Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Translating Truth

I got a new book tonight...Well, actually I borrowed it, but at any rate it is in my hands waiting to be devoured. I just started reading the forward, written by J. I. Packer, and a quote jumped off the page at me. At this point I'm sharing exactly where I am in the book, so I can't comment anymore on it until later on, but I wanted to share this quote before I forgot.

Back in Britain, almost two generations ago, I heard it declared that the minister's first priority is to teach, and his second priority is to teach, and his third priority is to teach. More than fifty years of not doing this have inevitably hastened the decline of interest in the Bible and in effect promoted the sense of its irrelevance to modern life.

Facing this pervasive shrinkage of Bible knowledge and influence, many in the churches hoped that simplifying and streamlining public worship would bring people back to the life of devotion and that simplified and streamlined versions of Holy Scripture would bring people back to the habit of Bible reading. Neither hop has been fulfilled in today's post-Christian West, nor seems likely to be.

- Pg 9-10, Translating Truth

Isn't that generally the argument for using these easy read versions of the Bible? That if it is easier it will be read more? I have often suspected that this isn't the case. Now, I'm not calling for everyone to go out and purchase a KJV, I think a Bible is a very personal choice that needs to be decided upon between the reader and God. That being said, I don't like many/ most of the translations out there for various reasons and quite honestly when people have these "easier" translations I don't see them reading it. People complain that the KJV is outdated, but really, who cares at this point? I'd bet that many, if not most, of the people who sit in various churches on Sunday wouldn't know Exodus from Ezekiel. The vast array of translations haven't gotten the job done that they propose to do, Bible illiteracy is at an all time low despite the fact that the availability of the Word is at an all time high. It is sad, but true.

Anyway, I don't really have a point, I just thought I'd put that out there.

New Toys For The Computer

Microsoft has released the beta version for Microsoft Office, I just got it. And I discovered a new tool from Google (have I mentioned that I love Google?) called Google Trends. It's actually quite interesting, you can see what cities/ countries search the most for whatever you type in.

Fear Not, Beloved

When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. (Deuteronomy 20:1-4)

Speaking to the Israelites Moses passes on this commandment from God. When going into war that the Lord has led you to do not fear. When the enemy is bigger, fear not.

Throughout Scripture we are exhorted to trust God, to not worry, to not fear. If our hearts would tremble we must speak to them to have trust, we must abide in the beautiful rest that is found in following and submitting to His plan for our lives. God has promised to go before us, He has gone and has made away for us to go, all we must do is faithfully walk it out.

When we follow God and a trial arises we can take comfort in knowing God has led us here for our good and will lead us out. When the enemy rises up and appears to be bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, or even more rich, we must not fear. God has given us victory in the cross. But we must trust Him, so fear not. And if you do fear, cry out to Him. He will hear you, even in the midst of your trials.

The Bible Needs a Warning Label?

One Hollywood actor thinks so.

Well, I've often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction. I mean, walking on water, it takes an act of faith. And I have faith in this movie. Not that it's true, not that it's factual, but that it's a jolly good story. And I think audiences are clever enough and bright enough to separate out fact and fiction, and discuss the thing after they've seen it.

- Ian McKellen on The DaVinci Code

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Give Me It Now!

In short, Americans want it all NOW. Or awfully close to now.

Does this really surprise anyone? I mean it sure doesn't surprise me. Can you imagine the chaos and heightened irritation that would take place if something like our emails quit working for more than an hour? When mine isn't working the first thing I do is check the connection, if that's down I take steps to try and correct it, and if I can't fix it I'm on the phone very quickly. Now cable TV is another matter, that could go off for a month and I wouldn't notice. But is this really news? We've been spoiled by the ability to get so many things so quickly that by in large we expect these concepts of instant gratification to extend to all aspects of our lives, and when they don't we lose our cool. We're a spoiled lot.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Emergent Truth?

Tim has written an article that responds to two articles written by Tony Jones (find them here and here) concerning the Emergent's position on scriptural authority, truth, as well as Jones' concerns that people are overly critical of Emergent.

Jones clearly struggles with the concept of truth. What makes the gospel true is not experience of those who hold to it. It is not because Augustine or Paul says so. It is true because God says so. The gospel is true because God tells us it is true. God, the source of truth, God who is truth, tells us that the gospel is true. We need no other authority to tell us this and to assure us of this. If God is who He says He is, the gospel must be true. An argument about truth is, in reality, argument about the very nature and character of God. Jones and other Emergent leaders are treading on some very dangerous ground when they begin to question or abandon or relativize truth.
- Tim Challies

Sunday, May 28, 2006

This is my Bible

I am what it says I am, I can do what it says I can do...We have to look inside ourselves and see the good that is in us...

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us...For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:7-8, 19)

I'm guessing this isn't quite what that man had in mind when he said it. I've said it before and I'll say it again unless I am in submission to Christ I am in a state of rebellion (and rebellion, in case you didn't know, is naughty) and nothing I do will be good in the eyes of God.

Our Separation is His Glorification

When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. (Deuteronomy 7:1-4, emphasis mine)

In high school I once took a survey in which one of the questions was something along the lines of "Would you marry someone of a different religion?" At the time I was an atheist and determined that should I meet a Christian I think we would get along fine, this quite honestly was based upon the fact that the "Christians" I knew didn't really live their faith, they didn't seem any different to me than anyone else. They didn't talk about their faith, they didn't live differently, they just went to church on Sundays. And so I thought it would be fine for interfaith marriages to take place.

Years later I've realized that if one truly loves God, if one truly desires to live faithfully serving Him, an interfaith marriage probably isn't the best place to be. Marriage is tough, serving God is tough when surrounded by people who want you to just give a little...bend a little....compromise a little. Tough choices have to be made in marriages on their own, you have two lives coming together trying to learn how to become one, add opposing faiths into the mix and it gets even more difficult. We see a perfect example of this in Solomon.

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon cleaved unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. (1 Kings 11:1-4)

I believe this is the very reason Paul writes to the Corinthians, when we join hands with people who aren't serving God we can become corrupt. This goes beyond marriage though, it touches every aspect of our lives. Marriage, friendships, buisness dealings, everything. To join together means someone is going to have to compromise, and since our flesh loves the world it can be very easy to give into our old natures and let a little worldliness creep into our lives for the sake of getting along. But God tells us to come out, to be separate:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. (Haggai 2:11-14)

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

God does not tell us to be separate because He is trying to spoil our fun or make our lives difficult, He tells us to be separate because He loves us! He knows the company we keep will effect the way we live and the way we love Him. He calls us to separate because He knows how easily we can be drawn away, He calls us to live a life of separation because He loves us and wants us to follow Him. It is in following Him, in loving Him "with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," (Matthew 22:37) that we are safe. The world does not love us, not with a true and faithful love that would sacrifice itself in order to save us. But God does. He hasn't chosen us because of anything we have done, He hasn't loved us because we are strong. Indeed He loves the lowly, the poor of spirit, the humble, the few of number, the widow, the fatherless child...He loves us because in these He is glorified. When we walk knowing the strength we have is not our own, when we rejoice in the cross, when we realize there is nothing any of us can do to earn His love and realize He loves us anyway, He is glorified.

