Monday, December 25, 2006

Hope for a Blessed Christmas

Here is a wish for a Merry Christmas. Without wanting to be too personal, this has been a tough week.

I have no doubt that the Lord is in control, but I do need His gracious help.

Bless everyone and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Polls and Perseverence

I normally stay away from politics, but with elections on the forefront I decided to write a few words. I get so tired of election year leadership. Where are our leaders?

Are there leaders who believe in something and stay the course, even if it costs them votes? If candidate "A" said, "I stand for this" and candidate "B" said, "I stand for this"- then we could really choose.

What do I want? I want as small a government as possible. It needs to protect and provide excellent service. I do not want a welfare state of entitlements and confusing tax programs. I want a secure border and a system to eliminate illegal aliens with a comprehensive program, including punishing companies who hire them.

I want to aggressively pursue terrorists. Keep the fight to them over there or we will soon be fighting here.

I want a unified country. I want to support our leaders, but they need to stand.

I go on record here to say that I will stand with our President. I do not think that every move has been correct, but faced with the aftermath of 911, I believe he is doing the best we know how.

Anyone else under the scrutiny and criticism that he has endured would have already retreated.

I believe that most democrats are soft on terror and until that changes, I will still vote republican. I am not a republican, I am a Christian, but the GOP is the least of two evils for me.

Who is strong enough to stand up and be counted?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Character and Unity- Keys to Victory

Our football team is doing well this year. A big part of that is our team character-perseverence, work ethic,compassion- and team unity-following the coaches,pulling for each other,forgiving differences.

What can we learn from that?

On the 5th anniversary of 911- we are far from being a winning team.

We have to improve our national character- we are more perverse and materialistic and selfish than ever before. When pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry- dependency at an all time high-illiteracy-poverty-racism- corporate greed- rampant consumerism- we have a hard time having a national resolve.

We have to get behind our leaders and show unity. I do not believe that our President has done everything right, but I am for him and I support him. 911 changed the way we do business and this man has labored to try and win this crucial war. All of this whining and complaining from the far left only weakens our strength.

It is OK to ask legitimate questions- but the viciousness is appalling.

Lord, are you raising up the Jihadists for our sins? May You protect Your remnant. I pray You will come soon! Forgive me for all of my depravity. Thank-you Jesus for covering Me!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How Clear Do You Want It?

John 8:"21 So he said to them again, I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come. 22 So the Jews said, Will he kill himself, since he says, Where I am going, you cannot come? 23 He said to them, You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins. 25 So they said to him, Who are you? Jesus said to them, Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him. 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him. 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him."

"You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."

Pretty straight forward statement by Jesus.

We are sinful- deserving of death. If we stand before God without an advocate, without a ransomer, without an atoner..what hope do we have?

My only hope for salvation is Jesus. I am banking it all on Him.

What are you trusting in? Please don't say your self or your own intellect that has explained it all away.

It is a very dangerous game you are playing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Victorious Praying Warrior

Zechariah 10- 1 Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field.

God is a giving God- who hears and acts- He gives in abundance.

Fruit of the Lord :


"5 They shall be like mighty men in battle, trampling the foe in the mud of the streets; they shall fight because the Lord is with them, and they shall put to shame the riders on horses. 6 I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them. 7 Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior, and their hearts shall be glad as with wine. Their children shall see it and be glad; their hearts shall rejoice in the Lord. 8 I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before. 9 Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me, and with their children they shall live and return. 10 I will bring them home from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria, and I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon, till there is no room for them. 11 He shall pass through the sea of troubles and strike down the waves of the sea, and all the depths of the Nile shall be dried up. The pride of Assyria shall be laid low, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart. 12 I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in his name,declares the Lord."

strength-courage-accomplished-righteous living- harmnomious homes-fearless victory

it is good to walk in His name.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Truly, Truly Bottom Line

"24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life."

Do we really take into consideration what Christ is saying? The one who holds the power to undo the greatest tragedy is the One we run from. Not only do we escape death... we escape judgment.

Praise You, Lord Jesus...what a promise.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Oh I Needed That

We had a big win Friday night 51-20 over a team that beat us 36-9 last year. I can't relate how much I needed that. It was a long October losing 2 straight and missing the playoffs and a longer winter- but we had a good summer and I had an impatient camp.

Confidence was low.

My players picked me up! They have done all that I asked them to do. We have an off week this week- but I am excited- this could be a fun ride!

Thanks Lord, I really needed it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sunday Soccer and the End of History

Another impact of post-modernism is a loss of a pattern or rhythm of life. As Communication and Informational technologies (CITs) explode- a big casualty is TIME David Lyon in his book, Jesus in Disneyland, gives a remarkable summary of what sociologists are seeing in the compression of space and time.

The speed of life is approaching warp dimensions. Instant communication, insatiable consumer appetites, and the extended present of cyberspace has put us in a world more liquid than solid. A rolling stone may gather no moss, but our culture’s tread is fractured.
There is no long lasting stability. No life long careers or marriages.

“To disrupt time is to generate uncertainties, to loosen anchors, to dissolve meanings.” Life is more disposable. Is it any wonder that stress and exhaustion is at an all time high?

One important aspect of God’s Sabbath command is a need for pace. God set the pattern- 6 days work and a PAUSE. That pause is to reflect and gear our minds toward Him. To have our souls cleaned and missions adjusted. It helps us to see eternity.

I believe the blue law days are forever done. I live in an NFL town and Sabbath ends at kickoff (or 2 hours before if you tailgate).

Travel youth sports jump right in to the rapid stream of the post-modern pace.

The stereotypical 10 year old is being molded by his parents for success by meals on the go, the chalice of college scholarships, motel bills, and pilot seat DVD’s. Any wonder why a 55-minute worship service is “boring”? We have squeezed minutes into seconds and pushed God out in the process.

I’m sorry – but when I drive to church on Sunday morning and see the soccer fields buzzing with activity at 9:15 A.M., I get really discouraged.

I’m not afraid of getting behind. I worry about what happens when we leave God behind.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Any More Goosebumps?

As I continue to observe our postmodern culture and the influence on our youth, I get most concerned about their apathy. Nothing seems to excite our youth. They do not seem to be inspired. They seem to be coasting.

I refer to it as a spirit of casualness. They appear too cool to care and make fun of people who get really juiced about something. Even my daughters have been made fun of - you don’t want to be accused of being a “track freak”- (which means you practice everyday.)

This may be a by-product of affluence. I have players who have been everywhere and done everything- so there is nothing left to excite them.

Or

It could be a by-product of our postmodern consumerism. It is a radical departure from our Puritan and reformed heritage.

“The frequently caricatured puritan ideals of asceticism, self denial, fixed boundaries that would lead to delayed enjoyment, saving for a rainy day and marriage for life are clearly out of kilter with the culture of the so called me generation that does its own thing and where anything goes.” (Lyon, Jesus in Disneyland)

Consumerism affects what inspires us, what excites us, and what connects us.

What caricatures your life?

The Kingdom of Christ or The Kingdom of Consumerism

Excited by the Glory of God or My Goods on Display?
Inspired by The Love of Christ and stories that tell that narrative or Flamboyancy- “What is bigger-better-cooler?”
Connected by a love of people or a love of things?

Please pray for me. I want to find a spark to inspire a football team. And right now I feel like all the kindling is wet.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Church vs Cyberspace

Thanks to David Lyons, "Jesus in Disneyland"

Church - Cyberspace

Authority - Anarchy
Continuity - Instant Fluidity
Community - Individuality
Wholeness - Fragmentation
Purpose - Inconsequentiality


The destabilization of the post modern movement has put an incredible strain on our society and is paying horrible dividends to our youth. Can anyone but me hear the creaking of broken foundations and fear the weight of sin?

If we do not move back to the Church side of this equation - what hope is there for long term success?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

True Believer?

Nice comments below by John McArthur

Are You Really Saved?

John MacArthur: When I was in high school I had a very dear friend—played on our baseball team, played on our football team, we were buddies, he played first base, I played short stop, he played a backup quarterback position, I was a tailback—and we were close. His father was real active in a church group and, of course, my father was a pastor and we did a lot of personal evangelism in those days, we’d go down to the Pershing Square in LA and witness. Ralph went away to Redlands University—I saw him after his second year, after I’d been away to college, and I was so glad to see him and he said, “John, something’s changed.” I said, “What?” He said, “I’m an atheist.” I was shocked. I said, “What do you mean ‘you’re an atheist’?” He said, “I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe any of that “blankety-blank” stuff in the Bible.” I just didn’t have a category in my theology to put him in at that point.



I went away to college. I had a very, very similar experience with a number of guys that I knew, who named the name of Christ at one point in time, and who abandoned Christ. The guy that sticks in my mind most of all—I was in my senior year at college. He was my running mate in the backfield; he was a great football player. We had great times together. He was a youth pastor on the weekends; he taught the College Sunday school class in a Presbyterian church, and I taught the College Sunday school class for my dad—we always compared notes. He graduated. I went on to seminary. He went on to get a Ph.D. in Psychology; he went to teach at Cal. State University in Long Beach, and I picked up the Times one day to find out that he had brought nude students into the classroom and was demonstrating sexual stuff in front of the whole class. He was defrocked—kicked out of the school…found out he was selling drugs on the side…he wound up with a seven-year prison sentence. You know, when you play football with a guy for three years, you get close. He was the student body president, I was vice president; his father was a pastor, a good friend of my dad’s; to this day he denies Christ.



