Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm just gonna break the wrist and walk away. Break the wrist, walk away.

I had an odd experience at Steak 'n Shake last week. It was for me a sublime moment, akin to the escalation I witnessed back in February.

My first clue that something was askew was when I noticed a beautiful chocolate shake untouched, the kind with the whipped (pronounced "whup") cream, sprinkles, and cherry on top. Why was it just sitting there? Why hadn't the lady handled up on her shake?

I then began to observe the non-verbal behavior of the apparently husband & wife. They were engrossed in conversation, more him talking than her, however. I then succumbed to temptation. Although I was there with the family celebrating Sarah's last day of school, I began to eavesdrop to see if my hunch was correct.

It was. I was witnessing the initiation of a divorce. She didn't see this coming and was taking it hard. He was trying to console her with affirmations that he would take care of her financially. I'm not sure that was helping.

I have no context of their relationship and I don't intend to assign blame or even contemplate the theology of divorce and remarriage. Yet, I will say that it was a sad moment. I can say with confidence that this was not the way they originally drew it up.

Surely they went into the marriage with unbridled optimism. Surely they went into the marriage in love and expecting to live happily ever after. But there was less better and more worse, at least from his vantage point. For whatever the reasons might be, that which once seemed so promising now was on death row.

Her chocolate shake was put in a to-go cup as they prepared to leave. She needed some extra time in the restroom to touch up her make up and compose herself after a significant amount of tears. Did he think he'd just break the news and walk away? Just break the news, walk away? As Rex would say, "I don't think so."

Now comes the official aspects and the ripples from that lunch announcement. They would have to go to court where they officially terminate their marriage. She would have to break the news to her family & friends. New living arrangements would have to be negotiated. It seemed as though she was contemplating many of these things and others as she realized the weight of what had just transpired.

As I too realized the significance, I was sad, for both of them. This looked as though it was going to be a lose-lose for both of them. I prayed for them, but their future still weighs on my heart and mind. They were normal people. They had a broken marriage, but they're not all that unique. It has happened to the best of folks. So many have undergone that beating and experienced the difficulties & damage divorce can bring, particularly when children are involved.

This was about as up close and personal as I've ever got to divorce, so I may not have the greatest amount of ethos to speak to the subject. If you or your parents have experienced divorce, you can relate better than I. You know firsthand that nobody wins. Two lives that were previously intertwined now have to be dissected. One may want to hang on, to retain the relationship and stability in life. People cannot just break the wrist and walk away.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.

Yesterday an Aggie buddy and former college roommate died in a jet ski accident.

Father Todd Reitmeyer, affectionately known to his buddies as Rottweiler '93, was a Roman Catholic priest serving in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, but visiting family on vacation.

My family just saw him last Thanksgiving for dinner in Austin at his beloved Wing-N-More and he looked great and had a great time interaction with our kids, particularly Sarah. He was a great resource for me, particularly when teaching church history. I could always get an unjaded perspective of RC theology so as to ensure I was not misrepresenting it.

This comes as shocking news as I had been in frequent dialogue with him lately, particularly doing research for a Mother's Day sermon I did on the Virgin Mary.

I got another email from him tonight just as I was walking out the door. But, it actually wasn't from him, but from a family member using his address. I paused when I read the words, "Dear friends of Father Todd." The next sentence told of his passing.

By God's providence, I will be in San Antonio this weekend and his funeral services will be in Buda, Texas, about an hour away. Lord willing, I will be there to support the friends and family of my fellow Aggie.

As I stop and ponder issues foreign to my typical day, I'm reminded of just how fragile human life is. I'm reminded that we should boast not of tomorrow, for we know that what a day may bring (Prov 27:1). I'm reminded that not only do I not know "what tomorrow may bring," but I am but my life is like a "mist" that "appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14). I am reminded that this is a day that the Lord has made, I want to rejoice and be glad in it (Ps 118:24), not squander it and/or take it for granted.

Just like whenever I perform a funeral, I am reminded not only of the fleeting nature of human life, but of the enormous importance what we do in this life regarding Christ makes in eternity.

This news has got my attention regarding the temporality of human life and our pressing need for forgiveness through Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh, came down from heaven and lived a holy, perfect, and sinless life. But this innocent God/Man was murdered, crucified by wicked sinners according to God's plan so that Christ's sacrifice would be the means of forgiveness for those who believe, trusting in the person & work of Him who died, was buried, but rose from the dead.

