Saturday, July 18, 2009
He has done this all his life. He's careful. Doesn't drink, take drugs or smoke. Costs too much. He doesn't have any friends, they cost too. Ditto a relationship with a woman. Too pricey.
Dave has lived his whole life like this. He currently doesn't own a car, but he has, and when he did, a Red Fiero, he kept it clean and in perfect condition. He was proud of keeping that car he bought used perfect. Almost obsessive.
Dave likes to read, a lot. He is very smart. But it's useless because no one knows of it.
Dave (his real name) has money, lives within his means, lives a solitary life, works, is quiet and never makes waves. He seems to have it all together, RIGHT?
Let me tell you the REST of the STORY. Dave has no ambition, he is aimless, pointless and without purpose in life. If he lives or dies it makes no difference to anyone. He has no desire nor willingness to make any kind of mark on the world system. He has succeeded in becoming completely inert.
He belongs to nothing. Doesn't go to Church or clubs or any group where he might meet someone. Why? money.
If you ask Dave what he expected to accomplish in life or more important what he yet expects, he would say, I don't know, I'll go with the flow. He has no passion or goals for ANYTHING.
He's not a hippy freak. He's just a lost adult child with no focus, no purpose and no mission in life. There was a song by the Beatles, The Fool on the Hill. It spoke about the nobility of a Dave. Well, I have met Dave, I know Dave and Dave has squandered his life without purpose. In a decade or two Dave will die and leave no vacancy where he lived. Dave is 62, it's too late for him. I know men in their thirty's for whom purpose could still be found. They must break out of the dead end life they have chosen. Most won't. They are underachievers who are underachievers because they have the capacity to be overachievers. They have always been able to just get by. They are driven by nothing. There was a book written about this. Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement. You can read the whole thing HERE.
I see this in our culture more than I wish I did. It puzzles me. How did we get here? How did people begin to just go thru life aimlessly without purpose or mission? I know many like Dave, Men and Women. Sometimes Women think that their purpose would be fulfilled if they could just find a MAN. If a woman is waiting for some man to come along to fulfil her purpose she is fooling herself. If she would just move aggressively ahead toward a goal that burns in her heart she would find a man who wants to get on board with her in the vision.
The same is true of a man. If somehow he would connect with a woman of purpose who could help him define his, he would find his place in life.
I think the lack of connectedness in our society has much to do with purposelessness. Aimlessness. People without purpose. Jesus talked about the parable of the talents. This is that.
My friend Barry Kolb wrote a good piece on work. I agree with it. The problem is I know people who work at this, piddle at that, fool around with the other and all without purpose. That's the missing component. Working hard at nothing is still purposelessness.
I know that the answer to all this aimlessness is Jesus but for these people, that's just too much work. If you are not driven by anything you will be tossed by everything.
I wish I knew the solution to this. I guess it's not up to me. I wish I could show the thirty something aimless folks I know Dave and his pointless life. Maybe it would shock them into reality. Sigh.....
That has been happening in the church, within denominations, within church bodies, within organizations. In nearly every single group there are divergent supposed parallel ideals and goals.
The reality is God by his Holy Spirit is placing a non parallel component in people and thus in those groups. He is the factor that is causing splits and divergence. The traditions of men are failing. Holy Spirit is weaning off believers from things that the church has tried to glue onto believers.
As the shackles are being shaken off there are splits taking place. I know some mourn for these events. Why couldn't the Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, UPC, AG, Anglican Episcopal and LDS fellowships have stayed together? God says, I will see to it you will have no other Gods before me, none. That includes your sacred cow gods. Artificial impositions.
Get to know the God of the Bible before you start trying to cause people to live according to his book. Introduce them to the author FIRST and then to the book. Must of the church is busy trying to get them to the book before they get them to the God of the Book.
And Church Splits happen.
It is God at work, dewrinkling, despotting his bride.
Evenso, come Lord Jesus
The fire of God is the very heart of the Bible Gospel, His zeal, passion, His burning desire to save us. He put His life in it. It is not an idea, a theory, a piece of doctrine, but a living truth reaching out arms, tongues, flames, embracing the world. Our Gospel is His greatest investment. God’s Word enshrines God’s longings to redeem the lost world.
