Saturday, December 30, 2006

Quote of the week...

"One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed." --Leonard Ravenhill

The God of those who try

One of my favorite authors wrote a book titled God Tells the Man Who Cares. I've always loved that title, and I think it can also be said that God helps the man(and woman and child) who tries. As I study the scriptures more and more, I recognize that they are not just a collection of disconnected writings, but they have threads running throughout each book, historical chronicle, letter, and proverb. I suppose the literary phrase for such a thread is a common theme. One of those common themes is this idea of the crucial nature of "trying" on our part.

In the Bible, there is a parable of three servants who are each given an amount of money to be the stewards of while the master who gave it to them is away on a journey. Each is asked to give an account of what they did with their time and money while the master was away. The first two invested theirs and are rewarded for their commendable investments, but the third is taken to task because he simply buried his. One of the keys to the passage comes when the master reveals that the servant could have at least kept it in the bank and allowed it to collect interest there. The conclusion is that the servant is actually found to be wicked and LAZY. I have to kick my rear into gear sometimes when I remember that God is not a God who requires “success” as we define it, but He does require our wills and will not abide a LAZY servant who gives excuses but ultimately simply chooses not to even try.

As the year begins, many of us will try to establish new habits. We will most likely all fail. Period. This is not a forecast for doom and gloom on my part, but an honest appraisal based on the many times of flopping on my face in the past. I also know from past experience, however, that if I maintain the pursuit of Him that victory will truly come through His strength AND because I was willing to step out and try. I pray that we realize that we are on the right track IF we are trying to change because we feel He has called us to change. We must not allow feelings of despair or frustration to keep us from seeing this, and knowing that just as He helps those who try He also promises that, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."

May we all recognize that no matter how hard we try, we cannot grow in any way except through His empowerment, but may we all also recognize the crucial ingredient of our will in this as well.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Quote of the week...

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:"


Blessed and thankful

I want to take this blog to relate how intensely blessed I know myself to be. I have been given an insane number of gifts like my beautiful, funny, and loving wife, and my sweet, beautiful, healthy daughter. My health, many opportunities, my family, my many amazing friendships, the chance to live here in the U.S., and the ability to use my mind to read, converse, consider, and appreciate are just a small handful of gifts in my life that not everyone on this planet has been blessed with. One of my many chief failings is that I so often lose sight of the most important fact about all these things I just listed: in spite of how many times I used MY they are not mine. I pray that my eyes would get better at staying on the giver and not the gifts. I pray that I would grow consistently aware of the fact that these gifts are meant to be responsibilities and tools as well as blessings. I pray that these gifts would not be idols. Finally, I pray that rather than allowing them to become idols, that they would be ripped from me if that is what it takes to worship You alone as God. Thank you, Father. Please teach me to walk in Your ways.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Just Say No to Shallow Conversions

This is a concept that is very different from many current churches and spiritual leadership. It is an understandable desire to want to focus on getting people to make a decision of commitment to Christ and worry about the depth of their conviction and understanding later. This is what spiritual growth is all about, but I believe we are doing ourselves, the new believers, and most of all, Christ Himself a great disservice because of this.

We often deliver an environment of peer pressure, emotional manipulation, and a message that is heavily weighted to salvation through faith by the grace of God without bringing in the other part of salvation which is crucial, a repentant heart. It can be a great thing to be "seeker sensitive" which is a commonly used phrase nowadays, but if the real demands of God on those who would follow Him are not made clear BEFORE someone chooses to make a public commitment, disillusionment and bitterness are sure to follow.

I know I have and still do struggle with trying to live a life that is increasingly surrendered to Him and characterized by holiness, purity, and obedience. Knowing how much I have struggled with this in spite of being raised to know of God's call to repentance and obedience, I can only imagine the disillusionment that some have experienced.

We also have the example of John the Baptist. He turned away the crowds and referred to them as a brood of vipers when he knew their motivations were shallow and not of God. How many converts have you seen challenged in any way recently. For the record, I'm not advocating this, but using it to make my larger point. There comes a point where watering down the gospel is no longer just watering it down but fundamentally changing it into something other than the gospel. When that occurs, what are people converting into?

Quote of the week...

"There are five gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the christian, and many people will never read the first four."

Gypsy Smith

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ella had her surgery

We just got back in from the outpatient clinic with Ella. We took her in around 5:45 this morning, and she was in surgery before 7 am. The doctor came back to our room around 8:30 and said everything had gone well and she had done great. About thirty minutes later, the nurses brought her back to us. She cried a little for the first fifteen minutes or so, but I think it was due mainly to being disoriented and uncomfortable. After this she began opening her eyes and looking around. It is so amazing to see her with eyes looking straight ahead and venturing to the far edges of her face. It is essentially the first time we've really seen her able to do this. She was even smiling a little by the time we left, but she was mainly out of it and sleepy. She is sleeping in mommy's arms even as I type this. Thank you again for all your prayers.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Updates, Praises, and Many, Many Thanks

We are currently moving to Moody, Alabama. It will probably be about a week or more before I can access the pooter after I post this. We took Ella to the Outpatient clinic Wednesday for her irrigation of the clogged tear duct. After we checked in at 5:45, we waited for the doc. He arrived at 6. When he heard that she had not been draining out of her eye recently, he examined her and said that it looked as though it had cleared itself up, and she would not need the procedure. We left within a few minutes after that! Praise God. We are thankful for all your prayers and kind words. We will be scheduling her surgery this Monday for sometime in the next few weeks. Please continue to pray for Ella and us as the main surgery is yet to come and as we settle into our new place.

God bless.

Guardian of the Chess Club

I once saw a movie called Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. It was basically about a cute small town girl who wins a contest with a Johnny Depp/Brad Pitt type hollywood stud. She, however, is an exceptional person who is so grounded that she does not initially get swept up by the hype surrounding this manly man. She says thanks for the evening at the end of the night and makes her way back to her hotel room to crash. He is currently going through a somewhat commonly reoccurring flakey quarter life crisis for the umpteenth time and views her groundedness as exactly what he needs and decides to pursue her. Meanwhile, the local boy who has secretly had feelings for her all along is feeling protective of her and not a little jealous. He senses the flakiness of stud boy, and truthfully, wants her for himself anyway. I probably don't have to tell you how it proceeds from there. Let's just say it was a cute little romantic comedy. Why have I told you about this? Well, this movie always makes me think about the way it seems many Christians view hollywood types who decide to make a decision of faith in Christ. They (dare I say we) often jump up and down in excitement like a room full of nerds who just found out that two of the coolest kids just joined their chess club. Why are they so excited? Because this brings them one step closer to coolness than they ever thought they would attain. What would happen if Julia Roberts, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, Russell Crow, and Jack Nicholson all simultaneously declared their conversions to Christ tomorrow. Churches would be abuzz. Headlines would be written. They would be asked to speak at half the mega churches with TV ministries, and within a year, because of the platform we would have given them, they would become the official spokespersons for Christians in America. Lord have mercy. I am suspecting their flakiness yous guys. I'm sorry but more and more that is the first place my head goes. This is not because I do not rejoice in their decision, nor do I suspect that they are charlatans, but we are far to concerned about being seen as cool (relevant). There is a Biblical warning against lifting up novices in the faith into positions of leadership cuz it opens wide the potential for a double whammy. A person who does more harm than good in their representation of Christ, and a new believer who eventually gets delusioned by the sad fact that instead of being nurtured by brothers and sisters, they are exploited.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ella Update