He came into the world, taking on human flesh and bearing sin, to save sinners, who might have His righteousness through faith/trust in Him and His sacrifical death on the cross.

Each of us will die and face judgment. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. If you are a Christian, by God's grace, prasie God and pray for those you love who are not. What if there is no tomorrow?

There are TWO WAYS to live; it's the choice we all face. If you do not have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, please believe/trust in the risen Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved from the penalty of your sins, that you might experience JUSTIFICATION. There is salvation in Christ alone, for He alone is the way to the Father and life everlasting.

May God be gracious to us that we are all able to see our need for the gift of forgiveness, Jesus Christ, in whom we must believe. Feel free to contact me if you would like to dialogue further on the blessing of having a loving relationship with the Heavenly Father through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But, don't wait until tomorrow. What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today, not for my friend, Rottweiler '93 (aka Father Todd).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lone Star Founders Fraternal

(N.B. For updated info, see Lone Star Founders Fraternal.)

For a few years now I've wanted to organize a local fellowship of like-minded SBC church leaders and future leaders who could meet for mutual encouragement, edification, and enhancement of ministry and personal spirituality. There was a similar group, though more ecumenical, that met in the Fort Worth area that was meeting my needs in this area, but it has been dissolved.

So, at the encouragement of others, I put the wheels in motion for the Lone Star Founders Fraternal, for those friendly to the aims & values of Founders Ministries. We will primarily be meeting in the NE Dallas area and will have our first official meeting on Saturday September 9th, at 9AM. I welcome input from those interested with regard to when to topics to discuss and how to mutually encourage and edify one another.

I envision activities centered around the discussion of theology & practice, perhaps with guest speakers, Deo volente. At our first meeting, we will better define what will meet the needs of the group, so bring your ideas to the table there/then or in the comments section.

The Lone Star Founders Fraternal promotes the fellowship and edification of SBC pastors/elders and future church leaders (e.g., theological students) who seek to glorify God by the preservation & promotion of the doctrines of grace in SBC church life. To the end of fellowship and unity, we request at least general agreement with the "5 Solas" as described in the Cambridge Declaration, but welcome Baptists who can generally affirm any of the following: London Baptist Confessions of 1644/46 or 1689 or the Abstract of Principles (1858).

Please post your comments with any suggestions regarding material or logistical aspects. As a general rule, the plan is to meet every 2nd Saturday at 9AM for breakfast followed by some sort of semi-formal program of study and/or discussion.

At least initially, we will meet at Providence Church.

*Please spread the word and we now have a new more professional, more permanent web page. For more information and/or updates on meetings, see the following page for the Lone Star Founders Fraternal.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hasta la vista, baby!

Monday night the little Mavericks grew up just a bit. They say to be the best you have to beat the best. Monday night, the Mavericks demonstrated the ability to beat the NBA's best team, the defending champs on their own court. They said, "Good bye" to the Spurs and hello to the Western Conference Finals.

Mark Cuban, Mavs owner, said it best ... WOW. It was an overtime nail-biter and it was close to being one of the greatest meltdowns in franchise history, almost blowing a 3-1 series lead and a 20 point lead in Game 7. However, "close" only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades.

The reality is/was that they did win and they beat a team that was good, has been good, and will be good again next year. There can be no excuses. The Spurs played hard, but they were outplayed by a better team, a team that was deeper and played better as a team.

Credit much of that success to the players (e.g., Dirk's MVP quality 28.6 points per game in the playoffs), but also to the coaching staff and owner, for this success did not happen overnight. We've seen this train coming 'round the bend for a short while. The train got on the right track when Mark Cuban bought the team.

Chew on this fact: Dallas has 25 postseason wins in the last 5seasons after winning only 21 playoff games in the previous 21 years of its history. That includes, of course, the good Mavericks teams of the 80s.

Mark Cuban gets some flak, but there are tons of teams out there who would love to have such an owner and you can credit him with a large share in the praise for this Mavericks turnaround. Cuban brought in legendary coach Don Nelson, who rescued the team from the mire of obscurity & mediocrity and then passed the team on to his assistant, the Little General. Coach of the year Avery Johnson, in his first full season, instilled a defensive mindset and helped the team overcome numerous injuries and key losses the past two years (back to back NBA MVP Steve Nash and lifelong Mav Michael Finley).

