Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Islam, Mohammad, cartoons and terrorism....

Now that I have your attention let me talk about the problems of our day in light of something that happened more than 3,000 years ago.

This story is from the book of Judges in the Old Testament and is the story of Gideon. He was a fearful man in the midst of fierce Midianite armies raiding Israel each time there was anything of value to steal. After his experience with the fleece he obeyed God's calling for him, but did it with some real and honest fear. Fear of the Midianites. The Jewish people worshipped the God of the Bible, but the Midianites worshipped Baal. There was a real competition for which God would rule the people of Israel. The battle then was the same as it is now- who's God is the real God? Which God will rule?

Here is the part of the story I want to discuss-

Judges 6:25 That same night the LORD said to him, "Take the second bull from your father's herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.
26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering."
27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
28 In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal's altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
29 They asked each other, "Who did this?" When they carefully investigated, they were told, "Gideon son of Joash did it."
30 The men of the town demanded of Joash, "Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it."
31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, "Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar."

The words of Gideon's father were bold. He declared, "If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar." These should be the words of any man threatened with death because of words, thoughts or beliefs about his faith or any other faith. If your God is the real God let him defend himself. Bold isn't it? Simple and clear. A real God can defend himself, why do we have to defend him? If your God is the real God can you let him defend himself? Will you allow him to prove himself to those who believe something different?

If your God is the real God, he can defend himself. Will you let him? Joash's words ring through the centuries to the ears of our generation. Can we trust our God, whatever our faith, to defend himself? If he is the real God he can and he will.

"Resonant Chamber" -

Taking a break

I'm at one of those times when all the business of life and work have left me mentally empty. It's time for a break. So, please excuse me while I take some time to refresh. I'll be back shortly with a renewed spark and passion. Thanks for your patience......

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fear and Trembling on planet Earth

"Aliens exist and we should avoid them at all costs." -Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking is a highly honored voice in science and probably one of the most brilliant men of our time. His thoughts on this topic were quite a surprise to me. Speculation on other life in the universe is the theme of movies and any discussion on the universe and what may be out there, but I didn't expect Hawking to address it. Of course his comments are based on "the odds" that with all the galaxies, all the stars and all the possible planets there MUST be life out there. The odds say it must be so.
It's interesting because it's such an unknown. How could the universe be so vast and not have other life? How could we be the only life in the universe? If we exist then others must as well, but what if all of this exists just for us? Unbelievable, isn't it? Arrogant perhaps? Not at all. The Bible describes the universe as God's evidence that he exists. Can you imagine any louder voice, any clearer picture than the vast universe we are still discovering that God exists, is omnipotent and is sovereign? The universe shouts to every man this clear message- SOMEONE MADE THIS! It didn't just happen, it was made and it was made by a wonderful designer.
Aliens? There may be others in the universe, we don't know, we may never know. It's quite amazing that Hawking is so clear on the reality of aliens, but denies the obvious signs that God is there. Aliens? Maybe. God? Definitely!
May I rewrite Hawking's words?
"God exist and we should seek to know him at all costs!"

The American home 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two proud dads

My son, Ian, is the proud dad of a great little boy who just turned 1. Being a dad is great! Tomorrow we are going up to see the kids for my son's 35th birthday. Yes, as painful as it is to write it, my son turns 35 tomorrow. I'm proud of him. He's a great guy and has been a blessing to us. How does time pass so quickly?
Anyway, Happy Birthday Ian. I'm sure proud of you!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just thinking....

A few random thoughts on a Wednesday....
-Why do we always have to learn the hard way? I do a lot of counseling and it seems my one "take away" from it all is that we are a stubborn and selfish race...we won't change what we are doing until it hurts! It would be great if I could see some who would say, "you know, I see that doesn't work in other's lives, I bet that won't work in my life either." But no! We each seem to choose the hard way.
-One of the realities of our day is that divorce is pandemic in our culture. More than ever before couples are giving up. Either from an affair, a hard heart or a desire for "happiness" whatever that looks like, I'm seeing far too many people who tell me clearly, we don't believe God, we want to do it our own way....there's that hard way again. I wish some of them would believe me when I tell them it's not worth it.
-"The veneer of maturity"....that's the only way I can describe it. I was talking to a friend at breakfast this morning and we were discussing the fact that none of us are as mature as we think we are. Even after many years of faith I know one old man, my sin nature has not improved one bit. My sinful, fallen heart is still as bad as when I trusted Christ. Over that heart many fabricate a veneer of Christianity. We look good on the outside, but don't look too close. The reality is that apart from Christ in us we are no better than we ever were. Kind of discouraging, isn't it? Thank goodness for Christ in me...the hope I have of glory ahead!
-With other staff members I went to a conference at the local seminary yesterday. The best part of the day was our debrief at a restaurant after it was all over. I really like the people I work with!!!
-I'm working on material for a worldviews class I am teaching for a few weeks. I'm humored how intolerant those who claim tolerance really are. They talk it for sure, but they don't really believe it.
-One thing I've been thinking about is how much I need time for prayer. I think I need it more now than I ever have. I'm not sure what that means, but I am sure hungry for some time with God.
Ok, enough for the moment....have a great day. Off to other conquests!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Little annoyances