God came into our world as what He is – fire. To think of Him any other way, as indifferent, just laying down his imperial edict, leaving us to argue and dogmatise, persuade, that misses the essential character of the Gospel – FIRE. A cold Gospel is not a Gospel. Jesus is not a doctor prescribing cures or a psychologist giving advice. He is the God of the Upper Room. We need a remedy but it is for the flame of God to be planted in our heart.
The Gospel is not merely a textbook doctrine. The Gospel is a message not a theological concept. It is news, and news not told is not news at all. Fire that does not burn is not fire. It communicates more than thought, but soul desire.
Preaching the Gospel is to set hearts on fire. Preaching the Gospel is not being clever, not a chance to air our learning, to impress admirers with our eloquence and culture. It is a single-minded passion to let others catch fire.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Preaching must in itself be a believing act, fully reliant on God. The truth of Christ is the seed we must sow. But without faith it is seed that has never been fertilized. The gospel won't germinate, spring up, blossom or produce fruit unless it is preached with faith. To hold fast to the faith once delivered to the saints (see Jude 3) is very important, but it is not sufficient. Faith is fruitful, life generating - "by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31). It is a vibrant, living process. You are believing, you are receiving, you are knowing, you are seeing, you are abiding in Him. Praise God!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Today is Peggy and My Wedding day plus 43. It certainly isn't the hot windy Dakota day it was then. I certainly am not the man I was then, I'm so much more (in size). She's not the woman I married, thank God. She is much better.
I love her now more and better than I ever did. It just works that way.
Who knew it would work. There were near misses. That's how it happens. But despite the rocks in the road we have persevered and here we are. It's been a glorious ride despite...
Oh, the 7 year countdown is to FIFTY. It isn't possible that we could be celebrating fifty years soon. We're not that old. Fifty................I was 14 fifty years ago.
Time really DOES fly. Blink..... and then.
Here we are!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Millions of women around the world live under the ironfisted rule of male domination. They are gang-raped in Latin America; their genitals are mutilated in parts of Africa; they are forced to wear burkas in Afghanistan; they are sold as sex slaves in Thailand; they are denied education in India. Yet most westerners are oblivious to this cruel injustice. It's out of sight, out of mind.
But now, thanks to an independent film company and a director who cares about issues that Hollywood ignores, we have a movie that exposes the plight of women in Iran. It hit theaters last weekend, just a few weeks after Iran's authoritarian government came under international scrutiny.
|“If you care about the global oppression of women, or the current crisis of freedom in Iran, this movie is a must-see.”|
I must first warn you: The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on a true story. A woman is executed publicly by stoning—and, yes, her death is portrayed in a graphic scene. Obviously this movie is not for children. But if you care about the global oppression of women, or the current crisis of freedom in Iran, this movie is a must-see.
The story begins when a French-Iranian journalist named Freidoune Sahebjam (played by Jim Caviezel, who was Jesus in The Passion of the Christ) has car trouble outside a rural Iranian village. We are introduced to a woman named Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo) who is gathering bones from a stream and burying them while dogs watch.
While Sahebjam waits for his car to be repaired, Zahra begs him to listen to her story while the men of the village try to shoo her away. Sahebjam records her testimony on a cassette player. That tape becomes the basis of both his 1994 book and this movie.
Zahra is distraught because the men of her village (she calls them "devils") have killed her niece, Soraya (Mozhan Marn). Through flashbacks we learn that Soraya's immoral husband wants to put her away so he can marry a 14-year-old girl. He has also turned his two sons against their mother but shows no interest in his two young daughters. When Soraya dares to defy her husband's scheme, he trumps up false adultery charges against her with the help of the local Islamic mullah.
Zahra tries to stop the madness, but in the end the villagers commit the Islamic version of a lynching. Along the way we learn how thick anti-woman attitudes are in this part of the world.
"Women now have no voices," Zahra says at one point. We see how Iran's women, under the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini, were forced to live in prisons of silence and were valued only as sex objects and domestic servants.
