Saturday, May 30, 2009

Facebook, women, and a flight of stairs

Facebook can be quite helpful in catching up with folks. But it can also allow you to catch up with folks you may not need to be catching up with. Here's an example of an NFL player who was catching up with an old female friend he probably shouldn't have been catching up with (allegedly, according to his wife). Not pretty, the situation, that is, not the NFL lineman. I won't comment on his beauty or lack of it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Well, even if the Cleveland Indians took down the Rays for like the 14th straight time in Cleveland, the Orlando Magic were able to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in OT last evening. Of course Cavalier guard Mo Williams guaranteed victory.

First of all, guaranteeing victory is kind of like saying, "You are definitely having a boy." You have a 50/50 shot at it, so if you are correct, that doesn't say too much about your skills does it?

And 2nd of all, much like guessing the sex of the baby, you really have no control over what comes out. There are other factors at play like Dwight Howard making free throws or whether Lebron James get the foul call 90 % or 95% of the times he touches the ball.

You can't guarantee something when you don't have total control of the outcome.
But Mr. Williams won't be the last person to guarantee victory and be wrong, or people guarantee a boy and be right. It's just that there are some things which cannot be guaranteed, and to guarantee them reduces your credibility even when you're right.

Drag Me to Hell

I've seen several previews for the new horror thriller Drag Me to Hell. Now I shan't be seeing this movie because it looks a bit too scary for my tastes. But I wasn't too scared to read a few reviews. Here's a review that really unearths something more scary and far more devastating than any of the computer generated images.

.....The tag line to the movie is “even good people go to hell,” not in America. In America, when we make a mistake and atone for it, we’re saved. Yes, we have to go through hell to clean up our mess, but we don’t stay there…not in America. All the characters in the movie seem to support this theory, but so what. They put up a valiant fight, and create a to do list for her that will chill you to the bone. As one character said, “You’ll be surprised at what you’ll do to keep from going to hell.” Christine fights diligently for her life; she’s a good person at heart that made a bad decision. Everybody makes mistakes. But I guess if you’ve got to make a bad decision make sure it doesn’t involve a person that can cast an evil curse on you and drag you kicking and screaming into hell....

In the movie the main character can't atone for her specific sin. Not even by confessing it. But I think the really scary part is the attitude espoused in this review: in America we don't deserve to go to Hell, and we ourselves can atone for our own sins. Thus America doesn't see its need for Jesus. That's the really scary part and another motivation for evangelism.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Boca Grande, Magic, and Certainty

Well, I'm learning a bit about certainty these days. My life for the past year has been anything but certain. And now our next step is to find some sort of apprenticeship to prepare us for a church plant some day. Where and when that will be is, well, uncertain.

But you would expect some things to to be certain. That you could simply assume that they will come to pass exactly as you would think they would should come to pass. But few things are really certain enough that we can simply assume them (outside death and taxes).

I experienced a few of those "certainties" this weekend.
First of all, the Orlando Magic take a 2 point lead in game 2 with one second left only to see Lebron James make a last second 3 pointer. Last night the Rays took a 10-0 lead and then a 6 run lead into the 9th inning only to give up 7 runs and blow the game 11-10.

The condo where we stayed in Boca Grande this weekend was owned by someone who recently died from cancer only 2 weeks after being diagnosed. One might assume he'd have plenty of time to enjoy his 400,000 dollar condo. But you just can't assume anything. Well, you can, but you're probably aware of the aphorism which accompanies the idea of assuming.

Yet I don't think we need to go hyper-existential and assume we can only know ourselves. We can be certain of the end of the story (Rev 21-22), certain of forgiveness (Col 1:14), certain that he who started the work in us will be faithful to complete it (Phil 1:6), certain that the outcome is of the Lord (115:3), and certain that we are to seek His Kingdom and we'll be provided for (Matt 6:33).

Now this is not an exhaustive list of certainties but it is enough to trust the Lord of all certainty. This knowledge should keep us humble, but help us struggle against materialism (which was hard for me in a place so nice as Boca Grande), anxiety, and despair.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vick and Repentance

Micheal Vick is now set up to finish the remainder of his sentence for dog fighting on home confinement. He is allowed to go to church and doctor's visits and the like until latter July, when he'll be totally free.

Supposedly he has paid his debt to society (whoever "society" is-the truth is I nor you actually ever get a vote) and he soon can come get back "into society," supposedly having paid that debt.

