Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tiller Murdered

As I am literally getting dressed for my Katy Trail ride I have learned of the murder of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller here in my state of Kansas.

My first reaction- it's wrong to murder someone, even a murderer.

The pro-life cause cannot be assisted by such a sinful and wicked act. Despite my disdain for all George Tiller did, I am grieved by the news of his murder.

Robert Rayburn on Justification

I hope I can work this whole quote in to my sermon...if not, here it is-

So there is the thesis. There are fundamentally only two ways of thinking about how people can be right with God: by what they do or by what Christ does for them. It matters not if in the former case, as would have been true for these judaizers, the works that were required for justification were combined with faith in Christ. It is all or nothing. Any works at all, makes it justification by works. It is works of any kind, to any degree, or Christ alone. That is the alternative. That is what makes Christianity so radical a message and a philosophy of life. It sets itself against not only every other religious idea, but the natural tendency of every human heart, to hold salvation -- at least to some degree -- in one's own hands.

- Robert Rayburn

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fat Boys Katy Trail Ride begins...

After worship Sunday morning Brian, Tomi, Bob, and I will be dropped off at the Green Ridge trail head for Katy to begin what has been officially dubbed "The Fat Boys Katy Trail Ride".

For the record, I resent the unflattering name of our journey, but acknowledge I'm no Lance Armstrong in the physique department (or any other). I would like it to be known that I am definitely the lightest of our foursome, but I guess that only proves the name of the ride. Oh well.

We're riding 177 miles, from Green Ridge, Missouri to St. Charles, Missouri.

Here's our plan:

Sunday afternoon- 36 miles to Pilot Grove
Monday- 50 miles to Hartsburg
Tuesday- 65 miles to Augusta
Wednesday- 26 miles to St. Charles

The trail is crushed limestone (as you can see above), an old train track bed, so it's not going to be fast road-type riding. We're taking mountain bikes or hybrids. There are lots of neat sights along the way so we'll be in no particular rush except to get to our destination each night where we will be staying at various local B&B's and a friends house one night. On Wednesday I'll get picked up by some church guys heading up to Cincinnati to help a friend move back to KC. The other bike riders will take the train back to KC on Thursday.

I'll blog along the way if I can figure out how to do so with my Blackberry. Wish us "fat boys" well!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Anti-socially social

On one hand our culture has become more communicative with the Internet and smart phones.

We have wireless phones, email, blogs, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and more. You can basically piece together my Facebook status changes to get a feel for what's going on in my daily life. This is common for a great many people today. I have reconnected with friends from WAY back. I feel as though 20 years have been bridged in our relationship because of these mechanisms. As a pastor I enjoy interacting with church brethren through these social networking things also. I see it as part of modern shepherding. So, on one hand, people are communicating more now than ever.

On the other hand, as I sit here in Panera studying (and blogging...and taking cool Facebook "tests" like "How long would you survive a Zombie attack?"), I have watched many people come in with their gaze fixed upon a smart phone of some sort. Instead of looking around to see if they recognize anyone or in place of having a discussion with someone in line or saying more than five words to the person waiting on them, they keep their head down and text away or keep up on their Twitter account. A person who walks into Panera smart phoning or strolls down the aisles at Wal-mart feverishly typing something in to their Blackberry sends the very clear message- "Don't talk to me !". How ironic that much of what they are doing is communicating via one of the aforementioned social tools. While giving off the "don't bug me" vibe, they are probably texting someone or changing their Facebook status.

Being anti-social while being social. Only in the current age. So interesting.

John Stott on Galatians 2:16

...yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. -Galatians 2:16

In his commentary on Galatians John Stott wrote the following in reference to verse 16-

Jesus Christ came into the world to live and to die. In His life His obedience to the law was perfect. In His death he suffered for our disobedience. On earth He lived the only life of sinless obedience to the law which has ever been lived. On the cross He died for our lawbreaking, since the penalty for disobedience to the law was death. All that is required of us to be justified, therefore, is to acknowledge our sin and helplessness, to repent of our years of self-assertion and self-righteousness, and to put our whole trust and confidence in Jesus Christ to save us.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BARCA: Champions

Wikipedia summarizes something all faithful readers of Reepicheep should know (but may not because they live in a country that doesn't appreciate the finer things in life)-

The UEFA Champions League (usually referred to as simply the Champions League or less frequently as the European Cup) is an annual footballcup competition organised by UEFA since 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe. It is the most prestigious club trophy in European football.

Prior to 1992 the tournament was officially called the European Champion Clubs' Cup but was usually referred to as simply the European Cup or European Champions' Cup. The competition was initially a straight knockout competition open only to the champion club of each country. During the 1990s the tournament began to be expanded, incorporating a round-robin group phase and more teams. Europe's strongest national leagues now provide up to four teams each for the competition. The UEFA Champions League is not to be confused with the UEFA Cup.

The tournament consists of several stages. In the present format it begins in mid-July with three knockout qualifying rounds. The 16 surviving teams join 16 seeded teams in the group stage, in which there are eight groups consisting of four teams each. The eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the final knockout phase, which ends with the final match in May.

Just minutes ago FC Barcelona defeated Manchester United 2-0 behind goals from to of the world's greatest players, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi, to capture the championship.

