4. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

the sabbath..what a day! what does this even mean anymore? who knows what it means to not work and to honor the sabbath anymore? more and more people work 7 days and honor the Lord none. but again, does this apply to everyone else, or does it apply to me? is everyone else the problem, or am i? how do i become the solution? how do you...how do we?


5 Beloved Traditions...

what do rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, green-bean casserole, diamond engagement rings, valentine's day candy and wedding registeries have in common? click here to find out.

(sorry for the abundance of links lately...trying to keep the reading light, seeing as tomorrow is Christmas. happy spending!)



"You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth."

in a season of joy, grace, peace and love...how often do we remember to practice just that. check out this article (click here) to see how a small texas football team brought just that to 'the least of these'. enjoy!

IX - Revisited

9. "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

how about gossip…who doesn’t do that? so, where does that stand in God’s graces? here are a few passages that address this issue.

James 3:6 "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

the tongue is a world of evil…not just evil, but a world of evil. i suppose that is used to indicate the sheer size of hurt that can be caused by a few ill-advised words. it corrupts the entire being of a person…it can become who they are and what they’re known for. in a world where we seem to remember the bad things more vividly than the good, those hurtful words can be stored in someone’s memory bank for quite a while, thus casting an image of who that person is to them for quite some time.

Proverbs 11:13 "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret."

if you can’ t trust someone at their word, or to guard an issue from gossip, then there is no confidence to base the friendship off of…that trust has been broken.

Proverbs 16:28 "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends."

to piggyback off the last passage; gossip betraying confidence; gossip can ruin friendships. when the trust is gone, a person begins to question the basis for the relationship as a whole…whether that trust can be regained.

those last two should really hit home for many of us. i think it’s safe to assume we’ve all be involved in a situation when trust was broken due to something as petty as gossip. “gossip betrays confidence…gossip separates close friends”. i’m sure none of this is new to any of us, but the clarity that remains to be seen is when concern crosses the line into gossip. when love for someone and their decisions or well-being becomes secondary to the news that’s there to share. i’ve been there…on both ends. it’s funny how difficult it is for us sometimes to learn our lesson when we don’t see the lesson there to learn.

Matthew 7: 1-5 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."


Milhouse Van Houten

bored at home with nothing to do? looking for something to kill time at work? have a secret crush on an animated cartoon character with blue hair, glasses and poor social skills? check out this link: Milhouse – The Quiz. i only scored 42%...apparently i don’t know as much about springfield’s resident nearsighted nerd as i once thought. i’ll have to study up…it’ll give me something to do over the Christmas break. enjoy!


5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Honor: good name or public esteem; a showing of usually merited respect

this can be a difficult command to swallow. how many times do we see disagreements between parent and child? it's almost understandable when you see a small child acting out, but how many times has it been a high school, college student, or even grown adult still taking on the traits of an infant? when has that line been crossed and that showing of respect lost?

how we honor our father and our mother through our disagreements says a lot for our maturity, comprehension of this Commandment, and ability to show grace, mercy and love in those difficult moments.

but what about when our fathers and mothers are not around... what happens then? do words or thoughts of anger and slander come spewing out of our hearts? and what happens when they do...is that obeying the command...is that showing honor? Exodus 21 reads: "Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death." granted, in today's society and with the general lack of quality parenting, the execution of a child for disrespecting their parents may seem a bit harsh, but i think the point is still valid. if a child cannot respect and honor their own father and mother, who will they respect and honor?

it's sad how easily i can identify recent stories in my life that go in conflict with these Commandments. things that seem so simple can really become the opposite once you break down what each command is really saying, sit back and examine your life, and apply truth.



6. You shall not murder.

this one seems to be pretty self-explanitory. what are your thoughts? what does this mean to you? any different definations of what you think The Bible says about murder?


