry Christmas as he stepped to the curb and entered a dark apartment. And he was absolutely sincere in his wishes for us.

We were embraced by a gentleman who looked far older than he actually was. He said, with eyes misty with tears, that we were olives in his life. We must have shown our confusion on our faces because he proceeded to explain. “Olives are the fruit of the olive tree. The olive tree, in the Bible, is considered to be the tree of life. You two have shown me the value of life no matter what is happening. You are my olives, the fruit of the tree that gives life.”

How do you top that?

We talked with a man who was in incredible pain due to a blotched operation last year.  The doc simply screwed up. Fused the wrong verterbrae and worsened a neurological problem that now cannot be corrected. He has no money, no insurance and no advocate for help with his dilemma. Yet his smile was a big as the Grand Canyon. He’d become a follower of the Jesus Lord just two weeks ago and he said that he was already being blessed because God had plopped us down in his path and we’d already done more to help him in a week than anyone had done in the entire year. And, by our way of looking at it, we’d done nothing.

I got up this morning and told my bride “Merry Christmas” and didn’t give her a gift. It was the best gift I’d ever received.

I read the so-called “Christmas story” in Luke this morning. I tried to soak up all the small details that are usually overlooked in the bigger story. I think we miss alot. The details are rather overwhelming. That led me to Revelation, chapter 3. Wow! Whole different perspective.

A cup of coffee with the back door open and light rain falling.

A pleasant meal with my folks and siblings.

Yep. I think I finally experienced what a “merry little Christmas” can really be.

Skip, Boliva and Life

Doing life can really get interesting, can’t it?

It dawned on me today that my age and birth year were the same since the passing of my birthday recently. As I shared this insight with my wife, we noted that she has another 12 years to go before she crosses the same threshold. Then I realized that attaining this “honor” isn’t necessarily a comforting thought. I’ve got fewer years left on my warranty.

What’s really interesting is that the thought of my age and year of birth started a conversation between my wife and myself about what people do with their lives. We started ruminating on a friend of ours that we met as a result of the church at Lifepoint. This fellow is as low key as they come. Humble, serving, talented and a heart so full of good that if it were the ocean it would be bottomless.

This fellow at 30 years old is doing something that most of us wouldn’t attempt doing at any age. He leaves on the 28th for Bolivia. Not Boliva, NC or Boliva, TN, but THE Bolivia. The one nestled next to Brazil; you know, South America! Know what he’s going to be doing? He’s going to live in an orphanage so some little kids who have no parents can have a father for a while. Why? Because he’s compelled by the love of the Jesus Lord. Period. That’s it. Know what he’ll live on? $300 a month. Ready to sign up?

Skip Bachman is a hero. Not in the comic book or television sense of the word. That is meaningless. Skip is a hero of bibilical proportions. Self-sacrificing, selfless, loving. The kind of traits that make you sit up and take notice. And, did I mention humble? He’d try to make you think that this really wasn’t that big of a deal. If it wasn’t, how many of you would be willing to take his place?

Like I said, doing life can be quite interesting. Skip is living proof. And what better time to acknowledge this hero than on the day we celebrate the birth of the hero of our faith and real life.

Merry Christmas to all and to all an interesting life!

[Interested in writing Skip? He'd love to get a note from you. His email is: skipperbachman@hotmail.com]

Folding Cafeteria Tables and Church

foldingcafeteriatable.jpgDo you know what this is?

Let me give you a clue: it is NOT children happily eating at a school cafeteria table.

Give up?

It is children sitting on the lap of a BEAST!

Why would I make such an outlandish statement? Because I wrestled this beast and 19 of his kin this morning. In fact, I go through this crazy activity EVERY single Sunday morning from 7:00 til 9:00 and have done so for 10 straight months! I do believe that qualifies me to recognize the creature, and his brethren, intimately.

You see, Lifepoint Church meets in a middle school. The children’s classes are held in the school cafeteria. As a member of the setup team, I help turn the cafeteria into Kid’s Zone — a place where kids have a blast and learn about the Jesus Lord at the same time. These beasts lie in wait for me to come in on Sunday morning to move them, rearrange them, and utilize them for the classes.

