Sunday, November 30, 2008
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word."
And, with the caveat that truth is truth regardless of who says it, here's advice from Colin Powell:
"Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from
failure, loyalty, and persistence."
Saturday, November 29, 2008
My reading took me into Psalm 119 this morning, and verse 156 spawned reflection:
"Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules."
Yes, thankfully God is full of mercy (which is new every morninga), but He is also a God of rules. Jesus was "filled with grace and truth."
It's too easy to claim God's mercy and grace while ignoring His rules and truth.
And it is hard to balance! Alas, the only way to learn balance is to lose it, but I need to guard myself and ask the Spirit to help me be Biblically-balanced lest I slide into licentiousness or legalism...
Comment with any insights you have into this ongoing exercise of keeping balance!
“Legalistic remorse says, ‘I broke God’s rules,’ while real repentance says, ‘I broke God’s heart.’ Legalistic repentance takes sin to Mt. Sinai, gospel repentance to Mt. Calvary. Legalistic repentance is convicted by punishment, gospel repentance becomes convicted by mercy.”
- Timothy Keller
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Every seven years our anniversary falls on Thanksgiving...and we are especially thankful that we are (finally) in Missouri!
We will celebrate the day with friends we've known for many, many years...the picture was taken a couple years ago at Quiz Nationals, left to right, our best man Scott Lash, Jack, Jane, and maid of honor Debbie (Laffoon) Long...Scott is a pastor and Debbie's husband (who also attended our wedding) is also a pastor...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tim Keller has written a compelling book dealing with the prodigal son(s), and he makes this vital observation:
“Here, then, is Jesus’ radical redefinition of what is wrong with us. Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of rules. Jesus, though, shows us that a man who has violated virtually nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors can be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person. Why? Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life.”
- Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 43.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
This is from Gary Bauer of "American Values." I know many don't care for Mr. Bauer, but the facts in this particular piece speak loudly for themselves:
A Fact-Free Election?
We just went through an election where the facts didn’t matter. And if you don’t believe me, then sit down for this item. Talk show host John Ziegler commissioned a poll by John Zogby to test the knowledge of more than 500 Obama voters in a nationwide survey conducted after the election. The results are shocking. It must be noted upfront that virtually all those surveyed had high school diplomas, and more than half had college degrees. Only 2% of Obama voters earned “perfect or near-perfect scores on a post election test which gauged their knowledge of statements and scandals associated with the presidential tickets.”
For example: 57% could not correctly say which party controlled Congress; 88% did not know that Obama said his policies would bankrupt the coal industry; 56% did not know that Obama started his political career at the home of two former domestic terrorists; and 72% did not know that Joe Biden dropped out of a previous campaign due to plagiarism. But, 94% knew Sarah Palin had a pregnant teenage daughter; 86% knew Sarah Palin had $150,000 in clothes purchased for her; and 87% said that Sarah Palin stated she could see Russia from her house. Sarah Palin never actually said that – Tiny Fey of Saturday Night Live fame did. You can learn more about this poll and John Ziegler’s upcoming documentary, “Media Malpractice” at: www.HowObamaGotElected.com.
This may seen humorous, but it is no laughing matter. Elections have consequences, and there are serious issues at stake. Yet, throughout the campaign, I regularly ran into pro-life voters who did not know that Barack Obama strongly supported the Freedom of Choice Act and had pledged to sign it as one of his top priorities. I got angry emails from folks taking me to task for suggesting that Obama supported same-sex “marriage.” But they did not know that he had called the Defense of Marriage Act “an abhorrent law” and supports its total repeal. Clearly, in the next election cycle we have to do a lot better educating the electorate.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Here's a sober quote to contemplate in these few days before Thanksgiving:
“I ought to go to Christ for the forgiveness of each sin. In washing my body, I go over every spot, and wash it out. Should I be less careful in washing my soul?
I ought to see the stripe that was made on the back of Jesus by each of my sins. I ought to see the infinite pang thrill through the soul of Jesus equal to an eternity of my hell for my sins, and for all of them.
