Sunday, July 24, 2011

Observations

My credit union's tellers seem able to use their inside voice until they start counting out the money I'm withdrawing; then it's "FIFTY! ONE HUNDRED! ONE HUNDRED FIFTY! ..." Thanks, but I kind of wanted how much cash I had on me to be a little bit of a secret.


When it comes to birds, I'd prefer 2 in the bush over 1 in the hand.


Kids: they never seem to have the know how and the want to at the same. When they're young, they have the want to but not the know how; when they're older the situation is reversed.


While driving one afternoon, I saw a guy stop his pickup (with a lawn service logo on the side) in the middle of a 4-lane rd., step out, grab some roadkill by the tail, and sling it in the bed. What's that all about? Is OmniSource paying for dead critters now?


At some point even a dry heat is a little too much to bear.


Sunday mornings people diligently get up to walk their dogs, but not to worship the living God.


I don't think the government can fix our debt problem. No one can at this point except God. Confession of sin & prayer are what's needed.


A lot of interesting people were down at Three Rivers Festival. And by "interesting" I mean different. And by "different" I think I mean weird.
 

So is it better that I usually have to discipline my kids for stuff they don't do as opposed to stuff they do?


Mothers, don't let your sons grow up to be idiots.


Some thought Jesus was crazy (Mark 3:21), but it was us who were out of kilter, not him. He came to put us in our right mind (Mk 5:15).


Parents who fail to discipline are feeding their child's inner hellion.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good Music

Here are a couple tunes that currently have my attention.



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Big Joe

Big Joe was known throughout the land,
“A savior,” the mass would shout;
For with the gods or with the stars
They thought he had some clout.

When trouble revealed its palsied hand
To any common folk,
To Big Joe’s place they’d hurry first,
‘Cause Big Joe was their hope.

It was the custom to honor Joe
With weekly zealous rite.
Songs were sung and words were said
In praise of Big Joe’s might.

“Big Joe saved me from certain death,”
Mr. Jones would often talk.
“That car crash nearly took me out;
But look!  I work and walk.”

The people’s faith in their Big Joe
Was evident and stable;
But the strange thing is to aid someone
Big Joe was never able.

For you see Big Joe was not a god,
Nor even a man or dog;
But just a cigar store Indian
Carved from a larger log.

“These folks are not too bright,” you say,
And with you most agree;
But don’t laugh hard, for their basic need
Is found in you and me.

Deep down inside most people know
Life is out of their control;
And so they look for things in which
To place their faith in full.

But it’s funny where people will place their hope,
In whom their trust is felt;
‘Cause idols topple, heroes age,
And gold and silver melt.

We need someone whose ears can hear,
Whose arms are strong and able,
Whose heart breaks for our deep distress,
Who’s real and not some fable.

©2001 Kent Scantlin
Psalm 33:16-17,20-22; 34:17-18

Saturday, July 16, 2011

9 Things You Can't Do at the Same Time

Not my list.  This is Sam Crabtree's list, and it's a good one.
  1. Serve two masters.
  2. Be thankful and angry.
  3. Be for Christ and against Christ.
  4. Keep your eyes open while sneezing.
  5. Please God and be faithless.
  6. Be spiritually hot and cold.
  7. Be God and lie.
  8. Be a bull or goat and take away sin.
  9. Be Jesus and be held by death.

9 Favorite Novels

There's no question about #1 and #2.  The other 7 are in no particular order.

1. The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)
2. Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott)
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
4. The Living (Annie Dillard)
5. The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien)
6. The Great Divorce (C. S. Lewis)
7. Elmer Gantry (Sinclair Lewis)
8. The Chosen (Chaim Potok)
9. Master and Commander (Patrick O'Brian)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tozer against Putting a Man on the Moon

I was listening to a recording of A. W. Tozer preaching a sermon at the end of 1961 entitled "Personal Victory for the New Year."

During the sermon he illustrated one of his points by talking about the imminent possibility of the US or Russia putting a man on the moon. Though there's little spiritual value here, what he said I found nonetheless interesting, if only for the reasons that Tozer's a personal hero, he's always so wise, and it's fun to here his comments on non-Scriptural matters.

I transcribed his comments as follows:

Somebody’s going to put a man on the moon one of these days.  What anyone would want to do it for I can’t imagine.  It’s a dusty place.  You’ll sink to your waist in cosmic dust if you went there.  There’s no atmosphere there, you’d have to wear one of those Buck Rogers space helmets.  You couldn’t walk around because the gravitational pull is so light that you’d go floating away.  And the whole thing’s messed up. 

There’s no reason for anybody to go there.  Look at all you got out here in western Canada.  Look at what all they’ve got out here in the western United States.  Look at all we can do with we’ve got.  We’ve got go floating away to the moon.  I don’t know why, I’m sure.  

So either Russia or the US will put a man up there, probably in 1962, and maybe they’ll miss their first shot or two, and we’ll have the terrible spectacle of a man they can’t bury and can’t find and can’t locate and can’t stop and can’t doing anything with floating around till the judgment day in an aluminum capsule.  Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing? 

