Friday, June 29, 2007

Better late than never I guess

It seems that the United Nations is finally going to shut down the inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The war there started more than four years ago, and it has been a foregone conclusion that whatever weapons were in Iraq have pulled an "Elvis has left the building" move some time ago. Yet the U.N. keeps paying its staff out of the Oil-For-Food boondoggle fund that Kofi Annan's family enriched themselves with.
At least they can start to face a little bit of reality, albeit belatedly.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What's truly important

You know, I think many in our world spend more time thinking about where they will be buried than they do about where they will spend eternity. I know that sounds a little harsh and backward, but many people I know will spend more time planning their funeral than they will on their eternal destination, which is truly sad. I've heard discussions of whether they will be in the shade, sun, crypt and which cemetery from people that seem to be apathetic about their destination.

In some ways I share some of the blame for that. I have been too reticent in my sharing of my faith in Christ, the hope that I have in this life and the next, and the reality of what life apart from Christ is like. I don't mean to suggest that I am going to turn into a crazed street-corner preacher, but when those opportunities come up, I need some Holy Boldness to speak the truth of the Lord to people who are in danger of focusing on the trivial, such as their burial plot, while the truly important, their eternal home, is neglected. That is one of the primary tasks of the church: To proclaim the good news in such a way that disciples are made. Pray for me in that task.

I don't want the pendulum to swing too far, so that I become so heavenly minded that I am of no earthly good. I've met those people too. We have a mission here on earth beyond developing our faith so that we spend eternity with the Lord. We are to make disciples of all nations, as the Great Commission commands. It wasn't just an instruction for the first disciples.

I've even gone as far as to tell my family that I don't care where, how, or even if, you bury me. When I breathe my last, I am done with this body. If they want to part it out to science, I'm good with that too. But I want to use it to build the kingdom while I am here.

The song, All my Tears, on the Jars of Clay CD Good Monsters, really speaks to this issue. I can't find a decent recording of it to share with you, but the clip at the bottom of this post has most of the song but ends abruptly. I've printed the lyrics for you to read in case the audio is a little rough.

When I go, don't cry for me
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store,
Come and drink, and thirst no more

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Apocalypse is not imminent

I am relieved to read this story. I can't even imagine how this show would have looked with her as the host. At least this isn't one more sign of the apocalypse, as I had feared.

Living in Denial

The Michigan Legislature and Governor have figured out a way to erect a Potemkin Village for the state's ongoing budget crisis. Here is one example of their fine work. For a state that takes great pains to make sure that everyone knows about the water recreation available here, they decide that budgetary smoke and mirrors are a better use of the fund for cleaning up leaking underground fuel tanks.
Speaking of smoke, this is a beauty. The money that was supposed to be used to get people, especially kids, to stop smoking has been sold off too. All because they don't want to face the reality that the world as they knew it is gone. The state has serious economic problems, and they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This is the best government that money can buy?

Stop the presses!

Read this and brace for a bevy of live remotes as cars move on Los Angeles streets. It looks like a good day to boycott media and work on the church history papers I have due on Friday. I saw Fox News breathlessly broadcasting about this today. And they wonder why their ratings are down.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Our denominational identity

Bishopman has a good post on the internal discussions within the Church of the Nazarene regarding its distinctive doctrine of Entire Sanctification. I'm not going to go into a discussion of the doctrine, except to note that it is the reason the Church of the Nazarene exists. In the 19th Century, the Methodist church tried to distance itself from the doctrine, and the Holiness Movement was in large part created by a bunch of churches that held to that doctrine and wanted to create a church featuring that doctrine.
Sharktacos has a nice review of church history and how there have been groups distinguishing themselves as time passes. I hope that the Church of the Nazarene can peacefully work out these doctrinal issues without a major schism that creates another denomination. The doctrine has been around for a long time. I concur with Bishopman that an update of the methodology is probably in order.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

God is faithful

As we plow through church history,reformation to the present, one thing has struck me. God always provides for his church. He always has the faithful that try to honestly serve him, no matter how awful the situation. Whether it be Hus and Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Zinzendorf or any number of people, God always has a faithful core of people to keep the church alive an on the path.

