Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We call him the Rodenator...

There's a certain cat who has roamed our neighborhood for two years. No one knows who owns him and while stray pets are generally frowned upon in our quiet sub division, this cat has received a pass due to the cunning rodent hunter he is. Ironically I have caught him in my raccoon trap twice, once he bloodied himself trying to get out. Somehow he survives a busy street not too far away and animal control has not come to escort him to the shelter.

He roams the back yards hopping fences, chasing down all manner of birds, bunnies, and mice. He is a hit with his lady friends and smart enough not to depend on man for food....because that's how he rolls. He's the Havencroft Rodenator.

I was privileged to catch a glimpse of him at his finest just an hour ago as I mowed my back yard. I saw him chasing something under the neighbors porch, then he hopped over the fence in to my back yard. Under our porch he went. Just minutes later he emerged triumphant. He had a half grown bunny in his jaws. The back legs of the bunny kicked as the Rodenator trotted off to a place of solitude- to disembowel the rabbit and enjoy a mid morning meal. I don't think we'll have too much of a bunny problem this summer. How cool is that?

The neighbor dog you ask? He laid near his doghouse licking himself all morning.

First 100 Days of Obama

An evaluation of President Obama's first 100 days in office certainly depends on perspective.

If you are a baby who has managed to be born, a Castro brother, Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad, the Saudi King, any one of the several countries consistently critical of the U.S. in recent years, Guantanamo Bay residents (and other fellow terrorists), an abortionist (especially underpaid African ones), someone who doesn't own stock in a U.S. company, a household with an annual income under $250,000K (and ignorant to the manifold other ways they will be taxed), an incompetent executive at a bank, insurance company, or auto maker that was bailed out, a piece of gold, an ammunition sales shop, a crack dealer (instead of a "powder" cocaine dealer), the mainstream media, an anti-religion secular progressive, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Arlen Specter, or a socialist bent on making everyone dependent on the government- Obama's first 100 days have been tremendous.

For everyone else....not so good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

MLS Goal of the year?

There's still 23 games left in the Major League Soccer regular season but I doubt we'll see too many greater goals than this Clint Mathis strike in Saturday's Real St. Lake/New England game.

A thing of beauty.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ryken on Galatians 1:6-9

Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

In Philip Ryken's expository commentary, his comments about this passage are very helpful. In the brief snippet below he is addressing the way the Judaizers-the ones troubling the Galatians by distorting the gospel - were adding works (circumcision) to the gospel rendering it no gospel at all. Ryken warns-

The church's greatest danger is not the anti-gospel outside the church; it is the counterfeit gospel inside the church. The Judaizers did not walk around Pisidian Antioch wearing T-shirts that said, "Hug me, I'm a false apostle." What made them so dangerous was that they knew how to talk the way Christians talk. They used all the right terminology. They talked about how they "got saved." They told people to "trust in Christ." They "presented the gospel."

Only they did not have the gospel after all. We should expect, therefore, that the most serious threat to the one true gospel is something that is also called the gospel. The most dangerous teachers are the ones who preach a different Christ but still call him "Jesus".

Friday, April 24, 2009

I saw something special last night

Last night our school, Westminster Christian Academy, had it's Spring music program. The program includes selections from our band, jazz band, choirs, etc. It's like a recital so parents and other loved ones can see their children's progress musically and all that. My wife was WCA's music teacher for 10 years so I have a great appreciation what it takes to teach and organize such a large and diversified group of students. Our current teacher, Mrs. Billie Wedel did a stellar job selecting music and directing all the groups. I praise God for her ministry at WCA.

I've been to 12 years-worth of WCA programs (Christmas and Spring), they are always enjoyable, but being honest, we're talking about young students learning to play instruments and sing. We're not talking the Chicago Symphony and Orchestra.

But something happened last night that I think was remarkable and telling.

A late addition to the program was a violin duet from two of our 7th grade female students. The girls had recently represented our school at a contest and Mrs. Wedel thought the audience would enjoy them playing. As the girls began to play "The Old Rugged Cross" it was clear they were very gifted playing the classic hymn beautifully. It was a blessing to hear such quality in young students. What happened next I have never seen in 12 years of WCA programs- as soon as they finished the piece the audience spontaneously stood to applaud. A standing ovation at a WCA program? Wow. It's never happened to my knowledge.