Ah, soccer glory...nothing quite like it.

Sotomayor is Obama's first Supreme Court pick

President Obama has made his first Supreme Court selection by choosing Sonia Sotomayor.

I became familiar with Judge Sotomayor, as did much of the country, when she effectively ended the 1995 Major League Baseball strike ruling against the team owners in a decision that delighted baseball fans but left constitutionalists scratching their heads as to what right the court had to tell private owners how to run their business. Ironically the Major League Baseball case will probably be the main sticking point with conservative questioners at her confirmation hearings as it seems to reveal an invasive view of the court in private affairs, a liberal mainstay in judicial philosophy.

Yes Sotomayor leans liberal, which should be no surprise as an Obama nominee, however she has been favored by both political parties throughout her impressive career. She was nominated to the U.S. District court by George H.W. Bush in 1992, then elevated to the highly active 2nd Circuit by President Clinton in 1998.

Sotomayor is a very safe political pick for Obama at a time when he needs a high profile appointment like this to pass. I think she will be confirmed relatively easily. Compared to what most judicial conservatives thought Obama would put forward, Sonia Sotomayor is mild. I figured he would appoint someone who made Ruth Ginsberg look conservative, the Sotomayor selection has surprised me a bit.

On the two "culture war" issues that gain the most attention- abortion and gay rights- Sotomayor has ruled very little. She has a scant track record on these unless I'm missing something. I'm sure conservatives will do their best to bring up any and all liberal rulings she has made but off the top I can't find any significant rulings in favor of abortion rights or gay rights. Interestingly reports the following on Sotomayor-

"Despite 17 years on the bench, Judge Sotomayor has never directly decided whether a law regulating abortion was constitutional," the pro-life group Americans United for Life noted in a recent analysis of potential Supreme Court candidates.

Sotomayor participated in a decision concerning the Mexico City Policy, which President Obama recently overturned and which prohibits sending taxpayer dollars to groups that promote and perform abortions in other nations.

Writing for the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor upheld the Mexico City Policy, but AUL says the significance of the decision "may be minimal because the issue was largely controlled by the Second Circuit's earlier opinion in a similar challenge to the policy."

AUL notes that Judge Sotomayor also upheld the pro-life policy by rejecting claims from a pro-abortion legal group that it violated the Equal Protection Clause.

Sotomayer's thin ruling history on these issues makes it very likely she'll fly through confirmation hearings.

What does this mean? It's really hard to say at this point. I think we will soon have another judge who takes a relatively intrusionist view of the judiciary. On the other hand, regarding abortion and gay rights, it's hard to say what she'll do based on her judicial history. What gives me pause is how comfortable Planned Parenthood is about her nomination stating- "she understands the importance of ensuring that our Supreme Court justices respect precedent while also protecting our civil liberties." Gay rights legal activist Paula Ettelbrick made this telling statement about Sotomayor's nomination- "I believe she has the demonstrated commitment to principles of equal protection and inclusion that defines a good nominee to the Supreme Court. In choosing Judge Sotomayor, the first Latino candidate for the Supreme Court, President Obama has made a strong and appealing nomination that should and will receive the support of those committed to equality for lesbians and gay men."

Abortion and gay rights advocates are comfortable with Sotomayor which makes me uncomfortable. She must have given some kind of back room assurances to President Obama and these groups, otherwise they would not be so supportive.

Personally I am relieved Obama didn't select someone more radically liberal, so I see hope in her selection. The person she will replace, David Souter, was supposed to be a more conservative judge (appointed by George H.W. Bush) and turned out to be quite the opposite. Sandra O'Connor was similarly selected by Ronald Regan and also turned out to be liberal in her rulings. It would be nice to see a Supreme Court appointment turn out to be a disappointment to the liberals for once. Maybe Sotomayor will be such a one?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why Kris beat Adam in American Idol

I submit Kris Allen's winning American Idol Season 8 over Adam Lambert offers us a window in to American popular culture, even American evangelical culture.

I understand a singing performance competition like American Idol is largely subjective, still though, I can't see how someone could argue Kris Allen is more talented than Adam Lambert. Lambert was a better singer and performer, period. Frankly, Danny Gokey, the third place finisher, had a better voice than Kris Allen also.

Kris Allen won American Idol because it became a contest of persona more than sheer talent and ability. Kris Allen personifies what popular American culture has as it's ideal, Adam does not. Add to this equation the presence of a large amount of evangelical Christians following the show closely and actively voting every week. Similarly, Kris personifies what the American evangelical culture so adores, Adam does not.

Let me unpack my contention a bit:

Kris Allen, in addition to playing several instruments, is described as a devout Christian. He was a worship leader at New Life Church in Maumelle, Arkansas. He has done missionary work around the world, including in Burma, Mozambique, South Africa, Spain and Thailand. Just a few months ago he married his longtime girlfriend. He's clean cut, looks like a regular guy from middle America. Kris is straight, a professing Christian, and a loyal husband. He is the absolute personification of what American popular culture still values, especially evangelical culture- a heavy influence in the voting process.

