Monday, March 28, 2005

Schiavo's Silence- What is Not Being Said?

This is a tough one. I feel somewhat inadequate to make a statement on this heart wrenching issue. I do not have all the facts and am basing a lot of this on TV reports, which is always dangerous.

The Bible gives us a foundation for upholding life. There is a sacredness of all human life because it is life according to God’s kind (Genesis 1). Ironically, Genesis 9:6, which we base our acceptance of the death penalty is another support of this position. (The Death Penalty is another debate.) We get from scripture a command to revere and uphold life, including the defense of the defenseless. We need to err on the side of life.

Now to Ms. Schiavo. Most Christians would accept the notion that life should not be kept alive by heroic or artificial methods. The crucial step in this argument is the definition of the feeding tube. Is this an artificially, heroic measure that has allowed this human to survive longer than would be natural?

Our understanding in the past has been that food and water are not heroic measures. But is the feeding tube enough of an artificial delivery system, that we are causing this body to linger when the soul is absent?

The patient has the ability to answer that question and could do so with a clear conscience in either case. In this case, the patient is unable to decide. So the question now goes to the one who is next in line with that decision.

This is where I have extreme concerns in this case. The husband does, I believe, have the right to make this decision. The courts have agreed to that. It is his decision that has me baffled.

His behavior is strange, including the disposition to cremate the body of his wife after her death. Why is he doing this?

The parents’ behavior is understandable and normal. Why not let them take custody of her life?

The husband is interesting. His life will not be better now. He is going into the life of O.J. Simpson or Scott Peterson. He does not seem to be served well by wise counsel. Especially the spokesman who mentioned how beautiful Ms. Schiavo seemed as she is dying - how dumb was that quote?

I find a number of disturbing conflicting disagreements in this case- Disagreement over persistent vegetative state. Disagreement over Ms. Schiavo’s condition. Strange behavior by the husband. Of course, none of this is helped by the sideshow surrounding these events.

As I read back over this, I feel like a Michael Moore- no real answers. Just a lot of questions. I am praying again for a sense of unity in our nation. Does this all have to be lines in the sand of our culture war? Lord, please help us.

update: Ms Shiavo passed away and the hurt and questions remain. Mr. Schiavo has to live with a decision he made to end her life. She was not allowed to die- she was willed to die by an outside agent. Now it is in the hand of God. He is a righteous judge without fail.

The Ruin of Religion

"MATT 23: 4 They (the religious leaders) crush you with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to help ease the burden
Numbers 22:19 God is not a man, that he should lie. He is not a human, that he should change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act?"

When I hear people fed up with organized religion I understand. Anything humans touch ultimately is stained and corrupted. SO it is no suprise that the longer religions or denominations linger, the longer the shadow of injustice and inequity.

Does this cancel Christianity? Absolutely not! Though there is a history of horrific acts- Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, Tele-evangelist scandals, etc- there is a beautiful history of redemption and goodness.

There is one church- it is invisible and triumphant. There is healthy wheat amid the tares.

It has been said so many times,but is still true. Faith in Christ is a relationship, not a religion. It is not a checklist of ritualism.

Try Him out- He is a God of great integrity! He is not a burden of impossible rules.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Expanse of Expression

Ecclesiastes 12:12 "But, my child, be warned: There is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting!
13 Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad."

Flip through the news channels-Fox, CNN,MSNBC, and you will see a never ending array of experts. One of my good friends once told me that an expert is "the fool who thinks he knows everything". The segments are a battle to get in the most soundbites in a 45 second clip.
I saw one prominant author who must have gone through a lot of trouble to get in the studio and he answered 1 question!

As I read God's word- I see the patient persisitent pace of the Creator. His truth cuts through all of the fluffy spin of ear tickling and sensationalism.

Oh I cry for our culture to not get swooned by the drumbeat of the day. Keep the Word open and discern.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Mystery of God

Numbers 12:6-8
“And the Lord said to them, ‘Now listen to me! Even with prophets, I the LORD communicate by visions and dreams. But that is not how I communicate with my servant Moses. He is entrusted with my entire house. I speak to him face to face, directly and not in riddles! He sees the Lord as He is. Should you not be afraid to criticize him?”

For the majority of us, God veils Himself. It is a protection and a blessing. He gives enough to know and acknowledge him. He is revealed in creation and has set a foundation of faith. He chooses to reveal himself to some and even withdraws from others. Even some self-righteous and religious will be denied at the end. ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Deuteronomy 29:29 says that the secret things of the Lord belong to him, but the things revealed belong to us and our children. One of the measuring sticks of faith is what we do with what we know. He rewards those who seek Him. He takes away from those who resist him.

