Monday, August 31, 2009

God, me and sparrows


I know why worship music is so powerful and important...it stays with you and sustains you through difficult days. This photo and the words of friends going through difficult days made me think of this old hymn and its words-
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Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
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I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear, And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
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Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
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Monday's cartoon


I can't tell you how often I have asked that same thing..."are we there yet."
It's the heart cry of every believer. We all look forward to that day when
we will see him face to face. Perhaps today!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Remembering childhood, anticipating eternity


This week I read an article talking about the upcoming 60th birthday of one of my childhood friends, Tweety Bird. Yes, Tweety is 60. I hate having these reminders of my age....you see I'm not far behind him, but I do hope I've held up better.
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Reminders like this make me quite aware of how fleeting life really is. It passes so quickly and is over far too soon. I still remember my dad telling me, "I know I'm 60 on the outside, but I still feel 20 on the inside." We all have that sense that this life ends before we are ready for the end. There is, in each of us, the knowledge that this is not how it is supposed to be. We were designed to live forever, but sin and the curse has messed that up for now.
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But there is a day coming when eternity takes over, when time is no more and real life...the life we were meant to live becomes the eternal norm. For the Christian this is our great hope...the hope of our salvation being completed. We only have part of it now, but the rest is coming and when it does we will be amazed! I love the words of Peter in his first book when he writes about this hope. It's the hope of the return of our savior...the one we have put our faith and hope in and the one who will finish the work he began when we believed. It's a wonderful hope for old bones close to 60.
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1 Peter 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Alluringly packaged abominations


Sarah Honig, in the Jerusalem Post, wrote an article titled, "Alluringly packaged abomination". The title caught my attention more than the contents of the article. An artist with words can often say more in a title than can be said with pages of explanation. This title was like that for me...it made my mind race to think about what this would look like. What I want to focus on for a moment is the packaging of sin. I must admit to you that our enemy does a great job of packaging his products. As I thought about this idea it made me realize that we are a most gullible race. We gladly buy a pretty package to find that when we open it there is nothing good inside. The package says, "fun, freedom and choice", but inside is disappointment, sickness, and loss. As I think about this idea my mind races back to a marketing program a few years ago. Do you remember the "Pet Rock"? It was a great marketing campaign to package and sell rocks. And it worked! Put a pretty bow and a nice label on the box and we will buy anything! Our enemy knows that about us, so he has, from the beginning, been the master marketer, the genius of packaging. He will wrap up the most horrible things, package them beautifully and we will gladly give our lives to have them. As an old friend said years ago, "when given the opportunity to eat at a wonderful buffet the human race will almost always choose to eat out of the dumpster." I wonder, what "alluringly packaged abominations" have tempted you lately?
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Saturday's cartoon

Perspective is everything. When I saw this cartoon I immediately thought of the smiling parents I have talked to this week who have said, "Isn't God good? School started this week!" I guess it's true- one man's blessing is another man's curse.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Placebos Are Getting More Effective...


I thought this article was very interesting. It makes me wonder....how many of the medications for depression and other social problems are simply an adult replacement for a pacifier?
(I'm sure I will I get comments for that!)
Read the article and let me know your thoughts.
Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why.
Photo: Nick Veasey
Merck was in trouble. In 2002, the pharmaceutical giant was falling behind its rivals in sales. Even worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generics to flood the market. The company hadn't introduced a truly new product in three years, and its stock price was plummeting.
In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck's research director, laid out his battle plan to restore the firm to preeminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company's reach into the antidepressant market, where Merck had lagged while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. "To remain dominant in the future," he told Forbes, "we need to dominate the central nervous system."
His plan hinged on the success of an experimental antidepressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it looked like every pharma executive's dream: a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. The drug tested brilliantly early on, with minimal side effects, and Merck touted its game-changing potential at a meeting of 300 securities analysts.
Behind the scenes, however, MK-869 was starting to unravel. True, many test subjects treated with the medication felt their hopelessness and anxiety lift. But so did nearly the same number who took a placebo, a look-alike pill made of milk sugar or another inert substance given to groups of volunteers in clinical trials to gauge how much more effective the real drug is by comparison. The fact that taking a faux drug can powerfully improve some people's health—the so-called placebo effect—has long been considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology... (read more)
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Let me close with this comment- I know there are real medical problems and wonderful medications to address them. That is not what this article is about. It's conclusions fascinated me. With all of the pressures, worries and depressions of our days all most people really needed was a little placebo relief from their troubles and it made a difference.
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Application for Christians? Many have said that the Christian faith offers a placebo effect to it's believers. They maintain we feel better because we believe, but it doesn't mean the object we believe in is able to do anything to help us. That's the claim of many I have read in recent days. Their conclusion is this, just say no. Don't take the pill of faith. There's nothing there anyway, but if it makes you feel better.....
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But, what of the millions who have gone to their death for this faith and not recanted? What of a faith that changes a murderer into a kind and caring man? What of a faith that has changed millions? No faith placebo could ever do what the Christian faith has done. There is something real and efficacious in this pill that we have swallowed and it brings new life to those who have taken it. It's real. It works. There is no other "pill" that will cure our sin problem but the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And now for something completely silly....

