Friday, January 30, 2009

Reepicheep is 2 years old this month

Dear beloved and faithful readers (and all you anonymous critics), thanks for reading Reepicheep these past two years. I started this blog in January 2007 and 559 posts later, here we are.

Also, this is the 30th post for the month of January, a record for Reepicheep.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie update

The name of my blog is "Reepicheep" after the chivalrous warrior mouse in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. His loyalty to the King is what is most impressive to me, I pray God would give me enough grace to always be loyal to my King, Jesus.

Reepicheep appears first in the second book of the Narnia series, "Prince Caspian", however his greatest moments occur in the third book, "Voyage of the Dawn Treader".

As you probably know, the first two books have been turned in to major motion pictures by Walden Media (Disney) with Dawn Treader initially in pre-production . The first movie, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" was excellent. Caspian deviated considerably from Lewis' book, but remained decent. However, the film was a slight disappointment to Disney making only $148 Million at the box office domestically and $300 Million abroad compared to it's predecessors absolutely staggering $300 million domestically and another $500 million abroad! So, for whatever reason, Disney dropped production of Dawn Treader.

Well, no worries, FOX 2000 has picked up production for Dawn Treader and plans to keep the original cast in order to maintain unity among the films. I think this is great news, but hope they do a good job with Reep.

Star Wars Trilogy according to someone who has never seen them

I had a soccer game tonight with our church team, RPC United, drank three diet cokes upon my return home and am wide awake. I'm tired, but too much caffeine has given me the heart rate of a gerbil.

This is all an excuse for why I am posting this clip...I think it will still be funny in the morning but I'm not sure.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Special Impromptu Sermonic Moment

It is a profound privilege to lead God's people in worship and to have the awesome opportunity to preach and teach. I am grateful for the various teachers and mentors who have taught me to preach over the years. They have taught me so much about praying over, preparing, and delivering God's Word. Yet, there is a certain spontaneity that occurs every time I teach or preach the bible. There are special pastoral promptings of the Holy Spirit that move me to deviate from the particulars of what I may have planned in order to say something to the people of God that makes a biblical concept or principle more vivid to them. I cherish these occurrences when they arrive during a teaching or preaching episode. I call these occurrences "special impromptu sermonic moments".

This morning I had one of the most vivid special impromptu sermonic moments during the singing of a hymn I can ever recall. I was leading worship at the first Westminster Christian Academy chapel service (K-6th grade students) singing "Jesus Lover of My Soul" by Charles Wesley when we sang the words-

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Just as we finished the last words of the stanza, I sensed an opportunity for a vivid explanation/teaching moment. For most of these young students I'll bet they snicker a bit singing "to thy bosom fly". I mean, "bosom" is a pretty funny word for obvious reasons, but I didn't want them to miss the perfect word choice by Wesley because they were snickering.

So, as we neared the end of the verse I looked to the back row and saw my baby son Jordan, who is a kindergartner. I stopped the pianist before she started to play the second verse and said to the standing students, "I want to show you something about what we just sang". I then called to Jordan and said, "Jordan, will you come up to daddy"? I really wasn't certain what he would do, would he pause or not come at all ? Instead, just as I had envisioned and hoped- Jordan came immediately forward down the center aisle in front of all 200 students and actually ran to me the last 10 yards. I knelt down and he crashed in to my chest and buried his head there. I held his head to myself because he was realizing everyone was staring at us and became embarrassed. As I held his little head to my chest and kind of protected him from everyone's gaze, I was able to say to the students- "See boys and girls, this is what God does for us...this is flying to God's bosom"!

It was so cool. I praise God for such a teachable moment in my life and hopefully, by His grace, in the life of the students there witnessing.

Friends, through Christ we can fly to God's bosom for protection! Go to Him! He won't ever turn you away! Bury your head in his strong chest, His protective grasp! I have always loved the words of this great hymn, but now because of a rare special impromptu sermonic moment, it has become more precious to me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Woman's Right to Know and See Legislation in Kansas

Lance Kinzer, a member of Redeemer, has introduced a tremendous bill in our State House of Representatives! Way to go Lance!