I believe that God’s mysteriousness is faith building. I serve a God that is bigger than I can imagine. I cannot explain all His ways- that is MORE comforting, not less. As we approach the celebration of the resurrection. I am thankful that God is beyond me.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Taking Spring Break Off

I'm not going to post during Spring Break 3/18- 3/25.

I'm hoping to pray and relax with family.

I definately need the time- has been a heck of a run since Jan.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Quasars of the Heart

Ecclesiastes 3:'11 God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. 14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God's purpose in this is that people should fear him."

A Quasar is a distant galaxy with a black hole at its center. They look like balls of fire because even light and sound cannot escape them. They suck in everything around them and reamain forever unquenchable.

The Bible states that the human heart is just like this. God designed them this way. He put eternity in our hearts. Our hearts long to be filled, but nothing in this world can do this.

God Himself is the only eternal thirst quincher.

In the meantime, we live everyday satisfied for the daily provisions while we yearn for eternity.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis concluded that we cannot be satisfied in this world because we were not made for this world. We were made for another world.

Thank you Lord for this great life and all Your gifts- It is so good that I can't wait to see what eternity is going to be like with You!

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Pulse of History

Ecclesiastes 1:"4 Generations come and go, but nothing really changes. 5 The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. 7 The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows again to the sea. 8 Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn't already exist long ago? 11 We don't remember what happened in those former times. And in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now."

A New Monday, a new week, another March and time does March ON.

As I study literature, I become more convinced of the Biblical account of history. What explains the nature of man better than the Bible? What explains the success of the Jewish people? What explains the setting of seasons and calendars?
Literature shows me something that is hard to explain away- Man is the same. He had the sames hopes and fears in Shakespere, the same wisdom in Plato and Socrates, the same passions in Dostoyevsky - technolgy has improved; but man's condition has not changed.

Before you reject the claims of the Bible, ask yourself- Are you that confident in time and history? Do you have any notion what 100 years are like? Are you confident in man's view to logically think through 500 or 1,000 years? When a man- even the most brilliant scholar of all time- speaks of 5,000 years. it is like a toddler explaining tax laws.

I believe in 1 miracle: "In the beginning God"- after that, it all makes sense. He gave and protects His truth. And He can be found, if you seek Him. I know Him, and He is awesome!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ravi Zacharius is My Hero

"A foreign friend once asked me what the American Civil Liberties Union stood for. I sarcastically said, “None of the above.” But the more I pondered that response the more I realized how true it is. It is certainly not American because it denies both the worldview that framed America’s founding documents and denies a vast majority of Americans the right to enjoy their festivals the way they always have been enjoyed. It is not civil because it redefines civility by making us think that tolerance only works one-way. It certainly does not understand liberty because liberty is not the bequest of naturalism. Naturalism begets a nature “red in tooth and claw” and makes determinism inevitable. That is not liberty. Liberty is the gift of the One who made us with intrinsic worth and taught us to respect life and property. And as for “union”, they spend millions of dollars to spread disunity. So much for their name and mission!" from Just Thinking, Winter 2005 RZIM.ORG

The greatest harm the ACLU has done is in the ravaging of the American public classrooms. Most public school administrators I know live in fear of the ACLU. It has provided an unwillingness on the part of teachers to even counter immorality among their students. If the teacher in the front of the room stays neutral, then the 'religion' promoted in that room is Secularism.

A lack of moral courage without an appeal to truth puts our youth in a "can't win" spot. We wring our hands over the rampant explosion of drug addiction, suicide, sexual perversion, absenteeism, violence, poor standards, and declining literacy. But when the teacher puts up his or her hands and says, "I'm neutral in this". That neutality is a white flag and the enemy continues a victory lap.

The ACLU- People for the American Way and other so called intimidation groups are the insurgents of our conscience and terrorists of our soul.

Thank God for the freedom for Christian Education and responsible Home Schooling options. The appeal to truth and willingness to embrace the moral law of God is our best hope. It is our only hope.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Shining Like the Sun

"His disciples said, "Please explain the story of the weeds in the field." 37 "All right," he said. "I, the Son of Man, am the farmer who plants the good seed. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. 39 The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels. 40 "Just as the weeds are separated out and burned, so it will be at the end of the world. 41 I, the Son of Man, will send my angels, and they will remove from my Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace and burn them. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the godly will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"

What a promise! What a warning!