Ella will have her clogged tear duct manually unclogged this Wednesday the 11th of October, and after she has had a few weeks to recover, she will probably be having her eye surgery sometime around the first week in November. Thanks to all for your prayers, kind words, and support. Please continue to pray for Ella and her doctors as well as for myself and Myndall. Myndall has held up amazingly well in the midst of all of this stress. I am constantly amazed at her stamina and grace under fire. However, we still both need your prayers for strength. We are also moving on the 15th of October to Moody, Alabama. God is great. God is good. And we are incredibly blessed.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Problem of Pain

Been reading a lil CS Lewis and thought I'd share a very small handful of tidbits from his book The Problem of Pain. One point he makes in a chapter about Divine Goodness argues that what we simply see as suffering could very well point to more love and not less from God. He uses four comparisons with our day to day experiences to make his point. The artist and his masterpiece are one of his analogies. If the artist were simply doing a sketch, he wouldn't go to such lengths to make certain that it was exactly as he wanted, but if he intends the work to be his masterpiece, he chips away it mercilessly until it becomes what he intends. Therefore, the more he cares for the work, the more he pours himself into it which is perceived by the piece of marble as simply pain and suffering.

He makes similar points in a man's relationship to his animal, a father to his son, and a man and woman. In each case, we can see how though perceived as causing pain, the symbol of God in these analogies is actually showing more love not less.

A few quotes that I pulled out of the book are the following:

"What we would here and now call our 'happiness' is not the end God chiefly has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy."

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."

"Indignation at others' sufferings, though a generous passion, needs to be well managed lest it steal away patience and humanity from those who suffer and plant anger and cynicism in their stead."

"But if suffering is good, ought it not to be pursued rather than avoided? I answer that suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the suffferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads."

"A particular medicine is not to be mistaken for the elixir of life."

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Wounds of a Friend

I took all the things you said, and I brought them into a room called consideration. We sat in that room for hours. The things you said made me cry and made me angry. We argued. We fought. We spent time in silence seething at one another.... but when the seething ended, and the silence lingered, I began to see that the things you said were right. I cried again and embraced the things you said.

The things you said hurt me, but faithful are the wounds of a friend.

Funny card for me from my baby

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Quote of the week....

"The concept of 'taking something to heart' is not determined by how emotionally moved you are but by how much you act because of it."

Jesse M. Guy

4 Ways to Influence People

1. Intimidation
I'll include anything in this category from physical force to the threat of physical force. Unfortunately, there are quite a few examples in church history of people who claim to be followers of Christ and use violence to "convert" the unbelievers or to "correct" the heretic within the faith.

This one includes all the tricks of the trade so to speak. Included in this are the myriad of psychological tricks used in many (sadly perhaps even most) church services today, especially in the United States. I will also include in this the social pressures that go hand in hand with living in a culture with a rich Christian heritage. One of the problems with this method is that it creates the kind of Christianity we see in the West today.... an inch deep and a mile wide. I think of when Peter first exclaimed that Jesus was, "the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" Jesus said he was blessed because flesh and blood had not revealed this to him, but the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I wonder if because we are so consumed with "converting" people or getting them to a place of decision, if we don't short circuit the process that was supposed to be taking place. I wonder if many of the people in our churches are making their exclamations of faith primarily BECAUSE flesh and blood have revealed it to them.

I believe that we are at least moving toward the right path in this category. At least with persuasion, the believers who are doing the persuading have thought about their faith enough to confidently carry on a conversation with unbelievers and use the power of reasoning and basic principles of the faith to draw folks to Him. However, there are still limitations to this form of influence. Essentially, addressing the mind does not always mean you are penetrating through to the heart.

This is what we are truly called to live. Do not think for a minute that just because I recognize the truth of this that I am claiming to be living it consistently. I do not doubt that I struggle with this calling as much as if not more than most. The reason inspiration is so powerful is because it illustrates. It is not a diagram, a lecture, a book, a step by step video, etc. It is another human being living the life. Inspiration comes from watching someone else not necessarily listening to their wisdom. A simple act like Jesus weeping can tell you more than all the theology courses in all the Christian colleges. His insistence that the little children not be kept from coming to Him, embracing the outcasts and openly calling the spiritual leaders white washed tombs, seeking time alone with the Father but not turning people away when that time is interrupted, and of course, His willingness to come, suffer, and die the death of the cross because it was the will of the Father. These actions whisper and scream simultaneously. We are called to be lights not just voices. Saint Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary use words." I hope I will lay this to heart each day. Father, please continue to bring this truth to my mind and heart.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Funny Bear...

Empty Shells

I see the empty shells
Lying on the sea shore
No sea life in them dwells
No being in their core

I see the empty shells
Beautiful cathedrals in Europe stand
No true life in them dwells
Only religion built by man's hand

I see them building churches
Here and there they rise
But without the true Life in them
They cause our own demise

I see the empty people
They've been blinded by the lies
Do they need another steeple?
Or to hear the Father when He cries

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Actively Pursuing Jesus

First, what do I mean by "pursuing Jesus"? Pursuit refers to a chase, hot on the heels of someone, a hunter and its prey, and many other images that come to mind. It can also be tied into the concept of a relationship and one person's pursuit of the other through spending time with them, getting to know them, thinking of them more and more, and pouring yourself into the relationship when you decide that they are "the one" for you to invest yourself fully and to let them know your intentions to be with them forever. These are all ideas that I believe apply most fully only to the one relationship any of us should fully give ourselves over to, our relationship with Jesus.

Ok, you've got what I mean, now on with the how.

