ParaNorman

Yesterday I took Nicky and Sammie to the movies so their mother and grandmother could shop. It was a foolish move in so many ways. Why should I make it easier for those ladies to spend money? To make it worse I took the kids to the movie they wanted to see, ParaNorman. In ParaNorman, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman , who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, moronic grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

Maybe this was not my finest moment as a Christian grandparent. I’m glad I was with them. Before you take little ones consider this review from a Christian perspective. I’m glad I took them because I know kids think about death, especially kids who have lost a parent or someone else close. ParaNorman presents the world view about death which is that the best you can hope for after this life is a peaceful sleep. You don’t want to “come back” restless and unhappy. 

It’s a potent reminder of the joyful gift we have to share with those who live with that sad view of their end. We chastise ourselves for not more bravely preaching hell, but the death that’s nothing more than a permanent sleep may be plenty sad enough. Consider that the truth about death, for the believer, is a life ruling with Christ in a perfected world. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that everyone you know doesn’t think about death. They do from the oldest to the very youngest. It’s obvious that life as we know it comes to an end. The questions raised about what happens next may be our greatest opportunity to share the incredibly good news of Jesus.

Paranormal (ParaNorman…get it?) is a general term (coined ca. 1915–1920]) that designates experiences that lie outside “the range of normal experience or scientific explanation or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science’s current ability to explain or measure. Paranormal does describe life after death, but the truth doesn’t include ghosts and the undead. It can include great joy and everlasting peace that is outside the range of normal experience or scientific explanation. Isn’t that great? Doesn’t someone you know and love deserve to know the truth?

Be blessed.

Nick

Waiting

I am no good at waiting. As a kid I didn’t like waiting for Christmas. I don’t like waiting in lines or for football season to start.
It turns out I don’t like waiting for Hurricanes. Isaac has made land fall, twice. So far we have had a little rain.  We have enough supplies for the entire neighborhood. Everything that can blow around outside is secured. I got so bored watching the weather channel last night that I watched the  GOP convention. 
It’s like we’re all dressed up and no place to blow. After days of dire warnings, I’m now listening to the local weather men discussing how this is a minimal storm, the tornado threats are very low. They obviously don’t know exactly where the storm is going, but it really doesn’t seem to matter. 
Is there a spiritual lesson here? I guess there is. It seems we waste so much time waiting and, often worrying, about things that might happen. It’s so important to enjoy the day.
For example, yesterday I was honored to spend some time at a local nursing home. Members of our church have been meeting with residents at two nursing homes for some time. I had heard that these ministries were doing well, but I had no idea. Yesterday I saw residents hugged and loved and taught the word. There was singing and smiling and not just a few “Amens.” I was disappointed to hear that the other nursing home ministry which takes place on Wednesday was cancelled because of…you guessed it, the storm.
Are you sitting around focused on some future event? It could be a tragedy you fear or a joyous occasion you are looking forward to. It’s great and wise to plan. But let’s not spend so much time waiting for something and contemplating all the variations of the future, that we don’t live in the present.
There is life to be lived now. Instead of watching more weather channel I think I’ll go see if anyone else will show up for the Wednesday Morning Men’s meeting.
Stop waiting and 
Be blessed.
NIck

Encourage One Another

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul. Hebrews 3:12-14 The Message

If you have an encourager in your life, that’s your best friend, a great gift from God. If you want to have value in the life of another, be an encourager. 

There are lots of verses in scripture that encourage us to encourage. Here’s just ten. In fact, if we give it any thought, encouragement is really our mission. When we encourage the non-believer (sometimes we call it witnessing or sharing our faith) we fulfill the great commission. If we remember that it’s really encouragement we are about, we will do it properly. We won’t bible bash. We won’t come across as holier-than-thou. We will point folks to Jesus. There’s nothing more encouraging that.

When we are dealing with our brother and sister Christians, we sometimes call it making disciples, we are really in the business of encouragement.  As the writer of Hebrews tells us, encouragement is about watching our steps and helping others do the same. Encouragement keeps unbelief from tripping us up. It keeps our focus on God gripping the hope that is in Him.

The purpose of this blog, Nick’s Walk, is encouragement. I’m not sure I fully realize that at all times, but encouragement is a good summary word. Beginning on Sunday, September 16, at 6 p.m. at Amana Christian Fellowship, there will be a weekly meeting for the readers of Nick’s Walk. We’re calling it Nick’s Talk, just to be cute. We will discuss the blog entries of the week before; that’s our format. But encouragement will be our purpose. It’s so much better to encourage in person than it is to try to do so online. I hope you will mark this on your calendar and make encouragement something you are involved in at least every Sunday at 6 p.m. if not the rest of the week.

