Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Earn this

In Saving Private Ryan, in the climactic battle scene shown here where Captain Miller is mortally wounded, he whispers to Private James Ryan, whom his unit was tasked to find and get home safely, the words 'Earn This." He is telling Ryan to live a life that is worthy of the sacrifice that men made to get him home after his brothers were killed in action in the war.

It made me think of the horrendous price that Jesus paid for our freedom. While we cannot "earn this" for what he did, we can live our lives in a way that honors the sacrifice Jesus made for us. The scene at the end where the older Ryan is talking to Capt. Miller's gravestone is a good reminder for us as we talk to our Lord. Have I lived in a way that is worthy of the price paid for me? That's a good introspective question to incorporate into our prayer lives.

Something to think about.

BTW - don't visit the site that sponsored the video clip. Their URL appears at the end of the clip. They seem to be a nutjob, black helicopter type of group.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

Watch the clip above and take a moment to thank God for the men and women who have sacrificed so that we might enjoy the freedoms we have today.

"All gave some, and some gave All" is something to chew on in your prayer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Prayer for the day

I saw this on Soul Care, a daily email sent by the Church of the Nazarene Office of Clergy Development. It is something I will print and keep with me.

Forgive me, most gracious Lord and Father, if this day I have done or said anything to increase the pain of the world. Pardon the unkind word, the impatient gesture, the hard and selfish deed, the failure to show sympathy and kindly help where I had the opportunity, but missed it; and enable me so to live that I may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow, and add to the sum of human happiness.

— F. B. Meyer

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A deep thought to ponder

I'll confess that I have shamelessly ripped this thought from another blog, but I thought it was worth discussing here. What are the issues of our day, and what would Jesus say/do about them?

Depending on who you read/listen to/watch the issues facing the world are:

  • gay marriage
  • societal breakdown
  • income inequality
  • racism
  • militarism
  • American dominance
  • lack of compassion
  • global warming
  • global AIDS/HIV epidemic
  • totalitarian states oppressing their people
The list goes on and on. In a previous post I shared some thoughts on What Are Christian Issues? that went away from the usual fund-raising issues for the religious right and religious left. It is truly sad that we spend so much money and time on issues that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide, when that same money, invested in clean water wells and medical clinics could save hundreds of thousands of lives. It is a form of navel-gazing that I just don't understand.

Somehow I think Jesus would be out healing the people, not arguing in the corridors of power. Oh wait, that is exactly what he did for most of his ministry. He led by example and worked with the willing. He dealt with the powers that be when he had to, and did address many societal justice issues beyond the money changers in the temple. I yearn for the Church of Jesus Christ to take that same role in the world today. To meet the spiritual and temporal needs of the lost, hurting, oppressed and dying with the same fervor that they pursue influence in the corridors of power. Not that the political issues aren't worth fighting for. But one really does have to look at the allocation of resources question. How many lives could be saved if you stopped mailing me stuff all the time telling me the world is going to hell in a handbasket if I don't send you $25, $50, $100 or more. Take your postage and printing money and use it as your loaves and fishes. Feed the spiritually hungry and watch the world be transformed. What an ancient concept!

I need to get off the soapbox now. Hillary, Barack and John are asking for it back. While I dismount, watch the video clip above and think about the Rebel Jesus and how He could transform your thinking and actions. I know I have been.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Well done, good and faithful servant

I pray that I would respond in a similar manner if I were faced with this kind of evil. Sadly, her story is not well-known around the world. But she did the work of Christ when the moment stared her in the face.

Rest in peace, sister. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Grave Robbing

In a sense, it can be kind of funny, if you view it like Young Frankenstein. But in the church, there is an epidemic of grave-robbing going on. Not for treasure mind you, like those who raided the tombs of kings and Pharaohs. Rather, it is people resurrecting corpses for purposes of excusing bad behavior, or their unwillingness to go where God is calling them.

The Apostle Paul says in a couple places that if we are in Christ, our old self is dead.

2 Corinthians 5:17 therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Paul is saying that our old self, its desires, wants as well as the things done to it, are dead. Dead, buried, and meant to be left buried. Not dead and meant to be exhumed frequently. Remember the story of Lazarus who had been dead for 4 days? In John 11 there is this exchange between Jesus and Martha, the sister of Lazarus:

38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39"Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

Dead things stink. Just pass a road kill on your bike once and you will be reminded of that. Putrefaction begins pretty quickly, and the bacteria begin to do their thing.

I say that to remind us that spiritually, there is a horrendous smell when we dig up our old self. If it has been dead and buried for a while, there will be an awful stench. But why do we do that?