I went away to seminary—the son of the Dean of my seminary married a Buddhist and set up a Buddhist altar in his house after graduating from Talbot Seminary. I struggled through a lot of that kind of stuff. Then, I went to a church and I baptized a guy who was a porno film maker and within 2 months, he was back making porno films.



As a pastor, I have seen them come and go and come and go and come and go…and trying in my own heart to access the nature of true conversion was very much a personal struggle with me, not a theological one. Then, I began to study the gospel of Matthew and I preached in Matthew for 8 years at our church and in that process of going through Matthew, I began to come to grips with the whole gospel record, because I was doing a study of the synoptics and John at the same time. I began to fix on how Jesus evangelized and what he called for and so forth and born out of that, I began to look at the church at large.



I began to look, for one thing, at the Charismatic movement, which I say this with compassion in my heart, has been, without question, the most disruptive disastrous thing that has happened to the church in the last 50 years. It has devastated the church in America in a number of ways. I wish I had time to go in to them. And then coming behind it, this psychological salvation stuff. The combination of this has created the illusion of salvation in our society.



I’m not trying to make people insecure; I’m just trying to make sure there aren’t some people thinking they’re on their way to heaven, who are going to wake in hell, and fulfill Matthew 7:21-23 and say, “Lord! Lord! What about us?” That, to me, is the most frightening passage in all of Scripture. It’d be one thing to go to hell and know you were going there, it’d be one thing to go to hell and not expect anything different; it’d be another thing to go to hell and wonder why you got there when you thought you were a Christian. I just don’t want any responsibility in my life or any of your responsibility with regard to that doctrine.



So, that’s really what motivated me through the years, just going over that and trying to deal with the reality of that issue and then watching people who name the name of Christ, but their life is the same.



Board Member: Another question here then, John. If I were an unsaved man coming to you today in desperate need of salvation, and were to ask you, how I can receive eternal life, what would you tell me? How much would I have to understand concerning Christ, to get saved? Please give the Scripture you would use.



John MacArthur: Well, you’d have to understand who Christ is—I mean, you can’t believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved unless you know who the Lord Jesus Christ is. You would have to understand that He is God in human flesh who came into the world to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin and that He accomplished the atonement on the cross, paying the penalty for your sins and thus allowing God to grant forgiveness to those who put their faith in Him.



So, you’d have to explain Christ and then it would be a question of believing in Him. The issue is what do we mean by belief? Do you believe that Jesus came into the world, God in human flesh? Yes. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again the third day? Yes. Do you believe Jesus died as a substitute for your sins? Yes.



Is he saved? Not necessarily. I believe all that; so do the devils…James 2, “…they tremble…” There’s something else. There’s got to be some content in this believing. Jesus said, you know, He didn’t commit Himself to people who believed in him. Many believed on Him, but “He didn’t commit himself to them because He knew what was in their hearts,” remember that?



So, the first question I try to ask in the book is: what is the nature of saving faith? What is it that sets saving faith apart from non-saving faith? I am sure that every person in this room would affirm that there is such a thing as a non-saving kind of belief, right? The Catholics will sign on the dotted line, everything in the life of Christ, His death, His resurrection…That doesn’t save them. What does? Well, somehow, saving faith has to have some component. Let me suggest the components to you.



Component #1—Saving faith forsakes all human means of salvation.



Listen to the apostle Paul. Acts 9 was the history of his conversion; Philippians 3 is his heart attitude. You want to know what Paul was feeling on the Damascus road? Read Philippians 3. What does he say there? He says, “I was circumcised the eighth day. I was of the nation Israel. I was of the tribe of Benjamin. I was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. As to the law, a Pharisee. As to zeal, persecuting the church. As to the righteousness which is contained in the law, I was,” what?, “blameless.” I mean, that’s some heavy-duty credentials.



What was all that stuff to him? That was all of his asset column; that was all profit. “These things I counted as gain,” first. Right? This was my assets. Why? Because his hope of salvation was in those. Salvation by race; salvation by ritual (circumcision); salvation by rank (tribe of Benjamin—one of the highest ranking of all tribes. I mean, they got the territory in which Jerusalem existed; they were the only son born in the promise land, and on and on it goes).



And then he says, “I was a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” What do you mean? I’m a Hebrew son…Hebrew parents. I kept the tradition. I kept the language. I kept the customs. I got it all. When it comes to zeal, do you want to see a sincere believer in God?! I killed the opponents of the old covenant. I killed the opponents of salvation as I understood it. That’s how zealous and sincere I am. The guy had it all. As to the law: blameless, from the human viewpoint. They couldn’t hold anything on me. I kept the law; I was a Pharisee: strict, loyal.”



6,000 Pharisees—that’s all there were at that time; he was one of those—that small little elite group. So, he says, “That’s all in my asset column and I hoped in my salvation for that and then I met Christ on the Damascus road.” And, you can believe this: he already knew the facts of Christ, right? And he already knew what the gospel preachers were preaching—that’s why he was persecuting them. But, all of a sudden, he met Jesus Christ and what he saw was skubalon, rubbish, excrement…and he trashed it.



And what does that say? That says that salvation comes to someone who turns his back on any confidence in the flesh whatsoever. Paul says, “I counted it rubbish. It was gain to me—I counted it as loss.” He doesn’t say, “Well, it was nice, but it wasn’t adequate.” He says, “It was excrement.” That’s the word skubalon. “Why?” you say, “to be a Jew, to be from Benjamin’s tribe,…why was it such a vile thing?” I’ll tell you why. Not because in itself it’s wicked, but because when you trust in it for salvation, it’ll damn your soul. That’s the issue. So, he says, “I counted it all loss in order that I might gain Christ. And what did I gain? The knowledge of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the power of Christ, the fellowship of Christ in His sufferings, and the glory of Christ in the resurrection to come.” That’s the exchange.



You say, is that taught in the gospels? Absolutely. What did Jesus say in Matthew 16, “What will a man give in exchange for his,” what? You see, Paul had to make an exchange. He had to give up all of the stuff he was trusting to trust only in Christ. That’s exactly what Jesus meant in the parable of the treasure and the pearl. When the guy found the treasure, he sold everything he had and took the treasure. When he found the pearl, he sold everything he had and took the pearl. It is an exchange of all that I have trusted in for my salvation, for Christ. It’s all rubbish.



So, the first thing about saving faith is it has no confidence in the flesh. It is by pure grace, through faith, plus or minus nothing.



Component #2—(I believe you must affirm this to a person) is that it involves a turning from sin.



How can anybody argue with that, when that’s what Jesus preached: repent…and that’s what John preached: repent…and that’s what Paul preached…”We preach repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” Acts 20. It’s “Repent! Repent!” Now, I know people say it means you change your mind about who Christ is; I don’t believe that. I mean it is a conscious recognition that I am a sinner and I am turning from my sin to a Savior. I think that is just all through Scripture.



And then I believe there’s one more element of that saving faith and that is…



Component #3—it is a commitment. It is the entrusting of my life to the Lordship of Christ.



Now, let me say this. I believe that you are turning from all confidence in the flesh, you are turning from sin to a Savior who can forgive your sin, and you are committing your life to the care of a sovereign Lord. Now, let me say this. I do not believe that at the moment of salvation, you or anybody else, fully understands all the implications of that kind of a thing. I’ll tell you right now, you may not understand it a few years after your salvation because it’s an ever-increasing awareness of what that meant.



“But, ah,” you say, “well, is that a human work, to turn from your flesh?” No. “Is it a human work to repent?” No. “Is it a human work to submit?” No. That is the divine work. It’s God who produces the loss of confidence in the flesh. It’s God who produces the repentance. It’s God who grants repentance; it says in the book of Acts, “God granted the Gentiles repentance.”



Are you willing to turn from anything you’re trusting for your salvation and trust only in Jesus Christ? Are you willing to turn from your sin—commit it to Him—ask Him to cleanse your life…and, are you willing to follow Him? What did Jesus say, “Make a decision for me”? No, He said, “Follow Me.” Continuity—that’s the way I would give the message. I don’t think everybody understands the full implications of it.



The second thing I tried to point out in the book—the first is the nature of saving faith—the second is the nature of conversion. What is conversion? If you tell me conversion is where you get saved but don’t change, I got a problem because I don’t understand that that’s what the Bible teaches. So, maybe we need to talk about that…that’ll probably come up.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Devotion for My Team

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

You know from freshman Bible that we live “in the last days” and Christ is preparing His return. It may be today or 100 years from now or longer, no one knows. But we need to prepare and live lives of expectancy.
Everything you do should be devoted to Him in light of this, including your football and future.

Also know that there will be difficult times in this life. It’s not that everyday is a disaster; we have many good days. We live in a blessed time, but the days are evil and the Prince of the world has put in place a pattern of living that we are commanded to “not conform to”.