Prior to Mark Cuban, the Mavs were one of the perennial worst teams in the NBA. They became a run & gun team that was fun to watch, but would never be taken too seriously to go deep in the playoffs because they couldn't play well on defense and were perceived as soft.

Well, this season they took out the powerhouse team in the West, the San Antonio Spurs. This was a Spurs team who won 63 games (60 for Dallas) and had won 2 NBA Championships in the past 3 years, beating Dallas in the Western Conference Finals in 2003. Plus, the Spurs edged out Dallas for a division title 5 of the last 6 seasons, with the Maverickss finishing behind the Spurs by one game or on a tiebreaker 3 of those seasons.

They took the Spurs' best shot and wound up with the most points on the scoreboard at the end of OT in Game 7 and the most wins in the series. It was hard fought, but symbolized the Mavericks status as an elite team, a team with legitimacy when discussing a championship.

They still need to win 4 games just to make it to the NBA Finals and another 4 to be called NBA Champs, but they can be proud, as can their fans, of the great strides they have made over the past few years and the giant leap they took this year.

In fact, regardless of what happens against Phoenix, a new era has dawned, for one of them will go to the NBA Finals. This will be the first time since 1998 that the West is not represented in the NBA Finals by either the Spurs or Mighty Lakers.

Yet, when it's all said and done, having shown their character and ability to work well as a team, there's a very good chance Dirk could be raising his fist in victory over the Phoenix Suns AND the winner of the Heat vs. Pistons series.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Okay, I'll be quiet. And I'll be peace.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:9).

Christians should be agents of God's grace, bringing about reconciliation between God and people, as we share the good news of the person & work of Christ.

Christians should also be agents of God's grace, bringing about reconciliation between other members of the household of faith. Unity among the body of Christ is a theme rampant throughout the New Testament.

Christians should be intruments of God's peace, helping others to have peace with God, by grace through faith in Christ, and helping others to have peace with each other.

Are Christians perceived as instruments of peace by the world? Or are we often perceived as bitter, angry, and hateful people? Sadly, for many perception is that reality. Sadly, their perceptions are often based on some measure of reality.

It is my prayer that Christians would be known more for love, to God and to others, known more as peacemakers. We don't compromise truth, but we speak the truth ... in love. (Eph 4:15)

In fact, my prayer for us is that we would all be able to pray the following, with our hearts, minds, and mouths.
O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, harmony.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sorrow, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

- attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

Lord, help us to glorify you as we strive to be instruments of your peace, instrumental in sinners having peace with you and instrumental in us having peace with one another in Christ.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

What I'd really like to do is put the greatness of this man in perspective.

The question is not new ... Who is the greatest NBA player of all time? Or, to put it another way, if you could have just one NBA player throughout history, who would it be?

For me, I'd rather have Magic Johnson than any other. Before the Michael Jordan lovers come out of the woodwork, let me try to present my case. Far too many younger folks didn't get to see both play in their prime. Having been an avid fan of the Mighty Lakers in the 80s and seen plenty of Jordan I will try to speak from experience and from statistical evidence, hoping to be as objective as possible.

Let's also give Larry Bird his due. Did it get any better than watching the Lakers vs. Celtics games in the 80s, especially in the NBA finals? It seemed like it was just a formality during that decade that it would be those two teams in the finals with the winner getting bragging rights for the next year.

The 80s Celtics were good and Bird was good (3 NBA championships, 3 NBA MVPs & rookie of the year). However, neither Bird nor his team had the same measure of success as Magic or the Lakers. The rivalry was great and exciting, but though Bird won some battles. Magic won the war.

"Magic is head-and-shoulders above everybody else," Larry Bird once observed in the Chicago Sun-Times. "I've never seen [anybody] as good as him."

The greatest contender for best of all time ... of coure, is Michael Jordan. Jordan won 6 NBA Championships was a 5 time NBA MVP and was an all-star 14 times! That's good. That's REALLY good. Jordan's ability to score seemingly at will and his playoff success, particularly in the finals, incline many to see Jordan as the best of all time.

But what about Magic? Their careers overlapped just a bit, but Jordan was coming into his prime as Magic's career was winding down. Nonetheless, Magic has some skins on the wall.

