Friday, November 9, 2012


One of my favorite childhood games was Madlibs.
If you aren't familiar with the game this is how it works:
The Madlibs people have taken a short story of one or two paragraphs and removed 12-15 words within the writing.
An individual or group replaces those missing words with other words that fit (generally: adjective, noun, etc) but usually will not fit the story line.
The people who choose the new words do so without knowing what the story is about to increase the odds of absurdity.
When all the words have been replaced, the recorder/reader will recite the story to the room with the new words in place.
You end up getting sentences like: "The lumpy kittens lapped up fuzzy milk."
To young people these kinds of sentences are very funny and provide for many giggles.

On a serious note...
God has called for Christians to represent Him here on earth. The Bible gives us all of the instruction we need to represent Him correctly and honorably. We are given the nouns (church, body of Christ, spiritual household, ambassadors, living stones...) the verbs (love, hope, go-make-baptize-teach-obey...) and adjectives (kind, compassionate, hospitable...).

Some time for reflection...
It is always good to have some time of introspection. Look at your life right now - what kind of noun are you reciting to the world? Which verbs are you doing? What adjectives describe who you are? How do these things represent Christ? Are you honoring Him or making a mockery of His kingdom?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Least We Can Do Is....Make One More Call

The following are some thoughts by a guy named Jay Pathak, a church planter in Denver, CO. He also co-authored a book called, The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door

“One Extra Phone Call”

I have talked a bunch with our church about making “extra phone calls” every time anyone is doing anything social. “Make one extra call when you are going to the movies, out to dinner with a friend, to a jazz club, to play basketball, on a hike, and so on.” We always want to be bringing people along to everything that we do, spiritual or not. It is through these continual interactions that we have the opportunity to talk about Jesus and the life he gives freely. I'd say there are 40-50 non-Christians that we are connected with in one way or another, that show up every once in a while to either play sports, go to a movie, or eat dinner.  
Also we do service projects twice a month. These are great things to invite people to. Our generation is pretty service-oriented and wants to make a concrete difference. We all get to know each other in the process. 

It really doesn't take that much effort - remembering to make the call would be the toughest thing (it means I'll have to slow down a little AND be less introverted, ugh). BUT, I believe it is the LEAST I CAN DO... and once we do this once or twice, it could easily be a habitual practice.

I'm thinking that most of us could go a step further. This does not just have to be about inviting people into your life when you are going out to the movies or the store or for a meal. I think this could happen on a regular basis in our lives by not just "inviting people along" but by inviting them IN.

If you almost always have left-overs... that means you almost always have room for a guest or two for dinner

If you you have an extra seat in your living room... why not fill it?

Any other ideas?
My suggestion would be to



1) Write down the REASON you would be doing this in the first place (if you don't have a solid foundation for this, you'll never follow through... the whole GO and MAKE DISCIPLES has to start somewhere/sometime)

2) Brainstorm and make a list of things that happen regularly in your life that you could invite others to be a part of (Get excited!)

3) Share this list with your family/friends to partner with others on this mission (motivation & accountability)

4) Write down every excuse that comes to mind as to why you will not follow through (better to face them then pretend that they won't come)

5) Refer to your #1 - remind yourself of the REASON and attack your excuses.

6) Be prayerful about who you will invite and that God will work in your time together with them

More on Neighboring from Pathak & Runyon: Art of Neighboring Origins

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Least We Can Do is... show up

I recently read an article about the Christ's church and how it is not an organization to join but a MOVEMENT to join. The author then describes 4 things you need to do to be a part of a movement (I changed the words a little so they would all start with "S" - I couldn't help it, I'm a preacher).

1) Show up 
2) Serve
3) Support (financially/emotionally/whatever)
4) Spread (if you really support it, why not share it?)

There are a lot of people who are a part of a lot of churches who simply just don't show up. Church is not a club. In a club you can pay your dues and never show up and no one really cares (depends on what the club is I suppose). In the church, the people who show up for the meetings are the ones who are blessed the most. At this point (if this were a discussion and not a blog that 6 people will read) we could talk about what it really means to show up... i.e. a physical presence vs. participation...

Hebrews 10:24-25 says
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

I found another blog with a similar idea...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Least We Can Do is Pay Taxes

How can I write this? I live in a city where property tax was just increased while the police force received cuts along with fire fighters. I don't know if these are good things that the current leadership is doing to cut down on unnecessary expenses and build a better future or a greedy government that wants more money for providing less services.

This past Sunday we sang, "He's got the whole world in His hands."

Romans 13:1 says, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."

This might be one of the hardest truths to believe.

