Monthly Archives: March 2011

Spring Already Sprung, But the Job’s Not Done

We are moving toward spring on the calendar and the signs of it are around us even here in the frozen north.  There is a small stream flowing alongside the curb that says the temperatures are just warm enough to allow snow to melt.  There are daily flood updates from the Fargo and Devils Lake areas and plenty of concern to go around.  As a fun distraction, pro baseball is about to begin its regular season and college ball already has.  My Razorbacks are doing well, and I can only hope the same for the STL Cardinals.

Around here spring is a time of celebration and dread wrapped into one.  Celebration for the end of winter and the “death” that it brings to so many things.  Dread for the hazards that accompany “new life.”  It all makes me think of my word, growth.

Let me pull this back to the baseball realm for a minute.  The whole object of baseball in a microcosm is to “get home” to come full circle and finish the circuit of the bases.  This has parallel with life itself.  Life is cyclical and we sometimes circle the bases and other times just get picked off first or strike out at the plate.  It is often said that baseball is a game where you must get used to failure.  A person who only gets a hit 1 of every 3 plate appearances is considered a good hitter for instance, but that percentage means that he fails 2 out of every 3 times at bat as well.

We see this same thing at work in our own life.  We fail far more often than we succeed as we walk in faith.  This doesn’t mean that we should hide in the dugout secure in the knowledge that we can’t be kicked off the team.  If anything knowing that we won’t be cut should provide us the courage to keep going up to bat.  It’s kind of fun to work this many baseball metaphors into a single post, but I presume that you get the point.

I am excited for the start of baseball season to be sure.  I am hoping that the Cardinals have a great year and win the World Series.  In the meantime, I am still growing because I won’t quit when I fail.  I will look to the One who went to bat  (I know, Paul calls it a race, but stick with me) and batted 1.000.

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Categories: adventures in the cold, baseball, Christianity, Discipleship, Faith, Fun, Grace, Growth, ministry, One Word, razorbacks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grace for the Journey and Wisdom from the Battles – A Review of Surviving Sexual Brokenness by Thom Hunter

Since getting reacquainted and in the loop at SBC Voices, I have come to appreciate each time Thom Hunter shares a new post.  His writing is always penetrating and frequently takes a tack that few will ever ponder or dare to do, usually because it is born of personal and often painful experience of the sort that few are willing to share about transparently with others.  This is the main reason that I jumped at the offer to review Thom’s book, Surviving Sexual Brokenness.

If I were required to describe the book using a single word, I would go back to that same idea: transparent.  This isn’t a theory book or an abstract look at the problem of sexual issues in the body of Christ.  This is the story and lessons learned by a man who has been through the fire personally and been given the grace and the gift to share the lessons learned with those are at an earlier point in the journey or who have not gotten the courage to start.  Make no mistake about it, this book will challenge and prod in a good way.

There may be those who question the notion of sexual brokenness that Thom is talking about in the book, but statistics bear out the depth of the issue within the church itself.  We live in a culture that glorifies sex and promiscuity and promotes an “anything goes” attitude toward sex.  While most churchgoers understand the inherent problem with this worldview, we have struggled with how to respond.  Some pastor’s have gone along with the “sensationalization of sex” and made responding to it part of their marketing ploy if you will.  Others have chosen to not say much at all.  Thom addresses head on the fact of sexual brokenness that surrounds us in the pews and offers help on reaching out to those who have already wrecked into the shoals or are perilously close to such a disaster.

There is excellent advice for churches and pastor’s in this book that comes from a heart who has been on the receiving end of both helpful and hurtful help from those who were just trying to do the right thing.  Thom gives excellent advice on how we can relate to and help those who are struggling without compromising the truth of Scripture and God’s standards of righteousness.  He also invites us to take a hard look at attitudes and behaviors that may lead us to isolate or destroy our ability to minister to those who need it most, the broken.  One statement that stood out was, “from him who fails much, much failure is expected.”  This encapsulates the problem we so often have in extending the same grace to others or even ourselves that we so desperately need to have and to give.

