If We Stay Together, We Survive!

Gladiator has to be one of the best all-time ‘guy’ movies.  I love it, not only for the awesome fight scenes, but it’s also full of little nuggets of truth; and all truth is God’s truth.  When Russel Crowe enters the coliseum with all the other gladiators, in his knowledge and experience of battle, he takes charge andmovies_gladiator_movie_russel_crowe_desktop_3913x2568_hd-wallpaper-844294 says to the rest of them: “We have a better chance of survival if we work together.  Do you understand?  If we stay together, we survive.”  When the enemy comes out looking to destroy them, a few decide to go off on their own and are immediately cut down.  They obviously didn’t understand.  But those who stick together win the battle and emerge victorious.

The same is true in life. That’s one of the reasons God created the church.  Commitment to a local church is one of the greatest things you could ever do for your spiritual life.  And when I say ‘commitment’ I don’t mean just Sunday morning attendance.  But you have to get into a circle, a small group of some sort.  I’ve known too many people who have sat in a pew their entire lives but are no closer to God than the day they walked in.  Rows are good, circles are better! Continue reading

Spoiler Alert: I’m Not Perfect

I’m not perfect. I wasn’t feeding the homeless. I wasn’t leading a Bible study. I wasn’t tithing 30% of my income to the church. I wasn’t even goi5c666d6a93a090ad75da641815c183e0ng to church. I wasn’t doing any of those things when God showed up. Instead I had been passed out in a bathroom stall. I had been chasing after money and all the world had to offer. I was living my life for ME when I heard HIS voice, and it was right there all along.  It’s right there for all of us if we’d just listen. I know you’ve heard it too. But this time, instead of ignoring it, I decided to act on what I heard.  And I’m glad I did!

The Bible says Jesus is a ‘friend of sinners’ (Luke 7:34) and boy am I glad for that! There are times in our lives when we need a friend but no one’s knocking on our door; no one wants to listen. Yet God has always been there waiting, not with judgmental eyes but with outstretched arms. He loves YOU. You matter to Him.  I have never yet heard anyone ever say, “I followed Jesus my entire life; what a waste of time!”  So if you’re ready, He’s knocking on your door waiting for you to open it. Will you open it?

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8

Like The Tin Man

“Now I know I’ve got a heart, ’cause it’s breaking.” The Tin Man, “Wizard of Oz”

God has made each one of us unique in our own way. Yet, created in the image of God, we share many similarities. One being we all have a heart, a heart that’s capable of being broken. AndTin Man many of our hearts have been broken. They’ve been broken by divorce, betrayal, the loss of a child or a loved one, and countless other things. When our hearts are broken we feel lonely and empty inside, like there’s nobody else in this world who could possibly understand how we feel. But there is One, and our broken hearts can be mended! That’s why Jesus went to the cross. His heart has felt every conceivable ounce of pain that ours has and more. When our heart aches, so does his. He knows your pain and he’s there with you in it and he’ll see you through it! You can try to medicate and mask your broken heart in countless ways, but only Jesus can mend it.  Don’t run from God, but run to Him!  And when you do, our Heavenly Father will then use your mended heart to help heal others too.  But only if you run to Him.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~Matthew 11:29

Life Away From The Treestand

john_hafner_06777I love to hunt! When I was in my twenties I spent countless hours hunting. If I wasn’t hunting I was doing something related to hunting. I worked construction, so I would pray for rain days so work would be canceled and I could either spend time walking in the woods scouting new spots or drive to Cabela’s to buy new gear. Whether it was deer, turkey, elk, ducks, or whatever, I loved hunting it. I loved the challenge, the planning, the time alone in the stand, and that rush the moment the arrow left the quiver. Needless to say I was obsessed with hunting. Continue reading

The One Who Had Come

Nativity Wallpaper‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through my town, the hustle and bustle could be seen all around. While they shopped ‘til they dropped, with Black Friday flyers in hand, they bought and they bought, as is the law of the land. While the lights were being hung, the holiday cards were going out, and my heart suddenly wondered, “Do they know what Christmas is about?” In the midst of baking, sledding and fun, had they missed the point, of the One who had come? Continue reading

Why Quitting Is Not An Option

Have you ever wanted to quit anything?  I have, many times.  God (and my wife) knows I’ve wanted to, but over my seventeen years of following ChQuitting-is-not-an-optionrist the “q” word gets harder and harder to say.  And here’s why: somebody else will always quit.  There will ALWAYS be people who quit at their job, their marriage, their family, their God.  But if everyone quits then where does that leave us?  Continue reading

A Christmas Verse For Summer

I love Charlie Brownlinus and the Peanuts gang. My sister even called me Charlie Brown as a kid. Not so much because I loved the show, but because I had a BIG head. So much for sisters (and luckily I grew into it). But as a kid I’d mark down when the Peanuts’ specials were going to be on TV. Probably my most all-time favorite has to be the Christmas special when Charlie Brown is trying to figure out the meaning of Christmas. After all of his frustration his good friend Linus steps on stage and recites Isaiah 9:6, Continue reading

Like Frederika Locker’s Prime Rib

Matthew 23:27, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

If you’ve ever had prime rib from the Frederika Locker you know it’s some stinkin’ good meat! To my vegetarian friends it’s like the Engine 2 Diet’s black beans & brown rice extravaganza (another oprime_rib_jpg_1280x800_q85ne of my favorites). For those of you who can’t make the connection between the two, and have never had the opportunity to taste their prime rib, let’s just say it’s AWESOME! So a couple weeks ago Deedie and I were able to get away from the reality of having four kids and went out to eat together, alone. I ordered prime rib. When it came it looked good, it smelled good, it was cooked perfectly, but Continue reading

Where Hope Is Found

Renowned poet, Emily Dickinson, once penned: Where Hope Is Found

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”

I believe hope is something that every person wants to have.  Hope for a better day.  Hope for a better job, a better life.  Hope that our children turn out to be good people.  But what is the difference between a Christian definition of hope and the way the world uses it?

The word “hope” in everyday English vocabulary is usually different from the idea of certainty. Typically when people use the word hope they mean, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I hope it happens.”

Then again, when you read the word “hope” in the Bible (like in 1 Peter 1:13—”set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”), hope is not wishful thinking. Continue reading

Top 3 Lies Christians Believe

The apostle Paul warned his young protégé pastor Timothy

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”  ~2 Timothy 4:3-4

Our world is full of lies.  From our governmental officials, to commercials, to our three-year-old kid trying to hide that broken vase, lies are all around us.  The world is a master at presenting its counterfeit products as the genuine article.  And because Christians are followers of the Truth, you would think we would be more in-tune with sniffing them out.

But many Christians believe many lies.  We sometimes don’t even realize that they are lies because we’ve never actually looked them up in God’s word for ourselves.  It’s just “the way it’s always been.” 

There are hundreds of lies Christians believe, but there are three I have personally seen infiltrate the church, the lives of my friends and family, and even at times my own life. Continue reading