Now, I don't want to over analyze this, but I did notice from my vantage point that several grandparents were first to stand, the rest of the audience followed suit. There are two reasons I believe the audience gave these two fine, budding musicians a standing ovation- First, they played skillfully and beautifully no matter what their age/grade. They deserved a strong response for their dedication and preparation. Second, and more profoundly, I think the piece they played, "The Old Rugged Cross", struck a deep chord with the audience, especially the older folks.

I think many older Christians are profoundly concerned about the state of Christianity today. I think many older Christians think the Church has lost her first love. The Church today largely resembles a bumbling junior high school boy trying to impress a girl that will never like him anyway. "The Old Rugged Cross" speaks to the heart of the gospel, the simple message of Christ crucified. I feel the standing ovation was at least partially a resounding approval of the song selection and the particular message of the song. I want to think the standing ovation was at least a statement, especially from the older generation, concerning their longing for the Church stop it's seeming silliness and to go back to preaching and living the message of Calvary.

Of course, this message of the Cross is why I am a pastor, why Redeemer exists, and why Westminster will strive with all it's might to train young people to view the world through the lens of Scripture and live radically Christ-centered lives.

I don't think I'm over-reading what I saw and experienced last night.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009 Thunderchicken Harvest

The Kansas turkey season began two weeks ago and today was my first opportunity to get out after an old Tom.

At first light I tried to get within 150 yards of a roosted gobbler that was sounding off intending to alert his lady friends before fly down. It's a bit of a crap shoot guessing where a bird will fly down and sure enough the gobbler I was setting up on pitched off and away from my location. Still, I could hear another gobbler a long way off, so I stayed put and called for a good 10 minutes. Just as I heard a turkey responding and possibly coming in, about 100 head of cattle descended upon my location and scared off anything that was inside my set up perimeter. Such is turkey hunting, so I packed up my decoys and headed about a half mile west to a place I have seen Tom's strutting.
I sat in that spot for about 20 minutes calling intermittently, then "BOOM". The neighbor was hunting on the other side of the fence and apparently got something just 150 yards away from me. I slinked back towards my original position and tried to devise a new strategy as I walked.

This was the best part of my morning by the way. Walking peacefully through the woods at 7:30 AM, taking in the Spring sights and sounds. Muddy ground, newly budding leaves on the trees, sprouting green plant life coming up through the forest floor. I witnessed two raccoons fighting over a resting spot high in a sycamore tree and watched a bunch of tree rats (squirrels) dig out acorns they planted in the Fall. The wind was light out of the southeast at about 5mph, 60 degrees- just perfect. I slowly made my way to a favorite ridge top, picked out a tree and decided I would set up and take a nap if nothing else.

Just as I finished placing my decoys (I use a standing hen, bedded hen, and standing Jake set up) I stood up at the big Oak tree I had decided to sit in front of and used my box call to try and elicit a gobble. As soon as I hit the call a loud gobble was unleashed and not far away! I sat quickly, got my mask on, put my mouth call in, and started some yelping to lure the longbeard in to range. I still couldn't see him, but he was gobbling his fool head off. I had my gun ready, I was guessing the direction he would come. After about 10 minutes of going back and forth with the gobbler, I saw his big old white head and coming over a little rise. Soon he would see my decoys...then, when he did, he puffed up in to full strut. He came in to my decoys at full strut for about 60 yards. Seeing a fully mature male turkey in full strut trying to impress a hen is a mixture of nobility and ridiculousness. It's an awesome sight for a turkey hunter. When he got to 25 steps, I put the bead on his head and dropped the hammer- he fell instantly.

This is one of the heaviest turkeys I have ever harvested. I'm guessing him to be 25 pounds plus. I got lots of breast meat off him. He had 1 1/4 inch spurs with a 10-inch beard. Very nice, mature bird.

Fire up the frying pan!!!

Gay "marriage" issue

Perez Hilton is an extremely influential pop-blogger who is openly gay and an advocate of re-defining marriage. He is also the person who asked the Miss California contestant her thoughts on gay "marriage" which caused the huge dust up when she responded by saying marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman only.

