Thursday, December 31, 2009

From Mark Driscoll...

I was recently visiting a friend who pastors another church and he introduced me to an older pastor who has encouraged him for many years. This eighty-six-year-old preacher had lots of gas still in his tank, and speculated out loud whether he thought he could take me at racquetball. He was a genuinely happy man filled with joy and still dreaming new dreams for ministry.

At one point in our brief conversation, I asked him what the “secret” was to his lifelong ministry, good health, and joy.

Of course, the old preacher rattled off three points:

1.“Read the Bible every day.” I asked him how many times he had read the Bible, and he said he was finishing up his 358th reading of the entire Bible!

2.“Mumble prayers throughout the day.” He explained that it is vital to pray in the morning to connect with God and confess sin, but that we also need to mumble prayers throughout the day, talking to God about everything.

3.“Refuse to have any enemies.” He said that if you choose to forgive everyone of all their sins, then no matter who or what is against you, your heart will not become hard and bitter because you treat everyone like a friend.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Upcoming Blog Topics

The original purpose of this blog, which still mainly holds true, is to write down things that are on my mind in order to keep me from lying awake at night endlessly pondering. In keeping with that, I am just going to jot down some things swirling in my head that I would like to expand upon in the coming days.

- My occasional reluctance to pray for forgiveness immediately after sinning as if I am not worthy at that moment to seek God's grace after choosing something else over Him. God had something to say to me about that and one of Matt's sermons that I heard tonight brought it back up. As if God who saved us while we were still His enemies can't stand our failings now that He is married to us.

- The difference between knowing about God and knowing God and the implications for how we deal with life's punches and our eternal destination. How were you saved? The Holy Spirit capturing your heart or reciting a sinner's prayer and having very little else change in your life?

- Should I have written in a prior blog that Obama is evil? What is evil? What is the difference between a good person and an evil person? Is there a distinction like that apart from Christ? Maybe we should be careful of how we throw the word "evil" around since we are called to see everyone with the same unsurpassable worth that Christ sees them.

- I want to write a blog on the songs that I associate with different times in my life. It's interesting how strongly music can trigger memories.

- Heard a couple of good sermons recently that warned of false teachers from within the church - Acts 20:30, 2 Peter 3:16, the beginning of 2 Timothy 4. Worth delving into a bit.

- Then the other convicting teaching today which I did mention recently...namely, not relying on the teaching of others to know Christ but spending ample time in word, prayer and reflection with just myself and God in order that I may know Him personally and intimately. Part of that is done here as this blog is almost becoming a spiritual journal in some ways although the most private issues will go in an offline notebook. I have ordered up the ESV Study Bible and am planning to go through it all in 2010. That would definitely mean ample time with God and lessen my reliance to some degree on teaching from guys like Piper and Chandler...though I certainly want to keep them as a supplement.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tonight's Sermon

I know that Matt Chandler has been in the hospital and in the fight for his life. I have seen videos of him preaching a couple of times and went searching for another sermon tonight. The first one I came across was from June of this year. It was about the church at Ephesus and what happened to them over a span of 40-45 years. Within this sermon there are many applicable topics for us including the reliance of many churches on pragmatism rather than knowledge of and complete trust in God to make ministry work.

I remember sitting in a Board of Directors meeting many years ago at Mt. Calvary. We had brought in another outside "expert" who was schooled in church building. He used the illustration of a barrel which had 8 slats - each slat supposedly represented one of the key tenets of a healthy growing church. I don't remember what they were off the top of my head but I knew, courtesy of the Holy Spirit, that we were on the wrong path. You can't plan your way to growth...and if you do happen to grow because of your plans rather than the draw of the Holy Spirit to the magnificence of Christ...you are in BIG trouble. I was just too young to really be able to verbalize my reservations intelligently. Now my sense is that Mt. Calvary has gotten away from this approach and is more about Gospel and God's glory and following His call. I certainly pray that is the case.

So, here is a brief excerpt from the sermon.



The entire sermon video can be found here:

http://theresurgence.com/matt-chandler-preaching-gospel-de-churched

The audio only version is at Desiring God here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByConference/45/3956_Preaching_the_Gospel_to_the_Dechurched/

I'll tell ya what. If I was a pastor...this is how I would want to preach. I have great respect for the way Matt allows God to use him and I pray for his recovery.

Putting on Holiday Weight?

This will make you feel smaller.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Encouraging

http://ow.ly/OnMY

"I tried a thousand times and I failed a thousand times." It's good for me to hear how others have overcome their addictions...and have struggled in doing so. There is no substitute for prayer and perseverance.

"Frightening and calming at the same time." It is unfortunate that God must often allow us to reach a point of perceived self-destruction before we ultimately relent and find our desire completely in Him. It is frightening to give up the desires of this world that offer us momentary peace and joy but incredibly calming to find all our desire in Christ which offers us eternal peace and joy.

Just don't stop fighting.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More on the Climate...

Did everyone enjoy Climategate? (By the way, thanks Mr. Nixon for starting the whole "gate" thing...kinda annoying) Over 1000 emails between scientists at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the UK's University of East Anglia were stolen and made public by an unnamed hacker. The initial take on these emails was that it showed scientists who privately were having disputes on the validity of the data as well as concerns that the data were not completely proving their public line of human-made global warming. Now it seems that everyone is dismissing the initial reaction as overdone and off base and that the emails don't show anything more than scientists being rude or dismissive and any data discrepancies are minor and do not change the larger thesis.

Truth is tough to get at sometimes when everyone has an agenda. We do know a couple things. Temperatures were much higher during the Medieval Warm Period (roughly AD 800-1300). We are still recovering from the Little Ice Age which ended around 1850. So, temperatures were higher when the carbon footprint of mankind was probably close to nothing. The question of whether human activity is accelerating atmospheric warming seems largely unanswered, and perhaps, unanswerable. Some scientists even say that carbon dioxide levels actually follow, rather than preceded, changes in temperature.

One other thing is very clear in all of this. The Obama administration, and many socialists around the world, do not care about the facts at this point. Shortly after Climategate hit, and just before the Climate Conference in Copenhagen (don't ya just love alliteration?), the EPA released a report that stated the effects of climate change are a danger to the public health. Guess what that means? The EPA can implement whatever rules it deems necessary without going through Congress. This administration will not let "cap and trade" die. It's a power and money grab that is too tasty not to enjoy. Manipulation and half-truths are necessary evils in getting it done. I have no doubt that behind closed doors there are a lot of "the means justify the ends" rationales being spouted.

Obama's transformation of America continues. He told you this is what he was planning. All that it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to stand by and do nothing...or in our case...actually elect evil to office.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I like this...

"Jesus was so human, it was hard to believe he was God and at times so God, it was hard to believe he was human."

He was so man, he was hungry, but so God that he multiplied to feed the 5,000.
He was so human he was tired, but so God when awaken he calmed the sea.
He was so human he wept when a friend died, but so God he rose him from the dead.
He was so human he died, but he was so God he rose from the dead.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Piper's Tweet

Can't find the exact quote but it went something like this...

"If you don't have at least one person in your life who hates you then you don't know enough people or you don't speak enough truth."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today's Sermon Takeaway

"You can learn more about a Christian's maturity from their reactions rather than their actions."

This was in the context of teaching on Luke 2 and Jesus in the temple. He may have been immature in the sense of being a 12 year old boy but was mature in the way he responded to his concerned and amazed parents - specifically that his nature was not rebellious, and therefore, not sinful.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday Night

Once again, I had planned on working out but my fitness motivation has been waning as of late and tonight proved to be no exception. However, my guilt has been mostly neutralized by over an hour of teaching from John Piper and productivity in other areas. I will try for physical improvement again tomorrow.

I do love Piper's teaching but must make sure that I am not substituting time in the Word with time watching or listening to him. Great teaching should be supplemental to our time with God. It can certainly enrich it.

