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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why Bother?

Relationships. Counseling. Hugging. Love. Weeping with those who weep. Rejoicing botherwith those who rejoice.

Why bother?

To love, to care, to share is to place your heart out in the open, for it to be caressed or crushed, abused or adored, manipulated or molded.

For months, or years; your help may be appreciated; then situations change and you are demoted from a mentor to a meddler. From a friend to a foe. From a confidant to an outsider.

Why bother?

Because God bothered.

A role as a parent or a friend is a role filled with risk.

You know - from painful experience - this is true.

More important, the Lord knows this. And, yes, He knows from extremely painful experience.

His children hurt Him, disappoint Him, fail Him, ignore Him. His friends desert, dismay, distort.

Yet the Lord continues to love, forgive, and desires to be an incredibly close counselor and comforter.

And He says, "Go and do likewise."

Why bother?

Because God bothered.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Bull Headed? Narrow Minded? Open?

From The NIV Application Commentary on Romans, by Douglas J. Moo

After talking about turning 50, the author says, commenting on Romans 11.33-36:

"One of the most common sentiments I express these days is a greater humility about certain theological positions I hold. 

Like many young people, I felt confident of my positions in the first years of my career. 

I sometimes propagated views orally or in print that I had not thought through as thoroughly as I should have. 

While I have not changed many of these views, I am much more inclined now to notice evidence that might not fit my view. 

Therefore, I feel much more keenly the need to nuance what I teach by calling attention to this evidence and by admitting that my own view may not be correct. Increasing age should not turn us into theological milquetoasts - uncertain about what we believe and swayed by the latest wind of doctrine. 

And I am as passionately committed to the essence of the Christian faith as I have ever been. But I would describe my current approach in theological study and teaching as "humble."

What does all this have to do with Romans 11:33-36? 

Just this: Paul's reminder that God's thoughts are far beyond anything we could ever approximate and His plan more intricate and marvelous than we could even imagine certainly calls on each of us to exercise great humility in seeking to understand God and His Word. 

On this side of glory, all our theologizing is uncertain and tentative. 

Humility, willingness to listen, and respect for others are the appropriate attitudes for us finite creatures as we seek to plumb the depths of God's character and truth.

To be sure, God has graciously given us in His Word a revelation of Himself and His plan that everyone can understand: The essence of what that Word says is clear and undebatable. 

But the details are not always as clear as our theological traditions or denominational loyalties suggest. 

People holding views with more tenacity than Scripture justifies have done untold damage to the church and to the cause of Christ in the world. 

So even as w praise God for His amazing and gracious plan of redemption, we must also bow our knees in humility before him and keep a good perspective on our own limitations in understanding the specifics of that plan."

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Wanna Be Disturbed? You Should

"We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior."
      -- John Stott

Friday, July 15, 2016

"Saved but Not Seized"

This is from a ten-year-old book (Serious Times by James Emery White) with the subtitle "Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day."

Very early in the book he is talking about being moved, as a young man, by the film "The Empire Strikes Back," and transitions into how books, films, perhaps sermons, and more can move us...but all too often not change us because we let the "buzz" die (as I believe Randy Alcorn says, "nothing is as fleeting as the moment of conviction")
Anyway, couched in his text are the following words, which leave me thinking, pondering, praying...I'll give some of the context:

"We allow the movement of God on the surface of our spirits to become lost amid the stones the world tosses thoughtlessly into our lives. As a result, we lose the vision God could give us of our world and our place in it. Too quickly, and often without struggle, we trade making history into making money, substitute building a life with building a career and sacrifice living for God with living for the weekend. We forgo significance for the sake of success and pursue the superficiality of title and degree, house and car, rank and portfolio over a life lived large. We become saved, but not seized..."

"Saved, but not seized..." Methinks these four words are loaded with potential to change, challenge, and conform...What sayeth you?

(by the way, the photo has absolutely nothing profound to it; just came up when I google-imaged the word seige and I thought it was kinda cool)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

I'll Take a Helping of "Jesus," but Hold Off on the "Christ"

((NOTE - This is by Keith Drury, and I first posted it in 2006...rather prophetic, huh?))

There is a big competition coming - a playoff between Jesus and Jesus Christ  The rivalry has already started and I expect the coming decades to be a knock-down drag-out contest.  What's the difference, you ask?  There are two competing stories, one about Jesus and the other Jesus Christ

The Jesus story presents a wandering peasant teaching profound lessons in how to live life meaningfully.  