One Year

today is friday.

today is the 19th day of december, 2008.

today also marks the 1 year anniversary of my blog. i know that sounds sort of lame and petty, but i really can’t believe i’ve been posting my thoughts and nonsense on here for a year. yesterday i went back and re-read nearly all my previous posts (i had some time on my hands). i will say this, i’m glad that i’ve been consistent with my topics and emotions. allow me to explain. do you ever say something that you really feel like you mean, only to look back a few days or weeks later and immediately feel like a fool for admitting those thoughts crossed your mind for even a second? i’ve been there…i was that guy. the guy who opened his mouth and verbal garbage just flew out. but i’ve seen consistency in these posts…i’ve seen honestly…and there’s a reason behind all of that. there is Truth in each of those posts.

i’ve seen (and read) myself grow greatly over the past 365 days, but i know the heart never changed… the passion never shifted. it has focus. it may have been challenged over and over again…but then again, what’s the point in believing in something if you’re not willing to fight for it….to Fuel the Fire…



7. You shall not commit adultery.

here is another of those "appears easier on the surface that it really is" Commandments. according to the wikipedia, adultery is defined as "the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not his or her spouse." pretty cut and dry there.

naturally, The Bible takes this simple restriction and digs down quite a bit deeper. Matthew 5: 27-30 reads: "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." i think that defination might be a bit more in depth and specific versus the wikipedia version.

but how difficult is this to do? how has our culture taken this idea of adultery and glorified it? turn on the tv, what do you see? rich women and yard boys having an affair on desperate housewives. flip on grey's anatomy and what happens? married men 'playing' doctor with other married women. i'm picking on women's tv shows right now for a reason...because i think that hollywood has long glamorized the male aspect of adultery, so now they're trying to play 'catch-up' if you will for all the programs steered toward a mostly female audience.

men, we have it far too easy to be tempted in our television culture. flip on any football game and what do they show before a commercial break? nearly nude cheerleaders smiling and waving at the camera in 40 degree weather. then, once they commercials are upon us, what is there to greet us? why, beer commercials with everyone's 'ideal' mate. hey, she even drinks your favorite brew, who wouldn't want to be with her, right!? television shows are rendered toward this exact vice.

remember mtv's reality show, "the real world"? now, i know the show is still on the air, but i say remember in the past tense because the reality of that show ended several years ago. back in the day, the housemates had to have 'real' lives...jobs, school, family, etc. but the producers 'got smart' and realized that sex sells. so, they dropped anyone who had a real job, morals or ambition and installed a stocked liquor bar and hot tub in every real world house since. talk about a recipe for adulterious disaster!

television, magazines, the internet...they're all crawing with displays just like this... which bleed over into reality, our malls, our schools, our community. how difficult would it be to cut all these things out of our lives...these things that are put in place to tempt us, to trip us up? if you removed all these barriers, what would be left? the good stuff! of course, even when you look up Christian song lyrics and guitar chords online, what's there to greet you? why, it's half naked women on the sponsor sidebar with the caption "click here for more". is nothing safe anymore?

by the way ladies...like the picture of david beckham with the tattoo VII up above? remember, he's married...be careful not to slip!



8. You shall not steal.

wow…i’m not sure i want to do this whole ’10 Commandments and what they mean for me” thing anymore. no stealing…i totally broke that one this morning! now, don’t worry, i didn’t rob a bank or anything, but i’m not sure if the monetary value really comes into play on this one. The Commandment doesn’t say “You shall not steal anything valued over $5,000”, or “You shall not steal from family, only major corporations”…it says “You shall not steal”. period.

how many times do we try to justify this one too? there’s always a loophole to be found in our own minds if we contemplate on it long enough.

just today, only a couple hours ago, i stole something, two things actually. See, i ran in a marathon last month, and part of the package is that the event organizer has photographers situated all along the route to snap photos of everyone. then, they email you a link taking you to a website full photos of you (or in this case, me). now, each of the pictures are copyrighted and are not allowed to be downloaded. i tried several ways to get around their technology and at least print out a couple on my own printer, but apparently they are smarter than i am. after all, that’s how they ‘get’ you. one 5”x7” print is $16.95…with that, the question arises, who’s stealing from whom!?

