Thursday, March 27, 2008


We live in a world that focuses on the negatives in people instead of celebrating the positive. Many of you have such a negative self image that comes from the lies you have been told through your life. Maybe it was family, perhaps it was kids in school, maybe it is just a nagging voice in your our head that told you you were worthless.

It isn't true. You are valuable because God values you.

Real self esteem comes from knowing what God thinks about you. He came to make you different. He has made a way for you to be forgiven and then invites you to accept that forgiveness. And then he calls you to walk with him throughout your life.

God valued you so much he died to set you free, and that freedom includes escape from a negative self image. That comes from knowing who you are in the eyes of God.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

50 Facts About Albert Pujols

  1. Albert Pujols can light ants on fire with a magnifying glass.... at night.
  2. Albert Pujols can slam a revolving door.
  3. "The World's Strongest Man Competition" has been renamed "The Albert Pujols Workout Hour."
  4. During the running of the bulls, the people run away from the bulls. A little known fact is that the bulls are running from Albert Pujols.
  5. The Great Wall of China was originally created to keep Albert Pujols out. It failed miserably.
  6. When Albert Pujols sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Albert Pujols has not had to pay taxes, ever.
  7. Albert Pujols can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.
  8. There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Albert Pujols allows to live.
  9. Albert Pujols can make 30 minute brownies in 17 minutes.
  10. Time waits for no man. Unless that man is Albert Pujols.
  11. There is a saying that claims, "You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip." That is true, you can't. Unless of course you’re Albert Pujols.
  12. Albert Pujols can teach old dogs new tricks.
  13. When you go to see a game Albert Pujols is playing in, you have to buy 2 sets of tickets; one for the baseball game and another for the gun show.
  14. There is no other intelligent life in the universe because intelligent life knows that would be far too close to Albert Pujols.
  15. Albert Pujols will never test positive for steroids. Steroids test positive for Albert Pujols.
  16. The show Survivor had the original premise of putting people on an island with Albert Pujols. There were no survivors, and nobody is brave enough to go to the island to retrieve the footage.
  17. It takes Albert Pujols 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes.
  18. Albert Pujols counted to infinity....twice.
  19. When Albert Pujols pushes the snooze button on his alarm clock, the sun actually stays down for another ten minutes.
  20. If at first you don't succeed, you're not Albert Pujols.
  21. Google won't search for Albert Pujols because it knows you don't find Albert Pujols, he finds you.
  22. Albert Pujols can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.
  23. Albert Pujols destroyed the periodic table, because Albert Pujols only recognizes the element of surprise.
  24. It is believed dinosaurs are extinct due to a giant meteor. That's true if you want to call Albert Pujols a giant meteor.
  25. When Bruce Banner gets mad, he turns into the Hulk. When the Hulk gets mad, he turns into Albert Pujols.
  26. The original title for Alien vs. Predator was Alien and Predator vs. Albert Pujols. The film was cancelled shortly after going into preproduction. No one would pay nine dollars to see a movie fourteen seconds long.
  27. The average pitcher can throw a baseball about 90 mph…Albert Pujols can throw the average pitcher 90 mph.
  28. Albert Pujols was originally cast in the hit show 24, but had to be let go because he averaged saving the world in a mere 12 minutes and 47 seconds.
  29. If you spell Albert Pujols wrong on Google it doesn't say "Did you mean Albert Pujols?" It simply replies "Run while you still have the chance."
  30. Albert Pujols doesn’t play hide and seek; he plays HIDE AND PRAY HE DOESN”T FIND YOU!!!!
  31. They say curiosity killed the cat. This is false. Albert Pujols killed the cat. Every single one of them.
  32. Albert Pujols was bitten by a rattlesnake once. After five days of intense pain and suffering…the snake died.
  33. Albert Pujols doesn’t breathe, he holds air hostage.
  34. Pujols once hit a home run on a hit by pitch.
  35. Pujols is his own batting practice pitcher.
  36. Pujols can play all three outfield positions. At the same time.
  37. He did all the special effects in Transformers.
  38. Pujols once hit a ground rule double on a ground ball hit to the shortstop.
  39. When Albert Pujols does push-ups, he’s not pushing himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.
  40. Pujols does 500 push ups in between each inning. Then he works out a little bit.
  41. It’s been shown that Albert Pujols doesn’t ever actually hit a baseball. The ball flies away in fear before his bat makes contact.
  42. Albert Pujols can rip the NYC phone book in half. With one hand.
  43. Someone once told Albert Pujols that if he shaved his legs, he’d be able to run faster. St. Louis is still experiencing a shortage of razors, and Albert Pujols still has hair on his legs.
  44. Albert Pujols is currently under the impression that "Major League Baseball" is actually a slow-pitch softball league for his church.
  45. Some kids wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears #5 Albert Pujols pajamas.
  46. The Sherman tank was originally called the Pujols tank until Albert Pujols decided it wasn't tough enough to be associated with him. The Army, for fear of Albert Pujols, renamed the tank and promised to develop a weapon more fitting of his name. To date, no weapon created has been awesome enough to be named after Albert Pujols.
  47. The original plans for the atomic bomb were inspired by watching Albert Pujols taking batting practice.
  48. It is widely believed that Albert Pujols' tears cure cancer. This cannot be confirmed because Pujols has never cried.
  49. Albert Pujols is the reason Waldo is hiding.
  50. Faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Leaping tall buildings with a single bound? That is a description of Albert's warmup routine.