"Woman's Right to Know and See" bill introduced
Story by 49 News staff and wire report
5:38 p.m. Monday, January 26, 2009

A group of both Republicans and Democrats today introduced a bill related to abortion. They call it the "Woman's Right to Know and See" bill.

It would require doctors who use a sonogram to provide a copy of that sonogram to a woman considering an abortion.

It would also require that the woman be allowed to hear the fetal heartbeat.
"Folks who are pro-life and even folks who are pro-choice can agree on something, and that is that no one should have an abortion without having full and accurate information about the status of their pregnancy," said Representative Lance Kinzer, who introduced the bill.

Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, called the legislation unnecessary and intrusive. He said Planned Parenthood already provides that information to women.

The bill was introduced in the Kansas House of Representatives today.

Of course there looms the real possibility of the U.S. Congress and President Obama passing the "Freedom of Choice Act" that would effectively trump state-imposed restrictions on abortion. Note this article:

Kinzer introduces expansion of Women's Right to Know Act

Women contemplating an abortion would be offered a chance to see a sonogram of their baby as well as other information on fetal development and maternal health to help inform their choice, under a bill filed Monday by Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican.

Kinzer said the bill was a “natural extension” of Kansas’ current Woman’s Right to Know Act.
“Basically, it would ensure that before an abortion occurred, a woman would have access to the most up-to-date information to make sure she was truly and voluntarily informed,” Kinzer told Kansas Liberty.

But the bill could fall victim, even before it’s debated in the Kansas Legislature, to the Obama administration, which has made passage of the Freedom of Choice Act a top priority.

Certainly, the president’s support for the Freedom of Choice Act is concerning,” Kinzer said. “It would be the most radical position ever taken by the federal government with regard to abortion, and I would hope more moderate Democrats would look at how radical it really is. It would take the broad license to receive an abortion in this country and make it absolutely unfettered. The impact would be devastating.”

The Freedom of Choice Act, for which Obama repeatedly expressed support during the campaign, would in effect rescind all regulations and restrictions on abortion adapted by states.
Kinzer said the Freedom of Choice Act would require congressional approval, unlike the executive order signed by Obama Friday that lifted a policy imposed in 1984 by former President Ronald Reagan that prohibited U.S. dollars from funding family-planning clinics in other countries that promote abortion or provide referrals to abortion providers.
Kinzer’s bill attracted 38 co-sponsors, including four Democrats.

It would require abortion doctors to meet face-to-face with prospective abortion recipients 30 minutes before a procedure was scheduled to commence, to offer an opportunity to view any sonograms taken of the fetus leading up to an abortion and to offer to let the mother hear the fetus’ heartbeat.

Kinzer emphasized that the bill would not require women to look at a sonogram before undergoing an abortion.

It just requires that doctors offer that opportunity,” he said. In addition, women would be offered, prior to an abortion, information about alternatives and about available counseling services. Abortion clinics also would be required to post signage that women have a right to change their mind about an abortion at any time leading up to the procedure.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Essence of Being Reformed

I am reading an engaging book by William Cunningham entitled "The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation". I am half way through the book and so far it is exceptional. I came across a wonderful quote that captures the essence of what it is to be Reformed-

"The fundamental position maintained by the Reformers was this, that the views which they had been led to form, as to what should be the doctrine, worship, and government, of the church of Christ, were right, and that the views of the church of Rome upon these points, as opposed to theirs, was wrong. This was the grand position they occupied, and they based their whole procedure upon the ground of the paramount claims of divine truth, its right as coming from God and being invested with His authority, to be listened to, to be obeyed, and to be propagated.

When the papists opposed them in the maintenance of this position, and appealed on their own behalf to tradition, to ecclesiastical authority, to the decisions of popes and councils, the Reformers in reply pushed all this aside, by asserting the supremacy of the written word as the only standard of faith and practice, by denying the legitimacy of submitting to mere human authority in religious matters, and by maintaining that men are entitled and bound to judge for themselves, upon their own responsibility, as to what God in His word has required them to believe and to do.

The primary question with them always was, What is the truth as to the way in which God ought to be worshipped, in which a sinner is saved, and in which the ordinances and arrangements of the church of Christ ought to be regulated? They were bent on answering, and answering aright, this important question, and they brushed aside everything that stood in their way and obstructed their progress."