The 20-minute stoning sequence is horrible. (I expect some comparisons to The Passion of the Christ, since Stephen McEveety produced both films). But if you close your eyes during some parts, don't miss how various villagers—including even Soraya's two sons—participate in her execution. You'll find it difficult to forget the way young men in the village click their rocks together while they wait for the signal to kill.
The triumph of this film lies in the character of Zahra, who ends up telling the whole world about a horrible injustice that men tried to hide in a dark corner of Iran. Aghdashloo, the actress who plays her, is equally triumphant: She seethes onscreen with righteous rage against an unfair system. We see the story from her viewpoint, and we find ourselves cheering for her as she bravely confronts the men who have the power to stone her along with her niece.
An Oscar nominee, Aghdashloo is an Iranian-born actress who has told reporters she hopes this film will help the cause of freedom in Iran. She told the Orlando Sentinel that she has seen video footage of a real stoning that took place in Iran, and she wants to stop such violence, even if it means that the world's image of Iran might be tarnished in the process.
Said Aghdashloo: "At the end of the day, I think about that woman, sitting alone in her cell, waiting to be stoned. I must stand with her and not worry about Iran's image."Some movies are purely entertainment. The Stoning of Soraya M. is not that. It is artfully filmed, yet in the end this movie is meant to educate us—and hopefully inspire us to cry out for justice against all forms of gender oppression.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
President Barack Obama travels to Macomb Community College in Michigan today where he will unveil $12 billion in aid to the nation’s community colleges. According to Politico, the President’s message will be that “in a competitive global economy, the country’s economic viability depends upon the education and skills of its workers, who will increasingly need to have college experience.” True enough, but who exactly does the President believe will be hiring all of these workers?
The unemployment rate in Michigan is more than 14% and the state is projected to lose more than 310,000 jobs in 2009. A recent study by the Kaufman Foundation found that small businesses have led America out of its last seven recessions generating about two of every three new jobs during a recovery. Unfortunately the President’s top domestic priorities are set to cut off small business growth at the knees.
Health Care: Our nation desperately needs health care reform that lets Americans begin reducing exploding health care costs. The best way to do this is to reform the tax code to move away from employer sponsored health care and remove regulations that are preventing a true health insurance market from functioning. But the President does not want this change. He wants to build off the failed models of Medicare and Medicaid that got us into this mess in the first place. Worse, President Obama is set to fund his massive expansion of government run health care on the backs of small businesses. The Senate wants to pay for their health care plan with an employer mandate that will cost small businesses hundreds of billions of dollars a year and the House wants to pay for their health plan with a “surtax” on individuals with gross incomes above $280,000. Problem is, six of every ten who earn that much are small business owners, operators, and investors.
Cap and Trade: President Obama continues to try and sell his cap and trade plan as a job creation bill, but Michiganders know better. During a committee hearing on cap and trade this year, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) explained: “Nobody in this country realizes that cap-and-trade is a tax — and it’s a great big one.” According to a Center for Data Analysis study, the economic costs of cap and trade by 2030 are: 1) reduced aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) of $7.4 trillion; 2) 844,000 jobs destroyed on average every year; and 3) a $1,500 raise in an average family’s annual energy costs.
Trillion Dollar Deficits: The U.S. Treasury announced yesterday that the government’s annual deficit reached almost $1.1 trillion by the end of June. Despite his promises to the contrary, President Obama’s spending plans will only make this problem worse. His budget would increase federal spending to a peacetime-record 24.5 percent of GDP by 2019 — not even counting the health care plan. Because tax revenues cannot keep up with this spending growth, the President’s budget would add $9.1 trillion in new debt over the next decade. It would double the national debt to 82 percent of GDP by 2019. Looking at these budget forecasts, investors are demanding higher interest rates to soak up the tremendous flows of debt coming out of the Treasury. This will mean higher interest rates for consumer loans, mortgage loans, business loans, etc.
At some point the President is going to have to realize that businesses, not the federal government, are the ones who will be rebuilding our economy.
- The White House will soon be forced to acknowledge that their economic forecasts for long-term growth are too optimistic when a new budget forecast will be unveiled next month.
- The U.S. retail industry’s largest trade group, the National Retail Federation, sent a letter to their 2,500 members asking them to take a stand against Wal-Mart’s endorsement of employer mandated health insurance.