The good seed is falling on your heart right now. It is the good news of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. You have offended the Creator by living as a god yourself. In this state- you belong to His rival and are an enemy of Him. If you remain in this state of hardness and rebellion, you will be broken and burned when linear history is closed or you die. These are not my words, these are the Lord's.
However, He offers you a chance to be cleared of your offense. He has been punished in your place! You can be one of the people of the kingdom!

This is your gamble.

The enemy says, "This is not true. These are not the words of Jesus. This is all a myth." It is a huge risk to reject the claims of Christ.

Have you thought about the phenomenom of this MAN? His life has changed all of history. If you are risking the rejection of Him, why don't You honestly investigate His love and His life.

I am banking on 'Shining like the sun" My life is so cool now that I am already 'beaming'.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Soil of Discouragement and Distinctiveness

I took some real shots to my spirit the other day. Some days are like that. It only took a few bad health reports, some bad news, time with a discouraged co-worker and then BAM- I felt tired, lonely, wounded, and worthless.

The soil of those circumstances are wonderful. Manure is a great fertilizer!

In that soil of doubt, a seed of opportunity sprouts. God shows out when we are at the end of hope.

In a silent prayer, I felt the encouragement of His Spirit.
Bill Maher rips christians?- praise Him for the opportunity to show our distinctives
Family member is sick?- a great opportunity to pray
Co-worker is discouraged?- great chance to encourage

"Lord, I find more often now, my total dependence on You. Rain Your grace on us again."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Am I the Ignorant One?

"His disciples came and asked him, "Why do you always tell stories when you talk to the people?" 11 Then he explained to them, "You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. 12 To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don't really see. They hear what I say, but they don't really hear, and they don't understand." Matt: 13

God, in His mercy, extends knowledge to others. He is a gentleman, however, and will not push the hardened. In essence, He gives them the rope they will use to hang themselves. The real existence of Hell is the culmination of giving the hardened souls what they truly want- An eternity away from the God they detest.

As I read Camus and Sarte, I admire the strength. They plod on, and choose, without true hope. In the end, their only virtue is rigidity and powerful perseverence. That stiffness, obstinance, hardness, toughness, will shatter as the cornerstone of God falls on them and breaks them into fragments of anguish and loss. So sad the destruction.

The pliable and compliant, the humble and meek will mold around the cornerstone and find themselves fixed into the beautiful house of God.

Can you see what is going to happen? If your anger rises when you read my posts- If you bristle at these simple words- Prepare to be broken. I pray you will break yourself before God and throw yourself on His mercy while it still reamins.

Enemies in the Midst

I saw some of a program on HBO with Bill Mayher (sp?) in which he ridiculed religion. His sharp attacks brought applause from the audience.
The scene I saw was him reading from the Bible and asking what is moral about having no other gods before me. He said that there is nothbing moral about religion and the audience gave hearty approval.

The first response is to acknowlege the harm that has been done in the name of religions. There is a history of mistakes and terrible episodes of immoral treatment. Someone like Mr. Mayher is articulate, educated, witty, and firm in his stance against religion.

However, the big issue is an appeal to truth. If the book mr Mahyer read from is true, then he has taken a very dangerous stance. In Exodus, God says that He is the creator and has laid down pathways to life and death. Mr. Mayher has obviously rejected that truth and can easily mock it and attempt to entertain by making it a butt of his humor.

But what if the Creator is there? He has many interesting promises in the book Here is one from Ezekiel 12
"21 Again a message came to me from the LORD: 22 "Son of man, what is that proverb they quote in Israel: 'Time passes, making a liar of every prophet'? 23 Give the people this message from the Sovereign LORD: I will put an end to this proverb, and you will soon stop quoting it. Now give them this new proverb to replace the old one: 'The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled!' 24 "Then you will see what becomes of all the false visions and misleading predictions about peace in Israel. 25 For I am the LORD! What I threaten always happens. There will be no more delays, you rebels of Israel! I will fulfill my threat of destruction in your own lifetime, says the Sovereign LORD." 26 Then this message came to me from the LORD: 27 "Son of man, the people of Israel are saying, 'His visions won't come true for a long, long time.' 28 Therefore, give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: No more delay! I will now do everything I have threatened! I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!"

So again- a gamble. Which side are you willing to take. Mr. Mahyer feels no fear in mocking the God of the book.

What is moral about this? God bases His morality on the truth of His nature. It is what He demands. It is what He can demand. If He is true, then what He declares is moral, is moral.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In all of his mockery, our host is showing himself to be a fool.