This portion of Cunningham's work, particularly the last paragraph, strikes a personal chord with me as it resembles my journey out of the Roman Catholic Church and into the fellowship of the Presbyterian Church in America, a part of the Reformed Christian Church.

"Stimulus" plan will only make things worse- Schiff

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

All deserve a chance? Really Mr. President?

O.K., the honeymoon is over as far as I'm concerned.

I didn't watch the inauguration yesterday but I did read the transcript of President Obama's speech today. I was struck by this line-

"The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

Apparently, according to Obama, all are equal, free, and deserve a chance to "pursue their full measure of happiness" if they make it out of the womb...before then it's OK to kill them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

American Form of Government

On the one hand I was very encouraged by the dignified transfer of power that occurred today with the inauguration of Barack Obama. On the other hand I was struck by how many times the word "democracy" was used. I think we all need to be refreshed with a helpful video that reminds us that we were not intended to be a democracy at all. Further, democracy is a transition to something else.

We are most certainly in such a transition.

HT: Kevin

A Prayer for our new president- Barack Obama

I will used the words of Peter Marshall to pray for our new president on the day of his inauguration:

We pray, Lord Jesus, for our new President, Barack Obama. We are deeply concerned that he may know the will of God, and that he may have the spiritual courage and grace to follow it.

Deliver him, we pray, from all selfish consideration.

Lift him above the claims of politics.

Fill him with the Spirit of God that shall make him fearless to seek, to know, to do the right.

Save him from the friends who, in the name of politics or even friendship, would persuade him from that holy path.

Strengthen and empower his advisers. Bring them, too, to their knees in prayer. May their example and their influence spread, that we, in these United States, may yet have a government of men and women who know Thee, the Almighty God, as their Friend, and who place Thy will first in their lives as well as in their prayers.

Hear and answer, we pray Thee, forgiving us all our unworthiness; cleansing us from every ignoble thought and unworthy ambition that we may be renewed in spirit and mind and heart, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kaka' - A rare athlete

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite is one of the greatest soccer players in the world.

He is affectionately known as "Kaka" which comes as a nickname from his brother who couldn't pronounce his name when they were children.

Kaka is a committed evangelical Christian in the predominantly Roman Catholic Brazil. I have read in several places that he is a member of the organization Atletas de Cristo ("Athletes of Christ"). His goal celebration consists of him pointing to the sky as a gesture of thanks to God. Kaka's favourite music is gospel, and his favourite book is the Bible. He also works for numerous charities and since November 2004 has served as an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Program since 2004, the youngest to do so at the time of his appointment, he's only 26 now.

He spends most of his playing time with his club team AC Milan, a powerhouse in the world's most prestigious league (Italian Series A). He has logged 171 games with Milan and has scored over 60 goals, an amazing feat for a midfielder. He is probably the best midfielder alive today.

I note all this because I am amazed by what he just did. Manchester City, an extremely rich team in the English Premier League was willing to pay his club $143 million dollars just to have the right to sign him! This would be double the previous record amount for a transfer fee in professional soccer. Kaka would have then been able to sign the biggest contract in soccer history. What did he do? He refused. In a rare show of team loyalty in this day of players going to the highest bidder, Kaka chose to stay with the team that has made him a star. Kaka said, "All the messages coming my way said to choose with my heart and at the end that's what the choice was. It was absolutely not economical." His heart is with Milan, so he is staying there.

The only one unhappy about his decision might be his pastor. At the age of eighteen, according to one internet source, he suffered a career-threatening and possibly paralysis-inducing spinal fracture as a result of a swimming pool accident, but remarkably made a full recovery. He attributes his recovery to God and has since tithed his income to his church!

Scary Messiah Complex

I hope our new president doesn't start believing his own hype.

Apparently, according to the hoards of adoring followers and fans- Obama will balance the budget, revive the economy, solve the real estate problem, solve the auto industry problem, solve our gas/alternative energy problem, stop the fires and mudslides in California, mandate a college football playoff system, provide quality TV reception to the poor and needy, ban hurricanes and tornadoes, stop identity theft, reverse global warming, find Osama, solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, get rid of corruption in government and achieve world peace.
Then on the 7th day, he will rest.