Sin impacts all that we do and are involved in. It is all tainted. As much as I want football to be a glorious time for you and you have all relationships pure, and all memories great, I know that it just won’t happen. I hope your football experience is awesome, but I know that it will never be perfect.

I also want you to know that I find it to be harder and harder to coach in these times. When I say that, I’m not mad at you and I’m not trying a psychological technique on you. I am just being honest from my gut.

The list that follows is primarily why it is hard.

I have some good friends who are leaving coaching. They are worn out because of difficult parents and tough situations. As our culture erodes values, it gets more difficult for a football team to succeed.

At the core of all great football teams is character. Unselfishness, team goals, unity, trust, perseverance, courage, toughness, a never say die spirit – all of these things must be in place. And they are found less and less among young people.

2 For people will be lovers of self,

Selfishness kills a football team. Conversely, every great team I have ever coached was unselfish. The best offense I ever coached was in 1999. We rushed for 2600 yds and passed for 2750 and averaged 48 points a game. We won the state championship 56-14. I never had a player that year ask for me to call their number. No one really cared about their stats or whether they were going to college. It was have fun, glorify God, and win.
We live in selfish times. It is a me first society. I worry that all your role models point to themselves after plays – “look what I did”- I worry that AAU and travel sports is a showcase for individual skills and talent- I worry that you measure success on whether or not you get to play in college- I worry that you only participate in sports where you will get most of the playing time- I worry that you are happy when you do well regardless of the team and sad when you do poorly, even if we win. I worry that you only try when you feel like it- and I worry that you will follow my leadership only when you agree with it. Everything is placed under the idol of self.
I challenge you to try and die daily to yourself. Abide in Christ, submit to God ordained authority, and give yourself away to something bigger.




lovers of money,

Consumerism is dominating our times. We begin to identify ourselves with what we own or buy rather that who we are. Instead of “he’s a good guy”, we say “he drives a Lexus”. I challenge you to not give preference to anyone in our school just because they have material wealth. Never look down on anyone that you perceive has less than you.

proud, arrogant, abusive,

We all hate pride. We point it out so easily in others. I want our team to be dominated by genuine humility. What is that? Does it mean that we don’t have a “swagger” or confidence? NO. I want us to be fiery and confident when we play. But I want us to treat others with great respect. We do not look down on others, even our opponents. We never make fun of their facilities or snub our nose at them. We never haze at any time our younger players. We never say, “you’re just a scrub player” or you’re just a manager”- we honor all the roles that make for a championship team. We watch our words and speak positively and encourage.

disobedient to their parents,

You get tired of this one. But this relates to the 5th commandment and includes your coaches. You are to subject yourself to all of the God-ordained authority in your life. It is good to learn to live there. What good is it if you only obey when you want to? Prove yourself to be counter cultural and obey when you don’t feel like it. Your parents and coaches are not dumb. Treat authority figures with respect and be ruled by them.

ungrateful,

Oh Lord, give us “attitudes of gratitude”. Do not feel guilty that you live in this country and have all that you have, but be grateful. Thank all the people who serve you. ‘Thanks mom for driving me today”- ‘Thanks dad for helping me”- say thank you to janitors, lunch room ladies, teachers, youth workers. If you lose that spirit of thankfulness, you have lost a lot. There are millions who would trade places with you- they would take your health, your family, your financial stability, your school… in a heartbeat.

unholy, 3 heartless,

Holiness is “set apart by God”. Be humble (vs 2) and Be holy. Allow yourself to be counted on God’s side. Identify yourself with Him. Be bold enough to say, “I play for God’s glory and pleasure.” And have a heart…CARE. Be excited. Don’t be too cool to care. Let it matter. Live with passion. Reject this “age of casualness”. It is Ok to cry and laugh and cheer.

unappeasable,

Some people can not be pleased. Don’t be that way. Look for the good and be less critical. Be thankful and content.

slanderous,

Have you spoken against someone? Have you spread a story that you did not know to be true? Did you make fun of someone behind their back? In this world accusation often means conviction. Please don’t fall into that trap of sitting with the mockers and spreading lies of slander.

without self-control,

This one is huge! Discipline. Learning to control your body and appetites. Teach yourself to say NO. Tell yourself when to sleep, eat, study, and play. Do not be an undisciplined person.

brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous,

No one likes these kinds of people. If we have someone like this, I need to know. I need to have the courage to remove them from our midst. They make everyone unhappy.

reckless,

I think about your driving. What makes you a good athlete is that you are a risk taker. But do your risk taking in sports, not on the road. Actions do have consequences, connect the dots.

swollen with conceit,

Think of your Savior. He “emptied Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”. The smallest package in the world is a man all wrapped up in himself.

lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

We live in luxurious times with a ton of leisure. It is great to enjoy pleasure, but it always has a price. Learn to earn your pleasure. Work first and then enjoy. Do not get addicted to sensuality, instead , be disciplined. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

This is a scary verse. Are we worried only at how we appear?

Avoid such people.

Paul tells Timothy to avoid having influence from these types of people. Which list characterizes your friends?

6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,

How are you treating the females in our culture? Are they objects for you to conquer and use? We cannot depend on them to lead us to holiness, we have to stand up and be real men. How are you treating someone’s sister or MY daughter?

7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

Scary verse 2- We are dependent on the Sprit to teach us.


8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Jannes and Jambres are not specifically mentioned in the OT. It is believed that they were sorcerers in Pharoah’s court who used signs and wonders to discredit Moses. If you always “bow up” to authority and oppose, it will eventually discredit you.

10 You, however,
Now the good stuff – Please consider your coaches, your parents, teachers, and me as your Paul.

have followed my teaching,- we try to point to Jesus and the Bible

my conduct, - we try to live what we preach and teach

my aim in life,- we have a direction and it is true North- SOLI DEO GLORIA

my faith, - given to us by God’s grace in Christ

my patience,- I hope you see it

my love, - I hope you see this even more

my steadfastness, - We will stay to the end and fight to the last whistle

11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra--which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.

Paul was made fun of and complained about in Antioch
He drew bitterness in Iconium
Was stoned and left for dead at Lystra
God took care of Him- He will lead us in the tough times.

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

The Bible is no “pie in the sky fairy tale”- Faith in Christ is for champions.

13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

If you are reading this feel critical or resentment- WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WAKE UP? You need to stop fighting the Lord. He died for you, is living for Him too much to ask? Please lay down your weapons, bitterness, and pride.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed,

Run the race with courage, Read the Bible. Pray with and for your brothers.

knowing from whom you learned it

Jesus, Paul, heroes of the Bible, parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers,
teachers, coaches, administrators, youth workers

15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings,

All the learning in the Scriptures is of great value

which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Scripture bears witness of Christ and teaches about the Gospel- Good News for Bad People- Jesus died for our sins and arose from the grave- Salvation is by trusting in Him!

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Do not neglect your Bible study. It is not a textbook for class. THESE ARE WORDS OF LIFE!
COACH’S PRAYER 2006

Father,

I confess that I am not talented enough to lead these young men as they need. I pray for them right now. Fill up my deficiencies with Your grace and lead us to a championship season for Your glory! Make us tough and unified and keep us healthy.

I pray for a fiery competitiveness that is not seen much today. I pray we feel free enough to shout and celebrate with our brothers. I pray that when we sweat and bleed and cheer and cry that we feel Your presence. I pray that it matters to us.

I pray for a love and trust that is beyond our flesh. I pray that we would criticize less and encourage more. I pray that we treat all members of this team with respect and honor. All roles are valuable in Your sight!
HELP US BELIEVE- TEACH US WHAT THAT MEANS- EVEN WHEN IT IS HARD!

I pray Your blessing on each player. Bless their families and protect them. Please. Oh God, deliver us from evil. May You raise up warriors for Your kingdom and train them well.

May they leave our fields of battle with honor and special memories. Shoot them as flaming arrows into a dark and dying world- may they spread compassion and service to whatever field You choose for them.

May CPA football produce missionaries, doctors, accountants, engineers, pastors, and all other professions for Your kingdom. May they be men of integrity and lead their homes and communities without fear. May they love their wives and children with Your love.

And finally, bless my coaches! They are truly wonderful! Give them the fruit of their labor and their heart desires. Protect their families while we are away in long hours and redeem the time for You!

Father, I have never needed You more than this season. Let this be a breakthrough and break out year. SOLI DEO GLORIA.

In Jesus- may it be so!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Finding Faith in the Fragments

One big mistake sociologists make in commenting on the church is not understanding "the invisible church" or "the church triumphant".

Modernists predicted the decline of mainstream denominations and the numbers do represent a decline. Is this the weakening of faith?

It is a much tougher analysis than you might expect.

Yes, there seems to be a dimming of the light of Christ on culture. In a time where a record number of Americans proclaim faith, the evidence seems to be lacking. Why?

First, there is a gradual worldliness that impacts the church. We have lost influence because there is no real distinctiveness. This has had devastating efffects- addiction, broken homes, greed - can be found throughout the visible church.