1.Reading and studying the Scriptures.
When you consider what we as believers claim to believe about the Bible, this is somewhat of a no-brainer. However, how many times have I put this off or gone for days without even cracking it open. If you would say, "I just don't enjoy reading the Bible, " I'd say join the club (at least some of the time, I don't). If you say, "I don't seem to get much out of it when I read it." See previous answer. If you say, "I don't even understand much of it." Again, previous answer. This is obviously not a book for the faint of heart. It will take a time commitment and a willingness to pursue understanding diligently, and even then, we may not grasp all of it. The two single most important principles I can probably say that I have learned about reading and studying the Bible are A)I believe that God has given all of us amazing minds and expects us to use them to their fullest potential, but I look to the Holy Spirit to open my eyes not to my own intellectual ability, and B)It is a discipline that has no connection whatsoever to my emotions, moods, or circumstances, just like any other discipline.

2.Prayer and Meditation
This about learning to communicate. Now having a baby, I have a new perspective on the concept of communication. She is communicating with me even now. She has been communicating with me since the second she popped her head out and said her version of hello ( which was something like aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!). My point is that we do not have to learn to WANT to try to communicate, we are born with that desire. What we actually have to learn is HOW to communicate. God knows this since He designed us, and this is symbolic of how it works when we are born again. We should talk to God, but we should not be under the impression that He wants us to wow Him with our wisdom or praying abilities. I do not fully understand any of this that I am trying to write about in this post, but I am pretty sure that one of the reasons that God is so adamant that we pray is for some of the same reasons that I want Ella to communicate with me. I want her to learn to depend on me, and I want her to learn, period so that she can eventually be able to communicate with me on deeper levels. I think of the various phases that are ahead of her and I : the toddler years and her first words, her cute elementary years and the beginning of understanding, her teen years and experiencing life and relationships in deeper ways, and adulthood and a more peer to peer friendship between the two of us. I think God wants to use prayer and meditating on the Scriptures to see stages of development in our relationship with Him like this also. I still often feel like screaming aaaaaaahhhhhh! so far, though. :)

3.The real how...
All the stuff I just wrote is actually to help us facilitate this third somewhat all encompassing way that we pursue Jesus. Our day to day lives must revolve around Him. The reading, studying, praying, and meditating simply open the door for Him to show us who He wants us to be, and how He wants us to live. This is where it can get a little overwhelming. We see who Jesus is and even if we are believers in who He is and are trusting in Him for salvation, we say, "There is no stinking way I can be like that!" You are right. You can not. However, Jesus tells us to be like Him. Repentance is probably the biggest missing word in the American church these days. It is all about emphasizing belief, but if you will follow step #1, you will soon see the words repentance, obedience, holiness, and whole bunch of other words used a lot more times than we seem to be comfortable using them today. We are called to "present ourselves as a living sacrifice." We can not live the life that we are called in our own strength, but that does not excuse us from pouring our hearts into living for Him. I believe that the more we do this, the more that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to things and strengthen us to live as people that we would have never guessed possible. Living consistently at a level of love for others inspired by our love for Christ that we could not even dream ourselves capable of at this point in our lives.

In the Bible there are many lists. Lots of people like to call it a book of lists of do's and don'ts. However, the real purpose of this list is not to tell us that if you do this and don't do this you'll go to heaven, and if you do this and don't do this, you'll go to hell. This is missing the point. Read the list in First Thessalonians 5:12-28 for example. This is a list of things believers can practice doing on a daily basis a little more and little better. Jesus says in Luke 6:47 and 48, "I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words AND puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built." Also, in John 8:31 "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. THEN you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." It is AFTER we begin to try to walk in obedience to His words that He promises to make us strong and set us free. He does these things, but He will not until we have taken those first steps of faith and action.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Quote of the week....

"The doctrine of depravity is the most debated doctrine in society, but it is also the most empirically verifiable."

Malcolm Muggeridge

Revisiting Ravi

I have a confession to make. Most, if not all, of my writing is really just regurgitated stuff that I have read or heard. It is these individuals that actually deserve any credit for any wisdom found in my words. One such person that I deeply respect is Ravi Zacharias. I'm going to start including a post once in a while that will serve as a recap of some points he has made during his speaking engagements.

From The uniqueness of Christ in World Religion Parts 1 and 2

1. Lazarus laughed..... this refers to a play by Eugene O'Neal centered around Caligula when he slaughtered many of the first generation of Christians. He encounters Lazarus, who has already died once and been raised from the dead. He threatens to kill him if he does not cooperate, and a dialogue ensues while Lazarus often breaks into uncontrollable laughter. Finally, Caligula says, "That's it. If you laugh one more time, I'll kill you." Lazarus breaks into laughter again, and when he finally catches his breath, he says, "Haven't you heard, Caligula? Death is dead. Death is dead!"

2. The nature of man and man's heart.... "Are we really going to change the human heart by better education? Are you really going to take away the lust in my heart by writing some great book on physiological theories? Are you going to take pride away from me by just telling me somebody else had a great downfall because of their pride? How does one change the human heart?" He points to this and other great points to illustrate the profoundly powerful and unique answer Jesus has to these core issues.

This was just a sampling that does not begin to do his insights and wisdom justice. If you're interested in hearing more. I have a link to his web site on the right. If you will click on either Just Thinking or Let My People Think, there is an audio archive of all of his radio broadcasts over the last several years that you can listen to and/or download for free. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Funny lil thing...

The Scarecrow

Once I was hard and bitter
Seeds thrown on me were simply litter

I am now the good ground
But once by thieving birds I was bound

The caretaker would throw the seed
Yet all that came up were weeds

Thorns and thistles appeared too
And yet the farmer knew just what to do

He placed two pieces of wood into me
And hung on it what appeared to be a man

There the old scarecrow hung in his tree
Soon after the farmer worked with His hands

He dug, pruned, plowed, and watered
And the birds stayed away because of Him who was martyred

Now I am soft and sweet
No longer is the scarecrow stuck at my feet

The caretaker came and took him down
And yet still I am good ground

Because the birds perch on the empty wooden cross
They seem to think somehow that the scarecrow lost

But as for me I cling to the wood
Because it made this hard ground good!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Quote of the week...

"God will answer all our questions in one way and one way only. Namely, by showing us more of his Son." -- Watchman Nee

A few more thoughts about evil and suffering

The interesting thing about the questions often raised by evil and suffering is just how much of an effect they often seem to have, not only among non-believers, but among believers.

Is this because of our lack of "eternal vision"?

We know there is an eternity ahead of us. It says so plainly in the scriptures, but our focus is drawn to the here and now because of our flesh and the deception/illusion that is constantly promoted by the devil and the world.

Are we so focused on "why bad things happen to 'good' people" that we lose sight of the real issue at hand?

The real issue is not whether or not the devil is allowed to do something terrible to us or someone else in this life. The real issue is whether we allow the devil to deceive us into hindering or harming ourselves or those around us eternally.