Would He be glorified in a people who don't need Him? This is why He chose the Israelites, poor slaves, to be His chosen people. This is why (in part) they spent 40 years in the desert. He is glorified in our realizing how much we need Him. And the world denies this, they deny God, they deny His power, they deny the fact that they need Him. He calls us to be separate because the world would have us believe that we don't need Him either. They would tell us the good in our lives is because we worked for it, because we earned it. They would have us think that we need nothing but ourselves, that we must look to ourselves for salvation, that if we all just work together we can make the world perfect and full of peace...all without the intervention of God. Ah, but we know this isn't true. All of scripture shows how desperately we need to lean upon God and allow Him to lead.

This is why He calls us to be separate, because if we surround ourselves with people that deny the very power of God we probably will be drawn to think we do things in our own strength and if we begin to think and act like the world this doesn't speak well of the transforming power of the cross. If we live just like the world, how is He going to be glorified in us? And so if we really want lo follow God, to serve God, to glorify God, we must be separate.

For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; (Deuteronomy 7:6-9)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Summer Fun

With the kids getting bigger we thought it was time to invest in a pool. We had a kiddie pool last year and while my son had fun there wasn't much room left in it for my daughter. So this year we went to our local Big Lots and for around $45 we purchased a pool that looks like this one and a battery operated pump to blow it up.

Needless to say the kids are very excited. In fact my daughter is so thrilled that she climbed in it while I was still blowing it up. Oh yes, bath time just got a whole lot easier!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Work a Miracle in My Heart

I had an interesting trial recently, when I say interesting trial what I mean is that someone did something that I didn't understand and it made me angry. Ok? Ok. I was hurt, offended, and I wanted to sit and be angry. I tend to do that, it is a struggle for me, honestly, to just let things go. Depending on what it is I often will let things fester, I'll replay the incident over and over in my mind and just get more upset. And that really is a problem.

Well, slowly over the past year or so I've really been seeking the Lord concerning certain things, asking Him to reveal the things in me that need to be changed and to help me transform my heart. This is a big deal, because my nature is for me to want to do the work, I want to be the one to grab hold of something that needs to change and take care of it. So it has been a bit of a struggle having to admit to myself and God that I can't change things without His intervention.

My tendency to dwell in my anger really is a sin, I've been doing it all my life though and it has been hard for me to realize what I'm doing until I've been doing it for a while. And so this has been something I have understood that will not change unless God changes it. When I got upset, when I started to replay the sin that was done against me (but truthfully it was done against God first and foremost) it is like God turned a light on and I realized this was it. I was aware of the sin taking place in my own heart, now what was I going to do? God had done exactly what I asked of Him, He showed me my sin and how despicable it was. So, was I going to follow through? I had told God I wanted to change, now that I was aware of the work He'd been doing in me was I going to follow Him? At first I really didn't want to, I wanted to sit and pout but after a few minutes it struck me how insane this was. I asked God to change me, to help me to become more aware of my sin so that I could repent, and now I was going to spit in His face and ignore what He was showing me?

Ah, how He is patient. I did repent, I got on my face before Him and thanked Him for being faithful and asked Him to continue this miraculous work in my heart, I told Him I didn't know how to pray concerning the person that had upset me but that I wasn't going to use their sin as a license to sin any longer. This really is huge for me. I know I'm still going to have times when I will struggle with this, but God really showed me that if I wanted to see His will done that I would rejoice because it is being done. He is being glorified in me and every other person who realizes that it is only through God that any real lasting change can take place and is willing to be humbled in order to see that work take place.

Reading Through The Bible 2

Least anyone think I'm nitpicking about this guy's Bible reading, I actually agree with him on his assesment of the flood.

Chapter 7

7:22-23: The grimmest verse so far: "All in whose nostrils was the merest breath of life, all that was on dry land, died. All existence on earth was blotted out—man, cattle, creeping things, birds of the sky; they were blotted from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark."

What a chilling account of the flood, and of the loneliness of Noah. Even the good man, even the righteous man, is alone in the world, and always subject to God's awesome power. This is pretty raw. It also seems to me to offer at least a clue about why God destroyed the earth. It seems clear that the Pre-Deluge evils were not crimes of men against other men, but crimes of men against God. As men mastered agriculture and metalwork and built cities, which earlier verses suggest they did, they felt they didn't need God. They came to see their laws, achievements, and prosperity as their own, accomplished independently of God. So, perhaps the point of the flood was not to restore ordinary moral behavior—day-to-day decency, law, etc.—but to restore faith, or at least fear. We thought we didn't need God, and that was what angered Him. The Flood—this verse in particular—reminds us (or at least the one righteous man who is permitted to live) that we are never independent of God, but always floating alone, vulnerable, at His mercy.

Reading Through The Bible

This morning I came across a link to a website written by a nonpracticing Jew who realized there are things he just never read about in the Bible, and so he has decided to start at the beginning and read through the Bible and blog about what he observes. He redily admits that there are things he'll understand, things he won't, verses that he may scew out of preportion, but he wants to lay it all out there and even gives his email address so you can contact him. Now, it is quite the undertaking he has gotten himself into, but I like the idea. And so I thought I'd read what he has written up.

Chapter 3

The Lord—not so good at follow-through. In Chapter 2, He is clear as He can be: He commands man not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad: "for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die." No wiggle room there. You shall die. But then when Eve and Adam eat the fruit of the tree a few verses later, do they die? Nope. God punishes Eve with "most severe … pangs in childbearing" and curses Adam by making the soil barren. Any parent knows you have to follow through on your threats, or your children will take advantage of you. God makes a vow He can't keep—or if He did, He would undo all his good work. So, He settles instead for a half-hearted punishment that just encourages His children to misbehave again. Is it any surprise that we sin again? And again? And again? All the way down to the present day. You can call this "original sin," but maybe it's just lax parenting.

This isn't, incidentally, the mighty and distant God of Chapter 1, who shaped the universe and poured the ocean. Instead, this is an exasperated, down-to-earth deity, peevish at being forced to hunt through the Garden of Eden to find His wayward children—more like a frustrated dad who lost his kids at the mall than like God on High.

Now, admittedly it could seem like God doesn't follow through, especially if you skew things to mean that they will die immediately. And that's probably a fairly common misconception, but God never said they would drop the moment the fruit passed through their lips. I think it could be argued pretty well that had they not eaten the fruit they never would have died. But they did eat the fruit, and they do die...eventually. But the death mentioned in chapter three, many would argue that it was a spiritual death, a separation. After all, it is after they eat the fruit that they were commanded not to that they were expelled from the garden. Their sin brought death on two levels, a spiritual level that began the cycle of separation from God because of sin as well as a physical death.

But as skeptics we often look at these passages in Genesis and declare, "Ah ha! He said they would die and they didn't! God says something and doesn't follow through." And if this were true that would make God a liar, and the entire foundation for believing the Bible would crumble, after all if God can't be counted on, who can be? If God was lying about our sin and death, why should we believe Jesus when He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me," (John 14:6) indeed there would be no reason to believe...If it were true.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

One more thing, this man essentially implies that it is God's fault that we sin because He didn't do what He said He would. Thus this removes any sense of a need to repent of one's sin, after all it's God's fault. But God did follow through, He is more consistent, more loving, more just than the best earthly father ever could and our sin is not His fault. If it was, wouldn't that basically undo the rest of the Bible. If God sins, how then can He redeem us? It would mean that God is no better than any of us.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Recently, a friend of mine sent me an email promoting Snapfish, an online service that develops film, prints digital photos, and even will throw your photo on a t-shirt if you want. I had been thinking about trying out one of these services simply because I was curious. At any rate if I signed up for an account in response to my friend's email they would get free prints (30 or 40) and I would get 20 free prints as well, all I had to pay for was shipping. And so I decided to go for it. Roughly five minutes and $2.60 later I had a confirmation that my prints would arrive within a week or so.

