Friday, May 28, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
So with that name most likely gone (I just don't want "Cullen" to be among a zillion other "Cullen's"), it's back to the drawing board. This is unfamiliar territory for Amy and I, since we had Connar picked out before we were even engaged. And let's just say there's not been quite the consensus on names this go around.
Well I guess the age old proverb is proved true, "Once you get a great boy name picked out, you always need to first check the box office to see if it will become too popular." I wonder why "Frodo" never took off with the Lord of the Rings trilogy?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
So we unwillingly learned to live with the uncertainty of not knowing things we didn't "need-to-know" (though I of course differed with the Lord on this matter!). Today, we have a chance to be invited into a bit of knowledge: finding out whether that "baby in mama's belly" (as we described him/her to Connar to get him used to someone else entering and re-arranging his universe as he knows it) is a boy or a girl.
We've just had so much uncertainty in the last year, and lived a life of complete surprises, that when God does offer a glimpse into what the future may hold, we're going to jump on it like a 4th quarter fumble. Today we're thankful God will be letting us in on this one, and tomorrow we'll be back to uncertainty!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Because all people are made in the image of God and still retain that image-albeit tarnished, like the statue of liberty-non-believers can display real truth. Such, I think, is the case here as Welch examines the negative effects of the sexual revolution and birth control for both men and women, and the overall institution of marriage. Despite the attacks on marriage from many today, Welch truly upholds this institution. Now she may not admit it is necessarily God-ordained, but she does go pretty far in the right direction, describing it as the central aspect of a healthy society. Perhaps some of these same thoughts might be more spelled out in her destined-to-be-a-classic book Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage.
Last night Ellen the Degenerate responded to American Idol's duet "Have you ever really loved a women?" by saying "Yes, I have." So I guess that made this little tid-bit a bit more refreshing. Anyhow, here's an excerpt.
It remains this way. These days, nobody seems able to "keep it in their pants" or honor a commitment! Raising the question: Is marriage still a viable option? I'm ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times, and yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.
In stark contrast, a lack of sexual inhibitions, or as some call it, "sexual freedom," has taken the caution and discernment out of choosing a sexual partner, which used to be the equivalent of choosing a life partner. Without a commitment, the trust and loyalty between couples of childbearing age is missing, and obviously leads to incidents of infidelity. No one seems immune.
Monday, May 10, 2010
For some reason, this past Sunday, I began to think about John the Baptist's desire that "he must increase, but I must decrease." Perhaps I thought that because my "assistant pastor" (I preached two weeks in a row) had left for a brief vacation/NASCAR race and I was the main L.I.C. : Lad In Charge.
The music team prayed this wonderfully Christ-centered truth. I mean does it get more Christ-centered than that? Then I prayed this before I preached. And I believe it 'worked.'
I felt excited to deliver a message which promoted a God-centered gospel as opposed to a "diet"/me-centered gospel that orients the gospel around my personal comfort and plans as opposed to compassion for others. A diet gospel will always leave us angry, but a God-centered gospel will replace that anger with compassion. That was my main point.
When preaching and expounding narratives like Jonah, especially when I re-tell the stories in an anachronistic vernacular, like "Jonah channeled his inner McGuiver or Bear Gryllis and constructed a make-shift stand," it can be hard to transition from exposition-illustration-application. Instead my illustrations came by way of analogy rather than stories of what the truth would look like if believed and applied.
As a result, it felt choppy, and I even forgot one of my sub-points which I used alliteration to help others memorize: non-Christians are still Created in His image and Clueless (needing the Spirit to change our nature and give us a "clue.") so God still shows them Compassion.
Yet I was the one who felt clueless! So at the end, I definitely felt like I "decreased." And so that bummed me out a bit.
However someone came up to me afterward and said, "You were preaching right to me" and then I heard of a teenager who basically repeated some of the illustrations and the truth they were illustrating. They had gotten the message. It seemed God had answered my prayer, both parts of it! I had not "performed" my craft as well as I had liked (so I had decreased), but at least to some, Jesus had increased.
Remember that when you pray this prayer, you "decreasing" might mean you don't look so good (in front of friends, co-workers, families, neighbors), but in the end, Jesus just may look a whole lot better to others as a result of this prayer. Don't forget the goal in preaching, teaching, child-rearing, working, playing: that He and His Kingdom might increase while we and our might decrease.
