Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Voice

Pastor Rob spoke this morning about John 17. John 17 is one of many prayers that we have from the life of Jesus. In this particular prayer, Jesus is praying for me. And if you placed your trust in Jesus for salvation, he is praying for you too.

As Rob was reading the passage, I thought about what it must have been like to hear Jesus pray. Jesus had no sin to hinder his prayers. He did not lack faith in His Father. He had perfect wisdom about what to pray for. His prayers were never self-centered. His prayer life was perfect. His praying was so amazing that after one prayer session, one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). I almost sense that there was a "I want to pray like THAT!" tone to the request.

I anticipate that one of the most incredible moments of my existence will be hearing the voice of Jesus for the first time. I wonder about his tone of voice during prayer. Was His voice full and deep when He was making a request? Did He laugh with the Father when the prayer was joyful and triumphant? What did the adoration sound like when He praying was full of praise? Was the simple thankgiving for food exciting to hear (The Son thanking the Father for what they created together!)?

I can't wait to have glorified ears....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Choosing Thomas

I don't know what to say about this....except watch:

A Saturday night pointless rant

I read Time magazine. I know, I know, it is not the high minded reading that you expect from someone with such obviously brilliant writing chops. But it is the dessert at the end of the week that is nothing less than a mental guilty pleasure. This may come across as a rationalization for poor behavior on my part. But lets try and get to the point....

In the past several weeks, a couple of very well known people have graced the cover of Time magazine. One was a severely dysfunctional dancer/singer that entertained millions with his God-given abilities. He was as popular for the bizarre nature of his lifestyle as he was for his musical performances. He never had any privacy and his life was a train wreck, full of enablers, drug habits, and emptiness.

The second guy to grace Time's cover was the ultimate politician. Born into riches and pedigree, the expectations upon his life were never in his control. Although he was influential and powerful, he never grasped that final rung of the country's highest office, and so, with his death, his life is commonly being portrayed as a destiny unfulfilled. He never had any privacy and his life was a train wreck, full of enablers, drug habits, and emptiness.

And as I have learned more about these two individuals, I have wondered about the allure of fame and our culture's obsession with celebrity. We seem to have completely disregarded the importance of character in those we idolize. There is an insatiable appetite for information about people we are not associated with in any shape or form. And I question if we would even like the celebrities we worship if we knew them personally.

Evaluating their lives through the lens of their deaths, it seems to me that the cost of popularity far outweighs the benefits. Disappointment and chemical dependency seem to be the theme in most celebrity stories. And I wonder if most well known people would trade all of the recognition they receive for just a few years of anonymity and peace.


Oh, yeah, and by the way: I love you.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Three things

  1. I keep hearing that Ted Kennedy survived brain cancer longer than most. I suppose that is to be admired. But then he wasn't fighting the disease while on Medicare, was he? Didn't think so.
  2. Speaking of healthcare....I don't usually recommend other blogs, but this one has me fascinated. Probably because I always wanted to be a doctor, but was never smart enough. Or scientific enough. And, you know, I really don't like dealing with pain (mine or others). So I am living vicariously through this blog.
  3. I have six children at 35 years old. And so, we now have people that will ask us for parenting advice. Although I am sometimes flattered by this, more often I want to tell them that having a large flock only has made me realize how little I know. But there is one thing that I know for sure. I find that most people are looking for an easy way of parenting that will produce brilliant, well behaved offspring. So what I usually tell them is that they need to work at it. Anything that my kids have that is admirable is not because I have some great formula for parenting, but because we invest a tremendous amount of time in correcting and guiding and praying and talking about Jesus. Many times I would rather be doing something else, but raising kids is my foremost priority right now. So we put in the work. There is no shortcut.*

*I am not done parenting yet, so I could be wrong.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

But for the Grace of God

This made me good preaching should from time to time.

Even Jonathan Edwards

This is from a book about Jonahan Edwards. I often feel terribly inadequate as a father. To read something like this about a man whom I have the greatest of admiration....well, its like cold lemonade. Enjoy.

By far the greater burden of childrearing fell to Sarah....On one occasion, when she was out of town in 1748, Jonathan was soon near his wits' end. Children of almost every age needed to be cared for. 'We have been without you,' Jonathan lamented in a letter, 'almost as long as we know how to be!'

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three things

1. There was a guy talking about torture on the radio today. He seemed to think that it was a pretty good idea, especially if the US needed some information or felt threatened. But I wondered if he would feel differently if it was a US Marine being tortured by our enemies because they wanted some "strategic information". I am just not sure that I could ever biblically justify torturing anyone.

1a. That's what I get for listening to news radio.

2. I once was at one of those specialty bagel places and they had one type of bagel called the "Everything Bagel". That sounds pretty good, I thought, kinda like the ultimate in bagel the Ben & Jerry's of the bagel Superman a perfect bagel fantasy. Boy, was I disappointed.