The presiding bishop of the ELCA is suggesting that the Bible isn't the last word on homosexuality. Here is an excerpt from the brief article:

"In a town hall meeting Sunday, Bishop Mark Hanson said, "the understanding we have of homosexuality today does not seem to be reflected at all in the context of the biblical writers." Therefore, he said, Lutherans should consider more modern views on sexual orientation. At its churchwide convention in August, the ELCA lifted its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy, prompting some traditional congregations to withhold funds and begin forming a separate denomination.

But Hanson insisted the ELCA can accommodate both views. In his words, "God is still speaking to us." He also suggests that more homosexual-friendly policies may help the denomination grow."

My initial feeling is sadness. So many things are wrong in those few sentences. What "understanding" is he referring to? Does he subscribe to the notion that people are born gay...that sexual orientation isn't a choice? There is no scientific evidence I know of that has declared that to be true. Even if there were, aren't there genetic markers that lead to violence or alcoholism? Does that excuse those behaviors because you were born with a predilection (sp) toward them? Or does it mean you will simply have to battle harder within the freedom of individual responsibility to live a life that honors God and blesses others?

Oh, the self-serving rationale of "God is still speaking to us." This can pretty much excuse any behavior and viewpoint, can't it? Does God speak to us? All the time...most of us just aren't listening. But the suggestion here is that God is not only speaking to us but giving us new doctrine that replaces Biblical truth. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest God speaks to us in that way now. Does he illuminate and clarify existing Biblical truth? Absolutely. Does he change His mind on what he once thought to be true? No. His Word is inerrant and eternal.

"The ELCA can accommodate both views." If that isn't a line directly from Satan, I don't know what is. The bishop is effectively saying, "Look, there is no absolute truth when it comes to homosexuality. It is open to interpretation and well-meaning people can disagree but still worship together." What part of the word "abomination" is unclear? If you want to be a church that dwells in the pit of moral relativism that is your choice...not God's. Pick a side. You can't have it both ways. No church of Jesus Christ is big enough to teach some truth and some lies.

Finally, the bishop gives us a glimpse into his heart. "More homosexual policies may help the denomination grow." Ahhh, there we go. So, one of two things is going on here, in my opinion. This bishop may be cut out of the same cloth as Joel Osteen or Rick Warren. I will tell the people what they want to hear so they won't stop coming. I will loosen the truth enough that more will come to have their ears tickled. I want numbers to grow so that I may be glorified and my position may be enhanced.

That's one possibility but if I had to guess...something else may be going on. This bishop likely knows a number of people who practice homosexuality and who are Christians. (Can you be both? Yes...but there should be continual conviction by the Holy Spirit.) So, he sees these God-loving people who are committed to the church and his human mind is unable to reconcile them with God's label of "abomination". They seem to be so genuine in their love and relationships, that it just can't be wrong. So he has to come up with another way to reconcile this with Scripture. So, God is "still speaking" and teaching him new things. There is room for new viewpoints in the ELCA. And yet, I imagine at the end of the day, his spirit remains quite restless with all of this. Being out of step with the Lord is never a place where one can find peace and comfort. So, he rationalizes further and states that it will increase numbers. "Lord, surely you would agree that is a good thing? Right?" Hoping to quiet the inner turmoil he grasps onto something that can qualify as good in God's eyes. Yet, we know that God is interested in our hearts and not what comes from our lips. He is interested in a faithful remnant...not self-seeking masses. Oh what a dangerous wide path we travel down when we exchange the truth for a lie. My prayers are with Bishop Hanson and the ELCA church.

http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/09/24/homosexuality-as-dividing-line-the-inescapable-issue/

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tiger

Not entirely sure what to say here except the entire situation is unfortunate and disappointing - a huge understatement from his wife's perspective I'm sure. I have always enjoyed watching athletes who were/are at the top of their profession - Peyton Manning, Roger Federer, Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant are current examples and athletes such as Cal Ripken, Jr., Andre Agassi, Michael Jordan and Barry Sanders are older examples. I love watching how they compete, their desire to not just succeed, but excel. I have learned a lot about what it means to be a champion from watching these guys. It means maintaining consistent excellence. I try to apply that to different areas of my life although I think I fail quite often.

Tiger Woods was probably the embodiment of all of that for me. His dad was a Green Beret who taught him how to be a champion. He gave him all the tools, which combined with his God-given talent to make him the greatest golfer of all time by his mid-30s. I loved watching him compete on Sunday afternoons...how he would seemingly will himself to win tournaments and so many others would fall by the wayside simply because they didn't believe in themselves as much as he believed in himself.

I didn't know much about Tiger's spiritual beliefs. I would guess he had some Buddhist influence from his Thai mom. He never mentioned God so that meant that his beliefs weren't very strong or he didn't want to offend anyone in his formidable fan base. Still, there were signs that something wasn't quite right. This was a guy whose father taught him to be incredibly tough mentally, to block out any and every distraction when he was competing. Yet, here was Tiger, time and again, seemingly annoyed by every camera click and fan cough as he was ready to swing. His propensity to swear after bad shots, and even toss/throw his club in disgust were becoming regular occurrences. In my opinion, these were signs of inner turmoil coming to the surface during times of stress...an indicator that something wasn't right on the inside.

Now we know what wasn't right. Tiger's heart and spirit were out of whack...and when your heart isn't right your thoughts and actions won't be right. No amount of PR or projecting a false self can ultimately cover up the truth. It's a shame. I know that my sports heroes are just that - sports heroes. There are occasionally really good sports hearoes like Cal Ripken but most have just as many issues as anyone else such as MJ's gambling and ego or Andre's meth use. I think I will continue to watch Tiger for awhile but now with a different purpose. I want to see how he holds up under all of this. Can he right the ship? Can he still be the player he was? Can he become the person he professes he should be?

It will be interesting...that's for sure. We are about to learn more about Tiger than we ever thought we could. The world will be watching.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Heal the World

Alright, I recently gave Obama a pass on the deferential bow to the Japanese Prime Minister. However, this greeting, or non-greeting, with the Russians is worth showing because it demonstrates that Obama's supposedly superior way of engaging with our international "allies" is not only a pathetic attempt at some sort of "kum-ba-yah, let's all get along" policy but demonstrates that other world powers don't respect weakness. Keep in mind, this is took place in July. In September, Obama decided not to pursue the building of a missie defense system in eastern Europe which was intended to protect our troops stationed there in addition to our European allies.

Apparently, the Russians were upset that the accompanying satellite technology could be used to spy on them. This was most likely the reason for the proverbial cold shoulder. Obama's public excuse was that Iran is pursuing shorter-range missiles rather than longer-range so the threat is not as great to Europe as originally believed. The real reason is probably closer to Obama wanting to be liked by everyone. Quick tip for you Mr. President...appeasement is not a wise foreign policy. (See Bill Clinton and North Korea if you need one example of many.)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good Teaching Last Night

On equating the people's response to Jesus feeding the 5000+ to the Prosperity Gospel. John 6:14 - "After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, 'Surely this is the Prophet (see Deuteronomy 18:15) who is to come into the world'. Fast forward to the end of the chapter and many of his disciples are leaving Him (not the 12) seemingly in part because the miracles have subsided temporarily and His teaching is either too hard or making them uncomfortable.

At the core of every version of the prosperity gospel is this: "It leaves people unchanged in their old appetites and then provides Jesus to meet them". Are your existing appetites the same now as they were before you came to Jesus and He is just useful now? Better business, better marriage, better house, better kids, better everything I wanted before? Then you don't know Him. He didn't come to serve your unregenerate appetites. He came to give you NEW appetites. That is the meaning of being born again. Prosperity Gospel thinking is the kind of acclimation Jesus walks away from. Jesus did not come to give bread...He came to BE bread. He does not want to give you sources of life...He wants to BE your source of life.

This fits in really well with the book we are discussing in care group - "The Myth of a Christian Religion" by Gregory Boyd. Each chapter covers some issue with which the Christian "church" has stumbled over in its search for a source of life - judgment, individualism, idolatry, religion, nationalism, etc. These can all seem good and right to our own version of Jesus but have little or nothing to do with the true Kingdom of God. Likewise, the people of Jesus' day were right in calling him Prophet and King but they just didn't know exactly what kind of prophet He truly was and what kingdom He truly ruled over. Here are some passages from the last few chapters of that book that I have found to be thought provoking:

"Judgment is the foundational sin in the Bible because it prevents us from obeying the foundational command in the Bible, which is to love others the way God loves us."