Hall of Fame Lock

I have always admired Kurt Warner's outright boldness concerning his faith in Christ. His journey from Hy-Vee stock boy to Superbowl Champion and MVP and two-time NFL MVP was incredible. Honestly though, after he left St. Louis it seemed like the flash in the pan career was over, as amazing as the 4 year span was. Could Warner have made the Hall of Fame based on his brief, though statistically prolific, St. Louis run? I don't think so.

A cast-0ff once more he signed with the beleaguered Arizona Cardinals a few years ago, most likely destined to hold a clip board on the way to retirement. The only thing the Cardinals were good for was signing aging "has been" players. I was kind of sad to see Warner go there knowing he would probably end his career fumbling allot and eventually getting hurt. At the beginning of this season he was competing for the starting QB position and it didn't look promising. Good grief, the guy is older than me!

Well now, things have changed! Warner has had his second most prolific passing year with a lesser cast than he had in St. Louis, and at age 37! He has led his team to the Superbowl!

Should Warner make the Hall of Fame now? Absolutely. His passer rating is higher than many current Hall of Fame QB's and he is quickly approaching 30,000 total yards passing in just 11 seasons- keep in mind he really only played more than 6 games in 7 of those seasons, some of which he played less than 12 games! Compare that to Hall of Famer Troy Aikman who played 12 full seasons and only has 4000 more yards than Warner. Oh, by the way, Warner has something like 30 more total regular season TD's than Aikman in 5 less seasons played! The most important accomplishment, however, is leading his teams to three Superbowl's. He has already won one.

No question, no matter what happens in the upcoming Superbowl and despite those girly-looking gloves he wears- Warner is a Hall of Fame lock.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Interesting familial observation...

In the category of useless information comes this post-

I was just thinking:

- My father's family comes from Sicily (above), and Italian island.

- My mother's family (at least a good portion of them, her maiden name is O'Keefe) comes from the island nation of Ireland (above).

- Our family grew up on Grand Island, New York (above), a large freshwater island in the middle of the Niagara river.

See, to you lilly-livered land lovers, I was a man of the high sea- a Davy Jones of sorts- now I am in landlocked Kansas. Go figure.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Attention Hunters, Meat Eaters, and anyone who doesn't want their dog to sue them!

This is a very scary Obama pick for "regulatory czar" as reported by the Center for Consumer Freedom:

Exposed: The Secret Animal Rights Agenda Of America’s Next Regulatory Czar

January 15, 2009

Barack Obama’s pick for “regulatory czar,” Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein, may be the incoming president’s most popular appointment so far. Judging from his resume -- best-selling author, “pre-eminent legal scholar of our time,” and an endorsement from The Wall Street Journal -- we can almost understand why. Almost. Because as we’re telling the media today, there’s one troubling portion of the new Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator’s C.V. that has seems to have flown under everyone’s radar: Cass Sunstein is a radical animal rights activist.Don’t believe us? Sunstein has made no secret of his devotion to the cause of establishing legal “rights” for livestock, wildlife, and pets. “[T]here should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, scientific experiments, and agriculture,” Sunstein wrote in a 2002 working paper while at the University of Chicago Law school. “Extensive regulation of the use of animals.” That's PETA-speak for using government to get everything PETA and the Humane Society of the United States can't get through gentle pressure or not-so-gentle coercion. Not exactly the kind of thing American ranchers, restaurateurs, hunters, and biomedical researchers (to say nothing of ordinary consumers) would like to hear from their next “regulatory czar.”A version of the same paper also appeared as the introduction to Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions, a 2004 book that Sunstein co-edited with then-girlfriend Martha Nussbaum. In that book, Sunstein set out an ambitious plan to give animals the legal “right” to file lawsuits. We're not joking:
“[A]nimals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives, to prevent violations of current law … Any animals that are entitled to bring suit would be represented by (human) counsel, who would owe guardian like obligations and make decisions, subject to those obligations, on their clients’ behalf.”