This Jesus showed love and acceptance to all kinds of people and was a perfect example of tolerance and compassion.  

This Jesus worked the fringes of society and spent most of his time with the outcasts.  

He was eventually killed by none other than the leaders of organized religion, who are the bad guys in this story. 

This Jesus story is both a romance and a tragedy-he was a really good man we all liked who got screwed over by the people with power. 

The bad guys in this story are religious and the heroes are all rebels and outsiders led by the radical religion-hating Jesus.  

The lessons are about how to treat others and live a meaningful life.  

The Jesus story gives a model or example to follow in the genre of WWJD.  

Those who tell this story make the synoptic gospels primary sources and downplay the epistles and John (and also church history).  They are "Jesus people"through and through; trying to fashion their lives after the example Jesus gave when he was on earth long ago. ((2016 note from Jack - nowadays they'd be called "red letter christians"))

The rival is the Jesus Christ story.  Jesus Christ did not only live an exemplary life but he also was resurrected from the dead.  

Jesus Christ was much more than a wise Middle Eastern guru back in history but is the risen son of God today and the coming King of the future.  

More, He is very God Himself. 

Jesus alone may give a model for following to become good persons, but Jesus Christ is a savior to take away the sins of the world, including mine. 

Those who tell the Jesus Christ story do not abandon the earthly Jesus and his teachings but rather take them to be the very teachings of God and therefore all the more meaningful and compelling.

Jesus Christ is the promised messiah of the Jews who now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.  

When Jesus Christ returns as Judge he will not come as the accepting-approving-affirming psychologist we want to make him into, but as a mighty judge who will dare to condemn some to eternal punishment. 

Will Jesus edge out Jesus Christ in the future?
Can anyone read the above without immediately seeing why Jesus is more popular than Jesus Christ?  

Jesus is eminently more salable.  

Tell a person on the street the Jesus story and they will love it-a poor guy who did what was right and got trampled down by the corrupt leaders of organized religion. Amen! 

It reminds them of themselves.  

Jesus sells better than Jesus Christ.  He is more likable to consumers than Jesus Christ, and He's less rigid.  Once you add Christ you've got religion, and theology, and judgment, and eschatology and you've got the church: the body of Christ.  

These things are all liabilities to selling a religion.  

Then too, Jesus is a better amalgamateĆ¢ - he is more easily fused with other religions than Jesus Christ.  Jesus and his teachings have a lot in common with Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. After all, they too fully accept the basic Jesus Story - it is Jesus Christ story that is a stumbling block. 

I expect Jesus will become quite popular in the coming decades while Jesus Christ fades and is put on the back shelf (maybe even returned to inventory "in case anyone asks"). I sense a rising bull market in Jesus stock and a coming decline in the stock of Jesus Christ.  

In an increasingly pluralistic marketplace where toleration and acceptance are the primary virtues Jesus might sweep the deck. 

Jesus Christ will be a hard sell in the future in the world's bazaar of ideas.  Jesus is going to outsell Jesus Christ in the coming decades.

So, the question is this.  Is this new packaging of Jesus real Christianity?  Is it orthodox? Does it matter?

Is a Christ-less Jesus just as good as Jesus Christ? 

So, what do you think?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

An 1899 Look at "Mohammedanism"

Winston Churchill published, in 1899, The River War, conveying his experiences in the middle east. In the book he makes the following rather remarkable observation...

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. 

Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. 

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. 

The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

.. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. 

It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome." 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Too Much Credit

I heard it again today. A member of a ministry team that will be active this weekend is afflicted with a bad, bad bug. And someone said, "Well, the devil knows how important this weekend is."

satan I am not hammering anyone, for my guess is the theology is okay; just the choice of wording is more-than-fuzzy.

Satan does not know anything about the future...except his doom. 

He and his legions may be aware that the ministry team has a tremendous opportunity; but he does not know the results of that only the Lord God is Almighty, to include all-knowing (which is why the so-called "open-theism" is so weak).

Is Satan buffeting this ministry-team member?

Could be. Not necessarily. God is on the throne. 