Of course, we are to focus on the here and now in the sense that a soldier must focus in the midst of a war. However, the soldier cannot lose sight of the fact that we are fighting the war for a specific reason and that one day.... the war will end. (Praise God for this knowledge!)

May the Lord help us to have eternal vision and eternal values.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Professor Sophie rides again

Just a few thoughts I had while riding with my hairy buddy.

1. About global warming, the issue is not whether the earth is changing, but whether or not we are the ones responsible for that change. I do not claim to be an expert on this, but it seems that we should all be willing to consider this basic distinction. I know, for instance, that the surface of the sun has gotten hotter over the past several decades. Could this not be the reason for the slight change in average temperature over the past hundred years?

2. Credit card companies are some sorry folks. Capital One was recently discovered reporting regularly to the credit bureaus, but they do not report your credit limit in the process only the amount of your balance. This can potentially affect your credit score by bringing it down by as much as 200 points. This effectively keeps capital one customers as prisoners. What's in your wallet?

3. Are gas prices really keeping people from taking their vacations this year? Let us suppose the average increase in gas has been about 80 cents per gallon, and we are driving the family SUV at a wopping 15 mpg. How much extra will you pay this year for a vacation with 2000 miles of driving? How about $100? Yep. If you cannot afford an unexpected $100 on a 2000 mile trek, you should probably not even think about going anyhoo.

Finally, please be kind to truckers. I hate to see my hairy little buddy getting so stressed when he is driving me around.

Sophie Out.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Quote of the week...

Today Jesus Christ is being dispatched as the Figurehead of a Religion, a mere example. He is that, but he is infinitely more; He is salvation itself, He is the Gospel of God. --Oswald Chambers

The bad and the ugly.... (part 2 of previous post)

I suppose the bad is simply an example of where we fall short in areas mentioned in the good. Unfortunately, for example, it is astonishing to me the rapid rate at which many denominations have seemed to either partially or completely cave in to social pressures that are the equivalent of a cultural mood that is only about 25-30 years old. This ranges from not stepping out and stating firmly that the particular denomination is against any homosexual behavior to actually opening positions of authority to gays and lesbians within the church.

Another example of our failure is our unwillingness or inability to think through our positions about homosexuality. An example of this is heard quite frequently in conversations about the origins of an individual's homosexuality. The person arguing that homosexuality is an abomination to God will often also be exposed to have not given this issue any significant amount of thought many times. On the one hand, I know that none of us possess some insight into this that is authoritative or even unique, but I think generally speaking people do not simply wake up and "decide" to be homosexual. However, I cannot tell you how many conversations that I have had when the person I am discussing it with or hearing discussing it seems to espouse this belief. I do not think this is because they have come to this conclusion after much careful consideration. Instead, I believe it is a symptom of their lack of having thought it through. This is not to say that choice is not involved, but I believe it is apparent that the equation is usually a bit more complex than, "they just decide to be gay."

Thirdly, as I mentioned in the earlier post, our lack of self-education about information that is readily available is another way in which I see the church falling short not only in the debates about homosexuality but also about evolution, embryonic stem cell research, and many other important topics of the day. I know I myself must continue to work on this area.

Finally, THE UGLY.....
Ok, I do not want the church to engage in some sort of campaign of political correctness, and it is painfully obvious to me that we often engage in too many public relations campaigns for Jesus in an effort to make Him more culturally palatable. However, with that having been said, I also think the leaders of the churches NEED to speak out more against some of the hatred and vile behavior that can often be aimed at homosexuals from those within the church. I do not believe that in most cases these problems are coming from the most spiritually mature among us, but this is all the more reason to make it clear to everyone that such behavior and attitudes are not in any way representative of Christ and should be seen for what they are....personal issues that are given legitimacy because they are cloaked in religious reasoning.

I do not claim to know every answer to the tensions that arise within our communities and even within ourselves about this and other issues, but I guess the key is the same as it is in every other area. We must look to the author and finisher of our faith to guide and empower us to live as He would live in the midst of any and all circumstances.

Thanks for your time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quote of the week....

“What we need is a religion that is not only right where we are right, but right where we are wrong.”

-G.K. Chesterton

Homosexuality and the church in America..the good, the bad, and the ugly

Part I-the good--(it was getting a little too lengthy to put into one post, so I'm breaking it up)

I suppose that when you become familiar with the political/social landscape of the country, there are three large areas that stick out where orthodox Christianity seems to speak out in united disagreement with some of their secular counterparts. They are abortion, evolution, and homosexuality. I know there are tons of other issues, but I call these the big three because they are hot button issues for many Christians in particular.

Once again this is not to be an exhaustive look into these three or even just homosexuality and the church, but more of a summary of some of the angles I see about it.

First, some of the good....
The church is right to the extent that they have stuck by their guns in defense of what is clearly taught in the scriptures. Homosexuality is considered an abomination to God. The scriptures have a singular place of authority within the Christian faith.

I appreciate people on both sides of the divide (Christian or secular) who choose to think through their positions about homosexuality. It is far to easy to get angry and frustrated when debates reach this level of emotional intensity, and this often leads people to accept ridiculous beliefs about all manner of things.

I am also glad when in regard to any of the "big three," Christians choose to at least try to educate themselves about what some of the latest information and research is about any one of the subjects. Homosexuality is no exception. Unfortunately, I think this area is sorely lacking in many cases. One example of a stunning level of misinformation that is still floating out there to this day is the "gay gene." In 1993, Dean Hamer, a scientist with the National Institutes of Health published some findings along with a new book called the Science of Desire. It was a matter of days before papers were publishing the discovery of the gay gene. Different papers published varying levels of wrong interpretations, but most were at least somewhat fundamentally flawed in their presentation of the data if not outright purposefully misleading about it. I read Hamer's follow up book called Living With Our Genes, and he regretted the ways his research was misused. It is also true that not only have his findings never been substantiated by a secondary research group, but his results have become a bit of a joke within scientific circles. In spite of all this, it is not uncommon to hear people on talk shows or in their writings refer to the "fact" that homosexuality has been shown to be a genetically predetermined path.

Finally, I think that many within the church are showing a proper balance of proclaiming a truth that brings freedom with the message of love that is to accompany that message. Essentially there is a right and wrong way to reach out to any and all lost. The ministries within the church that are specifically designed to be an open door to any homosexual genuinely willing to hear what is being said are catching serious flack from both sides. They are scoffed at and ridiculed by those who do not believe and often sadly berated by those who claim to believe as being to nice to them thar gays. We should not compromise the Bible to be politically correct, but one of the most obvious things about Jesus' teachings and His life was that he reached out to those who were outcasts to the self righteous hypocrites of His day too.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Thanks to everyone who posted their comments on the role of violence discussion. I have decided not to comment any more than my initial post because my purpose for that particular post was to create an opportunity for myself and others to hear the thoughts of other believers about it and compare and contrast allowing them to discern perhaps a little more clearly what the will of God is about this. My prayer is that is always the only thing we seek to know about any angle of this life.... His will.... and then hopefully we pursue that.