"In fact, real love, as defined by Jesus, is about expressing the unsurpassable worth of another by being willing to sacrifice everything for them."

"While the holiness of Jesus ascribed unsurpassable worth to people, the "holiness" of the Pharisees detracted worth from people as they ascribed worth to themselves."

"If Life can only be received from God for free, then all the other ways religious people try to find God's Life are worthless."

"Welcome to McChurch, where you get served up a Gospel tailor-made to suit your personal tastes and needs and that never confronts you or causes you any discomfort."

Lord...may I see you and know you for who you truly are and may that be enough for me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Randomness

So Oprah is making news about ending her show after next year. She said that the decision required a lot of thought and prayer. My question is...who is she praying to?

I think the far-right guys need to shut up over Obama bowing to the Japanese Prime Minister or Emperor or whatever he is. Being deferential and respectful on a global stage does not weaken America. Move on to something more substantial. You have enough to pick from.

This week the White House Office of Management and Budget announced that for fiscal year 2009, which just ended October 1st, the US government wasted $98 billion on "improper payments." That's their euphemism for money flushed down the toilet due to fraud, misdirected reimbursements, duplicate payments or money that was simply lost. That is 36% MORE than 2008. Remember, this is a president, who during the campaign, promised the US taxpayer greater transparency and accountability on every dollar spent. That is your money...gone. No answers, no apologies...and now they want a much bigger slice of the health care industry and carbon emission regulation and the automotive industry and the banking industry and on and on and on. It may simply be too late to get the horse back in the barn.


Global warming continues to be toward the top of Obama's agenda as he is mentioning it in the same breath with national security when he goes overseas. I read the following from the Gartman Letter and will retype it here as it echoes my thoughts on the matter:

On the arch-conservative but illogical nature of the global warm-ers: We have never hidden our antipathy toward those who believe in global warming, for we find their thesis illogical at worst, poorly based on ill-advised facts, and anti-progress. As we said last week, and as we have said for years, however, we do indeed believe in global climate change. The climate always changes. The world is malleable and its climate has always changed...radically...and it will continue to change into the future. Man's "imposition" on that change is minimal at best, made all but insignificant when compared to the effects of the sun, gravity, ocean drifts, tectonic plate shifts, et al.

However, what really bothers us are the egregious economic consequences of the demands being made by the likes of Al Gore and other global warming alarmists. The damage they shall wreak upon the US...and the global economy...is shocking, and none of it is good. According to the American Enterprise Institute, as reported in Newsweek magazine this week in George Will's column, the Waxman-Markey "global warming" legislation, the goal

is just slightly more than 1 billion tons of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2050. The last time this nation had that small an amount was 1910, when there were only 92 million Americans, 328 million fewer than the 420 million projected for 2050. To meet the 83% reduction target in a nation of 420 million, per capita carbon-dioxide emissions would have to be no more than 2.4 tons per person, which is one quarter the per capital emissions of 1910, a level probably last when the population was 45 million - in 1875.

Forcing the US to accept such nonsense is the very worst of the Luddite-like, anti-business posture of the Left. It is reactionary to the highest degree imaginable, and it is what we call the illogical arch-conservatism of the eco-Left that must be stopped before the very real damage can and will be done to the US and the global economy. What do these people smoke? And how often?

Mark Driscoll on Religions

I felt led to post these videos here...partially for me to have them in one place and partially so others may see and use them. When I witness to someone it is always good to first know their belief system, their worldview, what kind of prism they use to understand everything around them. I think these videos will help give me a solid starting point no matter who I am speaking with.













Thursday, November 12, 2009

In case you are scoring at home...

I don't have the time nor the energy to keep up with every detail of the ongoing health care debate and the legislation that just passed the House by a measly 5 votes. But every once in awhile I read something that is succinct and is a good talking point if you find yourself in a discussion with someone who actually thinks this is a good idea for America.

Today's fact of the day on the recently passed health care bill, H.R. 3962 is don't have insurance? Pay a fine or go directly to jail. Under the House legislation "Americans who do not maintain acceptable health insurance coverage and who choose not to pay the bill's new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years." This is according to the non-partisan Congressional Joint Tax Committee, which also defines the penalties as a "tax." This applies to all American citizens, thus further breaking the President's promise of "[u]nder my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase." Additionally businesses could be fined up to 8 percent of their payroll if they fail to comply with the government mandate. There are also further penalties, or taxes, for underpayment or for "taking a frivolous position" on the government mandate.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Right Side of History

When people warned of Obama's desire to FUNDAMENTALLY change America, this is a key example of what they are talking about. His primary goal is not to fix this country's problems but rather to overhaul the principles that made this nation great. I believe he has two main purposes in doing so:

1) To impose on the American people his idea of fairness, which was most likely instilled/fostered during his 20 years in Reverend Wright's social liberal theology "church".

2) To aggregate and concentrate more power in Washington so he, and those on his side, can better implement purpose #1 while also being better able to control and dismiss those who oppose his agenda.

Notice that neither of those purposes have anything to do with making this country better. In fact, #2 all by itself will make certain that the forward progress of our nation will cease.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One Heart at a Time

Planned Parenthood has been a part of Abby Johnson's life for the past eight years; that is until last month, when Abby resigned. Johnson said she realized she wanted to leave, after watching an ultrasound of an abortion procedure.

"I just thought I can't do this anymore, and it was just like a flash that hit me and I thought that's it," said Jonhson.

She handed in her resignation October 6. Johnson worked as the Bryan Planned Parenthood Director for two years.

According to Johnson, the non-profit was struggling under the weight of a tough economy, and changing it's business model from one that pushed prevention, to one that focused on abortion.

"It seemed like maybe that's not what a lot of people were believing any more because that's not where the money was. The money wasn't in family planning, the money wasn't in prevention, the money was in abortion and so I had a problem with that," said Johnson.

Johnson said she was told to bring in more women who wanted abortions, something the Episcopalian church goer recently became convicted about.

"I feel so pure in heart (since leaving). I don't have this guilt, I don't have this burden on me anymore that's how I know this conversion was a spiritual conversion."

Johnson now supports the Coalition For Life, the pro-life group with a building down the street from Planned Parenthood. Coalition volunteers can regularly be seen praying on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood. Johnson has been meeting with the coalition's executive director, Shawn Carney, and has prayed with volunteers outside Planned Parenthood.

On Friday both Johnson and the Coalition For Life were issued temporary restraining orders filed by Planned Parenthood.

Rochelle Tafolla, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson issued the following statement: "We regret being forced to turn to the courts to protect the safety and confidentiality of our clients and staff, however, in this instance it is absolutely necessary."

The temporary restraining order contends that Planned Parenthood would be irreparably harmed by the disclosure of certain information, but does not bar Johnson or Coalition For Life volunteers from the premises.

As of Sunday evening, neither Johnson nor Carney had seen the complaint filed against them that prompted the restraining order.

A hearing about the order has been set for November 10.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Height of Hypocrisy

"As a Senate vote on health-care legislation nears, those negotiations are occurring in a setting that is anything but revolutionary in Washington: Three senators are working on the bill behind closed doors. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (R-Nev.) sits at the head of a wooden table at his office as he and Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) work to merge two competing versions of health-care legislation into one bill. The three men will be joined by top aides as well as by members of President Obama’s health-care team, led by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. The sessions started on Wednesday and could be completed this week.

It is shocking that this Administration’s promise to have the “most open and transparent in history” is not as important as getting this bill to the President’s desk by the end of the year. Instead liberals in Congress are crafting Obamacare in secret, so they can railroad a bill through before the American people can raise objections to an Obamacare bill written in this secretive and closed proceeding.