Cats in the cradle


There are songs we all remember fondly and others that we hate. For me, one of the songs I hate is "Cats in the cradle" by Harry Chapin. I still have to turn the station when I hear it played. I think it was inspired by the devil!* I have enough regrets and "I wish I could do it over" in my life already. Do I really need more? The truth is that I do wish I could go back and do things differently. I think, like most people, I had a lot of my priorities messed up, or as a friend of mine says, "I was really jacked up." I don't know exactly what that means, but I assume it's the same idea. As a young pastor I threw myself into the work. Countless hours, souls led to the Lord, church growing and all the while my family at home waiting for me. I still remember, with a pain in my heart as I tell you, when my wife told me what my 4 year old son asked (he's 34 now), "Mommy, can I get a part-time daddy since mine is never here?" Do you understand now why I hate that song? His question cut me to the heart and still gives me pause as I think about how I invested my precious time. I didn't focus on the most important things and I regret it deeply. I wish I could have a do over, a mulligan as they call it in golf, but life isn't that way. Now I think about my kids, grown adults now, and how much I wish I could go back 30 years and change my priorities. But for today, each day, I get that opportunity again. How will I spend this day? How will I invest my life? What's really important? It's still a challenge for me to get it right.....
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*I hope you understand the above comment is meant in jest and added for emphasis. I do not think this song was inspired by the devil.

Martyrs for their faith?

"To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ" -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We live in a very difficult time in history.....if you are a Christian. More believers are giving their lives for their Christian faith in our days than any other time in history. The battle is real. The believers are faithful. The cost is high. Here's one story from Iran that will give you something to pray about and challenge your own faith.


BREAKING NEWS: Jailed Iranian Women Refuse Court Pressure To “Deny Christ”
Monday, August 10, 2009 (1:08 pm)

By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent life

TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)-- Two young Iranian women who may face the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity have told a court that they will not abandon their faith in Christ, despite harsh treatment in one of Iran's most notorious prisons, Christian trial observers confirmed to Worthy News Monday, August 10. Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, appeared Sunday, August 9, in front of a 'revolutionary court' in the capital Tehran where they were pressured to return to Islam, according to well-informed Christians linked to Elam Ministries, a group supporting Iran's growing church movement. "Though great pressure was put on them, both women declared that they would not deny their faith," the Christians said. Both women, who reportedly suffer health problems, were detained March 5 for converting to Christianity. They endured solitary confinement, interrogations "for many hours while blindfolded" and other mistreatment in Tehran's Evin prison, well-informed Christians said.

LONG ORDEAL

"During their five-month ordeal, both have been unwell and have lost much weight. Marzieh Amirizadeh is in pain due to an on-going problem with her spine, as well as an infected tooth and intense headaches," they added." She desperately needs medical attention. Two months ago the prison officials told her the prison had proper medical equipment and that they will attend to her, but so far no proper treatment has been given." During Sunday's court hearing the prosecution reportedly asked the two women if they were still Christians. “We love Jesus,” and “Yes, we are Christians,” they were overheard answering repeated questions. Asked whether they "were Muslims and now have become Christians,” the women reportedly replied: “We were born in Muslim families, but we were not Muslims.” They also said they had "no regrets,” despite their imprisonment. (read more)

They have not denied their faith, but their fate is still unsure. It's possible they will give their lives for their faith. It challenges me to pray and look at my own heart and life. Am I ready to stand for Christ, as these two women are doing, with the possibility of death for my stand? I hope I would say "yes!"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Taking care of each other