Things You Need to Know About Me

With baseball season approaching, like the previous post indicates, there are some things about me that all of need to know in order to fully understand the depth of my insanity.

First things first, a few introductions are in order.

This is Albert Pujols. He is an excellent baseball player, one of the very best playing right now. If he stays healthy and continues to produce at the level he has been the past 7 seasons, he may go down in history as one of the top 5 right handed hitters of all time. I love Albert Pujols, in a completely non-creepy way. My wife once asked me if I loved her more than Albert. I told her it wasn't a fair comparison, since I hadn't known her for nearly as long as I have known Albert. Don't judge me.

Moving on...

This is Colby Rasmus. I don't know Colby very well, but he represents a transition in my baseball fandom. You see, Colby is very young, even younger than me, and I am going to be paying to watch him play baseball during his career. Every fan makes this transition, when they stop looking up to athletes and instead become "mature" fans...whatever that means. Colby Rasmus is going to be a very good baseball player, and I am looking forward to watching him play this season.

You will hear me referring to these guys throughout the year, usually at random. Don't say I haven't warned you.

How are you doing?

Good? Me too. Do you know why?

Because baseball has officially started its season, and next week contains the first full schedule of games. I am pumped.

One question: Does a person have a problem if they wake up at 6 am to watch a baseball game being televised in Japan even though he doesn't have any rooting interest for either team?

I'm asking for a friend.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Who Am I?

It is the cry of the human heart. I think at some point all of us are desperate to find out who we are. It is the search for identity. It is a search for what has been stolen from us.

We have been told lies about who we are and who we belong to. What have you been told in your life that made you doubt the goodness of God?

Moses heard what God had planned for him and he was filled with thoughts of inadequacy. It completely overwhelmed and paralyzed him. Maybe God is calling you and you feel so unworthy to measure up to the call you have in your heart.

The bad news: You are unworthy. We ALL are. The great news? God wants to use us anyway.

That is the an incredible truth and it tells you the most about who you really are. You are the chosen agent designed to reflect God's beautiful love and character.

Easter Recap

I hope all of you had a good time on Sunday! I hope you were touched by the singing and by Janet Berner's testimony.

Good news! We had 428 people here and it is due to the many visitors you guys invited and shared with. The ad in the paper that we funded together was also a huge success. Way to go everyone, now let's keep it up!

More stuff coming in the afternoon.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!

Not even death could contain the One who is the source of life. We have hope because Jesus walked out of his tomb.

Rejoice because Jesus won the battle we couldn't even fight. No one has ever found his body, and the followers who saw him alive swore to the truth of that statement until their executions.

He fought the battle, he paid the debt, he won the victory, and he did it for you. Don't ever forget about the resurrection, the most important event of human history.

He is risen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Noon, Good Friday

Jesus was crucified at 9 AM. He has been on the cross for three hours. Religious leaders have mocked and taunted him, the crowds have jeered at him, and even the thieves on the crosses beside him have hurled insults in his direction. His face is a mask of blood, sweat, spit, and pain. Every breath is a struggle, every movement is agony. White hot jolts of pain sear through his entire body, and no position relieves the pain.

The greatest pain is still to come.

The sky begins to darken, and soon a bright day is turned into dusk. Creation is in agony, the Creator is being killed. The darkness creeps over the land as the Father turns from the Son and begins to pour out his wrath on the Chosen One.

For the first time, Jesus experiences separation from the Father. It is more than he can bear. Jesus has been silent most of this morning, only speaking forgiveness onto those nailing him to this cross, but the Father turning away sparks a cry from Jesus' broken heart.

