November 29, 2004

Curious George Sinks the Titantic

I have always wondered where James Cameron received his inspiration for that scene in Titantic. You know the one I am talking about, the "flying" scene.

"Oh Jack! I'm flying!"

I always knew that I would find the inspiration for that scene one day. And tonight I did, while I was reading books to my boys.

Nothing like reading curious George James.

November 26, 2004

A Day After Thanksgiving Psalm

God, the one and only--
I'll wait as long as he says,
Everything I need comes from him,
so why not?

He's solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I'm set for life.

How long will you gang up on me?
How long will you run with the bullies?
There's nothing to you, any of you--
rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters,
Anthills plotting to bring down mountains,
far gone in make-believe.
You talk a good line,
but every "blessing" breathes a curse.

God, the one and only--
I'll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
so why not?

He's solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I'm set for life.

My help and glory are in
God-granite-strength and safe-harbor-God.
So trust him absolutely, people;
lay your lives on the line for him.
God is a safe place to be.

Man as such is smoke,
woman as such, a mirage.
Put them together, they're nothing;
two times nothing is nothing.

And a windfall, if it comes--don't make too much of it.
God said this once and for all;
how many times have I heard it repeated?
"Strength comes straight from God."

Love to you, Lord God!
You pay a fair wage for a good day's work!

This is Psalm 62. It has always been one of my favorite psalms. This was even the text in a sermon that I preached a few years ago. John Michael Talbot put it to music, and it was a source of comfort on many different occasions. It has meant different things at different times. Today I was inspired to see how it sounds in another translation. I like it, and I have posted it for you, my friends.

P.S. Don't do too much shopping today!


November 25, 2004

a laden table

It is Thanksgiving Morning, and I am already contemplating the Thanksgiving spread. I am beginning to envision this table spread out with the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the sweet potato casserole, mom's homemade noodles, and the endless number of pies.

I can see it spread out before me. It is one of the best meals that I will eat all year. And I am planning on savoring every bite of it.

But as I contemplate this meal, I start thinking about those without. I am not talking about those without a thanksgiving meal. Though that is a great cause, and one that is much needed, that is not what I am thinking about right now.

I am thinking about those who have decided that their own way is better than God's. I have been there before. I have been down that path. And it only leads to despair, destruction and a fleeting happiness.

God knows this. And when people go down this path he beckons us back.
"He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food."
--Job 36:16

Do you see that? God's way is described as comfort at a table laden with choice food. That is one thing that I never understood when I was younger, when I was headed down that path. I always looked at the Christian life as something that was all about loss and the forfeit of a "good life." But that is simply not true. Paul says that,
"Godliness with contentment is Great Gain."
--I Timothy 6:6

The path that leads to life is one that is characterized by great gain, not loss. The world has it backwards. David joins with God in beckoning us to this life. He says,
"Taste and see that the LORD is good ... Fear the LORD , you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."
--Psalm 34:8-10

As you are eating your Thanksgiving Day Feast, consider the feast of life that has been laid out before you. Taste it and see that the Lord is good.

November 16, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

November 15, 2004

Sabbatical

I am going to take some time off.

If you are at all interested in when I start up again, just enter your e-mail address into my notify list and I will let you know when I get er goin'.

November 12, 2004

good story

A new friend of mine just posted a great story. I heard him tell this story in person, so I was happy to see him actually post it on his blog.

It is a worthwhile read, and drives home an excellent point.

Read it here.

November 11, 2004

pet peeve #2

pet peeve
n. Informal
Something about which one frequently complains; a particular personal vexation.

I can't tell you how many times I have gone to the grocery store with my wife, and we decided that it would be best if I just dropped her off at the door so she could just run in and get the stuff. We don't always do this, but when there are only a few items to get and the kids are in the van with us, it is just quicker to wait in the van for her. When I do this, I will usually circle the parking lot for awhile, then I will pull up along the curb and wait.

But just really bugs me when I see people come to the store by themselves and just park their car on the curb and walk inside.

It is one thing when there is someone in the car to keep it running, and to move it if it is in the way, but it is a totally different story when you just park there... in a no-parking zone!

Who are these people?

I know what they are thinking. "I am in a real hurry, and I will come right back out here as soon as I can." But HEY! So is everybody else! We are all in a hurry, and we will all be right back out! How do you get so self-consumed that you think you can just create your own rules for yourself anytime you want?

Man that bugs me!

November 10, 2004

chapel...

In case you were wondering, I think that the chapel service went well.

It seemed like all of the students were paying attention. There was laughter when there was supposed to be laughter, and there was silence when there was supposed to be silence. I couldn't have asked for much more.