This afternoon I've been thinking about the way the body of Christ, His church, takes care of its members. I think of those who are struggling and others who pray for them. I think of those in need and the way the church meets those needs. I realize how I have gotten through difficult times as the body of Christ has prayed for me, encouraged me and walked with me. This last week I was part of this very thing in the lives of several people and I watched with joy as the church family cared for its members. We, as Christians, are part of the body of Christ. We may not even realize all that means, but I see it working. I see it happening as men meet together to encourage and challenge each other. I see it happen as those in need call the church first and ask for prayer, for help and for direction. The church family was God's design to work with him for the care and nurturing of his family. I love his church. This worldwide family has worked with God to care for and help one another for more than 2,000 years. This amazing family has kept many from drowning and carried them through to safety when the floods and storms of life threaten to overwhelm them. What an amazing family, what a strange way God has of caring for his children.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quote of the day


"You can never really know the Scriptures until you're willing to be changed by them." -Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man, pp. 297.

Saturday's cartoon


Disaster!



It happens to all of us at one time or another.....disaster! Problems loom on the horizon for all of us. We all live with a subtle sense of dread of what is coming next. Last night disaster struck for me. I got home from the church, got out my trusty laptop to get online and do some writing and it crashed! My computer with all my stuff on it crashed! I lost everything! Luckily, with some help from tech support in India and a sweet lady in New Delhi I was able to get the computer running again, but all my stuff was gone. It's part of the price we pay for technology, but often I think the price is too high. So, this morning I'm grieving over the loss of several years of stuff I have worked on. I did backup a lot of it, but my backup is not as recent as I would like. So, I'll be a little slow posting for a bit, please be patient with me. Thanks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quote of the day

And, to keep with the theme for the day, here's a quote I thought perfect-

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Grounded


I'm constantly frustrated in my attempts do what I was designed to do- live a life in relationship with the living God directed by his Spirit and "sailing" with him. The Christian life was meant to be living, active life in fellowship with God, but I find I'm often grounded on the rocks of a dilemma, or battling some great issue that keeps me from fulfilling my purpose. I was meant to "sail." And most of the time I find I'm stuck on some rock somewhere.....trying to get back to what I was designed to do. I think the truth of it is that this is much harder AND much easier than we all know. Paul described it quite simply, but it's not simple at all...it's frustratingly difficult at times. He wrote these simple words for us to "sail" by, "Walk by the Spirit and you will not fulfill the deeds of the flesh..." Simple "sailing" instructions for the Christian, but often...very often most difficult to do. When I'm grounded on a problem or stuck because of my sin the big battle is to get my boat back in the water, to get my sail up so the Spirit can direct me. I long to sail under the gentle wind of God's Spirit, but often have to admit to him that my flesh, my problems, my fears have grounded me and I couldn't sail with him even if his Spirit blew. Each day is an opportunity for us to raise the sail and let God lead, but watch out for the rocks....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are we near the end?

This article just appeared in the last few weeks. It's a very interesting development in these last days. Are we near the end? I believe we are. This article is an interesting insight into how quickly the temple could be built. I have edited the article for this blog, but you can read the whole article here. (I do encourage you to read the entire article.)



It's interesting to me that what Muslims the world over have said would never happen is beginning to find a voice. A window is opening. In the complete article the author says it would only take 1 year to build the temple. That would work well in the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation period. Isn't it interesting how God has all things planned to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible?






Thursday, August 06, 2009


Muslim leader wants Temple rebuilt Exclusive: Joel Richardson tell of rabbis uniting with Islamic intellectual on common cause


Posted: August 06, 20091:00 am Eastern


In a historically unprecedented development, a famous Turkish Muslim leader and a prominent group of Israeli rabbis have joined together on one of their declared goals, to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Adnan Oktar, who uses the pen name of Harun Yahya, is a controversial but highly influential Muslim intellectual and author with over 65 million of his books in circulation worldwide. Oktar recently met with three representatives from the re-established Jewish Sanhedrin, a group of 71 Orthodox rabbis and scholars from Israel, to discuss how religious Muslims, Jews and Christians can work together.
The objectives of the alliance include waging a joint intellectual and spiritual battle against the worldwide growing tide of irreligiousness, unbelief and immorality. But even more unusual is their agreement with regard to the need to rebuild the Jewish Temple, a structure Oktar refers to as the "Masjid (Mosque)" or the "Palace of Solomon." An official statement about the meeting has been published on the Sanhedrin's website. Concluding the statement is the following call:
Out of a sense of collective responsibility for world peace and for all humanity, we have found it timely to call to the world and exclaim that there is a way out for all peoples. It is etched in a call to all humanity: We are all the sons of one father, the descendants of Adam, and all humanity is but a single family. Peace among nations will be achieved through building the House of G-d, where all peoples will serve as foreseen by King Solomon in his prayers at the dedication of the First Holy Temple. Come let us love and respect one another, and love and honor and hold our heavenly Father in awe. Let us establish a house of prayer in His name in order to worship and serve Him together, for the sake of His great compassion. He surely does not want the blood of His creations spilled, but prefers love and peace among all mankind. We pray to the Almighty Creator, that you harken to our Call. Together – each according to his or her ability – we shall work towards the building of the House of Prayer for All Nations on the Temple Mount in peace and mutual understanding....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Africa trip recap