Now, because I am ever the skeptic about things like this I purposely picked out some photos I knew would look great no matter what, threw in a photo I had taken on my cell phone, and a couple that were actually scanned into the computer. I figured with that much variance I'd be able to really see how good the service is. Then I forgot about it. Much to my surprise the photos came today, roughly three days later.

And overall I think it was worth the two dollars. The ones I figured would look bad, did in fact look bad. The ones that I knew would look fabulous came out that way. The ones that were a toss up ended up being ok, not horrid, but not great. I've never printed digital photos before, but I'm happy with the two dollars spent. So yes, online digital prints? Not bad, just make sure the photo looks good and sharp, if it is out of focus a little you're really going to be able to tell on the print.

Single-mindedness For The Lord

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

Absolutely beautiful. The single mindedness of David's desire - that he may dwell in the house of the Lord, that he might see His glory displayed. Christ said to "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."(Matthew 6:33) We are to seek the Father's will, to desire God above all. We are to love Him first and foremost, in the midst of joyful times, in the midst of trying and sorrowful times He is to come first.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD. (Psalm 27:5-6)

Paul espoused the same idea, to desire God above all...Including our own lives, in fact he encourages us to view our troubles especially as a token of our salvation.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. (Philippians 1:27-28)

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. (Psalm 27:10)

Christ Himself told us that if we follow Him, if we seek the Father's will, if we truly desire God above all else we will be hated because He was hated (Matthew 10). He said that brother would deliver up brother, father would deliver up son, the betrayal would be great (Matthew 10:21, Matthew 24:10, Luke 12:53). Christ said that whoever loves his father, mother, or child more than him was not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37, Luke 14:26, 33), He knew how fickle the human heart was, how deceitful it can be, how disloyal. This is why we must love Him above all, seek Him above all. For "the LORD will take me up," (Psalm 27:10) even when all else fails His faithfulness will stand. To love anything else more is pure foolishness, it would be like building a house on sand. When the other love stumbles, removes itself from our life, or we lose interest in it the house will collapse, having nothing to stand on.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)

And this is why the single mindedness of verse four is so beautiful, we see in David an example of what the New Testament commands of us - to seek Him first.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Madonna Is Sick

Sometimes I can't remember why I used to like certain artists/ bands. I really don't understand how I enjoyed watching and listening to certain things. Anyway, I can't help but shake my head at this one.

These things I command you, that ye love one another.

A friend an I have been conversing via email on various topics, the latest of which I had a question regarding the Sabbath year mentioned in Leviticus 25 and the gleaning of fields by the poor. My friend graciously gave me her thoughts on the matter, which I may get into another time, and in the process sparked an idea in my mind. Why is it that the Bible focuses so much on loving each other?

When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing. (Deuteronomy 24:19-22, emphasis mine)

I think it's interesting that God continues to call them to remember their time in Egypt, the hardship they faced, the lack of food, the oppression and mistreatment, etc. He calls them to remember how difficult it was being poor, being a foreigner with nobody looking out for their needs, and calls them to have mercy, to love each other and forgive each other (Lev 19:17), to deal justly with each other (Lev 19:14-15, Lev 19:35-36) as well as with the strangers among them and instructs that they be treated as one of their own (Lev 19:34). This idea really blows open God's promise to bless all nations through Abraham.

Through Abraham's line salvation comes, but on top of that, as if the opportunity for salvation wasn't enough He tells us to love each other. Perhaps it is in loving each other, in dealing justly with each other the person receiving such treatment will come to see the greatness of God's mercy in a new way. How often the mercy and patience of God has escaped me until I see Him at work in the heart of someone I know. To be on the receiving end, to see someone who loves God so much that they can barely contain themselves, to see them reach out to someone who is so lost and lovingly care for them...Well, there aren't words to describe how moving it is when you realize God is working through them, when you realize God reaches out to each of us in a manner that is even more loving than that of the person you see. It is often when we receive grace from others that we find a new appreciation for the work Christ did on the cross.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Even as strangers He calls us to become part of His family, He longs to provide for us, to care for us, to redeem us by His Son's sacrifice, but we must be willing to go to that field and accept the provision He has left for us, we must be willing to go and lay at His feet in submission and accept the redemption He will provide at the cross. He redeems us because it is in doing so that He is glorified.

Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalms 6:4-5)

He tells us to love each other, to be merciful, to be forgiving, to be patient, because He is all these things and when we do the these things we show the strangers in our midst His love.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It Just Doesn't Make Sense

You know, sometimes the things we count on just don't last. Sometimes the logical thing isn't God's will for our lives. It's frustrating at times, especially for people that are used to controlling every aspect of their lives (like me), but ultimately it really is up to Him. Isn't it? It isn't for us to decide what makes sense and what must be done in our lives, not on a big level at any rate. We count our pennies (or our paychecks), watch our bank accounts, we meticulously control our lives because we think we know better. But you know, sometimes the things God wants for us don't make sense.

It didn't make much sense for Abraham to prepare to sacrifice Isaac, or for Moses' mom to put him in a basket and send him down the river. It didn't make much sense to take the long route to the promised land or to keep wandering the desert for forty years with little to no supplies. Changes of clothes? Not on this walk. New shoes? Pfft, the old ones held up the entire time. Doesn't make sense, does it? Hardly. And yet that is precisely what God had in mind for them. He did things in ways that forced them to rely upon Him for their every need. And He never failed. They always had enough food to keep them going, they always had clothes on their backs. It didn't make sense, but it was His will. It didn't make sense for Ruth to travel to an unknown, and unwelcoming land, but she did and we all know how that turned out. It didn't make sense to have our Savior born in a manger, live in a poor town, or even - especially - to die on a cross. This is not how we would picture our King coming, yet this is precisely what God chose to do.

Sometimes things just don't make sense...And it is a good thing.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Excuse my French

Carla had an excellent post over a year ago which she referenced today in a post.

One day, I was coming out of the grocery store, and as I was pushing my grocery basket to my car, I noticed a lady with a few kids, unloading her groceries into her car. What caused me to notice her, was her language. Her kids were doing what kids do, not listening when she said "get in a put your seatbelts on". One was standing up in the front seat, and the other two were chasing each other around the car. Typical kid-stuff - grocery store parking lots are fun, when you're a kid.

Anyway... she snapped, and began to unleash on those cute little kids, the most vile stream of expletives, I have ever heard. Now let me just say here - it's not as if I was a stranger to this kind of language. For many years I was a metal-head... you know what I mean, black leather clad head-banger type. All my friends were metal heads, and all their friends, were metal heads. We walked the walk, talked the talk, and lived what we were.

But everything was different now... all the leather was gone, all the abandon was gone, and I was a new creation in Christ, and most desirous to live to please Him, and grow in grace.