I am sure the Israelites found it hard to believe when they were captives under Assyrian or Babylonian rule.
I bet the early Christians struggled with the idea of God having established the Roman rule that was their biggest threat. Yet the Apostle Paul writes these things to the church IN ROME.

Jesus Christ famously said, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s."
Why do we feel tempted to cheat on our taxes?
FIRST: I think it has to do with giving ME what is MINE. Interestingly - that is not in Jesus' statement. Is anything I have mine? What if I made a list of everything I have control over and then put next to each thing that it either belonged to the government or belonged to God - what would that list look like? How would it effect me to see it?
LAST: I am not willing to give to Caesar because I have not given to God first. If I gave myself completely to Him I would be more like Jesus and less attached to this world and the things of it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Least We Can Do is... Rest

Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27

God rested and made the day holy (set apart) for us. 

The big problem for us is that we don't know how to rest. Too much time is spent escaping our problems through our headphones, TV sets and computer screens. We get rest, but after it - we are not more equipped to handle our problems and they are still there.

1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

God is our rest and He invites us into His rest.

and lastly a word from Revelation 14 emphasis mine

 9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. 
13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
   “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Least We Can Do Is Desire God

21 When my heart was grieved
   and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
   I was a brute beast before you.
 23 Yet I am always with you;
   you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, 
   but God is the strength of my heart 
   and my portion forever.

The tendency we have as humans is to be selfish. This is true especially when times are tough. "Why me?," we ask. Self righteousness slips in... how come all these other people are fine? Why don't they suffer like me, struggle like me, etc.? In this respect, many or most of us can relate to Asaph in the beginning of this Psalm.

But Asaph is able to fight through the weakness of his mind and the selfishness of his flesh because deep down, at his core (his least), he knows that God is all he desires. Because this is true for him, it does not matter what happens. As long as he near to God, he would be alright.

What else do you desire? How does that compare when you place it "beside" God?

<< Psalm 73:25 >>

New International Version (©1984)
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.New Living Translation (©2007)
Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.
English Standard Version (©2001)
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
Whom do I have in Heaven with you and whom have I desired in the Earth? For you have held my right hand.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
As long as I have you, I don't need anyone else in heaven or on earth.
King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides you.
American King James Version
Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none on earth that I desire beside you.
American Standard Version
Whom have I in heaven but thee ? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.
Douay-Rheims Bible
For what have I in heaven? and besides thee what do I desire upon earth?
Darby Bible Translation
Whom have I in the heavens? and there is none upon earth I desire beside thee.
English Revised Version
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
Webster's Bible Translation
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.
World English Bible
Who do I have in heaven? There is no one on earth who I desire besides you.
Young's Literal Translation
Whom have I in the heavens? And with Thee none I have desired in earth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Least We Can Do is Fear God or...

I sat with a group of college aged students a couple of years ago and as we studied some of the wisdom books of the Bible someone made the comment, "I think that's the problem, I think we don't really fear God any more."

Interesting insight. We believe God exists. We maintain a sense of there being something bigger than ourselves out there. We say we fear (respect) Him... but our lives don't always reflect an awe or respect... let alone a fear of Him.

Others use fear as a reason to stay away from God. Fear is their excuse. Actually and consequently fear has become their god.

So many of these "least we can do" posts focus on action we can take. Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10 and 15:33 all indicate the the fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom and knowledge and understanding. How can we grow in Him and be pleasing to Him if we are not growing in these things?

Right??? Weigh in.... here are some Scriptures to consider:

Ecclesiastes 12
13 Now all has been heard; 
   here is the conclusion of the matter: 
Fear God and keep his commandments, 
   for this is the whole duty of man. 
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, 
   including every hidden thing, 
   whether it is good or evil.

Isaiah 33
5 The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; 
   he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. 
6 He will be the sure foundation for your times, 
   a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; 
   the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.

BUT...John's first letter tells us that perfect love casts out fear (4:18) and that we can approach the throne of God with confidence (5:13-15) even when our hearts condemn us.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Least We Can Do is Tip Well

I've talked to a couple of waiters over the past couple of years and have heard questions asked of them on the radio etc. about the crowds that they dread seeing coming. I love of the servers at restaurants are not big fans of their pre-teen and teenage customers. These young people often don't take things like tax and tip into account so if they can manage to pay their bill, tips are rare. The other groups that is most disliked? Christians who stop into the restaurant after church on Sunday. The servers reported that these people tend to have the most unusual demands, most complaints and are the worst tippers. How sad is that?

I love to tip. Tipping is a great way we can give without getting thanked for it. Your server will not know what you left for them, usually, until you're gone. At that point they can get frustrated and think bad thoughts about you or they can pocket your cash and think, "I hope they come in again."

