Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Degaje


There's a term that's used in Haiti as a way of life- Degaje! It means, "make do." Take what you have and make the best of it. In Haiti this is not only a way of life, but a necessity. It eases the tensions of things going wrong, vehicles breaking down, running out of gas, not having milk for the kids. It's woven into the fabric of a country that has very little and so they simply make do. Degaje. It has been frustrating to me, as an American, to go to Haiti and live under this lifestyle credo, but it was eye opening as well. The whole team I traveled with had to relax and simply let things go the way they had to go....degaje! It would be wonderful if we let a little degaje creep into our lives.....if we let God change our plans and we are "ok" with it. It would be great if we could enjoy the wonderful guidance and care of God to provide what we need instead of what we want. We might want a pond to swim in, but a cup will do. We might want a dinner of meat and potatoes, but rice would nourish us just as well. We might want new slacks and a shirt, but what we have is perfectly fine. Could a little Haitian "degaje" be healthy for us? I think it might.

What I'm reading




It's taken me nearly a month to work through N.T. Wright's new book, After you believe. I have taken some time with this work because it is so good. Many of the pages have almost every word underlined in red. It's been a challenging book and very inspirational, but it is not an easy read. If you are looking for something that will challenge your faith I recommend this book. If you want an easy read avoid this one at all cost! I only have a few pages left, but I loved this book!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nuts and Bolts


I'm beginning a project to rewrite some material we used a number of years ago called "Nuts and Bolts." It was an attempt to teach the basics of the Christian faith to those who didn't know anything.
Here's where I need your help- If you were to write this material what are the important things you think a new Christian needs to know to get started well? What are the basics, the "Nuts and Bolts" of the Christian faith?
My reason for asking for your help is that I know you are all brilliant men and women of faith and I value your opinion. Thanks for your help!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The foolishness of naturalism


I've been fascinated with the recent flurry of words from atheists and naturalists attacking Christianity and faith of any kind. Suddenly, atheism is the hot new product and identity everyone wants. It's now "cool" to be an atheist. It's fascinating to me because atheism is a vacuum of thought and belief. An atheist is never an atheist for intellectual reasons. Atheists are always created for emotional reasons. Reason itself is absent when an atheist is created. My thoughts on this have been reinforced as I read some of C.S. Lewis' work this morning. Over the last few months I've been slowly working through his book, God in the dock, and slowly because you can't read this amazing book quickly. In the portion of the book I was working through this morning I came to these words and thought you would enjoy them as well. So, here are the brilliant thoughts of Mr. C.S. Lewis on the topic of naturalism:
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"It would be impossible to accept naturalism itself if we really and consistently believed naturalism. For naturalism is a system of thought. But for naturalism all thoughts are mere events with irrational causes......if naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes, Therefore, all thoughts would be equally worthless. Therefore, naturalism is worthless. If it is true, then we can know no truths. It cuts its own throat....when it takes the final step and we attempt a naturalistic account of thought itself, suddenly the whole thing unravels. The last fatal step has invalidated all the preceding ones: for they were all reasoning and reason itself has been discredited. We must, therefore, either give up thinking altogether or else begin again from the ground floor. There is no reason, at this point, to bring in either Christianity or spiritualism. We do not need them to refute naturalist. It refutes itself."
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The naturalist, in his great "wisdom," has created a system that is self defeating. A naturalist (atheist) becomes one because of events of life, and never because of reason and sound thinking. Reason would not take you there. Sound thinking may make you question our world and how we got here, but would never lead you to a world of order created by chance.
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Faith is foundational for all of us. The key question is what is your faith founded upon? The naturalist would call my faith foolish because I believe in a God I have never seen. I, in response, would call his views foolish because he has created a world system that is self defeating built completely on chance. I think I will continue to trust in the God of the bible. It's the most logical decision available.