Second, post modern culture has hurt the visible church through radical individualism. I see post modern thought and life having its biggest influence by encouraging selfishness. We are isolated. We pick and choose what parts of the faith we want and refuse to acknowledge any authority higher than our understanding. We submit to whoever we want, when we want, when we agree with the why. Hebrews encourages us to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together"- but we tend to travel in our own individual bubbles at our own pace- with no restrictor plates.

This does not take Scripture by surprise: 2 Timothy 3 speaks of the last days: "difficult times"-"people will love only themselves and their money"-"boastful and proud"- "scoffing at God"- disobedient to parents"- "ungrateful"-"They will consider nothing sacred"- "unloving"- "unforgiving"-"slander others"- "have no self control"-"cruel"- "no interest in good"- "betray their friends"-"reckless"- "love pleasure more than God"-"act religious but no real power"

BUT IT IS A MISTAKE to think of the Church as powerless and Jesus as defeated.

The Bible indicates that there is only One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism - it is the invisible, universal Church- it is hidden because it is mixed with the untrue Church. Wheat and Tares together.

So the big choice is to choose sides.

I love what Paul says later in 2 Timothy 3-
"You know what I teach...how I live...and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith and how long I have suffered... everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will suffer persecution... but you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. YOU KNOW THEY ARE TRUE and you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood and they have given you the wisdom to receive salvation that comes by trusting in Jesus. ALL SCRIPTURE is inspired by God and it is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong with our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for evey good thing God wants us to do."

There is faith among the fragmentation of this post modern world- the Sacred Canopy still stands- it was broken, but He rose from the grave!

The Canopy is Jesus.

Monday, May 22, 2006

No More Christian Dylans

1 Corinthians 2 :1 And I, when I came to you, brothers ,did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

I am watching Christian youth today- I notice some interesting things:

They fall in love with the “ticklers”- cool talking and looking “bleeding hearts” who feel their pain and soothe their dissatisfaction. They feed off the scoffers which are found all throughout Christendom today. These “teachers” are very popular with our post-modern youth.

I think these thoughts when they speak:
“Bob Dylan did not change the world, but Bill Gates did.”


What type of believer do you want coming out of Christian Schools and Youth Ministries today?

One type is the “Christian Beatnik”- artsy hair and comfy. A real feeler. He has Eldridge and Romanowski on his bookshelf and has totally missed their point. Reads Christian books, but not the Bible. A mission trip junkie. He is suspicious of Christian anything (especially music) and dislikes any institution.

Another type is the ‘Reformer”- sharp and steely. Respected as a leader. Will compete with any avenue he pursues. Driven by excellence. A doer.
One who has great courage and is poised to take on the world for Christ.

How do we get the reformer?
1) Continue to push the Word of God. Teach it and hold it high.
2) Demand respect for authority. Make them respect “No”
3) Do not apologize about excellent appearance- Wall Street Still Runs the Marketplace
4) Develop leadership
5) Use loving confrontation
6) Rescue them from doting parents

I know I sound hard line and it makes me laugh. But we need to train… not coddle. We will have to give an account to Christ for our labor here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Dark Side of Post-Modernism

So... I am way behind the times- but I just saw this weekend the 1999 movie "Fight Club" as a suggestion in researching post modern cinema. Wow- what an experience.

It was a clever movie that mixed many of the elements of post modern pragmatism, including an attack on consumerism and the juxtapositioning of reality and the absurd.

In the end, though, it unearthed the dark side of post modern thinking. If we all are free from from judging personal constructs, then what prevents destruction and violence? Why was it even imprtant that no one was killed in the final destruction? Why was it important to keep the club rules? Why the devotion? What did anything matter?

To cut loose from God means a continually moving randomness without compass in a cold chill of nothingness. And that randomness will almost always turn nasty and mean.

I stepped inside that dark world and looked around. I will still rest under my canopy of the Lord Jesus.. the Logos, Savior, Creator, and Friend!

I am sad for those trapped in their free, personal Hells without Him!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Reaching Post Moderns and Saving Myself

I have really been enjoying an online education to the post modern pop culture and strategies for outreach.

One of the basic ideas behind post-modernism is that all meaning and values come from a personal construct. In this view, there is no such thing as universal truth. Each culture and each individual develops personal meaning and all views are valid. Each person lives in their own world and no one can really say that that world is in error.

It is a fruit of modernism's blast against the traditional world view- the grand canopy of Judeo-Christian life- that guided and guarded our forefathers in Europe and America. The blow against the canopy cracked many of our foundational beliefs. This has led to a gradual fragmentation.

Reaching these post modernists means stepping into their world. I need to experience their world. That is why media plays such a big role. A movie changes my landscape and takes me to a new world with new thoughts- a current popular song challenges me to think in another's shoes.

My journey to Christ at times seems to draw me away from this popular culture. As I grow in him, I am less satisfied. There seems to be no good songs, no good shows, no good reads ... and I grow weary of bearing the mediocrity. But I cannot lose touch or I lose opportunity.

I am not as close to my students and players as I used to be- I am getting more square everyday- I need to spend more time in their world.. not because I enjoy it, but because I love them.

In this new age, it isn't about winning an argument- it is about loving a soul. They don't need my philosophy, but they do need my Jesus.

There will be a time to speak the truth in love and I need to be opportunistic and prepared.

Lord, I have really enjoyed my time with my team this spring- it is saving me... from becoming insignificant.

I press on. I press on toward them.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Culture of Fantasy

The Media’s Influence on a Decaying Society
(With Great Appreciation to Malcolm Muggeridge)

Can anyone doubt the influence of the media on the masses? Though it seems to be a “no brainer”, the Civil Libertarians and Media Moguls always are quick to side with celebrities and loudly proclaim that art imitates, not shapes the world we live in.
I am so tired of the bogus, politically correct wimpishness that infects us. We have had our sense of reality so numbed by the constant flicker of fantasy, that we have educated all common sense, moral sense, and passion completely out of modern life.
Is television, the kingpin of mass brainwashing, neutral in this destruction of American character? Absolutely not! Television is possibly the cruelest weapon ever forged against the world by Satan.

A demon approached his aged master. “My Lord,” he sneered, “I want to serve you more fully. What do you desire?”
The cruel creature sucked in a grotesque mixture of slime and smoke. His eyes cowered the demon, whose legs showed a slight tremble.
“I want to take away literacy, pathetic one. The sword is more powerful than I ever imagined it to be. We must keep the children from using the sword..”
That pathetic demon tried stamping it out….it only grew
He martyred the writers and copiers…. the sword flourished
He confounded the translations, set up governments to block it….nothing succeeded.
……until, the advent of the technology for television. Flickering at a pace to mesmerize the mind. Fantastic images so far removed from reality, that it was a permanent holiday…
in less than 50 years, reading ability plummeted. Brains were rewired before the children even knew what hit them.
Bible production continued to rise……but the sword dwindled in the land.


Be not afeard, the isle (TV) is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices,
That if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak'd
I cried to dream again.
(The Tempest, Shakespeare - III.ii.135-143)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Jesus Encounters II

Jesus Encounters the Woman at the Well
John 4: 1-42
Intro
- Geography of Christ’s journey
- History of Jacob’s well
- History of Samaritans
-
I The Contrasts of Last Week’s Lesson
The Time- The Participant- The Initiation-The Pronoun- The Tone

II The Comparisons of Last Week’s Lesson
Two Alone-The Technique- The Result

Questions:
How do we get these accounts?
What does it mean in vs. 2- “had to pass”?
Do you see a significance of Jacobs well to be “Sychar” translated “Purchase”?
How does Jesus look at this woman?
What is tone and attitude of woman in vs. 19 and vs. 25?



III Points of Application
Creation as God’s metaphor- Light/Water/Bread/ Seasons etc.
Jesus: Fully God, Fully Man
Proofs that Jesus is God in this passage:
1) Intimacy with the Father
2) Insight into the woman
3) Incredible claim- I am he
4) Illustration of the well
5) Impression on Samaritans
We are all thirsty- God is the only source of satisfaction cf. Jeremiah 2:13
Spiritual over Physical/Material- she left her water pot/ He was not eating
Jesus- The Savior of the World- the only hope of unity
Gospel Presentation- What about you?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Jesus Encounters I

Applications of John 3:1-20

Intro:
Difficulty in teaching from the gospels
John is well suited for “snapshot” approach- ICONS
Difficulty in the familiarity of text
Pre—encounter
Setting
Beneath the dialogue
Post-encounter experience


Nicodemus: A Teacher in Darkness

Religious leader- “expert” coming at night- opening title “Master”
#1- Nicodemus is unsettled
#2- Sincerity in seeking
#3-Calculating but Insecure- does not believe enough to risk
Blind to the information


Jesus: The Teacher of Light
A Master Teacher
Abruptness shows wisdom and supernatural knowledge- no questions
Uses Nicodemus’ own words and phrases
Common human experiences: birth, wind, OT story, light and darkness – metaphors – true but are types or images- Vs 12- “spoken of earthly things, heavenly things”

Common shared knowledge- Allusions
Son of Man- link to the Messiah
Moses and the Snake -Crucifixion- link to OT as a type and symbol
Gave His one and only son- Abraham and Isaac

Do you see the difference? We teach from what we know and see
You are teaching what you do not know and you can not see
And you reject us?