So when I heard this woman unload this verbal-bomb on her children, I literally stopped mid-parking lot, and I'm sure my jaw dropped open like a kid hearing the F word for the first time. I will never forget the impact those words, had on those kids. They were literally crushed. Their faces fell, their body language changed, they didn't even look her in the eye. They immediately calmed down, and almost as if in slow motion, got into their seats and put their seatbelts on. All the while I'm standing behind her car (she never even noticed me), with tears welling up in my eyes. The urge to go hug those cute little kids, was almost overwhelming. And she didn't stop cussing at them, AFTER they were in the car - that was when she took her opportunity to remind them how stupid they were, what brats they were, and so on and so forth, but said with just as many cusswords.

I wanted to say something to her... to them... but I didn't know what to say, or if saying anything at all was the right thing to do. I stood there like a statue, and started to cry. Eventually I got it together and walked away, toward my car, with a million thoughts racing through my heart. "They're going to speak just like her as they grow up"... "do they hear this all the time?"... "does their dad talk like this to them to?"... "I would have died if my mom ever talked to me like that"... and then the last thought, that overpowered them all was "this is what I sound like when I get mad".

That one - messed me up badly. What scum I was, daring for even one half of one iota of a second, to sit in judgement of that lady for doing the very same thing I did! So I went home crying, and told my husband about it. I said "is this what I sound like when I get mad and cuss?" he said no, not quite that bad, but sometimes very close. I was crushed as those kids in the parking lot. I had to go to the kids and tell them what I just witnessed, and apologized all over the place for EVER talking like that in front of them, or to them, and asked them to forgive me. After that I set out on a study to find out what the Bible says about our speech, and our conduct, and how we are to deal with both. If I was convicted by what I witnessed at the grocery store, and more convicted by what my husband said when I heard "not that bad, but close", I was thoroughly and absolutely UNDONE by what I read in Scripture about it.
(emphasis mine)

It is interesting, sometimes it is easier for us to realize our sin by seeing others mirror it. We can read something in Scripture and often ignore it, but when we see our sin on display...Well, it is a little more difficult to ignore, isn't it? Suddenly Scripture comes alive and we become heart broken over our sin. I suppose it is sad that we often are able to ignore Scripture (I'm as guilty as the next person) but I'm thankful that the Lord will show me my sin in my life. I can't tell you how I've just been broken when I allow Him to show me my sin. It is in times like these that the Bible just comes alive. In our trials, in our broken-ness, in our every day to day life His Word is there waiting for us to grab ahold of it and allow it to transform us. And like Carla, "The next many years was a constant and difficult battle to control my tongue, and also greive deeply over the little battles lost. To this very day - I'm painfully and sharply mindful of it, and still, every once in a purple moon, I lose a tongue-control battle - BUT - compared to how it used to be, well, let's just say He's brought me a LONG way."

Iran eyes badges for Jews - Part 2

Well, it seems that the previous article I had posted on here concerning Iran looking at passing a law that would require minority religious groups to wear colored patches may have been a fabrication in part. I cannot say for certain, however, but if you want to read a couple articles concerning it then click here and here. Reports do state that a law like this was on the docket a couple years ago but had been blocked by parliament, but the fact remains that it was "factually true that Iran’s legal system is based on Sharia law and that under Iranian law, non-Muslims are systematically discriminated against, whether they are identified by coulour badges or not." I'll keep my ears open and should anything further develop you can be sure I'll have something to say concerning it.

The Same Yesterday, Today, & Forever

People often say how controversial Christ was, how revolutionary what He said was, how out of the ordinary He was. And yes, I suppose when one compares Him to the Pharisees of the day He can seem so out of the ordinary. But recently in my studies of the Old Testament I came to understand it isn't as if Jesus suddenly was doing things differently, God always had been doing things differently. It seems like everything out of Christ's mouth the Father had already revealed in the Old Testament, but because Bible literacy is at an astounding - and heartbreaking - low Jesus does sound very out of place. Admittedly I knew next to nothing of the Old Testament until recently, and still know far less than I should. It has been interesting to begin to really grasp the idea that God does not change. Like a patient father God gives us the same commands in the Old and New Testaments. We didn't grasp what He was saying in the Old so Christ came and repeated what was said and gave us more examples to help us understand the nature of God in the New.

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:13)

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37)

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matthew 22:39)

I could go on and give more examples, but I think you get the point.

Oh, the comfort that is found in understanding He's been calling us to Him, willing to repeat Himself in the New to reflect the truth of the Old so that we might hear and understand. How He loves us! He wants us to seek Him, to understand Him, if He were a god who was far off with no interest in our lives would He really repeat Himself? Would He stay the same if He had no interest in being understood? Indeed He has made it simple for us, He has stayed the same so that we might find Him when He calls.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Is the Bible a "Dirty Book"?

Find out here. Great post.

Catholics & The Eating of Blood

I've written before concerning the way we view God in the Old Testament in contrast with the New Testament - you can find that post here. Needless to say when God says, "For I am the LORD, I change not,"(Malachi 3:6) I believe it. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And I'm glad for that. How do you serve someone who is always changing their mind? How do you live a life in righteous submission if you don't know what to submit to? Thankfully we don't have to worry about that, because God doesn't change.

And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. (Leviticus 17:10-13)

In this passage the Lord tells us that we must not eat blood, it is to be poured out to make atonement for our sins and must not be eaten. It is pretty clear cut, I think. Don't eat blood. So, if we believe that God doesn't change and He tells us we shouldn't be eating the blood that has been sacrificed for us why do the Catholics think they can change the rules?

The Catholic church teaches that the bread and wine offered at communion transforms and becomes the actual body and blood of Christ. Let's just say that this is true for a minute. If it is true, if the communion wafer is really the body and the wine is really the blood, then aren't we breaking the Old Testament commandment by participating in the ritual? If it really is the body and blood, and Jesus tells us to drink it isn't He enabling us to sin against the Father? If it is the body and blood, and we have been commanded to eat and drink of it, doesn't that mean that God has changed? If it is true there are some serious implications that go with it.

But did Jesus mean that the bread and wine were literally His flesh and blood? Seeing is how He knew more about God than any man could (because He is God) don't you think He would be aware of this Old Testament commandment? So, either He knew about it and tells us to break it anyway, or it slipped His mind and has caused us to sin unintentionally, or (and this is the one I tend to go with) it isn't His literal flesh and blood we consume in communion services. The first two options ultimately lead to the fact that we were deceived by God's perfect Son. And if He deceived us, couldn't it then be argued that He wasn't actually perfect and therefore would not be an acceptable sacrifice for our redemption? You see the problem then, the entire New Testament - and by implication The Father - is a lie if this is all true. So, you see the Catholic teaching of the body and blood of Christ is a very big problem when one considers its implications all the way through. But I praise God that this teaching isn't true, that He doesn't change, and that His Son truly was a spotless lamb sacrificed for our sins.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

And Your Title Is?

Oh boy, this was fantastic.

A few months ago, when I was picking up the children at school, another mother I knew well rushed up to me. Emily was fuming with-indignation. "Do you know what you and I are?" she demanded. Before I could answer, and I didn't really have one handy, she blurted out the reason for her question.