I think of two incredibly gifted ministers-of-the-gospel who, from my perspective, died way ahead of their time...Keith Green and Rich Mullins. Did God know Keith's plane was going to crash? Of course. Why did God allow it to happen? I certainly don't know; but I do know the plane was way overloaded. I do not remember whether or not Rich had a seat belt on when he crashed, was ejected from the vehicle, and was struck by a truck. 

Could God have prevented these tragedies? Certainly. But "our times are in His hands." Our life is "hid in Christ." Satan can buffet, Satan can not kill a child of God.

And Satan does not know the future.

In my almost forty years of experience, the hours and days after significant ministry are always the toughest. Then Satan is aware of genuine conversions (as opposed to "decisions") and other spiritual impact. Then perhaps he sends some of his troops to attack.

We need to fight not "for" the victory, but "from" the victory that is ours as heirs and joint-heirs. We need not look at every illness, every microphone failure, every flat tire as satanic attack. It could be lack of sleep; lack of someone checking batteries, or careless driving.

"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Yes, This Is More Important than Racism

Lives Matter.

ALL lives.

To include the unborn.

I see nodding heads...

What are you doing about it?

When is the last time you specifically prayed against abortion?

Does your checkbook reveal your commitment to pro life causes?

There is now therefore no condemnation...but I fear too many have a "head knowledge" of the horror of abortion but have become hardened, forgetful, dispassionate in their hearts.

But what can one do?

Here's something to this video for this film to be released in October.

After watching, pray and ask God what, if any, involvement you and/or your church should have.

America makes Hitler look like an amateur. We grieve, as we should, at the death of officers and alleged innocent victims.

There is nothing more "innocent" than an unborn baby; and nothing more horrific than that baby being slaughtered because he/she is "inconvenient."

God bless America?


Watch this: PLEASE click here

Friday, July 8, 2016

Predictions I Hope/Pray Do NOT Happen

I am not a prophet, nor a son of a prophet.

That said, here is counsel and a prediction:

Reservists - Don't make any concrete plans for stuff this summer

Convention cities - Look at 1965 in L.A. and 1968 Chicago; prepare yourselves

Need a Movie Recommendation? How about an oldie?

((NOTE-I wrote this a decade ago...still give it a high recommendation)

 Yes, there are some "bad" words (mild...street language). Yes, it is a bit cheesy in spots. But after returning from Missouri I took my wife on an overnight date and Tuesday afternoon we went to see this movie which came highly recommended by our two oldest sons as well as our daughter.

Witch-hunters (you know, professing Christians who always find something to gripe about...kind of like the vulture and the bee...the vulture always finds dead, stinky things and the bee always finds the sweet nectar...why? Because they (and us) always find what we are looking for!) will find numerous things about which to complain...the language, a good quotation from a fuzzy source, and a few other things...

BUT...don't let them rob you of enjoying this film. It is more than feel-good; it is just plain great.

Need a Movie Recommendation? How about an oldie?

((NOTE-I wrote this a decade ago...still give it a high recommendation)

 Yes, there are some "bad" words (mild...street language). Yes, it is a bit cheesy in spots. But after returning from Missouri I took my wife on an overnight date and Tuesday afternoon we went to see this movie which came highly recommended by our two oldest sons as well as our daughter.

Witch-hunters (you know, professing Christians who always find something to gripe about...kind of like the vulture and the bee...the vulture always finds dead, stinky things and the bee always finds the sweet nectar...why? Because they (and us) always find what we are looking for!) will find numerous things about which to complain...the language, a good quotation from a fuzzy source, and a few other things...

BUT...don't let them rob you of enjoying this film. It is more than feel-good; it is just plain great.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Me and Race - Or (non)confessions of an old white dude

I shall try not to editorialize here.

I shall just describe my interactions with people who, unlike me, are not Caucasian (is that an okay word?)

I was born into a military family. My earliest recollections are living in military housing with black neighbors. I vividly remember, when I was about 13, living across the street from a black soldier who had married a German woman - they had two children; one was black, one was white.

No big deal to me. In fact not even a "deal."

I graduated high school just outside of Los Angeles in 1965. My school (named after a dead cowboy actor) was probably predominantly white, but had a good portion of blacks, as well as what were then called chicanos (and the Mexican-Americans I knew called themselves chicanos). 