video

Our friends and team members, Paul and Suzie, put this short video together of our recent trip to Kenya. I wanted to share with you some of the details of the week and our time with these wonderful people in Kenya. This video is a great way to do that. As I watched it this morning I told my wife, Joye, how amazing it was that we fell in love with these wonderful people in such a short time. We look forward to the day when we can return to Kilifi and be with them again.

Prayer is now illegal?

Here's an interesting story that came to light over the weekend. Will we soon face a day when our faith itself goes on trial? Very interesting days we are in....




Saturday , August 15, 2009

A principal and an athletic director in Florida could be charged with crimes and spend six months in jail after they prayed before a meal at a school event, the Washington Times reported.
Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and athletic director Robert Freeman will go on trial in federal district court Sept. 17. They're accused of violating the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the Times.
Local pastors and some students and teachers are outraged that Lay and Freeman face criminal charges, and they have protested during graduation ceremonies, the newspaper said.
"I have been defending religious freedom issues for 22 years, and I've never had to defend somebody who has been charged criminally for praying," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the Christian-based legal group that is defending the two school officials.
But an ACLU official said the Santa Rosa County School District has been guilty of "flagrant" First Amendment violations for years, the Times reported.*
"The defendants all admitted wrongdoing," said Daniel Mach, ACLU's director of litigation for its freedom of religion program. "For example, the Pace High School teachers handbook asks teachers to 'embrace every opportunity to inculcate, by precept and example, the practice of every Christian virtue.'"
The case stems from a Jan. 28 incident in which Lay, a local Baptist church deacon, asked Freeman to offer mealtime prayers at a lunch for school employees. Staver said no students were there and the event took place on school property after hours.
Mach countered that the event was held during the school day and Lay has admitted in writing that there were students present, according to the newspaper.
The ACLU contends that the allowance of the lunchtime prayer was a breach of last year's settlement, in which the district promised, among other things, to prohibit all school employees from promoting prayers during school-sponsored events, espousing their religious beliefs and trying to convert students.
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*Personal comment- It seems to me that the first amendment rights of these men to pray is what's on trial here. Funny that the ACLU would use the first amendment to suppress the first amendment rights of Christians.

"Revelation Song" - Gateway Worship, Song led by Kari Jobe

We sang this wonderful song at the end of our services yesterday. I love it. It's been done a lot in the last two years, but it's a wonderful praise song and one of my favorites. It comes from Revelation 5 and is a song of praise that everyone will one day sing. There are many who will sing it one day to honor the King of kings, but had never bowed their knees until that day. I'm so glad we can sing it now and practice for that day. I do believe this song has been written for our days to prepare us for the day when we will get to sing it for the King himself. I can't wait for that day!

Monday's cartoon


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Starting a new book



I've just started a new book that my friend, Brandon, recommended. I've had it for a while, but had to finish another book first. I am looking forward to reading it. Most of my reading consists of commentaries, theology, church issues. Books that are often rather dry. A story of the life of another Christian is always a great treat for me. I'm really looking forward to the story of this Christian and his life in China.

Ok, I admit it....I'm in a rut


Ok, I admit it...I'm in a rut. I have looked back on the last few topics I've written and they all have the same theme and flavor. I know it's because of what I'm dealing with in the lives of people who are coming to see me. Their lives, their problems and struggles have me focused on one thing right now. I'll change direction tomorrow....as soon as I can get out of this rut. I hope these posts have been helpful to those of you going through your own struggles, but I will make a change in direction in the days ahead. Thanks for your comments. Even though the days are difficult for many I'm excited about what I see God doing in the lives of those around me. Difficult days turn our eyes upward and that's always a good thing.