I ought to see that in Christ’s bloodshedding there is an infinite over-payment for all my sins. Although Christ did not suffer more than infinite justice demanded, yet He could not suffer at all without laying down an infinite ransom.”
—Robert Murray M’Cheyne, quoted by Andrew Bonar, Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1960), 175-176
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Martyn Lloyd-Jones lived from 1899 to 1981. I don't know when he wrote the following; but his observation is, sadly, so apropos today. We've got all the bells and whistles, focus groups and branding, but not much is happening. Lloyd-Jones' analysis and diagnosis remains "spot on."
"People seem to think that the masses are outside the Christian church because our evangelistic methods are not what they ought to be. That is not the answer. People are outside the church because looking at us they say, "What is the point of being Christians? - look at them!" They are judging Christ by you and me. And you cannot stop them and you cannot blame them." Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Reminds me of an ditty I learned decades ago:
You are writing a gospel,
A chapter a day,
People read what you write,
Whether faithless or true,
Tell me, what is the gospel,
According to you?
Friday, November 21, 2008
Where's the wolf? Right there, indistinguishable. Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15).(HT: David Roper blog)
Be alert! Sanctifiedidly (I know it's not a word, but it should be) paranoid! There is an enemy...your job is to 1)Submit to God, 2) Resist the devil. Too many try step two without concentrating on step one. That's the road to spiritual disarmament.
“If you are one of God’s children, there is something in your life that will not wear out. In fact, it has the amazing capacity to be new day after day after day. Scripture says that God’s mercies are ‘New every morning.’
Now, you know you need mercy, because you know you need forgiveness and help. Almost every day you mess up in some way. Almost every day you face things that are bigger than the size of your personal wisdom and strength. You and I constantly need the mercy of forgiveness and the mercy of enablement. And so, it is very encouraging to know that God’s mercy is new every day! God’s mercy never grows stale and it never loses it’s transforming power. God’s mercy is brand new morning after morning after morning.
This also means that God’s mercy is form-fit for the problems that you are facing right here, right now. Each morning you are given new mercies for the particular things that you will face that day.
So, you can wake up tomorrow with courage and hope. And you can do this, not because of your strength and wisdom, but because you know that the most important thing you have ever been given will never wear out. You can also have hope because you know that the God who has given that new mercy, knows exactly what you are about to face.”
—Paul David Tripp
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Hager family is finally in Missouri. We are still unpacking both at home and office; but we are here!
As we adjust I'll be posting more often, so subscribe via email or rss, or just keep checking!
I'd love to see some comments also! Like, for starters, what are the top three things (other than Jesus, salvation, and hope) that you are thankful for?
Yup, the photo is of our new HOME!
Diapers get changed, lightbulbs get changed, tires get changed...but apparently the "change" President-elect Obama orated about is going to be, to coin Bob Dylan, a "slow train coming."
Waxman? Lord help us. Again, maybe America gets what she deserves...
My main concern is not the economy, nor even the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...my chief concern is the ongoing war on the unborn...and how Obama and his henchmen promise not only to continue the slaughter...but to make it ever easier to snuff out the result of poor choices.
Are there any people who voted for Obama honest enough to admit they are disappointed in his appointments?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Suffering is relative...the Hager family has had a rough year, but it pales in comparison to so many others...but, it is sort of like puppy-love - it is real to the puppies!
Here's a great insight into suffering:
“Suffering helps us look for our Savior. If we never have any trouble along the journey, we would never have any reason to long for Heaven. Like the Israelites, we need the house of bondage to help drive us to the Promised Land.”
- Philip Graham Ryken, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway Books, 2005), 37.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I type this in a motel located in Pontiac, Illinois. In a little while we will journey to our new house-to-make-a-home! Our NY lawyer says, prayerfully, the sale of our NY house will "close" today. We have early entry into our new place tonight; and the truck will arrive Saturday afternoon.
Just a reminder...it was 13 months ago that I announced my coming resignation from Family Life (NY) to assume a position with Midland Ministries (MO). That resignation became official June 30; but our house simply didn't sell...until the buyer showed up in September...