Democracy does not begin and end on Election Day for the American people. Whether you are for or against Obamacare, we the people deserve an opportunity to read, digest and understand the most important health care legislation to be debated in the United States Senate in our lifetime. The American people relied upon the promise of the Obama Administration and the leadership in Congress to be open and transparent, therefore it is time to stop the closed door negotiations and allow the American people to participate in the democratic process."

I won't even go to the unbelievable amounts of hidden pork that has already been passed under the cover of such legislation as the stimulus bill or the latest Defense Appropriations Bill. There is no change...except more of the same and worse.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

When God Moves...

Remember this post from a little while ago? (Truncated for effect)

"The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church."

I am listening to John Piper preach on John 5:36-47 right now. You know those A-HA moments when God speaks to you? Piper hit on something that immediately drew me back to the Tim Keller passage noted above. Look at John 5:43(ESV):

43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

Why would people be so against someone who comes and takes his cues from another...gives glory to another...walks in the will of another? Why would they prefer someone who "comes in his own name"...who struts around and makes much of himself? Because the latter example fits right in with who we are. We can get behind a king like that. We'll be more than happy to fall in line and strut around with him and have our ego fed and our pride fulfilled. But who wants a Messiah who is humble, who admonishes the prideful, who offers himself as a living sacrifice? NO ONE. Unless God moves. Because that kind of Messiah makes me look at myself with guilt. He makes me feel bad about myself. He is convicting to my core. This is why Jesus attracted the broken and marginal and not the prideful who lived for themselves.

Now go back to the beginning of this post. Why do so many of our churches not attract the broken and marginal but rather the prideful and moralistic? Who are they giving glory to? There can only be one answer that would attract the prideful like a magnet.

Themselves. "Not my will but your will be done." The most terrifying phrase to any human. It means death to ourselves yet that is where life is truly found.

Oh Lord, help me to not be counted among those whose desires for praise and pride eclipse desire for You.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Piper's Christian Hedonism Started Here

But the most obvious fact about praise–whether of God or any thing–strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise–lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game–praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least…

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it gorgeous? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

– C S Lewis

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Robert Reich Unintentionally Calling Obama a Liar

"I will actually give you a speech made up entirely -- almost at the spur of the moment, of what a candidate for president would say if that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is, and a candidate will never say, but what candidates should say if we were in a kind of democracy where citizens were honored in terms of their practice of citizenship, and they were educated in terms of what the issues were, and they could separate myth from reality in terms of what candidates would tell them:

'Thank you so much for coming this afternoon. I'm so glad to see you, and I would like to be president. Let me tell you a few things on health care. Look, we have the only health care system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people. [laughter] That's true, and what I'm going to do is I am going to try to reorganize it to be more amenable to treating sick people. But that means you -- particularly you young people, particularly you young, healthy people -- you're going to have to pay more. [applause] Thank you.'

'And by the way, we are going to have to -- if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive, so we're going to let you die.' [applause]

'Also, I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid -- we already have a lot of bargaining leverage -- to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. But that means less innovation, and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market, which means you are probably not going to live that much longer than your parents. [applause] Thank you.'" --Robert Reich, President Clinton's labor secretary, in a speech at Berkeley in 2007. Democrats, death panels and dying early -- it's all in there, folks.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet

As Paul is recounting his hardships in 2 Corinthians 3:6-10, he uses the phrase "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing". This is one of those paradoxes that defines the Christian life. I don't believe he is using the word "sorrow" to simply describe the emotional reaction to hunger, beatings and imprisonments. I think it's a much deeper meaning - mainly in his heart for those he is trying to reach with the Gospel who cannot or will not hear. Indeed, I felt it this morning as a dear friend of mine, who had a very positive impact on my life during my formative years, is unable to see what I see in Christ Jesus. Her inability to grasp the truth of the Gospel leaves me with a deep burden and sorrow. Yet I am reminded of my own salvation and rejoice in what God continues to do in my heart and life and in those around me.

"37"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."

This morning gave me a renewed glimpse into the heart of Jesus as He ached for His people to come to Him. It is indeed sorrowful...and yet I must keep rejoicing.

There’s a place of quiet stillness ‘tween the light and shadows reach
Where the hurting and the hopeless seek everlasting peace
Words of men and songs of angels whisper comfort bittersweet
Mending grief and life eternal where joy and sorrow meet

There is a place where hope remains
In crowns of thorns and crimson stains
And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet
Where joy and sorrow meet

There’s a place the lost surrender and the weary will retreat
Full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief
For the wounded there is healing, strength is given to the weak
Broken hearts find love redeeming where joy and sorrow meet

There’s a place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep
And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep
There is hope in desperation there is victory in defeat
At the cross of restoration where joy and sorrow meet

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekends are Good

My life slows down on weekends and that is a very welcome event.

In preparation for Tuesday's Bible Study, I came across this passage in our book today: "God made us desperately hungry for Him because He, out of love, is hungry for us. His hunger for us isn't an expression of neediness or emptiness, as is our hunger for Him. Rather, His hunger for us is an expression of the fullness of His perfect love. Precisely because He is a God of perfect love, He creates beings with whom He deeply wants to share Himself and who desperately need Him."

I don't think I have ever heard the phrase that God is hungry for us. It gives a renewed perspective from God's point of view. I like that.


Interesting dreams last night. I was debating Bill Maher in religion, and holding my own, in one...and in the other I was counseling a friend's father on the strained relationship with his son. I sometimes get the feeling God is preparing me for things ahead while I sleep.


I read in the Mt. Calvary weekly newsletter (taken from a WebMD article) that each person only has so much willpower in a given day. This "scientific fact" was then used as a reason as to why we may struggle to get everything that needs to or that we want to get done in a given day, not to mention challenges with discipline in the areas of physical and spiritual health. I don't like things that offer excuses for why we are failing in life. I am always trying to improve myself in every area and exhort myself to get more done when I am not completing those things of which I believe I am capable. To offer someone a convenient reason as to why they aren't exercising regularly or spending time in God's Word every day is counterproductive to the nth degree. If the reality is that you are struggling then find ways to overcome your struggles...don't turn to something that will cause you to embrace your complacency. If you start believing that you can't do something, then guess what? You won't be able to do it. Reality places enough inherent restrictions...we don't need to make up more.

Of course, take it one step further and you are implicitly removing God from the equation when you say that something can't be done or I don't have the capability to accomplish what is set before me on a given day. The Bible doesn't say that I can do some things through God who gives me strength. No...I can do ALL things. So we can talk about medical facts or motivational deficiencies all we want but they are ultimately meaningless in the face of the Lord God Almighty. If you walk in the strength of the Creator of the universe there are NO limitations to what is possible.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just a Couple Things

My brother came to visit last weekend. It was a very good time of laughing and sharing. I'm very blessed to have a brother that I really admire, respect and enjoying spending time with. Although there have been many exmaples in his life in which he followed my lead, I learn just as much from him now as he ever took from me. I rejoice in his heart for God and for people and I love the way he lives life with openness and adventure.

