Friday, December 23, 2011

A Random Act of Kindness

Last evening, Jeanne and I were in the Festival Foods parking lot unloading the stuff from our cart into the car. Jeanne started to take the cart back to the rack and a man walking by said, "Let me do that for you." He just grabbed the cart and took it to a rack; I'm not sure if he said Merry Christmas but he then disappeared into the store. Jeanne said, "Cool, that was so nice of that guy. A random act of kindness at Christmas."

I thought about that. Christmas seems to bring out random acts of kindness in many people. People give extra money to the Salvation Army. People donate coats for kids. Other donate toys for tots. At our church, people buy presents for kids of prisoners who otherwise wouldn't have a good Christmas.

I like all of these random acts of kindness. The Word of God says kindness is one of the marks of the love of Christ. So.......if I claim to have the love of Christ in me, then acts of kindness should never be random but frequent. Frequent acts of kindness. Would the people in my life say that kindness is one of the marks of 1 Corinthians 13 love that they can see in me. They should.

We live in an unkind world. Let's make it a point as a child of God to work to counteract that. Ask God to show you how you can go counter to the world system and frequently show acts of kindness to the people that God puts into your life. Family, yes certainly. Friends and co-workers, yes. Neighbors, yes. And to the stranger, absolutely. It will be one of your best witnessing moments. Up North Wisdom says that if you have that desire, God will give you an opportunity today to do that. And not just this Christmas season but every day of the year you will never lack for these opportunities. I guarantee it.

A very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. The best is yet to come!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Can We Talk?

Can we talk? The Bible calls "sin" sin because sin kills and destroys. If sin didn't kill and destroy, the Bible would have called it something else. There is a tendency in our society (churches?) to call sin something else: messing up, mistakes, moral failures.

It is sickening what happened at Penn State University to those young children. To protect a school's reputation and keep the sports money (we are talking millions and millions of dollars) rolling in, many people looked the other way to the horror that took place. This nation and our churches had better wake up. In the face of (and fear of) the "rights" crowd -- this group's rights and that group's rights -- you know what I'm talking about; our nation is tumbling headlong into a moral abyss that will destroy it.

What do we do? Pray, live right, do right, stand for right even in the face of opposition and violence - and that will happen. Up North Wisdom says when you vote, vote the Bible. Nothing will change if the church (Christians) stand for nothing and do nothing. Come on people -- Let the Church be the Church. Armor up and get moving into the war zones. And always remember from 1 Cron. 20 -- Be not afraid, the battle is not yours, but Gods. Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tony

Today is my nephew's birthday. Tony (Little Tony) Piantine is 43 (I think) today. That is so hard to believe. I want to honor him today and give thanks to God that he is a huge part of my life.

I think one of the reasons that Tony has such a special place in my heart and life is that he had such a special place in my mom's and dad's heart and lives. Dad loved all of his grandchildren in a beautiful way, but because Tony spent so much time in the summers of his growing up years with mom and dad at the up north cabin, he and dad developed a great bond. I loved to watch how they interacted in some very humerus as well in some very serious times. Mom and dad were good for Tony and he was good for them. Thank you, Tony, for loving and caring for my mom and dad as you did.

I admire and love Tony. He is a great example to me as I see his heart for people who many times are the rejected and neglected in our society. To see him as he directs the summer camps for people with disabilities is an inspiring thing. He has a way of making people feel special and for many of these people, it is the first time that have had that feeling. If you are a helper at camp, you feel that what you are doing is important and making a difference.

Tony is not a yes-man and as his uncle, senior pastor, and colleague, I appreciate that about him. He will tell me what he thinks and not what he thinks I want to hear. He gives good council but equally as important, also receives good council. I love people who don't want to stay stagnant in their lives and ministries and Tony is certainly one of those men who want to move forward and is not afraid to make changes that can often be painful. He would say as many have -- no pain, no gain.

I love you Tony, and am so glad you are in my life, my family, and my ministry. I am a better person for having you in my life. I am excited as I see God doing great things in your life and I know (and you have heard me say it often :) The Best Is Yet To Come! For you, for your family, for Camp Daniel, for Living Hope Church. Thanks for being who you are.


Monday, September 5, 2011

A Deadly Deception

Wow! It has been so long since I have posted a blog. No particular reason but I don't just want to say things to say them if they haven't really spoken to my heart as well.

On Sunday, Sept. 11 (9-11), I am going to speak on the topic "A Deadly Deception". It has to do with the deception of undealt- with offenses which has led to unforgiveness, which the Bible says is deadly. My wife Jeanne and I will then lead a study on Wed. evenings starting on Sept. 21 called "The Bait of Satan". We taught on this some years ago but I think it is even more relevant now.