November 9, 2004

pet peeve

pet peeve
n. Informal
Something about which one frequently complains; a particular personal vexation.

You know what I hate?

You know how some parking lots have the one-way lanes? It is usually pretty easy to tell the lane is one-way because of the giant white arrow painted on the ground!

The normal person will usually decide to go the same direction as the arrow. But every so often there will be this one driver, who obviously doesn't understand the giant white arrow painted on the ground, that will go the wrong direction down the one-way lane.

And to top it off, they will look at you with disgust, like you were doing something wrong, when in fact it is them!

I really hate that.

Chapel

Well, I get to talk in my very first Shannon Forest Christian School Chapel tomorrow.

I have always enjoyed talking in a "preaching" type of situation. My first experience preaching was at Edgewood Baptist Church in Danville, IL. I can still remember what I preached about. I can also remember which people dozed through my main points, and which people remained focused to the end.

In fact, my attention on the audience has always been one of my weaknesses. I really, really want the people that I am talking to, to be interested in what I am saying, and if they aren't, I either want to stop talking, or do something drastic to wake them up. I feed off of the audience. I call it a weakness because it shouldn't be my primary focus, but sometimes I think that it is a strength.

I have listened to too many preachers that were so boring, that I could hardly take it. And for the longest time, I have felt completely guilty for my own lack of attention. But is this right?

The listeners response to the word should be attentiveness. Nobody is going to argue that point. But some people try to ignore this whole topic by focusing solely on the listener, and never on the presentation itself.

I think that showing an enthusiasm for your topic is of not only beneficial, but in today's society, pracitcally essential. I think that this is especially true when one is presenting the Word to a group of teenagers. Even though there are some people who would frown on this thought, I believe that today's youth have begun to believe that being a real Christian is for fuddy-duddies. (And yes, I know that typing fuddy-duddy actually makes me a fuddy-duddy...)

A little humor can grab the attention. And a little sarcasm can be a great tool in the teaching of truth, especially when you are combatting so many wrong ideas about truth. For some good examples, read a little C.S. Lewis, and admire his subtle truth revealing skills.

Now, some go to the opposite extreme and focus entirely on trying to grab the attention of the audience. Then in the process, the Word is left in the dust. Solid Biblical truth has become forfeit to a good laugh and some quick wit.

With all of this said, I know that tomorrow I will face a tough crowd. Many of the faces that will be staring at me will be closed to the Word. And my hope is that God will use the talents that He has given me to reveal truth, even if I look a little ridiculous in the process.

November 5, 2004

my testimony

When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I was attending children's church at Edgewood Baptist Church, and I told my teacher that I wanted to be saved.

I don't really remember this moment all that well, but I do remember that it happened. I remember going into a separate room, and praying "the prayer" with the teacher. I remember saying that I was a sinner and that I believed that Jesus died on the cross to save me.

But I wasn't saved.

I can also remember growing up and always having that moment to look back on. For the longest time it was my assurance, even though it was only that moment.

Through my junior high and highschool years I wasn't that bad of a kid. Oh sure, I was a trouble maker from time to time, but I wasn't all that bad. And when I felt that there was something wrong, that maybe I wasn't right with God, I thought that maybe I just needed to pray again. That maybe I hadn't really, really meant it the first time, that maybe I needed to pray with more sincerity or fervency. So I would pray again, and say again that I believed that Jesus had died on the cross to save me.

But I wasn't saved.

After highschool, fences came down and I got a chance to see who I really was. I think that this happens to a lot of kids that grow up in Christian homes. They evaluate their life by these outward things, the way they act when they are being watched. Then it isn't about right heart motives, it is about fear -- fear of consequences, fear of being caught, fear of punishment.

I like to say to my students, "You want to know who you are? You are who you are when nobody is watching... That is the real you. If you are sure that you are not going to get caught, what do you do?"

Well, I got a chance to see the real me, and it wasn't pretty. But in February of 1992, after being confronted on all sides, something happened... God saved me.

I can remember the first time that I read my Bible. I picked it up and read James 2:14 -- "What does it profit my brethren, if a man says that he has faith, but has not works? Can that faith save him?" -- And I was blown out of the water. I had never heard anything like that before. I thought that you could be saved, have faith, and still live any way you wanted.

I repented that February. My life was turned around. I was a new creature. True salvation is accompanied by the word all. If you are not willing to forsake all, then you are no disciple of Christ. You may be a disciple of yourself.

If you know me at all, or have read this blog for any significant amount of time, then you know that this is one of my platforms, and I want to encourage you to give up that one thing and turn to Christ.

Thankyou for reading.

November 4, 2004

200

It is official.