well, i was informed by a coworker that they have computer programs you can download that will allow you to cut and past copyrighted online images and save them for personal use. so, what does jeff do? why, download the previously mentioned program, of course…and much to my amazement, it works! so, i go to the link, select a couple of the pictures, click a couple buttons, and presto, the images are now saved to my hard drive…to print, to share, whatever!

less than 2 hours later, i decide to continue my quest on The 10 Commandments…and what stares me right in the face…the next Commandment…good ‘ol #8, “You shall not steal”. awesome! of all days…i’ve only been trying to download these pictures for about 3 weeks now..and wouldn’t you know it, on the day i’m successful, there’s 4 little words looking me back in the face. isn’t it funny how God works sometimes!? well, to celebrate my stupidity, i’ve included one of those ‘stolen’ pictures to the left…
enjoy my sin!



9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

in other words, do not lie. how’s that one working out? and what about those little ‘white lies’ we all tell to protect someone else… are those allowable? after all, we're saying something; perhaps just a slight stretch the truth; to protect someone else. that’s an act of love, right!? how can showing love to someone be a sin?

i like throwing in one of our cultures favorite little sins with this also, do not gossip. think about that one for a minute. there are entire television programs and magazines dedicated to this. gossip has become a way of life for so many of us. a friend tells you a secret in confidence…is that secret safe from others ears? in a time of instant communication (text messaging, im, facebook, etc.) how quickly does something meant for your ears only turn into an over-developed drama played out amongst your entire email address book?

some people go as far as to make lying and gossip an art form to be perfected. our world is full of these falsehoods. another reason we are called to be in the world but not of the world.


A Compendium of Classy Conversation Starters - Volume I

seeing how today is friday, i figured i'd take a stab at the lighter side of thought and mind. the holidays are a wonderful time to get to know people, or to catch up with relatives and friends you haven't seen in a while. the following are a few 'old stand-by' conversation starters that always seem to work out for me when i'm in a jam. try these out and let me know how it goes. i guarantee great success!

1. you know, you'd really make a great cow!

2. my dog has a great sense of smell. let me show you what i mean...

3. oh my gosh, are you pregnant?

4. i'd love to see you in a cat woman costume!

5. that's where we did it...

6. the night i peed on kyle...


10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

covet: to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another. if you type the word 'covet' into a google search, you will get over 2.6 million matches: covet/consumerism, covet online casino games, covet luxury brands, even covet sarah jessica parker. we have so many things around us to 'covet'...so how do we not?

your friend gets a new flat screen plasma tv, you want one... your brother buys a new house, you're ready to add on to yours and install hardwood flooring... your colleague finds out she's pregnant, you think it's time to try also. we covet things all the time.

what happens when you finally let go of those things you think you need, those things you 'must have', and put something else in its place? what do you discover you really need? what are you missing? how do you gain it? what do you covet?


Symptom vs. Root

over 2 years ago, katy starting having severe pains in her abdomen. after several trips to specialists, emergency room visits and countless x-rays and sonograms, the doctors determined it was her gall bladder causing all the pain and instructed her to have it removed. so, katy had her gall bladder removed, and with that, the pain was removed too, right?

wrong! now, don’t get me wrong, she was in pain and her gall bladder was damaged…but by removing it, the doctors only removed a symptom, not the problem itself. had the doctors sat down long enough to ask katy more about her previous health history, they might have realized that her pains ran deeper than a single organ. katy has scoliosis, and thanks to that incorrect curvature of her spine, it causes her nerves to send ‘incorrect’ signals to other places in her body. so, the solution of her gall bladder was through her back. only once her back is healed will her pains in other parts of her body recede.

i’ve seen this sort of treatment in my own life too. i have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, so what does my doctor tell me to do? why, take blood pressure and cholesterol medications, of course! again, they address the symptom of the problem and not the root itself. what are the causes of this problem? unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, family history?

and this is not to pick solely on doctors…so many of us are guilty of this. we seem to fixate on an issue, only to discover that once we’ve solved the riddle, the issue is still there, staring us in the face (or doubling us over in pain).

how often do we focus on symptoms of a problem rather than the problem itself?


