Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good advice for pastors

That clip is so true. Not only with wives, but with children. One of our pastors in another state had a rule with his family that if he used them in a sermon without permission, he had to pay them a fixed amount (I can't remember how much)to compensate them for the embarrassment. That is a pretty good rule of thumb. What I usually do is let my wife read my sermons in advance, which alerts her to any mentions. But asking permission is always a good idea.

Annual Thansgiving message

This year as you stuff your face and watch the Lions lose, spend a moment to reflect on these two things. Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation and an account of the first Thanksgiving by Edward Winslow:

"Inasmuch as we know that nations, like individuals, are subjected to the punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of Civil War that now desolates our land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people.

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand that preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all of these blessings were provided by some superior wisdom or virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power to confess our national sins and pray for clemency and forgiveness."

Winslow's account:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

May your Thanksgiving be blessed by good food, good friends, and the love of your family.


How then should we live?

This is a good question on a couple levels. This article briefly addresses the topic. Given that the world in which Christianity abides is undergoing such great transformation, what does that mean for the church corporately? What does it mean for us as individuals? It's a good thing to meditate on during Advent. As you anticipate the coming of the Christ, how then should we live?

Another article that touches on this from a slightly different perspective is here. It talks about the difference between God's image and likeness. The author posits the belief that we are created in God's image, but we grow into God's likeness as we draw closer to him, and take on his characteristics such as holiness, compassion, mercy, righteousness etc. It is through that trans formative process that Paul talks about in Romans 12 "Be transformed by the renewing of your minds" that is key. It is a view more traditionally aligned with the Orthodox Church, but one that John and Charles Wesley embraced as well.

The author is talking about Theosis - where we begin to take on the divine nature - and captures it well in this thought: Most important, the Orthodox understanding of theosis reminds us that salvation is less about what we get than about what God gets. It is about his purposes being accomplished in us. As the Reformed credo states: It is by his grace, for our good, to his glory.

As Advent approaches, think about how we can be more of a gift to God. Christ is his greatest gift to us, but the gift of his image isn't far behind. How can we take those gifts and grow into something that is pleasing and useful to God as He brings his Kingdom.

Something to chew on this holiday season. And it is fat-free and sugar-free. Be warned, it may cause some consternation and possible indigestion.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A book I plan to read soon

The Great Emergence looks like a fun holiday read. Anyone want to join me in reading this?

More Government = More Better?

You have to love the logic behind this story. If a church can't provide shelter for homeless people 5 days per week, it can't do it at all. I'm sure the freezing homeless person appreciates the government's need for order in all things, but somehow telling churches that they cannot provide shelter to "the least of these" on a freezing night doesn't sit well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A CD worth buying

I'm not going to write my own review, other than to say I own this CD and listen to it almost daily. I've had the privilege of worshiping at Jacob's Well twice, and it is an experience I look forward to each time I am in Kansas City.

You can go here to read the review.

Click here to sample the music. Horse and Rider and Center My Heart are favs of mine.

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to listen to this.

Here are the lyrics to the last song "Words to build a life on"

As promised, here are the lyrics for "Words to Build a Life On"... Amazing song... It speaks for itself...

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words I want them to be mine

Blessed are the poor
Blessed are the weak
Blessed are the ones
Who can barely speak

Blessed in your hurt
Blessed in your pain
Blessed when your teardrops
Are falling down like rain

Blessed when you're broken
Blessed when you're blind
Blessed when you're fragile
When you have lost your mind

Blessed when you're desperate
Blessed when you're scared
Blessed when you're lonely
Blessed when you've failed

Blessed when you're beat up
Blessed when you're bruised
Blessed when you're tore down
Blessed when you're used

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words I want them to be mine

Blessed when you're heartbroke
Blessed when you're fired
Blessed when you're choked up
Blessed when you're tired

Blessed when the plans
That you so carefully laid
End up in the junkyard
With all the trash you made

Blessed when you feel like
Giving up the ghost
Blessed when your loved ones
Are the ones who hurt you most