I do not hesitate to recommend this book and I cannot imagine any person who would not benefit from reading it.  The issues surrounding sex and sexuality and how we respond to them, particularly in the areas of sexual sin are going to be a flashpoint for years to come.  If you want to be prepared ahead of time instead of scrambling for wisdom in how to respond in the wake of a crash and burn disaster, you should read what Thom has shared.  His wisdom from experience will provide grace for the reader and insight for the storm.  I am grateful to him for providing me a copy to read so that I could equip myself and those around me for the days ahead.

Categories: Book Reviews, Christianity, church, Culture, Gospel, Grace, ministry, Southern Baptist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Only Natural

We are a couple of weeks beyond the initial tragedy in Japan from the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear issues (which are still ongoing), but that means that multiple stories about “why did this happen?” are everywhere now.  FoxNews reported a poll that shows that nearly 4 in 10 Americans believe that natural disasters are a “sign from God.”  Of course, the poll revealed a sort of disconnect in those surveyed:

A slight majority — 51 percent — disagreed natural disasters are a sign from the Almighty. Yet a slightly larger majority, 56 percent, said they believe God is in control of everything that happens in the world.

The fact of that matter is that some disasters may be a sign from God, but some are undoubtedly simply the result of a world damaged by the fall.  Debating God’s control or lack thereof is a non-starter in any case.  The Bible has plenty to say about God’s sovereignty, but definitive answers it does not give (or else there would be no debate about it).  As believers we know that God is good and we trust Him in those areas that we can’t see or know definitively.  I am getting ready to read and review a book by Randy Alcorn called, The Goodness of God, so I will have more to say on that later.

It seems that it is another part of human nature to automatically look beyond ourselves in events like this however.  As another Fox writer pointed out, the emperor of Japan even attributed the disaster to “heavenly punishment.”  This wasn’t a Pat Robertson moment, it was a very natural response.  All of us have an inborn reflex toward God and an ability to see Him because of His Creation (Romans 1:20).

Tragedy and difficulty have a way of causing us to cut through the clutter of life and other things that distract us from what we instinctively know.  There is a God and it is not us.  We think this way because of how we are made.  It is only natural.

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My Kidneys Were Right All Along

Every once in a while, I see one of those helpful bits of health advice about drinking a lot of water.  I even tried it once as part of a health challenge at work a few years ago, because I didn’t want to hurt my team.  Turns out that the “water quota” is a misunderstanding.

I guess I would have known this before, if I had cared enough to check it out.  I should have too, because I never liked trying to drink all of that water.  I know that drinking some water is good for you, but those crazy deals like 64 ounces a day or take your body weight in lbs. and drink half of that number in ounces of water (200 lb person drinks 100 oz. of water you see), are just not right.

If you want to spend the better part of your day running to the WC (a little British lingo there), then go right ahead (really bad pun I know).  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

All things in moderation after all, and that includes water.

Categories: Fun, Health, Humor, personal, Science | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

King for a Day, Thanks to My Little Princess!

Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, I realized that I didn’t have the shirt or even the pants that I wanted upstairs; so I put on the bathrobe, that I rarely ever wear, and trudged down the stairs to collect the desired attire.  Upon seeing me, my daughter shrieked with glee and said “Daddy is wearing his royal robe.  He needs his crown!”

Suddenly, there was a paper crown, which she had made for me to wear a while back, waiting to be placed on my head.  It is one of those moments as a dad that is too precious to pass up.  Even though I was in a hurry, I bent down to accept my crown and tried not to knock it off my head as I gathered my things.  My daughter said, “You are the king and mommy is the queen and I am your princess!”

Just try and hear those words without smiling.  I wore my crown upstairs and Amelia got a good laugh out of the sight as well.  These are the moments that parents remember for a lifetime.  Today, my little princess is turning seven, and I know that the days of paper crowns and our “royal family” are growing shorter.

Hard to believe that seven years ago today we had our “Dakota baby” in the hospital just down the street from our home.  I won’t lie that I was relieved to be living so close to the hospital after some close calls with the boys deliveries back in the days we lived in Arkansas.  Of course, my daughter was the one child that didn’t come early.  Instead, she was fashionably late by a couple of days and came on the one day of the week that I had hoped she wouldn’t pick (because of my work schedule at the time); but that is the way it often seems to be in my experience.  Daughters have a way of wrapping themselves close to a dad’s heart, and she got an early start on the process.  I shared yesterday that I would be unapologetically overprotective of her and I mean to be.  She is our only girl and remains the only granddaughter on both sides of the family, so she may get spoiled just a little from time to time as well.

