Saturday, April 09, 2005


Martin Luther On Prayer

Martin Luther is best known as the father of the Protestant Reformation. Born into a peasant family in Eisleben, Germany, Luther sought to better himself by becoming a scholar. However, at the age of twenty he suffered a deep anxiety about his own salvation and entered an Augustinian monastery to soothe his religious conscience. Soon afterward he felt called into the priesthood and was ordained in 1507. While serving as a professor of biblical literature at Wit¬tenberg in 1512, he lectured on Paul?s letter to the Romans, an exercise that shaped his theological thinking?especially concerning salvation. In 1517 he composed the famous ninety-five theses and nailed them on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, registering his complaints with the Roman Catholic church and providing the impetus for the Protestant Reformation.

Luther was not only a brilliant theologian but also a man of deep piety The following selection, compiled from three sources, demonstrates his in¬sight into the subject of prayer. He was deeply influenced by the writings of St. Augustine and Bernard of Clairvaux. Luther?s faith was lively, earthy, and practical; his logic was powerful; and his leadership skill unparalleled. As you read the following devotional selection you will be sitting at the feet of one of the most influential men in the history of the Church. More impor¬tantly, his experience of God was deep and abiding.


Prayer and Supplication

By "prayer" we understand simply formal words or expressions as, for instance, "the Lord's Prayer and the psalms" which sometimes express more than our request. In "supplication" we strengthen prayer and make it effective by a certain form of persuasion; for instance, we may entreat one to grant a request for the sake of a father, or of something dearly loved or highly prized. We entreat God by his Son, his saints, his promises, his name. Thus Solomon says, "Jehovah, remember for David all his affliction." And Paul urges, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God"; and again, "I ... entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ."

Unceasing Prayer

There is no Christian who does not have time to pray without ceasing. But I mean the spiritual praying, that is; no one is so heavily burdened with his labor, but that if he will he can, while working, speak with God in his heart, lay before Him his need and that of other men, ask for help, make petition, and in all this exer¬cise and strengthen his faith.

What to Expect from Prayer

We should pray by fixing our mind upon some pressing need, desiring it with all earnestness, and then exercise faith and confidence toward God in the matter, never doubting that we have been heard. St. Bernard said, "Dear brothers, you should never doubt your prayer, thinking that it might have been in vain, for I tell you truly that before you have uttered the words, the prayer is already recorded in heaven. Therefore you should confidently expect from God one of two things: either that your prayer will be granted, or, that if it is not granted, the granting of it would not be good for you."

Praying in Faith

Prayer is a special exercise of faith. Faith makes the prayer acceptable because it believes that either the prayer will be answered, or that something better will be given instead. This is why James says, "Let him who asks of God not waver in faith, for if he wavers, let him not think that he shall receive anything from the Lord." This is a clear statement which says directly; he who does not trust will receive nothing, neither that which he asks nor anything better.

Laying the Need - Not Prescribing the Answer

From this it follows that the one who prays correctly never doubts that the prayer will be answered, even if the very thing for which one prays is not given. For we are to lay our need before God in prayer but not prescribe to God a measure, manner, time, or place. We must leave that to God, for he may wish to give it to us in another, perhaps better, way than we think is best. Frequently we do not know what to pray as St. Paul says in Romans 8, and we know that God's ways are above all that we can ever understand as he says in Ephesians 3. Therefore, we should have no doubt that our prayer is acceptable and heard, and we must leave to God the measure, manner, time, and place, for God will surely do what is right.

What a Great Gift We Have in Prayer

No one can believe how powerful prayer is and what it can effect, except those who have learned it by experience. It is important when we have a need to go to God in prayer. I know, whenever I have prayed earnestly, that I have been heard and have obtained more than I prayed for. God sometimes delays, hut He always comes.