Monday's cartoon


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weddings


I'm at the church on a Saturday waiting to perform a wedding service in about 40 minutes for one of our young couples in the church. I'm really glad to do this wedding. The couple and I have been meeting for about 3 months before the wedding working on issues they will face after the wedding service in hopes of avoiding the plight of this poor bride. (And I've been looking for an excuse to use this photo anyway.)
Marriage is wonderful, but it's also the hardest thing I've ever done. It means you learn to set aside "you" and make decisions about "we." It's difficult and rewarding all at the same time. After hundreds of weddings over the years I have no idea how many of them have survived, but I would tell anyone thinking about marriage that it will give you the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of any decision you will make. So, now for the tie and jacket on a hot 100 degree Texas afternoon. It's time for a wedding!
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Saturday's cartoon


Friday, June 25, 2010

Wonderfully sad


Today was wonderfully sad.
Let me explain...
Today I had lunch with a great friend, Tony Appuglies. It was wonderful because over the years we have become good friends as we have pastored in different churches and encouraged each other through the difficult days. Sad because this will be our last lunch for a while. Tony has taken a church in Vermont and is leaving Monday to take his family to the wonderful state of Vermont. I am thrilled for Tony. He will do a great job with this church. I'm sad for both of us because our visits will have to be over the phone rather than over coffee. Although, I told him that anytime he needs a guest speaker I'm available. We both smiled.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Two Kingdoms

I've been thinking about one of the ongoing themes of the bible- the theme of two kingdoms. The bible describes these kingdoms in a very interesting way. The kingdoms are described as "The Kingdom of Light" and "The Kingdom of Darkness." The clear implications of the bible are that each of us are in one of these two kingdoms. In protest some would request a third or fourth choice, but there are only two kingdoms battling for the souls of man. The kingdom of light is ruled by God and the kingdom of darkness is ruled by the devil. We are under the rule of one of these kingdoms, one of these rulers.

There are dozens of verses in the bible that talk about this contrast and the blessings or challenges of each. This morning as I read in the book of Job I came to another reference to subjects of one of these kingdoms. Job speaks, "There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths....they want nothing to do with the light. For all of them, deep darkness is their morning, they make friends with the terrors of darkness." I think that one of the realities we forget is that those living in the kingdom of darkness really like it there. They do not like the light. In fact the light hurts their eyes, their senses. For those in darkness even our presence is irritating, annoying to them.


Here are just a few observations we should be aware of for those who live under the rule of darkness-


1. Those in the kingdom of darkness love the dark. They don't like the light because it shows others what they are doing. John 3:19


2. Those in the kingdom of darkness don't know where they are going. They have no direction. They stumble and don't know what they stumbled over. How could you when you walk in darkness? In the kingdom of darkness direction and purpose are unknown concepts. John 12:35


3. Those in the kingdom of darkness have become blind. The darkness has blinded their eyes. When there is no light to use your eyes soon they become useless. There is a blindness for those in the kingdom of darkness that we don't understand, but you need to know that they simply can't see anymore. 1 John 2:11


4. Those in the kingdom of darkness don't understand the things of the kingdom of light. They are spiritually blind to what is going on in the light and don't understand it. John 1:5


You are under the rule of one of these kingdoms. So is everyone you know. All of us are either in the kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness. There is an interesting note about the rulers of these two kingdoms you need to know- The ruler of the kingdom of light loves his subjects. The ruler of the kingdom of darkness hates his subjects. Both rule out of how they view their subjects. It makes a big difference.


There is much more to discuss on this topic of two kingdoms, but for today I just wanted to make a few observations to "shine some light" on the battle for planet earth. It's literally a battle of light verses dark. Which kingdom rules you?
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I hope that Paul's words are true of your life when he writes, "...He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves," Colossians 1:13
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quote of the day

"Living in regret of the past, or fear of the future, are two ways of not living at all." -Andree Seu
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Best intentions....wrong results


Time for a smile? Here it is. I can only assume the owner of this barber shop or hair salon meant the best by the sign they chose with little thought to what it communicated. It makes you smile, doesn't it?
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I wonder....how many times have my best intentions turned out to have the wrong results. I only hope they at least make people smile.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Untold stories

My brother called me tonight to let me know that an old neighbor of ours died. When I say "old" I mean we were boyhood neighbors. Mike lived three houses down from us and was the obstacle between our house and the grade school. Mike was our neighborhood bully. No one went by his house untaunted, unchallenged, without threats. Mike took his role as our neighborhood bully seriously. It's amazing to me how much the lives of others affect us. There is more to this story, but here is all that was written about our old neighbor:
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CEDAR, IOWA — Mike Hendricks, 59, of Cedar, died June 18, 2010, at his home.
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I looked for more, but this was all that was written about Mike. And yet our lives impact others. The hurts are never forgotten. Sometimes the impact is unknown to everyone but the one hurt. I haven't thought about Mike in decades. We all have a way of putting bad memories in the back of our thoughts. My brother reminded me of the pinnacle event in our relationship with Mike. There was a day when my brother came home crying, with a bloody nose. Mike had caught him on the way home. My brother reminded me that, in anger, I ran down the street and gave Mike the beating he had long deserved. Now, I'm not replaying history for glory. I was only 12. How much glory can children get from the abuse we inflict on each other? But, Mike never bullied us again.
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Why the story? It struck me that our lives have much more content to them than the few words written at the end in an obituary. We impact others for the rest of their lives. Even the little things are not forgotten. For each of us there are untold stories that have made us into who we are. It's funny....we never forget the untold stories.
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Press on!

