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Showing posts from February, 2008

The Entertainment Value of Church and the Gospel

Ok, more television confessions. While I was watching the noon news there was a commercial for a local church. We're not talking large market television where I live so the local commercials have that 'homemade and low budget' flavor. Something I have come to appreciate since leaving California. I live in Kentucky now, where folks are just that friendly and homespun really is their lifestyle.

The commercial had a lovely picture of a church with a voice-over saying the church's name and location. Then they used a split screen with the church on one side and a string of fresh faces with sound-bytes on the other. Each friendly, smiling face used a one word descriptor of the church to entice people to come and attend. I am assuming they used the people in their fellowship to make the commercial. The folks came in all ages and sizes and they used some decent descriptors for a church; fellowship, support, and encouragement among them. Here's the part that made m…

Contentment vs Consumerism

For over a week now I have been at home nursing a back that's 'out' and/or a nerve that is pinched. At first I was so miserable with pain that day to day survival was my focus. I keep feeling as though I am healing but for the last two days I wake up feeling a little worse than the day before. My floors need to be mopped, my rugs vacuumed, my bed linens changed and my poor little doggie needs a good romp out in the woods.

Sunday night I normally have to take my garbage cans to the end of my driveway for Monday morning's early pick-up. My back was in such bad shape that there was no way I was going to risk it greater injury by wrestling with them. Today I took out a bag of trash to the cans and realized the cans were both empty. Being home for a week I hadn't been to the store, done much shopping or done anything much to make refuse.

What I am doing is catching up on my reading. I am honestly preparing myself for reading a couple of books that are likely going to…

Deep Thoughts...

Every day I follow pretty much the same routines and in doing so, experience the same disappointments. One of my habitual thoughts is "Today, I am going to do things differently." I have good intentions, but you know what they say about those and the road to hell. You know that other old saying, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." Of course, that's also the definition of "practice."

So.... am I crazy? Or just practicing?

God's Economy

Within the sovereignty of God is a fundamental truth, nothing is wasted. Each and every minute of our lives is preparing us for something, though we may never know how significant that something will be.

I used to tell the college students I worked with that Matthew 1:2 "To Abraham was born Isaac; and to Isaac, Jacob; and to Jacob, Judah and his brothers;" was my favorite verse for encouragement. Of course they would read it and ask me why and I would take them to Genesis and give my version of the story of Joseph. It went something like this:

Joseph wasn't smart enough not to rub it in his brother's faces that he was their father, Jacob's, favorite. Maybe he was that naive, or maybe without guile- I don't know for certain, all I know is he got to hang out with Jacob while his brothers had to do the real labor. It was sort of silly of him to mention his dream to them, don't you think? How would you react if your brother said he had a dream where you wo…

Larry Norman- The Great American Novel

During a particularly dark time in my life I picked up a CD by some guy I had never heard of before, his name was Steve Camp. It was God's providence that I picked up this CD. Several of the songs pierced my heart. I remember pulling out the jacket of the CD to read the lyrics. Do you do that? Do you get so moved hearing a song that you want to know more about it right away? I do. This song, The Great American Novel, had me transfixed. When I saw that Larry Norman had written it, it was especially touching for me. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, a child of the 60's and I remembered him from my "Jesus Freak" days. I understand that Larry went to be with Jesus yesterday. His best work has just begun.

Change and Sanctification

Ever have the feeling that you're on the verge of change? I have that feeling now. I believe that's because God is about to make me very uncomfortable. Why do I believe it? Because I've asked him to. I know myself well enough to know that even though I have asked Him for change, I am likely going to fight Him about it. Unless He does something to rewire me, I have a pretty typical pattern set. First I see the need to change, and then I ask Him to change me. Next I resent the changes He is making and fight Him by kicking at the goads, pouting and being resentful. After that doesn't work for me, I get tired and broken and call for His help. He is always merciful and sends someone to encourage me to see the good in what God is doing. Next I repent, wonder why I fought Him so hard and enjoy a wonderful honeymoon period with Him. I call it a honeymoon period because I am dumb as dirt and my sinful heart is going to restart the whole process by asking Him to c…

A Puritan Prayer on Choices

I found this prayer in The Valley of Vision and thought it was a wonderful addition to a post on Choices....if only my heart reached out to His with this type of faith and honesty.