So many Christians are missing out on grasping God's plan for their lives because of this area of deception. As John Bevere so clearly says, satan is not as blatant as many believe. He is subtle and delights in deception. He disguises himself as a messenger of light. One of the most deceptive and dangerous things that Christians can encounter is -- offense. And it is only deadly if we pick it up and feed on it in our hearts. . Offended people produce hurt, anger, outrage, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred and envy.

Some of the consequences of picking up an offense are insults, attacks, wounding, division, separation, broken relationships, and backsliding. Often many who are offended do not even realize they are trapped. They are in denial and they keep the focus on themselves.

Friends, Up North Wisdom says it is imperative that we recognize this most deadly of traps. Ask God to reveal to you any undealt-with offenses and any unforgiveness that you may have deep within you. Repent and ask God to forgive you as you forgive anyone who has sinned against you. Live free from offenses and watch God use you in incredible ways for the sake of His Kingdom. Then you will really know and believe: The Best Is Yet To Come!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

God's Choice or Chance

How do you determine God's will for your life. Do you go on your feelings; do you go on the circumstances you find yourself in; or do you look to God's Word for the final say on His will?

Many people make major decisions in their lives based on how they feel. And friends, feelings are probably the poorest determiner of the top three. "It can't be wrong, when it feels so right" has gotten many Christians into troublesome situations. Feelings are so dependent on present circumstances and can often lie to us about what is really true. We all have feelings and they are often legitimate barometers in our lives that should drive us to find truth where it really is.

Circumstances are also shaky determiners of God's will for our lives. They come and go and change often. They are the basis for feelings and we know that feelings can often lie to us. Based on where you find yourself right now and what has just happened or has happened in the past, you feel that God doesn't love you. You feel that He has abandoned you. You feel that life is not worth living. You feel isolated and alone. When circumstances leave you with feelings like these, be careful in what direction you choose to go. It could be disastrous.

The only true and never- failing way to really know God's will is to know His Word. It is clearer than most people would want to admit. When people say the Bible is too hard to read, they really mean that they don't like to read it or don't want to read it. The many versions of the Bible average out to about a sixth grade reading ability. Wow! What excuse do you come up with too often to not read His Word? To know His Word is to know His will. His Word will destroy lies. God has and will always love you. He will never leave you or forsake you. Your life is precious to God. His exceeding great and precious promises will always blow away the lies that the enemy of your soul tries to destroy you with.

Friends, one final word. Doing God's will is not like going to a grocery store. You know: like going down the aisles of The God's Will Store. Oh, blessings -- yes, I take some of that. Prosperity -- yup, I really want a lots of that. Grace -- oh, can't have enough of that. What's that there, sacrifice -- no, I'll pass. Suffering -- no, thanks. Generous giving -- don't need that right now.

Get the picture. Up North Wisdom says we have two choices: doing or not doing God's will. It's all or nothing. It's not ours to pick and choose. Make a commitment today. "Lord, with Your help, I am going all the way with you. I will read Your Word and I will live by Your Word. I choose everything you have for me. Thank You for forgiving me, Lord, when I fail and go my own way. I will not go back. The World behind me and the Cross before me -- no turning back, no turning back." Amen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Post It

I write a lot of notes to myself. It's the only way I will remember to do certain things --or to not do certain things. And I post those notes in the places that I have to see them. I understand one can post notes on their computers as well. I don't -- at least not yet. :)

My mother wrote notes to herself and put them in places where she would be prone to see them. We found some of them after she went to heaven. They were notes to remind her to do or not do certain things. Things like: "Don't get bitter when things don't turn out the way I want them to." "Be easy to be around." "Develop a sweet spirit as I get older." "Don't be a complainer." "Be an encourager." You get the picture?

The Psalmist prayed that his words, thoughts and spirit would be acceptable to God. Are yours? Are mine? Maybe we need to write more notes to ourselves. How do people see you? How do you see yourself? What changes do you want and need to make in the way you talk, act and think? If you ask God, believe me He will show you very clearly just what those areas are.

Up North Wisdom says "take a chance." Listen to how God speaks to you about these and other areas of your life that both you and He want to change. Write many notes to yourself and post them in obvious places where you have to look at them many times throughout the day. As one wise former pastor who is now in heaven used to say often: "It's not how you start that really matters the most, but how you finish that really counts." I want to finish well, don't you? Get those posty-notes ready, friends. The Best Is Yet To Come!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Listen and Respond

"I just wish God would speak to me about this matter." "I wish I could hear clearly from God." Have you ever said or thought those things? I think we all have. What keeps us (me) from hearing? Maybe the question is : why should God speak clearly to us if He knows we won't respond?