Of course his most likely source of income may still not be a possibility for him. Until the commissioner of the NFL sees real remorse for his crime, he has the right to prolong or preclude his return.

On the other side of the fence you have the crazy PETA people (People for the Ethnic Treatment of Animals-they make sure Siamese cats get the same treatment as the American shorthairs) who will never be satisfied that justice has been served. They will display this by showing up at the appropriate NFL team's "front door" and picketing. Of that you can be sure.

I think they want him to atone for and pay for his "sin," but what exactly atonement looks like-a life of slave labor, torture or death I don't know. Those years in prison and ensuing bankruptcy haven't yet atoned for his sin as they may have in "society's eyes."

It is very important to distinguish repentance and atonement. No sort of sorrow or regret or good deeds can atone for sin in God's eyes. That's one of the reasons Jesus died and rose. Only Jesus can atone for and make sufficient payment to forgive our sins.

Repentance then is the sorrowful turning away-though imperfectly-from sinful actions and thoughts based on the freedom and power to do so provided by Christ's atonement.
I'm now starting to read Repentance by Jack Miller so I'll have a better definition soon!

Yesterday I heard a great expression regarding repentance. Someone asked a man, "Is he repentant?" The wise man answered, "I don't know, ask me in a few years." It may take years for repentance to be demonstrated to the point where an offended party may say, "Yep, he or she definitely is repentant." The NFL commissioner will obviously have less time to determine this.

We'll see how what becomes of Vick. I'm more curious about his profession of faith than his football career. Tony Dungy has met with Vick to discuss both. I'm definitely pulling for him on the faith end; the football end....well I'll see if he ends up in the Bucs division or not.

But it is nevertheless incredibly important that the offended party (obviously PETA is offended because dogs can't voice their disgust as clearly as this organization), or those responsible for the offended party, make sure to recognize the difference. Otherwise repentance becomes penance, which is useless and horribly offensive to Jesus.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Franzese on forgiveness, Jordan, and email

I was listening to perhaps the greatest interviewer of all time (Jim Rome) yesterday interview perhaps my favorite guest of all time (at least on Rome's show), Michael Franzese. He was promoting his most recent book as well as answering all kinds of questions. If you ever hear that Rome is interviewing Franzese, it is always worth a listen, no matter how much you may dislike the polarizing Rome.

Michael Franzese is a former mob boss turned informant, who did time in prison, and eventually came to faith in Christ. He does have a place in the sports talk world because of his involvement in sports gambling. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the National Outreach Convention last year in San Diego after he gave his testimony. Anyhow, he had some neat things to say, and I'll recount three of them.

1.) Rome admitted Franzese did some pretty bad things and posed some questions, "How do you sleep at night? Do you feel guilty? Do you try to make things right to atone for them?" Francese admitted that the things he has done still bother him some times, but that he could rest assure he was forgiven by God completely. He admitted that no one can atone for his or her past wrongs. It was awesome to hear that and be reminded God can and does forgive rotten sinners like you. And me too.

2.) Rome asked him what he thought about Michael Jordan's father's mysterious rest stop murder and Jordan's concomitant retirement (the first of three) from the NBA. Many have speculated Jordan was told to retire because of some gambling issues and that his father was murdered because of his involvement in this dangerous world of high stakes gambling. Francese had no proof to offer, but fully believed both his father's murder and forced retirement were directly connected to Jordan's admitted gambling problem. I knew there was a reason I couldn't stand Micheal Jordan when I was younger.....

3.) Someone called up the show and attributed his desire to graduate from college as a direct result of one of Franzese's speeches at Pepperdine University. He asked him some pointers on how to interview more effectively. Franzese gave out his personal email, a gmail account nonetheless, and told the young man to email him with some more specifics. He promised to get back with him. Franzese gets hundreds of emails after every stint on Rome's show and personally responds to each one. Now that's my kind of guy.

It was encouraging to hear a well respected Christian attempt to bring Christ's reign to all of life.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Praying For Rain

Last night we got the first bit of rain we've had in a long time. I'm cannot remember if I actually spent time praying for rain this go-around, but I can say that in the past I certainly have. I would have never done this as a youth. I would have never done this a college student. It wasn't until I lived in an agrarian town called Clinton when I actually prayed for rain. I was just never really aware of my need for it. I always fished salt water; and that water never runs dry. But people's crops were dying and their cows were hungry.