O God,

Though I am allowed to approach thee
I am not unmindful of my sins,
I do not deny my guilt,
I confess my wickedness, and earnestly plead forgiveness

May I with Moses choose affliction rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin.
Help me to place myself always under thy guiding and guardian care,
to take firmer hold of the sure covenant that binds me to thee, to feel more of the purifying, dignifying, softening influence of the religion I profess,
to have more compassion, love, pity, courtesy,
to deem it an honour to be employed by thee as an instrument in thy hands,
ready to seize every opportunity of usefulness,
and willing to offer all my talents to thy service.

Thou hast done for me all things well,
hast remembered, distinguished, indulged me.
All my desires have not been gratified,
but thy love denied them to me
when …

Choices, Habits and 'Oh Face' Moments

It's not fair but choices you make when your 14 affect you when you're 40. I say it's not fair because what in the world do you know about life when you're14? Certainly not enough to make good choices. Your brain isn't even fully developed and connected when you're fourteen. Doctors say that happens around 20.

I remember counseling one young man who was in his senior year in college. He was having a bit of a pity-party about how difficult life is and how unprepared he was to make the decisions ahead of him. Career, marriage and everything else that was coming his way left him feeling overwhelmed and I couldn't blame him. Not really. He had a lot of book knowledge and not a lot of practical skills.

As we discussed his options I told him that two hundred years ago he would have started college at the age of 14 and could read and write in at least three different languages. It would be a privilege to go to college because it would mean not having to apprent…

Everybody wants to change the world but nobody wants to go first

I am a child of the 60's and grew up believing that together we could change the world. I was born in Oakland and grew up in the East Bay. I have always felt fortunate to grow up during that particular time in history and to grow up in what would be called "cultural diversity." I have a deep love and respect for people in all shapes, sizes and colors. My family is mirrors that diversity. We have just about every ethnicity accounted for in our gene pool. I am proud of my heritage and expect no less from others.

My back has been out for a couple of days and so I have been fairly immobile. I have read some, slept some and in desperation, I have watched a lot f television. There's been a lot of coverage on the presidential candidates. People are looking for answers and hoping to be able to judge from those answers who is the best choice for Commander and Chief of these United States.

I am not overly politically minded, but I do pay attention and maintain an intere…

My Possessed Kitty

The other day I was telling my friend that my dog, Chet, believes his step-sister, Mali is the spawn of Satan. After witnessing her behavior tonight, I think Chet may be right. We were all cuddled up on the couch together. Sometimes the two of them want to be in the same spot. Chet has seniority though and he was sitting closest to me. Mali had made several attempts to usurp his position but she had been foiled by me, mostly because her idea of being closer is sitting on my head. Suddenly Mali's eyes began to glow red. She pounced on Chet who yelped, it was not so much a yelp of pain as it was of fear. Mali only knew she had elicited a reaction and she was thrilled. She pounced again in a move the WWF would be proud of- and they both tumbled to the floor. Chet scrambled and rolled himself upright. Mali met his moves and sat on her haunches, one paw on either side of his head, batting him with a succession of right and left punches. Suddenly, she had gone from WWF theatrics…

Putting Away the Things of Childhood- Letting Christ Define You

1 Corinthians 13:11 - When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

In my last post I talked about the real damage that children face when they have a parent walk out on them. I thought about it all night- should I have posted it? Would someone reading my post think that I was excusing the children who had been abandoned from having to meet the standard of God's word? Nothing could be further from the truth.

My rotten childhood is not the cause of my sin. It is merely the context in which the content of my heart is revealed. Yes, by the world's standards I have every right to be angry, bitter and afraid. I am not measured by the world's standards. I am measured by God's.