"My God, my God.....why have you forsaken me?" The cry rips through creation and stabs right into the heart of the Father. The cup has been given to the Son, and he has shouldered the burden of sin, guilt and shame. The spotless lamb has been blemished.

I watch this with amazement. The God of all things is on a cross, yet I know nails do not keep gods fastened to trees.

As I look at his eyes, I wonder, "Jesus, what is keeping you there? Why do you stay?"


God on Trial

Jesus has decided to go through with his mission. He has chosen to take on the cup of suffering. Soon after, a large group of armed men came through the garden. Judas was with them, and he greeted Jesus with a kiss on the cheek. This kiss signaled to the soldiers that Jesus was the one they were after.

Judas betrayed his Creator with a kiss. After that, the entire story erupts into chaos. Peter attacks one of the soldiers, slicing off his ear with a sword. Jesus scolds him and heals the ear. The men lead Jesus away, and the disciples run away. Jesus is alone to meet his fate.

Over the night, Jesus will endure multiple trials. These were highly illegal under Jewish law for many reasons, including the fact they were held at night. It was of no concern to the Jewish authority who wanted Jesus dead. Witnesses were brought in to condemn the only faultless person on the planet. They were fools, contradicting themselves and embarrassing the leaders who put them there. Jesus was off the hook! He was silent against his idiotic accusers, and had completely avoided any implication of wrongdoing.

Completely at a loss for what to do, the High Priest confronts Jesus directly. "Are you the Christ?" he said, "The Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus had been silent to this point, but he affirms the identity credited to him. Jesus said, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Jesus had just told the truth, and confirmed his identity, and the High Priest condemned him for blasphemy. By speaking, Jesus had sealed his fate, and a death sentence from the Jewish leaders was assured.

However, the Jewish leaders were not allowed to put someone to death without consulting the Roman authority, the real political rulers of the area. Jesus had another court date, but this one would have to wait for dawn.

Jesus was thrown into a cell to await his next appointment. On Friday morning, the Roman government would make its judgment on God.

Jesus had been awake since Thursday morning, he had been through severe emotional stress, and now he had been subject to the violence of the guards who mocked and beat him. It would have been enough to break most men.

How much more can one man take?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In the Garden

Jesus and the disciples arrived at the Garden late at night. Jesus wanted to talk to his Father, something he did regularly, usually by himself.

Tonight was different, he wanted his friends to be there with him during this difficult time. He asked them to stay awake with him and pray. Jesus went away by himself and began pouring his spirit out to God. The scriptures describe a man in such agony that his sweat actually looked like drops of blood. This is actually a real medical condition called hematidrosis, usually found in people who are undergoing extreme stress and psychological strain. Jesus certainly fit this description.

All of Jesus' life had led to this moment. Every miracle, every healing, every teaching, every prophecy...everything came down to this critical decision. Jesus knew his purpose. It was his mission to take all of the sins and ugliness of humanity on himself. He was to bear the burden. He was to take the punishment.

And he didn't want to do it.

Jesus pleaded with the Father to find another method of salvation. The unspoken answer: "There is no other way." Jesus relented to the will of his Father. Humility and trust paved the way to our freedom. The wrath of God would soon be on him, and God would look at us as sinless because of his punishment. As Isaiah said, we are healed because of his wounds.

The Father was waiting to pour out the cup of sin and suffering on his own Son. The final incarnation was waiting to take place. The final spotless lamb had been prepared for sacrifice.

Jesus was the lamb.

The Journey to the Garden

Jesus and His disciples leave the room where they celebrated Passover and they head to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem. As they traveled, they would have seen the incredible Temple. At night, its white stone would have shined brilliantly as it reflecting the light of dozens and dozens of burning torches. It would have been an incredible sight.

Jesus took advantage of these final moments to pour his soul out in front of his disciples, telling them everything they would need to know to complete their mission and teaching them what was truly important. All of these final teachings and prayers are found in John chapters 15-17. Jesus knew his time was coming, and these chapters reflect his heart.

He wanted his followers to be connected with him because he knew that they could not exist without him. He told them of his great love for them and gave them a simple commandment: Love one another. And he prayed. He prayed for the unity of his followers.

As Jesus prepared for his mission, his mind was on you.

The Journey Begins: The Last Supper

Jesus and his disciples are preparing to celebrate the traditional Jewish meal of Passover, the holiday the marks the rescuing of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt.

This would have been a happy time, and certainly the mood in the room was festive. It is almost certain that no one but Jesus knew the significance of this moment, and he was about to let his followers know exactly how important this meeting was to him.