3. The reality of football season without a TV is setting in. Instead of looking forward to the "game of the week", I am finding out that there was a game and going "Man, I bet that was great." Then I start reading my book again.

I love you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Three things

1. The healthcare debate is giving me tired head. But I would like to go to one of those townhall meetings with the President. I would have two questions:
a. Mr. President, what about Tort Reform? Can we place limits on the amount that medical lawsuits can pay out?
b. Mr. President, would you, your Cabinet, and Congress commit to living with Medicare/Medicaid as your healthcare program for the rest of your lives?

2. This weekend, me and a buddy used a water balloon launcher to launch balloons at about 90 miles an hour. We then tried to hit said water balloons with a baseball bat. It was so fun that we laughed for about an hour (until we ran out of balloons). Conclusion: Inside every adult male is a boy willing to do stupid things just for the thrill of it.

3. I am having lunch with the senior pastors from our church today. I think that there are three possible outcomes:
a. Promotion to some elevated Usher post.
b. Request to rock the morning services with my spiritual gift (I play the Kazoo...with enthusiasm).
c. Ex-communication.

Possibility C. will bother me less if they pick up the check. If I sense that is coming, I will probably order a whole pie for dessert.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Third post of the day...

I know. I am completely out of control. But this joke made me snicker.

A lady is walking down the street to work and sees a parrot in a pet store. She stops to admire the bird.

The parrot says to her, "Hey lady, you are really ugly."Well, the lady is furious! She storms past the store to her work.

On the way home she saw the same parrot in the window and the parrot upon seeing her says, "Hey lady, you are really ugly."She was incredibly ticked now. The next day on the way to work she saw the same parrot and once again it said, "Hey lady, you are really ugly."

The lady was so furious that she stormed into the store and threatened to sue the store and have the bird killed. The store manager apologized profusely and promised the bird wouldn't say it again.

When the lady walked past the store after work the parrot said to her, "Hey lady."She paused and said, "Yes?"

The bird said, "You know."

This is uncomfortable

Denny Burk:

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine for a moment that you are walking down the street, and you pass a small boy sitting on the curb. He looks to be about eight years old. You do a double-take when you notice that he has a cricket in his hand. Just as you pass, he grasps the cricket by the legs and yanks them off. How do you respond? Perhaps you would think, “That’s a little cruel. I guess boys will be boys.” Would you even stop to say anything to the boy? Maybe so, but maybe not.

Rewind to the beginning of the story. This time as you pass the boy, however, he’s pulling the legs off of a frog. How do you respond? Perhaps you might think, “That’s uncalled for. I’m going to find and tell his parents.”

Rewind again. This time as you pass the boy, he’s pulling the legs off of a small dog. How do you respond? This situation calls for a little more immediate action, doesn’t it? Perhaps you would try to rescue the dog while being careful not to manhandle or mistreat this little boy that you don’t even know. After intervening, you would certainly feel compelled to inform his parents.

Rewind one more time. This time as you pass the boy, he’s trying to pull the legs off of a human baby. How do you respond? You would move heaven and earth to save that baby, wouldn’t you? Even if you had to physically restrain the boy, you would do it. Not only would you inform his parents, you might also inform the civil authorities. After all, his parents may be negligent, and someone has to protect other babies from falling into his hands.

Do I have this about right? Wouldn’t you be more willing to take coercive action to save the baby than you would to save the cricket, the frog, or the dog? Why is that? The “sin” was the same in all four scenarios; the boy was simply pulling the legs off. So why would you react one way with a cricket and another way with a baby? For most of you, the answer is self-evident. The heinousness of the crime is measured not by the crime itself but by the nobility and virtue of the one being assaulted. There’s a world of difference between a cricket/frog/dog and a baby. A human baby—which is created in the image of God—has a dignity that no other kind of creature possesses. Thus only the most morally perverse person would think to do less for the human baby than he would for the cricket/frog/dog.

Why is it in our culture that there is almost universal disgust at Michael Vick’s dog-killing, but at best only ambivalence toward the nearly 50 million unborn human babies that have been cruelly and legally killed in America since 1973? Only the most morally retrograde culture would be outraged by the former while thinking very little about the latter. God help us.

This is worth your time......

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.


Father, Wean me from my obsession with trivial things. Amen.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

August has been bad for us, but.....

This August has been a banner month for bad stuff. We have been consistently smacked around by one unhappy event after another. So far this August:

- The air conditioner in one car went kaput.

- I rammed my father-in-laws camper with our new van, damaging both.

- Pup #4 got his hand slammed in the van door, breaking and slicing open his finger.

