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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Comparison is Perilous

I took these pictures not far from our home early Saturday morning.

All four were connected to the same stem, same root.

So different.

Could there be a spiritual lesson there?

It has been said that "comparison is the root of all sin." Not sure if that is totally true; especially since it is not scripture. But I do know I get in trouble when I expect "a" to look and act like "b."

God created us all "fearfully and wonderfully." And different.

And that's cool. (and I realize we could draw other spiritual parallels...like why some of these are rather beautiful and full of life and others rather ugly, dry, and, ah, dead...





Too True in Too Many Cases

Charles Shultz and his "Peanuts" gang have so much to teach us.

This cartoon may cause you to chuckle, but after over three decades of speaking at teen camps for five to seven weeks each summer...it portrays truth for so many young people.

On the one hand, it is hard to deal with "home sick" kids in childrens' camps (I have staffed these, and spoken (once - half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb at!)...but we can and should be thankful that some of the kids miss home...when so many live in warzones that they'd rather not go home to...

But there are also teenagers who at least feel they have no friends...for a wide variety of reasons.

Though that is painful to observe, what a joy it is to be able to tell them about the Friend who will stick closer to a brother, and to love on them and stay connected with them and let them know that they do have a heavenly Father and that they do have at least one human friend with whom they can stay connected...


The Heart of the Gospel


“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1
Now.  Not five years from now when you are a better Christian.  Right now.  At this instant.
No.  None at all.  Not even a little.  Zero.  Gone.
For those in Christ Jesus.  And only because we are in him.  We provide everything that deserves condemnation.  He provides everything that deserves acceptance and even glory.
This is the clear message of the Bible, because God not only does not condemn us in Christ, he doesn’t want us feeling condemned in Christ.  He wants us feeling freed.
James Montgomery Boice, Romans (Grand Rapids, 1992), page 789: “Verse 1 is not only the theme of Romans 8.  It is the theme of the entire Word of God, which is only another way of saying that it is the gospel.  Indeed, it is the gospel’s very heart."

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"If we possess nothing, God will allow us to have plenty." A W Tozer


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Have No Words...

This is, simply, astounding, edifying, encouraging, and draws me to praise and prayer...

Every Day Should Be Mom's Day

Though usually applied to men; more applicable, methinks, to the females..."Any woman can be a mother; it takes a real lady to be a Mommy."

And I fully concur that being a Mom is the hardest job in the world...

Enjoy this:

Hager's At God's Mountain!

Can't express how proud and blessed I am...

Jane is cooking for Leadership week...Janelle is attending Leadership week as she will be working here (lifeguarding and more) this summer (as well as two other camps...and, yes, she is raising support if you are so inclined), and Josiah, as full-time Program Director (who also receives no salary but relies on the Lord to provide through missionary support) oversees the program. Jacob is here as well, and I am spending evenings here while doing my "normal" work during the day...

To be in a meeting where Josiah is sharing from the Word is an astoundingly blessing. I am very proud of all the children God has entrusted to Jane and me...

Here's some shots from the first day:

                                          Participation games help teens get to know each other...

                          As Josiah prayed for campers, his head was about to explode ?

                          Josiah states that he loves Christian camping. Wonder where he got that from?

                              Jacob "decorated" camp dog Hummer

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Whatcha lookin' for?

Bono sings "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

But he is an exception...

Usually...almost always...we find what we are looking for.

All God's creations do...

Take the buzzard for instance...he gracefully soars above, all senses keyed as he looks for something dying, something decaying, something rotten...and, guess what, though it may take a while...he finds it.


Consider the hummingbird...ignoring the fact that scientists say it can not fly...she frantically (or so it seems) flits rapidly...searching desperately for some sweet nectar...guess what? She finds it.

We all do.

We all find what we are looking for.

So I ask myself...and you can tune in and ask yourself...What am I looking for:

...in other Christians

...in other ministries

...in other churches

...in my children (or in my parents)

If you're looking for the negative, the rotten, the decaying...you'll find it.

If you're looking for the positive, the good, the living...you'll find it.

I recognize we can get off balance here...and, sadly, balance is something only learned in losing it; but, at least for me, I'm asking God to give me eyes to look for that which is good, for which I can encourage instead of beat up or beat down.

After all, it is not a reach to apply the following to this:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think  about (look for?) these things." Philippians 4.8 (ESV)



A Hero - and A Quotation From Him

This Memorial Day ...I urge you to order this book and learn more about life, faith, war, heroism, and the true spirit of a fighting man...incredible stuff...order it off my link (below) and give a missionary a few cents...




Monday, May 28, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jesus Did Not Die for Statistics...Our Fallen Did Not Die as Statistics

I hate numbers. As in "3 got saved last night." Why? Probably some of it stems to my tour of duty in Vietnam when numbers were exaggerated at best, lied about more often. Probably because saying something like that puts us in the role of the Holy Spirit..I can live with  "we had three teenagers last night who indicated a turning from sin and a turning to the Savior"); and I sure hope there isn't anyone who really thinks that every decision form filled out is meaningful for eternity?

Some of my disdain comes from observing those who think numbers indicate success. Though they may be an indicator, to boast in "decisions" is sin...it implies we had something to do with it...

Numbers and statistics are also dry...academic...formal...

That's why I urge you to spend a moment watching the following video...a listing of the servicemen and servicewomen who died last year...

Not "statistics,", but sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives...individuals with their own dreams...who enlisted, volunteered...and died...




Not All Heroes Go to War

As we celebrate, commemorate Memorial Day; it is fitting and right to honor our military dead, veterans, and active duty personnel.

It is also fitting to remember, as Christians, that we are soldiers.

And soldiers get wounded. Sometimes die. Sometimes, alas, they run. Or blend in with the enemy...