So we know some stuff about waiting. We also know that the Lord God reigns omnipotent...His timing is perfect, and we were privileged to see His fingerprints all over what appeared to us to be "delay."
We are so thrilled to finally be relocating.
It was a long wait!
Speaking of waiting, read these wise words:
“He came back.
After that brutal Friday, and that long, quiet Saturday, he came back.
And that one intake of breath in the tomb changes everything. It changes the very reason I drew breath today and the way I move about in this world because I believe he’s coming back again. The world has gone on for more than two millennia since Jesus’ feet tread the earth he made. What would they have said back then if someone had told them that some two thousand years later we’d still be waiting? They would’ve thought back to that long Saturday and said, ‘Two thousand years will seem like a breath to you when you finally lay your crown at his feet. We don’t even remember what we were doing on that Saturday, but let me tell you about Sunday morning. Now that was something.’
These many years of waiting will only be a sentence in the story. This long day will come to an end, and I believe it will end in glory, when we will shine like suns and stride the green hills with those we love and the One who loves. We will look with our new eyes and speak with our new tongues and turn to each other and say, ‘Do you remember the waiting? The long years, the bitter pain, the gnawing doubt, the relentless ache?’ And like Mary at the tomb, we will say: ‘I remember only the light, and the voice calling my name, and the overwhelming joy that the waiting was finally over.’
The stone will be rolled away for each of us. May we wait with faithful hearts.”
—Andrew Peterson, CD liner notes for Resurrection Letters Volume II (Centricity Music: 2008)
Monday, November 10, 2008
A Post-Evangelical America
The religious building blocks of Obama's victory.
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Nov 6, 2008 | Updated: 4:01 p.m. ET Nov 6, 2008
Just as "race" has a whole new meaning in America this week, so, too, does "faith." For at least four decades, white evangelicals have been the religion-and-politics story in this country. Their power, their rhetoric, their numbers, their theology—all have been so dominant that many of us in the media had forgotten that religious faith could be expressed any other way. Last summer, a colleague and I wrote a profile of president-elect Barack Obama that described his Christian faith—a journey that started with a deeply spiritual but not religous upbringing, progressed through a considerable amount of reading, searching and ambivalence, and culminated in an emotional homecoming in a socially active, black church in Chicago.
A great many readers of that story expressed the view that because Obama is pro-choice, because he did not go to church with regularity—and because his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, held some radical views and expressed them aggressively—the senator from Illinois was not a Christian. "Obama is without a foundation of faith," wrote one reader.
If this week's exit polls tell us anything about religion, they remind us that there are tens of millions of voters in this country who believe in God, read their Scripture, pray, regularly attend a house of worship—and do not consider themselves born-again Christians. In 2008, 44 percent of Americans who go to religious services more than once a week voted for Obama; in 2004, just 35 percent of those people voted for Kerry—a nine-point increase and the most surprising number in all the religious polling. "It's very cool," says Jim Wallis, founder of the left-leaning evangelical group Sojourners, "that the story is not white evangelicals again."
Other than that, the exit polls provided few surprises. White evangelicals did not like Kerry, and they do not like Obama. Just 26 percent of evangelicals voted for Obama compared to 23 percent for Kerry—a negligible change despite estimates from Wallis and others that Obama's numbers in this particular precinct would be much, much higher. Other faith groups also played to type. Nonwhite religious voters went overwhelmingly for Obama—79 percent, compared to 69 percent in 2004—as did Jews (82 percent compared to 75 percent in 2004). Forty-six percent of Roman Catholics voted for Obama—a factoid that pro-choice advocates were touting earlier this week as an unprecedented victory. Here, a little historical perspective helps: Catholics have voted for the winner in every presidential race since Kennedy and for a generation have been split nearly down the middle on choice, with those supporting the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade slightly ahead.