It seemed she had just returned from renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office. Asked by the woman Emily had hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself. "What I mean is, "explained the recorder, "Do have a job, or are you just a......?" "Of course I have a job," snapped Emily. "I'm a mother." "We don't list 'mother' as an occupation...'''housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high-sounding title like Official Interrogator or Town Registrar. "And what is you occupation?" she probed. What made me say it, I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ball point pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pompous pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire. "Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?" Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research (what mother doesn't?) in the laboratory and in the field. I'm working for my Masters (the whole family), and already have four credits (all daughters)." "Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are in satisfaction rather than money." There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants - ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model (6 months) in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt triumphant! I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind that "just another mother." Especially when there's a title on the door.

-Author Unknown

Friday, May 19, 2006

Are We Really Good At Heart?

My previous entry on the blog was an excerpt from a news article concerning a law that is about to be passed in Iran which would, in part, force anyone who isn't Muslim to wear color coded badges on their clothing. The Jews would be expected to wear yellow, which is reminiscent of the persecution that took place during Hitler's reign, and Christians would be assigned red. I wonder why they chose these colors?

At any rate the color scheme is really just a side issue that I was thinking about, more important is the fact that I have heard little to nothing said concerning this. The news, as par the course for it, is amazingly silent. At least it is here in the US - the article I found is from Canada. Why isn't this of concern? Why do we seem so willing to ignore things like this? The world ignored Hitler and millions of people lost their lives, what will it take for us to pay attention to this (and other things happening around the world)? Will the law have to pass and people start being put onto trains like cattle before we wake up?

The thing that struck me is that by in large we like to think that people are good, or at least by nature they are good perhaps they're simply corrupted by their circumstances. We say to ourselves, "Well, I'll just let [insert whatever] slide, maybe they'll straighten up on their own." How often are we completely caught off guard by the evil that takes place? We didn't see, or maybe we didn't want to see, the Holocaust coming, we didn't see Columbine coming, we didn't see September 11th coming. Had you asked me on September 10th what I thought of people in general I would have espoused the same line I'd been fed since I was a child.

"Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."
- Anne Frank

It is a sweet sentiment I suppose, to see that a girl can go through so very much and not be filled with hate? It's beautiful. But is it true? Are we really good at heart? Sometimes I can't help but wonder. Maybe I sound like a cynic, but I really have a hard time believing that...Even about myself. Sometimes I sit and something will trigger a memory from my childhood and I see that I wasn't as good, or as honest, as I always pictured myself. I did some good things, sure, but I did a lot of wicked things as well that make me cringe.

Which is it, either we're good by nature or we're not. Are the bad things we do solely because of our environment? If I dropped my children off in the woods and left them to themselves, would they be good people when they emerged years later? What about the kids who go and shoot up their schools? Are these types of out bursts strange? Is it in our nature to be deceitful, hateful, and vengeful? Or are we normally sweet, honest, loving, forgiving people whose surroundings corrupt us?

Sometimes it is hard to imagine having any kind of an answer to these questions. Why are the younger generations growing up faster, engaging in sexual acts at younger ages, why are they doing things that their grandparents wouldn't have imagined doing? Is it really just because they've been raised "wrong"? Or is the lack of parental guidance simply an indication of what is brewing below the surface? Were our grandparents more "moral" because they naturally were that way, or because they were raised to be? I don't think anyone would argue with me when I say that, by in large, parents aren't involved in the same way and their way of relating to the children is probably quite different from the way our great grandparents interacted with our grandparents.

So, I put the question to you again. Were our parents better people because that's how people really are or are our younger generations running rampant with sin because the parents have essentially removed their moral compass from their children's lives forcing the children to find their own way? If the latter is the case, if our children are going crazy with sin because the parents took their guiding hands off their children, what does that say about the nature of our children? What does that say about us? If we hadn't been raised to think murder is wrong, would we be out killing people? Sure, our environment and culture shape us, but is that the sole determining factor in how we turn out? I hardly think so. Cain killed Abel and they were the first generation that was born to Adam and Eve. Obviously the fall effected much more than our location.

Iran eyes badges for Jews

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."

The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

But Now Mine Eye Seeth Thee

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (Job 42:5)

As I read this verse I was reminded of Christ's words:

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. (Matthew 13:13-16)

People often talk about coming to Christ, of choosing Christ, they seem to focus a lot - if not entirely - upon man's action in the redemptive process. The way I've heard it described you would think becoming a follower of Christ is as simple as choosing what shoes to wear that day. But I'm not sure I believe it is that simple. How many of us grew up in some form of church and ignored the message? I grew up in church and yet it made no impact on my life as a child. If it was just about making a choice, why didn't I make that choice at a younger age? Obviously if I was able to see, able to fully understand the value of Christ I would have (ideally) chosen to follow Him. Yet I refused to follow.

I grew up hearing that He was the Son of God, I grew up hearing His words preached, and still the value of serving Him escaped me. It certainly isn't because I was unintelligent, it isn't as if I didn't understand what the phrase, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me," (John 14:6) meant. I did, and still I rejected. So, perhaps it isn't quite as simple as we like to make it.

Perhaps the only way one can accept Him is for the Spirit to move in one's heart? Perhaps the Spirit has to cause a stirring, remove the blinders from our eyes (or at least poke a couple holes in them), perhaps He has to unclog our ears and soften our hearts in order for us to be able to make that choice. How many of us spent our lives hearing about Jesus, we knew about Him, perhaps some of us even claimed to serve Him, yet we didn't live our lives in submission to Him. We knew of Him, but we didn't see Him. There was some aspect of His glory that escaped us. And then an awakening of sorts occurred and the blinders came off. We had heard of Him but what we heard escaped our hearts. We didn't have ears to hear, all the precious words we heard flew right through our heads because we didn't allow them to stop by our hearts.

How many of us had hardened our hearts to the words and we had become "dull of hearing" (Hebrews 5:11) to the word we claimed to love? But then something happened, or maybe nothing happened and suddenly the Word came alive for you as it did for me. Now we can hear, now we can see, now we understand (at least in part) what an amazing gift was given to us on that cross.

No folks, I don't think you can just choose to follow. Sure you can go through the outward motions and appear to follow, but if the Spirit hasn't quickened you I think you are probably always going to fall short. You will hear, but you won't hear in a way that will bring genuine faith. You see, but it is as if you're watching a foreign film that has a plot you don't understand and no subtitles. You will see, but you won't comprehend what you're seeing. And until someone tells you, until someone turns the subtitles on for you you're never going to grasp what is going on fully. You may get a glimpse, you may have some inkling as to what is going on, but the depth of the dialog will always escape you. Until the Spirit moves you'll never be able to say "but now mine eye seeth thee," and that folks is the most beautiful moment you'll ever experience this side of heaven. When that light comes on, ah how beautiful. We never realize how dark it was until that light turns on. And at first we may blink a lot, we may squint, but as we adjust to the light the more we'll see. If only we stay in that light, if only we keep our hearts soft and our ears open...

But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom swore he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:13-19)

Highly Unusual

So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Keren-happuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. (Job 42:12-15, emphasis mine)

This is pretty unusual, I think, listing the daughters names but not the sons? Hmm interesting. First person to give me an explanation will be my new favorite person.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Trinity

I rely on the Holy Spirit, which is Jesus which is also God.
- a person on a message board I visit

I asked the person who said this to clarify, hoping that perhaps they just worded this badly. Upon clarification I realized he did in fact mean this. But is it Biblical, is this what the Bible teaches concerning the Godhead, that the Holy Spirit is Jesus who is, in fact, the Father?