3 times Magic was the MVP of the NBA. He was a 12 time all-star and was the NBA Finals MVP 3 times.

Magic won 5 championships with the Lakers. Plus, there were additional Finals appearances in '83, '84, '89, and '91. If you're keeping score at home, that's 5-4 in NBA Finals appearances; 6-0 for MJ.

Uh, in my mind, making it to the Finals 9 times is a little something. 6 is good, but 9 is better. Those losses weren't to spare teams either, we're talking Dr. J's Sixers, the 80s Celtics, Detriot's Bad Boys, and Chicago's Bulls (first for Jordan).

Put it this way, it's like a NFL team making it to the Superbowl 9 out of 12 years. 6 out of 8 is very good, but I'd take the 9 out of 12 personally, especially only coming away with one less win. Keep in mind, those were the only 12 full seasons he played. He retired shortly thereafter. His unretirement was only a few months.

So, of the 12 possible trips he could have made to the finals, Magic went 9 times. MJ ... 6 finals trips in 15 chances. So, 9/12 = 75% and 9/15 = 60% making it to the dance. That's all I'm saying.

[Oh and don't give me the "everybody else around Jordan was a bum" spiel. Pippen was a 7-time all star and deemed of one of the 50 best NBA players of all time in '96. Rodman was considered one of the greatest rebounders of all time and Horace Grant was no slouch. Thus, Magic & Bird weren't the only ones surrounded by an acclaimed cast.]

I haven't done the research, but I'm going to go out in a limb and say Magic had/has more playoff victories that Michael.

I know there are other factors to take into consideration other than just statistics. Jordan had the ability to put his team on his back and single-handedly win, or better yet, not lose, a game. Bird was relentless and could hit clutch shots to give his team victories.

Magic also had the intangibles. In my mind, one of the greatest performances of all time was when Magic was a rookie playing in the NBA Finals. As a 20 year old rookie, he stepped up for an injured HOF Kareem and took it to Dr. J & the Sixers while playing center (not his position). He pulled in 15 rebounds. Put up 42 points, got 3 steals, and dished 7 assists. The Mighty Lakers won Game 6 for the Big Fella and Magic was clearly the man. That was just a foreshadowing of things to come.

No disrespect to MJ or Bird, but over his career Magic could (and did) play every position on the floor and dominated while doing so. He could do whatever was necessary for the team to win and was perhaps most widely regarded for his ability to make everyone around him better. Unselfishly playing to the strengths of the members of his team, Magic was the epitome of a team player.

Numbers don't tell the whole story for any of these three. But, I rely heavily on numbers in making my case because more often than not those support MJ as the best of all time rely heavily on 6 rings, and there's good reason to look there. However, Bill Russell of the Celtics had more, but those who watched the game know these three were truly special and head and shoulders above the rest.

Having any of the 3 on your team would be a blessing, but if I could have only one, I'd want Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

All 3 were great and it was great seeing them on the NBA Dream Team together as they won the Gold for the USA in the '92 Olympics. These three remain, Bird, MJ & Magic, but the greatest of these in Magic.

If you were starting a team and could have any one NBA player in his prime on your team, who would you take?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Takin' Care of Business

Remember the song entitled, "Takin' Care of Business," by Bachman-Turner Overdrive? It is an energetic song detailing the process of getting to work so one can be "takin' care of business."

However, the nature of the song and its catchy title, which doubles as the chorus, ensures that the song is used elsewhere. For example, it is not uncommon to hear the song at sporting events, especially when the home team has scored. They are seen to be takin' care of business. I've heard athletes boast that they will be takin' care of business when they meet their opponent.

We know what it means for an athlete to be "takin' care of business," but what about for a Christian? Martin Luther said, "As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray."

That raises the question for each of us who profess to be Christians, namely, are we takin' care of business? How is your prayer life? Do you pray with the same intensity with which an athlete competes? Do you pray as a tailor sews or as a cobbler makes shoes, as though your livelihood depended on it?

Many of us look upon prayer as a parachute; we're glad it's there but we hope we never have to use it. For most, prayer is a last resort and not the first line of defense (or even offense). When things go wrong, to whom do you turn first?

In the medical realm one will hear, "All we can do now is pray." After all other resources have been tried and exhausted; we might as well turn to God now. Yet God is the One who encourages us to come to Him with our cares, since He cares for us (1 Pet 5:7).