Drill down a bit, and the numbers get more interesting. In states such as Colorado, Indiana and Florida, where the Obama camp worked incessantly to convert red to blue, the number of evangelical converts to the Democratic Party was surprisingly high. In Colorado, for example, 27 percent of evangelicals voted for Obama, compared to 13 percent for Kerry in 2004.
Overall, the religious vote for Obama did not reflect a massive shift in ideology and priorities among evangelicals but rather muscle-flexing by a coalition of others of faith—including and especially African-American churchgoers and Latinos who tend to be both more religious and more socially conservative than the population at large. The pro-Obama faithful represent a wild diversity of the American religious experience, including mainline Protestants, church-shoppers, the curious, the spiritual but not religious, the heterodox (those who subscribe to several traditions), the intermarried, the community-minded, the intellectually provoked but skeptical, and the traditionalists. Indeed, it includes almost every committed person of faith except those whose church culture insists on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The exit polls echo findings by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which last year published a massive study showing Americans to be deeply spiritual—90 percent of them say they believe in God—but less and less concerned with denominational orthodoxy. Like Obama, a quarter of Americans practice a faith different from the one they were raised in, the Pew survey showed. Among Protestants, that number is a third. Even a quarter of atheists say they believe in a higher power or a universal spirit.
Darrell Bock is a professor at New Testament Studies at the Dallas Theological Seminary who voted for Obama. For Christians like him, social issues such as abortion and gay marriage were not litmus tests this year. If Christians were concerned about "the economy, competence, our role in the world, the way we've prosecuted the war on terrorism—then they switched their vote and made the middle group larger." George Bush came to power telling an evangelical story that appealed to his base, a story of sin and redemption, of simple faith, of good and evil. This familiar story—and stories like it—has overshadowed every other religious theme in America for 40 years. Obama—his deep religious faith and his peripatetic spiritual biography—shines a light on all other religious paths in America, various as they are, and infinite.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Should she do time? Of course.
But are we not all complicit in her horrendous action?
Had she (allegedly) murdered her child a few hours before birth, or any time in the preceeding nine months, she would be enjoying freedom.
Instead, for whatever perverse reasons, she (allegedly) delivered the child at home and, rather than sticking a needle in his neck and collapsing his head, she (alledgedly) suffocated the child.
Is there a genuine difference between this and partial-birth-abortion that is promoted by the president elect?
And, somehow, may God have mercy, if not on America, on the tens of millions of additional babies who will be slaughtered unless God changes Obama's heart on this issue.
May we all pray and fast to this end. And may we recommit ourselves to praying, fasting, and acting to somehow stop the slaughter.
I have to go; I have an opportunity to visit the mother before she is shipped to prison.
UPDATE I was able to visit Tamara, she professes and seems to be genuinely converted. Tried to share the reality of prison versus the stereotypes; and prayed with her.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Just saw a women sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering her just-born son. Yes, she should do time; but why is this so horrible when, had she gone to Planned Parenthood it would have merely been a slight financial charge?
There is a possibility I will meet with her Monday (here in Troy, KS where I am finishing up a week of meetings Sunday) before she is shipped. Pray.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I urge you to read, and heed:
I remember as a middle-schooler watching the film, “The Day After.” It was, at the time (the height of the Cold War), a rather alarming film about the prospect of nuclear war. We watched with rapt attention as mushroom clouds, frantic citizens, traffic jams, blinding light, and nuclear fallout destroyed “life as we knew it.”
It strikes me that many Christians have been watching this election like middle-schoolers fearfully paralyzed at their first look at nuclear realities. Our fear of nuclear destruction was warranted. The Christian anxiety about this election is not.
So it’s the day after the election, and your candidate didn’t win. Aside from the natural nauseating post-game let-down feeling, what are you to think and feel? Here are a few quick thoughts:
1. Remember that President Barack Obama is not just the first African-American president, he is also the 45th white President. There will no doubt be many associations made between his skin color, assumptions about his race, and a host of successes or failures during his presidency. But let us Christians avoid such errors. Let us avoid saddling this one man with the responsibility of representing a “race” of people, or saddling the people with this one man’s failures or achievements. Let us be good theologians and attribute all that President Obama is to either his fallen nature or to the work of grace in his life. We may all celebrate in his achievement, and we may all recognize in him things fundamental to human nature—not to “race.” His presidency is as much a testament to the progress of all Americans as it is a proud moment for African Americans.