Yesterday, while I was getting my car inspected, the man helping me called me over to the passenger side of the car to point out a tire was nearly flat! I really don't like little annoyances. I have things to do, places to go. I don't have time to get a tire fixed, but I know if I don't my little annoyance will become a big one in a place where there is no help.

My tolerance for little annoyances has increased over the years. Maybe it's the fact that I know that little things are just that....little things I have to deal with. It's all just part of life. What made me "crazy" years ago now just makes me sigh. I'm used to little annoyances and I've learned something....these things that annoy me are opportunities for me to respond to God and to other people. When something goes wrong, be it a flat tire or a frustration of a different kind, I wonder what God is doing. Of course these are the trivial annoyances of life, but they aren't without purpose. Why did MY tire pick up that nail instead of the car in front of me? Why does my order at the restaurant come out wrong instead of my wife's? Why is it that at times I wonder if my family name wasn't "Murphy." I think James had it right as God spoke through him,
James 1:2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. -THE MESSAGE
"Not deficient in any way..." Did you see that? In the NIV translation it reads, "that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Little annoyances are gifts from God to build your faith. Are you letting them do their work or are you irritated that anything would ruin your day? It's funny how the annoyances of life are meant by God to bring about great good in us. Maybe I should be looking at them differently......

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Waiting for God

We are in the time between Passover and Pentecost on the Jewish calendar. For the apostles it was a time of waiting....waiting for what God would give them. Jesus had told them to wait for what he would give them and it came on the day of Pentecost. It was the Jewish holiday when they celebrated the giving of the law to Moses. During this same period of waiting, this 40 days, Moses waited on the mountain more than 1,500 years earlier. He waited for the same amount of time....waited for God to speak. He waited for God's word. For the apostles and for Moses it was a time to wait. Moses waited for God's given word. The apostles waited for God's given spirit. And now, we wait. We wait for the Son to return.

Before each great gift of God there is a period of waiting. Waiting seems to be part of God's plan, part of his training for us. Waiting is a discipline that forces us to trust, to calm, to focus, to anticipate. David writes about this is Psalms, Psalm 37:34 "Wait for the LORD and keep his way...." and, Psalm 38:15 "I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God." The topic of waiting is an ongoing theme with David and with others in the Bible. David speaks once more, Psalm 119:166 "I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands."

Joseph waited 13 years to see God's plan. David waited for his promise to come true. Moses waited. Daniel waited. You will wait as God works in your life to prepare you for what he wants to give you, what he wants to reveal to you and what he wants to do through you. Waiting is part of God's spiritual training. So, sit back and enjoy the wait. It will be worth it! He promises.

Saturday's cartoon

Friday, April 16, 2010

Quote of the day

This quote comes from A.W. Tozer's book, Knowledge of the Holy. It was a portion of the chapter my men's group is working through today. Amazing thoughts....

"God's eternity and man's mortality join to persuade us that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional. For every man it must be Christ or eternal tragedy." -A.W. Tozer

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ready, aim, fire!

This morning I get to spend an hour with about 70 of our wonderful ladies. They have been studying Revelation for this whole semester and today is the last session and a time to ask me any questions they have about the book of Revelation. I'm really looking forward to our time together.....really. I know they will have a lot of great questions to fire at me.....I hope I have some good answers.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Departing with no one's regret

Imagine dying and not a tear is shed. Imagine family and friends having a party rather than a funeral when you die. That's the fate of king Jehoram in 2 Chronicles 21. He was the son of Jehoshaphat. His father, Jehoshaphat was a good king, but the son, Jehoram, did not follow his dad's example. He was only king for 8 years and this is the commentary on his life- "He departed with no one's regret."
The very thought amazes me. I live and love with the hope I make a difference in those around me and will be missed when I'm gone. Imagine those around us being glad we died. What kind of life would prompt this kind of response? How bad do you have to be for this to be your commentary?
Instead of this finale Peter invites us to a different kind of life when he writes, 1 Peter 2:12 "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." Live in such a way that you impact those around you for eternity. Make a difference for the soul, not for the soil. Be more than fertilizer when you're done. Live such full lives that the world will grieve when you die.
Jehoram is the perfect example of how NOT to live.

Your legacy

How do you want to be remembered? What "footprint" do you want to leave on your family, on this world? Here are a few questions to help you evaluate your own legacy.