Adam Lambert on the other hand, is from Los Angeles, and an active participant in theater productions since he was a small child. He is a born performer and well experienced before coming on AI. While of Jewish descent, religion appears to play no active part in his life. He's a secular person, slightly effeminate, with an edgy look and sound. When pictures of Lambert kissing a man showed up on the Internet, he declared he has nothing to hide, yet he hasn't clarified what his sexual preference is, some of his friends say he practices bisexuality. Who knows? Basically Adam is the anti-Kris. He is the exact personification of what Hollywood and the mainstream media holds up as the "new" America, however, these entities actually represent a very small part of the population unable to give Adam the votes he needed to overcome the following of Kris.

As one article observed, the show did its best to establish the two as opposite personas. "The guy next door versus the guyliner," as host Ryan Seacrest put it.

Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert because of what he seemingly personifies contrasted against what Adam seemingly personifies. I still say Adam should have won- he's just plain more talented with a superior voice and a better stage presence than Kris. But American Idol is a vote taken among popular America with a heavy dose of evangelicals flexing their muscle (see Foxnews' take on the "evangelical factor" in American Idol). I got a kick out of Kris and Adam trying to minimize the evangelical factor as Kris said, "This is a singing competition, not a church thing" and Adam adding that the "vote is based on talent and performing, not religion." Yeah, sure.

The fact is 100 million people voted to decide the winner. To put that in perspective- the last presidential elections saw 130 million people vote. Yes, people can vote more than once for their American Idol contestant of choice (of course, some people say Acorn did the same for a certain presidential candidate...), but still- 100 million votes for a singing competition!! The show hasn't revealed how many votes separated the two finalists, but some sources say it wasn't close.

American Idol Season 8 gives a window in to popular American culture. It seems we're still a relatively conservative country. Sure, television and Hollywood, and many news media outlets lean heavily left, but in reality they don't seem to represent what the majority of America thinks or idealizes. For all the squawking over gay marriage, when put to a vote, the most morally confused state in the nation (California) voted against it. Recently a poll showed the majority of Americans were pro-life. Yet, to watch the news or listen to Hollywood stars you would think just the opposite.

So, for now, Kris and his persona get the nod from pop-America. Who knows how long that preference will last?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Government enabled theft

-begin rant-

I have long been a "Chevy" man. I love classic Chevy muscle cars and happen to think they ruled the era from 1960 to 1975. I have a rebuilt small block Chevy 350 sitting in my garage waiting for a car to drop in. Of the 20 or so cars I have owned, 13 were GM.

I will never by a late model Chevrolet/General Motors product again. No one should.

-end rant-

Thankful for Westminster Christian Academy

Today Westminster has a short social gathering for yearbook signing and a picnic to end the school year.

My wife and I cherish Westminster Christian Academy for many reasons. Shari went to a solid Christian school growing up where her father taught and still teaches and she received a solid biblical foundation that serves her (and us) continually. I went to a public school that was absolutely counterproductive to my spiritual growth. Shari has her degree in elementary education and taught full time at a small Christian school while I was in seminary. She taught part time at Westminster in some capacity for our first 11 years here (we just finished our 12th year at Redeemer) and will very likely teach there again in the future. We talked about many things before we got married, but a particular point of passionate agreement was our commitment to have our children in a solid Christian school as part of their discipleship. We didn't care what financial sacrifice would have to be made, we would do whatever was necessary to make it happen.

When I had the opportunity to come to Redeemer in 1997, Redeemer had less than 100 attenders and WCA had 8 or 9 students. I was so encouraged to see a church start a school so early in it's life, it was clear Redeemer was philosophically committed. A school will not grow your church, it just doesn't. Humanly speaking it is a huge risk to do what Redeemer did. When I saw the model, Shari and I both knew Redeemer is where we wanted to be. I concede there are many ways to faithfully carry out God's discipleship mandate for our children, but I can't think of a better assistance for the training of our sons than by utilizing this tremendous ministry of our church.

Earlier today I prayed thanking God for our church and school. Particularly regarding WCA, I was recounting why I love the ministry so much-

1. Westminster faithfully reinforces what our family and church are trying to teach our sons through it's curriculum, godly administration, teachers, coaches, and general culture of the community.

2. Westminster gives my sons exposure to various academic disciplines as well as specialized opportunities like sports, music, art, etc.
3. Westminster is under the authority of a solid, faithful church, and so maintains a doctrinal and philosophical standard that has been unwavering- by God's grace alone. Further, being one of the three pastors at Redeemer, I am actively involved with the daily happenings of the school as are Nathan and Brian. We rotate leading worship in chapel weekly and Brian teaches bible in the upper grades. I was even tagged to lecture our 9th graders on Church history several times. Coaching soccer at WCA may be my favorite activity of all. The point is, WCA isn't a school that meets at Redeemer, it's Redeemer's school. I just spent an hour on Monday sitting in a fourth grade class answering all sorts of awesome questions like "What will our resurrection bodies be like"? Just plain awesome.

4. Westminster holds to the full inspiration and authority of God's Word and integrates the Scriptures in all subject areas. The bible is our (the) lense for interpreting the world.
5. Westminster serves as an intense laboratory for living out the biblical principles my sons are learning as they interact with their teachers and fellow students regularly.

6. Westminster is helping my boys learn cooperation- how to get along with people that aren't exactly like them, to practice peace in a body of believers, and to be submissive to the authority God has placed in their life beyond us.