2. Keep working on the issues you care most passionately about. There is no reason to think that President Barack Obama can overthrow the will and work of God in the world. So what if he is the most pro-choice/pro-abortion candidate in history? Isn’t God still the most pro-life God in all creation? The man in the presidency has changed; our Lord has not. So we keep laboring in the cause of justice knowing that the Sovereign Lord is just as likely (maybe more likely!) for His glory to do with a President Obama—who so clearly opposes his will in many areas—greater things on the abortion front than He might do with a professing Christian president. God may yet bring to Himself more glory in prevailing on the abortion issue by making the most sizeable and godward progress during the administration of one who is so decidedly against His will! That would be just like Him: raise the opposition to demonstrate more His glory. Put your hope in the living God!
3. Pray for those in authority over you. No really; pray for him. Consider that when Paul instructs the church to pray for those in authority he then directly connects such prayer with the ability of the church to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). One wonders how much of the peace- and godliness- and holiness-destroying circumstances in our country stem from the absence of prayer for those in authority. Our prayer meetings are empty. Our pastoral and personal prayers are self-centered. We barely feel the urging emphasis of Paul when he assigns “first of all” importance to “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving” on behalf of our leaders. Can there be any wonder that our leaders so often serve themselves and not the people? And can any man stand against the will and power of God when the Lord’s people really pray for them? No they cannot. Really; they cannot. Pray for President Obama with the full assurance of faith.
So, it’s the day after the election. Things have changed, in some obvious and more subtle ways. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
God’s election of you, if you’re a Christian, has not changed. His purpose to conform you to Christ has not changed. You really have won all that matters for eternity. That’s not to downplay the importance of some issues discussed in this election.
But really, if McCain had won, how would your day today be in reality any different than your day yesterday? The laws today would be the same laws yesterday.
Your work would still be before you. You haven’t lost any ground yet.
Perhaps you’ve been given greater incentive to pray, reminded of what matters eternally, and in those things shone a more fruitful path forward. The Lord omnipotent reigns. Rejoice in full assurance!
- Ed Welch, Running Scared (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007), 195.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
1) Today is my daughter's 14th birthday. Such a blessing. We adopted her at birth (her birthmom was a 14-year-old girl we met at a camp). How I pray for her to stay close to Jesus, to pursue purity, and to walk with Him all her life.
2) Jane's Dad is in ICU in a Florida hospital. He had lung surgery a couple weeks ago, and Sunday developed blood clots; thus far the doctors have not been able to get rid of the clots.
3) We are supposed to load up the truck on November 12th and actually move!
4) Oh, yeah, there is an election today!
As you can imagine, me being in Kansas and Jane and the two younger children being in NY, and her Dad in Florida, and the "scheduled" events make this a very difficult time. I believe the lives of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of unborn babies will be saved or lost as a direct result of this election.
But "our God reigns." We are to "cast all our cares on Him" because "He cares for us."
We are to "trust in the Lord with all our heart, not lean on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will make our path straight."
And, yes, we are to "Rejoice in the Lord always", and in a rare form of repetition, Paul says "and (in case you didn't get it the first time) again I say rejoice!"
Be happy? Nope. Rejoice.
But following Christ is NOT "easy." Sorrow, tribulation, and trials are not obliterated when one comes to salvation...in fact they are increased.
But through it all I am to "rejoice."
And I can, because
1) I know Jesus loves my daughter so much more than I ever can
2) Jane's Dad (also named "Jack") knows Christ, and, like all of us, his "times are in God's hands).
3) God knows how the move will take place.
4) Again, "our God reigns." Perhaps America gets what she deserves; perhaps what is foreseen (by us) is not what He has planned; and even Obama's heart and mind is not beyond the reach of the Lord of the universe.