Jesus expresses how much he wanted to be with his disciples for this meal, and he tells them he will not eat of this meal again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. He then takes bread, gives thanks, and begins instituting the Lord's Supper. Jesus tells the disciples the bread represents his body that was broken for them, and to eat it in remembrance of him. Jesus then takes a cup of wine and tells the disciples it represents the blood he will shed for their sins.

Jesus makes reference to his betrayer sitting in their midst, and the disciples miss out on the obvious sign that Judas is the one Jesus is referring to. Judas leaves quickly, and no one seems to notice his absence. The disciples then begin to argue among themselves regarding which one of them should be considered the greatest in the coming kingdom.

The very Creator of the universe is sitting in their midst, telling them he will not be with them much longer; yet the room seems strangely unaffected. The disciples, all too like us, seem oblivious to the world around them. Jesus tries to tell them of the difficulties that lie ahead, but they fail to understand what he means.

Peter tells Jesus he will be with him to the very end, saying "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." Jesus simply replies that Peter will deny him three times this very evening, even before the rooster crows.

The world is about to be changed forever, and hardly anyone realizes it.

Hey everybody, come see how good we look!

Higher Calling is featured in an ad this week in the Indy Star. It is on page A6, the main section.

It is big, bold, and can't miss it!

Go and buy papers, then use them as an invite for Easter!!!!

He Came For Me

For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

Jesus came for me. We can get so confused, but Jesus knew the purpose of his life. He states clearly he came to serve and not to be served; he also says he came to give his life as a ransom for many. That one word, many, gets us all into trouble sometimes. We easily believe that Jesus came for the world. We even say, “He came for you,” but do we believe this truth about ourselves?

Jesus came for me!

Go ahead and insert your name into that verse at the top of this page. Go ahead, I’ll wait! Here’s your example: For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for Zac Pittman. Now how does it feel to have your name there? It blows me away to think God cared about me so much that he would pay my debt for me, but he did! Because of that amazing truth, I can be freed from my past and all of my mistakes, errors, and shortcomings and be the person God wants me to be.

It is a life changing truth, and if your life has been changed by the incredible power of God, then you have the responsibility of sharing that story with those around you. This Sunday is one of the most overtly spiritual times on our calendar, and most people are simply one invite from attending church somewhere.

We want to help you! Today, Thursday, March 20th, Higher Calling is running a half page ad in the main section of the Indianapolis Star. This was made possible through your generous support. Go out today, find that ad, and use it to invite those you care about to our Easter service. Let everyone you know have the opportunity to hear the life changing message of God’s love for them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Path to Easter

Starting on Thursday evening, I am going to use this blog to document a timeline of the final hours of Jesus.

Maybe you have read the biblical account and wondered how it all fit together. I am going to piece together the accounts from the four Gospels and the most common views from biblical scholars to let you see what the Easter story is all about. I am going to write as if I went back in time and watched it happened; you will hear what happened if one person would have been following the action and documenting it for you.

It all starts on Thurday evening, and it ends on Easter Sunday. Feel free to stop by and take a look in progress, and definitely come back read the whole account.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Are You Called?

The idea of a "calling" is a very popular subject in Christian circles. Speakers will comment on how God has called them to this ministry or that location. I have heard many people, both on TV and in real life talk about God calling them everywhere and doing everything, even if some of the time the actions contradict each other. Sometimes I think we get the impression that a calling from God is only something for those whose occupation is ministry.

Is that true? Or is there a broader grouping of people that God calls?

The worst thing we can assume about the calling of God is in thinking it is only regarding what we do for a living. I know this is great news for some of you out there who don't like your jobs! No, the calling God has for us is much larger than what we do because our calling also involves who we become. God IS calling you....he is calling you to become the person he created you to be. Jesus called the disciples and told them he would make them fishers of men. He didn't just give them a new job description...he gave them an identity. On Sunday we will be looking at how God called many different people in the Bible and how that relates in the here and now.

How has God called you?

Your Story Starts in the Heart of God

Before the world was made, God had you in mind. I know it is hard for us to even believe this, but the Bible says it is true. God called the prophet Jeremiah and told him that he had been chosen before the foundations of the world had been set. The same is true for all of us. The life God has for us was laid out in eternity, in the heart of God.

You were always on the mind of God, and he wants you to experience the life he has for you. Before you can begin the journey in finding this life, you have to believe it is waiting for you. Too many times we buy the lie the world tells us when we believe there is nothing special or unique about us. We begin living a life of mediocrity. We simply try to get by. We exist, but we don't truly live. We get overwhelmed and stressed out by the minor issues in our lives, and when major challenges get thrown in our face, we are tempted to give up on hope.