There are many areas where God is speaking clearly to the church and yet waits for a proper response and a proper response will take us far out of our comfort zones. We live in such a me first society. It would be hard to believe that any one would doubt that by just watching and listening to what is going on around them.

A huge change that God wants to take place in our lives when we become a believer is to change us from me first to others first. If life has to be always about me, then we have missed something and continue to miss one of the great essentials of the Christian Faith.

Ask God (if you dare) to reveal what areas of comfort that He wants to move you from and what will that look like in your life. How will you know? Easy.

Read and respond to God's Word.
Listen to the people who love and care for you.
Listen to your pastors on Sunday mornings and the times you need to be speaking to them.
Be open to being made very uncomfortable.

I know so many are not happy or content in their life's journey. Stop getting so angry and bitter about life's circumstances. Can you hear that? Repent. Do it now. Forgive others (and yourself) and then receive God's forgiveness. Up North Wisdom says understand the times. We are moving at breakneck speed towards the final hours. We don't have time to indulge ourselves in selfishness, self-pity, self-anything. God, others and me in that order may make you uncomfortable but it will bring you fulfillment that no other way can.

Open yourself up to that truth. Listen and respond (and join the uncomfortable club). Do it for the sake of God's Kingdom. You will learn to love it. And remember: The Best Is Yet To Come!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Remove Those Cataracts

Two verses from God's Word: from Isaiah 6, it says "be ever hearing but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. The people have closed their eyes so they cannot see". And from Matthew 13 where it says: "for they look, but they don't really see".

Tomorrow, I will have the second of two cataracts removed at the hospital. My vision had started to become blurry and it was not only irritating, but also limiting in my ability see they way I needed to. So even though I didn't look forward to having it done, I am really happy with results of the first cataract surgery and am looking forward to the second one being done tomorrow. I could immediately see the positive results from my right eye and I have no doubt I will have the same results from the left eye. Praise be to God!

It's amazing what can be done in that area of medicine. What was a long, arduous, and somewhat dangerous surgery with a very long hospital stay and a long recuperation at home has become an in and out in a few hours and back to work the next day. Wow! I was and am impressed and am glad that I live in our time.

I was reminded of these verses from scripture that warns us to not be "blind" spiritually when it comes to understanding what God is trying to show us in our lives -- both those things that God wants us to "see" that need to be changed and those things that satan doesn't want us to "see" that makes us effective for the work of His Kingdom.

The key, my friends, is clearly God's Word. There are tons of books written and programs shown that tell us how to become effective in 7 easy steps, so to speak. How to lose weight, how to gain friends, how to break habits, how to make money, and how to influence people, etc. Don't waste much valuable time but instead keep your main focus on the Word. God doesn't hide His will and His plans for us. As one wise writer said: "it isn't the parts of the Bible that I don't understand that trip me up, but it's those parts that I understand all too well and won't apply (see).

Jesus said to His followers, "blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear.: Up North Wisdom says if you need enlightenment for your life, then "hear" the truth from the Psalmist when he said concerning God's Word: "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Get rid of those spiritual cataracts and see clearly in this day that we live. God's Word, now more than ever. See and hear: The Best Is Yet To Come!

Monday, February 21, 2011


The Word of God says, "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." Notice that it doesn't say, Blessed are the peace keepers. The United Nations is often called upon to be peace keepers around the world and it never seems to work. There was a reason why the gun named to help tame the wild west was call a "peace maker" -- if you catch the meaning. :)

I have watched with interest the events unfolding the last several days in Madison and cities around the state. There are thousands of people protesting the Governor's proposed "budget repair" bill. I was a teacher for 10 years and three of those years I was the chief negotiator for the teacher's union. Now I am just a tax payer who wants his taxes to be used wisely. So whose side do I take in this issue?

Neither one. What would the person be called who could come up with a peaceable solution that both sides would accept even though not entirely happy with that solution? Amazing? Incredible? A genius? etc? I am not sure but there is one thing I am sure of. Christians are to be peacemakers. A word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, a word of Peace. Are you a person who brings peace into troubled situations. Are you a person who helps calm stormy seas, so to speak, or are you one of those who stir things up and adds "fuel to the fire" in situations of conflict.

Pastor Jim used to quote often, "A soft answer turns away anger". Wow, friends that is so true. The Bible says we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. How about praying for peace in our government. How about praying for Godly wisdom to prevail. How about praying for God to use you to bring a word of reason in unreasonable situations. How about praying to be an instrument of peace. How about just praying, then praying, then praying.

Up North Wisdom says we need to believe that God knows what is going on around this state, as well as around the world, as well in my heart, mind and life. Let's release His power to do what no other power can do. A calm voice, a calm and gentle spirit; Don't be anxious about anything, but ...... Oh yea! I remember that. And: Blessed are the Peace makers. Amen!