How do you want to be remembered?

What do you want your family and friends to say about you at your funeral?

What are your goals in life? (NOT financial or job related)

What does “finish well” mean to you?

What do you want God to say about you when you meet?

This is a worksheet I put together for my use and for the use of others as they live intentionally. It's funny, but most people just let life happen to them. There is no intentional living going on. We seem to live, for the most part, as victims and not as those will answer to God for our lives and choices. So, how are you living? Are you a victim of the guy who wouldn't hire you? Are you struggling because of what someone else did to you? Is your life just a failure waiting to happen? How will you be remembered? What is your legacy? You can define much of it now by the choices you make, by the roads you take, by the life you live. So, live with eternity in mind. Live for an audience of one.

1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday's cartoon

Time passes so quickly. Last week my wife and I went out for dinner at a local restaurant. When I got the bill it was half the price I expected. The waitress had given me a seniors discount and I hadn't even asked for one! I don't know how this happens so quickly. I still feel like I'm 20 years old in my head. How is it that I look like a senior citizen on the outside? Being a grandparent, seniors discounts, what's next?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Is he big enough?

I love to watch small children with their parents. It's clear the child doesn't have a care in the world. They have no idea where they are or where they are going.....all they need to know is where is my dad. If they know where dad is then they are ok. Even if they find themselves on a dark path with no idea of where they are going if dad is with them then they aren't worried because dad is taking care of the rest.
I saw this photo and thought about the trust of those children. It's a trust that is complete and innocent. If I am walking with my father then I'm ok because he knows where we are going. I can just see the response in the child's face if I were to ask, "where are you going?" With an innocent look they would look up at their father for the answer. The child has no idea where they are going, but they are with dad and he knows. The child's response is simple, "I'm with my dad. Wherever he's going that's where I'm going." Wouldn't it be great if we could simply trust our Father in that same innocent way? To trust that he cares and loves us and will watch over us on those dark paths that seem to lead into the night. If I'm with my Father then everything will be fine because he knows where we are going. Is your Father big enough to trust in that way?
Proverbs 3:5-6 (New Living Translation)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

He still takes care of the birds

Matthew 6:25-26"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. -THE MESSAGE
If God can take care of the birds won't he take care of you as well? If they sing with joy at the break of a new day knowing he will meet their needs can you sing as well? If he provides a place for them to rest won't he provide a place for you as well? Look at the birds. He still takes care of the birds, won't he take care you as well.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I have a lot of weeds in my yard. Compared to my neighbors my front yard looks really bad! To be honest I haven't had time to take care of it. I know that's no excuse, but it's my excuse. Each evening as I get home my thoughts as I walk up the sidewalk are about the lawn...I need to do something about that, but that's as far as I get. I know my neighbors who have well groomed lawns are thinking the worst of me, but I just haven't had the time....I know, it's just my excuse. Someday.....
My life is like that. I have a lot of weeds in my life as well. I know it looks bad. I know I need to get some "weed killer" on my thoughts and deeds, but I just haven't had time.... Someday.....
Then this morning I'm reading Paul's letter to Timothy and I'm once more convicted about both my lawn and my life. Paul writes, "In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." In other words, get the weeds out!
The problem with this is that it takes two things, 1. intentionality and 2. work. I have to make the weeds part of my agenda. I have to work on it. They won't go away because I don't like them, in fact they seem to multiply by the day! Both in my lawn and in my life I have some work to do. Both need some weed killer and both need fertilizer. For my life the weed killer is repentance and self-control and the fertilizer is the word of God. Weeds are always the natural course of a lawn and a life. If you want a different result then you will have to do something about it. It's amazing how quickly neglect is evident to everyone around. Weeds are a reminder that we have some work to do.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

If you could...

A recent movie, The Bucket List, told the story of two men fulfilling last wishes before their deaths. Many have used that movie as inspiration to create their own "bucket lists." It's a topic that comes up often, "what's on your bucket list?" What do you want to do or accomplish before you die? What's on your list? If you could only check off 3 things what would you like to do...if you could? Curious minds want to know....

Monday, April 05, 2010

Monday's cartoon

Counting the days

"The length of our days is seventy years- or eighty if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away....Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:10, 12

This morning I'm reading Psalms 90 and I came to these words. Most of us have heard these words many times before. It's a reality we all know, but don't want to discuss- life is short! The part of the passage I want to talk about is the very end..."teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." I thought it interesting that the right response to knowing our lives are short is to be aware of that in our own lives and gain wisdom by that awareness. What wisdom? What do I gain from knowing I'm nearly done here? How will that give me wisdom? In one way it helps us look at our lives and decisions more clearly. If we are only here for a few years, and then eternity ahead, how should we live TODAY? How should that affect my decisions about how I use my day, my relationships, my moments? I don't want to be morbid here, but I do want to live with an awareness that this life is short and it's the only time I am free to make eternal decisions about God, my life and those around me. To be aware that a decision today might have eternal results changes how I look at everything. For me, it has motivated me to focus on the days one at a time. Living well so I can finish well. I don't always succeed at this, but I want to. I want to leave a deep impression after I'm gone.....not in the world, not in the news for some great achievement, but in the lives of other people. Deep impressions that will motivate them to eternal decisions. Wisdom is living in light of our few years and their impact on eternity. It does matter, they are important. Live well!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The purpose of doors revisited