Jesus says, "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." Luke 16:9

and in 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Paul writes:
 17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

If you are rich enough to go out to eat then you are rich enough to leave a nice tip for whoever waits on you. Its the least we can do...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Make Every Moment Count

How Will We Remember You?
If you’ve paid attention to the news over the last 3 months or so, you’ve heard about some of the disturbing things that had happened and then got covered up at Penn State University several years ago. Joe Paterno, Penn State’s legendary football coach got a lot of attention for his part in the scandal – which was that he allowed people in his organization to commit heinous crimes without penalty and then allowed them to remain in positions of authority where they could continue to do bad things if they chose to.
The point is this: Joe Paterno died two weeks ago.
How will he be remembered? For most of the world, he will not be remembered as the legendary coach but as a key part to one of the biggest scandals in college sports history.
How will you be remembered?
I am about to drive to Albany to take my wife and son to the airport. I found myself making a mental “honey-do” list while getting ready this morning. Then a somber thought entered my head: I might not ever make it back to Utica. What have I done this week or last? This month? This past year? How would people remember me?

We never know when our last moment will be. 
Make it count.

James 4:13-17
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Least We Can Do is ... Ask

The other day I was talking to a friend about a dream that I had that I was able to remember pretty vividly. Several quirky things happened and some that I was sure were symbolic of something... the thing that set the dream apart was the feeling I remembered. The images and events were odd, but the feeling was awesome and almost other-worldy. 

"You should ask God what it means." He said. 

I suppose I often go through life and don't think to ask God. These are trivial things, why would I bother God with them. But perhaps they aren't trivial and perhaps God really cares about them. MAYBE I DO NOT HAVE because I have not asked.

James 4:2-3  (NIV 1984) You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

As a side note. I was going to title this post, "The Least We Can Do is Pray." But then I thought about the negative(?) connotation I have with that word. I put prayer in the same space in my mind as evangelism. Through my entire Christian life these were always tasks that were daunting... even if I was trying to do them, I have this feeling that I can never do them good enough. Sometimes changing our language helps us change our outlook. Instead of thinking about evangelism- I started thinking about serving and reaching out and I got better at it. Instead of prayer... instead of saying things like, "How is your prayer life?" or "You should pray about it." or even, "I will pray for you." Maybe we should (or I should) start being more specific... "I will ask God to help you." "You should thank God for that." or maybe even, "You should beg God to help you with that." I think we might get some good results... itlwcd, right?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Least You Can Do FOR ME!

I just did a lot of Bible reading on spiritual growth. 

There are many areas in which God's Word encourages us to grow: in love, in grace, in knowledge (wisdom, understanding, learning, etc.), in charity, in favor with God and man, in our Spiritual gifts, in unity... and the list goes on. Many of these urgings are in the context of the Apostle Paul writing to a church and telling them that he has been praying for them...
for example, 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13, "Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

One example of this REALLY stuck out to me: Colossians 4:12, "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured." 

WOW! Wouldn't it be great to have someone who was always wrestling in prayer for you?

Apparently Paul and Silvanus and Timothy thought so as they close the first letter the the Thessalonians, "Brothers, pray for us!" (5:25)

Pray for me! Pray for each other!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Least You Can Do in Worship

Have You Been To a Concert?
A friend of mine recently asked me if I had ever been to a rock n roll concert.
I have.
“Why is it,” he asked, “That if a rock concert goes on for two hours people get upset that it was not long enough, but if a worship service goes for that long people complain about it being too long.”
I suppose there are several possible answers to this question. My friend was thinking along the lines of worship services being boring and that if we the church are making the worship of our God a boring time, well, that is a sin we need to repent of. People who are leading worship should at least consider this.
For everyone else:
The word that came to my mind almost immediately was “INVESTMENT.” A person that goes to a rock concert gets upset with a two hour show because they may have paid $50-$100 to attend. They expect more. They expect to be entertained and to have some kind of experience – otherwise they could just stay home and listen to the CD right?
The person who is bored at a worship service is likely a person who is not invested. They aren’t invested in the church. They aren’t invested in the worship and they aren’t invested in God.
Investment leads to passionate participation.
Try this: sing “Jesus Loves Me” two times. The first time sing with a smile on your face and decide to be excited about it. Take joy in the fact that Jesus Christ really does love you! The second time you sing it, think about something sad. Sit and look straight forward or down toward your lap. Try to be emotionless and perhaps even monotone.
Which version do you prefer?
Which will you choose so sing this Sunday?
Sometimes church is boring because it is disorganized and led poorly.
Sometimes the church is boring because you are making it boring.