You that take a stand for Jesus in tough places...most notably a public (or Christian, for that matter) school...you who seize opportunities to brag on Jesus at the workplace...

Sometimes you may feel all alone. Sure, you know He is with you; but it seems you are on a one-man (or one-woman) mission.

Not true.

You are part of a family.

And people are watching.

And there may be some Christians who, as yet, don't have the courage, the guts, the obedience to stand up and stand out for Jesus. But they are watching you.

And hopefully learning.

And maybe drawing encouragement...step by step...to stand up.

Until then, they wallow in wishy-washiness.

From where did these thoughts come this early Saturday morning?

This:


Beautiful...or is it?

These things have been blossoming for a couple weeks. I guess they are thistles?

Nasty, thorny beasts they are...but they are topped by these beautiful adornments.

Reminds me of the deceitfulness of sin.

Looks good, is fun, but bites.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shepherds or Butchers???




"The story is told about a group of tourists in Israel who had been informed by their Israeli tour guide, after observing a flock and their shepherd, that shepherds always lead their flocks from the front. He told his attentive listeners that they never “drive” the sheep from behind.
A short time later they drove past a flock along the road where the shepherd was walking behind them. The tourists quickly called this to their guide’s attention and he stopped the bus to step out and have a word with the “shepherd.”
As he boarded the bus he had a sheepish grin on his face and announced to his eager listeners, “that wasn’t the shepherd, that was the butcher!"
                                                  Timothy Witmer

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"What we think about when we are free to think about what we will - that is what we are or will soon become." A. W. Tozer



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In a Tough Spot?

I despise the "prosperity" "gospel" (I put both words in quotes intentionally...especially "gospel").

"In this world you will have tribulation," declares Jesus. "Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials" says His brother. "Exalt in your tribulation" says Paul. The Word speaks of those who "suffer according to the will of God."

If you aren't in a valley at the moment, you will soon be; or your just got out of one. The key word in Psalm 23 is "through". You go "through" the valley. He goes with you.

And, if you are currently in a valley, perhaps this newer song from Mercy Me will minister grace to you:


MercyMe - The Hurt and The Healer (Official Music Video) from mercymemusic on GodTube.

Succinctly Stupendously Significant Synopsis

Like the alliterated title? Well..


Seriously, I find this an amazing, careful definition:


J. I Packer: "Were I asked to focus the NT message in 3 words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation." 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Honestly..

I laughed at this.

Then, drat, I thought about it.

And I wondered, "How often as I preach/teach/counsel is this the end result in those who hear?"

Then I remembered, "Let not many of us become teachers, for as such we shall incur the stricter judgment (NOT condemnation as some translations wrongly say)"

Then I recalled, I believe Spurgeon's, practice of testing his sermons on a young maid; if she understood it, he preached it; if she did not, back to the drawing board.

Perhaps it's a good idea that I try to always pray as I prepare and as I preach, "Lord, help me not to impress or entertain anyone; enable me to communicate Your truth..."


Friday, May 18, 2012

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Jane and I attended a home school curriculum fair in Kansas City several weeks ago. While there met a teen who had a burden to interview veterans of all wars. Visiting with him, I learned that he had arranged a public meeting featuring four survivors of Pearl Harbor...which happened yesterday in Olathe, Ks.

Jacob and I attended, and had the honor of meeting and listening to three military survivors (one could not attend due to illness) as well as a woman who was a six-year-old on that "date which shall live in infamy."

It was an privilege to attend, and all were articulate, insightful, and occasionally humorous.

Two of the men made a career of the military; closing out their active duty in Vietnam. Both these men were under fire exactly twice...Dec 7, 1941 and once in Vietnam.

Here's photos:






Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Who Accepts Who?

Sobering, spot-on stuff from D. A. Carson:

"In much contemporary evangelism, there is little concern for whether or not God will accept us, and much concern for whether or not we will accept Him.

Little attention is paid to whether or not we please Him and much to whether or not He pleases us.

Many popular evangelistic methods are molded by these considerations.

As a result, there is far too little stress on God's character and the requirements of the kingdom, and far too much stress on our needs. Worse, our needs are cast in preeminently psychological categories, not moral ones (alienation and loneliness, not bitterness and self-seeking and hatred; frustration and fear, not prayerlessness and unbelief).

To top it off, peace, joy, and love are preached as desirable goals. These are desirable, but they suffer from two defects.

First, virtues such as peace, joy, and love can easily be interpreted in merely personal, almost mystical terms. As a result, the biblical emphases on peace with God and with men, joy in the Lord, and tough-minded love which gives sacrificially to both God and men, are reduced to a warm, pleasant glow."



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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scenes from a Monday Walk

As the rest of the family slept, I went on about a three hour walk/jog to and around the downtown area. I love Chicago, still; New York has its place; but Saint Louis is a marvelous city....Here's some stuff I saw along the way:

                                               
                                                                   Pinochio's happy


                                                 Firemen's Rememberance

                                                 Somebody's child...all too common...

                                             

                                           Tribute to fallen police officers...

                                                   Reflections..

                                                           Looking up at arch





                                                     I have no idea...



                                                            Ulysses S Grant




A Hager Day at City Museum

 "We don't need no map!" is a variation of a theme of City Museum in Saint Louis. On Monday the Hager clan plus Joel's girlfriend Alex spent the day enjoying this unique treat in a great city. If you are ever in Saint Louis and do NOT visit City Museum you will have robbed yourself. (HERE IS THEIR SITE) This is only a sampling of photos taken:
                                                      Josiah providing a potential cardiac...

                                            Jacob rather enjoyed the day:


                             Josiah, Jacob, Joel, Alex...

                                               Janelle enjoying one of many climbs...




                                           Ferris wheel atop the 11th floor...







                               Mom and Jacob enjoying lunch...