Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My presuppositions are showing

And I think it is a good thing.

I read this article in Christianity Today and was simultaneously saddened, sickened, and surprised. I have long cast a wary eye toward any religion or teaching that claims 'God wants you to be rich" because I just don't see evidence of that in scripture. I know that the proponents of this movement have constructed a series of "Proof Texts" to support their position, but I just can't bring myself to believe that all of the suffering references in scripture are overridden by a prosperity gospel. Not everyone is going to be healthy and wealthy, and this movement leaves those people spiritually devastated because the implied assumption is that there is something spiritually wrong with them. Otherwise, God would show them favor. And I imagine deathbed counseling for someone in this situation is extremely difficult.

I'm still early in my theological education, but I have been around the block a couple of times. I cast a wary eye at any theology that uses a couple verses of scripture to make a far-reaching claim. It was for that reason that the Jabez Prayer movement made me a little nervous. It seems to take an isolated prayer and make it universal in its application, which is very dangerous.

I post this merely to make you aware of some trends in the rapidly-growing Christian church. Pray hard for sound biblical teaching, or we will devastate Africa again, as we did during the colonial era.

Friday, July 27, 2007

One of the more fun days in Colorado

Just a quick note to show one of the more fun things we did during our trip. This was one of the "necessary" items on the trip, since the kids had never been rafting with their friends. We went in 2004, but with the Duce's, not the Risters. It was a blast on a day when there was a great deal of water on the Arkansas River near Buena Vista. If you make it out here, you need to do this. It's a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Looking for places to bury me

On Wednesday we hiked the Crags, a spectacularly beautiful section of Colorado near Pikes Peak. The hike should have only been 3.5-4 miles, but was nearly doubled because the road to the trailhead was only open intermittently due to road construction. The additional 2 miles each way strained this flatlander to the point of fearing he would meet Jesus on the trail. I even went far enough to point out to Dr. Alan Duce and my wife Deb places that would be appropriate, in my opinion, to bury me if I succumbed to the combination of thin air and poor physical conditioning.

Deb took a great number of flower photos on this trip, which you can enjoy here. There are some birds, a few bugs and a wonderful spot that reminds me of the verse from the hymn "he hideth my soul, in the cleft of the rock, and covers me there with his hand." Alan told us that he and his wife had taken refuge in that cleft during a storm. I'm glad we didn't face that. There are also some great photos from the top of the Crags, which is at approximately 10,700 ft in elevation.

We head home on Friday afternoon, so this may be the last post for a few days. God has used this trip to bring us closer together, and inspire my soul. I find that the scenery reminds me of the power, creativity, and absolute majesty of God. And I take great comfort in that. I also had some time to spend with Alan, who is my ministry mentor, and a trusted confidante to talk about how my ministry preparation is going and some of the associated issues that go along with that. I truly value his counsel. And we all were able to spend time with the Rister's, who were our closest friends in Monroe until they moved last year. My daughters have been anxiously waiting for this trip so they could spend time with their friends. You never have enough time for something like that, but we have greatly enjoyed our time together out here. Leaving will be a sad moment for all of us.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tuesday was a killer

We had a fabulous time hiking on Tuesday. In the morning we hiked the Cutler Trail and a trail above Helen Hunt Falls and Seven Falls. The photos located here show some of the beauty that we saw and give an idea of how much fun Cheyenne Canyon can be. We had the great pleasure of hiking with Dr. Alan Duce and Rev. Jan Duce, professors at Nazarene Bible College and our former pastors. We visited the Duce's in 2004 and greatly enjoyed our time with them. The trail offers some spectacular views of Seven Falls, Cheyenne Canyon and the Will Rogers Shrine. It is a breathtaking (especially for a middle-aged, overweight flatlander like me) view in the early morning, and one of the many reminders that God loves beauty, and in His creation, displayed His creative genius.