Be encouraged because you are breathing....there is a reason why you are here! Maybe you have given up on ever finding purpose in life. Perhaps you think it something out there for others...but not for you. Maybe you are surrounded by chaos but the loudest noise you hear is the screaming in your soul for something more. Answer that call, because it is from God.

Even if you haven't thought about God in a long time, he has always been thinking of you. You story starts in his heart, and it began in eternity. The journey begins with you believing you actually have an extraordinary life to live. Choose to believe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Identity Theft

You were created to be original.

There has never been anyone like you and there will never be anyone like you ever again. God has made you just the way he wants you so you can accomplish his purpose through you. You were designed to do something extraordinary; all of us were made to be used for God's amazing plan! This makes you incredibly unique!

However, it seems like it is easier to be a counterfeit than an original. It is easy to try and fit into whatever category society wants to place us into.

Don't fall for the trap or the lies telling you to be like anyone else. Be an original. Be unique. Seize your identity back.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Identity Theft

Our next series will be exploring what it means to have an original identity in Christ and seizing the call to living that life.

Here are the lesson dates and their topics:

Identity Theft
"Reclaiming the Real You"

March 16: The Call to an Authentic Life
March 23: Overcoming Life's Crisis
March 30: The Lies We Believe
April 6: The Conflict in Our Soul
April 13: The Life Worth Dying For
April 20: The Point of No Return
April 27: The Gift of Identity

Hope to see all of you there. All of you guys from other states who are lurking here, thanks for stopping by! I will have some new content up this afternoon.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Thoughts for the Weekend

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-5 (NIV)

Life is a process; a process that is filled with trials and tests. I find it amazing that James tells us these difficulties should be considered the purest joy. So many times we ask God to remove us from struggle, but could it be that God wants to use the struggles in our lives to make us more like him?

We are being told through this verse that our life is a journey, and the goal is the development of our character. That only can happen with perseverance, and we can only forge perseverance in the fire of difficulty. As we walk through the fire, we learn to depend on God more and more, and we move toward maturity. When we get there, the promise is a life filled with peace, wisdom, integrity, and gratitude. It is the life of nobility we were created to live.

So be joyful during your struggles because God is right there with you and he wants to develop your character. Don't run away from difficulty, instead, view them in their proper context. The trials we are going through are a warning light that informs us God is ready to meet our needs.

Be encouraged. See you Sunday!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Forgiveness, Part 2

Part of our struggle is forgiving those who have hurt us in the past. An entirely different journey involves forgiving ourselves. Have you ever heard the phrase, "You are your own worst critic?" I think that is more profound than we are willing to admit. The reality is that our inner monologues are full of our shortcomings. We beat ourselves up. We rehash our mistakes. How many of us allow our self-image to be defined by the most negative of our thoughts? I don't think these thoughts are the truest expression of who you are, and neither does God.

God does not hold you in contempt. Jesus tells us that he didn't come into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. What right do you have to hold yourself in contempt? The Creator of the universe has made a way for us all to be forgiven, but we are unwilling to accept that forgiveness in our hearts. Part of our journey into wholeness is in the ability to forgive ourselves for our mistakes.

Do we make mistakes? Yes. Do we come up short in life? Of course. But God came to change all of that. The incredible truth is that God died so we could be different at our core. Paul says we are new creations in Jesus. Have you experienced this radical transformation? It is only found in Jesus, and He offers the gift freely. All we have to do is accept and believe.

Let yourself off the hook. God already has made the way for your forgiveness, and we all need to accept and embrace that love.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Forgiveness, Part 1

One of the keys to living the life God wants you to live is in knowing the power of forgiveness. You must learn to let other people off the hook for wrongs they have committed against you. Too many times people allow themselves to become bitter because of what they have suffered in life. They see the way they have been treated and they resent the world for the abuse they have suffered. If you find yourself in that situation today, you are keeping yourself from truly experiencing anything positive in life. You will become more and more bitter, and any sense of hope you have will rapidly shrink and eventually disappear entirely.

Most people do not want to live in bitterness and despair. Being unhappy is not anyone's original goal or ambition in life, but many people hold on to their bitterness instead of forgiving those who have hurt them. If you want hope in your life, you won't find it as long as you look in your past at wrongs you have suffered. You can only have hope when you look to the future and release the past. You can only truly look forward and release the past after you have forgiven those who have harmed you.

Give up your right to hold a grudge and to be angry. Practice forgiveness.