Just a quick follow up to my recent blog on the differences in the top 2 commands of Islam and Christianity. I think it was in a Bill Keller devotional, that he talked about two representatives - one Muslim and one Christian - who would regularly get together and discuss different topics in front of an audience. One of those topics dealt with the type of relationship that each had with their God. The Christian talked of how God yearned for an intimate, personal, bride/groom relationship. The Muslim, on the other hand, stated how disrespectful it would be to Allah to ever even think of having such a relationship. It really gets to the core of the difference between Christianity and all other religions. God came down to us...to be with us, walk among us and to make His place with us. Every other religion is about how to get up to God's level. What do I need to do to get close, to gain his approval, to reach God in some small way. It's clear that Christianity is so backwards to the natural way that people think that it could never have been created by man. To me that is one of the most powerful witnessing tools when someone starts talking about how all religions really worship the same God and lead to the same place.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Snippets

"Adam Smith [once] said, 'Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.' That lesson seems to have been forgotten in America ... where so many people seem to have been far more concerned about whether we have been nice enough to the mass-murdering terrorists in our custody than those critics have ever been about the innocent people beheaded or blown up by the terrorists themselves. ... Those who are pushing for legal action against CIA agents may talk about 'upholding the law' but they are doing no such thing. Neither the Constitution of the United States nor the Geneva Convention gives rights to terrorists who operate outside the law. ... So many 'rights' have been conjured up out of thin air that many people seem unaware that rights and obligations derive from explicit laws, not from politically correct pieties. If you don't meet the terms of the Geneva Convention, then the Geneva Convention doesn't protect you. If you are not an American citizen, then the rights guaranteed to American citizens do not apply to you. That should be especially obvious if you are part of an international network bent on killing Americans. But bending over backward to be nice to our enemies is one of the many self-indulgences of those who engage in moral preening. But getting other people killed so that you can feel puffed up about yourself is profoundly immoral. So is betraying the country you took an oath to protect." --economist Thomas Sowell

"Obama's advisors think the answer to every problem is more cowbell, if by 'cowbell' you mean 'Obama.' It's like Obama guru David Axelrod is the Christopher Walken character from the 'Saturday Night Live' skit about Blue Oyster Cult (if you don't know the reference, Google 'cowbell'). Every time someone comes up with an alternative to throwing Obama on TV, Axelrod says, 'No, no, no. Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription ... is more Obama!' ... But what is lacking is not cowbell, it's substance the American people can support. Obama will reportedly be 'more specific,' but he won't commit himself to any particular piece of legislation. This suggests that the White House still thinks it has a communication problem, and if only it dispels the cloud of 'lies' belched up by the opposition, there will be nothing but blue skies ahead. Funny how the people who run the most sophisticated communication operation in the history of the presidency keep concluding that their difficulties stem from their inability to get their message out and never from what their message actually is. And so, rather than change the substance of the message, they're grabbing an even bigger megaphone: an address to a joint session of Congress. ... Just seven months into Obama's presidency, the White House is turning up the speakers on the cowbell as loud as they will go. And, heck, if you love cowbell, it's going to be a real treat. But in all the ways that matter, it may just end up being more noise." --columnist Jonah Goldberg

I think this last one is so true. I am so tired of hearing the left, Howard Dean in particular, blame any opposition to Obama policies on right-wing organized groups, people responding to myths/lies about policies and basically people just not knowing what is really good for themselves. Maybe people disagree with Obama's agenda for one very simple reason - it isn't good for them or this country. What is so hard to understand about that? Simply amplifying a wrong message doesn't get us anywhere. Go back to the drawing board.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Christianity vs. Islam

http://equipblog.wpengine.com/is-allah-the-same-as-god-the-father/

When you run into people who believe that all religions are essentially the same and lead to the same place, here is something to tell them.

In the Hadith, which is a record of Mohammed's life and sayings, second in authority to the Koran, Mohammed was once asked, "What is the best deed?" He replied, "To believe in Allah and his apostle" (Mohammed was supposedly his apostle).

The questioner then asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" He replied, "To participate in jihad (religious fighting) in Allah's cause" (Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 25).

Christ on the other hand, when asked for the greatest commandment, replied, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39).

Does that sound like the same theology? Or the same God? The second commandments could not be more diametrically opposed. I'll serve a God that teaches us to love our enemies...who died for us while we were STILL His enemies...rather than one that brings the sword upon the infidels.


Town Hall Truth

Friday, September 4, 2009

Vacation

OK, my sister's active blogging has motivated me so I will start here...

Got a much needed few days away from the office and my computer screen. The most important part of the time away was simply that...time away. Think about anything but work. Look at anything but blinking red and green lights. For the most part I was able to do that. I had to peek a little just to make sure my account hadn't gone to zero and to take a little pressure off the deluge of emails that were piling up in the work account.

I must have done alright as my eye has stopped twitching - something that is recurring in nature and likely directly correlated to the amount of time I daily spend in front of the computer. It was good to reconnect with family and some friends. I am very blessed to have parents that are willing to make time and offer their home to me whenever I come calling. The home is peaceful and harmonious and that makes for a very enjoyable spot from which to relax. Oh...and the new TV ain't bad either.

This weekend will be about getting caught up on some sleep and getting my schedule back in gear. I find that my daily routine is a good one - physically, professionally and spiritually. It gets a bit out of whack when I am on vacation - although some of that is intentional - and it usually takes me a week or so to get back in the groove once I am home but I think the turnaround time will be faster this go around. I hope to have a couple more blogs of more substance this weekend so stay tuned.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Something to Think About

From Tim Keller's "The Prodigal God"...

Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers (as in the younger brother from the parable of the Prodigal Son), they must be more full of elder brothers (again, from the same parable) than we'd like to think.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Trading 101

Jesse Livermore's 1940 book, "Reminiscences of A Stock Operator", is considered the Bible of the trading world (guess I should read it then, huh?). I saw the following written on Friday and felt it was worth posting for my own reminder, as well as anyone else who may gain some wisdom from it. From Jesse's book:

"The speculator's chief enemies are always boring from within. It is inseperable from human nature to hope and to fear. In speculation when the market goes against you you hope that every day will be the last day - and you lose more than you should had you not listened to hope - to the same ally that is potent a success-bringer to empire builders and pioneers, big and little. And when the market goes your way you become fearful that the next day will take away your profit, and you get out too soon...etc."

The translation: Unlike our spiritual lives, hope is our worst enemy in trading when we are holding a losing position and fear is our greatest enemy when holding a winning trade. As Jesse Livermore writes elsewhere, we are to fear that our losses get worse and hope that our profits grow larger, but as humans we tend to cut our profits short, fearing they will grow smaller, and we allow our losing trades to remain intact, hoping that they will turn for the better. Rarely, however, do they.

To this end, the worst trading advice anyone can be given is "You never go broke taking a profit," for that literally forces one to take profits early...to cut them short...to abandon trades that are working well, almost certainly at that point in time when they are going to begin working even better. Poor speculators, poor investors, the poorest of traders take small profits...dozens of them...hundreds of them, and yet bury themselves with one or two enormous losses, all the while telling themselves, "You never go broke taking a profit." Yes, you do; Yes, you really, really do.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Piper commenting on C.S. Lewis

Here is a striking sentence about Lewis’s lifelong pursuit: “Lewis’s perpetual task both as a defender of Christianity and as an advocate of medieval literature is to call people to delight” (p. 190).

One of his paths to this “perpetual task” was his analysis of the devil’s use of pleasure. Screwtape (speaking for the devil—“Our Father”—in The Screwtape Letters) says to one of his under-devils:

Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy's ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which he has forbidden.... An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.... To get a man's soul and give him nothing in return—that's what really gladdens Our Father's heart. (quoted in The Narnian, 189)

This is an astonishing view of pleasure. Hell has never been able to produce one! It can only misuse the ones that God created—in “times,” “ways,” and “degrees” that God forbids.

This means that all the debased enjoyments of the world are echoes of the joys of heaven. The analysis of this is worth a lifetime. And one effect of such an analysis would be to take the notion of “seeker-sensitive” ten miles deeper into Truth. How to penetrate the soul whose every desire is for Heaven while hating Heaven—that is the task.

"To get a man's soul and give him nothing in return." Wow...meditate on that for awhile.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Cross

I have been thinking about this for awhile and I keep coming back to the same conclusion. I don't think Christians should treat Jesus' death on the cross as a shocking or surprising event. I think we should be amazed at the love God showed for us in that act but not amazed that it transpired. I'm not saying this because of the many prophetic messages spoken concerning Jesus' death and resurrection in the centuries leading up to the first Good Friday. I am saying this because this is what a loving God does. Yes, God is just and holy and I suppose some would say that He would have been completely within His right to just let us be lost for eternity. God is sovereign and in that sense...yes...He could have allowed that.

However...God is love (1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16). Should we really expect God to turn His back on those He created in His own image? After all, since God is omniscient, He knew before He even created us that we would fall away. He knew the consequences of giving us free will. So why would He create a people that He loved unconditionally only to see every single one of us lost for eternity with no hope of "life to the fullest"? Was the Father not going to rescue His children? Was the groom not going to come for His bride?

