Sunday, February 25, 2007

Quote of the week...

"The Holy Book of the living God suffers more from its exponents today than from its opponents." -Leonard Ravenhill


Discipline- Job 36:10 “opens our ears to discipline”

Desire- I Peter 2:2 “craving pure spiritual milk”

Delight- Psalm 1:1 “delight in the law of the Lord”

Keys to Long Term Spiritual Growth

These three words pertain to our daily time spent in Bible reading and study, prayer, and worship to God. Understand I am speaking of a very conscious act on our part and the phases that we go through as we choose to try to consistently seek Him through the simplest and most straight forward methods. I know this seems like pretty simple and obvious stuff, but I don’t think we take the importance of this seriously enough. The first D is about simply hearing those internal reminders about seeking God and learning to be consistently responsive to those internal reminders. I believe that this basic discipline is one of the key steps that opens the door of God’s Holy Spirit to be at work in our hearts and minds. In fact, in my experience, if we are not faithful in these areas we will be almost guaranteeing serious spiritual problems in the long term. The fascinating thing about these phases of choice is that they become exponentially more natural and even desirable for us IF we consistently practice our reading, praying, and reaching out to Him beginning with discipline. First, it feels completely unnatural and completely contrary to what our moods, emotions, and desires are, but if we persevere in seeking Him, the second phase kicks in—desire. I have experienced this craving for the scriptures and for intimate contact with Him. It is like a baby craving the sustenance of milk. Finally, I long to reach the place where it is a delight. This makes me think of Jesus seeking and yearning for time alone with His Father in the midst of His earthly ministry. The key I believe is in two things: one recognizing that IT IS a discipline which means it often runs completely counter to our moods, emotions, desires, and thoughts and second is choosing to practice these things FROM a desire to SEEK GOD. This is not some puzzle we are to solve. He is the one who reveals Himself to those who diligently seek Him.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Quote of the week...

"The wonder is that Jesus purposed to make your heart and mine just as sweet and lovely and pure and holy as His own." –John G. Lake

Friday, February 16, 2007

No Pretenses

Basically, what I have always taken away from the Mary and Martha story(Luke 10:38-42) is how Martha was busy bein' busy, but Mary was choosing to sit at Jesus' feet which basically teaches us that we should always place drawing close to Christ and cherishing our time to focus on Him above all else including even service to Him.

However, what I was struck with recently is how this story illustrates another problem that I have struggled with many times. Have you ever tried to get your mental house in order before "officially" praying or singing worship songs or attending a worship service or reading the Bible? If you consider how silly this is, it will make you laugh. We treat Jesus like he just rang our doorbell, and the place is a mess. "Ummmm.... hang on, Lord. Just give me a sec, OK!"

This is funny because He knows all about those bitter thoughts, impure desires, greedy thoughts, ungrateful thoughts, etc. I pray that instead of trying to primp for the Lord that, in the future, He will help me to simply humble myself as He makes me aware of my true state and that He is there to lead me to victory as I acknowledge who I am and allow Him to continue to transform me while I walk humbly with Him in more and more openness.

Monday, February 05, 2007

On What Grounds...

This post is a continuance of my previous tangent into a more political arena. My question is simple. On what grounds are you CURRENTLY against the Iraq war?

1. Is it because of the many American soldiers killed so far?

One of the things I have been amazed by in regards to the Cindy Sheehan hype is how often we hear that we should respect her voice more than others because she lost a son because of this conflict. This reasoning seems to ignore or be ignorant of the fact that her son had recently RE enlisted after having already served in Afghanistan I believe. Are we to respect her voice more than her son's? If I were fighting in a war, I believe there would be two primary concerns about my participation in it. One would be whether I believed in the mission, and the second would be whether we would be allowed to see it through to the end.

We have an ALL volunteer force, and even if those who began serving in this conflict may not have forseen this twist in global politics. Those who are now serving have certainly had a chance to either not join or not reenlist, but they chose to in spite of our current situation. This seems to indicate to me their confidence in the mission and their desire to see it accomplished.

Also, let's compare the total Americans killed so far in the Gulf War with previous wars.

World War I- 116,708 Americans killed from 1917-1918
World War II-408,306 Americans killed from 1941-1945
Korean War-54,246 Americans killed from 1950-1953
Vietnam War-58,219 Americans killed from 1957-1975
Iraq War (so far)-3100 Americans killed from 2003-2007

2. Is it because of the cost of the war?

In 2001 alone, 2.7 billion dollars in losses to the NY-New Jersey metro area and about 191 billion dollars worth in remaining metro areas in country. This was the ecoonomic costs of the 911 attacks.

Once again let's compare with previous war costs.
(costs have been adjusted to their equivalent to current day cost)

American Revolution: $3.2 billion.
War of 1812: $1 billion.
Mexican War: $1.8 billion.
Civil War: $50 billion Union, $21.8 billion Confederacy.
Spanish-American War: $6.5 billion.
World War I: $588 billion.
World War II: $4.8 trillion.
Korean War: $408 billion.
Vietnam War: $584 billion.
Iraq War: $300 billion (so far)

3. Have there been too many Iraqi deaths?

This was certainly one that concerned me. I am still the most concerned about this number because I believe it to be the most important in regards to whether we will win the peace in Iraq. In the month of October 2006 just prior to our recent mid-term elections, there was an interesting number floated by a well respected and politically active minister named Jim Wallis. This number was 600,000 Iraqi deaths, and the number seemed to imply that they were primarily if not entirely non-combatant deaths. This is certainly a shocking number. I decided to check into it a little deeper myself. One thing I noticed in November was the statement of the United Nations that October had been the bloodiest month for civilian casualties in Iraq since we invaded in March of 2003 with a total of roughly 3800 civilian deaths in that month. I did the math and came up with fewer than 160,000 civilian casualties even if each month had been as bloody as that October. I have found most estimates range from 120,000 to 150,000. This means that Wallis's number was four to five times the actual estimates that were readily available when he wrote about this in October. I also considered that we have already found over 400,000 in mass graves in Iraq so far, and because of Saddam's manipulation of the economic sanctions through the oil for food scandal, 50,000 more Iraqi's had died because of this. If you do the math(20,000-25,000 per year in mass graves under Saddam and at least another 50,000 dead due to sickness and starvation thanks to oil for food scandal) and suggest that leaving Hussein in power would have been less deadly for the Iraqi people, you are not very good at math. It is roughly a wash if not just a bit less even with all of our blunders and wrong decisions.

I realize there have been problems, but AT THIS POINT please let us all acknowledge the need to be victorious in as thorough a way as we possibly can be in Iraq.