Dennis Prager is a conservative talk show host whom I have never heard before.

Prager absolutely dismantles Hilton with clear logic. Any honest person has to admit there is no contest in this debate.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Church sign duel

There is something both funny and yet ecclesiastically profound about this church sign duel...

Thanks Bob R!

Monday, April 20, 2009

40 years (and pounds) difference

I'm looking forward to my 20th High School Reunion back in Grand Island, New York (Buffalo/Niagara Falls area) this June. Here's some useless trivia about my father and I- Dad graduated in June of 1949 from Grover Cleveland High School in Buffalo. I graduated in June of 1989, almost 40 years to the day after my father, from Grand Island High School.

Dad got married when he was 38, had me when he was 40 and my sister when he was 42. I turn 38 this August, will have been married 16 years and have three kids, the oldest being 10 already. Way ahead of dad. I'm also way ahead of dad in pounds...I noticed he stayed skinny much longer than I.
I have to lose some pounds before that reunion...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Carson on Galatians

O.K., I'm jacked up on Galatians study and information so you will be getting lots of nuggets about this blessed book of the Apostle Paul.

D.A. Carson offers this excellent set up for the study of Galatians-

This short letter has an importance out of all proportion to its size. There is always a tendency for people to think that their salvation (however it is understood) is something that is to be brought about by their own achievement. How they understand salvation may vary, and the kind of achievement they see as necessary may correspondingly vary. But that their eternal destiny rests in their own hands seems a truism, so obvious that it scarcely needs stating. Christianity has often been understood as nothing more than a system of morality, as the careful observance of a sacramental system, as conformity to standards, as a linking up with others in the church, and so on. There is always a need for Paul’s forthright setting out of the truth that justification comes only through faith in Christ. This must be said over against those who stress the importance of works done in accordance with the Torah or any other achievement of the sinner.

The Christian way stresses what God has done rather than what sinners do to bring about salvation. There can be no improvement on the divine action by any human achievement, by way of either ritual observance or moral improvement. The cross is the one way of salvation, and no part of Scripture makes this clearer than does Galatians.

The Voca People

They have a very interesting sound and style...a bit creepy looking though. They must be European.

Friday, April 17, 2009

An exposition of Galatians begins

Above is Rembrandt's picture of the Apostle Paul writing one of his epistles.

I am always excited to begin a new exposition of God's Word. This Sunday I will start through the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians in the morning worship services at Redeemer, covering the first five verses:

Galatians 1:1-5 Paul, an apostle not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead 2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I appreciate the words of Matthew Henry in his introductory comments on Galatians-

The churches in Galatia were formed partly of converted Jews, and partly of Gentile converts, as was generally the case. St. Paul asserts his apostolic character and the doctrines he taught, that he might confirm the Galatian churches in the faith of Christ, especially with respect to the important point of justification by faith alone. Thus the subject is mainly the same as that which is discussed in the epistle to the Romans, that is, justification by faith alone. In this epistle, however, attention is particularly directed to the point, that men are justified by faith without the works of the law of Moses. Of the importance of the doctrines prominently set forth in this epistle, Luther thus speaks: "We have to fear as the greatest and nearest danger, lest Satan take from us this doctrine of faith, and bring into the church again the doctrine of works and of men's traditions. Wherefore it is very necessary that this doctrine be kept in continual practice and public exercise, both of reading and hearing. If this doctrine be lost, then is also the doctrine of truth, life and salvation, lost and gone."

RPC United wins AAIS Championship

Our church has an indoor soccer team that plays at All American Indoor Sports on Thursday nights. We're all old and...well...let's just say we're not in top shape anymore. The majority of our team is well above 35 and we're playing guys in their early 20's. Some how age and treachery managed to overcome youth and vigor as we won our 4th championship.

Beyond winning, we have a blast playing together. We even had some "fans" come out to cheer us on (to offset the nearly 50 horn-blowing Mexican fans cheering on their team)- Elder Steve Baker, Stacey Anderson, and Brian Johnson's father and sister. Pretty nice of them considering the game was at 10:25pm! I am sure such an act of devotion will garner them an extra crown in heaven.
We're getting new jerseys and logo's for next session. Brian Hough re-worked our old logo to incorporate 4 stars for our 4 championships (it's a soccer thing).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ronaldo Goal

I'm not a big fan of Manchester United or Cristiano Ronaldo, though I acknowledge them both to be elite in the world of soccer.