Even if not one resurrection prophecy had ever been uttered, we should have expected this to happen. Sure, we might not have expected it to transpire in exactly the manner it did but the fact that God came for us is perfectly in line with who God is and what God has done since the beginning of creation. Even today, I think most of us don't completely expect that God will come through for us. That is why we are reluctant to give over control of our lives 100%. But the cross stands as the most vivid reminder in the history of this world that God DOES come through...and we should continue to expect nothing less.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"It's a piece of junk"

This is my favorite commercial right now. I know the kid's line is probably scripted but I like to think it is a spontaneous comment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Didn't Obama say something about there being room for all opinions?

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is firing back at Sen. Jon Kyl for calling for an end to economic stimulus spending, and they're aiming for where it hurts the most - at home in Arizona.

The White House on Tuesday released letters from four cabinet secretaries to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, citing Kyl's comments and outlining transportation, housing, Indian education and other projects in his home state they said would be eliminated if the senator has his way.

Kyl, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader, has said the stimulus spending hasn't succeeded in boosting the economy and that it's adding to the deficit. He's suggested on his Senate Web site and in interviews that spending not already allocated be halted.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, one of two Republicans in Obama's cabinet, made no attempt to conceal his needling.

Kyl "publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren't presently under way," LaHood wrote Brewer. "If you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know."

LaHood noted in the letter that at least $520.9 million of the $48 billion for transportation projects under the economic recovery act are intended for Arizona projects, including transit projects in Phoenix.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Arizona would lose $45 million for 500 single-family housing loans if projects not already under way were canceled. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said the state would forfeit $73 million his department oversees, including $22 million for homeless programs.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a Westerner who formerly served with Kyl in the Senate, didn't mention the Arizonan by name in his letter, but referred to "some key Republican leaders in Congress." He said the state would lose $60 million for Bureau of Indian Education schools, among other money.

Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said the governor wants Arizona taxpayers to "receive their fair share" of any stimulus dollars.

"We certainly hope that they're somehow not threatening Arizona's portion of federal funding based on their disagreement with Senator Kyl," Senseman said.

Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, a Democrat, said he called Brewer's office requesting that the governor continue to accept stimulus money. He also sent letters to cabinet officials volunteering Phoenix to act as a fiduciary for all Arizona stimulus funds if Brewer were to turn them down.

"The Senator is 2,000 miles away," Gordon said at a news conference Tuesday. "We're here trying to build roads and put people to work."

Kyl didn't immediately reply to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry came to Kyl's defense, however, posting a column Tuesday on the chamber's Web site under the headline: "Don't Bully Arizona."

"It is one thing to joust with Senator Kyl over his position, but it is an entirely different matter for Cabinet secretaries to write letters to the chief executive of a state and threaten funding if support isn't provided," wrote Glen Hamer.

On Sunday, Kyl said of stimulus spending that "the reality is it hasn't helped yet." He said it may be years before all the money gets spent and that the economy could recover before then.

"Only about 6.8 percent of the money has actually been spent. What I proposed is, after you complete the contracts that are already committed, the things that are in the pipeline, stop it," Kyl told ABC's "This Week."

Last week, Kyl argued in a column posted on his Senate Web site that the economic stimulus program has been a failure. He said he agreed with those who "want to cancel the rest of the stimulus spending."

How can you NOT call the Democrat Party the party of death?

The Senate HELP Committee continued its markup of the Kennedy healthcare legislation yesterday. Several amendments were offered to protect conscience rights and to prevent funding or mandating of abortion. Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) amendment to prevent funding of abortion failed. Sen. Michael Enzi's (R-Wy.) amendment to prevent the healthcare bill from mandating abortion coverage was defeated. Since there is nothing in this legislation to prevent mandating abortion as a covered service, it would be mandated--the Obama Administration health bureaucracy will see to that.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also offered several amendments to the Kennedy legislation. His amendment to codify the Hyde/Weldon conscience protection law was defeated. His amendment to prevent the healthcare bill from preempting state laws on abortion was defeated. With the exception of Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), the HELP Democrats voted against it. They opposed preventing this legislation from trumping various state laws, such as parental consent laws. One bright note, Sen. Coburn's amendment to protect healthcare workers' conscience rights with regard to euthanasia passed by a voice vote. The amendment ensures that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, including healthcare plans, are not forced to violate their conscience on the issue of euthanasia.

Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass.) amendment supposedly protecting conscience rights on abortion passed by a voice vote. This amendment says that no one should lose a contract with the healthcare Gateways because they refuse to perform abortion except in the case of emergencies. Given that the Democrats voted against the Coburn conscience amendment on abortion, which mirrors current conscience law, this amendment is a deceptive and even dangerous substitute for real conscience protections on abortion.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tired

It's just one of those times when I am tired...mentally, emotionally and physically. It's not totally a bad tired though. It was a challenging week but I think I came through it in a strong fashion. I finished the week strong with an intense work day on Friday. It's always a good feeling to feel like you gave it your all and held nothing back. In those times you feel like you have honored your employer and yourself...and most importantly God. Running cross-country in high school taught me to finish strong because if you really kick it into high in the last 200-300 yards you can pass a lot of people who have nothing left in the tank. It also jibes well with Paul's analogy of running the race with perseverance. So, I try to take the idea of "finishing strong" and make it a part of every area of my life.

I tend to be hard on myself because God has given me a lot of abilities and I don't want them to go to underutilized in my life or in the lives of others. However, I think I have also become better at giving myself a break. I'm not chastising myself too much for just wanting to sit in the recliner and zone out a little...listen to some tunes...maybe write a blog. Piper doesn't have a TV because he wants to make the most of every moment of life that God blesses him with. I am sure he knows how to relax as well but I find that kind of internal pressure rather daunting. Yes, I want my life to matter as much as possible but I can't be as useful to others if I don't recharge the batteries now and again.

It was a week that brought with it a lot of deep conversations with friends. I met with two guys from care group one-on-one on Monday and Tuesday night. Those times are always blessed but can be challenging in that you want to ask the right questions and offer the right words to help them walk right with God. I found out that another friend's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Another friend lost his job this week - on the same day that his wife was quitting her job to go back to school. So there are lots of things swirling around my head and the prayer list grows.

I think I am weary of the news. Cap and trade...hate crime laws (I typed lies the first time...seems more appropriate to my subconscious I guess) that include sexual identity and behavior...health care reform...Pennsylvania's attempt to remove Jesus' name from legislature prayers...the list goes on and on. Some of that is necessary for my job and some is necessary to be aware of the ongoing spiritual battle for the souls of this nation. But it can become overwhelming at times and doesn't always seem terribly productive. I can't know everything and can't be involved in everything so where do I draw the line? Maybe I will get rid of my TV at some point...thought I would miss sporting events which is one of the most wholesome escapes I have.

The good news is that God has granted me solid sleep lately with the aid of generic cherry-flavored Ny-quil. Praise the Lord for that. You can't put a price on peace.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Classic

Since the previous clip I posted no longer works...here ya go.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wow...what a sham



When you are a Democrat administration and HELEN THOMAS is calling you out...you know something is terribly, terribly wrong.

Today's Thought

As British theologian Alister McGrath warns, the Bible is not primarily a doctrinal sourcebook: “To reduce revelation to principles or concepts is to suppress the element of mystery, holiness and wonder to God’s self-disclosure. ‘First principles’ may enlighten and inform; they do not force us to our knees in reverence and awe, as with Moses at the burning bush, or the disciples in the presence of the risen Christ”

Monday, June 8, 2009

Imprecation

I had never heard this word, which apparently means curse, until today. It came from this article:


The president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is repudiating statements made by a former convention official regarding President Barack Obama and the recent murder of abortionist George Tiller.

On a recent webcast of his daily radio talk show, Wiley Drake, former second vice-president of the SBC, called last Sunday's murder of Tiller "an answer to prayer." Then during an interview with Alan Colmes on Fox News Radio, Drake said he was praying the same type of "imprecatory prayer" against the president of the United States.