It doesn't end there. Sunstein delivered a keynote speech at Harvard University’s 2007 “Facing Animals” conference. (Click here to watch the video; his speech starts around 39:00.) Keep in mind that as OIRA Administrator, Sunstein will have the political authority to implement a massive federal government overhaul. Consider this tidbit:

“We ought to ban hunting, I suggest, if there isn’t a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law. It’s time now.”

Sunstein also argued in favor of “eliminating current practices such as greyhound racing, cosmetic testing, and meat eating, most controversially.” He concluded his Harvard speech by expressing his “more ambitious animating concern” that the current treatment of livestock and other animals should be considered “a form of unconscionable barbarity not the same as, but in many ways morally akin to, slavery and mass extermination of human beings.” Sound familiar?As the individual about to assume “the most important position that Americans know nothing about,” Sunstein owes the public an honest appraisal of his animal rights goals before taking office. Will the next four years be a dream-come-true for anti-meat, anti-hunting, and anti-everything-else radicals? Time will tell. For now, meat lovers might want to stock their freezers.

Throwing shoes at the devil

Roger, I don't know how or why you find these, but this one's too good to leave unposted...

For some basic biblical teaching on "Satanology", check my post from a while back here:

"The Devil Made Me Do It?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Very nervous about new judge

Last year's American Idol (Season 7) was a disappointment to me. Tonight was the premiere of Season 8 and I am already very nervous. They added a fourth judge, some Kathy or Karla lady.

I don't like change. It makes me uncomfortable.

Modern Israel and the Bible

On a very regular basis I hear people speak of the need to support the modern nation of Israel because they are "God's People". Whenever a nation threatens Israel there are many Christians who advocate doing whatever we can to help Israel react to an attack. The current war Israel is waging against Gaza is such an example. I have heard several prominent American Evangelical bible teachers speak in such terms effectively suggesting we (the U.S.) should do our best to always be on the side of Israel, because ultimately God is on Israel's side with some kind of future national redemption inevitable. All of this of course is based on a particular interpretation of Scripture known as Dispensationalism. While there are a plethora of variances in this kind of bible interpretation, the usual thinking is this- Israel (the nation) was specially chosen in Genesis 12. God promised Israel land and eventually a king. Since, according to this view, neither have been fully fulfilled in their history, God will work events to bring Israel in to her land (the full borders of Palestine described in the Penteteuch) and Christ will be the promised King taking His place on the throne in Jerusalem (known as the "Millennial Kingdom" period). This will not happen until a necessary series of events unfold (see the "Left Behind" series, or not...), which have not yet occurred. So, in line with such thinking, the modern nation of Israel has the special hand of God upon it and nations ought to leave her alone and if need be, come to her aid when in conflict with other nations. Such theology has clearly influenced American policy with Israel in recent years.

Is such an understanding of modern Israel biblical? I do not believe so. Don't get me wrong, I fully support Israel's sovereign right to defend itself against threats. I am careful to judge what they believe is necessary for defense because I live in a place that is relatively geographically isolated from the constant clear and present dangers Israel deals with. The distances are so short in the Middle East and the proliferation of longer range weaponry makes it possible for neighboring countries (and militia/terrorist groups operating in those countries) to strike Israel easily and often. This fact coupled with repeated statements about the desire to annihilate Israel (the latest such threats from Iran) would make me pretty nervous and probably quite proactive too. I lack the overall expertise to make a clear judgment on how the modern nation of Israel should react to it's threats- perceived or real. I just don't know for sure.

The question I think worth asking and answering is how modern Israel relates to the bible. Is there some kind of lasting promise of God to Israel that requires us to judge their actions in a different way than other nations? Is the modern nation of Israel truly still God's chosen people?

I say NO WAY. Such a view that holds modern Israel in some kind of favored status with God fails to understand a basic fact about the fulfillment of the national part of the Abrahamic Covenant- God fulfilled all His promises to Israel (the nation) under Joshua (see Josh. 21:43-45 and 23:16)through Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:21). God even sent their King, the Lord Jesus. Bottom line- the nation of Israel rejected Messiah then and still does today. They are no longer God's people. Period.