Pay It Forward

here's a bonus post today...

katy and i just finished watching the premire episode of the new fox reality show, Secret Millionaire...and dare i say "amazing"! for those of you who don't know the premise, here it is: where millionaires experience a life in poverty and give gifts of a lifetime to the friends they make along the way. to quote one of the millionaire stars, "people can be so damn selfish".

please, take a few minutes (about 44 actually) and watch this show. click here for the link.

Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments
1. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

there's the big 10. how are we stacking up to those? got them all taken care of yet? i'm guessing not. over the next several days and weeks i'm going to try to break each individual Commandment down...how it applies to me, and perhaps to you. each may look different depending on the Commandments itself, my attitude and emotions towards it and the depth i go into each one. i'm pretty sure i've never killed someone, but i'm guessing i might dig a little deeper into #6 than that...


Santa Isn't Real

in 1 Timothy, paul writes to timothy. he says "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work—which is by faith."

i know we're a long way from macedonia, but isn't the same still true today? sadly enough, you can walk into pretty much any Christian book store and see shelves full of just this. books written by men who decided to share their thoughts and version of God, giving you their warnings and commands, practically without even quoting scripture.

but it doesn't just stop there. we do this all the time...and no time is it more obvious than the season we're in right now. it's Christmas time...and you know what that means... pictures with santa claus and lots of toys from jolly old st. nick. really? that's Christmas?

and how about Easter? i don't think God created a magic bunny to lay eggs in our backyards to celebrate His son's victory over death either.

here's a thought...a suggestion: how about we celebrate the holiday...the Reason for the season for the right reasons this year!



i recently read a blog and subsequent comments where the readers argued the point; which was a more important moral issue: abortion or world hunger?

is this really worth the debate? thoughts...comments...arguments?

God Is Enough


Real Change

change: verb - 1a: to make different, alter; b: to make radically different, transform

it seems that the word change has been all the buzz lately. first off, with president elect obama's entire campaign platform revolving around the single word 'change'. also there's the push for climate change, a change to the homeless issue facing our nation, even our country's ever changing economy...change is all around us, it's unexcapable.

but all of these examples seem to revolve around the idea that someone else is making the effort, that something can actually happen while you site idly by. that you could actually do nothing to change the outcome of these events, yet the outcome will still occur, and still effect you.

what about those important decisions, those resolutions you make that may actually have an impact on someone more that yourself. what do you do with those opportunities? how do you handle those circumstances...when you could be the change, rather than allowing others to do it for you.

how often do we decide to make a change, to do something, only to see that once thought desire fizzle out? how many times do we want to change something, but expect the voyage of accomplishment to be more of a sprint than a marathon? how many times have you been on the path of change, only to realize that there's more than one path...and perhaps another one may be better suited for your ideas, your passion?

those moments, those breaking points, those forks in the road, those decisions to be made, aren't they just as important as the goal itself? can't those decisions on how to proceed effect the outcome just as much as anything else?

that's when real change occurs...