In the afternoon we went to Waldo Canyon and hiked part, but not all, of that trail. It was different type of trail that offered some nice side views of Pikes Peak and the canyon. All totalled, we hiked about 8 miles that day, and by the end of the day, I was feeling it. We attended a Colorado Springs Sky Sox baseball game, and I could barely stay awake. And I love baseball. But it was a grand day, and better than any day in the flatlands where we live. I am grateful that we could come here and enjoy the magnificent scenery that is in this country.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Blooming where they are planted

On Monday we took the white-knuckle drive up Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. Here are some pictures from the drive. There are many hairpin turns on a road that will make anyone afraid of heights grip their car door. But along the way, we stopped and played a little at Crystal Reservoir and climbed up a rock formation above the treeline. What is amazing is the number of beautiful flowers that can live under rocks, in shadows, and in some of the harshest environments you can find.

God makes people like that. Those who can bloom wherever God plants them are like the hardy little plants. They beautify some of the ugliest places, and make the world a little prettier place. That is the kind of Christian I aspire to be. One that makes the world around me a little better, no matter where God plants me. I hold fast to my pastor's favorite scripture, Psalm 16:6, that my boundary lines are drawn in pleasant places.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Sunday Hike

All of the photos are here for your viewing. We took a hike in the Red Rocks Open Space in Colorado Springs. There are some magnificent views of Cheyenne Mountain, the Garden of the Gods (at left), and the Colorado Springs community. It was an afternoon hike and hot, but we all did remarkably well with the temperature. This is truly an amazing place to view creation.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pictures from our Saturday adventure

On Saturday, we went to Buena Vista, Colorado for a 1/2 day whitewater rafting trip. The drive down US 24 between Colorado Springs and Buena Vista was absolutely breathtaking as we drove through the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. Click here to see the pictures. The mountain pictures are primarily of the Collegiate Peaks near Buena Vista.

I can't say enough how much I appreciate the beauty of what God has created out here. It isn't idyllic, but it certainly shows the creative power of God. I know it is good for my soul. We are going walking this evening near the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. I look forward to that.

Friday, July 20, 2007


My classmate Derek is a contributing author to Wikiklesia: Voices of the Virtual World. Take a minute and check out the site and the book if you are interested in the convergences of faith, technology, art and the Internet. It looks interesting.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Seeing America

We are now 7 days into our trek across America's midsection. So far we have gone from Michigan to South Dakota, stayed with friends for a few days and then moved on to Colorado Springs. We have seen some amazing country as we drove. We felt a tug back to South Dakota that was far stronger than I expected. And the drive from Hot Springs, South Dakota to Cheyenne, Wyoming was breathtaking. Here are a few photos of our trip so far. Enjoy.

These are just a few of the photos. Yes, there really is a Lost Springs, Wyoming. I'm not sure how an election would work there, but you never know.
God has blessed us with an amazingly beautiful country. There are places that just take your breath away, and inspire awe at the grandeur of what He has created. If you get the chance, take a trip and admire what the Lord has blessed us with. It is good for the soul. At least my soul is blessed.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I really don't know how to add to this story. It just demonstrates the depth of paranoia and distrust in Iraq. Man eating Badgers? That is a new one on me. The video clip at the end only seemed appropriate.

British blamed for Basra badgers
British forces have denied rumours that they released a plague of ferocious badgers into the Iraqi city of Basra.

Word spread among the populace that UK troops had introduced strange man-eating, bear-like beasts into the area to sow panic.

But several of the creatures, caught and killed by local farmers, have been identified by experts as honey badgers.

The rumours spread because the animals had appeared near the British base at Basra airport.

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.

It is the size of a dog but his head is like a monkey
Housewife Suad Hassan

"We have been told these are indigenous nocturnal carnivores that don't attack humans unless cornered."

The director of Basra's veterinary hospital, Mushtaq Abdul-Mahdi, has inspected several of the animals' corpses.

He told the AFP news agency: "These appeared before the fall of the regime in 1986. They are known locally as Al-Girta.

"Talk that this animal was brought by the British forces is incorrect and unscientific."

Also known as a ratel, it is a large, sharp-clawed mammal
At around 100cm (39in) long it is slightly bigger than its British woodland cousin
Capable of taking on a cobra, the animal weighs up to 14kg (30lb)
Its Latin name is melivora capensis, and it is indigenous to Africa and the Middle East

Dr Ghazi Yaqub Azzam, deputy dean of Basra's veterinary college, speculated that the badgers were being driven towards the city because of flooding in marshland north of Basra.