In the face of the storm


Storms come to every life.
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Some dread them,
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others face them as a challenge,
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and still others consider the storms great adventures to face head on.
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Which one are you?
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We are in a time of storms. The economy, unemployment, world events, war, terror on every side, recession...
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Fears abound!
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Jesus said these days would come....they're here! How do we face the storms with a sense of adventure instead of fear or dread? Jesus said it's all about our foundations. What are you depending on when the storm comes?
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Storms test our foundations. They reveal what we are trusting. What is your life built on? How do you face the storms? Is it an adventure or do you dread the storms when they come? These are just a few questions to think about in a time when storms are coming, one after another. It's a time to learn how to handle the storms of these days. For the church it's vital we face them together, caring for one another, helping each other and doing what God called us to do- be the body of Christ in the world. What an exciting time we live in! What a wonderful opportunity to trust God.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Finding a shelter in the storm



This morning I had a few hours that weren't committed (rare!) so I snuck away to spend some time in prayer. I took my bible with me and, as I was praying, I would stop and read through some of David's Psalms. I came upon this word several times and began to dwell on the idea a little more. I couldn't leave it alone because the word kept coming up in David's words, so I did some digging. It's not a strange word or even one we don't know, but I find that in my life I often lose the connection to what words mean if I don't revisit them on occasion. Here's the word- STRONGHOLD. David used this idea when he wrote,

Psalm 59:17 O my strength, I will sing praises to You; For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.

God is my stronghold. That idea is repeated several times, so I had to stop and look into this a little more. The dictionary describes it this way,

strong·hold- A fortified place or a fortress. Or, A place of survival or refuge: one of the last strongholds of an age-old tradition.

I knew this word had the idea of protection, fortification, and safety; but it had always been connected to a place in my thinking. Now, suddenly I read that David makes God his stronghold. No longer does he have to run to a place for safety. Now, for David, a person is his stronghold and goes with him. A mobile stronghold? What an idea. Instead of running to a place for safety I now have a person with me who is my fortress. The God who is lord of all things is my fortress. It has profound implications for the Christian. If my safety is no longer in a place, but now is in a person how does that change how I live? How I function differently in the world? Suddenly "safety" is not somewhere, but now is someone! It's another wonderful blessing of a relationship with the living God- A fortress to go, please.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Enjoy the ride...


Thoughts on Job


As I read slowly through the book of Job it makes me think of the many people I encounter each week. Real people with real crisis in their lives. Crisis that, although not as difficult as Job's, still causes them to ask "why." Early this week I sat with a family as their mother died. It was crushing to them and difficult for me. At times like this there are no words that help, just the "ministry of presence." Being there is the most important thing we can do. Today I went to hospital to sit with a young man who fell 20 feet from a tree and was miraculously only slightly injured. No broken bones, but a few days in hospital anyway. Before my run to the hospital I spent some time with one of our ladies who has lost her job and is worried about her life and her home. She sees a cliff ahead and is fearful of the future. It's a difficult time for her. Yesterday I got a call from a wife whose husband told her he didn't love her anymore and wanted a divorce. She's broken in a different way than the young man who fell from a tree, but it's a pain she will have for a long time. So, back to Job...as I read the dialogue between Job and his friends I see the real struggle we all have to try to understand why. We do try to figure out what's going on in our lives, but most of the time the answers don't come quickly or easily. Most of the time we simply have to trust God and wait. In Job's life and in ours we have to answer this question- Even if I don't understand why, will I trust God anyway? In the vacuum of an answer we are often left with only faith, but faith in the right one is the best choice we can make.
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Pro 3:5 Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Pro 3:6 Listen for GOD's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.
Pro 3:7 Don't assume that you know it all. Run to GOD!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hope


My friend, Susan, saw this on a recent trip she took. She took a photo of the sign for me and said in her note, "I think it pretty much sums up the majority of attitudes out there. People start off with hope, but then something happens in life, and their hope takes a turn for the worse. There needs to be another sign behind this one that reads, "Hope in Christ" with the down-turned arrow pointing back up!" Thanks, Susan, for the great photo and thoughts.