It is amazing that a poor human creature is able to speak with God's high Majesty in heaven and not be afraid. When we pray, the heart and the conscience must not pull away from God because of our sins and our unworthiness, or stand in doubt, or be scared away. When we pray we must hold fast and believe that God has heard our prayer. It was for this reason that the ancients defined prayer as an Ascensus mentis ad Deum, "a climbing up of the heart unto God. "


Motherly Instinct...

...can probabaly be taken too far.
A Burmese woman is breastfeeding two tiger cubs at a zoo in Rangoon after they were removed from their aggressive mother.
It's sweet and all, but don't you think a bottle might have been more appropriate?


Comic Art

Superhero groups II. The original is still probably the best, The Justice League of America. This is a really old cover. Covers like this are what drew me into comic books. In fact, I'm pretty sure this book is buried in the collection somewhere.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Ignorance Matters

As I have been traveling this week and talking to people outside my usual conversational circles, I am reminded how many people are ignorant of the facts of a given situation. Whether discussing Terri Schiavo or trying to introduce someone to Jesus, the level of what people do not know, that I take for granted, and vice-versa no doubt, is astounding.

It is frustrating, but it also tells me blogging matters. That puts a burden on me to make sure my blog is accurate. But those links...Fastest answer I have ever found to someone saying in a conversation,"No...I don't believe that."


Friday Humor - Extra

I an relate, can you?


Scripture Break...

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
  1. There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--
  2. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
  3. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up.
  4. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
  5. A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
  6. A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away.
  7. A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
  8. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
  9. What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils?
  10. I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.
  11. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
  12. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime;
  13. moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor-- it is the gift of God.
  14. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has {so} worked that men should fear Him.
  15. That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.


Friday Humor

The following breeds are now recognized by the AKC:

Collie + Lhasa Apso = Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport

Spitz + Chow Chow = Spitz-Chow, a dog that throws up a lot

Pointer + Setter = Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet

Great Pyrenees + Dachshund = Pyradachs, a puzzling breed

Pekingnese + Lhasa Apso = Peekasso, an abstract dog

Irish Water Spaniel + English Springer Spaniel = Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean as a whistle

Labrador Retriever + Curly Coated Retriever = Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of research scientists

Newfoundland + Basset Hound = Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors

Terrier + Bulldog = Terribull, a dog that makes awful mistakes

Bloodhound + Labrador = Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly

Malamute + Pointer = Moot Point, owned by....oh, well, it doesn't matter anyway

Collie + Malamute = Commute, a dog that travels to work

Deerhound + Terrier = Derriere, a dog that's true to the end

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Illuminated Scripture

The beloved Mrs. Schroeder strikes again:


Something I Just Cannot Get My Head Around

Saw this USA Today Headline across an airport terminal yesterday:
GOP's moral agenda doubted
Didn't get to read the actual story until reached the hotel, it's not as bad as I thought, but still:
By more than 2-to-1, 39%-18%, Americans say the "religious right" has too much influence in the Bush administration. That's a change from when the question was asked in CBS News/New York Times polls taken from 2001 to 2003. Then, approximately equal numbers said conservative Christians had too much and too little influence.
Would someone PLEASE explain to me why doing something good, whether it's trying to save the life of a handicapped woman, or freeing millions of oppressed people, or responding to a natural disaster, automatically suspect if done from religious motives?

I am thinking hard about this because I want to write something for this symposium. Your input would be helpful.


Cathedrals I Have Enjoyed

Because of the post I did earlier in the week about what kind of cathedral building God has in mind for us in the current age, I got to thinking about the cathedrals I have visited. As architecture, they are truly amazing edifices. Just becasue I was thinking about it, I thought I'd share a few that I would recommend that if you have the opportunity, you visit.

Oldest. Saint Sophia, Kiev, Ukraine. Fascinating history.

Smallest. Saint Basil's, Red Square, Moscow, Russia. It is really tiny, Each dome is a very small chapel, each can only hold about 10 people staning. It is more fanciful in person than in photo.

Famous. Canterbury, Canterbury England. Chaucer wrote a book about going there for crying out loud. Well worth the visit, and I enjoyed it more than the London cathedrals.