7. Westminster, being a microcosm of the larger church, possesses the same weaknesses and sins each of us battle, but it offers the opportunity to address these issues immediately and biblically. There are multiple opportunities for biblical repentance and restoration between believers. I witness the reality of this in my boys spiritual growth regularly. So many opportunities for real-life, spiritual growth occur regularly at WCA.

8. Westminster doesn't turn away any child of Christian parents for financial reasons which is part of what keeps it from becoming some kind of prep school that happens to be "Christian". Sure, Redeemer and WCA are located in an upper middle class suburb where there seems to be people with lots of money, however I have seen consistent and constant generosity on the part of those who have more to help those who have less. That's how my children are able to attend. Finances are often given as the excuse for why people don't send their children to a solid Christian school- it is expensive to run a school-however I am sure we are working diligently to make this much less of a factor at WCA. WCA is definitely not making a profit doing what it does and accomplishes alot more with half the money the public school spends to "educate" students.

9. Westminster has a diversity of families from various evangelical churches which gives students wonderful exposure to fellow Christians and presents a peaceful cooperative Christian effort to the wider KC community. Redeemer clearly steers the doctrinal and philosophical ship, but we're extremely happy to have brothers and sisters in Christ from multiple denominations come join our effort to train up our children with a biblical worldview.

10. Westminster helps me, as a pastor, to speak all the more boldly about the biblical responsibility to raise our children in the Lord and for the Lord with a biblical worldview.

Listen, I don't have a Pollyanna view of any organization that has sinful people like me involved- be it my family, church, or school. I've seen alot in my 12 years of pastoral ministry. Very little about people shocks me any more. There are plenty of challenges any school experience will present and stuff happens that might surprise and even disappoint us. If we're honest however, the same things can be said of our homes and churches. Such is the reality of sin and sinners and the constant need for the gospel. Still, overall, when I think of Westminster my heart floods with thanks to God for the tangible discipleship tool it has become in the life of my family.

May all glory be unto God!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

RPC United re-brand jerseys

Our church soccer team, RPC United, got new jerseys today with the stars reflecting the four championships won over the past year or so. Pretty cool looking.

A Relevant Parable

A young man named Chuck in Montana bought a horse from a farmer for $100.

The farmer agreed to deliver the horse the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news... the horse died."

Chuck replied, "Well, then just give me my money back."

The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already."

Chuck said, "Ok, then, just bring me the dead horse."

The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?"

Chuck said, "I'm going to raffle him off."

The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead horse!"

Chuck said, "Sure I can, watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead."

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, "What happened with that dead horse?"

Chuck said, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and was able to make $998."

The farmer said, "Didn't anyone complain?"

Chuck said, "Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back."

Chuck grew up and now works for the government.

He is the one who figured out how this "bail-out" is going to work.

Thanks Jake!

Redeemer Elders get wiser with age

From the day I came to Redeemer I knew God was providing a strong eldership. This recent picture of the Session evidences how wise these brothers have become.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

RIP: The Rodenator (5/?/06 - 5/1/09)

I regret to inform my faithful readership that just days after posting on my respect and admiration for the Rodenator, he was found dead just 100 yards from my house on 151st street. Cause of death- while not a veterinarian, having examined photographic evidence provided by a sick individual, I have concluded the Rodenator died of a combination of basilar, depressed, and linear skull fractures. Although the skull is tough, resilient, and provides excellent protection for the brain, a severe impact or blow can result in fracture of the skull and may be accompanied by injury to the brain. The Rodenator's head injuries were clearly catastrophic and fatal due to multiple vehicular impacts.

I would have informed you earlier, however I have been too distraught. Only now can I bring myself to talk about it. Rabbit activity has already picked up. Mice are roaming and terrorizing housewives at will. Birds are dive-bombing suburbanites and definantly building nests in grills and porches throughout Havencroft. My neighborhood is in grave danger. Yep, you guessed it- the neighbor's dog is still laying there licking himself.

Stop what you are doing and please observe a moment of silence in honor of the Rodenator...and weep for the inhabitants of an Olathe subdivision called Havencroft.

Martin Lloyd Jones- "Unsearchable Riches"

I read this from Martin Lloyd Jones this morning-

God forbid that any of us should live like paupers! God forbid that any of us should be in penury and need and want and trouble and alarm and unsteadiness! The world today is presenting us with a unique opportunity of telling men and women about ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’. We are being watched, we are being observed; and many in their spiritual bankruptcy are wondering whether, after all, the answer is in Christ. The world judges Him by what it sees in us. If we give the impression that, after all, to be a Christian does not help very much when there is a crisis, they will not listen to our message or look to Him. But if they find that we are entirely different from them, and able to maintain a calm and balance and peace and poise, and even joy in the midst of the hurricane of life, under God that may be the means of opening their eyes, and leading them to repentance, and bringing them to the Lord Jesus Christ and His ‘unsearchable riches’.

Dr. Jones' full article can be found here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Great quote about Ortiz

Fox Sports writer Mark Kriegel deserves credit for a great statement about Red Sox "slugger" David Ortiz-

"On Friday it will be exactly eight months since David Ortiz hit his last home run. So, of course, there's talk of moving him down in the lineup. Good idea. Who's batting seventh in Pawtucket?"