Even still, there are so many things that a dad cannot prevent.  I couldn’t keep her from banging her head against the door and needing stitches last summer and there have been other adventures that I would have rather avoided.  I know that I won’t be able to stop every bad thing from happening either.  In my heart, I know that such a thing wouldn’t even be healthy anyway.  She will grow and learn and take some bumps and bruises along the way, but daddy will always be there to pick her up and help her out.

Just as important, I am planning to make sure she knows how a true gentleman should treat a princess.  We are going out for lunch today, and Amelia told me last night that AllieRose asked to wear a dress for the occasion.  I suppose that I might have to dress up just a little bit (nothing real formal) to make sure that she knows how special it is to me as well.

Today, I just wanted to take a break from all of the other posts and wish my beautiful princess a very happy birthday.

Categories: family, friends, Fun, Humor, Love, Parenting, personal, Thanksgiving | 2 Comments

Sunday Morning Service for 3/27/11

We had a fun worship service Sunday morning with some new faces and a beautiful day both inside and outside.  I am truly blessed to serve with the people at First Baptist Langdon.  This morning’s sermon comes from Mark chapter 5 and centers around the woman healed from a bleeding disorder.  I invite you to listen along and follow along with the notes as well.  May God richly bless you through His Word.

Grabbing Hold of Messiah

Mark 5:25-34

Sermon notes 3/27/11

  1. Working in the midst of uncleanness
    1. The Faith to Come to Jesus – Mark 5:28
    2. The Power of God
      1. Corners of His Garment – Numbers 15:37-41
      2. God’s Ways Bring Healing
  2. Healing in His Wings – Malachi 4:2
    1. Word for wings also means corner
    2. The corners of the Messiah’s garment – Mark 6:56
  3. Taking Hold of the Messiah – Zechariah 8:20-23
    1. The nations will take hold of Messiah; Isaiah 56:6-8
    2. The corner of the garment of a Jew (same word)
    3. Learn from the Master
      1. Isaiah 2:1-5
      2. Matthew 11:25-30 (Jeremiah 6:16)
Categories: Gospel, Mark, Podcasts, Sermon | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unapologetic Overprotective Dad on the Loose

Maybe it is because my little girl turns 7 tomorrow, or maybe it is the fact that my oldest boy is less than a year shy of teenager status; either way, I am putting up fences in the best sense of the word with a lot more intentionality and speed than I ever did before.

There is nothing new underneath the sun indeed.  The Bible says this without any qualifiers and it was stated nearly 3000 years ago.  This isn’t to say that there isn’t new technology or discoveries or the like.  The thing that simply does not change is the nature of man and our behavior.

I have been stockpiling the links for just a day or so as they run across my path.  I could include a dozen more links than what I will bother to post here, because there is nothing new about this at all.  In fact, I just wrote something similar last week, based on another article.

The world has seemingly gone mad about sex.  Between the stories about a clothing company that sells “push up” tops to kids my daughter’s age(which I won’t even bother to link to), and the continuing stories about kids who are “sexting” at younger and younger ages, I am about ready to throw up.  There are “well-meaning” pastors who attempt to talk frankly about the subject but can’t avoid either sensationalism (a la marketing ploys) or outright vulgarity.  Yet the church needs to address the issue.  We need to invite parents back into the mix to take responsibility for bringing up their children in the knowledge of the Lord and His Ways.  God has plenty to say about sex and sexuality and how to get it right.  Let’s not punt the ball on this issue and leave it up to a world that should know better, just from sheer failure of bad experiences, yet will never learn from their mistakes.

My little girl knows what modesty is and she can recognize immodesty for that reason.  My boys are going to be brought up to “keep their hands to themselves” until the time that God provides the other half to complete them, flesh of their flesh and bone of their bones.  Which means they will still be keeping their hands to “themselves” when you think about it.