This goal by Ronaldo is insane. A work of art.

Tax Day Tea Parties

Yesterday was "tax day" so I grudgingly filed my state income taxes and paid the $576 I owed Kansas. I filed my federal taxes some time ago because I got some money back.

In addition to being tax day yesterday, it was "Tea Party" day all over the country. At various locations people gathered to protest the high tax rate which threatens to get even higher under President Obama and the U.S. Congress. The protest was also focused on the obscenely out of control spending our government is engaging in. The running theme at these tea parties is angst toward the government's failure to be good stewards of our money.

I agree with the sentiment behind these demonstrations and applaud those who exercise their constitutional right to protest.

In the end, however, I am afraid these tea party demonstrations are simply people who voted against Obama and now need to blow off steam. I can't see how someone who voted for Obama could have legitimately thought his strategy would be any different than tax more and spend more.

Well, at least Obama's getting the troops out of Iraq within 6 months like he promised....oh....he's not? 2 more years you say?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shameless Plug

I am a big fan of sports, especially the world's most loved game- soccer (or football as it's called outside the United States).

Recently I was honored to have Trevor Hayward, the creator of World Soccer Reader, ask me to cover the Kansas City Wizards. My first post appeared today. I will be contributing 2-3 articles per month. Great fun.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Susan Boyle

This video clip has made the rounds at record pace garnering over 3 million hits between Youtube and Google in just two days.

It's well worth the 7 minutes it takes to view.

Monday, April 13, 2009

They keep coming...

When I came to Redeemer in 1997 the congregation had just moved to this property and worshiped in the converted residential home of the retired couple that sold the initial 10 acres to the founding members of the church. In 1997 there was almost no development around us, we were essentially in the "boonies". Since that time, our "neighborhood" has been in constant change and flux.

Now, in 2009, Redeemer is located in the midst of the quintessential American Suburb. Somewhat isolated & insulated, clean, new, fresh, manicured, smooth roads, trees finally growing past sapling stage, fenced yards, "Johnson County beige" colored homes, nice cars in the driveways, kids toys in the lawn, mountain bikes on the trails, fishing polls in the ponds, fountains, lamp-posts, pools, soccer and baseball fields…it’s all so “poster like”.
It can be so easy to be lulled in to a never-ending motion that involves so many ever changing things that we don’t stop for a moment to contemplate what has never changed in our locale. There is one thing that has not changed in our area for over 150 years and it will always serve as a reminder to us about something else that never changes.

Immediately to our West is the Pleasant Valley Cemetery. Where they keep coming….

Who keeps coming? Well, I don’t know their names, but on a regular basis, the gravediggers come to dig another grave. God planned Redeemer to be here and Pleasant Valley Cemetery to be right next door. I think it is a gracious thing to have that cemetery as our neighbors to the West.

Let me take you back 152 years when the land was owned by a Shawnee Indian named Toe-noy-Say-Say. This man owned a total of 160 acres which was patented to him in 1854. The first time the gravediggers came was well before any significant homesteads were in the immediate proximity and may have been without the landowner’s permission.

They started to come in 1865, that’s when the first person was interred in what is now called the Pleasant Valley Cemetery. Back then it was Shawnee Mission, later Stanley, then Oxford Township, and now, Overland Park.

No one knows how the transaction played out, however, by the time the land was sold to John Divelbiss in 1880, the gravediggers had come 40 times already and it wasn’t even an established cemetery. Divelbiss bought the land for $15 per acre in 1880, there is a touch over 10 acres there, making the land purchase just over $150. Yep, that's 10 acres for $150!! Today an acre in our neighborhood is worth $500-700,000 dollars!

Divelbiss had the land designated for a cemetery and the name “Pleasant Valley” was given in 1881. The grave diggers have been officially coming ever since. I’m sure in the old days the grave diggers were the families of the deceased with little more than shovels. Later, I’ll bet farmers helped dig the holes with their tractors, but be assured, they kept coming. Soon enough, ownership of the land changed hands, now you will see very modern digging equipment come in and make a grave and set up for a funeral in less than 30 minutes.