Spectacular. St. Issac's, St. Petersburg, Russia. This is also the least reverant of any I have visited, but I have to tell you, the Tsars had way tooo much money, this thing is really over the top. Going back this summer and cannot wait to show my wife.

Favorite. St. Giles, Edinburgh, Scotland. This is the place where my denomination started. It was a bishop's seat for but a brief moment, but enough to qualify as a cathedral. I love the fact we took it from the Catholics and made it Presbyterian. The crown-like steeple dominates the Edinburgh skyline just after the castle, and I love looking at it, even on webcams today.


Old Words For Modern Times

And here I thought "self-image" was a modern idea. But when perusing Devotional Classics I ran across this by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Bernard was one of the great leaders in the history of the Church. He was an eloquent speaker and considered by many to be one of the holiest individuals who ever lived. He grew up in Dijon, France, and at the age of twenty-two entered as a novice in the monastery of Citeaux. Three years later he was appointed to supervise a group of his fellow monks in the newly founded monastery at Clairvaux. Though he was offered high positions in the church, Bernard remained at Clairvaux until his death.

Thanks to careful preservation over the centuries, many of Bernard?s writings have survived today. His works had a profound influence on both Martin Luther and John Calvin. The following reading is taken from his well-known work, his treatise On the Love of God. In it Bernard incisively outlines his famous ?four degrees of love.?



Why God Should Be Loved

You ask me, ?Why should God be loved?? I answer: the reason for loving God is God himself. And why should God be loved for his own sake? Simply because no one could be more justly loved than God, no one deserves our love more. Some may question if God deserves our love or if they might have something to gain by loving him. The answer to both ques¬tions is yes, but I find no other worthy reason for loving him except himself.

God is entitled to our love. Why? Because he gave himself for us despite the fact that we are so undeserving. What better could he have given? If we ask why God is entitled to our love, we should answer, ?Because he first loved us.? God is clearly deserving of our love especially if we consider who he is that loves us, who we are that he loves, and how much he loves us.

And who is God? Is he not the one to whom every spirit bears witness: ?Thou art my God?? God has no need of our worldly possessions. True love is precisely this: that it does not seek its own interests. And how much does he love us? He so loved the world that he gave his only Son; he laid down his life for us.

The First Degree of Love: Love of Self for Self?s Sake

Love is a natural human affection. It comes from God. Hence the first and greatest com¬mandment is, ?Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.? But human nature is weak and therefore compelled to love itself and serve itself first. In the human realm people love themselves for their own sake. This is planted within us for who ever hated his own self?

The Second Degree of Love: Love of God for Self?s Sake

God, therefore, who makes everything that is good, makes himself to be loved. He does it as follows: first, God blesses us with his protection. When we live free from trouble we are happy, but in our pride we may conclude that we are responsible for our security. Then, when we suffer some calamity, some storm in our lives, we turn to God and ask his help, calling upon him in times of trouble. This is how we who only love ourselves first begin to love God. We will begin to love God even if it is for our own sake. We love God because we have learned that we can do all things through him, and without him we can do nothing.

The Third Degree of Love: Love of God for God?s Sake

In the first degree of love we love ourselves for our own sake. In the second degree of love we love God for our own sake, chiefly because he has provided for us and rescued us. But if trials and tribulations continue to come upon us, every time God brings us through, even if our hearts were made of stone, we will begin to be softened because of the grace of the Rescuer. Thus, we begin to love God not merely for our own sakes, but for himself.

The Fourth Degree of Love: Love of Self for God?s Sake

Blessed are we who experience the fourth degree of love wherein we love ourselves for God?s sake. Such experiences are rare and come only for a moment. In a manner of speaking, we lose ourselves as though we did not exist, utterly unconscious of ourselves and emptied of ourselves.