Throughout the New Testament Jesus defers to the Father, He says the Father sent Him, that He returns to the Father, that He only does the will of the Father, even from the cross Jesus cries out to the Father asking Him why He has forsaken Him. If Jesus is the Father, how could He leave Himself? Obviously Jesus is speaking to someone other than Himself.

Needless to say, Jesus is not the Father. But is it possible that Jesus is the Holy Spirit? I think you know what my answer is, but I'd like to show you why.

Jesus is not the Holy Spirit, speaking to the disciples about His upcoming departure Jesus tells them, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:16)

If Jesus is the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) why would He insist that He is going to the Father, that they cannot come with them with Him, but that He will send another to be with them. He says another, this specifically shows that it is not Him.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16:7)

John the Baptist says this of Christ and the Spirit:

And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. (John 1:33)

If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one, how can Jesus descend upon Himself? I think it is clear, Jesus is not the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is not Jesus, and Jesus is not that Father. But they all are God. Three distinct beings, one God. Is it a difficult thing to grasp? Absolutely, but we must not try to rationalize it by saying they are all the same person. Just as a husband and wife come together and are one while maintaining their individual identities, the Three are all God but they are individual as well.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Psalm 130

A Song of degrees.
Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

The first thing that stood out to me about this psalm is verse three, "If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" It occurred to me that no one can stand, at least not without the righteousness of Christ upon them. It is Christ's sacrifice that enables us to stand before God, that enables us to be able to come to the throne. Without His righteousness nobody can stand.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12)

Now as I came to the second half of the psalm (verses 5-8) it struck me that part of what is probably being talked about here is the psalmist is waiting for Christ's coming, after all our redemption was purchased at the cross. Without His sacrifice there is no mercy, no redemption. Without the cross we all are must bear our own sins, and the psalmist seems to understand this which is one of the reasons he awaits the Lord. For the Lord "shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities."

So the psalmist knows that Christ is coming, he knows his Redeemer will rescue him from his sin, he trusts that the Father will provide even though he hasn't seen.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Beyond that I think there is more going on. Yes, the psalmist is waiting for the Lord to bring redemption, he is waiting for the cross. But I believe this waiting, this hopeful expectation goes beyond the cross. We have found our salvation in Christ at the cross, and we are still waiting. We wait for that final sweep when God will return and over throw the evil kingdoms of this world. And so we wait. "My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning."

Good Cheer In The Midst Of A Storm

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him, And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (Matthew 8:23-27)

I've written previously about being in the midst of a storm as the disciples were, fearful of certain failure and even death even though we are walking with Christ. Last night I was reading John Piper's "When I don't Desire God" and something he said just threw a light bulb on in my head concerning this passage in Acts right before Paul is shipwrecked.

But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, struck sail, and so were driven. And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. (Acts 27:14-22, emphasis mine)

Be of good cheer? They think they are about to die! They're terrified, experienced sailors are throwing everything they can think of off the ship in order to stay afloat, and this crazy guy who has been hanging out somewhere by himself says to be of good cheer! Doesn't he understand what is going on? How can they be of good cheer when obviously they are about to die?!

Ah, but we know they aren't about to die. Great loss will come, but God has ordained that their lives will continue. I read this passage and am sure that something similar must have been going through these men's minds, simply because it is what would have been going through my mind. In this way they remind me of the disciples, fearful of death they don't know what else to do. And here comes Paul saying, "Guys, guys, just relax. We have nothing to fear, for God has told me we won't die."

Similarly Christ says to His disciples, "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" In the time between Him asking this question and Him rebuking the waves I wonder if similar panic was running through the minds of the disciples? Why are we afraid, Jesus? You're asleep and we're about to die!!

But they weren't going to die now, were they? No. God had plans for them and though the surrounding circumstances seem to scream "death" God said "have peace." The world would say panic, indeed our very nature tells us panic, but God's word says to be of good cheer, to trust and we will find peace and rest.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

The things we fear will kill us often won't. Nothing can take our lives until God has ordained it is time. And so we must have peace. Though things in our lives may be frightening and stressful, though we don't see how we're going to survive our latest trial we must be of good cheer because we will survive. If we have faith we will survive, no matter what the physical outcome of the situation may be we are "more than conquerors" in Christ (Romans 8:37).

Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. (Isaiah 41:9-11)

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Two Problems With Mantras

There are so very many things that should be, and need to be addressed concerning this website, but I'd like to take this opportunity to focus on certain things they say concerning mantras. Even within this article there is much that needs to be addressed, but I'm going to focus on one idea right now.

A man vowed that he would do one hour of spiritual practice every day. It wasn't long before he went to his spiritual adviser to admit that he'd failed. He was just so busy! In the morning, he had to exercise, read the newspaper, and get the kids off to school. He was always pressured at work, and in the evening he had chores or shopping to do. Then he just wanted to relax with his wife and family. He couldn't find an hour for prayer. "What should I do?" he asked his teacher. The reply: "Two hours a day."

Sound impossible? Most of us would have trouble carving out two hours a day for prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, or service. But you don't have to be like the man in the story, defeated and resigned to failure. Instead, you can do a spiritual practice that can be easily integrated into the daily rounds of your life.

The mantra method of prayer is one such practice. A simple phrase is repeated silently as you go about your regular activities. The mantra becomes a constant companion, reminding you of your steadfast relationship with God and helping you navigate all the distractions your mind and heart may be prone to. By using a mantra, you can tap into and even expand your inner resources of patience, strength, and faithfulness.


The key to mantra practice is repetition, and you should repeat your word or phrase as often as possible. There are an amazing number of opportunities for this prayer practice during a day: while standing in the elevator, brushing your teeth, watching a page load on your computer, sitting on the bus, making the bed, petting your cat. All the times you have to wait — in doctor's offices, for the TV show to begin, at the checkout counter — can be regarded as practice periods. Two minutes here and five minutes there can easily add up to one or two hours of spiritual practice a day.

One of the first things I notice is that this type of "prayer" goes about trying to create peace even when the person saying the prayer refuses to be still and go to God. They want to squeeze God into their spare time. Now, I've got no issues with praying when you're busy, I pray on the move all the time. I understand that, but I generally still find it is important to make that quiet time as well. If you just go running around talking to God all day long, when is He supposed to answer you?

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalms 46:10)

Problem number two is that these people aren't praying, they're repeating one thing over and over and over. It's like fooling yourself into something. If you tell yourself you're warm over and over in the middle of the winter, if you really want to believe what you're telling yourself you may experience some type of warmth...Even while your fingers are developing a nasty case of frost bite. Just because you may feel like you are experiencing peace doesn't mean you are experiencing God's piece.

On top of this fact is the simple point that it goes entirely against Scripture.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7)

It seems this is another case of us reversing the roles. We place man in the center of the universe and expect God's life to revolve around us. When we have time for Him then He'll get attention, when we need something then we'll talk to Him. But is this how life is supposed to be? Is God really supposed to sit around and hold His breath hoping we'll just glance His way? It seems a bit junior high-ish. God is a love sick school boy in this model and we're that ultra cool kid who only glances His way when we need Him to write our term papers for us. God is not God in this model but something we bring into our lives on a whim. We fit Him into our schedules rather than turning our lives over to Him.