Much has changed- but one thing remains the same- They keep coming.

When they come, they dig holes of various sizes, they don’t discriminate, they just come. When they come, they are all business, very matter of fact, impersonal, they just dig another hole. Pleasant Valley isn’t a big cemetery and it is relatively unknown by most people. Still, They come regularly. The Pleasant Valley Cemetery has over 2400 bodies interred there with room for several thousand more.

With approximately 2400 graves in the cemetery, this means, since 1881, the grave diggers come approximately every other week. However, in the last 10 years, I am sure they come far more frequently. It seems that I see them come every week now. I know this for sure, they keep coming.

As I drive in and out of the property, multiple times each day, the Lord has providentially ordered that cemetery to be just where it is so I never lose perspective of what is most important in the midst of this busyness, change, flux, “progress”, and this ever-rolling thing called time.

How many young churches have an old cemetery next to it? What a blessing. What a way to keep us focused on the basics! My dear friends take a moment to contemplate this thought regarding the gravediggers- They keep coming.

We do all sorts of things to stem the march of time but the grave diggers keep coming anyway.

We do our best to take many age-defying actions: skin care, vitamins, organic foods, surgery, pills, oxygen chambers, clothes we wear, company we keep keep, activities we engage in (some guys keep playing soccer way beyond their time) things new, fresh, etc. Still though- 5417 people die every hour on this planet, so the grave diggers keep coming.

Get this interesting personal reality I am now contemplating as I stare over at the cemetery- Some day they will come and dig a hole over there in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery that my earthly remains will be laid in. They will come. I cannot stop this fact.

Why do I not despair? Why shouldn’t you despair?

1 Corinthians 15:12-28 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

So it is a fact of this life- they keep coming. I reply, with my confidence resting squarely upon Christ, by His grace- Let them Come!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Meditation

"He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead."

- Matthew 28:6-7

He is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pre-Resurrection Meditation

A prophecy given over 1000 years before Christ's death and resurrection-

Psalm 16:10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,or let your holy one see corruption.

The Apostle Peter shows how this Psalm of David is actually a prophecy concerning Christ and His resurrection when he preached to His Jewish counterparts shortly after the ascension of Christ-

"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,

'I saw the Lord always before me,for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life;you will make me full of gladness with your presence.'

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing." (Acts 2:22-33)
Sunday is almost here...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Meditation

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.

Why? For our salvation.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Two examples of why Evangelicalism is no longer a relevant force in U.S. culture

Case study #1- Joel Osteen on Larry King just two days ago. King asks him about gay marriage. View his response-

Very simply, for a person in the position of Joel Osteen to say "I'm not sure I understand" at least three times is inexcusable. Every biblically faithful pastor should be able to give a well-reasoned, biblically based, compassionate reason for why marriage and homosexual practice are not related. Instead, Osteen does his very best to offend no one and simply say what might keep the masses buying his self-help excrement. Osteen is someone who should not be anywhere near a pulpit or a ministry position that is charged with preaching the Word of God.

Case Study #2- Rick Warren also appeared on Larry King addressing the same basic issue Osteen waxed poetically on. Rick Warren, unlike Osteen, is not one to say "I'm not sure I understand". Watch his interchange with King in it's entirety-

Rick Warren appears to be a more articulate version of Joel Osteen. Did you catch his basic mode? He takes the pulse of culture and morphs his approach and much of his message to accommodate. He talks of how his church has recently developed programs to meet the masses of recession-provoked "seekers".

In this clip Warren typifies what is wrong with evangelicalism today. Instead of being a prophetic (yet compassionate) voice speaking in to a culture desperately needing redemption (which only Christ can bring), he tries to be America's empathizing buddy hoping to get a chance to tell people God cares for and loves them, especially when their 401k's have been wiped out. Yuck! Just Yuck!

If Warren is typical of evangelical thinking today, the problem is clear- We have ceased to lead. We have become a group of reactors instead of leaders.

Instead of confidently, compassionately, and honestly teaching and proclaiming God's Word, we try to avoid those issues addressed by Scripture that might offend people in this particular culture.