Every other option pales in comparison with comfort and sustenance.
Nothing teaches us so much that preciousness of the Creator as when we learn the emptiness of all besides. When you have been pierced through and through with the sentence, "Cursed is he that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm," then will you suck unutterable sweetness from the divine assurance, "Blessed is he that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is." Turning away with bitter scorn from earth's hives, where you found no honey, but many sharp stings, you will rejoice in Him Whose faithful word is sweeter than honey or the honeycomb.
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When you truly realize God's strength, resources, goodness, and care for His children, then you will realize the need for prayer. You truly live the Christian life as it was meant to be lived, a life of dependence on Him whereby He gets the glory. We live the Christian life the same way we began it, by grace through faith. This is demonstrated by reliant prayer, prayer for specific need.

What am I to ask for? It is most proper in prayer, to aim at great distinctness of supplication. There is much reason to complain of some public prayers, that those who offer them do not really ask God for anything. I must acknowledge I fear to having so prayed myself, and certainly to having heard many prayers of the kind, in which I did not feel that anything was sought for from God-a great deal of very excellent doctrinal and experimental matter uttered, but little real petitioning, and that little in a nebulous kind of state, chaotic and unformed. But it seems to me that prayer should be distinct, the asking for something definitely and distinctly because the mind has realised its distinct need of such a thing, and therefore must plead for it. It is well not to beat round the bush in prayer, but to come directly to the point. -Spurgeon
As Christians we should go to the Father in prayer regularly as we realize our dependence upon Him, for He has the greatest resources for the needs of His children. Of course, we're attempting to cultivate a relationship, not merely get stuff. He gives us guidance and keeps us on the path of doing His will through prayer, which is our business.
God does not need us, nor does He need our prayers. We need Him and we need to pray to Him.
There is no need for prayer at all as far as God is concerned, but what a need there is for it on our own account! If we were not constrained to pray, I question whether we could even live as Christians. If God's mercies came to us unasked, they would not be half so useful as they now are, when they have to be sought for; for now we get a double blessing, a blessing in the obtaining, and a blessing in the seeking. The very act of prayer is a blessing. To pray is as it were to bathe oneself in a cool stream, and so to escape from the heats of earth's summer sun. To pray is to mount on eagle's wings above the clouds and get into the clear heaven where God dwells. To pray is to enter the treasure-house of God and to enrich oneself out of an inexhaustible storehouse. To pray is to grasp heaven in one's arms, to embrace the Deity within one's soul, and to feel one's body made a temple of the Holy Ghost. Apart from the answer, prayer is in itself a benediction. To pray is to cast off your burdens, it is to tear away your rags, it is to shake off your diseases, it is to be filled with spiritual vigour, it is to reach the highest point of Christian health. -Spurgeon
It is my prayer that all of God's people can be regarded as "takin' care of business" in prayer.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.

I got this via email and saved it for a special occassion. Mother's Day will do nicely.

I Owe My Mother

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
" Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY.
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS .
"Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
"Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck?!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11 My mother taught me about WEATHER.
"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."!

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
"If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
"Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
"You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way."

19. My mother taught me ESP.
"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me"

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
"You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

And my favorite:
25. My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you"

Friday, May 12, 2006

It reminds us of all that once was good, and could be again.

I spoke this morning in chapel at a local Christian school. They were doing the "Fruit of the Spirit" and asked that I speak on GOODNESS.

Since I had previously preached through Gal 5:22-23 over nine weeks, I figured I'd just dust off my sermon on GOODNESS and tweak it a bit for my preschool-8th grade audience.

Well, there was a fair amount that had to be cut, and not just to get it down to 15 minutes; content had to be altered as well. In particular, my Nietzsche quotes were dropped.

So, I thought I'd share them with my beloved blogosphere buddies.

The gist of my talk was that God is most pleased with us when He sees Himself in us. In other words, God is most glorified when He is most seen in us, via the Fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23; ESV)

God's people glorify God with godliness, as His Spirit reveals His character in and through us, as opposed to the works of the flesh.

So, what does goodness entail? Who or what determines whether or not something is good?

My thesis is that the good is not to be determined by society or the individual, but by God as revealed through His revelation of Himself.