It's a sad, sad immitation for what a relationship with God is supposed to look like. And what is even more sad is the fact that people think this is perfectly normal and acceptable and refuse to really look at, and re-evaluate, their relationship with God. When doing mantras I think it is safe to say you're not speaking to God, heck you're not even talking at God. You're just talking to yourself, giving yourself a placebo to fool yourself into thinking you've got a relationship with God when every aspect of your life would indicate otherwise.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

I love old movies, especially old musicals. I discovered the art of the 1930s-1950s movie while I was in high school and fell in love. I could tell you why it is these films captivated me but we'd be here for a very long time; once I started watching them I couldn't stop. While most kids my age were watching junk on Fox and the WB I was watching Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and countless others dance across my screen. And while I don't watch these films like I used to they still hold a certain interest for me, every once in a while I will randomly start singing For Me and My Gal. If you were to ask me why I'm not sure I'd be able to tell you, especially since I haven't seen the film in well over a year.

At any rate, I really do enjoy these films. Given the choice between watching something on AMC and going to see the latest blockbuster you can count on the fact that I'll be at home in front of my TV. Interestingly enough one of my many dreams I had before I knew Christ was that I wanted to open a movie theater and only show old films. I had the decor picked out, the candy selection, even a general price plan. But somewhere along the line the dream faded. I can't tell you where, when, or why - it just did. Have you ever had that happen? Have something catch your heart and you're so sure that this is the thing, this is what you're going to do and then slowly you realize that you're not going to do it? Perhaps you don't even realize it at the time but it imperceptibly fades, the passion for this new thing in your life begins to cool and eventually dies.

I look back over my live and I see how often this happened. Movie theater, veterinarian, paramedic, librarian, science teacher, English teacher, preschool teacher - and those are just the ones I can recall of the top of my head. Why is that I wonder? I know I'm not alone in this, I know there are many of you who went through (possibly still are) a million ideas of what you want out of your life. So, why is it one dream isn't enough? Why do these things fade?

When I was really little I wanted to be a vet, this is the first and primary dream of my childhood. I look back and realize it is because I loved animals and enjoyed caring for them. I can't tell you how many times I brought stray animals home, turtles, dogs, cats, bunnies, wounded birds; any animal that looked out of place would find its way to my home. Remarkably my mother never protested it, she never told me to stop bringing animals home. It is funny how patient she was with me, I wonder if she honestly thought I'd end up a vet or if she was just going to let the interest run itself out? Either way this continued on until seventh or eight grade - Oh, and no we didn't keep all the animals I brought home. We would either find homes in the neighborhood, find the original owners, find nature reserves to take them to, or in the case of a pair of wounded chicks I found in my back yard I simply made them as comfortable as I could while they passed.

After this I decided I wanted to be a paramedic, then a science teacher, then an English teacher, then a librarian, then onto the movie theater, and finally coming to rest on the preschool teacher half way through high school. But still I wonder, why did I go through so very many ideas? It's interesting, so many dreams, so many plans, well thought out plans even, have died. But why? The short answer is quite simply because they weren't based upon what God wanted for me. The long answer? They weren't what God wanted for me. The best laid plans will eventually fall flat if not based upon God's desire for one's life. How can I truly know what I truly need when the very changing of the wind brings new interests into my life and sweeps old ones away? I'm reminded of what Christ said:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)

Simply put all those dreams I had were built on the sand. And as the sand eroded so did my dreams. Yes, I realize this may not be the most conventional way of looking at this passage, but is it applicable? I think so. Just before this Christ warns us that not everyone who has seemingly done things in His name will enter the kingdom. What a frightening thought! But why would they not be welcomed into the kingdom? Perhaps part of the reason is because while they claimed to being coming in Christ's name, while they said they were doing God's work, they really weren't.

Perhaps something caught their interest and they never really stopped to ask if this is really what God wanted them to do. Perhaps in pursuing their dreams they were, in fact, running from the very plan God had for their life. Before we know Christ, before we submit to Him we like to fool ourselves into thinking that if we are good enough we'll get to heaven. If we're generally good people, doing good things...Or not doing majorly bad things...We'll enter the gates of the kingdom. If we feed the hungry, if we shelter the homeless, surely then we'll win brownie points with God. What foolishness. All the good we do, it is nothing if it is not done within Christ. If you're outside the will of God can you really serve God?

But what does this have to do with my movie theater you may be wondering? All these ideas I had, all these plans were built with good intentions. Indeed most of my life was done with good intentions, and yet that wasn't enough. It wasn't enough because God didn't call me to open a movie theater, or to be a paramedic, or a vet. My best laid plans fall flat when done outside of the will of God. And sometimes I sit and pester God, I say to Him, "God, why did this fail? Why didn't you bless it?"

But I know the answer, I know why He won't give me everything that catches my eye. Why did he tell Adam and Eve they couldn't have the apple? Why did Abraham's seed have to flow through Sarah rather than Hagar? Why did Christ have to die on the cross? Because He has a plan, and though things don't always make sense to us, though we think we have a good idea, though we think we know what is best for us the truth is we have no idea. We can't know what is what is best for us outside of knowing that following the Father wherever His Spirit leads is best for us. That is all we need to know. We can't do things our own way. If not done as He says and when He says, then can we honestly say we were serving Him?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Contrasting The Old With The New: Does God Change?

It's interesting, isn't it? For years sitting under Catholic teaching I barely ever remember having heard a word mentioned out of the Old Testament. And for the past five years or so all I've heard out of the evangelical camp (I use that term loosely because my experience with this term is based upon my experiences with various charismatics and AoG people) is that the general impression concerning the Old Testament was one of drudgery, one seemingly of bondage, of a burden. People often contrast the way God is depicted in the Old Testament with Him in the New Testament. Inevitably people seem to think there was such a burden in the Old and that freedom is only found in the New. And yes, our freedom is found in the New, it was purchased on the cross at Calvary. Do not mistake my intent, it is not to diminish the work accomplished that day.

Yet, I believe to speak of the Old Testament in a way that diminishes God's wonderful patience and mercy...Well, it grieves my heart to hear how common this view of Him is. Christ's sacrifice on that cross freed us from our sin, from the bondage we put ourselves in. To make it seem as though before Christ came the Father enslaved and forced the Israelites to serve and sacrifice to Him is to speak in a way that disparages His character. The Israelites, just as we do today, had a choice to serve. And a choice to disobey. We see this very fact throughout Scripture.

Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. (Exodus 32:26)

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. (Leviticus 1:2-4, emphasis mine)

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

God loves a cheerful giver. He always has. Even under the law the Israelites still had a choice. Yes, there were consequences to be paid for disobedience, but this does not remove the fact that they had a choice. The very fact that so many have chosen from the time of the fall to walk a different path, a rebellious path shows us that we have a choice.