I have posted over 200 times, but have I really said anything? I'm not sure.

a lifetime of favor

"Sing to the Lord, you saints of his;

    praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment,

   but his favor lasts a lifetime;

weeping may remain for a night,

   but rejoicing comes in the morning."

--David (the psalmist)

I have been reading through the Psalms again, and I love it when I find a verse that I have marked in my Bible. I usually float back to my past and wonder why I paused there; why I underlined that, or why I made that little star next to that phrase. Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don't.

I can't remember the exact reason why I marked this verse in my Bible. I can remember when I marked it. So I can imagine its significance at that time, but I will say to you now that it is so good to know that God's anger is momentary. If it wasn't, then there would be no hope. Praise God that his mercies are new every morning.

November 3, 2004

God and Math

Some might read that title and start imagining complex systems of equations and such, but that is not what I am going to talk about.

There is a little speech that I have prepared, and I give it to my students every chance I get. I know that some of them get sick of it, but I give it anyway. It is a lesson that I truly believe has great value if they can grasp ahold of what I am saying. And I know that it is my cue to begin my speech when I hear something like this, "... oh man, when are we ever gonna use this?!?"

And my response to this age-old question is, "You might never use this again."

I know, I know. Newton, Gauss, Euclid, Pythagoras, and several other historic mathematicians just rolled over in their graves.

But I don't stop there. What I am teaching goes beyond the math. The reality is that I am doing my best to help them be spiritual people.

Let me explain...

It is easy to say with your mouth that you are a Christian. Anyone can do that. Words are easy. I am sure that there are plenty of people at you friendly neighborhood insane asylum, that walk around everyday saying, "... I am a duck!" And they might even believe it. Really. Without a shred of doubt in their mind they believe and say that they are a type of water fowl. But saying it doesn't make it true, no matter how sincere you are.

James says, "What good does it do to say that you have faith, but have no works... can that faith save you?"

John says, "The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

Matthew tells us that Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven."

They say with their mouth, especially in a Christian School, that they are "saved." They profess a Christianity, but is it real? You see, words are a dime a dozen. Anybody can walk around saying that they are a Christian, but there is always a reality test. And for many young people it comes in the form of school. (...or parents, or siblings, or teachers, etc.)

We know that the Bible says, "... whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men." And we know that the "whatever you do," would adequately cover anything that comes along in your life. Which, for a student, could be Geometry or Algebra with a crazy math teacher named Mr. Harmless.

So there is the test. The true test of Christianity comes, not when you are doing those things that you enjoy or are easy, but when you wholeheartedly do those things that are hard to do.

Geometry is just practice for real life. You see, throughout the course of your life, God will bring things along that you don't like to do, don't want to do, and quite frankly don't understand why you have to do them, but those things are the best things for you.

So, when are you gonna use this? Every day.

You tackle your geometry hard. Do it because it pleases your creator. Do it to the best of your ability because you are a Christian, a child of the King.

This is what I teach.

November 2, 2004

I Voted

That's right.

I would like to say that I cast my ballot today, but there was no ballot to cast. So instead I will say that I touched my touch screen. It is great to see technology increasing and making things easier.

I am just happy that they are still handing out the little stickers.

Election...

I know that today is election day, and I should probably pitch in my two cents somewhere, but I just haven't been able to think of anything to say. Besides, there are plenty of other blogs out there that can cover the election and the issues in a much more knowledgeable way than I can.

In fact, as I was surfing to find some good election coverage, I noticed that there are several major websites that have added blogging to their array of coverage. I knew that blogging was getting big, but now everyone is getting into the act! CNN even has some insight into the election blogosphere, and is running two election day blogs of their own.

Crazy stuff.

Here is my only rant about the election:

I have been totally surprised at how many "christian" blogs have supported Kerry. Call me naive, call me silly, but it doesn't change the fact that I am shocked by this. I know that not every christian is a conservative, that is not what I am saying. But it seems like there are certain issues that we would stand together on.

There are just some things that I believe are of great importance to God.

Life. Life is imortant to God. How can someone rant on and on about the "wrongs" of the war in Iraq, and not have anything to say about the countless lives that are slaughtered here in our own country on a daily basis. But to top it off, there are Christians that give this issue a backseat to topics like economics.

Marriage. Marriage is God given. It is important to him. There is no other institution amoung men that better portrays the relationship between Christ and his church. And this institution is under attack. But what is amazing to me it that there are "christians" that have no problem with gay marriage. I expect the world to go this route, but when people who profess to be christians go the same way, it always surprises me!

I hope that George W. Bush wins. If for no other reason, because I know from his track record that he will fight against the murder of children, and fight for the institution of marriage.

But regardless, God is in control.