Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Last Sunday I preached on Titus 1:10-16. The text deals with the need for elders in the church to recognize and confront doctrinal error which challenges the church from without and within. I made reference to the pathetic age of non-confrontation we live in when it comes to dealing with error. Modern church growth models uniformly advise against speaking on topics that might divide and to stick with a positive, "relevant" message.
I sited a passage from a Larry King (CNN) interview transcript with the pastor of the largest "evangelical" church in the U.S. (Lakewood in Houston-30,000 attendees each Sunday!), Joel Osteen.
This man has mastered the art of "non confrontation". If he is considered "evangelical", then I am most certainly NOT.
Pathetic, sad, indicative, telling....
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
"The rest of the family was very much against it," Steele said. Steele said her son, John Wood, plans to drive to Maiden, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) northwest of Charlotte, to reclaim his amputated leg, police said.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
- I am again humbled by the absolute sovereignty of God in my salvation. As much as my sinful pride wells up and wants to stake some kind of claim in my salvation, such an account reminds me of Christ’s personal, effectual call to me, a terrible sinner. I was in no way attractive to Jesus, but rather sovereignly chosen to be a tool of God for His glory. More of His glory is displayed when I decrease.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Bill O'Reilly, for all his conservative rhetoric, symbolizes all that's wrong with debate in America today. He simplifies issues, limits them to short snippets, he's inconsistent in many areas, and rarely allows time for the person he is "debating" to state his/her whole position. Don't get me wrong, I agree with some of O'Reilly's positions, I just don't like the medium he and much of the modern media uses to debate them. Such serious, impacting issues should be the subject of long dialogues and discussions, not limited to a 30 minute cable show that goes topic to topic faster than you can say "Jack Rabbitt Abbreviated". See Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" on the way television has seriously regressed public dialogue.
I love this "debate" (I use this description of the above interaction very loosely) because it illustrates my point. To most viewers I'm sure it comes off like O'Reilly is really sticking it to Ron Paul. In my opinion, however, sort of like Alan Keyes during the last presidential primary season, Ron Paul is way too smart to be President. His thorough knowledge makes it impossible to fit in to the "sound bite" mode of the current American political debates and discussions. He does his best to enhance the discussion, but it's tough when the host tells him, in effect, "never mind the history lesson"! Pardon me, but I thought knowing history was one of the key ways in which we can make right choices about the future. Ron Paul thinks so, Bill O'Reilly doesn't, I guess.
I don't fully agree with Paul's "libertarian" platform, but I do think he is very intelligent (imagine that...from Texas and all!). His smartness translates to consistency. His consistency translates to "no" vote after "no" vote as a congressman. He sounds like a whiner when he talks and he'll never win the primary.
Still, he's entertaining. That's what's so messed up with the age in which we live.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
When challenges arise, we can respond like the 10 spies and the people, with fear and paralysis. Matthew Henry comments- “Giving credit to the report of the spies rather than the word of God, and imagining their condition desperate, they laid the reins on the neck of their passions, and could keep no manner of temper. Like foolish froward children, they fall a crying, yet know not what they cry for. It would have been time enough to cry out when the enemy had beaten up their quarters, and they had seen the sons of Anak at the gate of their camp; but those that cried when nothing hurt them deserved to have something given them to cry for.”
There is another response we can have, by God's grace-that of faith, like Joshua and Caleb.
Fundamentally, when looking at the reaction of the 10 spies and comparing it to that of Joshua and Caleb, it comes down to perspective. Not two equally valid perspectives, but one perspective that is immersed in God’s revealed Will. One that is soaked in God’s Word. The perspective of the Ten spies was finite and limited to man’s ability. Their view of the situation was full of disbelief to which one commentator states- “Unbelief or distrust of God is a sin that is its own punishment. Those that do not trust God are continually vexing themselves. The world’s mourners are more than God’s, and the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
When the faithless spies saw the giants roaming the land they were supposed to occupy, they grew scared and said to themselves, “Wow, they are huge, they are massive, there is no way we could kill them”. When Caleb and Joshua saw the giants, they grew excited and said to themselves, “Wow, they are so big, they would be impossible to miss with a bow and arrow. They are huge, slow targets that will be easy to hit!” (us bowhunter's especially appreciate this !). Remember, the 10 faithless spies have been telling the whole congregation of the daunting and impressive power and protection of the enemy. The crowd is stirred up and discouraged. Out of seemingly no where, Caleb rises in verse 13-
Caleb rocks! No hesitation whatsoever. Caleb saw that God was true to His word regarding the richness of the land. Caleb, with the rest of the congregation, experienced the manifold miracles that brought them to this point. It was a no-brainer to expect more of the same if they will be obedient to God and march forth to take the land. What is the fundamental difference between Caleb and the faithless spies? It comes down to faith in God's promises- which gives life a whole new perspective. It wasn't "blind" faith, or a "leap of faith", but rather surety about the character of the One who was making a promise based on perfect past performance. God hadn't failed them before, there was utterly no reason to doubt He would fail them going forward. This is the perspective of faith Caleb and Joshua attempted to lead the people with.