I don’t know who’ll go up, but oh boy I know who won’t!  I know who won’t!  I can’t tell you who they’ll send, but I know who they won’t send!  Unless of course they put me in irons or something and chuck me in and say, “See ya later.”  Because I just wouldn’t go.  I’m satisfied with the earth …

If you haven't heard Tozer preach, you might listen to a sermon or two.  He has a sense of humor, but far more imporant, his words are charged with the weight of their Scriptural wisdom.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Topic of Persecution

Sunday I preached on "Friction with the World" from 1 Kings 18:1-15.  (I'm in a short series right now in 1 Kings 17-18.)  The theme of the message was the persecution of Christians.

During lunch my son commented on the sermon, "You know, Dad--and I don't think this is a bad thing; I just think it's interesting--it seems like whenever you preach you always mention persecution somehow."

Now to clarify, I don't mention persecution all the time.  This past Sunday's sermon was my sixth of the year, and it was the first one on persecution (unless somehow I mentioned the topic in previous sermons, which I don't think I did). 

I don't want persecution to be my primary theme as a preacher, but there's a part of me that thinks, unless the Spirit brings revival, we're heading by degrees towards persecution in this country.  Because of that, I want the people I shepherd to be aware of that and to be somewhat prepared for that.  I want to be prepared for that.  When the heat turns up, may the Lord find me faithful.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.  (Revelation 2:10 NIV)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Planned Parenthood's Priorities Pretty Plain

Here are Planned Parenthood's numbers for 2009.  The pie chart tells the story, doesn't it?


If you want some analysis, check out lifenews.

The Lord of the Rings: Book of the 20th Century

Tom Shippey, in his book J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, explains how several polls in the U.K. in the 1990s demonstrated superior popularity of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

… late in 1996 Waterstone’s, the British bookshop chain, and BBC Channel Four’s programme Book Choice decided between them to commission a readers’ poll to determine ‘the five books you consider the greatest of the century.’  Some 26,000 readers replied, of whom rather more than 5,000 cast their first place vote for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings….  The result was greeted with horror among professional critics and journalists, and the Daily Telegraph decided accordingly to repeat the exercise among its readers, a rather different group.  Their poll produced the same result.  The Folio Society then confirmed that during 1996 it had canvassed its entire membership to find out which ten books the members would most like to see in Folio Society editions, and had got 10,000 votes for The Lord of the Rings, which came first once again.  50,000 readers are said to have taken part in a July 1997 poll for the television programme Bookworm, but the result was yet again the same.  In 1999 the Daily Telegraph reported that a Mori poll commissioned by the chocolate firm Nestle had actually managed to get a different result, in which The Lord of the Rings (at last) only came second!  But the top spot went to the Bible, a special case, and also ineligible for the twentieth-century competition which had begun the sequence.

I know it's my favorite novel.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Great Tribulation Already Here?

Corrie ten Boom, famous Christian Jew who endured great suffering in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, advocated the post-tribulational view of the rapture.  I cite the whole section from New World Encyclopedia online article:

Her life experience made her an advocate of the Christian Pre-millennialist view of a Post Tribulation Resurrection-Rapture.

Her own experience with the Nazis combined with what happened to Chinese Christians in 1949 as Mao Tse Tung was bringing China into communism led her to speak out about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine taught by some Christians.

In a letter she wrote in 1974 entitled "Prepared for the Coming Tribulation" she wrote:
There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution…

In America, the churches sing, "Let the congregation escape tribulation", but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.

I think she goes too far in calling pre-trib teachers the false teachers Jesus warned about.  I cite this for her perspective.  I've come across this idea before, that many Christians throughout the world believe they are already in the Great Tribulation.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Heart of God Is a Crazy Love for His People

Do you know the cycles of the book of Judges in the Bible?  God's people sin, God becomes angry and allows the surrounding nations to crush and oppress them, the people repent and turn to God, God relents and sends them a deliverer to restore their freedom.

At times in the book of Judges, Gods reveals himself as almost human-like in his swinging emotions towards his people.  It's like he wants to finally wash his hands of them, but once they show any inkling of returning his love, he flies to them with powerful demonstrations of his affection.

Judges 10 is a case in point.  The people have fallen into their old patterns of idolatry--verse 6 lists a whole pantheon of deities they're worshipping--so God has allowed them to be under the heavy thumb of the Ammonites and the Philistines.

Finally, the people have had enough and turn back to God for the umpteenth time.

Watch God in this passage:

10 Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, “We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.”


11 The LORD replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? 13 But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”


15 But the Israelites said to the LORD, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.   (NIV, emphasis added)

And he goes on to deliver them again.

Know the heart of God for you.  "Come near to God, and he will come near to you" (James 4:8 NIV).

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
 for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.  (Micah 7:18 ESV)

He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.  (Psalm 103:9-10 NIV) 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Police Tear Down a Church in Laos

No flash or fire, but it's sobering to watch these men dismantle this church without emotion.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I'm a Pastor. Am I a Professional?