- The current car czar, Steve Rattner, is stepping down and will be replaced by union strongman Ron Bloom.
- With six months left before a White House deadline, the Obama administration is unlikely to meet President Obama’s pledge to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by January.
- President Obama vowed yesterday to veto a pending $680 billion military spending bill for next year unless the Senate removed $1.75 billion set aside to buy seven additional F-22 fighter jets.
Washington Post Op-ed: The 'Cap And Tax' Dead End
By Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK)
There is no shortage of threats to our economy. America's unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to continue climbing. Worries are widespread that even when the economy finally rebounds, the recovery won't bring jobs. Our nation's debt is unsustainable, and the federal government's reach into the private sector is unprecedented.
Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:
I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.
American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president's cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.
There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America's economy.
Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.
In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.
The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.
The Americans hit hardest will be those already struggling to make ends meet. As the president eloquently puts it, their electricity bills will "necessarily skyrocket." So much for not raising taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.
Even Warren Buffett, an ardent Obama supporter, admitted that under the cap-and-tax scheme, "poor people are going to pay a lot more for electricity."
We must move in a new direction. We are ripe for economic growth and energy independence if we responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil. Just as important, we have more desire and ability to protect the environment than any foreign nation from which we purchase energy today.
In Alaska, we are progressing on the largest private-sector energy project in history. Our 3,000-mile natural gas pipeline will transport hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of our clean natural gas to hungry markets across America. We can safely drill for U.S. oil offshore and in a tiny, 2,000-acre corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if ever given the go-ahead by Washington bureaucrats.
Of course, Alaska is not the sole source of American energy. Many states have abundant coal, whose technology is continuously making it into a cleaner energy source. Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas, and every state can consider the possibility of nuclear energy.
We have an important choice to make. Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, Russia and Saudi Arabia? Make no mistake: President Obama's plan will result in the latter.
For so many reasons, we can't afford to kill responsible domestic energy production or clobber every American consumer with higher prices.
Can America produce more of its own energy through strategic investments that protect the environment, revive our economy and secure our nation?
Yes, we can. Just not with Barack Obama's energy cap-and-tax plan.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Google that--the number one sin of the church--and almost all the responses will be the same: Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle telling Mark Buchanan the church's leaders are not on their knees crying out to God for the outcasts of this world--the prostitutes, the gang leaders, the druggies.
Included among all the Cymbala citations, I found only two other mentions of the church's primary sin.
Scott Peck said the number one sin of the church is its arrogance and narcissim, the attitude that we have God all sewn up, that all truth resides with us.
Another pastor said it is "tolerance to the point of obsequious stupidity." I looked up "obsequious." It means "fawning," a "servile attitude," "sycophantic."
Each of those makes a great point. But here is my candidate for the primary failure of the church in our day.
The greatest sin of the church today is that it does not take itself seriously enough.
By that I mean, it does not take its Lord, its message, its identity, and its role seriously.
Go into almost any city in the land and drop in on church after church. You will find some great congregations and hear the occasional excellent sermons, to be sure. However, again and again, you will walk away shaking your head, convinced that instead of visiting the power center of the planet, ground zero for the actions of Almighty God, you have just sat in on something akin to a family reunion, a civic meeting, or a community improvement session.
A weak sister of the Oprah self-improvement society.
Instead of a sense of urgency, you saw half-heartedness on every side.
Instead of prayers that reached Heaven with earth's needs, you heard sweet, harmless platitudes addressed to a friendly but impersonal Lord off out there somewhere.
Instead of enthusiasm and sacrifice in the bringing and giving of offerings, you saw a robotic, mindless dropping of envelopes into plates hoisted by zombie ushers.
Instead of messages of fire and passion, you heard and saw something incredible: teachings of God's Holy Word made dry and lifeless, congregations of the redeemed lulled into lethargy by uninspired dronings, readings of the great prophets rendered toothless and boring.
It takes real skill to turn the most exciting message in the universe--the Creator so loved the people of this planet that He sent His Son to becomes the Savior of all who will repent and turn to Him--into something more boring than a 30-minute infomercial for real estate bargains.