But the assurances did little to convince some members of the public.

One housewife, Suad Hassan, 30, claimed she had been attacked by one of the badgers as she slept.

"My husband hurried to shoot it but it was as swift as a deer," she said. "It is the size of a dog but his head is like a monkey," she told AFP.

A Little Light-hearted Nazarene Rap

I'm pretty sure this isn't heretical :) But I found it on The OOZE. It seems like a good sendoff as we embark on a 2-week vacation to South Dakota and Colorado Springs. I'll try to throw some stuff up while we are on the road.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Show her some comment love

Lauren, a young lady from my congregation, is embarking on a 10-month trip to Pune, India as an exchange student. If you feel so inclined, go to her blog and send her some comment love as she prepares to go to the other side of the world. I'm sure she would appreciate the encouragement.

This is a pretty big deal for her and her family. Prayers are also appreciated.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Running Away from it all

If only it were that easy. Imagine all the grief that could be avoided if you, if you wanted to run away from all your problems, could do it without having to resort to drug and alcohol addictions, extra-marital relationships and all of the various and sundry ways people use to get away from life. Some even resort to death to avoid the problems.

Jesus never promised that our problems would go away. In fact, he warned us to expect more because of our faith. But he did promise to give us a more abundant life in John 10:10. No matter how hard we try, we cannot run away from our problems. Jacob tried it. Elijah laid down and asked to die. But we can turn to the One who will always be there for us to help us do what is the best for us and in God's plan.

The comic is cute, but the issue is very real. Pray hard for those who seem in danger of being overwhelmed. All running does is make you tired and put you farther away from where you need to be.

Pure Joy

Over the weekend we attended the Spirit Song festival at King's Island near Cincinnati, Ohio. Spirit Song is a three day Christian music festival that is sold with an admission to the amusement park. On the last night there was a family with two little girls, about 6 and 3, sitting behind us. The older child loves TobyMac and had never seen him live. Throughout the hour-long TobyMac show, she was waving her arms, singing along and had a look of radiant joy on her face. She was in the presence of someone that she admired and adored. And it was a pleasure to watch her.

Her joy reminded me that what I saw was but a pale imitation of the joy we will have when we see Christ. We will adore and be in awe of the One who redeemed us. That is heaven to me. And I had a little piece of it this weekend.

Here is the video to "Extreme Days" by TobyMac, a song she just rocked out to.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I think these guys are my neighbors

Last night we were treated to several thousand dollars of fireworks being shot off in our neighborhood. One site went on for a good 20-30 minutes with brief breaks between barrages.

I love Independence Day.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Today marks the 231st year since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Enjoy the day and the fireworks, and all the patriotic hoopla that goes with the day. The United States is the greatest nation on earth, and we have unparalleled freedom to practice our faith. Praise God for that. Praise him for the people who sacrificed their lives to give us what we enjoy today.

But also think of another Independence Day. That is the day Christ rose from the dead and forever broke the power of sin and death for the believers. There was no long protracted war, but the simple submission of the Word of God to death on a cross. And his sacrifice and shed blood are what give us eternal LIFE, LIBERTY in Christ, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS as we share in the joy of the Lord through His Son. Take a moment today to celebrate that independence as you cook out, hang with family and watch the fireworks. On Resurrection Day, there were no fireworks, but the Light of the World was blinding, especially to the powers of darkness.

The clip below shows the Disney/MGM Studios July 4th fireworks show. Enjoy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Slippery Slope

Click on the image to enlarge it for easier reading.

You know, this is funny. But it also points out what happens when we take our eyes off of Scripture as our spiritual starting point. Once we move away from the Word of God as revealed by Christ and witnessed by the Holy Spirit, then all bets are off. We can say, do, or teach anything we want.

Sadly many have fallen into this trap. I recently had to do a brief presentation on Schleiermacher's theology for my church history class. I think Schleiermacher's intentions were admirable, but as the "father of modern, liberal theology" what others did with the Pandora's box that he opened has made a mess. That is unless you are a theological publisher, in which case you have made money on all the critiques of Schleiermacher.

I think I have seen someone like the Church Of Danae on TV here. I'll go watch again to make sure. Sadly, others may be watching and believing.