Once in a while there is a post that is visited often by others. The best ones are simple, but connect our minds and hearts with decisions about our faith. This post is from 2006, but has been visited often so I thought I would post it once more. It's an insight into purpose that I need to be reminded of often.
I can't help it...I have to talk about purpose. But not just any old every day purpose. I want to discuss the purpose of doors. This picture brought it to my mind, and got me thinking- what are doors supposed to do? If a door doesn't do what it was meant to do can we still call it a door? If it's not doing what it was designed to do is it fulfilling the purpose of the maker? You see where I'm going already, don't you?
Doors are designed to make it possible for us to enter/exit a building. It's the human portal. It locks out those who are not welcome, and grants entry to those who are. It protects the inhabitants, and is only able to be opened by another. The door has no ability, on it's own, to do what it was meant to do- open and close, but must accomplish it's purpose with the help of someone else.
I'm the same way. I have a purpose- to glorify God, and I can't do it without the help of God. He is the one who must empower me to do what I was designed to do, to be what I was meant to be, to function as designed.
I don't want to end up with a sign on my life- "this life does not glorify God."

When the Son had risen...

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death,
because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Acts 2:24
I love the wording of Mark's account of that first Easter day when he wrote, "Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen." I've always thought it was an interesting way of wording the beginning of this day...."when the sun had risen." I think it would also be appropriate to rewrite it to say, "when the Son had risen" for in fact that is what they are about to discover. The risen Jesus Christ was seen by hundreds over a period of 40 days. 1 Corinthians 15 tells of those who saw him after his resurrection. He did die on the cross. He did rise from the dead three days later. It was such a life changing experience that those who saw him after his resurrection willingly gave their lives rather than deny what they knew to be true. It's a wonderful event of history for the entire human race. God, the creator of everything, became a man and died for our sins, then three days later he rose from the dead to give us new life. It's a most wonderful story of love and grace as God provides for us what we could never gain on our own.
One day he will return as King. But today I am excited to know he is risen! One day every eye will see him, every knee will bow to him and worship him. When the Son had risen everything changed. Now there is hope, love, salvation and a promise of God's grace for everyone. Today I am glad that he is risen! He has changed my life and I look forward to the day I will see him face to face. I am so grateful for his love for me when I deserved it the least.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Everything has changed

Man's best and worst day

Today the Christian world remembers good Friday, or should I say horrible Friday. It's the day when Christians remember the death of Jesus on the cross. By far mankind's best and worst day. In this one day Jesus paid the entire debt of sin for mankind. In his death on the cross he once for all solved our problem of separation from God. Sin had taken an ugly toll on the human race and with his sacrifice Jesus resolved the problem of sin for everyone. Once for his death he made one sacrifice for all sin, for all peoples, for all time. It was the best and worst of days for all of us. For any man or woman who will trust Jesus as savior his/her debt will be resolved and they will find eternal life. Some would call this a bloody religion, but in truth the characteristic that defines this faith is not blood but love. It's the love of God that moved him to solve our sin problem by his own sacrifice for us. I am most grateful for his love and provision for me. Today I remember man's best and worst day.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


This afternoon I listened to a teacher I really enjoy. He was talking about the cross, Jesus' burial and Easter morning. He made an interesting comment. I will try to quote him as best I can. He said, "it's not that there is insufficient evidence for the resurrection, there is more than enough evidence that Jesus really did rise from the dead. The problem for the skeptic is that it is unpalatable evidence. If they believe the evidence of the resurrection then they have to deal with Jesus and he gets to deal with them. This is the aspect of the resurrection they are unwilling to deal with." -Alistair Begg
As I thought about his comments on this topic I do understand the reluctance of the skeptic to deal with the evidence. To honestly deal with the evidence of Jesus' resurrection would force them to deal with much more. It's much simplier to dismiss it all rather than risk an encounter with God. And yet, one day that encounter will happen. One day we all will meet Jesus....either as savior or as judge. I so wish those who are skeptical of this gospel of love, forgiveness and ultimate sacrifice would embrace the risen Lord and accept his gift of love. He is risen. The evidence is clear for all to see. The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive. As we will declare on Easter morning, "HE IS RISEN!" and the response will follow, "HE IS RISEN INDEED!"