We were at a snow cone shop yesterday enjoying some cool drinks with the grandson when in the store comes a flock of teenage girls. I don't know how else to describe it, but a flock is the right word for my thoughts. As I watched them I noticed on of the girls had a t-shirt that had written on the back, "Press on!" Below those two words was this reference: Hosea 6:1-3. I'm very familiar with Hosea 6:6, but I didn't have verses 1-3 clearly in my mind. I looked up the verses last night and here is what this passage says,
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1"Come, let us return to the LORD
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
2"He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
3"So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth."
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So, let us know, let us PRESS ON to know the Lord. Press on to know the Lord....what an interesting phrase. There are several things that come to my thoughts immediately, 1. There is something I must do, 2. It will take some effort and intentionality, and 3. It is possible to know the Lord, he invites such a press on our part. God wants to be known by his creation! That reality is thrilling to me. I can choose to pursue him, to know him. Knowing God is available, it's desirable, and God invites it, but it will take some work. Is it worth it? YES! Without question the most important relationship any man or woman will every have is the one we have with God. It changes everything!
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So, let us press on to know the Lord! You will never regret the quest.
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!



Happy Father's Day!

For one day a year we celebrate dads. A card. A hug. A phone call. A smile. A thought.

May I take a moment and thank my dad for his wonderful example of hard work, godly living and care for us through many years. I'm glad my dad is still a part of my life. He's struggling with health issues, but makes the best of his life. I got to be with him a month ago for his 84th birthday. It was great to see him.

As a dad and granddad myself, I hope I leave behind a good memory and model in the lives of those I care about in the years ahead. For all a man does being a dad is the most difficult, most important and most rewarding task we have. We are called to show our kids what God is like, how he feels about them. Our impact on our children is bigger than we know.

So, for all you dads...Happy Father's Day! Live your life with the realization that your children learn what God is like by watching you. Live well and have a great day!

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thoughts on great lives


Over the last weeks I have been slowly reading through this amazing book by Warren Wiersbe, 50 People Every Christian Should Know. I am challenged and encouraged by the lives of saints from the past. Every Christian should read the biographies of great men and women from the past. Their lives and lessons are valuable for us as we live our lives in the present tense. As I read their stories I wonder about my own life. In 50 years, if the Lord tarries, what would my story be? What would my testimony be to those who might read about my life? Am I leaving behind anything to challenge those to follow? Am I living for God in a way that I would want others to follow my example? Each life, each journey is different. How we live does matter to those around us and to those who follow. We are each an example of the choices we make. What would your story tell the next generation?

Saturday's cartoon


Friday, June 18, 2010

Mission 2010 begins tomorrow!


Our youth pastors, Brent and Charlie, along with 50-60 high school kids head for Arizona tomorrow morning to build homes for those in need on the Apache reservation. They leave from the church at 5:30 AM in the morning. Join me there to send them off. If you can't join me for the send off do pray for our kids and especially for Brent and Charlie. They have an exciting week ahead of them!

God is good....



God is good....that's the topic up for discussion in a group I'm part of early Friday morning. We have been working through a book written by A.W. Tozer on the character of God. The chapter this week was titled "The Goodness of God." It's a part of Christian theology that many have used to "prove" there is no God. It goes something like this, if God is good AND all powerful then how can evil exist? It's a question that is easily answered, but has been used to bully many weak believers who don't know what to say to such a proposition.


In our discussion this morning about God's goodness it was clear that, for the Christian, this is an assumed truth. We believe God is good and out of his goodness flows all we enjoy, but there is one thing that brings pause....


The pause comes when we add to our initial proposition- God is good....all the time. Most Christians would agree with the first half of that statement, but when you add the second half then they begin to struggle with realities they know...a loss of a child, death in the family, natural disasters, a divorce. It's easy to say "God is good" until you add that little phrase, "all the time." Then you must make a decision. Do I believe this about God or do I doubt because of what I see in a fallen world? We have to make a decision. God's goodness is not circumstantial or situational, it is constant. God is always good to all he has made. That includes you and me. That includes that child that died. That includes those who lost their lives in the Nazi death camps. God is good...all the time.