If for even a moment we experience this kind of love, we will then know the pain of having to return to this world and its obliga¬tions as we are recalled from the state of contemplation. In turning back to ourselves we will feel as if we are suffering as we return into the mortal state in which we were called to live.

Can We Attain the Fourth Degree of Love?

I am not certain that the fourth degree of love in which we love ourselves only for the sake of God may be perfectly attained in this life. But, when it does happen, we will experience the joy of the Lord and be forgetful of ourselves in a wonderful way. We are, for those moments, one mind and one spirit with God.

I am of the opinion that this is what the prophet meant when he said: ?I will enter into the power of the Lord: 0 Lord I will be mindful of Thy justice alone.? He felt, certainly, that when he entered into the spiritual powers of the Lord he would have laid aside self and his whole being would, in the spirit, be mindful of the justice of the Lord alone.


Travel Thoughts

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Christian Carnival Is Up!

Check out this week's offerings at Proverbs Daily.


Scripture Break...

Psalm 19
  1. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
  2. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
  3. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard.
  4. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
  5. Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
  6. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
  7. The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
  8. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
  9. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
  10. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
  11. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
  12. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
  13. Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins let them not rule over me; then I shall be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
  14. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.


Gratuituous Picture

Last Saturday, I proclaimed that all things salmon shall be gratuitously linked or presented in this blog. See the link to find out why. In compliance with that edict I present the following:


The Best of Pravda

This story is not so good news.
New law will probably give Americans no chance of adopting Russian orphans
Americans that wish to adopt are increasingly going overseas to do so becasue it is getting harder and harder to do so at home. So this story is sad for portentially adoptive parents. And, while I know Russia is suffering a "demographic disintegration," do they really want to deny their most unfortunate a change at a better life?

So what do you do when you are walking down the lane by the river and a bear goes floating by on a piece of ice? Why, call the bear's drunken owner that let him lose to begin with, of course.

So, you thought we lived in a litigious society? Check this out.
One of Moscow's district courts starts hearing the lawsuit, which Muscovite Igor Smykov filed against the Ren TV Russian television company almost three years ago. The lawsuit was filed on the allegation that "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" cartoons, which the company regularly airs, bring psychological harm to children and their parents. The claimant demands the TV company should exclude the above-mentioned cartoons from its schedule and pay 300,000 rubles of moral damage compensation. Igor Smykov believes that the two cartoon series propagandize violence, brutality, drugs and the cult of sex.
My question is...If we could bring lawsuits like that in this country, would there be any television left?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Out of Town...

I'm leaving bright and early tomorrow morning for a combination business and pleasure trip. I have prepared some posts in advance for tomorrow through the weekend and will be able to have enough Internet access during the trip to put them up each day, but I doubt I'll have the opportunity to do the kind of posting I normally like to do.

Please enjoy what I have prepared, I promise there will a little something new everyday, and I will see you on Monday, maybe Sunday depending on the vagaries of travel.


Cathedral Building

Pseudo-Polymath has called a Christian Round-up of posts on "Cathedral Building." He posted the first round-up yesterday and will offer another on Thursday. Here's the call:
In the early to late middle ages, Christians built magnificent cathedrals. These magnificent architectural wonders took generations to build. The community constructing these architectural marvels had to hold fixed, in heart and mind across the generations, one vision of what they wished to build. America in the 1960's had a goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. That vision drove the cathedral builders and American engineers to achieve majestic technological marvels. A pilot steering a ship must have a goal in mind before he sets out or he will just wander.

Today's church is divided, but worse than that we are lost and wandering. We are not building Cathedrals.
I am not entirely sure about this premise. I am fairly certain that if you asked any mega-barn pastor out there he would tell you "cathedral building" is exactly what he is doing. Not sure I'd agree with him, but I know a few and I am fairly certain that is what they would say.

I am not sure that the middle age cathedrals were such a good idea either. I have visited many. (I'll post about some of those visits later this week) They are indeed works of art, but that is the purpose most serve in this day an age. Many do not even attempt to act as a house of worship anymore and those that do...well, despite the great beauty to be experienced in them, one is forced to wonder if the congregants are there to worship, or just to admire.