Blessed when you lose your
Own identity
Then blessed when you find it
And it has been redeemed

Blessed when you see what
Your friends can never be
Blessed with your eyes closed
Then blessed you see Me

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words I want them to be mine

Blessed when you're hungry
Blessed when you thirst
Cause that's when you will eat of
The bread that matters most

Blessed when you're put down
Because of me you're dissed
Because of me you're kicked out
They take you off their list

You know you're on the mark
You know you've got it right
You are to be my salt
You are to be my light

So bring out all the flavour
In the feast of this My world
And light up all the colours
Let the banner be unfurled

Shout it from the rooftops
Let the trumpets ring
Sing your freaking lungs out
Jesus Christ is King!

Jesus is my Saviour
Jesus is divine
Jesus is my answer
Jesus is my life

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words I want them to be mine

Give us ears that we may hear them
voice that we may sing them
life that we may live them
hope that we may give them
hearts that we can feel them
eyes that we can see them
thoughts that we may think them
tongues that we may speak Your words

Copyright Mike Crawford 2004, BMI
CCLI Song No. 4541172

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hypocrisy in Politics? Perish the thought!

This story has me a bit flummoxed. It seems that the Congressional Democrats want a business plan from the Big 3 automakers before they lend them any money as part of the Early Christmas Cash Giveaway in Washington, D.C. What is odd is that I don't remember AIG presenting a business plan for their $150 billion buffet at the taxpayer trough, nor do I remember any business plans being submitted for the $700 billion taxpayer shakedown for Wall Street. I also don't remember the pompous fools in Washington talking about the luxury jets of the Wall Street folks.

Mind you I'm not in favor of government intervention in markets. They generally screw up everything they touch. But it does seem a bit hypocritical for people who have totally mismanaged the federal budget for years to lecture the automakers on fiscal responsibility. I tip my hat to the anyone with the cojones it takes to pull that off with a straight face. But they did.

Nero is fiddling again. Except this time he has 535 heads and lives under a dome. And his new whipping boys aren't Christians. They are automaker executives.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If you ever wonder if God is still moving in the hearts of people

Read this story or watch the video clip below. It is an amazing story of repentance and one person's turn from a culture of death to a culture of life.

God is still very active today. Praise be to God.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saying Grace as a means of Grace

Last night I was sitting in a local coffee shop reading a book for my evangelism class. I ordered some chili, and as is my custom, said grace before I ate. There was a couple in their 60s there who stopped and thanked me for saying grace as they left. They said that it blessed them to see someone still doing that in restaurants.

Isn't that just like God to take something that we may take for granted and use it to bless someone else. He truly is an amazing God!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Legal does not equal good

Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Go read this article and shake your head. We have an epidemic of divorce that has swept this country, and we now have an agency advertising the motto "Life is short. Have an affair" over the airwaves. I've heard some bad advertising on "Sports talk Radio" in my lifetime. It seems to get more risque' as time passes. I thought it was bad enough to have to listen to ads for "Gentleman's Clubs" on the radio with my kids in the car. I cannot even imagine how the discussion would go after hearing this ad.

There is a reason Adultery is one of the Ten Commandments. It destabilizes society, destroys the family unit, and leads to rash actions such as violence and murder in fits of jealous rage. Just watch the TV crime shows. Murder by jealous spouse, or someone wanting to dispose of spouse to pursue their love affair are common themes. It's old school and was a capital crime in the Old Testament. David had Uriah killed so he could have Bathsheba more than 3000 years ago. And their first-born son died as a result. You can read that account here. It's not new, but it's still evil.

I may have to tune into commercial-free radio exclusively. This is nuts.

Credit for the picture goes here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

The cry of my heart today

As I progress through seminary and continue to take steps toward entering the ministry full-time, I have endured a barrage of doubts and lies from the enemy that is growing in a crescendo. I don't feel worthy of my calling. I'm scared of where it might take me. I realize that God is faithful, but this is something new, something very scary to me, and something that I did not seek. I fought it for a long time, until the price of fighting was so high that I came to my senses and surrendered to God.