There's a cool story I've heard a few times that illustrates the point- During WWII General Creighton Abrams, for whom the modern American Tank is named, found himself and his troops surrounded on all sides. With characteristic optimism, he told his officers, “For the first time in the history of this campaign, we are now in a position to attack the enemy in any direction”.
But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes;7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.8 “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’9 “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”
The time was right. The Lord had lifted his hand of protection from the enemy. Joshua saw this by faith! Too bad the people didn't listen! They would have 40 years to think about it.
Monday, September 10, 2007
This account reminds us of the two possible responses we can have to life’s circumstances. Will we act according to God’s sure promises revealed in His Word and revealed in His constant faithfulness? Or will we act according to our human anxieties, insecurities, and fears?
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I grew up listening to Luciano Pavarotti who died this week also. My Father had tapes and video of him playing pretty regularly. I've seen the "Three Tenors" multiple times. While I can't say I am a fan of opera, Pavarotti's voice has always been delightful to listent to. Here is my favorite song sung by Pavarotti, his signature- "Nessun Dorma".
"Nessun Dorma" means "no one will sleep" and is a song from the final act of Puccini's opera, "Turandot".
No one shall sleep! ... No one shall sleep!
Even you, O Princess, in your cold room, watch the stars, that tremble with love and with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me, my name no one shall know ...
No! ... No!... On your mouth I will tell it when the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine! ...
The Chorus of women:
No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.
Vanish, O night! Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win!
I will win! I will win!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
2. When I first started sharing Christ with people, I almost always used the so-called "diagnostic" questions from Evangelism Explosion- the personal evangelism "program" started by Kennedy and used of the Lord to bring many to faith in Christ. I've said these words many times to people: "If God were to ask you,' WHY SHOULD I LET YOU INTO MY HEAVEN, what would you say?". I still use this method if I only have a brief moment with a person. As a young believer zealous to tell people about Christ, but not sure where to start, Kennedy's approach helped me.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Sunday, September 2, 2007
With Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen, the Yankees are a dangerous team. (Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)With the call-up of flamethrower Joba Chamberlain (17 K, 5 H, 4 BB in 11.1 scoreless innings through Saturday), a weak point for the Yankees has become a lights-out strength. Chamberlain's dominance coupled with Mariano Rivera's increasing mortality evokes that 1996 championship season when the setup man (Rivera) was filthier than the closer (John Wetteland). Chamberlain's willingness to buzz the tower on Kevin Youkilis on back-to-back pitches showed a nastiness that the Yankees have lacked for years.
Yankee fans may have to reconcile themselves to the departure of Alex Rodriguez. After he wins his second American League MVP award in four seasons in the Bronx, and third overall, he will have either A) a bad postseason, eliciting the boos that will drive him into another suitor's arms or B) a good postseason, eliciting the raise that will drive him into another suitor's arms. My guess is B.
Pretty self-explanatory. The guy has 57 extra-base hits with a month to play and is hitting .348 with a 1.011 OPS since the All-Star break.
I'll have what he's having. Doesn't Jorge Posada know that 36-year-old catchers are supposed to be broken-down train wrecks who hit .190 in the second half and ground into a ton of double plays? After hitting .325 with a .901 OPS in the first half, Posada has ramped those numbers up to .333 and 1.016 in the second half.
All Andy Pettitte did in August was go 6-0 with a 2.36 ERA. His last four starts were against contenders Cleveland, Detroit, Anaheim and Boston and he dominated them all, going 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA. A spate of tough early-season losses and no-decisions took him out of the Cy Young race, but no team's ace is pitching better than Pettitte heading into the home stretch.
Chien-Ming Wang is 15-3 with a 3.48 ERA since May 16 but has been inexplicably shut out of the Cy Young debate. He's 35-12 over the last two seasons and enters September tied for the league lead in victories as he tries to lead the AL in wins in back-to-back years.
Yes, Roger Clemens is a six-inning pitcher, but he just two-hit the Red Sox in his last six-inning performance and Boston hitters said he was throwing much harder than they expected. Would you rather have the Rocket or the Indians' third starter (Paul Byrd?) in Game 3 of a playoff series?
The last time Johnny Damon had an utterly disappointing regular season was his lone year in Oakland in 2001 when he hit a career-low .256. All he did in those playoffs was rake the Yankees for nine hits and a .409 average in Oakland's five-game loss. Damon enhanced his legend as a clutch playoff performer with his two-homer performance in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS and then went on to post a .619 slugging percentage in Boston's four-game sweep of St. Louis. He may not be the player he was then anymore, but after eight playoff series in the last six seasons, Damon won't be fazed by the pressure of the playoffs and could salvage his season in a one-month burst.
10. The skipper
If anyone deserves to go out on his own terms, it's Joe Torre. He set the bar impossibly high for himself with four titles in his first five seasons in New York and getting the team to the playoffs every year since just hasn't been good enough. From the street corner to talk radio to the front office, Torre has been kicked around. But Chamberlain's arrival has made him suddenly seem as smart as he used to be. If he does steer this edition of the Yankees to a title — despite using EIGHT different rookie starting pitchers this season — here's hoping he invites all his detractors to kiss his posterior on his way into a well-earned retirement.