For years, Drake has encouraged the practice of praying words of judgment found throughout the Book of Psalm, back to God, against enemies. But Dr. Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia, and president of the SBC, says Drake's comments are out of line.

"[That's a] terrible statement, [a] very unbiblical statement," Hunt responds. "I'm still encouraged that the [Book of] Proverbs teaches that God has the water in a channel -- and my prayer has always that God would turn hearts."

Hunt also referenced the Book of 1 Timothy, which encourages Christians to pray for those in authority.
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I certainly don't agree in praying for anyone's death. I don't even support the death penalty because I think God can always change hearts and it should be God's decision when our lives are over since he created us. Piper wrote the following about imprecation today, probably in response to Drake's comments:

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I have tried to deal faithfully with curses in the Psalms, for example, in a sermon on Psalm 69.

Psalm 83, however, presents a different challenge. At the end there is a strange mixture of supplication and imprecation:

Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek your name, O Lord.
Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
let them perish in disgrace,
that they may know that you alone,
whose name is the Lord,
are the Most High over all the earth.
(Psalm 83:16-18)

Imprecation: The word “forever” in verse 17 is a prayer for utter and eternal defeat: “Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever.”

Supplication: But the phrase, “that they may seek your name, O Lord,” is a prayer for conversion: “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O Lord.”

It is true, as Kidner points out, that there is “fruitless seeking”. But it would be very strange that the psalmist would be praying for “fruitless seeking.” If that’s the prayer why not just pray that they not seek the Lord?

I think David Dickson is right:

If any of the enemies of God’s people belong to God’s election, the church’s prayer against them giveth way to their conversion, and seeketh no more than that the judgment should follow them, only till they acknowledge their sin, turn, and seek God.... For the rest of the wicked, irreconcilable adversaries, when shame of disappointment and temporal judgments are come upon them, the worst of all yet followeth, even everlasting perdition. (Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2, 67-68)

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A lot to take in there. Will have to spend some more time on all of this.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

As Good as it Gets

From John Eldredge's "The Sacred Romance":

If for all practical purposes we believe that this life is our best shot at happiness, if this is as good as it gets, we will live as desperate, demanding, and eventually despairing men and women. We will place on this world a burden it was never intended to bear. We will try to find a way to sneak back into the Garden and when that fails, as it always does, our heart fails as well. If truth be told, most of us live as though this life is our only hope.

In his wonderful book The Eclipse of Heaven, A. J. Conyers put it quite simply: “We live in a world no longer under heaven.” All the crises of the human soul flow from there. All our addictions and depressions, the rage that simmers just beneath the surface of our Christian facade, and the deadness that characterizes so much of our lives has a common root: We think this is as good as it gets. Take away the hope of arrival and our journey becomes the Battan death march. The best human life is unspeakably sad. Even if we manage to escape some of the bigger tragedies (and few of us do), life rarely matches our expectations. When we do get a taste of what we really long for, it never lasts. Every vacation eventually comes to an end. Friends move away. Our careers don’t quite pan out. Sadly, we feel guilty about our disappointment, as though we ought to be more grateful.

Of course we’re disappointed—we’re made for so much more. “He has also set eternity in the hearts” (Eccl. 3:11). Our longing for heaven whispers to us in our disappointments and screams through our agony. “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Saturday, May 30, 2009

First Round of the Year

I told myself that I was going to play more golf this year than the 2 rounds I managed last year. I know I will exceed that amount but I certainly don't feel the need to play every weekend. Part of it is a money thing and part of it is wanting to be capable in the game but just not having a burning passion to really get a lot better. Every time I play someone says, "You know, if you played more you would be really good." That's all I really need right there. Sometimes just knowing that you CAN do something is more important than actually doing it.

So, I played at one of my favorite area courses today - Gateway National - home of last year's fantasy football weekend tournament. It was raining as we drove out there but once we got to the course it never rained again. The sun came out about halfway through the front 9 and it turned out to be a gorgeous day. The course was very soggy in most places so that was definitely an added challenge. This was also the first time this year that I had even swung a club so being able to go to the practice range before we played was very helpful in working out a couple kinks.

I started out with a great drive on the first hole which really helps take care of the jitters - especially when you are playing with a co-worker who is probably 10 strokes better than me on an average day and his ex-Marine buddy who can also play. I ended up with a double bogey on the first hole but didn't have a score higher than 6 on the front 9. Consistency like that after not playing for 8 or 9 months is a good feeling. Best shots of the day came on 16 and 17. I drove the ball into the upslope of a grass bunker and had a side/uphill lie with a very awkward stance. The green was 150 yards away with a huge lake to the left. I made much better contact with the ball than I expected and landed on the green, but of course I three-putted for a bogey. The 17th was a 165-yard par 3. I took a 6-iron and landed it within 10 feet of the cup which I promptly made for my one birdie on the day. Overall, I shot 46-47 which I will definitely take for the first round of the year. The 67-year old ex-Marine shot an 84. If I can be anywhere close to that in 31 years I will be a very happy guy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Meet the Press" Frustration

Here is what I hate most about the Left...everything is our fault. There is an implicit...and sometimes explicit...desire to blame America for everything bad that happens to it. Why? I think when you are a bleeding heart liberal you do not believe in absolute truth. Remember the furor over Bush using the term "evildoer"? "How dare he? Who is he to call someone else evil?" Of course they say that because if you don't believe in absolute truth then you don't really believe in good and evil. What that means is that if someone commits an "evil" act, then we need to figure out why they did that. What made this poor innocent creature choose an action so obviously out of character? Their answer invariably comes back to, "Well, the US must be responsible. After all, if this person is angry with us, we must have given them a reason."

I won't use the language on this blog which that line of thinking arouses. I will say this...that line of "reasoning" will insure the end of this country and will make us more vulnerable than we have ever been. If you are more interested in playing armchair psychiatrist than actually going out and getting the bad guys then you deserve what you get. This is the real world. It's not a university classroom and it's not the campaign trail. There are people who want to kill you...not because of anything you have done to them...but just because you exist. That is called evil and it's a lot more real than thinking that closing Gitmo is going to make us safer.

How can Obama stand there and say that Gitmo has made us less safe? That it is helping in the recruitment of new terrorists? How does he know? Is there a recent CNN poll that surveyed 700 Al Qaeda members and determined that 54% of them became terrorists in the last two years because of a prison in Cuba? That is pure political garbage backed up by zero facts. But of course this administration wouldn't know a fact if it subsidized it into existence. Last I checked, the 9/11 hijackers hated this country and wanted innocent Americans dead long before the idea of Gitmo was ever conceived. I'm glad Cheney spoke up and said something. Someone has to stand up to this torrent of misleading (is that the right word, Nancy?) half-truths.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Where Poppies Blow

Until about 40 years ago, Memorial Day was observed--not celebrated--on May 30 every year. Eager Cub Scouts would work their way through the crowds at small town parades selling bright red artificial poppies. In reviewing stands, graying veterans would salute or place their hands over their hearts as high school bands marched by. Often a young girl would be called upon to read the World War I era poem "In Flanders Fields" that describes the poppies blowing row upon row among the graves of fallen warriors of the Great War.

You can gain a real appreciation of Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery. There, soldiers of the Third Army, the ceremonial "Old Guard" will place little American flags on thousands of well-tended graves. Visitors will be told the story of Arlington, how Col. Robert E. Lee paced the floors of the Custis-Lee mansion back in 1861, praying and pondering. He had to decide whether to serve in the U.S. Army to which he had dedicated his life or to leave the Union with his beloved Virginia. The terrible Civil War that followed for four long and bitter years helped to fill thousands of graves at Arlington, once Lee's beautiful hilltop home.

When the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated in 1921 at Arlington, President Wilson spoke as a Bible was included among the objects placed in the cornerstone of this sacred space. Today, 24 hours a day, Tomb guards march their appointed rounds, honoring those who have fallen to defend our freedoms. The bumper sticker dates from our own time, but the sentiment it expresses goes all the way back: "America--land of the free because of the brave."