These beasts have a mind of their own. You push one way, they go in another. Or they don’t budge at all.foldingcafeteriatable2.jpg They sit there, so enticingly simple appearing. Their wheels lock, and like a donkey that refuses to move, these so-called “tables” buck and skid, digging their wheels into the nicely polished linoleum floors — the very ones we’re told to be careful of. Or, while in their upright, “resting” position, as you begin to push they decide to open. And, like a pterodactyl opening its massive wings to take flight, these ‘birds of prey” begin to gracefully flap their “wings” and then drop with a “thud.” Again, right onto that freshly polished floor.

What’s even creepier, they watch you. As soon as you turn your back on them they s l o w l y begin to inch downwards. You hear them creaking, racketing and pivot quickly to catch them. But, antecipating your move, they instantly stop, mocking you.

By the time I’ve wrestled these monsters for two hours, I’m tired, often sweaty. But the neatest thing is that once in place, even these beasts become instruments in the hands of the Living God to change and bless the lives of the little “yard apes” and “rug rats” that come through the doors of a middle school that has been transformed into a gateway to heavenly realms that we lovingly call Lifepoint.

And that, dear reader, makes it all so worthwhile . . .

Be unreasonable

I shared and viewed the sufferings of many fellow prisoners in an underground Communist prison. What intrigued us the most was that we did not obtain from heaven what it was obviously reasonable to expect: a slight improvement in our situation, food to quiet our hunger, and abatement of our cruel torture. We did not get what we expected because heaven is not—humanly speaking—reasonable.

Jesus said, “There will be more joy in heaven over on sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). This is surely not reasonable.

Nowhere does the Bible speak about the “reasonableness” of God, according to man’s reasoning, but rather about His foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:25). He is unreasonable as are the thoughts of little children. Christ became a child and recommended that we become as children too.

Was it reasonable to sacrifice the unique Son of God for witless, dirty, dumb sheep? I have asked many shepherds what they would do if they saw a wolf. They all replied, “We would run for our lives.” No man dies for sheep. Yet Jesus did. He died for beings worse than sheep—for those who denied and betrayed Him, for those who demanded His crucifixion. He died for His killers, for all who blaspheme and hate God.

Do not be surprised if you fail to get from God what you might reasonably expect. If He were truly reasonable, He would never listen to the prayers fo people like us, nor would we have salvation.

Rather, God loves to the point of folly.

If you are in the sad situation of experiencing neither His reason, nor His mad love, you might consider the fact that in the parable of the ninety and nine, only the lost sheep had sure proof of His love and concern. The others could reasonably say they were neglected and abandoned. Those who are faithful should simply be glad that others experience His love to folly.

While in solitary confinement, I waited for years for God to come to my aid. In solitary we were happy about His mad love even in moments we were not its recipients.

Do not count on reasonableness in heaven and you will never be disappointed. Count only on the fact that there is One who loves you to such folly that He died for you. In response, forget about sweet reason and let yourself fall madly in love with Him.oracles-of-god-book.jpg

—Edited excerpt from Oracles of God
by Richard Wurmbrand (1901 – 2001) Available at www.VOMBooks.com or by calling (800) 747-0085

White rocks

I’ve been thinking, and reading . . .

I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.
–Revelation 2:17

This has been a rough month — shucks, it’s been a rough year, especially the last several months. When you’re getting beat up by life you tend to look at things in a “funny” way. That’s not a “hahaha” way, but an “oh crap” type of way.

Funny thing about getting beat up, it gives you a rather drab outlook on everything. Makes you want to kick dogs, let doors slam in people’s faces and be rude to everyone. You’ve got to fight those tendencies, but it sure does make your spirit not want to soar.

I’ve been camping out in 1 John the last week and it has helped tighten down some of the attitude adjustment screws. And that’s good.

But as I finished the John’s, I slipped into the Revelation and stumbled across the “white rock” passage. And that was the icing on the cake I needed. You see, no matter how messy things get, there’s someone who knows me in a way that no one else does. He’s given me a name that is uniquely mine and only he knows it. He won’t call me and have 3-4 other folks respond. I’m so special that he made me on purpose and he planned that millenium before I was even the proverbial twinkle in my parents’ eyes.

That rocks!