What we see and often can't reconcile are the actions of man with the apparent inaction of God. When evil men rule why does a good God often appear to do nothing? What we don't see is God's work in our lives and in the world even in the events we think are bad. God's goodness is part of all he does. It's part of his nature. It's a truth for a tired heart on a fallen planet. It's the promise of his care when all else looks hopeless. It's promise for the future. God is good, and yes, he's good all the time.
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Luke 18:19 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quote of the day

"In the beginning God created man in His own image, and ever since, man has been returning the favor." -Andree Seu, WORLD Magazine, October 23, 2004
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The quest for happiness


Our culture is on a never ending quest for happiness. Like those who look for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, our culture is on a quest for happiness. It seems, from what I see, there is no price too high, no person too important to deter us when we begin this quest for happiness. Like the gold at the end of the rainbow it's a quest that will never be fulfilled.
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Clearly I am not trying to say that happiness is not available. It is. What is not possible is the pursuit of happiness when it conflicts with God's clear directions from his word. Again this week I have had a counseling session in which one of the two in a marriage said (to justify their choice for divorce), "I just want to be happy..." And with that one statement they set aside all that the bible tells them about life and choice. Somehow, some way they think that God will ignore their choice and grant their pursuit of the god of our culture- happiness.
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We are a culture that worships the god of happiness. We easily turn our backs on God to pursue this new god looking for the very thing that only comes from walking with God. Once more, as I have done a hundred times, I tell this one, "You will NEVER find happiness disobeying God." But I know, as I have watched others make the same choice, that they do not believe me. What's wrong with the Christian of our day? How can we so easily disobey the God we say we love....but there comes the rub. We easily come to him for forgiveness and salvation, but when love for God and obedience to him is the next step we reply, "Oh, no thanks, I'm saved. God will forgive me. I think I'll do it my way." And off we go into the very sins that Christ died for. How can we do that?
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I think one thing is true of our culture- we have come to believe the lie that has two parts to it. Here's how well the lie is woven in culture today. We have come to believe that God wants us happy and so we have permission to disobey him. How did we get here? This is insanity. It's the very picture God paints for Ezekiel in his book when he shows him the temple in Jerusalem with people at the temple worshipping, but they aren't worshipping God. In fact, they have their backs turned on the temple and are bowing down to the sun in the east. In God's very presence they are worshipping the sun he made! How crazy is that? And that is the very thing Christians are doing in our day.....claiming his name, but disobeying his word. I'm sorry, but you will never find happiness disobeying God. It just isn't there. The quest for happiness begins with a heart that says, "Lord, I want to follow you, I want to obey you. Show me how you want me to live." And then jump into his word. The bible is the guide for the weary traveler on a quest for the one thing that only God offers when we walk with him. David wrote these words. They describe a truth that many "Christians" do not believe, but it's true. Here are his words as direction for us- Psalm 18:30 "As for God, his way is perfect. . . ." If this is true, then any way I take that is contrary to his is not perfect. This is pretty simple stuff....and yet, today once more I will hear someone say, to justify a choice to sin, "I just want to be happy...."
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The only way to find what you're looking for is to walk with God. His way is perfect. He's the only one who can satisfy the hunger for happiness that plagues our culture today.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Australian 'angel' saves lives at suicide spot



1:20 PM Sunday Jun 13, 2010

For almost 50 years Don Ritchie has used simple kindness to shepherd countless suicidal people away from the edge of The Gap.

SYDNEY - In those bleak moments when the lost souls stood atop the cliff, wondering whether to jump, the sound of the wind and the waves was broken by a soft voice. "Why don't you come and have a cup of tea?" the stranger would ask. And when they turned to him, his smile was often their salvation.
For almost 50 years, Don Ritchie has lived across the street from Australia's most notorious suicide spot, a rocky cliff at the entrance to Sydney Harbour called The Gap. And in that time, the man widely regarded as a guardian angel has shepherded countless people away from the edge.
What some consider grim, Ritchie considers a gift. How wonderful, the former life insurance salesman says, to save so many. How wonderful to sell them life.
"You can't just sit there and watch them," says Ritchie, now 84, perched on his beloved green leather chair, from which he keeps a watchful eye on the cliff outside. "You gotta try and save them. It's pretty simple." - AP (Full story here)
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I loved this story.....especially Don's words, "You gotta try and save them. It's pretty simple." If you have time to read the story you will find a man and his wife with a mission to save those who have lost all hope. Don considers this cliff his "mission field." The story translates well to our task. Like Don we are called to save the lost and downcast. As Don said, "You can't just sit there and watch them." As a Christian I see many walking near the cliff with death ahead. Shamefully I don't always go the cliff and stand by them....offering them a cup of tea....encouraging them to choose life. All around us are those walking towards the cliff. Jesus gave us a task. In Don's words Jesus told us, "You gotta try and save them. It's pretty simple."
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama is a Muslim