Yet now, even without cows and crops, I know that rain is quite necessary. Even though it might mess up fishing and cause my satellite not to work, praying for rain is good. As I've matured, I've become more aware of my needs. That's really what much of our Christian growth looks like. Not that we need less, but that we need more. With rain and Jesus, the older and more mature we get, the more (not the less) we realize our need for him. If you find yourself thinking you need Jesus less, or at least are acting like you need Jesus less, then you're really heading in the wrong direction.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Intentional Leaving

I'm reading a book now called the The Tangible Kingdom, a book about creating in-carnational community centered around Jesus' Kingdom. Here are some ideas from a chapter called "Leaving," dealing with leaving the confines of your comfort zone to build bridges with non-believers, or as these writers call them: Sojourners. I guess because everyone is somewhere on a spiritual journey.

1.) Letting people live with you in your home for extended periods of up space, time, comfort for the sake of connecting with Sojourners. "In the five years that we've lived in Denver, we've had people living with us more than four hundred of those days."

2.) Having dinners or doing dinners out with Sojourners. As a church planter he commits one night a week, but what about one night or meal a month?

3.) Doing what you love with others (hobbies).

4.) Going out of your way to build relationships. "I look to see whose car is in the parking lot at our Starbucks. If it's a Sojourner I've been trying to include in my life, I'll pull over, go in, buy a quick coffee, try to make some good conversation, and then on my way out, throw my coffee away without even taking a sip (if he's already had 8 cups that day)."

5.) Looking for chances to talk. "When I have seen a neighbor outside our street, I've specifically gone out to 'get my mail,' just so I could converse a bit more with him or her."

Letting others live with you would definitely be the hardest, and perhaps more appropriate at some times than others. However that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it. The rest of these ways are simply common sense ways of INTENTIONALLY "leaving" for the sake of others. Simple but intentional.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Little Drummer Boy

This is a verse that came to mind while Connar was "drumming" with a pair of spoons.

NIV Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Shark parents beware....

Many parents worry about their kids doing drugs. Well it looks like Shark parents have to worry about the same thing. Apparently Bull Shark "pups" from a certain area (I guess the "bad" part of town near a Florida river mouth) have been found to have several different drugs in their systems. What's the world coming to when even sharks are on drugs? Click here to read the article.

Great illustration from The Rare Jewel

Here's another excerpt from The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. This book is filled with illustration upon illustration. I wonder why so many who appreciate Puritan works do not make use of illustration in their preaching. They have good precedent should the start to do so! Anyhow, check out this awesome illustration:

So if we would be vessels to receive God's mercy, and would have the Lord pour His mercy to into us, we must have quiet still hearts. We must not have hearts hurrying up and down in trouble, discontent, and vexing, but still and quiet hearts. If a child throws and kicks up and down for a thing, you do not give it him when he cries so, but first you will have the child quiet. Even though you perhaps intend him to have what he cries for, you will not give it to him till he is quiet, and comes, and stands still before you, and is contented without it, and then you will give it to him. And truly so does the Lord deal with us, for our dealings with him are just as your froward children's are with you.

For the Lord to give us something that we could not be content without would only lead us further into idolatry and away from Him. If we're not content without a spouse, a better spouse, a better car, bigger church, bigger house, church plant, etc....we'll not only be discontent with those things, but we'll look to those things for life and find them severely lacking.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Detergent vs. Soap

On Sunday afternoon, I tried to do something nice for Amy and go ahead and run the dishwasher. After about 10 minutes I realized that my niceness was combined with stupidity. I used dish SOAP instead of dish DETERGENT. I would recommend you not do that. Ever. Because you will get lots of foam and bubbles, and you'll end up using your entire arsenal of towels. Fortunately my neighbor instructed me that bleach reduces the foam. So after a few hours, a little bleach, and more than a few towels later, our dishwasher was back to normal.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Coffeehouse Done

Thanks for all those who supported our Coffeehouse by praying, helping set up, serve food, by participating, by coming (especially those who came both nights!), and by inviting folks.
The event was a blast and we had a number of folks from the community stop by. A fishing buddy of mine already informed me (he actually promoted it on our kayak website) what a great time he and his friends had. Several bands have already expressed interest in performing again. And I would be remiss not to mention the number of folks who simply thanked me for having this type of event. So all in all, quite a success. In case you didn't see the article from the Herald, an article which encouraged a number of folks to attend, click here to read it.