A simple scene a few days ago in front of our neighbor's house prompted some reflection.

A few days ago I saw Sara and our neighbor Mauricio talking about his house.  He was asking her opinion of some issues relating to the value of his house.  He was seeking her professional opinion.  She's a realtor.

A few days ago we were quizzing Mauricio in our basement about some stuff related to the remodeling of our basement.  We were seeking his professional opinion as a man in the construction and painting business.

Mauricio is an expert in home renovation.  Sara is an expert in real estate.

I'm a pastor.  Am I an expert?  In what?  Am I a professional?

How about an expert in the Bible?  Well, I seem to know a lot more about the Bible than some Christians, but that shouldn't necessarily be the case.  All Christians should read and study their Bibles and have a growing knowledge and understanding of it.  (Remember the Bereans, who checked Paul's preaching against Scripture on a regular basis.)

How about an expert in counseling?  Definitely not.  I've listened to people describe their problems.  I've asked questions along the way.  I've touched on some issues along the way and made suggestions.  But I can't fix their problems.  I can only point them to Christ, the problem-fixer.

How about an expert in preaching and teaching?  There is certainly an art to preaching, and sometimes I think I've got it, and sometimes, like this past Sunday, I'm sure I don't.  Further, the Holy Spirit makes preaching and teaching effective.  I can preach a perfect sermon, flawless in every respect, but if the Holy Spirit doesn't take it and connect it to people's hearts and minds, it accomplishes zero for the kingdom.  So ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the expert in preaching and teaching.

Bottom line is, I don't consider myself an expert or a professional.  There are times I wish I was.  I would like to have a handle on something.  But I don't.  I'm a follower of Jesus Christ.  An imperfect follower.  I should read the Bible as much for me as for others.  I pray, because if I don't pray I'm done for. 

I suppose as a leader in the church I should be leading the congregation in every way.  But in some ways I am not a leader; I am a follower.  There are others who are lapping me in things such as mercy, compassion, generosity, thoughtfulness, love, patience, self-discipline, industriousness, holiness.

If I were an expert, a professional, would I need the Holy Spirit as much as I do?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Work Schedules

Each week Andrew (appropriately) posts his work schedule on the refrigerator.

One week I decided to post Sara's schedule.




Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Salt of the Earth" Describes Individual Christians, Not Institutional Church

In his sermon, "The Salt of the Earth," D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues against the notion that Jesus means by this description that the Church is to make pronouncements about world situations, whether political, economical, international, etc.

(Note: This sermon was preached in London some time in the 1950s.)

"... the Church in the New Testament is not identified with any nation or nations.  The result is that you never find the apostle Paul or any other apostle commenting upon the government of the Roman Empire; you never find them sending up resolutions to the Imperial Court to do this or not to do that."

"The primary task of the Church is to evangelize and to preach the gospel.  Look at it like this.  If the Christian Church today spends most of her time in denouncing communism, it seems to me that the main result will be that communists will not be likely to listen to the preaching of the gospel.  If the Church is always denouncing one particular section of society, she is shutting the evangelistic door upon that section.  If we take the New Testament view of these matters we must believe that the communist has a soul to be saved in exactly the same way as everybody else.  It is my business as a preacher of the gospel, and a representative of the Church, to evangelize all kinds and conditions and classes of men and women.  The moment the Church begins to intervene in these political, social and economic matters, therefore, she is hampering and hindering herself in her God-appointed task of evangelism....  Let the individual play his part as a citizen, and belong to any political party that he may choose.  That is something for the individual to decide.  The Church is not concerned as a Church about these things.  Our business is to preach the gospel and to bring this message of salvation to all."

But the individual Christian on the other hand:

"I suggest to you, therefore, that the Christian is to function as the salt of the earth in a much more individual sense.  He does so by his individual life and character, by just being the man that he is in every sphere in which he finds himself....  Think of great men, like the Earl of Shaftesbury and others, who, as private Christians and as citizens, worked so hard in connection with the Factory Acts.  Think also of William Wilberforce and all that he did with regard to the abolition of slavery.  As Christians we are citizens of a country, and it is our business to play our part as citizens, and thereby act as salt indirectly in innumerable respects.  But that is a very different thing from the Church's doing so."

--Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ch. XIV

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good Pics of the Kids

Last Wednesday our church hosted a Family Fun Night.  My friend Phil was on hand with his camera and posted some of his pictures today.  Click here to see pics of Andrew and Caty as well as my nieces Reagan and Sydney and my nephew Aza.


Phil plans to post more pics of Fun Night in the days to come, so make sure to visit Philtography again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Picture Potpourri

 Anna & Reagan with a style all their own


 Shane & my dad take a rest break


 Cousins Callie & Noah do some "brooming," as Callie calls it, to help out with the remodeling


 "I want the camera, Dada!"


 me & the missus


 With the TV inaccessible, the girls watch the computer in their room.


 Anna with a lampshade on her head


 Anna french braids Reagan's hair


Caty, Alayna, Dawn