That said, I think that the great vision that Mark seems to be seeking in his call for the round-up is something that the church should have. So what does Christ have to say about that vision?
Matthew 16:18

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.

Matthew 28:19-20

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Jesus said that He would build His church on a person and He commissioned us to make people into disciples.

What is my long term vision? It is that you, and you, and you, and you, and...can know the glory of God. It is that every man woman and child on the planet can come to understand the beauty, grace, and love of God Almighty. Sounds hard doesn't it?

Dern tootin' it's hard. And I think that is why we build mega-barns instead, cause that by comparision is easy. We can point to the building and yell, "Look, see what I have done? I built this to glorify God," we feel satisfied and we pat ourselves on the back, and we count the donations.

We can't really do that when we work to build a disciple. See even in our state of grace, we screw up, so that which is built will always disappoint. And more importantly, we cannot really take credit for building a disciple. That is something that is generally between the disciple and God, we pretty much are just on-lookers with a few comments.

Yeah, we need a vision, but I think it is a humble one, a small one. Have a vision to introduce one other person to Jesus Christ today. It is the toughest, grandest assignment you will ever have.


The Stupid And The Rude

Apparently the first openly gay Episcopalian Bishop has now concluded that Jesus himslef was gay. (HT: Sheep's Crib) You know maybe he has a point, I mean God spent some energy in when he gave the law to Moses explaining what He thought about homosexuality:
Lev 18:22 - You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
But once He got here, He just could not help himself. Oh, please. It is one thing that the Episcopalians ordained this man, bad enough, but this crosses a line that I am not sure I can stomach. Fortunately the good "bishop" couched his accusation sufficiently to give himself and out if really pressed. How clintonian of him.

MediaSoul carries a link to a story from the Bakersfield paper about a rally for a constitutional amendment to prevent gay marriage that was quite rudely interrupted by homosexual advocates.

I really think that one of the reasons the left have gotten their way so much in the last few decades is that they have been willing to be rude, and we have been willing to let them have their way, just to stop the rudeness. We need to get a little smarter. We cannot lower ourselves to be rude in return, but we have to grow a sufficient shield so we will not acquiese to the rudeness either.


It's Hard To Soar With Eagles...

When turkeys are trying to beat you up. No, really...follow the link.


From the Edge of Taste

So what would you do with a pet that has gone on to greater reward? I hope not this.

I live in the greater Los Angeles metoropolitan area, but I have, thankfully, never seen this. (WARNING! - graphic)

Sorry about that, just another trip (wish I could put sound effects in here) to the edge of taste (echo, echo, echo...)


Pope Notes

I have to say this. I have been listening to talk radio yesterday afternoon and heard a number of protestant people call in and denounce Roman Catholic doctrine and the Pope. I could not believe it, just could not.

Remember what doctrine is. It is our best understanding of what we belive about God. God, by definition, is beyond our understanding; therefore doctrine, yours, mine, anyone's, is definitionally inadequate. If you hold your doctrine so tight that you condemn a man like the Pope, even with great doctrinal differences that I share, then you worship your doctrine more than your Lord. That is a lot more idolatrous than any Roman Catholic maryology. Get over yourselves!

Brendan Miniter at Opinion Journal shows how important this Pope was regardless of doctrine.


Ministerial Sacrifice

Scotwise weaves together several sources to create a picture about genuine ministry and and what really is and is not a scarifice. He quotes John Piper
"Here in America, where everybody speaks English and eats pizza, I bellyache over an extra meeting, an ill-timed hospital call, and too many choices. Then I read of Irving Hetherington, and I think of 'normal' missionary life. I see my 'sacrifices' in a new way."
I could not help but think about my extensive quotation of Hannah Whitehall Smith from Sunday. The essence of being a Christian is sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed Himself so we do not have to die. we sacrifice ourselves to Jesus because He makes our lives so much better than we can possibly make them ourselves -- Unfortunately we are usually to bullheaded to see that.