"The American President told me in confidence that he is a Muslim," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Nile TV.

I know you have heard this already and if you have been listening this is not a surprise. It's been clear that our president has not been honest with his nation. What does that mean for us as Christians? Nothing at all. We still need to trust the Lord. We know God puts leaders in place for his purposes. Our job, as Christians, is to love God, live a life pleasing to him and love our neighbors. Regardless of what happens around us our job does not change. Don't panic, don't worry, trust the God who made heaven and earth.

It's exciting living in the last days, isn't it?
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Monday, June 14, 2010

El Camino del Rey 2010 HD

I posted this trail several years ago, but now it's been filmed in HD! So, once more for the thrill of it and by request from my wonderful mom....the most dangerous trail in the world. (It's in Spain in case you wondered.)

Travelers Insurance - Watering Hole

Travelers Insurance has made a wonderful commercial I know you will see. We loved the commercial. It shows a reality we don't know now, but will see someday. For the Christian it speaks of a day....a day very soon when all of creation will be at peace. I know you will enjoy this cute commercial.

Daniel


This morning I finally began the book of Daniel. I so look forward to this short book each time I get to it. I want to slow down so I don't miss anything as I read it. What's often hard for me to do is to see not just the words on the page, but what isn't written. What is said also tells me more than I see sometimes. Maybe I am strange, but as I read the word of God I read the "white spaces" too looking for the things that are implied by what I read. Here's a few thoughts about chapter 1 of Daniel.
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Daniel 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

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Daniel, a good Jewish boy, in the midst of a horrible situation decided to please God if it were at all possible. He decided to obey the word of God, the food laws, and walk with God in a foreign land...as a captive slave of Babylon. In the darkest days he chose to follow God. There were a number of Jewish young men in this group, but out of them all only four decided to walk with God. Here's God's response-

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Daniel 1:15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

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By their obedience to God they found results they never asked for or planned for. They found God's favor and blessings. Because of their choice to follow God, even in the midst of God's judgment, they saw God's blessing and favor in their lives. When things are difficult, as I imagine they were for Daniel and his friends, it's easy to go along with the crowd, to abandon beliefs and faith, but for the few (and it's usually just a few) who walk with God they find that it's worth the price. God is watching. The bible says he watches our choices. It does make a difference how we live. God is not only watching, but he is working in the lives of his people to glorify his name by our choices. It's often hard to see how God could solve our problems. I'm sure Daniel wondered how God could work in the midst of what he was living through, but he does. He is alive and well on planet earth and working in the lives of his children.

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What's interesting to me is that the only men talked about in Daniel were the four who followed God. The other Jewish men in captivity with them quickly disappear into history, but those who follow God are never forgotten. Their stories live on. I wonder....what will God do in our lives as we follow him?

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Monday's cartoon


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Photo dictionary: bliss


Quote of the day

"The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world;
we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word."
-A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
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Saturday's cartoon


Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Science will win...."