As I have read and re-read the covenant God made with Abraham (contained in Genesis 12-17) it seems clear that God is calling a "people" to Himself. He begins to call those people (in history) by forming a nation called Israel. It was not His intent to have this nation be the "end all" of redemption, in fact, a key component of the Abrahamic Covenant is blessing the nations. Using a nation like Israel was just the start of God's redemptive outworking, not the end goal. The Messiah would come forth from Israel to be the Savior of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. It was never primarily meant to be an ethnic thing. It was about having a right relationship with God through the promised Redeemer, not because a person was Jewish. When Jesus came, national Israel rejected Him, and so they were rejected as the vehicle to bring forth God's Elect. The way was opened to the Gentiles and the Church became the new Israel. The Church is God's People, not the modern nation of Israel. Those who profess the name of Christ are God's People, not those who reject Christ.

What does modern Israel have to do with the bible? Israel, while rich in biblical heritage and God's chosen means to bring forth Messiah is predominantly a land of unbelievers that needs to turn to Christ, just like so many other nations. Let us remember who the true sons and daughters of Abraham are, according to Scripture:

Galatians 3: 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

I recommend the following links for good, biblical teaching on this important matter:

Monday, January 12, 2009

The timeless chin beard enjoys a resurgence

I know not all people are fond of the "chin beard", but please recognize it's historic nature. Most scholars believe (OK, some scholars...oh, alright, none that I know of, but still, it's likely....)"pre Fall" Adam had one.
One of my favorite theologian/philosophers, Francis Schaeffer, sported one of the more classic chin beards in Presbyterian history...some wild eyebrows, but the chin beard is unmatchable.

Lincoln had a more Amish thing going, but undeniably characteristic and memorable.

C. Everrett Koop was the most stylin' Surgeon General in U.S. History because of his commitment to the chin beard.

Weird Al had the best days of his career while sporting the chin hairs.

James Hetfield, lead singer and guitarist of Metallica, has legitimized the chin beard in the world of heavy metal.

Even my son (at age 9 no less) has revolutionized elementary school fashion with his sweet, thick, light brown chin beard.

The trend is sweeping our church. You'll note these four Redeemer brothers sporting their chin whiskers just yesterday at church. Darryl and John even matched their outfits.

More to come.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Finally, someone to solve ALL our dilemmas

I have to admit, President ELECT Obama amuses me with his vast array of knowledge and answers to all sorts of quandaries "we the people" face. He's one confident, authoritative guy, who isn't even the President yet- but you could have fooled me.

First, despite a three year ramp up to switch televisions from analog to digital television broadcasting, a move that requires non-cable users to obtain a special adapter, Obama is calling for further postponement. Why? The President ELECT is concerned that too many Americans who rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air channels won't be ready. Further, Obama officials are also concerned that the government is not doing enough to help Americans — particularly those in rural, poor or minority communities — prepare for and navigate the transition. After all, a clear television signal is a right, lo, it's a necessity. We are so fortunate to have such a caring government.

Second, President-elect Barack Obama says he still thinks there needs to be a playoff system for determining the country's college football champion. What doesn't Obama have an answer for? One news source reported Obama, when asked what he thought about Florida's 24-14 victory Thursday night over Oklahoma in the BCS championship game said, "If I'm Utah, or if I'm USC or if I'm Texas, I might still have some quibbles....That's why we need a playoff".

This is just awesome! All the questions and quandaries we have ever had will now start to be answered by our new President. This is just great!

Warning from James on evil speech in the Church

James 4:11-12 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

I am reasonably sure that every person reading this has experienced the effects of gossip and/or slander in family, work or church. Most of us can recall an example where unchecked speech lead to a nasty breach in a relationship. As it relates to a community of Christians (a church), I can think of no greater enemy to it's peace and witness than unchecked, sinful speech practices. There are several effects such speech practices will have on a church-

1. There will be breaches between friends (brothers and sisters) and fellowship.
2. People will be wounded, sometimes in irreparable ways
3. Strife and disunity will rip through the body at large (which is directly opposed to God's command for unity among believers).
4. Hatred will be fueled which could some day lead to the ultimate offense against another person- murder.