Love For Enemies

Luke 6: 27-36 NIV
Love for Enemies
27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

i've been studying this passage of scripture quite a bit over the past week of so. some of these truths have been engrained in most of our heads for quite some time...we 'know' them. but upon digging into each verse, i found so many things i was missing.

for example, in verse 29 Jesus says that if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and allow them to do the same the other. think about that for a minute. how often have you seen a man get punched in the face, not slapped, but full-on punched...whether it be on tv, in a boxing match, a movie, a high school fight, whatever. for some reason, there is some form of pride involved in getting punched, it's like you pushed the envelope so far, that there was no other means to control you. now, cancel out the idea of getting punched, and instead, think of how often you've seen a man getting slapped in the face. quite a different emotion. i can think of very few things as humiliating that could happen to man than getting a slap in the face. how demoralizing, how defeating, how embarassing. and yet, Jesus says, if you get slapped, don't sink down, don't fight back, but instead turn to give them the other one too.

to take that even further, typically, back in the time of Jesus, a man getting slapped in the face meant that he was basically banished from the temple, the social epicenter of that entire culture. so, Jesus is saying that when you've been banished for the 'place to be'... show love, not anger. wow, talk about a humbling experience.

in the very next sentence, Jesus says that if a man takes your cloak, to give him your tunic too. now, keep in mind, this was a couple years before central air and heat, double pane windows and blown insulation attics...so, bascially, whatever the weather was outside, that's what you had to go with. and i'm guessing that most men didn't have a walk-in closet full of cloaks and tunics. odd are, their one cloak and tunic that they just gave away doubled as their blanket at night. how often are we giving all we own to our enemies?

now, that was a good lesson for me...and honestly, had i finished there, it would have been all the challenge i'd need to keep me busy for a few years. but, i read on, i dug in even more..and the lesson i came upon next might be even harder that the whole 'loving thy enemies' idea.

this brought me to John 6:31...one of the most famous passage in the entire Bible. "Do to others as you would have them do to you." now, i've probably heard that verse, that great rule, between 1,000 and 1,000,000 times over my life...and at first, it just seemed that i'd heard it for yet another time. that is, until suddenly i remembered the context of this passage...Love For Enemies. it doesn't say to treat your best friends as you'd like to be treated, but rather your enemies...still not blown away, hold on.

so basically, that passage is saying to treat our enemy as we want to be treated...big deal, right. sure, but what does that say about our friends, our fellow believers in Christ's love? i think it's saying that we have to hold them to an even higher standard. it's our responsibity to watch them, help guide them, hold them accountable, in a loving way - call them out when they have strayed, 'nag them' for Jesus, if you will. i don't know about you, but suddenly, giving a non-believer all my jackets doesn't seem that difficult. what does seem difficult is having those hard talks with a friend when they are down, veering off course, sinning against God...and also knowing that those accountability issues are there for me too...that when i've lost sight of His love, someone should get in face and call me out on it.

but i guess that's still not as hard to swallow as slap in the face...



"And the day came when the risk of remaining tight in the bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom." -Anais Nin

last night, Katy and I stepped down from a position of leadership that has been extremely dear to us for well over a year. we walked away, hurt, sad, but most encouraged by what we had accomplished. we started something that changed lives...what's better than that!? we've seen people transformed, we've heard amazing stories, we've shared unforgettable moments together, thanks to the ministry we loved so much and worked so hard to see succeed. we served Him to our fullest, even when things seemed impossible, when mountains seemed impassable. when we had no idea what we were doing, we put our trust in Him, always.

we also realized that we don't need a ministry in order to impact people. we don't need a ministry in order to share God's love, grace, mercy. we don't need a ministry in order to worship Him. we don't need a ministry to have a voice. we posess all we need to make a difference, God's love and grace. also, we have trust, honesty and a passion...to share with others what God has done for them...to tell others of God's love. we can do this in our places or work, schools, in highway traffic, grocery store check-out lines, everywhere. we don't need a ministry to minister.

i pray for the future of that ministry...i pray that it succeeds and accomplishes all it sets out to do. i pray that it stays God centered and the leadership involved seeks after God's heart every moment. i pray in a year from now katy and i can look back and not see something that is struggling, choking, hurt, but a ministry that flourishing, alive, in bloom.

so, that day came when the risk of remaining tight in the bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom yesterday...i can't wait to see what God has for us next!