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wizards Promo- Besler wants Waffles

Pretty funny Wizards promo featuring Jimmy Conrad, Matt Besler, Davy Arnaud, and Herculez Gomez.

Matt Besler is a rookie for the Wizards this year and a product of local Kansas City soccer programs.

The best movie one category

Last Friday night Shari and I watched the kids during our home fellowship group meeting so we decided to view "The Tale of Despereaux". My boys have read the book and were excited to see the movie.

Admittedly it was a bit noisy while I was trying to watch the film, but my basic assessment is the movie stunk. Despereaux ain't no Reepicheep...heck, he isn't even Stuart Little. My boys say the movie wasn't quite like the book, which I'm glad to hear because the movie was a total snoozer. It's a film I will do my best to never watch again. I wish I could have the 90 minutes back.

There was one redeeming quality of the movie however. So stellar was a particular feature of many characters that it might well be the greatest movie ever one category. Can you guess what category that is?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Things heating up at Notre Dame

With President Obama scheduled to speak and receive an honorary law degree at Notre Dame's commencement on Sunday, the protests are starting to heat they should.

Most memorable albums list

Here's a picture of one of my favorite Christian rock albums of all time- Whiteheart's "Freedom" circa 1989.

I recently participated in a survey about contemporary music. I was asked to list my ten favorite albums. I listed them, but I classify them as my most memorable rather than favorite. Memorable here doesn't necessarily mean your most cherished, but rather albums that resonated with you in a particular way at a particular time. I listed the following:

In no particular order-

1. Metallica: The Black Album
2. The Clash: London Calling
3. The Police: Reggatta de Blanc
4. Guns and Roses: Appetite for Destruction
5. Nirvana: Nevermind
6. DC Talk: Jesus Freak
7. Rich Mullins: A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band
8. Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast
9. Whiteheart: Freedom
10. Petra: Not of this World

What are your most memorable albums?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Great Post on "New" Calvinism

My friend Jim sent me the link for an excellent post by Kevin DeYoung. Note what DeYoung says-

The influence of Calvinism is growing because its God is transcendent and its theology is true.

What draws people to Reformed theology is the belief that God is the center of the universe and we are not, that we are worse sinners than we imagine and God is a greater Savior than we ever thought possible, that the Lord is our righteousness and the Lord alone is our boast.

The attraction of the New Calvinism is not Calvin, but the God Calvin saw—not some new fad, but something old with new life blowing through it from the Spirit of God.

The greatest and best sport in the world

Here's a picture of the Mexican National team practicing on my old college field in Chicago last summer. I love Moody's field. It's carved in to the middle of down town Chicago. See the "El" moving along the track? The field was essentially donated by Karsten Solheim, the founder of PING golf equipment. 1991 was the first season Moody played on it, my junior year. Yours truly scored the lone goal in Moody's first win on the new field- one of my greatest soccer memories ever. I'm convinced soccer is the greatest sport in the world.
Despite it's relative lack of popularity in the U.S. (too many "immediate gratification" sports to compete with) , low estimates of people who play amateur soccer is 300 million in 200 different countries. tThat's referring to people signed up to play soccer. There has to be millions more who play in the streets and open fields of all these countries as well. When I was in Mexico and Bulgaria I had the opportunity to play soccer games with players who were skilled enough to be Division I players in the U.S. but had never been on an organized team in their country! Soccer truly is the international past time.
Sports writer Jim Smoot well notes-

Soccer is a game of skill and control. In a match between evenly skilled teams, low scores are not uncommon. These low scores leave many Americans with the impression that the game is boring and uneventful. In a society that revels in action, many people look at scoring a goal as the only exciting thing during a soccer match. For those who follow and understand the game, nothing could be further from the truth. As people become more accustomed to the game, they become more aware of the skills and strategies required to play well. They come to appreciate the ability of the players to run while dribbling, change directions on a dime, and make a brilliant pass to an open teammate. They also come to admire the defensive abilities of a player to step into the passing lane to intercept a pass, or the keeper's ability to make a diving save.

Pastor Jordan

A couple weeks ago my youngest son Jordan (6) came home from school announcing he needed a pastor's "costume". I asked him why and he explained his kindergarten class would have a "career" day event where each student could dress up as a worker or whatever they wanted to be when they grew up. Jordan wanted to be a pastor so he needed me to get him a pastor's costume. I told him it would be no problem thinking he has a little suit he wears some Sundays. Well, a couple days ago he was rather upset I hadn't gotten him a pastor's costume yet. Then I realized he wanted a robe! I'm not sure the Geneva robe comes in his size and if it does, I wasn't going to spend the $$ to get him one. So, in the end I convinced him to wear his suit and carry a bible. Yeah, he looks pretty baptist in that suit carrying his big bible, but what can I say?

On a serious note, I have been continually flattered that all three of my sons speak of wanting to be a pastor. Now, I know they're only doing this because it's what they know, it's what they see me do. Further, I honestly don't care in the least what vocations my children take up, so long as they love Christ and His Church. Heck, my retirement plan depends on my boys not becoming pastors (joke!).