Jesus: The Glorious Message of Good News
You can see the Kingdom of God- but you must be changed
This is a work of God’s spirit- not of this world
You do not have this transformation- no knowledge and no testimony
This transformation or conversion involves belief/ trust
God is the giver of this gift- love is a motive
Whoever believes in God’s son has eternal life
There is condemnation in rejection of God’s plan
A couple of interesting - fun questions/ notes

1-Is this the whole conversation- was there an official intro? How did conversation end?
Do we come in after intros and small talk? Was he acting alone or was he representing the ruling council?

2-Tone of Jesus-
Biting question- “”You are Israel’s teacher and do not understand these things?”
What is the tone or expression? Wryness? Exasperation? Matter of fact? Compassionate?

3-What does it mean to believe?

4-Jesus’ use of third person- “this story is developing…watch and learn”
“My time has not yet come”
“Tell no one”

5-At the end analogy of light and darkness- think of the setting



Transformation of Nicodemus
John 7:50-
John 19:39-


Applications

Am I Nicodemus? Unsettled? No sin in asking that question
II Timothy 3:1-9- Run to Jesus -Simplicity of His message

Have I been born again?

Love God- He has shown love to us

Come into the light- identify yourself with the Savior- Stand with Him- Bring others into the light

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Richard Baxter on Parenting

A New Hero to me:


Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

Perhaps you have heard of Richard Baxter, the Puritan evangelist of Kidderminster in the English midlands. …There was an amazing transformation of that town under his ministry. Family catechizing, family worship, a public worship pattern full of praise, church discipline, preaching, devotional reading, regular pastoral counseling, and small-group ministry under Baxter's oversight, were all part of it, and reformation was Baxter's name for it. He wrote a classic book on ministerial practice entitled The Reformed Pastor. By the word reformed Baxter meant spiritually alive and morally in shape, not merely maintaining what we would call Calvinistic doctrines, though he assumes that. His meaning becomes clear when he writes: 'If God would but reform the clergy, the people of England would soon be reformed.' (J.I. Packer, Hot Tub Religion, Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1988. p. 218)


CHAPTER X.

THE DUTIES OF PARENTS FOR THEIR CHILDREN

OF how great importance the wise and holy education of children is, to the saving of their souls, and the comfort of their parents, and the good of church and state, and the happiness of the world, I have partly told you before; but no man is able fully to express. And how great that calamity is, which the world is fallen into through the neglect of that duty, no heart can conceive; but they that think what a case the heathen, infidel, and ungodly nations are in, and how rare true piety is grown, and how many millions must lie in hell for ever, will know so much of this inhuman negligence, as to abhor it.

Direct. I. Understand and lament the corrupted and miserable state of your children, which they have derived from you, and thankfully accept the offers of a Saviour for yourselves and them, and absolutely resign, and dedicate them to God in Christ in the sacred covenant, and solemnize this dedication and covenant by their baptism

Direct. II. As soon as they are capable, teach them what a covenant they are in, and what are the benefits, and what the conditions, that their souls may gladly consent to it when they understand it; and you may bring them seriously to renew their covenant with God in their own persons

Direct. III. Train them up in exact obedience to yourselves, and break them of their own wills. To that end, suffer them not to carry themselves unreverently or contemptuously towards you; but to keep their distance. For too much familiarity breedeth contempt, and imboldeneth to disobedience. The common course of parents is to please their children so long, by letting them have what they crave, and what they will, till their wills are so used to be fulfilled, that they cannot endure to have them denied; and so can endure no government, because they endure no crossing of their wills.

Direct. IV. Make them neither too bold with you, nor too strange or fearful; and govern them not as servants, but as children, making them perceive that you dearly love them, and that all your commands, restraints, and corrections tire for their good, and not merely because you will have it so.

Direct. V. Labour much to possess their hearts with the fear of God, and a reverence of the holy Scriptures; and then whatsoever duty you command them, or whatsoever sin you forbid them, show them some plain and urgent texts of Scripture for it; and cause them to learn them and oft repeat them; that so they may find reason and divine authority in your commands; till their obedience begin to be rational and divine, it will be but formal and hypocritical. It is conscience that must watch them in private, when you see them not; and conscience is God's officer and not yours; and will say nothing to them, till it speak in the name of God.

Direct. VI. In all your speeches of God and of Jesus Christ, and of the holy Scripture, or the life to come, or of any holy duty, speak always with gravity, seriousness, and reverence, as of the most great and dreadful and most Sacred things: for before children come to have any distinct understanding of particulars, it is a hopeful beginning to have their hearts possessed with a general reverence and high esteem of holy matters

Direct. VII. Speak always before them with great honour and praise of holy ministers and people, and with dispraise and loathing of every sin, and of ungodly men. [2] For this also is a thing that children will quickly and easily receive from their parents

Direct. VIII. Let it be the principal part of your care and labour in all their education, to make holiness appear to them the most necessary, honourable, gainful, pleasant, delightful, amiable state of life; and to keep them from apprehending it either as needless, dishonourable, hurtful, or uncomfortable.

Direct. IX. Speak often to them of the brutish baseness and sinfulness of flesh-pleasing sensuality, and of the greater excellency of the pleasures of the mind, which consist in wisdom, and in doing good.

Direct. X. To this end, and also for the health of their bodies, keep a strict guard upon their appetites (which they are not able to guard themselves): keep them as exactly as you can to the rules of reason, both in the quantity and quality of their food.

Direct. XI. For sports and recreations, let them be such, and so much, as may be needful to their health and cheerfulness; but not so much as may carry away their minds from better things, and draw them from their books or other duties, nor such as may tempt them to gaming or covetousness. Children must have convenient sport for the health of the body and alacrity of the mind; such as well exerciseth their bodies is best, and not such as little stirreth them. Cards and dice, and such idle sports (TV - video games?), are every way most unfit, as tending to hurt both body and mind. Their time also must be limited them, that their play may not be their work; as soon as ever they have the use of any reason and speech, they should be taught some better things, and not left till they are five or six years of age, to do nothing, but get a custom of wasting all their time in play. Children are very early capable of learning something which may prepare them for more.

Direct. XII. Use all your wisdom and diligence to root out the sin of pride. And to that end, do not (as is usual with foolish parents, that) please them with making them fine, and then by telling them how fine they are; but use to commend humility and plainness to them, and speak disgracefully of pride and fineness, to breed an averseness to it in their minds. Cause them to learn such texts of Scripture as speak of God's abhorring and resisting the proud, and of his loving and honouring the humble: when they see other children that are finely clothed, speak of it to them as their shame, that they may not desire to be like them. Speak against boasting, and every other way of pride which they are liable to: and yet give them the praise of all that is well, for that is but their due encouragement.

Direct. XIII. Speak to them disgracefully of the gallantry, and pomp, and riches of the world, and of the sin of selfishness and covetousness, and diligently watch against it, and all that may tempt them to it. When they see great houses, and attendance, and gallantry, tell them that these are the devil's baits, to entice poor sinners to love this world, that they may lose their souls, and the world to come.

Direct. XIV. Narrowly watch their tongues, especially against lying, railing, ribald talk, and taking the name of God in vain. And pardon them many lighter faults about common matters, sooner than one such sin against God.

Direct. XV. Keep them as much as may be from ill company, especially of ungodly play-fellows. It is one of the greatest dangers for the undoing of children in the world; especially when they are sent to common schools: for there is scarce any of those schools so good, but hath many rude and ungodly ill-taught children in it; that will speak profanely, and filthily, and make their ribald and railing speeches a matter of boasting; besides fighting, and gaming and scorning, and neglecting their lessons; and they will make a scorn of him that will not do as they, if not beat and abuse him

Direct. XVI. Teach your children to know the preciousness of time, and suffer them not to mispend an hour. Be often speaking to them how precious a thing time is, and how short man's life is, and how great his work, and bow our endless life of joy or misery dependeth on this little time: speak odiously to them of the sin of those that play and idle away their time; and keep account of all their hours, and suffer them not to lose any by excess of sleep, or excess of play, or any other way; but engage them still in some employment that is worth their time.

Train up your children in a life of diligence and labour, and use them not to ease and idleness when they are young

Always show them the tenderness of your love, and how unwilling you are to correct them, if they could be reformed any easier way; and convince them that you do it for their good.

Direct. XVIII. Let your own example teach your children that holiness, and heavenliness, and blamelessness of tongue and life, which you desire them and to learn and practise. The example of parents is most powerful with children, both for good and evil.

Direct. XIX. Choose such a calling and course of life for your children, as tendeth most to the saving of their souls, kind to their public usefulness for church or state. Choose not a calling that is most liable to temptations and hinderances to their salvation, though it may make them rich; but a calling which alloweth them some leisure for the remembering the things of everlasting consequence, and fit opportunities to get good, and to do good.