If you have not commented but still want to, please feel free to do so. I get emailed any time a comment is left. Therefore, I know if noone else keeps checking, I will definitely continue to gain from hearing your comments.

Quote of the week....

"Can't buy what I want because it's free. Can't buy what I want because it's free. Can't be what they want because I'm...."

-Pearl Jam-Corduroy

What is a Christian?

It is my understanding that the word "Christian" was first used to refer to followers of Christ during the time of the first generation of believers in a city called Antioch. (see the book of Acts)
I believe it was initially used as a derogatory term meaning "little Christs".

Now someone who refers to themselves as a Christian can mean a wide variety of things. In some countries, it can simply refer to the fact that they are not Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or atheist. Some throughout history have been Christian because if you were born in a certain country or part of the world, you were considered Christian. Some are raised in cultural Christianity where it is as much or more social than a spiritual identifier. Many are raised in church and simply follow the traditions of their parents and grandparents.

I suppose the truly important question I am getting at may not even be who or what is a Christian because what I am pursuing predates that term altogether. Perhaps the real question is who is truly a follower of Christ? or who is truly in dwelt with the Holy Spirit?

Before I proceed to far into this line of thinking, let me offer up that ultimately I know that God knows for a certainty who are His. People thinking that they can pin point who does and does not belong to Christ is a common trap that is fallen into all the time. I don't think many would have pointed to the thief on the cross as a particularly likely candidate, but I also believe it is made crystal clear that he was as much a receiver of the free gift of salvation as myself or some of the great men and women of God. God sees the heart, and this is where conversion takes place or doesn't take place.

With that having been said, I do believe that the scriptures and especially the letters from Paul, John, and Peter are full of messages to us that is meant to guide us in our understanding about what constitutes genuine saving faith and what does not. They expound on Christ's teaching and the Old Testament helping us to know general principles to use as we navigate our pursuit of Christ.

Finally, we arrive at the primary purpose of this post. I believe that one of the most basic general principles about saving faith is that it is faith characterized by obedience. I believe that in pointing ceaselessly to the scriptures that say essentially, "saved by grace through faith," we can potentially be guilty of painting an unbalanced picture of what is truly Biblical salvation. It is not that we must obey to earn our salvation. It is that the Bible teaches that true saving faith is always accompanied by repentance. If repentance represents a spiritual/moral uturn in our lives from self-centered to God-centered, then obedience simply represents remaining on the same course heading. I do not dispute that we all fall short of completely yielding ourselves in obedience. I think this is painfully obvious to anyone who has tried to follow Christ faithfully for any length of time. It is a path that inherently challenges us deeper and deeper to "die to ourselves" so that He may live through us. However, I am referring to an underlying current of thought that can use verses that point to only belief to mislead us as believers into thinking that we are not called to pursuing "as the deer that pants for water" a life that is yielded and obedient to Christ.

Please do not take these comments as condemning. John 3:17 makes it clear that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it, but that the world through Him might be saved. When a chastisement from God is turned into condemnation, this is the point that the devil has hijacked the scripture to try to use it to make a believer think that he/she cannot possibly live a life pleasing to God. Ironically, he is right but not in the way he intends it. We are called to become aware of this because each time we become aware of how woefully inadequate our own strength and ability is BUT then choose to be broken by that on the rock of Christ is when we genuinely grow that much in our faith in the power of the Spirit.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The role of violence in the life of a believer

Now that I've cleared my throat by venting about that stupid little complaint, I thought I'd move on to something a tad bit more weighty. I'm relatively certain that God does not ordain the use of going postal about Starbucks' corporate policy and the like, but I genuinely have to confess a bit of mixed thoughts and feelings in regard to knowing when, how, where, and so on we, as followers of Christ, should use violence. I want to start by saying that ultimately there are countless situations that simply require the leading of the Holy Spirit in the moment to truly know what to do, and I realize that. This is not meant to be an exhaustive look into when to use violence, what degree of violence to use, and when to simply turn the other cheek and restrain ourselves. I just want to spark a conversation about this from some voices that I respect and who may come from differing perspectives on this question. I hope we all learn from each other, and that we all temper our hearing and our writing with a genuine desire to speak and hear from the Holy Spirit about this. His "views" are the only ones that ultimately matter.

I think it would be a good idea to limit this discussion to personal behavior and not principles guiding government policy. I am not suggesting that these two are not inextricably linked, but there are extremely important differences that I fear will be glossed over if we lump the two together into one discussion about this. I promise to make that a subject of future discussion, however.

Some examples of situations are walking into a situation where it is clear someone is about to do harm to another unless you intervene. I think that most would agree that some use of force in that situation would be, not only allowable, but we would be guilty of sin to turn away or do nothing. What about the Christian soldier who is faced with an unbelievably daunting tasking of sorting out who to shoot or not to shoot on a daily and even hourly basis? Husbands and fathers are to protect their families, but do we have any freedom to act preemptively in that capacity? I think it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler. I believe he once said, "one would do anthing to wrest away control of a car if a madman were behind the wheel of a car," (big time paraphrase) but he supposedly also struggled with this decision after the fact in his conscience.

I have gone through some crazy extremes through the years about this. I can remember when I was young and thinking that I could not be a policeman or soldier because of the turning the other cheek thing. If anything, I may have gotten to the other extreme in the last several years, and I want to examine this more closely. There are a lot of angles and things that I could go on and continue to talk about, but this blog post even more than others in the past is really more about the dialogue that I hope will follow. So without further ado, please share your thoughts about this area.


Star Wars and Starbucks........

Just thought I'd get back into the typing groove with a teensy lil rant.........
Why is it that we can invent a microscope that can zoom in on something a millionth the size of one of my few remaining hair folicles with crystal clarity and a space craft that can be sent to the outer edges of our solar system so we can spy on all the Plutonians, but Starbucks and all her little brothers and sisters in the coffee bidness can't seem to come up with a to go cup with a lid that doesn't leak steaming hot brown liquid on me! I'm convinced it is a conspiracy designed to make us all buy their reusable go cups.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ella Pictures

8 pounds, 14 ounces.... 20 and 3/4 inches......brown hair, blue eyes just like her beautiful mommy

(Drum roll..........................................) Heeeeeeere's Ella!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Quote of the week...

"Time to start cleaning the shotgun."
-my first words when I found out Ella was a girl

Daniella Ann--aka Ella

Brothers and sisters, ladies and gents, and all you other folks. Let us put aside our passionate chit chat for the time being and enjoy the introduction of Daniella Ann to this world. Myndall and I would like to express very sincere gratefulness to all of our friends and family. We know that we are blessed by the shower of love we have received from all of you in these past several months.