The fact that all three of my boys have a positive outlook on the pastoral ministry is a credit to my wife and church. My schedule is busy and crazy at times. Lots of evening activities that take me away from home as well as the usual constant calls and emails a shepherd gets. Yet, my children think it's a worthy vocation. My wife never complains about what I (we) do. Sure, there are seasons where we wish we could get away for some refreshment, certainly their are some vocational frustrations unique to pastoral ministry. But ultimately my whole family senses we are doing what God wants us to do. Pastoral ministry is a unique vocation for so many reasons. Every family member has to embrace the calling. Yes, Redeemer called and pays me, but in reality, they called my family too. Over these 12+ years at Redeemer I have always sensed a strong support from the elders and congregation about spending proper time and attention nurturing my family. My boys have a positive view of pastoral ministry largely because of the church we minister to.

I do not take for granted there will always be contentment in my family about pastoral ministry. I pray for God to give me and my family joy in the ministry each day. I also pray that God would keep me from putting the ministry over my family. But for now, on this day, I'm touched by my baby son Jordan wearing his pastor's costume to school. I hope he doesn't rip the knees out of his pants at recess...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2009 Tomatoes- in the ground

It's been a rainy Spring in Kansas making it hard to till and prep my garden for planting. I quick tilled it once on Monday night then raced today to till it again and get 7 tomato plants and 3 pepper plants in the ground before a possible storm hits. I'm a week later than I would have preferred, but thankful the bulk of my tomatoes are now in the ground. I will eventually plant 3-4 more tomato plants my father gives me. Also, the boys will plant their own selections next week some time.

For me, I only really care about the tomatoes. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Peter wouldn't let this happen

It's bad enough the University of Notre Dame invited President Obama to give it's commencement address, but further insulting committed Roman Catholics is the decision to grant Obama an honorary law degree.

So, right next to Obama's framed letters of thanks from Planned Parenthood will hang a degree from the premier Catholic university in the United States. Truly a shame and possibly a curse for that institution.

I think it's fine to invite President Obama to visit Notre Dame, possibly even address students in an academic setting lecturing on some particular area of expertise in the context of an appropriate class or study. One of Obama's "townhall meetings" on the Notre Dame campus could certainly be a valuable part of University life where an exchange of ideas and honest debate would occur. Obama visiting and participating in some part of the Notre Dame academic process shouldn't be objectionable.

What is objectionable is inviting a radically pro-abortion politician to come and address the graduating seniors of an institution sponsored by a church that makes such a clear stand against the abortion holocaust. More objectionable still is granting an honorary law degree from Notre Dame to a man who thinks Roe v. Wade is a good and just law. Commencement addresses are not part of the academic process. They are a final statement on behalf of the institution granting a degree to the graduating seniors who will go forth and at some level represent that institution.

I was holding out hope that a higher authority in the Catholic church would stop this mockery, but alas, it seems no such action will come from Christ's "vicar". I am sure the Apostle Peter would not let this happen.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Disturbing Act

I haven't written about the Air Force One flyover of Manhattan, NY. Frankly, I'm just flabbergasted by the idiocy of the act. Instead of issuing a clear explanation and apologies, President Obama thought it was funny enough to joke about at last week's Press Dinner. Well, it's not all.

The video clip of scared citizens scurrying in fear bothers me all the more. I am afraid such an act reveals a deficient view of what happened to our country on 9/11.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A thought about mothers

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan had four sons and they were all preachers. Someone once came into the drawing room when all the family was there. They thought they would see what Howard, one of the sons, was made of so they asked him this question: "Howard, who is the greatest preacher in your family?" Howard had a great admiration for his father and he looked straight across at him and then without a moments hesitation he answered, "Mother."

- A. Edersheim

Did you hear that?

...Yep, you got it...A-Rod's first at bat of 2009, first pitch...homer.

The Yanks are back.

Let all the jealous comments begin...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nathan Clark George at Redeemer on May 17

Mark you calendars for an impromptu Nathan Clark George concert on Sunday, May 17 at 6pm.

Nathan is en route to Colorado where he plays, performs, and leads worship all summer at Horn Creek. He agreed to stop at Redeemer to perform at our evening service. Don't miss!!!

Disagreement does not mean Phobia

I disagree with many things but I am not scared of them, nor do I hate them. To attach "phobic" to someone should mean a person has an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, situation, or practice.

For example, before 1995 significant heights didn't bother me, but after trimming trees in St. Louis for a full year something changed. I was roped in to a huge sycamore tree trimming the middle level of limbs when an inexplicable fear overcame me. I was suspended about 30 feet in the air, securely roped in with a harness, but something about my perspective changed and I could no longer climb and work at those heights from that day til now. As a hunter I utilize tree stands but I cannot set them higher than 15 feet or I begin to get a panicky feeling I can only describe as a phobia concerning heights. On the ground I have tremendous balance, it's hard to knock me over, but I have a sense I will lose my balance and fall when at heights over 15 feet. It's not logical or rational. The "experts" would say I have Acrophobia, Altophobia, Batophobia, Hypsiphobia or Hyposophobia. Bottom line, I'm scared of heights. I'll admit to being "phobic" as it relates to being way up there.