Some see good as determined by outcome. "The end justifies the means." In Beyond Good & Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche aptly states that for much of human history, "the value or disvalue of an action was derived from its consequences" (section 32). For many, this is still the case. Did I do the right thing? Only time will tell. Hindsight is 20-20. Thus, there's not a great deal of confidence in the act while in the process.

Some see good as determined by society. Whatever the community deems good is, but as the community changes, so can that which is good. The USofA is experiencing this. As the culture changes, so does that which is considered good behavior. As the country becomes less Christianized, it will venture further into a culture that prioritizes being tolerant over being right, for being right now means being tolerant. Being right is what the society deems right, not what God dictates as good.

Some see good as determined by the individual. The notion that truth (and subsequent dictation of right & wrong, good & bad) can be monopolized by the Bible was that which was most abhorrent to Nietzsche (1844-1900), the (grand) father of postmodernism's relativism when it comes to truth.

In Beyond Good & Evil, Nietzsche makes the superlative claim that, "Christianity has been the most calamitous kind of arrogance yet" (section 62). For Nietzsche one's truth is one's own, "no one else is easily entitled to it" (section 43). One's own truth should not be "supposed to be a truth for everyman" (section 43). In fact, it is "immoral to say: 'what is right for one if fair for the other'" (section 221).

What's true (or right or good) for me is determined by me and for me. It need not apply to you, nor should you think yours applies to me. In fact, if you try to push your morality on me, I will fight against your intolerance with bristled fur.

This is different than the previous notion of society's dictation of morality, for those embracing such an individualism will be heard saying things like, "The government can't/should not legislate morality." However, that's exactly what government does, has done, and should do. It protects us for thieves and murderer and so on with its laws. That is morality.

I said all that to say this ... that which is good is determined and revealed by God. Not only does God have every right to determine what is good for His creatures, which He created, but He also reveals what goodness is by His actions, which reveal His character.

When Moses asked to see God's glory, God told him that He would cause all His "goodness" to pass in front of Moses as He proclaimed His name, His character.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where folks will tend to question God's goodness or His sovereign control over the universe. In other words, if something "bad" happens to me, I figure either (a) God is not good since He allowed it to happen or might have even brought it Himself or (b) God did not prevent it because He could not.

We may know Romans 8:28, that God works all things for good for His own, but if we don't see how it's good, we're left in a state of confusion.

I hear men praying everywhere for more faith, but when I listen to them carefully, and get to the real heart of their prayer, very often it is not more faith at all that they are wanting, but a change from faith to sight. Faith says not, "I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it, " but," God sent it, and so it must be good for me." Faith, walking in the dark with God, only prays for Him to clasp its hand more closely. - Phillips Brooks
If you love God and are called according to His purpose and it's in your life, God will use it for your good, for your growth in grace. God is good. Whatever He does is good. His people are to reflect His character. His people are to be good.

Part of being good is demonstrating the Fruit of the Spirit, but also hating what is evil. In fact, we are to overcome evil with good. For example, when bad is done to us, we don't respond in kind, but with good. As children of light we overcome evil, having nothing to do with it, but rather exposing it. That's what it means to do good.

If we are not faithful to prevent it, evil will triumph.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. (Edmund Burke)
When the good people do not stand up against the bad, they cease to truly be good.
It may be that the greatest tragedy in this period of social transition is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the appalling silence of the so-called good people. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
I can assure you that there are many opportunities to oppose evil in our society, pick one (or some) and get after it.
John Wesley's Rule:
Do all the good you can, By all the means you can
In all the ways you can, In all the places you can
At all the times you can, To all the peoples you can,
As long as you ever can.
Don't entertain delusions of grandeur that we'll redeem the culture, but rather recognize our mission to infiltrate it for Christ.

We do good in a world hostile to our faith, for the sake of the glory of God. When we demonstrate goodness, God is seen in us. He is glorified and pleased when He sees Himself in us. Also, God is praised by others as they see Him working in and through us. Our goodness testifies to the only One who is truly good.
let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:16)
When we see the glory of God revealed in the goodness of His people it reminds us of all that once was good, and could be good again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Nothing that has meaning is easy.

Dust of Snow by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

I've been pondering this poem off and on for quite some time now. At first, it seemed so simple, yet now it seems so complex. I'm not even sure why I find it so appealing, but I do.

Still trying to have confidence in the meaning, but nothing that has meaning is easy.