He is truly amazing. And the church perseveres, despite the wickedness of some of its leaders.

Praise God.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

It's like Deja Vu all over again

Pray for me this week. I am on campus at Asbury Seminary taking Church History 2 (Reformation to the present). Once again I am living in a dorm room with a roommate. The good news is that for the first time I have an air-conditioned dorm room.

I'll post insights and comments as time permits. I'll be 40 this summer and I'm back in a dorm. The world has come full circle.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh what a night!

Tuesday, June 12 is a day I will remember for a long time. I went to the Detroit Tigers vs. Milwaukee Brewers game at Comerica Park. Justin Verlander, the Tigers' 24-year old flamethrower was on his game and threw a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts. It was as dominant a performance as I have seen in baseball. The Brewers were facing 102 mph fastballs in the 9th inning mixed with 83 mph curveballs and changeups. They looked helpless on the field that night.

Here are a couple photos from the game. I was there with most of my fantasy hockey league for our end of the season get-together. I came in next to last, but hey, I had fun. I never professed to know what I was doing in the league, and I proved it.

The electricity in the crowd was unreal the last three innings. Magglio Ordonez made a sliding catch in right field in the 7th. Neifi Perez stabbed a hot smash up the middle and turned a double play in the 8th. In the 9th, Verlander was hopped-up on adrenaline and broke 100 mph a couple times in striking out the first two batters before retiring the last on a fly to right.

The crowd and the Tigers went crazy. This was the first no-hitter by a Tiger since 1984 and the first at home since 1952. The celebration was long overdue.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Just in case you ever forget...

Guiding Scripture Verse?

Do you have one? I was riding home from the June 12 Detroit Tigers game (yes the one with Verlander's no hitter) with my friend Kurt and we were discussing "life verses" or scripture that guides our thinking and actions. I've never formally said something is my life verse, but it got me thinking that the closest I have come is Micah 6:8 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

I know that the Lord has been working on me in this area for some time. Humility is not my strong suit, and as a former pastor wisely said "If God has to teach you humility, it will be painful." He is so correct. Loving mercy was harder than I thought. But as the Spirit has shown me the depths of my sin, my heart has softened toward many people. I better understand the concept of those who have been forgiven much loving much. And that I believe, along with some spiritual maturity, is helping me see people differently.

I've always liked Susan Ashton's song "Beyond Justice to Mercy." Take a look at the lyrics and let them dwell in you. I'm sorry I can't find a YouTube of it for you to listen.

I know we don't see eye to eye
We've let angry hearts flare and the bitter words fly
The common ground we used to share
Is harder to find but I believe that it's still there.

I don't know if now is the time
To surrender the silence between your heart and mine
But the love that I've chosen cries out to be spoken
Leaving the heartache behind.

We must reach out beyond justice to mercy
Going more than halfway to forgive
And though the distance seems so far
The love that used to hold our hearts
Longs to take us beyond justice to mercy.

It doesn't matter who's to blame
The love that I have for you is still the same
A tender voice is calling me
To that place of compassion where hearts run pure and free
Where the hunger for vengeance gives way to repentance
Where love will teach us to see.

We can reach out beyond justice to mercy
Going more than halfway to forgive
And thought the distance seems so far
The love that used to hold our hearts
Longs to take us beyond justice to mercy.

To mercy, to mercy.

We must reach out beyond justice to mercy
Going more than halfway to forgive
And though the distance seems so far
The love that used to hold our hearts
Longs to take us beyond justice to mercy...

Doing Christian justice is something I viscerally feel, but struggle to implement. It's different than what she is talking about, which is punishment. Acting justly is being Christlike and righting wrongs. Maybe it is that I am still in school, and not in a position to affect change as strongly as I would like. I'm not sure, but I feel the need, but I struggle with the action. Pray for me on this.