Americans have always loved their country. We love our country still. And we have a special reverence for those who gave what Lincoln called "the last full measure of devotion." Even today, with casualties in the War on Terror mercifully coming down, there are still flag-draped caskets returning regularly to Dover Air Force Base. There are fresh graves being filled daily at Arlington--and across America. So great is the call of America that even foreigners feel its pull. The Marquis de Lafayette--a brave hero of our Revolution--took home to France enough American soil to bury his earthly remains. In recent years, Memorial Day has become the occasion for sales at the mall, cookouts, rock concerts, and days at the beach. Our fallen heroes died for this America too. They knew that a certain lightheartedness, of ever-youthful exuberance, is a part of what it means to pursue happiness. It is for all of this, the paths of laudable pursuit, the fruits of honest toil, that America stands. May we always be worthy of those who died to give this America to us.

Start the 3-Day Weekend With a Laugh

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Stream of Consciousness

It's been awhile since the last posting. In order to ease back into the groove I am just going to write whatever comes to my mind. I have no preconceived notions of where this will go so buckle up.

OK, I'll start here. I was preparing for Tuesday's care group this afternoon and came across the following sentence..."Your loyalty is not to a church or a movement, but to Jesus Christ." I liked that. Obviously, I like it because of my struggles with Mt. Calvary but I think I would like it even if I found a church community in which I was completely fulfilled on every level. Why do so many people think it is so important to go to church? I think for so many it's just about GOING to church and has very little to do with actually DOING stuff while they are there.

Throughout the ages, church has been God's primary way of reaching the lost, so in that sense, church is a very important place to go. But we also know there are many other ways to reach the lost that a church can never replicate because there are many people who refuse to ever set foot in a church. So if you are out pursuing other avenues in which to reach the unsaved and share your faith then church becomes much less important from that standpoint.

The other primary arguments for church are spiritual growth and community. A 20 minute sermon on Sunday morning will only offer so much spiritual growth. Attending a Bible Class is hopefully a good supplement to that. But then we are still only talking about a little over an hour a week if you are doing nothing else. So, you better be doing something else...for a lot more than another hour. Now some churches actually allow their pastors to preach as much as the Spirit leads instead of limiting their words to fit an hour time period. I think those places offer a much richer opportunity for growth. I'll take 50 minutes of Piper over 20 minutes of my Pastor anyday. That isn't a knock on my Pastor - he just isn't given a chance to elaborate and teach in ways that he probably wants. It's a downfall of our culture. We just like to package things in easy to swallow increments - even something as important as God's Word.

So, let's say that 80% of my spiritual teaching comes from outside of my church in a given week. Suddenly church is a supplement to my growth instead of the core. That doesn't mean the supplement isn't important...it's just not the MOST important. Then that brings us to community. I actually think this is the biggest argument for going to church. Even though I have Christian friends and family and lead a men's Bible Study, I still have times where I feel isolated in my faith amongst a world and nation that so clearly hates anything of God. Community reminds us that there are many of us in this battle together...although that presupposes that your community knows it's in a battle. If your community isn't in the arena, actively engaged in the fight, then you are probably better off without it because they will desensitize you to the urgency that you should have when it comes to reaching others and living out an authentic faith. So, community, in and of iteself, isn't enough. We need a community that is God-fearing, Biblical, restorative and passionate about the Great Commission. Easy to find? Nope.

Honestly I am even hesitant to look at this point. I just really don't want to bother with it and I don't even feel that bad about feeling that way. I've kinda gotten stuck with my battle at Mt. Calvary, where I have many friends and some aspects of a solid community. But I also have a Pastor there who doesn't seem too keen on me coming back and performing ministry. I also have reservations about fighting the same battles there that I fought years ago. In my reading for Tuesday, the author also told a story about running into a couple that he had gone to church with 10 years ago. He was shocked at how they were still using the same language, stuck on the same issues, as they were when he went to church with them. He had moved on to new battles in his life, had grown in his faith and become deeper spiritually. I have a fear that the wrong community will ultimately stunt my growth and 10 years from now I will still be complaining about how we can't give firstfruit offerings to our missions (which, by the way, we still aren't doing even though we claim we now understand that Mt. Calvary is God's ministry and not ours...I guess that logic only works until putting it completely in God's hands means we give up control of church finances). Ummm...God...yeah, you're in charge...ummm...until we're not comfortable with it. Thanks for understanding.

Of course, I have to be aware of Satan's influence on my thinking and attitudes on all of these topics. He would prefer that I not go to church so I have to make sure that my decisions and opinions are not being swayed by anything that is anti-God. That is tough but I have some very strong Christian friends who are able to back me up on a lot of this stuff which provides an important filter that I can trust. But I must always keep asking the question, "Are these thoughts and ideas Godly and are they leading me closer to God or further away?" If the latter is true than I will need to reconsider everything. However, for now, my faith is growing more than it did when I attended full-time and I will find my peace in that.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Time Out

Yeah, I know I need to write about Rick Warren and Obama's overseas trip and the recent spiritual battles in my life and perhaps even about Al Franken. But I need a laugh right now and the following clip always gets me. Martin Short is one of my all time faves. Genius.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up

I didn't go to church last night but I did hear a wonderful sermon by John Piper that compared John 3:14-15 to Numbers 31:4-9. The former is the encounter of Jesus and Nicodemus and the latter is the story of Moses raising the bronze serpent that allowed healing to those who had been bitten. I had never really considered the analogies and foreshadowing between the two and definitely came away enriched for having been shown the connection. Consider the following from the Numbers account:

1) The serpent on the pole is not preventative. It is for bitten people (verse 8). The poison is in them, and without divine intervention they will die.

2) The snakes in the camp are from the Lord. He sent them (verse 6). The wrath of God is on this people for their sin of ingratitude and murmuring and rebellion.

3) The means God chooses to rescue the people from his own curse is a picture of the curse itself.

4) All they have to do in order to be saved from God’s wrath is look at his provision hanging on a pole.

I think you can draw the proper connections to Christ's death on the cross. My heart aches for my Jewish friends who will not even consider the New Testament as remotely divine. It's like hearing the first part of the story and never getting to experience the amazing fulfillment and joy of the end of the journey - that which the first part of the story continually points and hints.

Piper also went into the story of G.K. Chesterton's conversion at the age of 16. This is the verse that did it: Isaiah 45:22 - "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (King James) The minister was snowed in at home that day and one of the 12-15 people in the congregation went up to the pulpit and offered the following in part:

“But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me’. . . . Many of ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. Ye will never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the father. No, look to him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some of ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ and great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!”

Was there a better way to end that message on Good Friday then by listening to "Watch the Lamb"? I think not.

Here is the link to the sermon if you have an interest:
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2009/3790_The_Son_of_Man_Must_Be_Lifted_UpLike_the_Serpent/

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Conversation with Death on Good Friday

From John Piper...

CHRISTIAN:

Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?

I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.

Where is your sting?

DEATH, sneeringly:

My sting is your sin.

CHRISTIAN:

I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.

Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?

Where is, my sin?

What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?

O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.

Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be his servant. For me, you will have no sting.

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tidbits

You can't be born a Christian, it is a conscious choice you must
make.

God could have given up on the love affair with mankind. He could have resorted to power and demanded our loyalty, or given us a kind of spiritual lobotomy that would take away our choice to love him. Even now, he could easily obliterate our Enemy and demand the allegiance of our hearts, but the love affair that began in the laughter of the Trinity would be over, at least for us. And Satan’s accusation that the kingdom of God is established only through raw power would be vindicated.

"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism." -- Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) Premier of the Soviet Union

See what happens when I leave Iowa? Do you see gay marriage in Missouri? No...I don't think so.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. - Winston Churchill

"The difference between the path toward greater freedom or bigger government is the difference between success and failure; between opportunity and coercion; between faith in a glorious future and fear of mediocrity and despair; between respecting people as adults, each with a spark of greatness, and treating them as helpless children to be forever dependent; between a drab, materialistic world where Big Brother rules by promises to special interest groups, and a world of adventure where everyday people set their sights on impossible dreams, distant stars, and the Kingdom of God. We have the true message of hope for America." --Ronald Reagan