Toward the end of the services, instead of urgent invitations to repent and turn from wicked ways, you saw pastors tack on the public invitation with hardly a word of explanation or a note of concern. When no one responded to their altar call, if anyone cared there was no evidence.
The number one sin of the church today is its casualness about the things of God.
The eighth century prophet Amos put it well: "Woe to those who are at ease in Zion." (Amos 6:1)
That's us: at ease.
The Lord God has situated His church in this world as its greatest resource, as His agent in the redemption of this planet and its inhabitants, as His children, His priests, His arms, His hands. We are His beachhead, sent into a hostile culture to take it for Jesus.
To our everlasting shame, even those of us called to be its leaders give only half-hearted service.
And, once more, the calling of God on our lives was affirmed, on my life.
Thanks to Bishop Brad for his faithfulness. This is just for you all. I love you.
Bishop Leggett. You will me missed. But, God has wonderful things in Store for you.
A bridge has been crossed. Time to burn it. There's no going back now.
The photos from Iran are genuinely heartbreaking. You have unarmed men, women and students, out peacefully protesting that an election has been obviously stolen, and illiterate thugs, many whom are not even Iranian citizens, come out and attack them with truncheons and batons and take them away in the dead of night. THEIR RIGHTS TO FREE ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN STOLEN.
Where are the protests in the USA and London? I am talking about the local art schools, the ones that couldn’t get enough of protesting the Iraq war and similar types of incidents, that close so that all the students can flood the streets? The anarchists all in black smashing store windows? Where are they?
And now in China, after the government cracked down on Tibet (thanks, Beastie Boys, for all their support, it helped a lot) they are now going after other indigenous groups with mobs of bat wielding Han Chinese citizens specifically imported in to take over the local province. They are threatening executions, too. THEIR RIGHTS TO INDIGENOUS CUSTOMS AND SELF DETERMINATION ARE BEING STOLEN.
And what about protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? I guess since they are now Obama’s wars, not such a big deal anymore.
The odd thing is that our “protest class” has been specifically groomed since childhood to view one thing and one thing only as “evil” and protest worthy - basically white Republicans (it isn’t a male thing - look at Palin). This is what gets their ire and gets them to the street, not the actual level of injustice.
And if you met these protesters in person - their arrogance is breathtaking. Their most immediate attack on Republicans is that they are all “hypocrites”. Since most of you don’t live in a major city that is all-Obama you probably don’t run into them as often as I do. But what type of hypocrisy ignores these obvious types of injustices and focuses only on a certain subset?
This isn’t a “generational” thing - look at who is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan - an all volunteer force that is the best and most professional military that ever walked the planet - and they are young people of roughly the same age as the “protest class”.
Protesting against Republicans is all that they have been taught, and all that they know.Chicago Boyz
Sunday, July 12, 2009
New Age philosophy and similar beliefs have simply nothing to offer compared with the gospel. Candles may as well try to outshine the sun! The gospel is for the whole man and the whole world. The gospel is not just a road map left by the side of the road to help lonely pilgrims find their own way to heaven; it provides a solid rock foundation for our lives.
God is not a mini-God. He is the God of heaven and earth, kings and kingdoms, presidents and republics, time and eternity. He presides over the eternal destiny of us all. That does not mean that a ministry should address only parliaments or work for changes in legislation. A church is not a local chapter of any political party. That is work for Christian politicians, not for those called to declare the unsearchable riches of Christ. The apostolic commission is to reach the lost of this world, not to address environmental projects, wildlife issues or social engineering.
Jesus promised, "Anyone who has faith in me will do even greater things than I have done" (see John 14:12). That had nothing to do with healings or miracles of nature, but with the real work of God - salvation. By the grace of God we at CfaN are seeing millions of precious souls saved. That is the center-focus of the heart of God.
The following is the first paragraph from this Telegraph UK op-ed.
“No apologies for posting consecutively on Barack Obama: the Looney Tunes President’s sell-out of US and Western interests is proceeding at such a speed that it is difficult to keep pace. Well said, Nile Gardiner, for asking if Barack Obama is the most naïve president in American history. The answer is undoubtedly yes - unless he has a secret agenda to cut America down to size.”
And then the author gets kind of harsh.