"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works." -Stephen Hawking (in an interview with Diane Sawyer)
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"Science will win because it works." As Stephen Hawking's computer put voice to his words he attempted a smile. This is a fascinating statement from one of the most brilliant men of our time.
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I agree with Stephen's statement...except for the last sentence, "Science will win because it works." On this one point I must disagree. Please indulge me for a moment with some basic thoughts and simple questions....
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1. Why is there a battle for truth between religion and science that is only resolved in a winner and a loser? Is this how others view it? A battle? A winner and loser?
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2. Is Stephen admitting that the goal of science is to "win?"
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3. Is the only test for victory "because it works?" Do the men of science really think this way? If so, that is sad indeed. I thought scientists were thinkers not pragmatists. "Because it works?" Really?
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4. Is Stephen really trying to declare that "because it works" is the test for truth and reality for science? Obviously not. It's not the measure of truth. For him it's simply the way to discover who wins. At least that is his hope.
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These are simple questions. There are more questions I would like to pursue, but these will get the discussion going. Here are some thoughts I would like to propose for this discussion:
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God says the evidence for his existence and power is the cosmos itself. He declares that creation talks about him. In fact, God says he made all of this. If things "work" it's proof that he exists, not that science is right or that science has won.
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Science is in a mad dash to "win" (whatever that means to them) in this battle between religion and science. I would counter that there is no battle. The "war" has already been won and been won not by religion, but by God himself. Science is simply now discovering what God had done, what God has made. It's God who has already declared himself the winner over all others. Here's his statement to the scientific world on their quest to win:
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Psalm 2
1 Why are the nations so angry?
Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
2 The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
the rulers plot together against the Lord
and against his anointed one. 3 “Let us break their chains,” they cry,
“and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
4 But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
The Lord scoffs at them. 5 Then in anger he rebukes them,
terrifying them with his fierce fury.
6 For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne
in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Temple worship



There's an amazing passage in the bible that has challenged me for years. It's also a passage I have used in counseling many times. This passage is God's description of proper temple worship.
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You might respond to my thoughts, "but there is no temple, what are you talking about?"
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Here's the passage I wanted to talk about and then a few thoughts,
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1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
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What Paul is describing is the new reality for the Christian that God no longer "lives" in a temple made by man, but now resides in his people. The proper response for us has three elements to it, 1. A realization that we are God's dwelling place, 2. An understanding that a price has been paid and I am no longer my own, I now belong to God, and 3. Because of 1 & 2 my proper response is to honor (or glorify) God with my body. My response is how I live, what I do, what I say, how I act and live out this Christian life. Temple worship means that true worship for the Christian is living a life that glories God with my life, my words and my actions. It's a strange new reality that I am now the temple invited to live in such a way that I make God look good. How I live, what I say, how I act matters because it's a direct reflection on the God who dwells in me. It makes a lot of my choices much different and much easier. If I ever understand who I am, what I am, then how I live would be dramatically different.....and God would look good to the world around me.
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There is one added element to this I must mention before we leave this topic. Not only am I now described as God's new temple, but his Spirit lives in me to give me the resources I need to live this life, to be his temple. It's the Spirit in me that gives me life and all I need to glorify God as I live out the day ahead. Being the living temple of God changes a lot about how I live out each new day. You are not your own, you were bought with a price, THEREFORE glorify God with your body.
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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Monday's cartoon.....a day late


(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Cheap grace


John 1:16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:24 we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

I'm a grateful recipient of God grace. I'm also a passionate advocate of God's grace. It's his grace that saved me, but much more than that it is his grace that enables me to live the Christian life. Grace is not just enough to get me into heaven, but it's a bountiful provision for salvation and for life.....even into eternity grace will be unfolded to us as God's great provision for his children.

I must also admit to you that I believe in cheap grace. Many have attached the word "cheap" to grace as a way to demean those who believe that all you have to do to be saved is to believe in Jesus Christ. (See John 3:16!) Even today there are ongoing discussions about what you really need to believe to be saved. It's fascinating to me that there would be a debate over God's rich grace extended to us. It is indeed cheap grace! It cost me nothing and is freely offered to anyone who will believe. It is cheap beyond any understanding of the word....for us. BUT God has paid a very high price to give it to us free of any attachments. You don't need to be good to receive his grace, all you have to do is believe. You don't have to join a church to receive his grace, all you have to do is believe. I could continue these last two sentences in a hundred different ways, but I think you get the idea. The bible clearly teaches cheap grace and I'm glad to be a recipient of this wonderful grace of God.

Part of God's plan

Eph. 2:19-22 ...You're no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

I read passages like this and have trouble taking it all in. We, you and I, are part of what God is doing in our day. His plan began with Jesus, then the apostles, and now....now "he's using you!" Do you realize how big that is? Now he's using you to be part of his grand and amazing plan. For me that is almost overwhelming. How could the God who needs nothing use me? What could I possibly add to his amazing work? And yet, as I read the bible, he is weaving us into his plans and the unfolding of his salvation to the world. It's amazing!

"Now he is using you..." That little phrase reminded me of the 10th chapter of Acts. In this amazing chapter, where God invites the first Gentiles to salvation, we see the work that God goes to so that he can make us part of his work and plans. It's amazing! There is the Holy Spirit moving, angels showing up, visions happening, messages from God to Peter....all so that he can include us in this work. He wants us, you and I, involved in his amazing plan for these last days. We are part of his plans. So, the question for me is simple, "Lord, what are your orders for me?" I want to be part of what you are doing. What do you want me to do?
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Monday, June 07, 2010

How do you know that?