Yes God cares about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and the genocide in Darfur, however, when He has placed pastors in a land that is moving rapidly to re-define the very foundation of society (marriage) and is complicitous in the murder of over 1,000,000 unborn human beings every year, it is clear what should be a major part of our prophetic effort. To infer the gay marriage issue isn't that important to him seems cowardly (he doesn't want people mad at him) and pastorally unfaithful. Yes, address the various injustices around the world, but be sure to confront the particular issues in your own back yard- that's what the Church must do in each unique setting. It's almost humorous that we (America) think we have some kind of moral clout that allows us to address the aforementioned issues plaguing Africa. We're all confused about what marriage is and when life begins and we're going to help stem the AIDS epidemic in Africa? Seriously? Guess how America is addressing it- by giving Africans condoms and abortions.

What I see in this video is a guy who has a potion for whatever ails you. Just tell him your symptoms and he'll concoct a God-fix.

What America so desperately needs is for the Church to regain it's prophetic voice and moral clout. May God grant such a reformation and revival. The thing called "Evangelicalism" is no longer a relevant force in U.S. culture- almost completely saltless.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Power of the Cross

Here is a wonderful new hymn written by Keith Getty (piano) and sung by his wife Kristyn. A wonderful meditation for Holy Week.

The Power of the Cross
Words & Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow’r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev’ry bitter thought,
Ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
“Finished!” the vict’ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

Final Chorus:
This, the pow’r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

© 2005 Thankyou Music.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Vicious Giraffe Fight

Yes, you read that right. I guess I should have known giraffe's fight too. Pretty stupid looking.

Warning: the videographers drop a few "s" bombs.

Ranking KC BBQ

This may be my most controversial post on Reepicheep to date, I hope not to offend or lose readers as a result...

Barbecue is an art, not just a method for cooking meat. Barbecue is not "barbecuing". Barbecue is the word used to describe the whole complex of activities associated with smoking and eating various meats. In simple terms, barbecue is the art of smoking meat a certain way with particular agents and marrying the meat with the right rubs and sauces during the process. Some might have slightly differing definitions, but I have captured the essence.

So, being in a city that boasts some of the finest Barbecue in the country, how would I rank local establishments? I have certainly not been to every Barbecue restaurant in KC so this list is a work in progress (painstaking work!). Right now here are my top 10 BBQ establishments in the greater KC area. I am basing this list solely on the meat/sauce relationship, the fact that Jack Stack has the best baked beans doesn't help it's ranking, though it might make me go there over some more highly ranked establishments. Man those beans are good...


10. Zarda

Helping a brother out

Pictured above with his beautiful wife Tara is my old seminary buddy and gifted pastor, Rev. Mark Weathers. Mark is the pastor of Providence PCA in Concord, North Carolina. Mark will be speaking at our men's retreat this evening and tomorrow. Mark recently wrote a great little book on how to pray for your wife. Order one! Mark and I had many classes together at Covenant Seminary from 1995-98. Mark was a stellar student- I couldn't shine his shoes academically, spiritually, or in any other area...except one-and I plan to prove it today.

You see, Mark lives in North Carolina where the people think they know what true barbecue is. It's so very sad- that mustardy, vinegary, wretched stuff they ruin fine meat with. It's even more heart-wrenching when you consider how sharp this dear brother is- that he would be so delusional, so ignorant to the taste of true heaven-originated barbecue.

He thinks I invited him to come minister to the brothers at Redeemer, and I did, but I would be derelict in my duties as a brother in Christ to not gently set him straight in this key culinary area.

So, in just 30 minutes I will take him to one of Kansas City's finest BBQ establishments- Jack Stack BBQ. Finally, his eyes will be open and he will indeed be complete. At that moment he won't need to thank me, the look on his face will be enough.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

There really aren't "unwanted" pregnancies

There are unplanned pregnancies that happen all the time, but I am convinced there are practically no unwanted ones.

This morning my wife stood and prayed in front of a local abortion clinic with a woman from our church who has done so every Thursday for years. Having done so myself a while back, I warned my wife about how gut-wrenching it is. Watching "loved ones" drive their young daughters, sisters and girlfriends to commit an act that will damage them for life is overwhelming. My wife just called me to tell me I was right. In her time of prayer she saw a mother driving an ashamed young girl, probably no older than 13, through the entrance and in to the abortuary parking lot. As the girl covered her face passing Shari and a few that were peacefully praying at the entrance, my wife felt sick knowing that we would take that baby if she would just let it live. She didn't have to kill it. I'm sure no one is telling her the truth about how many people want her pregnancy.