It may make them weird in this culture and it will certainly mean that they won’t be like everyone else, but that is the meaning of being “set apart.”  It is what we are called to be as believers and it is what we are taught to pass on to our kids as parents who love the Lord.  Plus it will save them from a lifetime of regret and unneeded hurt and trouble.  I will guarantee you that the folks in this article wish they had done the same.

Let us not be afraid to point to God’s ways and His design for sex, which is to be safely confined within a marriage relationship with a man and a wife.  Outside of that context, you are simply playing with fire (Proverbs 6:27) and you will get burned.

As a father, I take my job seriously.  Am I being overprotective?  Maybe.

But I will take that risk, and believe me, I am not sugarcoating or hiding the truth from my kids.  I am just trying to make sure that they learn the truth from me and from God’s Word before they hear the distortions that have been cooked up by society and pop culture.  Those are lies from the pit of hell itself and I want my kids to be able to recognize them for the forgeries they are, by showing them the genuine article.  Real love.  God’s Love – God’s Way.

Categories: Apologetics, Christianity, church, Commandments, Culture, Discipleship, family, Freedom, friends, Love, Parenting, personal, Prayer Needs, School, Signs of the Times, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Thomas Jefferson – Heretic? Yes. Atheist? Think Again.

Interesting story from over the weekend that fits within the stream of recent posts on this blog.  One of Thomas Jefferson’s self made “bibles” is going on display in the Smithsonian soon.  In many ways this is hardly unique.  A lot of people do their own “cut and paste” version of Scripture, but very few go to the extreme that Jefferson did with his.  Most people are content to simply ignore vast portions of Scripture on the belief that they have been “done away with” or are obsolete or something like that.

Jefferson’s “bible” is an attempt to discern what he thought were the real teachings of Jesus.  You see, while atheists like to proclaim Jefferson as one of their own and thus try to dismiss his use of Christian terminology and thought, it turns out that Jefferson was far more interested in the words and work of Christ than they might like to admit:

During the election of 1800, Jefferson was denounced as a “howling atheist” and “a confirmed infidel” known for “vilifying the divine word, and preaching insurrection against God.” But the Virginian also revered Jesus as “the first of human Sages” and was, according to one biographer, “the most self-consciously theological of all American presidents.”

Let me be quick to point out that Jefferson’s theology and view of Christ was nowhere near orthodoxy.  Jefferson was actively engaged in remaking God to suit himself and his own views.  That is why he produced a cut and paste scripture of his very own.  Jefferson generally downplayed the miracle stories about Jesus and didn’t believe in the resurrection either based on these accounts, but atheists might want to take a pause before declaring him one of their own:

After completing this second micro-testament, Jefferson claimed in a letter to a friend that it demonstrated his bona fides as a Christian. “It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

This is not your typical atheist speech pattern.  Jefferson claims about himself is that he was a “true disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”  I would dispute this point vigorously as the things that he denies aren’t just the work of a couple of overzealous followers of Christ, they are bedrock beliefs that are rooted in the Old Testament long before Christ even lived.  Jesus’ disciples didn’t “make up a bunch of stuff,” they testified to what they saw firsthand and proclaimed how this was all shown beforehand in the Law and the Prophets.

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

– 2 Peter 1:16-21

Jefferson was apparently unable to recognize this and was content to create his own “cleverly devised myths” in their stead.  That makes him a heretic, not an atheist.

Categories: Agnostics, America, Apologetics, Atheists, Christianity, church, Culture, Discipleship, Faith, False Teachers, Kingdom, Law, politics, Questions, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When the Queen Kills the King – Check Please

From the title you might be guessing that this is a post about chess.  Sorry, but no.  It is a title about bad sermons with an attempt at a witty headline, but it got you this far so you might as well keep reading.

It is said that theology is the “Queen of the sciences,” and indeed that is so, but it is dangerous when someone mistakes the “queen” for the King.  I recently heard a sermon where the preacher didn’t bother to quote from Scripture, aside from a couple of “glancing” mentions of two verses without citing what they even were.  The sermon was based on the work of three theologians and their pontification on the death of Christ.  I hesitate to give a great number of details about the sermon, firstly because it made no real significant point and secondly, because details might more readily identify the subject and I don’t wish to make this a personal issue.