I've been thinking about this for a while....so let me share my thoughts with you as they have developed so far. Now, if you find fault with the conclusions I have come to I would love your thoughts. This is a project that is still in the works. Ok, ready?

One the great battles of our day has been the battle for truth. It has been a cultural battle that we seem to have lost for the moment. For centuries truth was universally accepted by nearly everyone as being a common possession of mankind and there was agreement about what truth was. Now that has changed. Now truth is personal, emotional, individual. Truth is no longer a universally agreed upon reality in our culture. (Let me insert this one caveat at this point- truth, true truth is unchanged, what I'm speaking about is truth as defined by our culture.)

One of the things that happens as you destroy the foundations of reality, truth being the first, is that other things fall as well. It's like a row of dominoes that begin to fall and the cascade of one falling on the next brings them all down. The demise of truth in our day has a "domino effect." The next domino that has begun to fall is knowledge. Now, you might ask, "how could knowledge fall?" But it has. Now, like truth, knowledge is no longer universal, now it's personal. I can believe something about both truth and knowledge and completely disagree with you, but still defend what I believe is right. We call this world views, but what I am seeing is the subtle erosion of knowledge as a result of the loss of truth. Now in our day, knowledge doesn't need evidence, it's personal.

So, I come to a question I have used often in days past and think I will be using much more in the days ahead, "How do you know that?" It's a question that deals with the heart of the dogmatic statements of our day. For example I have often heard this as a statement of truth, but beyond that it's a statement of knowledge, here's the statement- "There is no God!" This is a statement of belief by the person declaring it, but it's much more. It's a truth statement and a statement of declared knowledge. So I ask, "How do you know that?" How do you know there is no God? Have you traveled to every corner of the cosmos? Have you been to every dimension of time and reality? How do you KNOW there is no God? YOU DON'T! But your belief about truth has made you bold in your statement about knowledge and so the atheist declares "there is no God."

In the fall of truth the next casualty is the demise of knowledge. It demands we ask the honest question of the world, "How do you know that?" You will hear many statements of knowledge based on personal truth. Each one confident in their beliefs. Our task, as Christians, is not to belittle or ridicule those beliefs, their truth or knowledge, but honestly and sincerely ask the hard questions that demand more than personal choice. We should be bold to honestly ask those declaring truths based on unfounded knowledge this simple question, "How do you know that?" Here's an example- I know you have heard this as well. I heard this in a phone counseling call last week. The man on the other end of the phone said, "I believe all roads lead to God." The situation at the moment didn't lend itself to asking my question, but I thought about it immediately. How does he know all roads lead to God? Where did this knowledge come from? I really want to know. Millions are basing eternity on truth and knowledge that have no foundation. One of the kindest things we can do is ask, and ask sincerely, "How do you know that?"

There is one problem with such a great question....it can be asked of us as well! The challenge for the Christian is two-fold- 1. To know the answer to this question for your own faith first and then, 2. to honestly ask and listen regarding the faith of others. This should never be done arrogantly or with pride, but sincerely and in love. With the fall of truth we have seen the demise of knowledge as well. It means we have a great opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a world that has lost its way and lost truth and knowledge as well. The book of 1 John is written to address this very issue. In this short five chapter book John declares dozens of times this simple statement, "we know....." and then follows it with information for us to respond to. In the world around us are millions with personal truth, a personal faith in something and bold statements about knowledge and reality. It's a great opportunity for us to develop relationship, to lovingly care about those we meet and ask a simple question.

Just a few things I'm thinking about.....

A wonderful surprise



Last night we had a leadership meeting at church and the guest speaker was Hud McWilliams. I had never met him nor heard him before, but he was a joy to be with. A room full of people sat enthralled for almost two hours as Hud spoke about leadership and making good choices. It was great. If you want to hear Hud or learn more about him here is his web site: http://www.hudmcwilliams.com/
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Friday, June 04, 2010

Thankful is a decision


Most of us will admit that being thankful is never automatic. We are always wanting something more, just a little bit more, only that one more thing....and then there is another. To truly be thankful is to intentionally take the time to say to God, "thank you!" for what you have right now and not focus on what you don't have. The eyes set on what is lacking will never be thankful for what is given.

