Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Three things #158

1. I heard an interview on NPR the other day with the rap artist Eminem. Regardless of your opinion of that genre, Eminem is really talented at putting words together. The most interesting thing he said was that not all lines in rap have to rhyme. He said that if two words sound similar enough, you can bend them with your enunciation so that it works.

2. I have new used car. Its acquisition was a trail of small miracles that are too cool to be coincidence. God provided the right seller at the right time at the right price. The coolest part of the story is when the service department told us to donate the car for tax credit. This would of course result in no cash for the car. My beautiful bride suggested that we had nothing to lose by taking the car to CarMax. CarMax then offered us $2k. That was just the amount we needed to finish paying for the car we were acquiring. You can see a picture of my new car right above this post. ;)

3. To my beautiful bride: Fourteen years ago, I made promises to you, that by God's grace I have kept. I love you more today that I did then. Experience has made our relationship wiser and more humble. You are my Engedi. I can't wait to see what we get to do next....together.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Three things #155

1. Please check out the comment on my previous post on modern day slavery. Kevin says that slavery is at its lowest point in history. Let's aim for the death blow to this evil.

2. Totally different subject. While Mrs. Underdog was out tonight, I decided to watch the post mortem concert video they did for Michael Jackson called This Is It. I know, I am a complete loser. A couple of observations. That man had charisma that was off the charts. Jackson took the talent he had and maximized it in a way like no other entertainer has to date. That said, it is also obvious that god-like status had destroyed him and sapped the meaning from life for him. Mr. Jackson meet King Solomon. Oh yeah, and that series of shows in London they had planned (there were 30 concert dates) would have been unlike any thing ever done before on stage. Endless funds make for amazing effects.

3. I want to read a book sometime. Just one. And something not authored by Dr. Seuss.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Slavery is not dead.

My heart has been squeezed the past week since I viewed a short video on the modern day slave trade. Slavery did not end with the conclusion of the Civil War. It is alive and well both within the US and outside our borders. Worst of all, the sex slave trade is very active in Asia in particluar. (One commentator said that most underage brothels in Asian countries are funded by male tourists coming from the US. Sick.) Let these numbers sink in:

27 million – Number of people in modern-day slavery across the world.

800,000 – Number of people trafficked across international borders every year.

50% – Percent of transnational victims who are children.

1 million – Number of children exploited by the global commercial sex trade, every year.

70% – Percent of female victims who are trafficked into the commercial sex industry. This means that 30% of female victims are victims of forced labor.

4 - Age of the youngest victims in the global sex trade.

I am not trying to convince anyone to get involved in abolition*. But, if you are a Christian, get off the sidelines and get in the game. Abortion. AIDS. Slavery. Prison. Addictions. Opportunities abound to get in the fray.

Do something to fight evil. Give money. Give time. Pray.

Do something.

* This blog provides a good list of organizations that are on the front lines of the modern day abolition movement.

I'm sorry.

Yesterday's blog post was awful. Sorry.

I am afraid that my blog writer's block continues, but read the following article today and I am going to post it in it's entirety.

You're either going to go out like Judas or Jesus—that's how your life is going to end. You're going to go out like Jesus, faithful to the end, whatever the cost, or you're going to go out like Judas, prematurely, tragically, rebelliously, shamefully. I want you to keep your boots on, finish strong, run your race, see it through to the end, be a completer, a finisher, a closer of the things God has given you to do.

As you read this, maybe you're like me, you may wonder, "What happened to these guys?" We know in the Bible, they went forward. Some of them were cowards, but they toughened up. The resurrection put some steel in their spine. They preached, they taught, they planted churches. John wrote five books of the Bible, Peter wrote two. These guys did get some stuff done, but the Bible doesn't tell us how they finished—for that we've got to go to history. Did they die with their boots on? Here are some of their stories from Foxe's Book of Martyrs. It was first written in 1559, and it's fantastic. Gotta love the Puritans.

Wonder how James died?

The first apostle to suffer after the martyrdom of Stephen was James, the brother of John. Clement tells us when this James was brought to the tribunal seat, he that brought him and was the cause of his trouble, seeing him to be condemned and that he should suffer death, was in such sort moved within heart and conscience that he went to the execution and confessed himself also of his own accord to be a Christian. And so were they led forth together, where in the way he desired of James to forgive him what he had done. After James had a little pause with himself upon the matter, turning to him he said, "Peace to thee, my brother," and kissed him, and both were beheaded.

James had a critic who wanted him murdered. He had a Judas, and on the way to be crucified, apparently he had some conversation with his Judas, and his Judas repented and said, "I'm sorry. Let's get beheaded together for Jesus," and they did. James is a bad man—in a good way.

"Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Carmenians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians. He was killed in Calamina, India." Most of these men died murderous martyrdom. You know what? Mars Hill Church would be much smaller but much holier, more effective, more fruitful, I think, if we had a little bit of suffering. Can't make it happen, I've tried. But what happens is when people start giving their life for the cause of the gospel, all of a sudden those who are playing church stop playing. They either step up for Jesus, and go from "come and see" to "go and die," or like Judas, they just walk away and go do something else.

"Simon, brother of Jude and James the younger who were all the sons of Mary Cleophas and Alphaeus, was bishop of Jerusalem after James," Jesus' brother. "He was crucified in Egypt." Crucified. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it well: "When Christ calls a man, he calls him to come and die." Come and die. When Jesus says, "Pick up your cross and follow me," that's what it means to be a disciple, that you go the way of Jesus. You give your life for what he gave his life to, the glory of God and the good of others for the church. "The other Simon, the apostle, he was also crucified."

"Bartholomew is said to have preached in India and translated the Gospel of Matthew into their tongue. He was beaten, crucified, and beheaded."

Andrew, Peter's brother, was crucified. Bernard and St. Cyprian mentioned the confession and martyrdom of this blessed apostle. Partly from them and partly from other reliable writers, we gather the following material:

When Andrew, through his diligent preaching had brought many to the faith of Christ, Egeas the governor asked permission to the Roman senate to force all Christians to sacrifice to and honor the Roman idols. Andrew thought he should resist Egeas and went to him, telling them that a judge of men should first know and worship as judge in heaven. 'While worshiping the true God,' Andrew said, 'he should banish all false gods and blind idols from his mind.' Furious at Andrew, Egeas demanded to know if he was the man who had recently overthrown the temples of the gods and persuaded men to become Christians, a 'superstitious' sect that had recently been declared illegal by the Romans.

Andrew replied that, 'The rulers of Rome didn't understand the truth. The son of God who came into the world for man's sake taught that the Roman gods were devils, enemies of mankind teaching men to offend God, and causing him to turn away from them. By serving the devil, men fall into all kinds of wickedness,' Andrew said. 'And after they die, nothing but their evil deeds are remembered.' The proconsul ordered Andrew not to preach these things anymore or he would face a speedy crucifixion."

If you were going to get crucified, would you stop calling yourself a Christian?

Whereupon Andrew replied, [and this is an amazing line] "I would not have preached the honor and glory of the cross if I feared the death of the cross." He was condemned to be crucified for teaching a new sect and taking away the religion of the Roman gods. Andrew, going toward the place of execution, and seeing the cross waiting for him, never changed his expression, neither did he fail in his speech. His body fainted not, nor did his reason fail him as often happens to men about to die. He said, "'Oh cross, most welcome and longed for, with a willing mind, joyfully and desirously I come to you being the scholar of him which did hang on you because I have always been your lover and yearn to embrace you."

"You boys want to crucify me? There's a good spot, go for it. I belong to Jesus."

"Matthew wrote his Gospel to the Jews in the Hebrew tongue after he had converted Ethiopia and all Egypt. Hircanius, the king, sent someone to kill him with a spear."

"After years of preaching to the barbarous nations, Philip was stoned, crucified, and buried with his daughter."

The first of the ten persecutions was stirred up by Nero about 64 A.D. His rage against Christians was so fierce that Eusebius records, "A man might then see cities full of men's bodies, the old lying together with the young, and the dead bodies of women cast out naked without reverence of that sex in the open streets." Many Christians in those days thought that Nero was the Antichrist because of his cruelty and abominations. The Apostle Peter was condemned to death during this persecution. Although some say that he escaped, it is known that many Christians encouraged him to leave the city and the story goes that as he came to the city gates, Peter saw Jesus coming to meet him. "Lord, where are you going?" Peter asked. "I am coming again to be crucified," was the answer. Seeing that his suffering was understood, Peter turned around, returned to the city where Jerome tells us he was crucified upside down at his own request, saying he was not worthy to be crucified the same way his Lord was.

"The second persecution began during the reign of Domitian, the brother of Titus. Domitian exiled John to the island of Patmos." It's an actual spot and I've been there. "But on Domitian's death, John was allowed to return to Ephesus in the year A.D. 70. He remained there until the reign of Trajan, governing the churches of Asia, and writing his Gospel until he died at about the age of one hundred."

But at a hundred, he may have had a lot of scars on his body, because before they exiled him, they tried to kill him. They boiled him alive, and he lived through it, so they exiled him for a while. He got out and wrote books of the Bible, as a boiled old man.

We're glad you come and see. You need to go and die.