I am certain that I will never desire to hear this person preach again, but it isn’t because I have any animosity toward the preacher.  I just don’t see any point in “preaching” that doesn’t start, abide and end within the Word of God itself.

1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.   – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

There is nothing wrong with theology.  It certainly is the “queen of the sciences.”  It was so named because of the assertion that it is “the first among pursuits of knowledge, since it was believed that all other pursuits were vitally linked to its dictates.”  But it is beyond credible to place the pontifications of theologians above the very Scripture that should be under-girding the arguments they make.  Don’t base a sermon on the words of a few theologians who gave their opinions on why Christ had to die while asking the question “why did Christ have to die?”  Go to Scripture and find the answer there!

1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  – 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

Paul didn’t beat around the bush about this.  He said that Christ died “for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”  This means that the reason Christ had to die is in Scripture.  In fact, it is all over the place in the Old Testament since that is the Scriptures that Paul is referring to; but in the New Testament, you find the writers working again and again to explain these things, just as Jesus had taught them Himself.  It may not be easy to follow or understand for everyone, but it is there.  Read the book of Hebrews for a blow by blow discussion or look at other epistles like 1 John or 1 Peter for smaller explanations or statements.

This comes back to my original point.  Don’t spend so much time talking about the queen, that you take the King from His throne.  Theology is wonderful and can give us interesting conversations and loads of speculation, but she can never replace the King of Kings and she certainly doesn’t belong in His place.  When some well meaning preacher allows the “queen” to kill the King, I am going to check out every time.  I may not be able to get up and walk out (although don’t put it past me), but I won’t be there anymore mentally.  Actually, in this case, I picked up the Bible in the pew in front of me and started to read a little bit.  I figured if the guy delivering the sermon wasn’t going to read from the Bible in church at least I would. Suddenly, I found myself wishing that the guy had heard of this place before.

Here is a small piece of advice for young preachers or even old preachers who feel the need to awe others with your seminary knowledge and the ability to name-drop an obscure 12th century theologian for effect; DON’T.  I don’t use caps lightly here.  Listen.  Stick to God’s Word.  It has and will stand the test of time and it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”(2 Timothy 3:16b-17)  People don’t need the “doctors of theology,” as much as they need the Great Physician.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, Culture, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, Gospel, Kingdom, Messiah, ministry, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elementary, My Dear Watson

In other funny news for the week, there is a “scientific” study that has concluded that religion will go extinct in as many as 9 countries.  There is a much more biting critique of this study available at Vox’s blog, but I wanted to throw in a couple of extra nuggets for fun.

First thing I noticed is that they patterned this “study” after one that was done on the death of languages a few years back.  I don’t know how you equate linguistics with religion in this manner.  If anything, religion is directly responsible for maintaining a knowledge of several “dead” languages in its own right.  Not the best concept that one might try to start with in any case.

While I am sure it didn’t enter into their equations, such as they may have been, while some religions have died over time, the Christian faith (and its ancestor Judaism) not only haven’t died out; they tend to get stronger and more resilient in the face of persecution and/or trials.  God maintains a remnant of His people.  I don’t see any of the countries listed in this study going complete irreligious at any time.  Vox posits that some of the countries are more likely to go Islamic before they abandon religion altogether (which might please some atheists), and he adds an additional amusing thought on why religion will not cease to be in any case:

The non-religious groups don’t provide their memberships with the same benefits as the religious groups, for the obvious reason that they are an intrinsically negative group, defined solely by what they are not. As atheists love to claim, none of them have anything in common with one another, except for the fact that they are uniformly smarter, more highly evolved, better educated, and morally superior on the basis of their non-belief. (Hey, I TOLD you they were irrational).

As for the study, I think Watson the Jeopardy computer stands a better chance of doing a good scientific study before these folks do; at least he has logic circuits capable of connecting relevant data for the problem at hand.  Maybe these folks should go and learn something from him.

Categories: Apologetics, Atheists, Christianity, church, Culture, Fun, Humor, Kingdom, Persecution, politics, Science, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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