Tag Archives: Sandra Bullock

The Secret To Changing Lives (Including Yours)

In the movie The Blind Side, a wealthy family chooses to adopt a homeless African-American teenager who has been traumatized by a terrible home life. In one scene, the family matriarch, Leigh Ann Touhy (played by Sandra Bullock), is enjoying lunch with her friends at a restaurant.

After receiving some criticism for adopting an African-American who will be graduating from high school soon, Leigh Ann explains…

“Look, here’s the deal: I don’t need you all to approve my choices, all right? But I do ask that you respect them. You have no idea what this boy’s been through, and if this is gonna become some running diatribe, I can find an over-priced salad a lot closer to home.”

“Leigh Ann, I’m so sorry,” a friend answers. “We didn’t intend to—”

“No!” another friend interjects. “We didn’t! Really!

“I think what you’re doing is great,” her third friend explains. “To open up your home to him. Honey, you’re changing that boy’s life.”

“No,” Leigh Ann replies. “He’s changing mine.”

Do you want to make a difference? Do you want your life to be changed?

Then join us in our daily Bible conversation to discover how.


Daniel 11:2-35
1 John 3:7-24
Psalm 122:1-9
Proverbs 29:1


Daniel 11:2-35. The details of this prophecy seem unmistakably exact, and interestingly enough, most scholars can attest to its fulfillment. After Alexander the Great’s empire was divided into four parts (in 304 BC), Ptolemy I became the ruler of Egypt (the king of the south) and Seleucus I became ruler of Syria (the king of the north). This passage is a great example of the fulfillment of prophecy in Scripture.

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The young church Eugene and I pastor is enjoying an exciting season of God’s favor in the school where we meet for corporate worship. Over the past year, the school has begun asking us to help them care for families in need, and now we’re partnering together in order to mentor their at-risk youth. People shake their heads in disbelief when I describe our ongoing partnership with the public school, and all I can say is, “It must be the work of God.”

But one event seemed to blow open the floodgates in our relationship. Last August as classes resumed following summer break, we decided to give back-to-school survival kits to every person on the 150 member school staff. That’s a pretty tall order when you consider that we don’t even have 150 people in our church! So, we invited the school community (families of students in the school) to help us. The school gave us permission to set up a table at registration where we invited students and parents to sign a thank you card for the staff. While signing the card, we asked for donations toward the survival kits. By the end of the week, we had four poster boards filled with encouraging comments to the staff, and we had raised US$1,000 from the parents to go along with the US$1,500 we had raised within our congregation.

The following Monday, the school principal welcomed me to the staff meeting where I presented the poster boards to the 150 staff members. There, I also thanked them for their selfless service to our children. The next Monday, we presented the back-to-school survival kits to them, replete with ibuprofen (of course!), an orange, green tea, a gift card to Starbucks, other miscellaneous items, and coupons for free stuff that were donated by local merchants. The feedback was overwhelming.

This whole experience has taught me an important lesson: generosity opens people’s hearts. The apostle John reinforces this throughout his first epistle, especially in today’s reading. He writes in 1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Saying “Jesus loves you” is one thing, but showing it blows the doors off the hinges.

Why is generosity so powerful? Because when we give, we emanate the aroma of Christ. People see Jesus. John also wrote: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16).

Think about it: God so loved the world that he…what? He gave. And we’re never more like God than when we give, not only of our finances but of ourselves.

After witnessing the miracle of our relationship with our local high school, I just want to keep on giving. Like the example from The Blind Side, our generosity is changing lives, beginning with us.

Loving and giving are expressions of grace. It’s giving without expectation of receiving anything in return. It’s laying our lives down without the possibility of anyone returning the favor.

And isn’t that what Jesus did for us?


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Think of a time when someone gave generously to you. How does generosity (through giving or receiving) affect your heart?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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Tiger, Jesse…and Me

Who would you consider to be the most reviled celebrities in the world today?

Two names immediately come to mind: Tiger Woods and Jesse James.

This week, Tiger Woods is playing in his first golf tournament since being exposed for engaging in multiple adulterous affairs. Understandably, he must be nervous about the likelihood of hecklers harassing him from tournament to tournament. In the same way, he must be nervous about questions from the media—which was  apparent in his news conference, which the video above shows. For the rest of his life, he will face the consequences of his transgressions.

The same applies to Jesse James. For the rest of his life, the media and much of the public will view him through the lens of an adulterer and sex addict.

Are these men deserving of being reviled?

To learn the answer, please join me in today’s daily Bible conversation.


Deuteronomy 32:28-52
Luke 12:35-59
Psalm 78:56-64
Proverbs 12:24


Deuteronomy 32:28-52. The first part of our reading is the conclusion to the song Moses sang to Israel. It’s kind of an odd farewell because it focuses on Israel’s rebellious nature and how they will eventually fall away from God. After 40 years, Israel’s basic default settings remained the same. Nevertheless, God still chose to bring his people into the Promised Land. And isn’t that true of all of us? God knows our dark sides (better than we do), and yet he still blesses us with life, friendships, and good things.

Then, Moses urges the people to hear and obey the law, because they aren’t idle words, they are life (verse 47).

Luke 12:35-59. In his first parable, Jesus turns around the normal master/servant relationship by saying that at the end of the age, the master will serve the servant. The rest of this section, however, seems pretty harsh.

In the heat of his tirade, Jesus tells his disciples, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division” (verse 51). While God is love and Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we are still called to choose who we will serve. Our allegiance to Jesus must surpass our commitment to our family. When Luke compiled his gospel, persecution was already beginning to escalate—which is why he chose to include Jesus’ words in this passage. People were afraid of what their families would think if they decided to follow Jesus.