By all means let children be taught to read, if you are never so poor, and whatever shift you make; or else you deprive them of a singular help to their instruction and salvation. It is a thousand pities that a Bible should signify no more than a chip to a rational creature, as to their reading it themselves: and that so many excellent books as be in the world, should be as sealed or insignificant to them.


From: Baxter's Practical Works, Vol. 1, A Christian Directory,
on Christian Economics, Chap. X., pp. 449-454

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter- A Holy and Happy Delight

On Good Friday- I played golf to the gloty of God and had a great time!
On Saturday- I planted a garden to the glory of God.
On Sunday- I will worship the living creator and my Savior on the most holy day!

Whether I play, pray, or plant - I can glorify my God.

Holiness implies being set apart for God.

I live a happy and holy life because of my Savior! It is a celebration!

The Old Testament was filled with water and unleavened bread- a great trainer to God's high standards.
Jesus turned the water into wine!
The New Testament is a celebratory feast!

Because of Jesus- we dance. Death is conquered- THERE IS NO FEAR!

HAPPY EASTER TO THE WORLD!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Pope's Prayers Appropriate

From the Times Online, April 14

""THE Pope will deliver a blistering attack on the “satanic” mores of modern society today, warning against an “inane apologia of evil” that is in danger of destroying humanity.

In a series of Good Friday meditations that he will lead in Rome, the Pope will say that society is in the grip of a kind of “anti-Genesis” described as “a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family”. He will pray for society to be cleansed of the “filth” that surrounds it and be restored to purity, freed from “decadent narcissism”.


Their author is Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Vicar General at Vatican City. The tone of the meditations is striking in its contrast to the contemporary fashion for feel-good religion.

While some will regard their emphasis on sin and the dark side of human nature as retrograde, others will welcome them as a sign of the strong and conservative leadership that Pope Benedict XVI was elected to provide. All Roman Catholic churches and many others, including Anglican churches in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, celebrate a liturgy around the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.

The 14 stations begin with Jesus’s condemnation to death, take Christians through meditations of the “Way of the Cross” and the Crucifixion and end with the laying of Jesus’s body in the tomb.

At the Third Station of the Cross, where Jesus falls for the first time, Archbishop Comastri has written: “Lord, we have lost our sense of sin. Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication.”

At the Fourth Station, where Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrene to carry the cross, Pope Benedict and his followers will pray: “Lord Jesus, our affluence is making us less human, our entertainment has become a drug, a source of alienation, and our society’s incessant, tedious message is an invitation to die of selfishness.”

One of the strongest meditations warns against the attack on the family. “Today we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counter-plan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family.”

There is a moving meditation for the Eighth Station, where Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, describing the “River of tears shed by mothers, mothers of the crucified, mothers of murderers, mothers of drug addicts, mothers of terrorists, mothers of rapists, mothers of psychopaths, but mothers all the same”.

The Pope will also confront the question of evil in the world in a meditation that asks: “Where is Jesus in the agony of our own time, in the division of our world into belts of prosperity and belts of poverty . . . in one room they are concerned about obesity, in the other, they are begging for charity?”"

These prayers capture a lot of my thoughts on this Good Friday- Lord, forgive me- I am a sinful man in a world of sinful people.

We deserve to die, but beg of you for mercy.

I am worried about the shameless pride among our young and disconnect of the law. I am worried about our out of control lust for leisure and sex. I am worried about our apathy and cowardice.

We live in a time of weakened borders and national resolve- we have cast Christ out of our public discourse- we are lovers of self, lovers of money, disobedient to authority, whiners, and complainers, negative

And now I think of you- my Lord and Savior, hanging on that cross.

And I realize once again- that I have never met a person whose sins are worse than mine.

Come to Jesus, Come to Jesus- ..... and LIVE.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Weary and Winning

Micah 7:1 What misery is mine! I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest who can find nothing to eat. Not a cluster of grapes or a single fig can be found to satisfy my hunger. 2 The godly people have all disappeared; not one fair-minded person is left on the earth.

7 As for me, I look to the LORD for his help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD himself will be my light. 9 I will be patient as the LORD punishes me, for I have sinned against him. But after that, he will take up my case and punish my enemies for all the evil they have done to me. The LORD will bring me out of my darkness into the light, and I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemies will see that the LORD is on my side.

14 O LORD, come and rule your people; lead your flock in green pastures. Help them to live in peace and prosperity.

18 Where is another God like you, who pardons the sins of the survivors among his people? You cannot stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing mercy. 19 Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! 20 You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised with an oath to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago."

Father, I confess to you our national sins and my personal sins. We suffer because of a lack of trust in You and a disregard for Your word. Please forgive me, please forgive us. I confess to You that I am hurting. I am discouraged and overwhelmed with the sin of our culture. I am wounded by the sin in my life. Lord Jesus, please send forth Your Spirit. We need You afresh. Father, do it soon. I am weary. I hurt- but I also love and wait for You!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Guarding God - Muggeridge Speaks

"IS THERE A GOD ?- Malcolm Muggeridge


Well, is there? I myself should be very happy to answer with an emphatic negative. Temperamentally, it would suit me well enough to settle for what this world offers, and to write off as wishful thinking, or just the self-importance of the human species, any notion of a divine purpose and a divinity to entertain and execute it. The earth's sounds and smells and colours are very sweet; human love brings golden hours; the mind at work earns delight. I have never wanted a God, or feared a God, or felt under any necessity to invent one. Unfortunately, I am driven to the conclusion that God wants me.


God comes padding after me like a Hound of Heaven. His shadow falls over all my little picnics in the sunshine, chilling the air; draining the viands of their flavour, talk of its sparkle, desire of its zest. God takes a hand as history's compere, turning it into a soap opera, with ham actors, threadbare lines, tawdry props and faded costumes, and a plot which might have been written by Ted Willis himself. God arranges the lighting —Spark of Sparks—so that all the ravages of time, like parched skin, decaying teeth and rotting flesh, show through the makeup, however lavishly it may be plastered on. Under God's eye, tiny hoarded glories—a little fame, some money . . . Oh Mr M! how wonderful you are!—fall into dust. In the innermost recesses of vanity one is discovered, as in the last sanctuaries of appetite; on the highest hill of complacency, as in the lowest burrow of despair. One shivers as the divine beast of prey gets ready for the final spring; as the shadow lengthens, reducing to infinite triviality all mortal hopes and desires.


There is no escape. Even so, one twists and turns. Perhaps Nietzsche was right when he said that God had died. Progressive theologians with German names seem to think so: Time magazine turned over one of its precious covers to the notion. If God were dead, and eternity had stopped, what a blessed relief to one and all! Then we could set about making a happy world in our own way—happy in the woods like Mellors and his Lady Chatterley; happiness successfully pursued, along with life and liberty, in accordance with the Philadelphia specification; happy the Wilson way, with only one book to take to the post-office—one book, one happiness; happy in the prospect of that great Red Apocalypse when the State has withered away, and the proletariat reigns for ever more. If only God were D. H. Lawrence, or Franklin D. Roosevelt, or Harold Wilson, or Karl Marx!


Alas, dead or alive, he is still God, and eternity ticks on even though all the clocks have stopped. I agree with Kierkegaard that 'what man naturally loves is finitude' and that involvement through God in infinitude 'kills in him, in the most painful way, everything in which he really finds his life . . . shows him his own wretchedness, keeps him in sleepless unrest, whereas finitude lulls him into enjoyment.' Man, in other words, needs protection against God as tenants do against Rachmanism, or minors against hard liquor."

I am a simple football coach- here is an intellectual great- and we both agree...time to stop protecting yourself from the One who loves you!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Deeper Delight and Roller Coaster Rides

During Spring Break we went to Universal Orlando and had a blast. The first few days there, I continued to wrestle with the idea of Psalm 37:4 " Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of Your heart."

Part of my problem has been the human default mode of "fleshing out" a program. If I pray 5 hours a day and meditate for 3 and memorize for 3 and fast- I will be a better believer and enjoy God more. If I don't do those things, I continue to show my sin and worldliness.

This type of bent has led to the monastic practices of mortification. Some Monks beat themselves with whips and chains to chastize sin.

So I am no different. I was at an amusement park full of confusion and asking myself, "Do I really love God or the things of God? And is this just another kind of subtle idolatry?"

The breakthrough came as I watched my children. They just got on the rides and screamed with sweet delight in the thrill.

I felt God reminding me- "Unless you become like a little child- you cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Then I read Psalm 37:4 in context and realized that the growth toward Him is initiated by Him, granted by Him, and I need to be patient...and wait on Him. Enjoying His world and my life IS enjoying Him. A gift of a Father to a son.

It doesn't relieve me of a need I have for spiritual disciplines- I need to read, pray, fast, meditate, memorize,share and worship. But I will never rid myself of sin.

I do those things as conduits for Him to work a miracle in me. And He does it slowly over time.

I cannot take pride in any improvement... He does the work. And He becomes my delight. And my heart desires are full..because they desire Him!