So I was feeling pretty bummed about the month. But then I sat down with Maria, a business associate of mine. She listened to my story and then told me about her August. The highlight? They returned from a 10 day trip to a family reunion in Canada. About three houses down from theirs, they used the remote to open their garage door. The smell that creeped from their house was indescribable. It was worse than awful. The culprit? The freezer in the garage had stopped working and the contents sat in the 90+ degree heat for several days.....

It gets better (worse?): Two days before the left for Canada, they had received a $1000 delivery of meat. Enough bison, pork, and beef to last them for over a year. And where did they put the meat? In the garage freezer, of course.

They had to spend the night in a motel until the could get a "specialist" to haul off the freezer and all of its contents.

She said the smell still lingers a week later.

I immediately felt better about our August.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This is awesome

As a follow up to an earlier post, this was one of the most encouraging, courageous things I have ever heard a pastor say:

METRO ATLANTA, Ga. -- Last weekend an Atlanta pastor made a promise that stunned his congregation and most of the people who heard it.

In a speech that discussed abortion, the President, and the sanctity of life, the most provocative statement from Pastor Vic Pentz of Peachtree Presbyterian Church came towards sermon's end:"I make a promise to you now and I don't want you to keep this a secret," the pastor pronounced, "the Peachtree Presbyterian Church will care for any newborn baby you bring to this church.

"We will be the family to find a home for that child, and there's no limit on this. You can tell your friends, you can tell your family, you can tell the whole world ..."

Reflected Pentz a week later, "I seem to have touched a nerve by saying that to the congregation."

It's a speech he repeated this past Sunday, and it can be found on the church's web site under the sermon title, "Ethics of Life".



Thursday, August 13, 2009

I didn't understand Cash for Clunkers...

....but now I do:

Cash for Clunkers has the following elements of spectacle:

Americans destroying perfectly functional cars
Americans whose skills are uncompetitive in the global marketplace driving around in fancy new cars.

Somewhere in China and India they must be having a good laugh.

The deeper issues are more troubling. Cash for Clunkers only makes sense if we believe that our #1 problem is that we don’t drive sufficiently fancy cars.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Abortion Paradox

Life is life. No one should have the right to stop life.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
---Edmund Burke

Our duty as Christians is not only to vote in line with our consciences. Our obligation is to fight against evil. Abortion is the most heinous of sins and yet most Christians are not willing to do anything to stop it. Slowing abortion is not a matter of overturning a law. Abortions will slow when good men care enough about the unborn to risk time and resources to help individual women.

Find your local Crisis Pregnancy Center and volunteer.

Consider adoption.

Do something.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Classic exchange

In honor of John Calvin's birthday this year, I am working my way through my Calvin & Hobbes collection. (We can't all be John Piper, right?)

I came across this classic exchange yesterday:

Calvin: Dad, Are you vicariously living through me in the hope that my accomplishments will validate your mediocre life and in some way compensate for all of the opportunities you botched?

Dad: If I were, you can bet that I'd be re-evaluating my strategy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Amazing to think about....

The other day, my six year old looked me in the eye and asked, "Dad, how does my brain know what my eye is seeing?". To which I gave the cop-out Dad answer, "Because God made it that way." Lame answer, but true and evidently satisfying to six year olds.

But it got me to thinking about other things that are simply wonderful that point us to a great Creator. Consider these:

Taste: How does your tongue know that some things taste good and others do not?

Laughter: Why are the only creatures that laugh? How do you know something is funny? Why are certain things funny to some and not to others?

Personality: Everyone has one, but just what is it? How does it emerge and when? Are our personalities and our souls linked?

Skin: It is durable, reacts well to heat and cold, and constantly recycles itself. How is it that my skin can tell the difference between hard and soft?

Fingerprints: If you commit a crime, they are specific to you so that the authorities will use them to nail your identity. How is it that they are unique like snowflakes?

Balance: How does the toddler brain learn to balance on these silly looking feet? How can we shift our weight to keep from falling?

Heartbeat: Science cannot explain what starts your heart beating. There is a spark that "jumps" the heart so that it continues beating until it is time for it to stop.

I praise you, Jesus, for I am fearfully and wonderfully set apart. Wonderful are your works; oh, yes! my soul knows it very well.
---Psalm 139:14 (Tryon Paraphrase)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Three things

1. The internet has helped me hear preaching that otherwise would remain hidden. Every Monday morning I can access hundreds of sermons that are less than 24 hours old. I am very selective in the ones that I choose to listen to, but I am amazed at the access that we have to quality teaching. I suppose that this phenomenon is both positive and negative. Just as the gospel can go forth at the click of a button, so can heresy....

2. It will be a very different football season without a TV. But as Mrs. Underdog and I spoke about the lack of TV last night, we realized that our lives have re-centered on other things. I would like to think that we are using the time we got back wisely.

3. I went to a birthday party over the weekend. It reminded me that I probably have about 60 years of life left. Life truly is a vapor. I better get after it.....

Don't Waste Your Life.