Be encouraged and be blessed.

Nick

Isaac – Faith Tester

Looks like we are in for a few stressful days ahead. There is an excitement in the air as plans for the week are completely altered by Isaac. Stress will be prevalent; but we’ve got an advantage.

It’s interesting to have a hurricane named after a biblical figure. At some point in Isaac’s youth, his father Abraham brought him to Mount Moriah. At God’s command, Abraham was to build a sacrificial altar and sacrifice his son Isaac upon it. After he had bound his son to the altar and drawn his knife to kill him, at the very last moment an angel of God prevented Abraham from proceeding. Rather, he was directed to sacrifice a nearby ram instead. In scripture, Isaac was a faith tester.

Isaac the hurricane is likely to be a faith tester as well. Our true character emerges in times of stress. Let’s not forget who we are in Jesus in the days ahead. In stress, we have a peace that passes all understanding. Let’s not let go of that.  Let’s continue to be salt and light. Let’s spread some calm in busy stores. Let’s think about homebound sick and elderly. Let’s make sure our neighbors aren’t going to be alone. Bad weather can be very frightening to those who don’t have a lot of control over their mobility.

In storms, folks often question God. How could He do this? It’s up to us to reaffirm the love and concern of our God. We need to be Jesus more than ever. 

By Thursday there are likely to be debris filled yards, fallen trees and power failures. Again, our faith and patience can send a powerful message. The tendency is to “take care of our own.” Let’s make sure others are okay. Our yards can stay debris filled for a few days. Share what you have. Put others first.

Show them where your faith is. Witness the source of  your hope. Demonstrate the strength of  your anchor.  Even today folks can’t understand how Abraham could so trust God with the life of his son. Here’s a chance to show our faith.

Isaac will be a test. Jesus is our “cheat sheet.” He’s the calm, before, after and during the storm. 

Be blessed.


Nick

People of Faith

I am often blown away by the faith of some folks I run into. Their walks seem to be steady and confident. Storms don’t shake them. They are stable on the mountain tops and rock solid in the valleys. You would have to describe them as “people of faith.” They seem to understand that, no matter what, God has their back. On the surface, these folks don’t seem to have much reason to be so confident. They are often poor, imprisoned, handicapped, young, even kids . . . losers. How do they get to have such faith? What’s the secret? 
People of faith seem always to be people of the Word. Scripture never seems to be far from their hearts or their lips. Words that flow from them are often words of scripture. It’s not just that they can quote scripture, but the appropriate scripture always seems to “pop up.”
From this we can conclude that these folks read the word. It’s amazing how many Christians rarely pick up the bible. They may read Christian books or Christian blogs, but seldom go directly to the Word.  Romans 10:17 (NKJV) says, So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. We can’t expect to be people of faith unless we are people of the Word. 
But these “Faith Livers” don’t just quote scripture. They live it. James tells us  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.James 1:22-24 (NKJV) 
Why do these special folks read and do the word?  It’s because they have tried it and they like it. They have tested the word and found it to be true. Scripture will never have real meaning for us unless we put it to the test. The words of instruction and advice will come to life if we will just try them out. This comes a little bit at a time. 
It’s okay to test God and His word. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:9-11  
Want to walk steady with God through hill and valley, through storm and calm? Read it. Do it. Test it. Kids can do it, why not us.
And be blessed.
Nick

Thanks Billy

My grand daughter came home with a new car last night. She bought it all on her own. She arranged the trade, the financing…everything. Her boyfriend was with her, but she did it all. She did a great job. She got a good deal on a very appropriate car for her needs. I’m mildly upset. She didn’t need me.

That’s a message I’m getting a lot of lately. In many ways, I’m really not needed, at least not like I used to be. That’s not a bad thing. My wife handled things beautifully when I was in the hospital and “out of it.” My daughter is moving on smartly with her life. My daughter-in-law has a great new job which she is handling very well. Her kids are happy and functioning well in school. I am at the end of a three year term on the Advisory Council for the Kairos Ministry at Angola. My “advisory” functions will end at the end of the year. The ministry will do just fine with me as a “simple volunteer.” My church is about to have a new pastor who is young enough to be my son…maybe my grandson, but then I guess he’s older than our youth pastor or school director.