The truth is, as I have come to discover during these past 18 months of trying to adopt, there is really no such thing as an unwanted pregnancy in the U.S. Last year there were over 1 million abortions. I know for a fact there are more than 1 million couples who want badly to adopt a baby or several babies. Don't tell me there is really such a thing as an "unwanted" pregnancy.

I understand there are unplanned pregnancies. I doubt highly the young girl Shari witnessed going to her abortion appointment wanted to be pregnant at such a young age. Such things happen to all sorts of people, it's long been a part of our fallen human existence. But "unplanned" doesn't mean "unwanted". There are so many people who want babies. It's so selfish to term any pregnancy "unwanted". Further, in the providence of God, no person is a mistake, no matter how they were conceived.

When a person becomes pregnant outside of God's ideal for child-bearing, it's a painful thing that creates all sorts of long-lasting effects in a person's life. The choice a person, couple, parent, partner, spouse, or loved one makes after a woman becomes pregnant is so vitally important and impacting. The options?

Deliver and keep the baby

Deliver and put the baby up for adoption

Abort (kill) the baby

These are painful options to mull in a hugely stressful and often shockingly traumatic time (decisions to abort are often made within days or weeks of realizing pregnancy). All sorts of people will be giving their input regarding the pregnant woman or girl's difficult decision. All of the options will involve major adjustments to the rest of her life and those associated with her.

I have talked to many women and families who have decided differently on these options. I have learned deciding to abort the child is far an away the most life-damaging choice (obviously for the baby it is life-ending)- it is an act that will never stop plaguing the one who commits it. What seems like a choice to undo the situation swiftly and with limited complexity actually becomes the most damaging long term option.
So many wanted babies needlessly killed. May God show us mercy and return us to our senses as nation. When I think of the complete madness of what we are doing in America, I think of the words Nebuchadnezzar uttered after a long period of insanity-
Daniel 4:34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
Lord God, please give us sanctified reason...give us minds-we seemed to have lost them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It All Came Down to His Last Week

Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

Have you ever noticed how many NCAA basketball tournament games are decided in the last minute of play? Not as many this year, but still quite a few games were hard to call until the last 60 ticks of the clock. I have often quipped the whole NCAA tournament could be played in one afternoon, just make all the games 1-minute long, since that's what so many come down to anyway.

When we consider the earthly life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ I am impressed with how much focus Scripture gives to His final week of ministry before enduring the cross and rising on the third day. This Sunday is designated as "Palm Sunday" which begins a week long consideration of the final week of Jesus' earthly life before crushing Satan's head at Calvary. It is true- it all came down to His last week- to fulfill the requirement of His sacrifice for His Church.

Think about it- The week of Christ’s passion provides an intense summary of all that Christ taught during His earthly ministry culminating with His death and resurrection.

The events of this final week before Christ’s resurrection are filled with miracles, confrontation, teaching, and fulfillment of prophecy like no other period in Christ’s earthly ministry, for my personal preparations I am reading the gospel accounts (a different one each day) of Christ's "Passion Week" until Easter Sunday morning.

I'm not much of a mathematician, but according to my calculations and confirmed through various sources- Jesus ministered publicly for three years, there are 52 weeks in a year making a total of 156. This one week, starting with Palm Sunday, makes up ½ of a percent of Jesus’ entire earthly ministry-time wise-yet, the gospel writers devote large portions of their accounts to the events of this single week!

The Gospel of Matthew is 28 Chapters long, 8 chapters are devoted to this week. 30%
The Gospel of Mark is 16 Chapters long, 6 chapters are devoted to this week. 37%
The Gospel of Luke is 24 Chapters long, 5 ½ Chapters are devoted to this week. 23%
The Gospel of John is 21 Chapters long, 11 Chapters are devoted to this week. 52%

Clearly it all came down to His last week my brothers and sisters. May God bless your contemplation of our Lord's Passion in these coming days leading to Resurrection Sunday!