Quote of the day

"When the God of the Bible is rejected, people choose a new god. The postmodern age has anointed secular tolerance as its god. Tolerance once meant listening respectfully to all points of view, freely discussed in our common search for the truth. But the creed for the new god of tolerance is that knowing truth is impossible. So everyone is free to think and act as he likes, with one exception: those who have the audacity to believe that they know the truth, particularly if they think God has revealed it to them, are not tolerated. The result is that those who crowned the new god of tolerance have become the absolute arbiters of culture. The new god of tolerance becomes, in the guise of liberalism, an absolute tyrant." -Chuck Colson, "THE FAITH"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Strange solutions


I must admit that there are strange stories in the bible. Stories that make me ask "why?" In part of my reading this morning I come to one of those stories. Here it is-
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Numbers 21:6-9 The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live." And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
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This very story is the one that Jesus refers to in John 3 when he said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life."
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The people asked that the problem be removed, but instead God gave them a different solution. It was different than what they wanted...it didn't remove the problem, but it took care of its results. They were still bitten, but now with a simple look to the pole they did not die. This is the picture Jesus used to describe his work on the cross. It didn't remove sin, but it provided a solution to the results of the "bite" by a simple act of faith. Now, by faith, we will not die. We are still bitten, sin has tried to kill us, but with a simple and completely illogical act of faith the results of sin's bite is taken care of. I am most grateful that, although sin has tried to do its worse, Jesus has taken the poison out of the bite of sin and given me life instead. This is a wonderful solution to our problem of sin, but it's a different solution than we want. We ask, "Why can't God just forgive us? Why couldn't he just remove sin?" But the bite of sin, the pain of our rebellion must be felt. It's the pain of that bite that makes us realize we have a serious problem that must be addressed. What's wonderful is that the result of our sin, the poison of the bite, is completely taken care of with a simple act of faith. It's a strange but wonderful solution to the deadly bite of sin.

Monday's cartoon


It's interesting to me how often the theology of our day is not based on scripture at all. It happens in every generation. I thought you would enjoy this funny illustration of bad theology and its result.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Christian agnostics


As I mentioned earlier I am reading Chuck Colson's new book, "THE FAITH". It's a very interesting book. I'm really enjoying it. I am in the chapter now that deals with faith and what we believe both as Christians and as a culture. His writes that there are many people who call themselves Christians, but do not believe in absolute truth. In fact the statistics say that nearly 50% of Christians under 40 do not believe in absolute truth. I think the only thing you can call such a community are Christian agnostics. They believe, but they don't think anyone can know for sure (the agnostic's statement of faith.) For me this is such a strange way of thinking...to claim to be Christian, but not to believe in absolute truth. The culture has indeed affected the Christian world! They have sold the lie that truth cannot be known and many believe it....well sort of, but you can't really know for sure (sorry, couldn't resist the sarcasm.) But I read the dogmatic, confident, clear words of Jesus who said, much to our culture's frown, "I am the way, the truth and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father but through me." These words are dogmatic! These words demand a response- either you believe Jesus or you don't. His statement is so dogmatic, so clear, that it demands a decision and a response. It had never entered my thoughts that a person could be a Christian and not believe what the bible says. It appears our culture has mastered the art of sitting on the fence with a faith of uncertainty. Though I do love the agnostic statement of faith, "I don't know and you don't either!" Sounds like a very certain statement of faith to describe a faith of uncertainty. Strange world, isn't it?

Saturday's cartoon

I smiled when I saw this cartoon. It's a new reality for us because when we got the new equipment from the cable company we also got a new remote! Now Joye and I each have our own remotes. Just for fun last night, while she was looking for a program, I changed the channel. I can already see that we will be having fun with two remotes in the same house. Have a great Saturday!

What I'm reading now...


I just started Chuck Colson's new book, "THE FAITH". I am really enjoying it. The book is a combination of basic systematic theology and apologetics. I'm only part way through it, but I think this will be a great resource for any Christian to have in these days. I'll give you a report when I'm finished.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Provision