Sometimes I feel like I need to find a sway back horse and a sunset to ride into. Jesus was 33 when his ministry was over. It seems all the most popular figures in the church are in their thirties. I get the senior coffee at MacDonalds and I get the senior rate at the movies. I don’t even have to ask. One look at me and they punch the senior ticket button.

Then I think about Billy Graham who was just a kid when he preached to stadiums about getting a new life. Now he’s writing about finishing well. I think about John rotting of old age in prison but writing some of the most beautiful passages of scripture as He continued to be “in the spirit” to the end.

I’m learning that a great finish is as important as a great start. We are called to do our best at every stage of the race. We need to know our roles as they change. We need to smile at the past, but grin toward the future. These young ones are blessed with energy and enthusiasm but they still can use the advice of experience and the wisdom that comes with long walks with Him.

Thanks for the reminder Billy. And Jessica…I would have gotten the tan seats not the black. Black is for old people. Tan is young. I would think you would know that. 🙂

Be blessed.

Nick

 

One Month

I stared at the 23 on the face of my watch. I knew the number was significant but it took me a few moments to make the connection. It’s August 23rd, one month since my knee replacement surgery. What a month it has been.

I have a full day today. I am preparing my blog at 3 a.m. Then I have some office work to do. I will hit the gym close to 5. Thereafter, I will meet two of my Kairos buddies and travel with them to Angola to inspect Camp J for a possible Kairos weekend in February. I will lunch in Baton Rouge with two of my favorite clients and at 4 this afternoon will have coffee with the man who will likely be the next pastor of my church. That means I will be returning to Lafayette in 5 p.m. traffic, a good opportunity to spend with praise music and God.

It’s a full day and it will not include canes or pain pills or handicap parking (well maybe handicap parking, after all my placard is good for a couple more years). It’s a good thing to be focused on things to do rather than on what can’t be done. God is in the miracle business but what He does with tissue or surgeon’s hands or any circumstances isn’t as impressive as what He does with our perspective.

I enjoy going to to the gym because there is always (or at least usually) someone older, fatter and uglier working out. That’s a cynical way of expressing new perspective. We are all older, more forgetful, and closer to “going home” than we were yesterday. But we all have full agendas. There is much to do and much to enjoy and much to share.

We need to spend more time living and less time regretting. Next time you’re sitting in your vehicle consider how large your windshield is compared to your rear view mirror. That’s an illustration of how much we should look forward and how little we should look back.

God is just as good today as he was a month ago and life was just as abundant then as it is now. It’s all a question of perspective.

Look ahead, then get going and get blessed.

Nick

 

Your Best Date

What was the best date you ever had? Yes, I mean “date.” You know: time with another person just to be together. You remember dates don’t you. Well, try to remember your best one ever.

I can. It was my first date with Rosemary. It’s a pretty funny story but I can’t tell it all. Too much is just between us. The highlight, important for my point here, was that we talked a lot. I had never talked that much to a girl or listened that much either. The circumstances weren’t great. She had to work that night so our date started late. Neither of us were very experienced daters. We went to a pretty lousy place. But by the time I brought her home I knew that I was in love and I had met the girl of my dreams. I had gone into the evening just hoping for a good time and got so much more.

What made this such a great life-changing date? What separated this time of two people together from so many others that are awkward or uncomfortable? Part of it was kairos. I don’t mean the prison ministry, but the greek word that means God’s Special Time. We can’t create our most precious and memorable moments. They happen through the wonder of God. That night was such a time.

There was need. We were both at a point in our lives where we needed another special person. We entered the evening with a “hole in our soul” and God filled it.

If our relationship with Jesus is going to be everything that it could be we need to date Him. We need times of unhindered, free flowing communication. I know the “experts” say we should pick a special time and a quiet place and take our bibles and meet with the Lord. That’s not a bad idea. But Jesus is so much more than that. He is more loving and more spontaneous and, yes, even more romantic. We need to be ready to drop everything at any time and just spend time with him. He knows when we need to talk, or listen or just be with Him.

Rose and I still “date” a lot. Since my office is in my house, we have much opportunity to be together. Our “dates” aren’t very formal. We go to lunch together. Babysit together. Just sit and watch TV together.

That’s what Jesus wants from you, a relaxed comfort zone in which you are content and happy just to be with Him. You don’t have to talk with him using stilted language. In fact, you don’t need to talk at all.

Great dates are a gift from God. Dates with God can be the best dates of all. You need time with Him. It’s not something you can always schedule or always plan. You just have to be ready for that special sign from him, like a lover’s smile or touch which means: for a little while, let’s just be us.

Happy dating and

Be blessed.

Nick