Friday, May 7, 2010
But I am a Tebow fan, and one of the things I like about him is the response he elicits from teammates, coaches, fans, commentators, and opposing players. I've posted on this before, but the Tebow response always interests (not amazes) me. It mirrors the response Christians should expect as we live out our faith. Some people will hate us, some people will respect us.
We will be hated for everything we believe, but we are also to be salt and light, and our love/actions will make some folks big fans of us.
Mike Florio of "Pro-football.com" is not a friend of the gospel. Nevertheless, Tebow, over time, has earned his respect while at the same time has caused others like Ray Lewis to speak against him-though often without sufficient reason.
What Mr. Ray Lewis fails to realize is that former Buccaneer Coach Jon Gruden spent time with all of the top 4 quarterbacks coming out of college. And Gruden likes EVERYONE until they actually play for him; and then neither like each other once that happens!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
I mean if I were considered the biggest bust of an assistant pastor of all time, or you were considered the biggest bust of an accountant, businessmen, doctor, contractor, mom, what would that label do to you? That could be tough.
It's tough to be thought of as a "bust," yet the apostle Paul reminds us of good news for all "busts." In Phil 3, all of the accolades and praise of man he achieved and received, are now counted as "rubbish." Some have translated this more as "crap" then trash. Regardless, the important part is that the commendation of Christ via his credited righteousness makes being a bust small potatoes.
And this is written from a Jamarcus Russell type rabbi working his way up toward the Jewish hall of fame. After following Christ, he would also have been labeled a "bust" by all of his peers, family, countrymen. I think that's worth considering.
But who knows what God is doing when we fail and are labeled a bust. While Jesus was "failing" and being considered a bust, even by scumbag criminals, God the Father was really doing something quite amazing. Check out what was happening behind the scenes: "He disarmed the rulers and authorities, putting them to open shame by triumphing over them in him (Christ)" Col 2:15.
The gospel is indeed good news for busts, no matter how big.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Anyhow, I figured a brief article borrowed from Justin Taylor's blog was quite apropos as a missions/evangelism follow-up. In our culture, one simple but often forgotten phrase seems to open up the door to the gospel, perhaps more than any other: "How can I pray for you?" It seems a more loving way to move towards sharing the gospel than other evangelism methods which start out telling folks they are adulterers, murderers, and thieves. Check out the article here.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
A few thoughts filled my mind that morning.
1.) Jeremiah did not choose to be a prophet; he was chosen before he drew his first breath. Even before that, really. The deduction that I've heard a number of folks make regarding pre-destination is that if there is no choice, then there can be no love. Love implies a choice, and God would never "force" Himself on you. If God chooses people, then love doesn't really come into play. Love has to be chosen for it to be love.
But did Jeremiah not love God? I would tend to think "yes." I mean after all, God was just about his only friend; you know the age-old expression that "friends don't put friends in cisterns and leave them for dead (Jer 38)." Only an Ethiopian eunuch cared enough to gather some folks to rescue him. Always good to make friends with eunuchs.
My point is, that God's predetermined call (of which Jeremiah had no choice) didn't negate Jeremiah's love for Him. Moreover, I think it actually moved Jeremiah to love Him. It sustained him when no one else loved him.
2.) Foreknowledge-We can't escape the word "predestination" in the bible. The word is connected to "foreknowledge" in Romans 8 and seems to be the basis for his choosing us in I Peter 1:2. This has often led folks to believe that foreknowledge means, "God saw what choice I would make, and then he chose me." The problem with that concept is that is not what foreknowledge seems to mean. Especially here.
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."
This foreknowledge doesn't imply a choice in the future to be made, but of God's placing His love personally and specifically upon you. Some sort of relationship is established even before Jeremiah realizes who God is and what He's done for him. Now of course Jeremiah has to confess for himself, but if God "knew" him first, clearly there is no doubt that he will.
This is an offensive topic, and one in which there is much disagreement. Most Christians don't believe in predestination, but I simply wanted to share some thoughts in a passage I was recently reading. Regardless of where you end up with this doctrine, I just thought I'd throw my question into the whole "love implies a choice" and "foreknowledge" deal.