To imply that they didn't have a choice then, but once Christ came they had a choice is to imply that God changed. He did not. He is the same as He was when He lead the Israelites out of Egypt, He is the same as when He created man in the garden, and He is the same as He was on the day He poured out His wrath on His Son who willingly sacrificed Himself for the sins of many. He is the same, and He does not change. So, why then do we like to create such a stark contrast between the Old and New Testaments? If we truly believe His is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow - why do we act as if He isn't? Why do so many people put forth this idea that God was content with mindless drones serving Him in the Old Testament, that they just did it because they had to but their hearts weren't in it but all of a sudden Jesus comes along and God changes His mind and says "Hey! Wait, I've decided you have to love me!" Come on guys. Either He is the same or He isn't. And if He is the same, shouldn't His message be the same all the way through? Truly it is. His message has been, and will always be:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37)

The Old through the New, He is always the same.

Gentleness Of The Spirit

Carla is at it again, she has an excellent post over at her blog. I suggest you take a look at it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Facts of Life

I don't care what anyone says, I love the Facts of Life. I grew up watching reruns of the show and aside from Punky Brewster it quickly became one of my favorite television shows. At any rate Jo was my favorite, and this really isn't much of a surprise. I mean, Jo was awesome! I've long been irritated that they release shows that are still producing new episodes to DVD but haven't released the Facts of Life. Well, now my irritation has ended. Probably won't buy them, but it is the principle of the matter. Why should The Simpsons be getting sold if the Facts of Life isn't? Anyway, for those of you who like the girls, now you can relive some of the best TV moments by picking up season one and two at your local store.

PS: Jo doesn't appear until season two, but Molly Ringwald was on season one.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ack, I'm Sick

I don't feel so great, I've got ideas that need to be posted but just don't have the energy to think at this point. Yes, I feel that gross. So, go read some other blogs and come back in a few days.

Tom Cruise: Changing Our Culture One Film At A Time

"It's the biggest non-holiday opening for a Tom Cruise movie ever, and the third-biggest in the history of his movies," said longtime producing partner, Paula Wagner. "His career has spanned over 20 years of powerful, culture-reflecting and culture-changing films."
Source(emphasis mine)

How in the world? Culture-changing films? Oh most certainly, Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire changed my life. Or how about his role in Interview with a Vampire? Certainly he set out to change the way we all think about vampires, those poor things. He's breaking down cultural barriers with his every step. ::barf:: Sorry, what was I saying? Eh, it doesn't matter.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Portrait of Ruth

Ruth, heroine of a story loved by multitudes, began life as a Moabite. Moab was the son of Lot and his daughter, so Ruth's lineage was a shameful one in the eyes of the Hebrews. Her story could have been a sad one, but Ruth took charge of her own life and turned it into one of the happiest stories in the Old Testament.
- A Portrait of Ruth by Frances Fuller, Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, pg 252 (emphasis mine)

Anyone who reads this blog on a semi-regular basis will know that I love the story of Ruth, I agree that the story of her life is indeed one of the most beloved of the Old Testament. However, I have to disagree that she took her life into her own hands. This is not the image put forth by her story. Ruth didn't take her life into her own hands, she laid it into the hands of the God she'd come to know through her mother in law, Naomi.

Ruth easily could have gone to her father's home, she easily could have returned to her old life. In fact Naomi urges Ruth to do just that. It would have made sense for her to do so, perhaps in returning to her father he would be able to find her another husband to care for her. But Ruth understood that Naomi was returning to her home land, to her culture, to her God. Ruth understood that the God of Naomi was the true God and she was willing to face uncertain conditions in order to follow God. To any onlooker it wouldn't have made sense, but Scripture repeatedly exhorts us to "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)

Ruth was willing to lean solely upon God's great wisdom, she was willing to turn away from everything she'd ever known to follow God. She was willing to head out into a land she'd probably never seen without any resources, without a husband, all to serve God. Ruth worked from sun up to sun down to care for her widowed mother in law. All human reasoning would have declared this situation to be disparaging, depressing, even seemingly insurmountable. But still Ruth trusted. What may have seemed foolish to the world was in God's great plan.

But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:24-25)

In the lives of the disciples we see this same trust mirrored. Christ came and called them, and they were willing to just walk away from everything to follow. They didn't go home and pack a lunch, they didn't give their employers two weeks notice. Jesus said "follow me" and they did. They were willing to deny their lives, they were willing to eventually lose their lives in order to see God move in their lives.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

Sure they could have gone back to fishing, sure they would have lived a life that would have fed their bellies, but were they unwilling to risk it all, would they have seen God's plan for their lives unfold to His glory? If they were unwilling to spread the Good News, if Ruth had been unwilling to walk into uncharted territory in her life, if they had taken the easy route would they really have been better off? I hardly think so.

If Ruth had turned back from her mother in law she may have gotten a new husband, she may not have had to work in fields all day long, but would she have known God? Would she have seen God's hand in her life? Sure the plans she could have made would have gotten her by, but God had something even bigger in store for her. And all she had to do was believe.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Sick, sick, sick.

Writing on Writing on Writing

Carla has an excellent post, which she wrote after reading someone else's post. It's a big chain reaction. Start with Carla, then go to her reference. I'm not even going to attempt to add anything to what she wrote, I think she does a wonderful job summing things up (and I relate quite a bit to what she wrote, so to post on top of her post would get a bit redundant).

The Seasons of Our Lives: An Opportunity to See God's Glory

I'm coming into an interesting time in my life. For so very long I was lost, completely wrapped up in my sin - I was drowning in the darkness I'd walked into. I never intended to get lost, indeed I didn't really understand how lost I was. But by God's gracious sacrifice I've been saved. He's pulled me out of my sin, wiped my face clean and is leading me. It's been nearly a year, truthfully I'm just days shy of that fateful night's anniversary. The most terrifying night of my life was, as I look back on it, one of the most beautiful and meaningful moments of my life. Though I didn't realize it at the time, though I thought I was going to die in my heart ache, I now see God's loving hand amidst my tears. It has been quite the year, full of trial, times of heart ache and times of overwhelming joy, but more than that this has been a time of growth, of deliverance, a time in which God has blessed me with the understanding I am not responsible for any of the good in my life. It is all Him. I got myself into quite a mess, I pulled people down with me, and now God holds my hand as He leads me out.

No, deliverance hasn't been "fun" by any stretch of the imagination. That old phrase, "you reap what you sow," is more true than I ever could have imagined. But in the midst of my trials, in the midst of my failures, my Savior has been there calling me to Him. My sin sent Him to the cross, and still He loves me. He sees every aspect of my life, He sees the deceitfulness that is buried deep within my heart, He sees my fears and my distrust, and still He calls me to be reconciled to My Father. My God has seen me, and loves me so very much that He is willing to transform my heart (and truthfully I think it has very much more to do with seeing His glory displayed in the hearts of those He has called). Indeed when one submits themselves to Christ they become a new creature, the phrase born again has never meant so much to me as it does these days. Nothing I have done in my life warrants such loving grace, yet He willingly and abundantly gives it.

I'm entering a new phase in my life, I finally see the end of some trials that I imagined would overwhelm me, and with this new phase comes a new set of trials. And these trials are meant for my good, to help me, and though I may cry out to Him and wonder why at times, I see the cross and know why. Each new phase, each new trial is an opportunity for me to grow in my faith in My Father's love. Each new situation brings me an opportunity to see Him glorified. Each trial, each frightening moment is a blessed chance to trust Him and abide in the peace that He has promised to give those who will follow Him. And each victory is a moment to celebrate His glory.