Father God, I pray for us as a people. We're in a day where we get a lot of come-and-see. There are free sermons on the Internet, classes, training, Christian music, radio stations, radio preachers, church events, mass crusades, services, small groups. It seems, Lord God, like there are more come-and-see opportunities than any people have ever been offered in the history of the world. And God, we rejoice in the come-and-see opportunities. We rejoice that people come to hear the Bible and see lives change through Jesus.

But God, I pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit and the hearts and minds and the lives of our people, that they would respond to your call to become Christians, that they would respond to your call to persevere as Christians, that they would give like Christians should give, that they would serve like Christians should serve, that they would suffer like Christians should suffer, that they would testify like Christians should testify, and Lord God, I pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit on us as a people that we wouldn't just be a come-and-see people, that we'd be a go-and-die people.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The heat saps my will to blog.

One of my readers is forcing me to blog.

First, this reader refuses to visit us in Texas and now this relentless exhortation to being writing blog posts again. I mean, its hot here in Texas, not moderately cool like, say, you know, Joplin. Its so hot that to get tomato soup, we just go to the garden, pick a couple of tomatoes, and cut them in half.

And you expect me to blog under these conditions?

And keep in mind that humidity makes me incoherent. I'm not that good at the English thing to begin with, but then you pile on humidity and I might as well be typing Tweets with my toes while blindfolded.

Oh, yeah, and I can read your mind as you read this post. I am not complaining. I have advanced beyond that. I whine.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Three things #154

1. If a Father had a fun fund to fund, how much fun could an underfunded, unfunny fun fund fund?

1a. I'm sorry.

2. I think the difference between solitude and loneliness is having someone to go home to.

3. I have to go to Washington DC next week to man a conference booth. The theme of our booth is hope and change. I bet it will make us a very popular booth at first. But when the masses realize we have no plan and no ability to deliver on a single thing we promise, we will become annoying and irrelevant. At that point, we will just spend like drunk sailors and when problems arise we will just talk about how "complicated" things are. I think thats what everyone does when they go to Washington DC, right?

Monday, June 7, 2010

No comment

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A poem

To the Evil Birds in Mine Neighborhood

Evil birds in mine neighborhood,

I hate y'all.

For you savage my poor defenseless tomatoes

With thine nasty, sharp beaks,

Sucking the life from mine lovely harvest.

Thou eatest mine crops

And mockest my farming efforts.

So, I willest kill thee,

Kill thee dead. And thine offspring.

Long live my tomatoes.
Wretched birds.

Three things #150

1. Blue is dead. Blue was the Acura that was just about older than all of my kids. And yesterday she expired. After 145k miles, the transmission just gave up the ghost. "Random chance" the Honda service guy called it. And, alas, to replace the tranny would cost more than the old car is worth. Sigh.

And we will have to take on a car payment again. What really bums me out is that we had just paid off our credit card balance. We had plans to attack paying off the family van. We had just donated some money that we felt led to give. And then Blue goes kaput.

I am not complaining. I know families that are in pretty dire straits with husbands that want to work and cannot find jobs. But there is a sense of irony in the timing of Blue's death. The over arching question of life is front and center once again. Through circumstances we could not have foreseen, God is asking "Do you trust Me?".

2. I am also sad about the death of John Wooden. He was a good man. His basketball accomplishments will rightly receive a lot of attention. But the man off the court was an outstanding example of a husband and father. Read the following about his wife, Nell:

Junior high school sweethearts, they were married 53 years until Nell died in 1985. To this day, he writes her a love note every month and sets it on her side of the bed. He has never kissed anyone else.

I once asked him if we could write a book together about how to make love last. He agreed—until the day we were to start. I'd been waiting on his porch for half an hour when he finally opened the door, tears streaming down his face. "It's too soon," he wept. And Nell had been dead 15 years by then.

I want to love like that.

3. List for the day:

- Pray that God will provide the right car at the right price.
- Clean the kitchen and garage.
- BBQ (at home) tonight with my wife for date night?
- Sneak in a nap.

Not neccessarily in that order....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

This is good and cutting....

Boldness, not deliverance. Extension of the gospel, not a change in circumstances. Courage, not comfort. Maybe I ought to spend a little more time praying for that type of thing rather than a band-aid for my perceived problems. Because if I did, it would show that I had a much more full grasp of how big and important the gospel really is.

----From Michael Kelley's blog

Three things #147

I am a really boring person right now. Sorry.

1. I now have 10 people officially following my blog. This made me feel important until I understood that one was a waterfowl and another did it accidently and couldn't figure out how to undo it. Fame is such a burden.

2. You know the summer is going to be hot when people in Southern India tell you it is hotter in Texas than it is where they live. We might see 105 degrees this weekend. In June.

3. I really want to buy a television just so I can watch Planet Earth and Life DVDs in high definition. I mean, look at this trailer and tell me you don't want to see that frog tongue in high def. In other news, Father's Day is right around the corner.