Do you have a life verse? If so, how does it affect your Christian faith? I'd like to hear that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Pot calling the Kettle Black

Read this and shake your head. Dan Rather thinks that the news was better when he was making up stuff about President Bush. And they wonder why we don't watch anymore.

Decisons Decisions

Bishopman had a good post on freedom and decisions recently. As did Kurt's Korner on the wisdom of decisions. I was thinking about that this morning as I listened to sports talk radio in Detroit discuss the legal troubles of Detroit Lion's player Shaun Rogers. It is alleged that he was in a seedy strip club in Detroit and groped a stripper in her dressing room. She also alleges that he was carrying a gun, which is a mandatory 2-year felony if he was in possession of a gun during the commission of a felony.

The Sean Baligian made a great point on WDFN this morning about our responsibility to others. In this case, he is talking about Sean Roger's responsibility to his team, his family, and himself. Even if he did not do what is alleged, he was in an awful situation where nothing good can happen. With all of the legal troubles in the NFL, this was just plain stupid. It's not like Shaun Rogers is unknown in this city. He is 300+ pounds and his face is on television every Sunday in the fall. What he did may or not be a crime. It may also be a money grab on the young lady's part. I don't know what the truth is. But I do know that Shaun Rogers made a series of bad decisions that got him to this point. And now his name, and his teammates names, are being dragged through the mud.

Too many in the church have this same selfish attitude about their lives. It's as if they can do what they want and it doesn't affect others. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When a Christian sins, the entire body suffers. When the world sees bad behavior from Christians, we are all tarred with that brush. Just like Shaun Rogers' teammates are all looked at a little differently now. People are thinking "What kind of organization is that?" about the Lions. The same thing happens when prominent and ordinary Christians fall.

Take heed of Kurt's advice here:

Here's what I'm taking away from these verses based on the following scripture:

"As I stood at the window of my house
looking out through the shutters,
Watching the mindless crowd stroll by,
I spotted a young man without any sense
Arriving at the corner of the street where she lived,
then turning up the path to her house.
It was dusk, the evening coming on,
the darkness thickening into night.
Just then, a woman met him—
she'd been lying in wait for him, dressed to seduce him."
(Proverbs 7:6-10, The Message)

1. Only the mindless even "stroll by" temptation's dwelling. The smart person in this text (the narrator) was observing from a distance. He was safe and sound in his own home, "looking out through the shutters." Who was frequenting the corner of Mindless and Senseless? "The mindless crowd." How often are we mindless about the temptations we're susceptible to, only to fall?

2. Giving in to temptation requires action on my part. The "young man" being observed in this text isn't a passive victim; he's more like Samson, flirting with disaster as he (a) arrives at the adulteress' corner, (b) walks up the path to her house, (c) at night. Even though v. 10 says the adulteress had been "lying in wait for him," she would have had to wait all night long if this young man had simply avoided this danger zone altogether. When we "end up doing something wrong," it's not as if we were ambushed. We were close enough to the problem to do something wrong in the first place!

3. You can always walk away - even when you've been ambushed. Even though this young man did every wrong thing he could possibly do, the temptress didn't tackle him, drag him into her bedroom, and forcibly take advantage of him. That was her intent - she was lying in wait, "dressed to seduce him" - but even when she surprised him with her offer, he could have walked away. So can I. And so can you.

Let's do ourselves a favor and just stay away from the tempting corner of Mindless and Senseless.

That is some great advice. Many problems can be avoided by staying out of situations where nothing good can happen. Some to consider are;

1) Parties with large numbers of people and volumes of alcohol
2) Being out after 1:00 a.m. Unless you are working, there is little good that can happen.
3) Going to places where criminals and seedy folks are known to hang out.
4) Going anywhere your wise friends are cautioning you against. In Mr. Roger's case, reports say that his coaches have instructed the players to avoid these types of establisments.