As I sit here typing and knowing that in less than seventeen hours I will get to see and hold my beautiful daughter, it is hard to really express the myriad of things going through my mind. I cannot express them all, but I will share a few of my thoughts. I think of all the weeks and months of physical challenges that Myndall has faced. I suppose I look forward to the time when I can actually interact with her with words and walk and run with her to all kinds of places. I want to enjoy the next couple of years when she will soak in everything like a sponge. I want to pour our love into that sponge with kisses and caring and holding and sitting, just the three of us, enjoying. I know there will be stress and sleep deprivation ahead, and I know that I probably don't really realize how much, but that is an incredibly small price to pay to be entrusted with a priceless gift from God. I am sobered by this thought.

I suppose one of the things that I love about our soon to arrive princess is the fact that she is a mystery. She is the personification of one of my personal favorite aspects of this life. She is a wave to be ridden. I must discover her daily because she is the ultimate unfolding story. What is to come. I do not know because Ella is who Ella is. I honestly live for these kinds of creations of God. I love you sweet Ella. Your mommy and I love you and will see you will follow soon, I hope.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Quote of the week...

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
-Jim Elliot

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The goodness of God from an eternal perspective

This is in response to Danny's post to me.

I believe that you are saying that you have a problem with the idea of God using suffering and especially sickness to accomplish His purposes in someone's life.
You specifically refer to Romans chapter 8 that says that the goodness of God leads men to repentance.

There are many places in scripture that I can point to that indicate that God uses violence, disease, famine, pestilence, and many other forces to accomplish His purposes. Sometimes they are an attempt to cause the individuals suffering to consider that God is bringing this on them, and they should, therefore, recognize this and turn from the behavior and attitude that is causing God's judgment to come upon them. In Job 33 Elihu, sort of considered the "wisest voice" in the book of Job, makes these statements, "vs. 18 he(God) keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain: so that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.......vs.28- He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his sould from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living."

Other times the suffering is to benefit the onlooker. God knows that the persons experiencing the judgment will not turn, but He knows that it will be made clear to some looking on that these people had this happen because of their sin, and they will choose not to make the same choices.

Sometimes what may appear to be a harsh blow allowed by God is actually an act of mercy on His part. Isaiah 57 begins by saying, "The righteous perish, and no man layeth it to heart and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness."

At times suffering is simply judgment. God has had enough and will choose to punish those who have been pleaded with, warned, warned some more, and yet continue to act in ways that are flagrantly sinful. Ezekiel 14:13-14 says, "Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God."

Your analogy of the Dr. Frankenstein-like father (see jo mama's comments on previous post for those of you who do not know what I'm talking about) is perhaps where I should focus the rest of this post. If I am understanding what you were trying to say with that comment, I am guessing, because of our previous conversations about doctrines with their origin in the Word of Faith movement, that you are referring to whether it makes sense for God to choose to allow His people (Christians) to be sick. Perhaps a more accurate way of expressing from your point of view would be, "Is it the will of God that a Christian be sick?"

Okie Dokie. I suppose it depends on what you mean by the question. Does God play with our immune systems in the perverted and jaded way that you described in your comments? Of course not! However, if you believe that by being Christians we are somehow able to bypass all potential for sickness because Jesus is like a get out of sickness card in some cosmic game of monopoly, then to that I also say, "Of course not!"

First, what will you do with I Corinthians 11:28-32, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."

I know that the scriptures teach that, "... by his stripes we are healed," and in the gospels, it is made clear that we have access to his miraculous healing power which, I believe is still as true today as in the first generation of believers. However, does this mean that all sickness will be healed in us. Could it not simply refer to the fact that we have this among other miraculous signs at work in our lives as a witness to the truth of Christ. Consider this. We know that Jesus prayed in John 17 to the Father that He would not take us out of the world, but keep us from the evil. We know that Jesus made it clear to his disciples that they (and we) were to face many, many trials, sufferings, and persecutions. Many of the first generation of the church were probably healed only to then be delivered to the Roman government to be killed or worse to watch those closest to them be killed. Why would He allow us to be so vulnerable to one form of suffering but completely keep us from another? Is it not true that someone can live a life that is uniquely glorifying to God because of their faith, peace, and strength in the midst of illness? I know that many denominations and individuals have gone to the other extreme of claiming that to even believe that God is as willing to work miraculously by healing someone today is to not understand the scriptures. That is the subject of a future blog. However, let us not allow their error to drive us to believe that God is somehow required to act in healing someone who is a faithful believer. That is no more scriptural than their belief.

What about 2nd Timothy 4:20, "Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick." Paul is writing this. This is the same Paul that Acts makes it abundantly clear was used by God more times than we know to perform some of the most outrageous miracles ever recorded.

Finally, in Galatians 4:13 Paul makes an amazing statement, "Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." He goes on to point to his sickness and how they treated him with such love in the midst of it. He uses this as an illustration of the type of spirit that they should return to instead of their more legalistic leanings as of late. Paul's sickness is used by God to open the door of opportunity to the Galatians to show their love for him, and as a teaching tool for Paul to point back to as a point of reference for them to make their faith's course correction so to speak.

I guess the bottom line is that the goodness of God does lead men to repentance and if it takes Him using terrible events and circumstances including sickness to steer people away from eternity apart from Him or to keep them from causing someone else to miss eternity with Him, then this is an example of His goodness.

May we all embrace eternity's values. I know that I so, so, so often do not.
Sincerely, Dennis.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Quote of the week...

"You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you."


Friday, April 14, 2006

Evil and Suffering

This post is a direct result of a conversation that is ongoing between a friend of mine who is an atheist (or maybe agnostic).

"If this is the same Jesus who allows children to be physically and sexually abused, allows men, women, and children to be murdered, millions of people around the world to die of hunger, and send millions of people to spend all of eternity suffering in hellfire because they didn't stroke his ego - I can do without his love, Thanks. "

Well, that's the great thing about discussing these things with an atheist. They are not as likely to pull their punches. I have had some discussions with fellow Christians about the subjects raised in my friend's statement. If we vanquish them in our discussions, it is often because we hold up a straw man. Versions of these realities that are easier to address perhaps than the more blunt versions put before me by my friend. How do I intend to respond?

First, I will offer, in truly cowardly fashion, a disclaimer. There are many a great Christian writer and thinker who addresses this topic. They have opened my eyes to things while I was struggling with some of these same issues, and I do not claim to have the keen intellect nor the touch of God at work in my writing as they did. I say this to point out that if anyone is genuinely interested in hearing the "best" there is to hear in regards to these charges against Christ, I will gladly point you in the direction of these writers and their books.