On a very practical level, a church that allows for the practice of sinful, critical speaking against each other fails at the most basic level of living out their professed faith in Christ. A fragmented, strife-laden church is a terrible witness before the watching world. If they (the world) will know we are Christians by our love (John 13), what will they know about us by our hateful speech toward one another?

James’ repeated address of the matter of what we speak must mean our speaking practices will be a constant challenge, especially within the community of believers. We have to be honest about our propensity to speak against one another.

I wasn’t in ministry very long as an intern before a member of the church took me to lunch and began to air their grievances against the current pastor. I was young, but not completely dumb. I stopped the conversation pretty soon after I could see where it was going. Several years later I became the pastor and my good friend Nathan came to be the associate pastor. He wasn't here very long before that same member of the church found time with him and aired their grievances against me. Being the good brother in Christ that Nathan is, he stopped the conversation short and actually challenged the person to have a meeting with me to discuss their concerns face to face. I can't help wondering how many people were poisoned by the evil speech of that person. Who knows how many others they gossiped about? In neither case did that person talk to the person they had a problem with, but instead talked to several people not in a real position to address their concerns. Clearly such a practice was not meant to honor Jesus or build up His church. Very bluntly, such gossip and slander is what James calls “speaking evil”.

I'm guessing that more churches are wounded and weakened by members speaking against each other than by any other means. I think realizing what the choice to gossip means, according to James in the above text, will help a genuine follower of Christ to resist the urge to slander another. Note what James says-

James 4:11b The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

I like what Douglas Moo says about this- “The act of judgment is an act of pride. It involves looking to our own store of knowledge, putting together a few facts, figures or fancies, and coming up with some sort of answer or solution to a given problem or situation. All too often it is the wrong solution or answer, and because of pride, we refuse to correct course. Judging others is an act of monumental pride - enormous pride, stupendous pride, galling, astonishing, fantastic pride. This should be understood. When you render judgment on another, you have taken upon yourself an awesome responsibility for making the correct judgment.”

There are so many things about other people that only God can judge- Let it remain that way!
Judging others with slanderous words takes us from being humble followers of the Lord Jesus and His Word and places us in to the role of THE Lawgiver Himself- God.

There are many ways the Church of Jesus Christ can have a profound impact on the world, I can think of few more fundamental ways than by how we speak to one another. It really does show if our profession of faith in Christ is genuine.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lucky Ole Wile E.

I went out for my first 09 coyote hunt this morning. It's 1-0, Coyotes. I missed just high and left. Nathan was filming.

I'll be back.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Man VS Wild

I watch almost no TV. I am starting to make one exception- MAN VS WILD. This guy, Bear Grylls, is awesome! He's actually a professing Christian. It's obvious various scenes are staged, but so what? He does some pretty cool stuff. He recently got hurt filming an episode (big surprise), but he'll be back at it soon.

I think you will like this little clip, it may provide information that could some day save your life.

Monday, January 5, 2009

2008 Overheard quote of the year

We have a large portrait in the main hallway of our church that looks very similar to the one above. I still laugh when I think of what I overheard a visitor say upon seeing the portrait a few months ago-

"Wow, that's a great picture of Nostradamus"

I'm totally serious.

Please, please, please...just take her

Now that Bill Richardson has taken his name out of nomination to the be the next U.S. Secretary of Commerce, maybe President-elect Obama will take our own governor, Kathleen Sebelius instead?

Never mind that she is woefully underqualified "to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce" (unless of course you count her considerable advancement of the abortion industry, particularly the business of George Tiller), so was Richardson. I'm more concerned with seeing her move on out of Kansas as soon as possible.

Can I be honest about 2008?

Botanists tell us you can learn much about the life of a tree by observing it's growth rings when cut down. You can find out which were good years and which were bad years by looking at the relative width of the rings. Can you tell which years had good rainfall, warm temperatures and few insect or disease outbreaks in the above picture? The wider the growth ring, the better the growing conditions were that year.

For trees a thicker growth ring is a result of good growing conditions which includes rainfall, temperature, and the lack of insect or disease outbreaks. For human beings growth rings come the opposite way- through trials. The best growing conditions for Christians are not pleasant at the time- they include challenges of many kinds. Occasions that cause us to rely more fully on God prove to be times of growth, though they are usually quite painful.