So here I am on a roller coaster called life- I hold on- and it is a blast! Let the adventure begin!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Deep Desires and Sweet Satisfaction

(What the average man desires) " is this desirability of an active and imaginative life, picturesque and full of a poetical curiosity, a life such as western man at any rate always seems to have desired. If a man says that extinction is better than existence or blank existence better than variety and adventure, then he is not one of the ordinary people to whom I am talking. If a man prefers nothing I can give him nothing. But nearly all people I have ever met in this western society in which I live would agree to the general proposition that we need this life of practical romance; the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable. It is THIS achievement of my creed that I shall chiefly pursue in these pages". G.K. Chesterton "The Everlasting Man"

I wanted to take some time this morning and praise my Savior. What a life He has given me! I want people in the blog universe to know that I have been and am being transformed in a way that I did not believe was possible. You see, spiritual growth is slow and imperceptible. It is measured in decades and not years.

I am going to sound like a braggart- but I want to praise my Lord!

I used to be a man who really desired the world. Not only did I desire it, I tasted it whenever I could. I knew of Christ, but I did not love that knowledge. Christ seemed to stand in the way of all my pursuits.

I was lazy and apathetic- very selfish. When I first got married and started having kids, it was nice-but not my passion. My passion was me. I loved leisure.

It was hard to hurry home after work- home required sacrifice.

The funny thing is that I still have that same basic default mode...but something wonderful has happened.

First, I truly believed the gospel- the awesome good news. I'M CLEAN. I am forgiven. GOD LOVES ME! In spite of all my wickedness- my evil thoughts, my cruel words, my inaction- everything is wiped clean.

Second, even though I didn't feel like it, I started taking baby steps in obedience to the Bible. Some of it was just under social pressure of the church crowd. But guess what? I started to really enjoy it. My wife and children grew in my heart even deeper- my peace was more consistent- my love grew warmer- God was changing me.

Third, trials hardened me. The hard times are a tough school master and I did not enjoy it. But those hard times are sweet times to me now. God showed up.

So my life right now?

It is hard. A mixed bag of good days and hard days. I win and lose. Sin is still in me.

I love my Lord - I love my wife - I love my kids - I love my job - I love good books and fun activities-I love great conversations and beautiful people- I love my country, my church, my pastor etc.

And I just wanted to say thanks Jesus. The "desirability of an active and imaginative life, picturesque and full of a poetical curiosity" has come true in You!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Too Close to Christianity ?

G.K. Chesterton The Everlasting Man "THERE are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place"
The point of this book, in other words, is that the next best thing to being really inside Christendom is to be really outside it."

Some of Christianity's biggest critics are actually too close to it. Chesterton suggests that it may be good to step far enough away to see its beauty and reality. Against the backdrop of a sin sick world- the offer of the gospel is a pretty good deal.

A word of warning- for every step and minute spent apart from the Creator, there is a danger of no return.

We are one heartbeat away- we are on the precipice of eternity.

So if one feels they must step away to see it clearly- do it- but beware the danger.

And as soon as you see the beauty and meaning of it- run like hell to its shelter.

I do not step away- I cling to it. I know my faith is real because I can see everything else so clearly by it. Just communicating love and fear makes me realize God is there. I feel love- God must be there. I feel fear- God must be there. I can tell you about love and fear...God must be there.

We are so close to God we can't even see the plain evidence - right before the eyes of faith.

The Idolatry of Intellect (Re-post)

"When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all."
C.S. Lewis--Mere Christianity

I go to skeptic's webpages often. You find all kinds- some are warm and good humored and others are bitter and vile. I want to make some comments about the skeptics:

#1 Most of these people are much smarter than me. When I use "simple ramblings of a football coach" as a sub heading, I mean it. I am always impressed by their intellect.

#2 All of us are biased. Ultimately the skeptic is hanging on to thought processes to soothe and firm his unbelief. I do the same in pro-God argumentation.

#3 Smart people on both sides - I believe that the intelligence is a draw.

#4 Ultimately, the skeptic has more faith in his reason and the Christian less faith in his.

God gives us evidence, not proof. And ALL men live by faith.

I do not trust in my reason- I trust in God. I walk in quiet confidence past the tsk tsk of the atheist- by the wailing of other religions- and humbly bow at the cross. I am not alone and I am not afraid.

I often wonder- years from now- when the skeptic and I are in forgotten wheelchairs- who will feel the stronger?

Will he ever come to grips with the fact that he has gambled all eternity on brain functions limited by time and biased toward godlessness? Is it worth the gamble then?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hiding and Choosing

Matt 11:"25 At that time Jesus declared, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

This passage is always interesting because it is sandwiched between judgement and weariness. Jesus is the relief of both.

It is God's will to be veiled or hidden. It is His gracious will to be revealed to the simple. Those with talent for intellect are often seperated from these truths by pride and stubborn self will. The religious zealots are weary from trying to live good enough - the powerful are consumed by chains- the intellects are searching in a seeming whirlpool of darkness...

then God reaches out. It is His way.

Lord, I am humbled that You would allow me to be one of those simple children of light. Can you use me to reveal Yourself to others?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Real American Idol

This is going to be a controversial post. It will also be easy to misunderstand.

The biggest idol in America today is children.

While it is true that children are under attack and there is more abuse today. While it is true that child molesters are treated too lightly and there are too many in poverty.

But in middle and upper class America- children have become idols.

I work in a wonderful school. I feel a lot of support and encouragement- but my heart grieves over the average parenting style.

There used to be a saying- "When momma's not happy - no one is happy"

Today that quote is - "When little Johnny's not happy- no one is happy"

Kids today are given more leisure and doting attention today than in any time in history. The average middle and upper class kid has experienced so much leisure and life experiences, that they are bored and soft- and cry at the least discomfort.

Parents are kids buddies and I have seen moms and dads tremble before their idols when they whine.

The results have been very destructive:

We spend more money that ever seeking the perfect upbringing for our children. Ballet, tennis, golf, voice lessons, travel soccer, sunday A.M. basketball, year round baseball, gymnastics, martial arts, travel, T.V., no chores, carted around carte blanche, concerts, movies, big ticket restaurants, cell phones, shopping sprees, ipods.

Sadly, the materialism has led to thanklessness and selfishness.

We believe our kids first over authority figures. I rarely ever have a parent check with me to see if their kid's version of a situation is accurate. They call angry- ready to support their kid over me. When I explain my side of the story, they often calm down and apologize. I call it the speed of the internet and the accuracy of the weatherman.

We tear down coaches and teachers who draw hard lines and discipline. Teachers and coaches are leaving the profession because the parents seem unreasonable and unbearable.

I know a coach who suspended a kid for lying, missing practice, and having a bad attitude. The parents requested a meeting with his superior and asked that the coach be removed.

Parents let their children pick their school, their clothes, their music, and their friends without any input at all. I will say, "Are you going to let them choose heroin or not- or you at least going to put your foot down sometime."

WAKE UP AMERICA- love your kids by saying no- let them feel some loss- don't dote on them all the time- support authority- discipline- make it hard sometimes-hold back some life experiences for later in life- tell them what you want and expect them to do it!

In the end, they will love you for it.

Love your children- but please- stop worshipping them.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Reaction to "End of the Spear"

In a world that unnaturally strains to voice praise of "Brokeback Mountain" God quietly continues the victory lap of truth and redemption.

The movie, 'End of the Spear" is the true story of the missionaries martyred in Ecuador and how the gospel spead to the tribe that killed them, ending generations of senseless brutality and superstition.

I had several strong impressions from the movie.

The tribe had a religious belief that centered around becomming man enough to jump the "great boa" at death. I'm always startled at how indigenous faiths mirror the truth of the gospel story. We do need to battle the great boa - that serpent named Lucifer- but not with the power of killing, but with the humility and love of Christ.

What a beautiful, emotional, and powerful story! I trembled and shed many tears.

As I walked out of the theatre, it was a sun smiled snowy day in Nashville. With a few drying tears, I once again cried out a prayer of thanks to my King! Lord, let me give my work and life to carry this glorious message of forgiveness and peace!

The gospel goes forth in brokeness- yet it is unbreakable.
It goes forward despite setbacks- it is unshakable
Human tragedy is just a tapestry of glory in the Master's hand
It goes forth despite my shame and sin- the truth of my condition does not hinder it
How remarkable- How wondrous
If you sneer and mock this story- how will you escape if you ignore such a glorious salvation?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

BREAKTHROUGH VICTORY

BREAKTHROUGH VICTORY- Stories of Courage in the Kingdom of
Christ

After some early success in England, the ministry of the Church took a
big hit in 616 A.D.

The great King Ethelbert passed away as did King Sabart of the Saxons.
The sons of both of these kings were gross idolators and quickly
abandoned the faith of their fathers.

Angry at the Church and rejecting its message, the sons began a campaign
of persecution and rebuke against God’s ministers.

Three godly Christian leaders, Laurence, Justis, and Mellitus, met
together and came to the conclusion that it was time to leave the work
of the gospel in England. Their reasoning seemed so sound- ‘It is better
to serve God in freedom, than to live impotently among heathen who have
rejected the faith.”.

On the very night that Laurence was to leave – He lay down in the church
and had long fervent prayers for the sadly afflicted church. He prayed
long into the night and fell into a deep sleep.