Ok, on with the show. Oops, I have one more quick thing to say. If you are my friend, the atheist/agnostic, or you share the views espoused by them, I have a challenge for you. Are you genuinely going to hear what I say? Honestly, if someone had stated to me what you stated in an actual real time, face to face conversation, I would have taken it as someone essentially slamming the door in my face. I would have shaken off the dust and eased on down the road because I would have read between the lines that you were really saying this to effectively end the conversation. I am not going to try to intimidate or manipulate someone into believing in Christ. Therefore, if I believe that they have given their final word on the issue, I will stop. So, I am asking you again. Are you genuinely going to hear what I say? Not just read it, but give it a chance to marinate in your mind for a bit? If not, then just stop here. Why bother?

If you are going to trash the Christ of the scriptures, you should be at least familiar with some of the basics of the scriptures that form the context in which He is found. Don't worry this isn't about to turn into a full blown Bible 101 class.... just a few basics. First, the Bible teaches us about our ability to choose. Free will. The devil did not, and I think could not negate this and force us to choose to follow him. Instead, he did what he does. He deceived, and we chose to follow spite of all the stuff around us that screamed to trust God. God chose to make us with free will. You can hate Him for it if you want because that is your choice to make.

He does not want you to, however. He longs for you to understand what is going on that causes these terrible things to happen. He wants you to reach out to Him for help and comfort in the midst of it. People abuse other people. People murder other people. People choose to be greedy and self-centered while others starve. This is the nature of our corrupt free will--self-centered instead of God-centered. It is this "sin" nature that causes all these things that you point to and God has acted to end it by way of His Son. You want Him to end it by intervening. Taking away our free will. I understand the emotions behind your argument. There are very, very real people. CHILDREN. They are hurting and dying and undergoing things that are too horrible to fathom. My point is that we share this observation..... this is truly, truly terrible. However, I believe you have reached the wrong conclusion about this reality. It is true that free will allows for the potential for evil, but it also allows for the potential for love. Without free will, neither could truly exist.

I am reminded of a cartoon that I heard about one time. The jist of it was two turtles talking. One says to the other, "You know, sometimes I just want to ask God, 'Why don't you do something about all the suffering that goes on down here?'"
The other says, "Yeah, I've thought about that too, but I'm afraid He might ask me the same question."

Jesus is the way to enter back into the right orbit, so to speak. A God-centered life that will protect innocents and seeks to love our neighbor as our selves. Jesus came to save the world. He does not take away our free will. He gives us the opportunity to choose to believe in Him in spite of all that screams not to believe. He cries for the little ones. He holds them close for all eternity. His justice is also eternal, and know that His eternal justice will dwarf anything we could ever imagine. This life is a vapor, and anything that happens in it, though seemingly unbearable while living in the midst of it will not even be a dim memory in eternity. He is also ever present for those hurting here and now. Many times they may not even realize what or who allowed them to survive or be comforted through such horrible circumstances, but it was Him.

Now to respond to the last part of your statement about hell and ego.... C.S. Lewis (one of those great Christian writers and thinkers I mentioned earlier), says, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done, ' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' "

I know that the Bible speaks of many terrible tormenting mental pictures when describing hell. I do not mean to detract from this at all, but I want to say that I believe the primary thing that makes hell, hell is the fact that the presence of God is not there. You may think that God is not present near you now, but you are wrong. His presence is the very thing that holds back the tide of evil that would wash over this planet if removed. He longs to salvage all those who will choose to be saved, but in the end, as at the beginning, He will honor your will. If you choose not to pursue a relationship with Him even after He has done so much to reopen the door for you to have that relationship with Him, then He will not force it on you.

A couple of final notes. I want to make it clear that if I were talking to someone who was actually in the midst of suffering from some of the circumstances mentioned above, I would not go to them with all this so called wisdom of mine. I would, by God's strength, be as much of an accurate reflection of Jesus to them as I could be. I would expend energy protecting those in need of protection, comfort those in need of comfort, and feed those who needed food. Actions speak louder than words. I believe sometimes God uses suffering in our lives to bring us to a place in our hearts that we will finally hear His invitation to reach out to Him. I love my God because He first loved me.

Thank you for taking the time. I pray that He will penetrate the hardness of all our hearts (especially mine) with His amazing love.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Quote of the week...

"Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words."

Saint Francis of Assisi

Willing to die for a lie?

Who would die for a lie? I suppose it seems the obvious answer to say that noone would. However, as you glance at current events or history, it does not take long to figure out that someone is. Either it is the many Christians every day who are martyred for their faith like the man almost was recently in Afghanistan, or it is the muslim who tries avenging what he perceives as an attack on his people and his faith by committing suicide while in the act of inflicting harm on the enemy of the West or Israel. Perhaps we could go on for hours counting the numbers of people who are giving their lives for a person or a cause which may or may not be based on a lie.

However, there is an interesting difference to one small group of people that I would like to point out. You see all the people I have referred to have one thing in common which is that they are choosing to place their link of faith in the hands of someone or something. They may have decided to do this because of being submersed in a culture which essentially allows very few other competing beliefs. They may have chosen to lay it all on the line because they have confidence in the teachings of the person or belief system for which they die. Perhaps, it is vengence or perhaps they have a deep respect for others who follow the beliefs. However, the links of faith all trace back to a starting point, a beginning of the chain of faith, so to speak.

One of the more interesting facts about Christianity is where that chain begins. The first generation of believers in Christ were subject to quite a seemingly insurmountable gauntlet. On one side, the Roman government was the largest empire in the known world. Then you have the Jewish establishment which had a lockdown on local religious beliefs and a religious heritage that is unrivaled to this day. Finally, the Greeks were considered the intellectual giants of the day. This is obvious from the fact that the Greek greats are still studied to this day as being some of the cornerstones of western civilization.

In the midst of this arises a small group of believers. What is it that they believe? They believe that Jesus, though crucified by the Romans and the Jews, has risen from the dead. They claim not only to believe this as you and I must choose whether we believe it or not. They claim to have seen him on numerous occasions and to have talked with him at length and to have eaten with him and to have seen him be taken up into heaven. It is recorded that there were 120 people present in an upper room in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came down on the people and gave them power to be witnesses to the people around them of the truth of their claims. All sorts of miracles are recorded during this time.

Yet these same people who claimed not to just believe but claim to have seen with their own eyes the Jesus that they worship did not ascend into a place of great power in this life. They faced terrible persecution. All of the original disciples were killed with the exception of John. Before they were killed, many were beaten many times and suffered many other pains for the sake of their unwillingness to recant their claims. It is one thing to be willing to die for a lie.... truthfully people are doing it every day. However, it is quite another to die for a lie that is your own lie, and that is what you would have to believe about the disciples and many of the first generation of believers if you are not at least willing to consider the veracity of their claims.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quote of the week...

"Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy."

-ancient Jewish proverb

Friday, March 24, 2006

Meet the Jernigans

I wanted to link my blog to the Jernigan's blog, but the one to the right of my postings does not seem to be cooperating for some reason. Hopefully, the link above the pictures will take you there, but if not, their address is I have known Andrew for about 20 years. He, his wife, Juliana, and his kids Lucas (age 4) and Luiza (barely 1) are in Kumasi, Ghana, which is in on the west coast of Africa. Their blog will tell you most of what you need to know, but I'll add a small personal bit here also. They are without a doubt an inspiration to Myndall and myself. They left for Ghana in August of 2005. Lucas was only three, and Luiza was less than five months old. They are fueled by their intense conviction that Jesus is the real deal. They have many miraculous stories to back this up.... which I may allude to in another posting sometime in the not to distant future. They are also fueled by their intense love for people, especially people who are hurting and in need. These two fuels work together to allow them to be used by God in a powerful way. They would be quick to tell you that it is not them that has anything to offer these people, but Jesus at work in them. They would assure you that they are just as prone to complain, become self-centered, and not allow Him to be revealed through them as anyone else, but I think their lives speak for themselves. I do not wish to put them on a pedestal in an unhealthy or unrealistic way, but I also do believe that the Bible teaches that we are to honor those who are the truest servants among us, and we are to follow them, "as they follow Christ." They could use moolah from anyone who is interested, but I know that more than anything, they want your faithful prayers.

Please check out their blog when yous guys get a chance.
Sincerely, DDD

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Quote of the week...

"Westerners are people who wear gods on their wrists."

-Filipino saying

Professor Sophie speaks about ethanol....

Did you know.....
Of the nation's 168,987 gas stations, only 608 offer ethanol pumps for flexible-fuel vehicles.

E85-capable flexible-fuel vehicles that run on either gasoline or an ethanol mix have been available since the mid-1990's.

Automakers have already produced about 5 million flexible-fuel vehicles in the United States.

Because there are so few E85 pumps, not many vehicles actually run on the home-grown fuel, mostly made of corn.

One bushel of corn produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol.

Brazil is expected to wean itself from oil imports this year.

Brazil has been burning ethanol made from sugar cane since the first oil crisis of the 1970's.

Of Brazil's 16.5 million vehicles, more than 4.3 million run on ethanol.

About 75% of all vehicles sold there in 2006 will be fuel-flexible vehicles.

Professor Sophie wonders if ethanol is about to swell in popularity within the United States.

*-you can find this and much more information about ethanol in March 17, 2006 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution section S pages 1 and 2.

4d pictures of Ella

OK, I think I figured it out this time.

Updates and Intro to Blogging for beginners

I am experimenting with a feature that is supposed to let me upload pictures on here. If it does not work, I apologize. Here's some pictures for those of you who haven't already seen them.

Since I have made my first post, I have been surprised at the number of people who are not familiar with blogging in general. Therefore, I am going to go over some basics for beginners. First of all, at the end of each of my new postings, there should be the word comments. If you will position the pointer over this word and left click, you should be taken to a different screen designed to allow you to respond to my meanderings. If you do not have a blog with blogspot, you should click on the option listed other and then you can type in your name after that to let us know who left the comment, or you can just leave it anonymously if you feel more comfortable doing so. After you do either identify youself or choose to remain anonymous, you will be required to type in a series of letters matching the ones typed in a wavy format below the area for your name. There aren't that many rules at my blog site. Please refrain from profanity. I actually encourage lively debates but please be civil and respectful at all times. Some of my posts will actually be geared toward generating discussion about various topics ranging from spiritual, political, cultural, and so on. Other postings are more of a creative outlet for me ranging from funny stuff, topics of interest to me, and personal updates about myself, Myndall, Ella, Sophie, and Jack. I highly value feedback! I can not stress this enough. It doesn't have to be a pat on the back. I want the real deal. Thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Defenseless against suffering

Hello everyone and boy do I mean everyone. I suppose the notion of doing this is a little strange to me. This is my first blog, and the thought of posting some of my meandering meditations has my mind filled with visions of everyone in the world gazing down upon me even as I type this. Just back off! Just kidding. I know that is just plain silly. Anyhoo. This post will be dedicated to touching on some of the reasons that I chose this particular name for my first blog. It does sound a bit sad and dark doesn't it. However, this will not be the tone of this blog.

The short version is that the name came from a quote I jotted down, "We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love." Sigmund Freud said it so you know it has to be true (sarcasm alert-for those of you who don't know me). There are so many angles of truth to this statement that it is mind boggling. One of the angles is probably the one Ziggy was going for when he made the statement back in the day. When you open yourself up and become intimate with another person, your intimacy level increases in direct proportion to the level that your defenses decrease. Therefore, if the other person chooses to not consider your heart the treasure that you hope they will, suffering ensues.

Another angle is that when you are younger, single, broke, and bee bopping through life, you do not have a whole lot to lose. However, as you begin to create life long relationships, achieve life long dreams, and you begin to lay your roots, you start to realize that your huge blessings are always fragile because this life is a temporary place, and this causes you to suffer because you now care so deeply about so many people and things.

However, this leads me to a third angle that will be the last one that I address. If you are not familiar with me personally, let me say that I am a believer in Jesus Christ. When I say that I am a believer in Jesus Christ, I primarily am referring to my belief that He is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. I believe He is alive right now in heaven with God the Father, and I am consistently trying to give Him His rightful place as the center of my solar system by revolving around Him (thank the Lord for His gravitational pull!). Anyways, one of the ways I do this is through reading and studying the Bible. The "fellowship of His sufferings" is mentioned many times. I believe this is referring to growing closer in intimacy with Jesus through our suffering. This is not to be confused with some masochistic perversion or sadistic perversion on the part of God. I believe this is referring to suffering with a purpose. Two examples of suffering with a purpose would be: the soldier, who endures hardship and even loss of life because he or she believes that the one or the cause that they fight for is worthy of their sacrifice and the friend, who bears the burden of someone else to keep them from collapsing under the weight of it. Also, the suffering draws us closer to Christ because we touch upon a shared experience of His. Not to say that we even begin to approach the degree of his suffering and sacrifice, but shared experience bonds powerfully.

So, I want to be defenseless against suffering because I want to live a life that is overflowing with love for all those who know me in this life. Besides, I started registering for this and kind of had to come up with something quickly, and this is it so there. :)

Smooches and sunshine,