Not too long ago I received an anonymous post accusing me of being "homophobic". In my mind a proper definition of "homophobia" should be an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of homosexuals or homosexuality, right? Well, that's not me at all. In fact, I have friends I love dearly who are practicing homosexuals. I am not scared of them nor do I hate them, in fact, I love them very much. Further, I'm not scared of homosexual practice in general either. Sex between two people of the same gender doesn't evoke fear, freight, terror, or anything of the sort. Even the concept of two men or two women wanting the right to call their union "marriage" doesn't scare me. I don't become enraged when I hear the idea being proposed and I don't have visions of people I hate or even dislike when the matter is debated in print, on the radio, or on television. I am scared of heights. I am phobic about heights. I am not scared of homosexuality or those who practice it, therefore I am not homophobic no matter how diligently a person would strain to label me as such.

I disagree with a great many things but I do not fear them or hate them. I disagree with worldviews that put man at the center, but I do not fear such a perspective. I disagree with doctrine that insists man is responsible to choose Christ as if salvation rests on mans volition, but I do not fear such a perspective. I disagree with political ideology that sees government as having a widespread role in the lives of the citizens it represents, but I do not fear such an ideology or practice. I disagree with sexual practice that happens outside the bounds of a marriage, but I do not fear pre or extra marital sex. I disagree that marriage can be defined in any way other than between one man and one woman, but I do not fear people wanting to "marry" someone of the same sex or the notion of a person wanting to "marry" their dog for that matter. I'll never think of such unions as marriage, but I'm not scared of the concept or of people who disagree with me. I disagree with a great many things because I think they will lead in a direction that is harmful. In some of the cases I disagree because God calls them sin. I don't fear sin as such. I fear where sin leads. I fear what sin will bring about. But I do not fear sin itself because Jesus has ultimately conquered sin and it's ultimate outcome by His victory on the cross for those in union with Him by faith.

Again, I disagree with a great many things, but I do not fear them. So why call me homophobic?

The label homophobic doesn't really mean what it says. By calling me homophobic I am being accused of ignorantly or hatefully opposing homosexuality. The label is applied in pejorative way to paint me as having an illogical or irrational disagreement with homosexual practice. Of course, I do disagree with homosexual practice (or any pre/extra marital sexual practice), but I maintain a logical and rational reason for my opposition (the subject of a different post). "Homophobic" attempts to paint a person as unthinking, bigoted, and scared of something he or she doesn't agree with. I simply contest such a label doesn't help the dialogue and the effort to understand each other.

Disagreement does not mean phobia therefore it is at least dishonest to label me a homophobe, at worst it's "hate speech" against me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny suspended, get ready for him to sing...

Major League Baseball suspended Manny Ramirez today for 50 games. He tested positive for an unspecified performance enhancing drug or drugs. Such an action on the part of Ramirez is the height of selfishness considering the current effort of MLB to rehab it's image after years of unchecked steroid usage among many of the league's top players. What fool would dare take a banned substance right now, with all the scrutiny? Only a self-absorbed egomaniac. Check EGOMANNYIAC!

Secondary fallout to the Ramirez situation will be a closer look at the practice of his former team, the Boston Red Sox. The New York Yankees have received a disproportionate amount of focus because of the revelations about some of their high profile players and because they're a New York team. Boston has escaped similar scrutiny for too long. All of MLB has been tainted by the steroid/PED free for all that spanned 1990-2005, but the Yanks have shouldered the condemnatory weight because of their annual success (which evokes widespread jealousy).

Now that Manny has been caught does anyone think this is his first use of PED's? Of course not. He was in Boston for 8 seasons. Now that the jig is up on Manny, I expect him to sing like a canary about the Boston years.

Finally some good news for the much beleaguered Yankee nation!!!

Anti-hunting "logic"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Getting ready to ride

Brian talked me in to a bike ride from KC to St. Louis the first week of June on the Katy Trail. I got my Gary Fisher cleaned up and tuned and I've been riding once or twice a week in preparation. Today I'm going on a 25-30 mile ride along the Indian Creek trail that crosses the state line and comes back. Very nice, scenic, little ride.

Our trip in June will start just east of Kansas City and travel 25o miles or so on an old railroad line that has been converted in to a crushed limestone trail all the way to St. Louis. We'll do it in 3-4 days traveling about 70 miles per day. Should be a great experience.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Unbelievable catch by ball girl (fake, but cool)

If this is real, it's amazing.

UPDATE: It's not real. Oh well...still cool though! Thanks for bursting my bubble Zach!!

Review of "Twilight" by Laura Hough

Laura Hough is our youth pastor's wife. She recently decided to read the wildly popular "Twilight" book series so as to be informed when ministering to teen-aged girls. I think she provides a very helpful perspective.

Just finished reading the Twilight series

I didn’t even know what Twilight was until right before the movie came out in theaters and we started seeing Twilight everything everywhere. When we asked about it, I was shocked to hear that it was something the girls liked (if you’ve seen the ads you can see why I was surprised. I was thinking more Lord of the Rings with the vampires and all). So when Brian rented the movie a few weeks ago, I really was prepared to fall asleep during it.