Despite all of the fears, doubts, concerns and all of the other emotions and thoughts that have flooded my brain, I still echo the words of this song in the clip above:

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

As excited as I am about entering into ministry, there is also a sadness, almost a grieving, as one phase of my life ends. It marks the end of an era, and a new one unfolds. The good news is that I have Jesus.

There isn't much I can add to this

Monks Brawl at Jesus' tomb.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This is almost painful to watch

Thanks to Andrew for the tip.

I have to admit that some of this is just stinging in its rebuke of the American church. Obviously they are using satire to make a point about how the church markets itself, and some of the practices within the church. Not everything here is necessarily bad, but when they are put together the weight is damning.

I encourage you to watch the clip a couple times. I think you might find some things worthy of leaving comments on.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Where to find world hunger?

Thanks to our friends at Christianity Today for this map. Just click on it and learn.

A place to camp out for a while

I have posted on this song before, but I didn't have a decent video clip to use. This is one of my favorite Jars of Clay songs. It is decidedly melancholy, but it evokes powerful emotions within me. It is a song of someone searching for God but not finding Him. I've been there before, and every so often it is good to revisit that ground and listen for the still small voice that is God.

Monday, November 03, 2008

In case you missed it

Lee Corso has officially become a buffoon, but an entertaining buffoon at that.

What have I done to William Clay Ford Sr. to deserve this

In a season where the Detroit Lions are halfway to perfection (they are 0-8) and quite possibly the worst record since Mr. Ford purchased them in 1963, they find a way to stick a dagger in my back. I've suffered with this disastrous franchise for all of my 41 years. So this year, in my fantasy football league I decide to pick up players playing the Lions, since they are destined for banner days against an awful defense. So far, so good.

Then yesterday the Lions knock out my quarterback, Kyle Orton, in a game that they had no business competing in. What have I done Mr. Ford? Why do you torment me like this. You put garbage on the field year in and year out, and when I finally get smart enough to play against your steaming pile of refuse, they jump up and bite me. What have I done to you to deserve this?

I'm going to go sit in a corner and rock for a while.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

As you prepare to vote

Let the lyrics of this song provide a reality check for you.

This is a song by Randy Stonehill. I heard him sing this at Hills Alive in 1993 or 1994 in Spearfish, South Dakota.

Well we worship at the shroud of Elvis
And we're waiting for that money from Ed McMahon
And we're drinking from the Perrier fountain of youth
While we follow what the daily horoscopes saying
Taking lethal doses of MTV
Delving into pet psychiatry
Trying to treat cancer with a fruit juice cure
And waiting for the Beatles reunion tour

'Cuz it's a great big stupid world
And we're feeling kinda queasy as it turns around
Great big stupid world
And we're never really sure if we're up or down
We're on a dirt clod out in space
Where it stops nobody knows
If Jesus came back today
They'd try to book him on the Oprah Winfrey show
'Cuz it's a great big stupid world
Great big stupid world

Well we're hot on the trail of Big Foot
And we're wearing the crystals to feel the power
We're hoping that the creatures from outer space
Come to set us free in that final hour
Trying to tell the future from the lumps on our heads
Getting melanoma from our tanning beds
Channeling Houdini with Shirley MacLaine
And trying to figure out what the dolphins are saying

Well it's a Great-Big-Stupid world
Dumb dumb da dumb dumb baby it's a stupid world
It's a great big stupid, great big stupid
Great big stupid world
Well we're studying the National Enquirer
Is it true Sonny Bono is the Anti-Christ
We debate if T.V. wrestling is really a sport
While we're testing rock 'n' roll and it's effect on mice
Bonding with our little computer screens
Getting anorexic on our Lean Cuisines
Turning plastic surgeons into millionaires
So everybody finally gets to look like Cher

It's a great big stupid world
And we're feeling kind of queasy as it turns around
Great big stupid world
And we're never really sure if we're up or down
It's a great... big... stupid world
Dumb dumb da dumb dumb baby it's a stupid world