We can learn a hard lesson from this. I pray we don't have to learn it first-hand.

Friday, June 08, 2007

How not to make a PowerPoint Presentation

Watch this funny video clip of common PowerPoint mistakes. It'll make you chuckle.

I have personally witnessed many of them, especially the bad color scheme and lack of spel chekking that just drives me crazy.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Al Gore was right

This is the sad state of American news today. This was the lead story on the radio news at noon. Paris Hilton's mental state in jail. People dying all over the world, G8 summit going on, missile shields, congressional investigations etc, and we get a prima donna amateur porn star as our news lead.

And the media wonders why people tune out.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Keeping it Real

If you haven't read the comic strip "Real Life Adventures" click on the link. It is worth your time. I saw this one in today's Detroit News and I chuckled at the candor. What if all things had that level of honesty attached to them? It would certainly revolutionize food packaging. You could buy "Fat laden, vacuous calories with a pure sugar filling" instead of Hostess Ho Hos.

It would almost be good if our communication were more honest, not cruel, but not the normal Kabuki Dance or verbal gymnastics we go through in our typical day. Speak the truth in love. I think that is what we are called to do. I think that is what the restaurant here is doing.

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What does Love look like?

New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

1 Corinthians 13

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I went to a wedding this weekend and this passage was prominently featured. That is no surprise, but what was a little different was how this thought came into my head. While this couple was celebrating their love for each other, and we were there to share in the joy, God was talking to me about love for others, and not a romantic type of love.Later that evening, my daughter was listening to "Under Pressure" by Queen. The last verse of that song really rips at my heart in light of what we construe love to be.

Look at the song lyrics:

Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie

Um boom ba bay
Um boom ba bay
Um Um boom ba bay bay

Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure
That burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

Um ba ba bay
Um ba ba bay
Dee day duh
Ee day duh
thats ok

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming let me out!
Tomorrow takes me higher
Pressure on people
People on streets

Day day day
da da dup bup bup

Chippin' around
kick my brains round the floor
These are the days
It never rains but it pours
Ee do bay bup
Ee do bay ba bup
Ee do bup
Bay bup
People on streets
Dee da dee da day
People on streets
Dee da dee da dee da dee da

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming let me out!
Tomorrow takes me high high higher
Pressure on people
People on streets

Turned away from it all
Like the blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love
But it's so slashed and torn
Why why why?

(Love, love, love, love)

Insanity laughs under pressure we're cracking
Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love give love give love?
Give love give love give love give love give love give love?
Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care
For the people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way
Of caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
this is our sound

Under Pressure
Under Pressure

Love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night. That goes right along with verse 7 where love always protects. What a thought that is for the church. To care for the forgotten, downtrodden and written off. I know many churches do this. I pray that God would make that the burden of my heart. That wherever God calls me to minister that we have a burden for people, and just not good tithers (I was once asked by a board member to bring those kind of people in an outreach program we were launching). Rather, we need to focus on people who need Jesus, not people who need a new church home.

God make it the mission of the church to reach the people on the edge of the night. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Desert Island Gear

Just for fun, let's assume you were going to be stranded on a desert island for a while. Think about what you would like to take along with you. After watching Cast Away, I realize the value of hockey skates (ugh) but I don't think that is high on my list.

Since we are suspending disbelief for this exercise, be creative. Think of a book or series of books, (other than the Bible which we will assume is there courtesy of the Gideons) musical selection (yes there is a player there with electricity) and one item you would want, and it can be from any category.

Here goes my list.

CD: Share the Well by Caedmon's Call - I love the sound they created on their mission trip to Ecuador and India. It transports me to a completely different place when I listen to it.

Book: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If I am going to a desert island, what better reading that pure fantasy with Christian morality backing it?

Item: I was sorely tempted to say a hammock or Swiss Army Knife, but reality and my age set in and I have to go with my glasses. Unfortunately this fantasy exercise doesn't correct physical defects.

What are your selections? Post a comment and let us know.