You know, it wasn’t half bad. This made me realize I needed to read the books, if for no other reason, to see what all these teenage girls are reading. I have to admit I skipped the first book (hello, I had just seen the movie! I hate that excuse, but I was really curious to see what happened next), and the second book was just ok as far as stories go, but I realized early on that this is exactly what I fight against in my ministry to teenage girls: the idea that nothing is more important than a boy and their world revolving around that. Sounds trite, but it’s so real in today’s culture.

While the series was a captivating love story, I found myself starting book three only wanted to be done reading. I couldn’t just walk away, not only had I invested too much time not to finish, I needed to know how it ended. So although I hated picking it up to read, I knew it was the only way to finish! And I just became more and more disturbed that this is the worldview that girls are being fed. I’m not anti-romance, but this girl is in high school and cares about nothing else and no one else than a boy. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I just kept wishing she would find her worth and self in Christ alone, because HE is very real and the only thing worth putting that much effort and love into.

Like I said, the love story was intense, and I would venture to say too intense for high school students. Even though there’s no premarital sex (I think the series prides itself in that), it was still very, for lack of a better word, “passionate.” I wouldn’t want my daughter reading about the physical longings that are deemed ok. I know this is fiction, I know it’s entertainment, but it still made me sad that girls are wanting this and thinking if they can just find their “Edward” everything else will be peachy and every longing they have will be filled in him. Problem is, they are looking for an “Edward” when they should be looking for all those things in Christ.

I love this verse in Psalms. I love that it emphasizes the singularity of our seeking after our Lord. I pray that this will be the prayer of the girls we minister to, as well as mine.

Psalm 27:4

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple

In short, I feel like the Twilight series went against everything I’ve been praying for teens. And I wish I’d just waited and watched the movies!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Helpful Obama Budget Cuts Visualization

Thanks Steve!

Golf Marathon to benefit Westminster Christian Academy

Today was the first ever "WCA Duffer Open" to benefit our school. We raised $25,000 for scholarships. We raised the money by asking people to sponsor us on a per hole basis. We golfed 100 holes today. I hurt all over.

I golfed in a foursome with fellow RPC United players Brian Hough, Lenin Guerra, and Travis Shanahan. WCA Prez Mark Dunn joined us for quite a few holes as well. Just a ton of fun.

There are few ministries that excite me more that Westminster.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Luther on Galatians

Here's a gem from Luther's commentary on Galatians-

“While we live here on earth, we will be accused, exercised with temptations, oppressed with heaviness and sorrow, and bruised by the law with its demands of active righteousness. Because of this, Paul sets out in this letter of Galatians to teach us, to comfort us, and to keep us constantly aware of this Christian righteousness. For if the truth of being justified by Christ alone (not by our works) is lost, then all Christian truths are lost. For there is no middle ground between Christian righteousness and works-righteousness. There is no other alternative to Christian righteousness but works-righteousness; if you do not build your confidence on the work of Christ, you must build your confidence on your own work. On this truth and only on this truth the church is built and has its being.”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Guarding the Gospel

Above is one of my favorite works of Rembrandt. It is a portrait of Paul and Peter in conversation, some suggest they are debating. Of course, Paul had to confront his fellow Apostle concerning the matter of the gospel.

Further, Paul wrote to the Galatians as a defense and clarification of the gospel. The gospel is faith in Christ and His work on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. It has been the tendency of sinful man to add to this gospel, in the case of the Galatians they were adding circumcision to Christ which amounted to a different gospel, which was no gospel at all. Paul wrote-

Galatians 1:6 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— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 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. 9 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.

The challenge for every generation of Christ's church is to guard the gospel by God's sustaining grace. There are three ways to guard the gospel as evidenced by this passage:

1. With Clarity. We must know the gospel clearly and be able to express it succinctly and accurately. Very simply, Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins. We must believe this. It's not Christ plus something else, it's trust in Christ alone for salvation. Trust in my work or the work of man leads to hell, only Christ's merit applied to me or you by faith can save. We must be clear on what the gospel is and proclaim it consistently and lucidly.

2. With Correction. As we strive to proclaim the gospel clearly, it will be necessary to correct well-meaning brothers and sisters who are sliding toward adding something to Christ for salvation. In the above passage Paul writes, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him." This statement is in the present tense meaning they were in the process of deserting God. There was still the opportunity to reclaim them from a total shift of trust from Christ to Christ plus circumcision (which is actually trust in man's work). We should not assume that every person who is confused on a clear gospel message is a heretic or lost, but rather we should work to bring clarity to that dear brother or sister's thinking.

3. With Condemnation. People don't like the word "condemnation" these days. It sounds so judgmental. Well, it is! Judgments are necessary. Paul doesn't shy away from using a judgmental, condemning term when referring to those who were propagating a false gospel. It's one thing for a brother or sister to be confused and in need of clarification and correction. It's quite another for a supposed minister of God (man or angel) to be promoting a false gospel. For such individuals, apart from God granting repentance, there will be eternal condemnation. There is no way to soften Paul's declaration as he writes in verse 8- "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." To be sure there was no misunderstanding, Paul repeats his point in verse 9 again calling those who preach a false gospel "accursed". Accursed comes from the word anathema. It means dedicated to destruction. Accursed means to be damned.

Guarding the gospel is not an option for the Church of Jesus Christ, it is our sacred trust. Too much is at stake to be weak on this matter. We must stand with Paul who wrote to the Romans (and to us):

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.