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Today’s readings struck me differently than most days because they tended to be negative. The message in Deuteronomy, Luke and Psalm 78 struck a universal theme: people have messed up, are messing up, and will mess up again.

Throwing Tiger and Jesse to the media lions has been a little disconcerting. While I would never affirm their transgressions, it seems to me that many of his critics suffer from short- and long-term memory loss.

Last weekend I heard about a pastor who recently told his congregation, “If you knew what I was really like inside, you wouldn’t want me to be your pastor.”

Like Israel (from our reading), Tiger, Jesse, and that pastor, we all have a default setting that’s fixed on sin. Reviling other sinners for their sin is the epitome of hypocrisy. If we had no sin, we wouldn’t need Jesus. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” 1 John 1:8 tells us.

Tiger has taken a bigger step than many of us. He owned his sin.

So let me own mine: Count me in with Tiger and the others. In the words the Apostle Paul: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Do you agree?

Then stand in line beside Tiger, Jesse…and me.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Why do certain people like to heckle fallen celebrities?
  3. What is your initial reaction when you hear about Tiger Woods or Jesse James? Why do you think you respond the way that you do?
  4. Why did God choose to bless the Israelites when he knew they would sin? What does this tell you about God?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.


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And The Oscar For Best Performance Goes To…

Last night, millions of people around the globe watched as the Academy Awards were presented for outstanding work in the movie industry.

As the celebrities stepped out of their limousines and cameras flashed in the background like twinkling stars in the sky, I couldn’t help thinking about the adoring crowds. We live vicariously through the glamorous personalities we watch on the movie screen.

While acting ability impresses me like any other person, I need to remind myself that the person I see in the movies is just acting. I may think Sandra Bullock is a down-to-earth person, but I really don’t know.

In our culture, performance means everything. It can win a person an Oscar for Best Performance.

But to God, performance means little.

Please join me as we explore this further.


Numbers 10:1-11:23
Mark 14:1-21
Psalm 51:1-19
Proverbs 10:31-32


Numbers 10:1-10. In battle, the trumpeter blew a series of long and short blasts to communicate messages to the troops. If the trumpeter was killed, the troops were unable to hear instructions from their leader.

Numbers 11. At this point, as the people began complaining, Israel had lived in the wilderness for one year.

In verse 4, the “rabble” complain about not having meat. Nuances in the word “rabble” indicate the complainers were  Gentiles who had joined the Israel (most likely Egyptians). Like a cancer, their complaints soon spread throughout Israel. And actually, they had herds of cattle and sheep in the wilderness—but even in Egypt, they ate meat like this only on occasion. Because they lived by the Nile River, fish was a staple in their diet.

As I read about the complaints, I must ask myself, If I had spent a year in the desert eating only manna, would I complain too? I probably would.

Verses 10-15 are interesting. Previously, Moses had interceded to God on behalf of Israel. This time, God was interceding to Moses on behalf of Israel. But you can tell Moses was pretty worked up.

Here’s an interesting aside: complaining or grumbling are not mentioned very common in Scripture. But we do find it in the book of John for a specific situation. In John 6, Jesus described himself as the bread of life, which came down from heaven and was far superior to manna. So how did his listeners respond? They grumbled. Obviously, John was referring to this account in Numbers.

Mark 14:1-9. The disciples probably stayed in Bethany rather than Jerusalem partly out of concern for their safety and partly because Jerusalem was overcrowded during Passover.

In Jewish tradition, every king was anointed before his coronation. Jesus, however, chose to be anointed by a woman in the home of a leper (presumably one he healed). But his coronation ceremony would take place on a cross and the anointing was also preparation for his burial.

The Bible Background Commentary provides some additional insights into the woman who gave sacrificially to Jesus:

Whatever her economic status, this perfume (an oil from a root probably imported from India or South Arabia) was worth a year of a common laborer’s wages; her family had probably kept it as a status symbol. Its fragrance was preserved by sealing it in alabaster (the favored container for perfume), and once the flask was broken its contents had to be used immediately. Her anointing of Jesus represents a major sacrifice and indicates the depth of her love, but given the great numbers of landless or tenant-farming peasants, some people present think the worth of the perfume could have been put to better use.

Mark 14:12-21. Women normally carried jars of water, so seeing a man carry a jar of water would be quite noticeable (verse 13).

Psalm 51. I used to know a man who made his sons read this psalm whenever they got in trouble.

You can read the context of this psalm in 2 Samuel 11-12, which tells the story of the time when David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had Bathsheba’s husband killed to cover his tracks.

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What speaks to me most deeply in Psalm 51 is the way David owns his sin. He acknowledges his tendency toward sin (“Surely I was sinful at birth” verse 5) but he doesn’t use it as an excuse for his actions. He also owns the damage his sin inflicted on his relationship with God. In verse 4, he writes, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.”

The heart of his prayer forms a beautiful song that all of us can join him and sing:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence

or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Finally he concludes by honing in on what God is looking for: a “broken and contrite heart” (verse 17).

This is one more example we find in Scripture in the importance of humility.

Yesterday in Psalm 50 we read that God is looking for gratefulness, follow-through in our commitment to him, and he wants us to cry out to him when we’re in trouble. Today we read God wants a broken and contrite heart.

These things have little to do with performance. Essentially, we can’t offer anything to God. God is much more impressed by who we are than what we do.

And that requires real work.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. In what areas of your life do you find it easy to complain? How does God respond to your complaints?
  3. Do you find it easy to apologize? Why or why not? Do you find it easier to apologize to the person you hurt or to God? Why?
  4. Why do you think God is more impressed by who we are than what we do? Which one impresses you more about other people?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.


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