He is an enemy of the truth. Our faith says for us not to hate him, but love and pray for him.

And people fear us? They call us dangerous?

All I can say is that I am picking my side. Whose side are you on?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Thanks Ravi

"French author, Guy de Maupassant. He was one of the greatest writers of short stories, as you may be familiar with some of his writings, yet became an utterly tragic figure. Within ten years he rose from obscurity to fame. His material possessions bespoke a life of affluence—a yacht in the Mediterranean, a large house on the Norman Coast, a luxurious flat in Paris. It was said of him that critics praised him, men admired him and women worshipped him. Yet at the height of his fame he went insane, brought on, many believe, by a promiscuous lifestyle. On New Year’s Day in 1892, he tried to cut his throat with a letter-opener, and lived out the last weeks of his life in a private asylum on the French Riviera. After weeks and months of mindless utterances and debilitating pain, he died at the age of forty-two. Guy De Maupassant penned his own epitaph: "I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing."" Quoting Ravi Zacharius www.rzim.org - Slice of Infinity

Power,pleasure,fortune, fame - all are broken wells- they continually leak and leave us dissatisfied.

"My people have committed 2 sins- they have forsaken me the fountain of living water- to make for themselves wells, broken wells that cannot hold water." Jer 2:13

"He who drinks of the living water that I give will never thirst again" Jeus in John 4

Monday, March 07, 2005

Seeing through God's Glasses

Prov.25:27 "Just as it is not good to eat too much honey, it is not good for people to think about all the honors they deserve."

Attitude is always in the perspective. Over the years I have found that it is our vision that creates perceptions. The glasses we view life through makes all the difference.
Eve spent time focusing on what she couldn't have. Joseph's brothers focus and comparison drove their jealousy to thoughts of murder. Saul focus so much anxious attention on David that his leadership slid contimually. How do you explain Judas? He saw Jesus walk on water, heal the sick, and raise the dead. But he always seemed to focus on money and greed blinded him to the Savior.
The Pharisees tore their robes and threw stones at Stephen because they saw a need to defend their life rather than their need to hear the word of God.
When self becomes god, nothing can fill the void. The world's smallest package is a man wrapped up in himself.

When you put on God's glasses, all of life changes.It is an eternal view, it is a humble view, it is a grateful view, and it is a beautiful view. Right in the center is a new vision of the cross.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The “Butter Slide of Praise”: Surviving Success

With gratitude to C.K. Chesterton

One of the great enemies of creativity and growth is success. C.K. Chesterton comments on this by stating: “the winner most quickly moves away from greatness when he is gliding on the butter-slide of praise. (Paraphrased)” There is a sense in which our human nature cannot help but feed our pride in these moments.
The results are deadly: the butter fills our hunger, the praise softens our drive, and we begin to work for the praise of men and not the applause of heaven. Our focus becomes “me”. It feels so good to lie down and bask in this state of luxury, but if we succumb to sleep we forfeit success. This is because our success tomorrow is dependent on today’s decisions and work.
Does this mean we never stop? Never enjoy? – No- we need the balance and discipline to keep the proper pace in life. But accept the pleasure after the work and do not taste the honey so long it becomes bitter.
What then can one do to prevent the spoilage of success to rob us of progress?
There are a few points to ponder:

• Do not let sophistication rob us of appreciation
Have we forgotten the simple pleasures that used to really get us excited? Can we not recapture the joy of the mundane? Does it all have to be perfect to suit our fancy? A simple man can still enjoy the sunset without the limousine and caterer.
• Do not allow the critics to choke us, frame us, or create fear
Critics by nature find flaws, do not let them steal your joy. Critics have no capacity to see the 95% good, they work overtime to explain the 5% that is bad. They have no answers, but do a beautiful job describing the problems. These people are never a pressure point to those who evaluate under the mighty hand of God and live for His approval.
• Never lose the ability to wonder, discover, and learn
It is a gift of “childlike faith” to wonder and marvel. The humble man never gets tired of contemplating the wind and still shudders at the design of his hands, feet, or eyes. He is not the expert – “the fool who thinks he already knows it all”. He is a lifelong learner- and humble enough to be taught by a child.
• Practice the phrases of edification
There are more negative words in English than positive. The man of perseverance works hard to cultivate the praise of God and others. There is always new energy about this person because people are encouraged and “built up” around him. It is always “OPERATION CAN DO”
• Do not let fads discredit tradition, do not let tradition stifle improvement
The long-term winner is never afraid of change, but never changes just for the sake of it. He is wary of fads, and sees that a truly great idea does not wear out in time. He never clings to tradition, but does honor it. He is a little behind the fast pocket of progressivism, but a always ahead of the dust of the dinosaur
• Direct the butter of praise to God and seek godly humility, not self-deprecation.
In the long run…..all praise is due to HIM. It keeps us hungry, humble, and holy. We need not practice “aww shucks” humility, but say “we are great because our God is great!”