Your thoughts? (Keep 'em coming.)


Monday, May 08, 2006

What in the wide, wide world of sports is a-goin' on here?!

I've seen the following in various formats and have tweaked it just a bit. It's a list of excuses as to why a person has given up on sports, has quit attending sporting events.

  1. Every time I went, they asked me for money.
  2. The people I sat next to didn’t seem very friendly.
  3. The seats were too hard and uncomfortable.
  4. I went to many games but the coach never came to call on me.
  5. The referees made decisions with which I could not agree.
  6. Some games went into overtime and I was late getting home or to eat.
  7. The band played some songs I’d never heard before and it wasn’t my style of music.
  8. The games are always scheduled when I want to do other things.
  9. I suspect that I was sitting next to some hypocrites. They came to see their friends and what others were wearing instead of watching the game.
  10. I was taken to too many games by my parents when I was growing up.
  11. I hate to wait in the traffic jam in the parking lot after the game.
  12. Sometimes it's hard to get a good parking spot.
  13. It's so hard to get good seats as some might take the seats I want.
  14. I recently read a book on sports and now feel I know more than the coaches do.
  15. It's just as good to watch sports on television.
  16. I don't want to take my children to any games because I want them to be able to choose for themselves what sports/teams they like best.
Obviously, this has allegorical value to show some of the (dare I say "flimsy") excuses for giving up on the church, for not attending church services.

The truth of the matter is that we make time for what is important to us. The reason people don't come to church events (barring health issues) is that something else is/was more important to the individual at that point in time.

The occasional miss is certainly understandable, but the pattern of demoting worshipping the living God in the company of God's people is cause for great concern for one claiming to be a child of God.

If you see yourself as a Christian and yet find yourself habitually missing church, you may need to ask yourself why. Do you not see the benefit of the community of faith as an asset in your sanctification? Do you not see the value that God places on His people gathering together to worship Him? Do you not see the value in your being a help to others in their growth in grace? Do you not see the imperatives of all the "one another" passages of Scripture, which necessitate consistent interaction with God's people? Do you value something else more?

Is there a deeper issue, do you really not have a love for God or His people? Are these evidences of conversion absent?

You may need to ask yourself what in the wide, wide world of sports is a goin' on with your commitment to Christ that it does not manifest itself in a commitment to the church, His bride.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ok, so are we going to be creating musical fusion everyday?

Inspired by a previous post and the thoughtful comments to it, I submit the following for your review.

Though I have little to no talent in the area of congregational singing, I lack no passion for it. There's just something about singing together with God's people, singing God's praises to Him and/or others.

What do I like to sing?

My favorite traditional hymns:(Still trying get down to 10)
  • A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
  • And Can It Be?
  • Crown Him with Many Crowns
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • How Great Thou Art!
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • This Is My Father's World
  • Worthy of Worship
  • O Worship the King
  • Immortal, Invisible
  • To God Be the Glory
  • (Man of Sorrows) Hallelujah, What a Savior!

My favorite contemporary songs:
  • In Christ Alone
  • Shout to the Lord
  • In the Secret
  • I Stand in Awe
  • God of Wonders
  • Breathe (I'm Desperate) for You
  • Wonderful, Merciful Savior
  • Lord, I Lift Your Name on High
  • Majesty
  • I Can Only Imagine
What do you like to sing?


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

They've done studies, you know. Sixty percent of the time it works every time.

So, last week I was listening to the radio and heard some interesting statistics, dealing with probability in particular. I'll assume they are true, even though we know that 72% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

The probability of winning the lottery ... 1/47 million.

The probability of death by being struck by lightning ... 1/56 thousand.

So, for which should you be more prepared?
DEFINITION: Lottery - a tax on people who can't do math.
Okay, I'll admit that's not original with me, but cute nonetheless.

Monday, May 01, 2006

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

At a recent conference we sang It Is Well with My Soul and my heart was moved in a way it never had been before while singing this song. I've always liked it and been able to sing it with gusto. But this was different.

In particular, the following verse really grabbed my attention and affection for the Lord Jesus.

My sin-O, the bliss of this glorious tho't-
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Even now when I reflect upon those words, especially in light of the extraordinary circumstances by which Spafford was moved to compose them, my soul is stirred.

I too can exclaim It is well with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul

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