Paul described it this way, "Give thanks in (for) all things (each thing as it comes) for this is God's will for you." His will for us is an intentional heart of thanks expressed to the one who gave us all things to enjoy. It's his open hand that thankful hearts celebrate. That person who can never give thanks for what is given now is the one looking at what is still needed. Don't miss the joy of the things God gives today simply because there is more you need. Be thankful for each thing that God's hand gives and your day will be filled with thanksgiving. It's so easy to miss the joy of God's grace because you are focused on your own definition of when you will be happy and what that will look like. Thanking God is a decision. Give thanks for something today.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Keys to the walk

Once a month I come to this passage in Proverbs. It has been foundational for me in my walk with God. It's one of the keys to the walk. I probably should start each day with it, but coming to it once a month reminds me, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to remember. I need this every day." Here are the verses and then some thoughts-
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Proverbs 3:5-6 (New International Version)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
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Here are the things I need to remember, 1. trust in God is a decision I make, 2. the alternative is to "lean" on my own understanding of what I see...what I think...what I understand is going on. I never see things the way they really are, so I can trust God OR lean on my understanding of what I see. I've always found that I don't understand as much as I think I do and even to lean on it will not be reliable. But to trust in God! I can stand on that, rest my whole weight on him and he will take care of me. My understanding cannot even hold me up with only a "lean" against it. 3. Trust has application, it has to do with where I go. I have to "acknowledge him." In The MESSAGE it says, "Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track." To acknowledge him is to include him in my ways. Trust in him means I include him in my walk, in my ways and seek his guidance as I go. It's a walk with the living God as my guide, and 4. "he will make my paths straight." He will guide me. I need that. I get lost so easily. Amid the distractions of the day I lose sight of him, but if I start with him as we begin the walk he will make sure to keep me on track.
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These two short verses have been life changing for me. They have for many others as well. They give direction, and a promise of a destination. It's a walk that demands trust, but when you know the alternative...leaning on my own understanding...trust in God is the best choice. So, today I'm once more reminded of two verses I need daily. Today, Lord, make my paths straight, lead me, guide me and help me to trust you more today than I trust myself.
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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Learning to follow God



In my reading this morning I came to a very interesting passage in Numbers 9. It describes how the nation of Israel knew where and when to go as they traveled through the wilderness. The passage describes their travel plans...they lived, rested or moved based on God's cloud that covered the tabernacle. If the cloud moved, they moved. If the cloud stayed over the tabernacle...even for a year, they stayed where they were. God was the ultimate GPS for the nation of Israel. They learned to follow God on a daily basis. Here's what I imagine a morning would look like for a family following God through the wilderness-
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Dad, "Honey, why don't you put on the coffee, I'll go check on the cloud."
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Mom, "Ok, let me know as soon as you can what the plans are for the day, do we stay here or do we pack?"
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Dad, "I'll be right back, get that coffee going, I really need it today. We have been moving a lot lately. I'm not sure what God is doing, but it has been a weekly move to a new location. I don't know why...it all looks the same out here."
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Wife, "I know. But we must follow where God leads even if we don't know why. I'm sure he has a plan."
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Son, "Mom, is God trying to teach us to trust him? Are we following the cloud as a way to learn to obey God or to learn to trust him? I don't think I know the reasons."
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Wife, "Son, God is doing several things all at once. Your father and I have talked about this many times. God is working in our lives so that we will obey him, that is one of his desires. But he's also working to develop our trust in him. We have not followed him as we should and have rebelled often. Following the cloud is a simple way to learn obedience and trust. It also forces us, first thing each morning, to check the cloud...to see what God is doing, where he is leading. God is training us to watch for his leading in our lives. Daily, we are learning to trust him, watch for his leading and learning to obey him. It's been hard, we ask "why" often, but God doesn't answer that question, so we follow the cloud."
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Dad (returning to the tent), "Well, we don't move today. Is that coffee ready? I'm ready for a nice relaxing morning. What's for breakfast?"
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Mom, "How about some manna-cakes with honey?"
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And today, in my life, God works one day at a time inviting me to follow him. In that following something else is developed. Something that has created some of the songs we sing in church. In that following two things happen, I learn to obey. As I obey I discover I can trust him....he is, indeed, trustworthy. Just as Israel in the desert had to trust and obey God on a daily basis, so must we. The way God works with his children hasn't changed. He invites us to follow him on a daily basis. In that following we develop two vital aspects of our relationship with God- trust and obedience.
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"Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
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