Friday, March 04, 2005

Ready for a Change?

“It is difficult to resist the conclusion that twentieth-century man has decided to abolish himself. Tired of the struggle to be himself, he has created boredom out of his own affluence, impotence out of his own erotomania, and vulnerability out of his own strength. He himself blows the trumpet that brings the walls of his own cities crashing down until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, having drugged and polluted himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary, battered old brontosaurus and becomes extinct.” Malcolm Muggeridge

You've tried it all. You followed philosophers and saw their end instead of their seductive beginning. You followed the movie stars and saw their hypocrisy and selfishness. You followed the rock stars and saw their burned out bodies and pleasure in nothing. You've been bombed, stoned, orgasmic, euphoric, "looked fantastic", athletic, majestic, corporated, educated, and infatuated- and you now have nothing to see but death.

Jesus still calls. His death can cover all your guilt and pain. If your heart still beats, His offer still stands. Come on. If you follow Jesus hard for 15 years, and your life is still trashed. Let me know and I'll recant my faith.

So let me ask you- Have you tried Jesus?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Compassion of Christ

" He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn't know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd.  He said to his disciples, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields." Matt 9:36-38

In his human state, Christ was limited in time and space. As he walked with the grieving and suffering, He felt pity. Fully human and fully God - He fully felt. He wants his sheep to be under the care of the good shepherd. When He ascended and His spirit returned, He now could spread to so many.

So we are His body. We are His presense. The world still has great problems. People still don't know where to go for help?

We need to boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus and His forgiveness. His pity is true and heartfelt. His sacrifice is complete and sufficient. His protection and provision is life changing and soul sustaining.

Thank you Lord for caring. May I pray for workers. May I be a worker. Bring in a bountiful harvest!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Depths of Darkness

"27 The LORD's searchlight penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive- Prov 19"

The fundamental difference in the Christian worldview and predominate spirit of this age is in determining man as evil or good. The world says, "Man is good, but he sometimes does bad things." This view believes mans intentions and motives are for universal good. If educated and free, man will choose to help others and end evil.

The scripture says. Man is evil. Born into a depraved condition. Whose motives are greedy and malicious. When he does good, it is usually tainted. He speaks lies and defends immorality. Good only exists because of the common grace of God.

The unexplainable dichotomy of man. He builds hospitals. He sells drugs. He gives to the poor. He brutalizes children. What explains this? Man is good and does bad things or man is evil and is good only by God's grace?

The Bible's answer is most likely correct. It fits the either/or reality in a more correct way. Modern man rejects original sin and blows it off as myth. I accept it because it defines me according to the reality of my nature.

Without God, how low would I go? I tremble at the thought.

When the searchlight of God hits my motives, I stand before the world guilty and condemened. Who is my advocate? Who can cleanse me? Who can forgive? "Therefore now, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" I don't have to cover up my sin problem, I give it to my Savior. Thank-you Lord for the searchlight- but mostly, thank you for the lighthouse of the world.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Sinister Sincerity

" Zeal without knowledge is not good" Prov. 19:2

SIncerity can be a sinister trap tp death and destruction. In the Old Testament, the prophets of Baal had a zeal for their religion. They practiced incredibly disciplined lifestyles- they hurt, went hungry, cut themselves- but the were not in truth. even today, there are a lot of people who rigidly practice their rituals and show tremendous zeal for their belief system.

The terrorists sincerely believed that upon impact, they were going to a paradise. Recently, Bill Mayer linked all people of faith into the same category...mentally insane.

The christian faith is so different. It is not a ritual. We do not believe in checklists to heaven. Our good deeds will offer nothing toward salvation. Our salvation has been crafted and purchased by God Himself.

Zeal is tremendous, if it is grounded in the truth. God has revealed Himself. Truth is there. Jesus had zeal for His Father's house.

Jesus said that today's worshippers must worship in spirit and in TRUTH.

I am boldly proclaiming that JESUS IS THE TRUTH.