I don't recall ever seeing anything racial.  There were a few black/white couples. The only "racism" I saw was when I would be cruising with my buddy (who later died in Vietnam) who happened to be black. Sometimes we'd be at a stop light and there would be a group of blacks on the corner and just before the light changed my bud would duck down whilst yelling the "n" word. I did not find this humorous.

I enlisted in the Army right out of high school. While at basic training Watts broke out. They had us (recruits) on standby in Fort Ord, California. I'm very grateful they didn't ship a bunch of newbies like us down to L.A. to help deal with the riots.

My first overseas assignment was Korea; I was there two years. In my ten-man detachment were two blacks and one Chinese-American. We all got along, and discussed the increasing race tensions amongst ourselves. 

The only issue of race I saw was that the ville outside our military installation clearly had an exclusively black side. Blacks could and did come on the "white" side with no problems, but it was not safe for a white dude to visit the black side.

From Korea I was shipped to Germany. While there the Germans invaded Czechloslovakia, and my unit traveled to the border a couple weeks prior to the invasion so we could gather intelligence. Enroute we stopped at a military base to spend the night.

Walking from our vehicles to our housing, a group of four or five black soldiers walked by us going the other direction. Our idiot lieutenant (not necessarily redundant) yelled at them, "Don't you boys know when to salute a superior officer?" His use of the word "boys" was intentional, and definitely meant as a racist statement. I didn't like the jerk anyway; I despised him after this.

The men turned, frowned, saluted, and left. Later that night they came after us, and that was the first time I fired a weapon in self defense. No one was injured or killed, but it was scary.

From Germany I went to Vietnam. This was '68-'69. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were dead. There were a few times that I was more concerned about some of the black soldiers than I was of the Vietcong and N.V.A. 

On July 9 I left Vietnam...the couple hours in Bien Hoa airport waiting to get on the plane were incredibly tense as blacks and whites separated themselves and many glared at each other. 

Throughout all these years I had no personal racism, nor any negative encounters with a black (or any other 'minority').

After the Army I got involved in drug dealing etc and got away with it for a few years. The guys I worked with were like the United Nations - blacks, whites, Chinese, Mexican etc.

Then I got busted and eventually ended up in Oregon State Prison. This began in 1973 and ended in 1977. Racism was for real there. Most of the gangs were based on race, from the Aryan Brotherhood to the Black Muslims (who then were more political/racist than religious). Though I had a couple black friends behind the walls, the heaviness of racism was tangible. It remains my opinion that the officials fueled this, with the thinking that if the inmates were divided among themselves less danger to the guards etc.

In jail, enroute to prison, I became a follower of Christ. He made (and makes) a huge difference in my life; but my feelings toward people of other colors did not never was, nor is, an issue.

All that to say I am not racist.

But I'll not be the token white guy apologizing to others for someone elses' racism. I'll do my own time; and ask you to do the same.

And I wouldn't be a cop for all the money in the world. All the rules are on the side of the bad guys. Therefore stuff happens. Sure, there are some bad cops, some racist cops. 

And, frankly, I'd like as much outrage and expressions of support for slain officers as there is for victims and "alleged" victims. I type "alleged" because in the most recent cases, I think "innocent until proven guilty" should apply to the officers involved.

I'm a felon. I can't legally have a weapon. But if I could, (and one never knows how strictly I obey the law), and if you tried to break into my home and/or harm me or a loved one, I would do my dead level best to dispatch you into eternity - whether you be white/black/brown/asian/etc.

(Oh - in case you were wondering, my grandfathers immigrated from Germany and Ireland; so no plantation owners in my bloodline)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Comfortable? Read This:

Here is a prayer by Philip Ryken, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Consider not just reading it, but praying it:
Father, we have sinned. We confess that we do not listen to your Word. We read it and hear it, but we do not obey it. We say, "That was a great sermon!" but it doesn't make a difference, because we are not willing to change.

We confess that we do not worship you the way you deserve to be worshiped. We Repentanceare more concerned about what we get out of it than what we put it into it. We are often distracted. Our lips keep moving, but our hearts are cold and still.

We confess that we do not love one another very much. We do not want to be bothered with other people's problems. We think the worst about others, rather than the best.

We confess that we do not always fulfill our responsibilities to one another. We are harsh when we should be gentle, and when we need to be firm, we lack the courage to say or do what is right.