Some people dig up their old selves to:
  • Provide excuses to the Lord and others as to why they cannot do a particular ministry
  • Play the victim because it gives them cover
  • Provide an excuse for a lack of forgiveness
  • Give an excuse for their lack of spiritual growth i.e.
Don't you know what happened to me?
I can't do that because I'm a {insert issue}
I was {insert crime}
My parents didn't {insert behavior}
My spouse did {insert behavior}

I think you get the picture here.

If we are a new creation, then our old self is dead, and we need to leave it buried. If we are constantly digging it up, there is some peace with the past the Lord needs to provide you. I know our pasts can be painful, and can leave tremendous physical and emotional scars. But ours is a great God who can heal those scars and provide the peace our souls need. But we have to leave the dead in their graves.

Grave robbing is a crime in nearly every culture on earth. Desecrating the dead will earn the wrath of polite society the world over. It's time we in the church adopt that same rule. Let your old self be buried with Christ, and let the new self be resurrected with Him. That is the symbolism of baptism. We die and rise again. We don't die and hang onto the corpse and keep dragging it around for use when it is convenient for our purposes.

Ask Dr. Frankenstein how that worked out for him.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

This was in my local paper

I just love the editorial cartoon, especially since we recently studied Revelation in our adult small group. The article is a good read from the outgoing Prime Minister of Italy.

One quote stood out to me from the piece:

People can no longer be allowed to starve to death in Africa simply because there are some people in the US or inside the European Union who consider that the votes of farmers or landowners are worth more than the survival of millions of men and women. It is true that today's policies were decided at a time when we thought we were living in an energy-poor and food-rich world. But that is no longer the case today.

I heard on the radio news that the U.S. has diverted 1/3 of its corn crop to ethanol production, while people starve around the world and food prices rise. Now that the Iowa caucuses are over, can we please stop pandering to the farm lobby and create an energy policy that makes sense and does not cause people to starve to death?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Politicians and the church

This quote in a recent Leadership Journal article caught my eye as we watch the way the church and politicians are interacting in the current race for the White House:

In many ways our situation is increasingly like that of the early church. The gospel had to compete in a multi-religious, pluralistic environment where, as Edward Gibbon put it, "the masses considered all religions equally true, the philosophers considered them equally false, and the politicians considered them equally useful."

I'm not passing judgment here because all parties have used and abused Christianity in their quest for power. I just find it amusing that in a post-modern world, some things don't change, even as far back as the Roman Empire. Politicians have been appealing to faith for millenia when it suits their needs. I don't think it will end anytime soon. My advice is when they start appealing to your faith, to put on a good filter of healthy skepticism and brace yourself for the inevitable sell-out that will follow. I hate to be so cynical, but, sadly, I fear it is true.

We hear the uproar over Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his controversial sermons. We hear about Barack Obama's faith. We also heard about Mitt Romney's Mormonism. Just watch how they are portrayed and be "as wise as serpents." Because that is who you are dealing with.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Am I just dense?

Or is there something here that escapes me? You know my issues with the incoherent energy policy in these United States. So I wrote my congressman, who happens to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Here is his response to my concerns dated April 28, 2008:

Dear Mr. Richardson:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding drilling off the shore of the United States. I appreciate hearing from you.

We can all agree that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil; however, I do not think that new drilling off our coasts is the best solution. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have worked for a balanced energy policy, which takes care of our needs as a nation while conserving one of our natural resources. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is the committee through which much of our environmental legislation must go, and as Chairman of that Committee I must often make decisions regarding the environment. To this end, during the 110th Congress I intend to look into investing in clean and renewable energy.

You may be pleased to know that during the 109th Congress, the House took a number of actions meant to financially encourage the development and usage of alternative energy. In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress mandated that 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol would have to be incorporated as a gasoline additive by 2012. Ethanol, a much cleaner alternative to gasoline, would significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Hybrid cars also are being promoted to consumers via tax credits. Up to $3200 is available in tax credits for a new owner of a hybrid. Congress already offers many other smaller tax credits to conscientious consumers. This type of encouragement on the homeowner level provides motivation for manufacturers to continue to invent and produce more energy efficient models of appliances.

Though these incentives are a good start in promoting continued exploration of alternative energy practices, they are not the finish line. Energy efficiency is a worthy aim and one that our government's policies and practices should seek to encourage, but not at the cost of our environment. You may rest assured that that I will keep your views in mind should legislation regarding alternative energy come before me for consideration.

Again, thank you for being in touch. For news on current federal legislative issues, please visit my website at; you can also sign up there to receive my e-newsletter. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me again if I may be of assistance with this or any other matter of concern.

With every good wish,

Sincerely yours,

John D. Dingell Member of Congress

So, if I understand what Rep. Dingell is saying, he is advocating diverting our food supply to fuel to protect the environment. Never mind the starvation and gross immorality of that action, the environment is more important than the people who live in it.

That is eye-opening to say the least.