There is no discounting that my hesitancy to trust people is well deserved. I have come by it honestly. However, being self-reliant and refusing to ask for help when I need it is evidence of my sinful pride an…

Whose Little Girl Am I? A Message to Fathers

My friend, Carla, posted something here that has made it impossible for me remain silent on an issue that is very sensitive for me. She writes about the father who walked out on her as a child. There has been a cycle of abuse in my family that is the poison fruit of having a father walk out on his children. So, in the hope that one man or woman might read this post and think twice about the legacy he or she wants to leave their children- here I go.

When my parents met they had three things in common. Both had been married before, both had three children from those marriages and both of them had been abandoned by their fathers when they were young. I was about 3 years old when my mother took my siblings, her children from a previous marriage, and left my father. She was also pregnant and placed my baby sister for adoption when she was born. She and my father had never married and so he had no say over what my mother could do with her child. She left me behind. I never got to…

Loving Confrontation - It's not for Cowards

In my earlier post on confrontation, I talked about the bad reputation confrontation has, and why we need to rethink letting the world tell us it is bad. We need to quit taking advice from the world in all matters, but that's another post for another day. I fear this post is going to be lengthy enough and difficult to get done.

Confrontation is a complex issue that takes wisdom and discernment. When done correctly, it is about restoration and reconciliation, strengthening and challenging. It means loving someone enough to tell them the hard things they don't want to hear in a way that removes their defenses and leaves them with only two choices; continue in sin or repent. It also means being willing to get into the trenches with them and fight the good fight and not condemning when failure occurs. Although it can yield instantaneous results as Nathan's confrontation of David did, more often it is a process. If you're going to confront someone, you need to be in for …

When God Makes a Point

For the last couple of weeks I have been following my normal routines and am detecting a pattern or theme that God is bringing to my attention. I can be as dumb as dirt so He's left all subtlety behind and is using a holy 2x4 at this point. Let me explain. I just read a fabulous post on holiness on Steve Camp's blog. I recommend it, you can find it here. Earlier today I attended a community bible study where the topic was on God's holiness and our sin. Sunday my pastor delivered a sermon that was both convicting and encouraging. He was preaching on Philippians 2:9-11 and tied it to the holiness of God. Just before that I was asked by a group of women to define the holiness of God. See what I mean? One of the principles of hermeneutics is when God repeats something, it's important. It seems apparent to me that God wants my attention and He wants it focused on His holiness.

I know I was going to write more about confrontation, but when God keeps bringing somet…

Loving Confrontation

I love confrontation, though I don't always appreciate it at the moment I am being confronted and seldom appreciate it when it isn't done biblically. Biblical confrontation is a loving, life-saving tool that we Christians have allowed the world to define and label for us. Why is it we insist on letting the world define truth for us? Why are we so willing to believe them when they tell us confrontation is evil and nothing more than bigoted intolerance? We have even let the world tell us intolerance is wrong but there are things we should not tolerate. The irony is even those in the world would agree with that statement, they just have subjective standards on what is intolerable.

Unfortunately, we have given the world reason to point the finger of blame at us. The valuable tools we have been given by God have all been counterfeited by the enemy of our souls. In our flesh, we have abused confrontation and exhortation in the name of Christ. Anytime we operate in the flesh the r…

Being prepared for the Bridegroom

The storms last Tuesday night were not entirely unexpected. The meteorologists could read the signs and see that trouble was headed our way. Prudent people heed warnings and prepare themselves for bad weather and rainy days. I have been doing some thinking about what I know and yet ignore. It reminds me of the admonition in Matthew 25 about keeping ready. It also reminds me that I said I would post something about marriage from my Biblical Backgrounds class. It was good for me to review my notes!