We confess that we are not willing to pay the high cost of discipleship. We try to be as worldly as we think we can get away with. We prefer to squeeze our faith in around the edges of life, rather than to let you stand at the center to control everything we are and have.

We confess that we lack passion for evangelism. We think of missions as something someone else does, somewhere else, rather than something you have called us to do right here and now. We lack the courage to proclaim the gospel. We are afraid to talk about spiritual things, for fear of what others will think.

We confess that we lack compassion. We think it is important to help the poor, provided that someone else actually does the helping.

In the name of Jesus, we ask forgiveness for these and all our sins.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Not Much Of A Life Without Risk

"All the best things in life come packaged in a ribbon of risk.

You untie the gift, you assume the risk, and equally, the joy.

Parenthood is like that.  

Marriage is like that.  

Friendship is like that.  

In order to experience life in the full sense, you expose yourself to a bottomless pit of vulnerability.  

That is the essence of true love."

Kristin Armstrong

The Delusional Christian

The following video has been "up" since October of 2006. It has only 645,000 views in that time.

I stumbled across it from an article another friend sent me.

If your blood pressure can stand it, it is worth viewing, recognizing that this is the way many of our friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers think.

It is attackable on many fronts; and if you want to try to engage the folks by commenting on the video itself, knock yourself out. It is interesting, infuriating, and occasionally encouraging to read the comments.

Well, excuse me; I need to go back to the nonsense of prayer while reading the ridiculous "fairy tale" called the Word of God...

Monday, July 4, 2016

My Declaration...of DEpendence!

On this day, celebrated as Independence Day in the USofA; I again confess my declaration of (total) DEpendence...on the Lord Jesus Christ.

He lived the life I could not live; died the death I should have died.

His grace is, always has been, always will be, amazing...

One of my favorite renditions of my favorite hymn:

Saturday, July 2, 2016

PLEASE - Don't Tell Them It's All Going To Be Okay!

I spoke to a group of teens at Midland Ministries’ SuperC Camp in Polo Missouri a week ago; wrapped up on Saturday, drove to Ogallala, Nebraska to spend the night, and Sunday spent the day at the Sterling (Colorado) Correctional Facility – the states largest prison (actually containing three prisons at one location; minimum, medium, maximum) 

The next day I began a week with teens at Camp Machasay, Colorado as speaker.

I’m home for a couple weeks, then off to Western Kansas for two consecutive teen weeks; then a week off then off to Pennsylvania for my annual “Korean Kamp.”

The difference I see in teens this summer season – they are scared.

They notice the terrorist attacks (and most of them call them Islamic terror attacks though our “leaders” in D.C. won’t). They observe – even if they don’t want to – the political idiocy. Most of them discern the growing, overt distrust, disgust, and even hatred of “Christians” (though most of the antagonists could not define one).

And they wonder about their future…short term and long term.

They have every right to be worried. Parents, pastors, and youth leaders have no right to tell them “don’t worry.”

Granted, we can tell them God is in control. We can share verses like Proverbs 16.4, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”

We should encourage them to join the psalmist, (Ps 73.28) “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all Your works.”

Don’t ignore the last phrase – “…that I may tell of all Your works.”

Yes, the situation is dark.

Yes, our Pledge of Allegiance should be edited – “…with liberty and justice for all – except evangelical Christians.”

Yes, anyone with a functioning brain is waiting for the next big terrorist strike within our nation.

But the light always shines the brightest against a dark background. Our teens (and us!) must be equipped to share the gospel intentionally, intelligently, and naturally.

They (and we) need to see evangelism as obedience in action; and as a lifestyle as opposed to a “knocking on doors,” “mission tripping to the beach,” sporadic event. 

They (and we) need to understand that as redeemed people life is a missions trip.

As we see 2 Timothy 3.1-5 in a growing light, we focus on the Light, and ask Him to use us….and use these teens…to go against the flow, to stand when others cave, to speak when others are silent.

Easy? Of course not.

Where is it written that following Christ in obedience is “easy.” (though it is too often ‘preached’) Where is it written that it is about comfort, wealth, and health? It isn’t (except in books that should be labeled “fantasy fiction")

So, parents, pastors, youth leaders – don’t lie to the teens, regardless of your motive. It will get tougher. We’ve no idea how tough, though we could ask our brothers and sisters in places like Afghanistan, North Korean, Russia, China etc.