On The Air

Many of you probably don’t know this but I was a cohost of a weekly talk show for three years on Omaha’s #1 talk station KKAR in the 1990’s called “Straight Talk”.

It was a call-in show hosted by Ty Schenzel and his beautiful and über-talented wife Terri (ok Ty , if you are out there you are über-talented as well of course!) and me – and we literally had the time of our lives!

We must have had fifty young people and adults on our creative teams (Straight Talk Brain Trust and Straight Talk Spinal Cord) and they came up with the most amazing ideas for our shows.

One of my roles beyond cohosting was often opening the show – we would have the count down from our amazing KKAR producer CJ, and then the “live on the air” light would come on and I welcomed everyone to the show.

It was always nerve racking because the countdown would begin and we were tweaking and strategizing right up to the time limit.

I think the most memorable thing about the show was touching such a wide audience – and just getting an idea of how many hurting people there are in our world. Being on a show like that can go to one’s head if not careful. But I’m thankful that instead, it made me more convicted that I want to be in the transformation business for the rest of my life regardless of my vocation. I want my life to make a difference in the lives of others.

I hope you can take a look around you today and see the needy people everywhere, and instead of thinking “how can these people serve me?” Think rather, “how can I help be a transformational agent in my world and help others become successful socially, physically, spiritually and economically?”

Are you ready to go out there today and make a difference in someone’s life? Even a kind smile has been known to re-route the courses of some of the most desperate and hopeless.

Get ready! Pretty soon you will walk out the door and have many opportunities!

“Three… Two… One, and …

We are Live, ladies and gentlemen!”

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The Two Paths

You know how you are walking or biking down a new trail that you have never been on before and you come to that literal “fork in the road”?

If you are an adventurer like me, this is an exciting moment! “Two choices instead of one! My little adventure just got twice as exciting!”

I remember last year my wife and I were driving around some back roads of a national park, and we kinda got lost.

It was exciting however because we were in the mood to get “lost” even though we had a map and we knew we could find our way back if we needed.

It was fun.

Either path was about the same and generally took you back to the main public roads at a similar point.

Life also has paths. People today say, “There are many paths and they’re all good, they all generally get you to the same location – so what’s the big deal?”

Jesus said there were ultimately only two paths – two ways. With two gates. And he said they couldn’t be more different. (Matthew 7:13-14)

One way is wide and many take that path and it leads to destruction. Then Jesus said the other path is narrow, few take it, and it leads to life.

This Sunday I will be speaking in church at Rochester Assembly about these two paths and how in high school and just after graduation, I underestimated the seducing power of the path of destruction. I also realized some of my friends were going down with me.

I had been spared certain death twice. Also I was literally rescued out of a river as I floated face down in the water after passing out from over-intoxication – and I was selected to drive us home!

Nice!

Home was an hour drive. I got home finally after dropping off my drunk friends and laid in my bed, and squeezed on to the sides for fear I would fly off because my room was spinning about 100 mph! I have yet to find a ride at Disney that can equal the speed of that spinning bed!

I knew I was in trouble. I was depressed and unfulfilled and addicted.

Ultimately God spared me miraculously and in a moment my life was transformed as God met me in the middle of my hopelessness.

Soon after, I found a small group of people who had chosen the narrow path to life as well. For the next several years we were to walk that journey together and see amazing and wonderful things beyond my wildest imaginations.

But I never forget the power and addictive connection that the path of destruction had on my life.

I do not judge those who are caught in that path. It is wide, most people are on it, and it takes a miracle to be set free from it’s grasp!

Until next time!
Jeff

Earning Not to be Heard

Someone mentioned this common Christian cliche’ the other day to a friend as I overheard them discuss how to talk to people who have chosen to live a sinful lifestyle – “Well you know, we got to earn the right to be heard. We can’t just go up to people and bombard them with our opinions about the sins of other people.”

It may be a cliche’ but I like it nonetheless.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine to get into details of what was meant by the comment “sinful lifestyle” because that could include the pastor down the street that lives an honest life in certain areas of his personal life yet extorts money from his flock.

A person struggling with sin in any area is technically living a “sinful lifestyle”. I’m so glad no one from church came up to me in high school and confronted me in a judgmental manner about my sinful lifestyle.

The thing is, I certainly was living a sinful lifestyle. I was convicted every Sunday about my alcoholic partying and wild adventures that involved trouble with the law. But in order to tell me about my sinful lifestyle, you need to earn that access. That’s a social rule – people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Another cliche’ that I like.

So next time you see that sinner on the street or in the office or on the bus, take those stones you hold in your hand and drop them on the ground. When you have that sinner’s attention, ask them how their day is going, and really listen to their answer. then, if you must speak about sin, tell them about the worst sinner you ever met – you!

I’m joking – a little bit. Sort of.

When people see we have let go of the angry stones and picked up a wooden cross, they will be drawn to the love of Jesus and finally, want to hear what we have to say- which should mostly be about God’s amazing love and grace who saved a wretch like you and me!

Until next time!

Jeff

Forgive and Forget?

You grow up hearing this in elementary school, right?

“Oh, just forgive and forget.” Okay, I’ll get right on that. My problem is, I have a fairly detailed memory and very good recall and retention level. And my mother and my wife have an even greater memory than I do!

Maybe you are like me – you forgive and then remember forever.

One could say that if we have vivid memory of past offenses, it means we really haven’t truly forgiven. I think that is the case with many people today – they kind of “forget” the offense for the time being, but have not truly forgiven the trespasser from the heart. And when the occasion suits itself to think about that offense, we relive it and pick the offense back up, perhaps with more bitterness and anger than ever before.

So we first need to really GET THERE in terms of forgiving others from the heart. We literally let go of the offense, and choose to let God deal with the heavenly justice of the issue.

There are actually many people who are so afraid to be offended that they convince themselves that the offense never happened; yep – a little defense mechanism called DENIAL.

You need to admit the truth of the situation and accept the reality of it no matter how painful. Once you get there emotionally, you should struggle with some initial feelings of bitterness or anger. Immediately following this, you are ready to begin forgiving.

And when you forgive, of course the truth is you need to let the offender OFF THE HOOK. You need to release the offender. You need to give it to the Lord and let go of it. Just let go. That’s hard for us sometimes, right?

But will this mean we actually forget the offense ever happened? Don’t count on it.

Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7. That’s a lot of forgiving the same person for the same offense. But it makes sense with those of us who have vivid memories. Whenever you remember the offense, forgive. If it means forgiving every day, or every week, or every month the same person of the same issue, so be it.

That’s hard. It would be much easier if we could actually forget painful memories altogether.

Next time you think you have forgiven your neighbor and you recall their offense, forgive them again from your heart.

Who knows, you may eventually forget it ever happened.

Until next time,

Jeff