It was at this time that Peter appeared to him in a dream. Peter
actually scourged him and with apostolic sternness asked why he was
abandoning the flock. Peter said, “I suffered chains, blows,
imprisonment- even death. Have you forgotten my example?”

Laurence awoke- deeply moved- and requested an audience with the King.
He showed King Eadbald the scourge marks and explained that the pain was
endured for his salvation.

King Eadbald was so moved, that he renounced his idolatry, accepted the
Christian faith, and was baptized. He began supporting the welfare of
the church with all means at his disposal.

Recorded by Bede- Ecclesiastical History of the English People/

God’s Kingdom is always victorious and the gospel is never hindered. In
the darkest moments of final despair is when God most wants to show up
and conquer. God is a hero, and all He wants from us is to just keep
swimming, keep swinging, keep praying, keep loving , and …..never, never
, never lose hope.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…without weakening in his
faith, he faced reality…yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding
the promises of God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do
what He promised. That is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness’”
Romans 4: 18-22 (Paraphrased).

Thank you all for the privilege of serving with you as we proclaim
Christ and display Christ in great hope and final victory!
Press ON!

Monday, February 06, 2006

How to Awaken

ST. AUGUSTINE IN KENT FOLLOWED THE DOCTRINE AND MANNER OF LIVING OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH, AND SETTLED HIS EPISCOPAL SEE IN THE ROYAL CITY. [A.D. 597.]


As soon as they entered the dwelling­place assigned them they began to imitate the course of life practiced in the primitive church; applying themselves to frequent prayer, watching and fasting; preaching the word of life to as many as they could; despising all worldly things, as not belonging to them; receiving only their necessary food from those they taught; living themselves in all respects conformably to what they prescribed to others, and being always disposed to suffer any adversity, and even to die for that truth which they preached. In short, several believed and were baptized, admiring the simplicity of their innocent life, and the sweetness of their heavenly doctrine. There was on the east side of the city a church dedicated to the honour of St. Martin, built whilst the Romans were still in the island, wherein the queen, who, as has been said before, was a Christian, used to pray. In this they first began to meet, to sing, to pray, to say mass, to preach, and to baptize, till the king, being converted to the faith, allowed them to preach openly, and build or repair churches in all places.


When he, among the rest, induced by the unspotted life of these holy men, and their delightful promises, which, by many miracles, they proved to be most certain, believed and was baptized, greater numbers began daily to flock together to hear the word, and, forsaking their heathen rites, to associate themselves, by believing, to the unity of the church of Christ. Their conversion the king so far encouraged, as that he compelled none to embrace Christianity, but only showed more affection to the believers, as to his fellow­citizens in the heavenly kingdom. for he had learned from his instructors and leaders to salvation, that the service of Christ ought to be voluntary, not by compulsion.

Augustine knew what to do- begin living the Christian life- praying, fasting, persevereing,preaching, loving, and serving. It wasn't long before the Lord began adding to their number daily!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Admirable Qualities of the Existentialist

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

What I have appreciated about the thoughts of Camus is honesty and tenacity. The fight of Camus is noteworthy. When one struggles against all odds- there is either a faith of victory or a despair of certain defeat.

Camus has no hope at all and finds energy in the freedom to keep swinging. The glory is to fight like hell- even when victory is long gone.

The Christian needs to learn from that. They fight with energy with defeat inevitable- sadly flinging away as a last spittle of defiance. They attack injustice and still love life, knowing that all is absurd.

How much more should we fight- and fling- and attack, and love with a hope that God is going to be victorious. If heaven is rest- are we living in such a way to actually need it?

Sadly, the American church (including this blogger) has about as much need of an eternal rest as a narcoleptic has need of Sominex.

Lord, forgive me...I need Your help!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mesmerized by "Camus and the Minister"

I am reading a book by Howard Mumma called "Albert Camus and the Minister". It is one of the more interesting books I have ever read. In the book, Mumma, an American Methodist minister, recounts dialogues he had with famous existentialists, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre over a period of many years while he was pastor at the American Church in Paris beginning in the 1950's.

It is an incredible and credible exploration of the questions of life and how Christianity and Existentialism intersect and diverge in amazing ways. It is a beautiful presentation of these competing world views told by riveting dialogue and amazingly clear details!

Quotes from Camus:

"I am searching for something I do not have, something I am not sure I can even define"

" I am a disillusioned and exhausted man. I have lost faith, lost hope, ever since the rise of Hitler. Is it any wonder that, at my age, I am looking for something to believe in?"

"You know, I have made a great deal of money because I have been somehow able to articulate man's disillusionment with man... I spoke of the meaningless and uncertainty... this is the root of my despair."

"When I first met Jean-Paul Sartre, I agreed we should leave God out of the discussion, although I have always left open the possibility...but I now find (Sarte's) attempt to find meaning in life lacking. I am no longer satisfied with his answers."

As I continue in the book I find it fascinating to see the honesty and educational fire of Camus. I am less than impressed with Sartre. He seems fully pleased with his philosophy and unwilling to question it. Right now, Camus is teachable and Sartre is hardened in his pride. Camus is shy and Sartre loves the limelight.

The minister Mumma is equally impressive and up to the task. Ultimately, his liberal view of God's word will leave him powerless to offer real change to either. At some point, all the arguments must move to the heart and only God's Spirit can remove the veil.

To be continued......

Friday, January 13, 2006

Reaction to Albert Camus, "The Stranger"

Just finished a fascinating book by the famous existentialist, Camus. Though many would label him differently.

I had cut and paste help on this summary.

The main theme of The Stranger is the absurdity of life. Mersault is a common, ordinary man who works in Algiers performing routine and monotonous tasks. Because he is a bachelor who lives by himself, he has few demands placed on his free time. He is accustomed to doing what he wants, when he wants. Amazingly, he has difficulty entertaining himself, and the weekends tend to drag on for him in boredom. It is clear Mersault has done nothing significant in his life, and he states several times in the book that he had never received much attention before his murder trial.

When the book opens, Mersault has just learned that has mother has passed away. He had previously sent her to live in Marengo at a government run Home for the Aged, for he felt he could not support her at his apartment and believed that she needed someone to look after her during the day, while he was at work. When he receives the news of her passing, he does not seem upset by her death. With no emotion, he arranges for time off from work, goes to borrow a tie and mourning band from a friend, and eats a casual lunch. Once he arrives in Marengo, he shows no emotion and refuses to view her body. At the funeral, he does not shed a tear and is more concerned about the heat than the loss of his mother. He is also anxious to get back home.

As the book continues, Mersault lives each day without much direction or purpose. He has a meaningless liaison with Marie. Consents to marry her without admitting love or desire. Gets mixed up with a pimp named Raymond who abuses one of his girls. In a senseless act, Mersault kills an Arab who had injured Raymond- shooting him 5 times!

The actions of Mersault are clearly absurd - from his casual affair with Marie on the day after his mother’s funeral, to his friendship with a violent pimp, to his needless murder of an Arab man whom he does not even know. The trial of Mersault, however, is even more absurd. During the pre-trial hearings, the magistrate badgers Mersault with questions about religion. When Mersault indicates that he does not believe in God, the magistrate waves a silver crucifix in his face and calls him the "antichrist." During the trial, the judge and the prosecuting attorney seem more interested in the fact that Mersault did not grieve at his mother’s funeral and made love to Marie on the day after the funeral than the fact that he has killed a man. Several witnesses are called to prove his callousness nature. Since Mersault is totally honest and terribly na├»ve, he cannot slant the truth in his direction. He states that he did not cry over his mother’s death because he has always expected old people to die. When he is questioned about why he fired four shots into a dead body, he can give no explanation, but admits that he has no remorse over killing an Arab who pulled a knife. Unfortunately, Mersault’s court appointed attorney is not very good and makes no attempt to free his client by saying he killed in self-defense. As a result, the jury is totally swayed against Mersault, this stranger who killed a stranger. They convict him of cold-blooded murder and sentence him to execution by guillotine. It is an absurd sentence for a man who truly does not view himself as a criminal.

After Mersault is sentenced, the absurdity continues. Mersault refuses on several occasions to see the chaplain. Eventually, the man bursts into his cell and tries to persuade Mersault to confess his guilt and beg for forgiveness. The truthful Mersault, of course, refuses. When the chaplain begins praying for him, Mersault screams and grabs him by the neck. Three jailers have to rescue the chaplain. After the chaplain’s visit, Mersault has a new sense of peace and calm. He accepts his death sentence as part of the absurdity of life.

The amazing thing about this book is that I am just like Mersault. Without my relationship to Christ, I find myself heartless and cold. One of his 'sins' is to sit back and never act- He just lets life happen- much like I tend to do,

The Lord has truly saved me- I feel love for my family, though my default mode is machine like numbness.

The book was chilling, because I see what I could have become.

I am waiting on a book called - "Camus and the Minister" which is reported to be an assertion that Camus gave his life to Christ. Will read it with interest. The cold defiance wears on you- It is either give in to God and meaning or face suicide.

Thank you Jesus, for breaking down my rebellion and overcoming my callousness.

Tears and meaning- I was saved- and it was... from myself.