It's always amazing to me as I watch how God meets needs. He provides a job, savings, a sudden gift, a check in the mail, an opportunity to work. In a thousand different ways God works to meet our needs. He's amazingly creative and is never panicked by our needs....he is a wonderful provider.
About a month or more ago I noticed that our TV was starting to act funny. It was having trouble coming on. We have had it for many years and planned to use it until Jesus came back, but it didn't look like that would happen. Gradually it was getting worse.
On one particular day I got the bill for our phone and cable service. It was much too high so I called to see where I could make some cuts and reduce my cost. We talked about several options and then, in the middle of the visit, the person helping me said, "Oh, by the way, we have a new warranty service available for only $19.00 per month." I laughed and told him, "I thought we were trying to lower my costs!!" But after he told me about the program I signed up. It provided repairs or replacement for all our home electronics. A pretty amazing offer really.
Just a few weeks pass by and our TV died......
So, I call my wonderful new warranty service to tell them, "My TV has died, would you come out and fix it?" They tell me they will schedule it and I wait. Days go by and I wait. Nothing happens. I'm thinking, "I was sure foolish to take them up on this warranty service. It doesn't look like they are going to do anything." Then, suddenly...they call. Now I have to tell you that no one had come out to look at our old TV yet, but they call and tell my wife, "We are sending you a new TV to replace your old one. It will be there in 7-10 days." So we wait....and wonderfully, yesterday the UPS man stops at OUR house and delivers a brand new 37 inch flat screen TV!!!!
I know we don't NEED a TV. I know it's a luxury. I know we could and probably should live without it, but it's a wonderful provision for us by the great provider. Some might say, "God didn't provide that, the cable company did!" But I don't see my call to them, the question about this service, the death of the TV and its replacement as accidents. I do see God's care behind it all and I am most blessed by his kind provision to us for something we really don't even need.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Refreshment


It's early morning, I'm up...can't sleep,thinking, praying, thoughts about a hundred things, the ministry, our country, the world, God's work in my life, directions to go, relationships, priorities, people I care about....much of it, honestly, out of my control. It's clear that much of life is not in our control at all. I'm reading Job right now and I read his words of frustration and questions of "why?" as he interacts with his friends. We all do that as we go through our lives. Honestly my problems are nothing like Job, but I whine, worry and fret about them anyway. The thousand thoughts we all deal with on a daily basis can be overwhelming at times....I think that's why we try to stay busy...so we don't have to deal with our own thoughts. Left alone, without God in my life, I could easily see how despair, drugs and destruction could be the only solution. Life is hard. Situations difficult. Problems unresolved. Relationships broken....BUT GOD (I love it when I read those two words in the Bible) makes all the difference. His presence in my life, his presence alone, brings refreshment to me, peace to my confusion, comfort to my wounds, hope to my doubts. BUT GOD...for the Christian these are words of great comfort. For the world they are words of dread and bring anger and resentment. I've been reading an atheist web site and commenting on some of the posts. I'm surprised at how different they see things than I do. For the atheist there is no refreshment...no God to comfort, only the resolve that they are alone in the world and at least they are not deluded "like those Christians". For me, if it is delusion, then leave me to it....I have a God who loves me, a hope that encourages me, a book that guides me, a presence that teaches me, friends that love me and a God who comforts me....by all of this I'm refreshed, it's water to a weary soul, it's peace to a troubled heart, it's rest to a tired mind in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Corn!


Some wonderful friends of ours recently brought us some fresh sweet corn from the old home state, Iowa. It's a regular summer treat for us Iowa ex-patriots to get our hands on some sweet corn from the homeland. If you have never had it then you wouldn't understand, but I can only imagine that corn like this couldn't be much better in heaven. It's wonderful!
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For us the tradition is to have fresh corn on the cob as a whole meal! That's it...just corn, cob after cob of it until you couldn't eat another bite and that's what we did. We still have some left and I am relishing each kernel. So, thank you, Bud and Brenda, for the wonderful treat. We always love your care packages from the homeland.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The plans of men

Sometimes our best plans don't work out. This building demolition in India is a funny example of best intentions gone bad. Once our plans have failed, then what? When everything we planned is turned upside down it's a great opportunity to ask God for his direction and help.

Monday's cartoon


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Quote of the day?

I read this quote today and thought it deserved comment. Here's the quote-

"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion." — Arthur C. Clarke

Now, may I comment? I smiled at this quote from a famous author who may be knowledgeable about many things, but knows little about morality or religion. Morality was established by God, not religion. Man didn't come up with morality, in fact the bible records clearly that man avoids and breaks any rules God may establish. Man, on his best day, would never come up with morality, it has to come from outside of ourselves. Man, by nature, is a rule breaker, not a rule maker. Morality was God's idea and never the desire of mankind. This is one quote that reveals more about it's author than it does about religion or morality.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Thank you

Today I am beginning my 4th year "FINISHING WELL". Let me thank you all for your kind words and encouragment. This site has been a real blessing to me and I hope it has to you as well. This forum for my ideas and observations about the world and the word has really helped me frame my own thoughts on a number of topics. Thank you for being part of this adventure with me.