If some one cuts me in half 20 years from now, they would find 2008 to be a pretty thick growth ring. Last year, at the end of 2007 I recounted some of the highlights from the year gone by. This year, I let the end of December pass and really didn't feel like blogging about the highlights of 2008 very much. Don't get me wrong, 2008 was filled with God's provision, goodness, and blessing- His mercies are definitely new every morning (Lamentations 3:23), however the year gone by will always be a difficult year to remember for me.

Just over nine months ago one of my former youth group members, a young man who I spent considerable time with especially during his High School years, ended his own life and changed the lives of his loved one's forever. I would love to report a sense of healing and closure, but I cannot. I have re-lived the phone call I received from his uncle the day he died virtually every day since March 25. The details of that day and the days that followed are still vivid to me. I sincerely wish I could share some process of understanding that has slowly worked over these months to give me a greater sense of peace, but this has not been my experience.

No one should mis-read my admissions as some kind of doubt concerning God or His goodness. My interpretation of Andrew's death has never been focused on a perceived unfairness on the part of God. On the contrary, the only genuine solace that surrounds this situation is the sovereignty,righteousness, and grace of God. This event has certainly caused me to cry out to God as the Psalmist did when he didn't understand trying events (i.e. Psalm 35), but I have experienced no essential doubt in God's goodness and wisdom through my long contemplations about Andrew's death. Further, the circumstances that surrounded his death convince me this was a momentary lapse on the part of a weak brother, not the long-planned act of a perpetually hopeless unbeliever. I am convinced that any Christian could fall in this way. God's grace is greater than all our sin. I'm just being honest by saying his death still doesn't make human sense to me and the wound is still fresh.

For me the past nine-plus months have brought weekly if not daily reminders of Andrew. I have enjoyed the recollection of some great memories as well as the continued onslaught of the "why?" and "what if?" type questions. Various things trigger my memories and thoughts- it could be seeing a vehicle like his, sometimes a person with a unique tattoo reminds me of him, a young person that looks like him, and most recently while skiing I saw a person flying downhill with a goofy hat on- just like the one he wore when we skied together. Most of all- seeing his parents on a regular basis and feeling totally inadequate to comfort them makes the pain of loss linger. There is a quiet strength Andrew's family has had for as long as I have known them and it has grown deeper and stronger. Still, I know there is a void that will not be filled in their lives until glory. That's hard to think about. Never have I felt more deficient as an under-shepherd of God's flock. God has been humbling me in this area, it is not easy and I don't like it much.

So, 2008 is history. I look forward to what a new year will bring and claim the words of Psalm 39:7 going forward- And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Great time at Horn Creek Winter Camp

My family is now fast asleep in their own bed's after nine days away, seven of them spent in Colorado where I was speaking at the Horn Creek Winter Family Camp. I am still up because I surely consumed over a gallon of caffeinated beverages to stay awake for the last leg of the journey.

The week was awesome. We were able to spend some very special family time as well as make many new friends throughout the week at Horn Creek. We had lots of fun in the snow all week. We had a blast on the huge Horn Creek tubing hill, as well as sledding all over the place (the camp is on the side of a mountain at 9000 ft!). On Wednesday we travelled about 70 miles to ski at Monarch, a first for all our kids. I was talked out of snow boarding by other old dudes who assured me I would tear my rotator cuff or possibly even die. Shari and I spent the majority of the time helping our sons learn to ski, so we only got to take a few more challenging runs ourselves. I did take on a "blue", which was pretty thrilling having not skiied in 8 years.

For my teaching time at Horn Creek I led the campers through a daily study of several of the more notorious figures in Scripture, like Cain, Haman, Nimrod and the Babel-builders, the Pharisees, the Rich Young Ruler, and Lucifer himself. It was a profitable study for me, I hope it was for the brothers and sisters who attended.

I simply have to give a plug for Horn Creek. If you haven't made Summer vacation plans, check out Horn Creek. It's a week of absolute frivolity and fellowship in the Sangre De Christo Mountains. The pricing is very reasonable, every family could use a "Horn Creek" experience. I'm speaking the week of July 4-11, it would be great to have you come on out and join us! Check out their site.