Marriage and family were a very big deal. It was through marriage and having children that your life had meaning. Children were a sign of God's blessings upon you. Women were saved by childbirth (I Timothy 2:15). For women, the idea of being barren was the ultimate horror and a sign of God's removal of blessing from your life. Think about how Hannah prayed so hard for child and how she kept her promise to God if He would give her one (I Samuel 1). Now, never having children of my …

The Mercies of God

Last night the storm that went through my hometown was incredible. Three separate times the tornado sirens went off beckoning us all to find sturdy shelter. I don't have a basement or a storm cellar so the safest place for me is the walk-in closet in my bedroom. I knew it was going to be a rough night so I put a nice comfy bench for me to sit on, threw some pillows on the floor for my little dog and made certain my cell phone and some water were on the shelf.

I have a weather radio and a television in my bedroom. The local television channels take over programming during dangerous weather events and show us pictures of Doppler radar, warning communities based on projected storm paths. This particular storm acted as if it was on rails, a string of organized cells following the same pattern from Tennessee into Kentucky and right past my home. The wind howled, the lightning flashed and sitting my closet watching the television I prayed. I was warm, safe and dry but having worke…

God's Sovereignty Trumps Super Fat Supercell Super Tuesday

Mardi Gras. People going wild in the streets of Venice, New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro and other cities all over the world. They celebrate and over indulge because Ash Wednesday means fasting. Or it used to.

Supercell... that's what they call it when radar detects a thunderstorm that is the largest most intense type of thunderstorm... the kind that generates tornadic activity.

Super Tuesday is ending and all I know is that candidates are jockeying for position still. Each one has a spin on how they did and why they are the best and why voting for them is the right thing to do.

God's Sovereignty, that's what I rest in. Not an atom moves that God doesn't bid it, "move this way." Let the world go crazy and dance in the streets, let the wind blow where God leads it and let this nation be glad that God puts leaders in positions of power. That sure takes the worry out of my life. Like Job, if I perish, I perish.

Ah! Sweet Freedom when it is well with your soul!

If you drink too much coffee you really ought to see this...

My friend, Carla Rolfe, has an on-line gifts and apparel store that you need to know about. You can find it here. Now, I cleverly linked to the items I liked best because I am a caffeine junky. But I could have linked you here or here because you'll find some of my other favorites there. Her shop is worth having a look at and so is her blog.

Thanking God for Puny Faith

I woke up today feeling weak. Not physically weak, though that often accompanies feeling incapable and unable to face the day's demands. I am talking about feeling spiritually weak. The feeling that I have great temptations and puny faith with which to resist them.

Puny faith... Jesus was speaking to me when he accused his disciples "Oh you of little faith!" Only when I read that I think, "You think their faith is puny? You should see mine!" And then of course I realize He does see my faith. He is the author and perfecter of my faith. It's not like He is unaware or I caught him not paying attention. My Lord is not wringing his hands and wondering how to get me through today. As William Bridge put it; "Our victory lies not in ourselves and our own habitual strength, but in Christ's fresh assistance."

It's sort of like the Greek philosopher Heraclitus pointed out, we can never step into the same river twice, the water is always being r…

random self discovery

It's 57 degrees today and the sun is out. The sky is bright blue and you know what my heart longs for? You got it. Snow. I long for a day of snowfall with accumulation. I want to sit in my warm and cozy home with my doggie in my lap and read while watching snow gently falling outside my windows. The silence of a snow fall, a cup of hot cocoa and a good book- the Good Book- ahh!

Yesterday it was cold and gray and no snow fell. I was disappointed. Mind you, this is coming from the same woman who complains about the cold.

I am, it appears, a malcontent.

A Sharp Axe Makes Light Work : The Whetstone of BIblical Discernment

I am an advocate of education. I think the purpose of being educated is to be able to recognize or discern truth from error. One of my favorite verses is I Timothy 1:5 "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." Paul is telling Timothy exactly what the goal of teaching is and by virtue, what is most valuable for us to know.

Similarly, Ecclesiastes 10:10 says this: "If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen {its} edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success."

The Psalmist provides the source of wisdom Psalm 111:10 " The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do {His commandments} His praise endures forever."

If you're having difficulty recognizing truth from error, like me, you need a sharper axe. I recommend you read and listen to this post on Steve Camp's blog.