GodBlogCon Gets "Official"

Not that it wasn't official already. The web site is open. Registration soon. I stoked!


Who Can Beat The US Military?

The US public is about the only thing that can. We possess the absolutely best war fighting machine in the world, bar none. It is not easy to beat the US in the field of battle. But, since Vietnam, weak nations everywhere have figured the nation as a whole does not have the stomach for war.

This includes the remaining Iraqi insurgents. Want proof? Ask yourself why they attacked Abu-Graib twice in the last week and why prisoners are making such a fuss. That is the closest they have come to a public relations win which might lead to the public calling for withdrawal. Some, as we all know, already have. So, they keep pushing the hot button.

Austin Bay seems to agree.

Let's not make the same mistake twice...


I Want One Of These Now!

Well, if it works. A voice controlled TV remote, that's cool. Best feature they should have, if it is not there already? If anything is uttered in the room that does not beging with "REMOTE..." will result in an automatic mute of the set. My wife and I spend half our lives muting to allow decent conversation.

Monday, April 04, 2005


On Christian Leadership

Transforming Sermons pointed me this past weekend to a series of posts at a blog called The Ancient Christian Faith on leadership. The first installment is here and the second is here, with more to come. The set up for the series, which TS also quotes, is astounding.
It has become an unending source of bewilderment for me to see how many people admit to the un-edifying instruction coming from ?other? churches, but respond quickly with, ?But ours is different.? Yet when you visit their church you are greeted with the same spiritless pabulum. So, what was the difference? I suggest that the answer is ?Them?. What we really have found in these cases is not the good or bad preacher, but the tendency of people to acquiesce to a sullen mediocrity for fear of futility in the hunt for quality. Tragically, the result of such a decision to acquiesce often means the cessation of their Christian growth, an unconvincing witness to the community, the possible loss of their children to secularity or even to another religion, or worse, the irrecoverable fall into life among the church?s living dead never again to hear the word ?Arise!? The thought that the Church just might be biblically out of step, systemically wrong, or downright deceived, rarely occurs with any conviction. Or, if it does, it does so without an anchor in hope. The result is no action taken.

I believe the living God wants to change that, that He wants to offer a new wineskin to replace the one being abused. This 'new wineskin' happens to be identical with the "new wineskin" Jesus offered at His first coming, but which has been hopelessly lost to the "ravenous wolves" who "came in not sparing the flock." While it seems quite clear that there is little hope remaining for these bastard institutions that have usurped Christ's purposes, true hope remains with Christ Himself. He is not bound in any sense to these perversions - despite their claims that He is - and is ready to start again with anyone who hungers with an obedient faith. Thus, hope is only as far away as God Himself, and if you hold a Bible in front of you, that same living God is ready to renew the foundation of your faith, if you're ready to do the work. A new Reformation awaits.
The model for leadership that the author goes on to develop is excellent, and I agree with everything he has written to date. However, I am afraid he is not breaking any new ground. Models for Christian leadership have been around about as long as there has been Christian leaders. My question is, shall we say, a little more on the practical end of things. How do we move current Christian leadership closer to the kind of models that the author presents? He says there is little hope for the institutions, but that hope remains in Christ. So how do we bring the hope of Christ to the institutions?

Despite a deep temptation to do so, I am not ready, nor do I think I should, jettison the existing institutions. If God can redeem me, certainly he can redeem an institution. I seek in my leadership in my particular institution to be one of God's instruments for bringing about that redemption. But, it is a struggle. The map that tells me my destination is plain, but the road, now that is hard. What I am looking for right now is not a better map, but a better road, or at least help in traversing this very difficult road I find myself on. I seek not reformation, but renewal.


The Price Of Cloning On The Decline

I hate to say it, but the first thing I thought of when I saw this piece is that the cost sure is dropping fast.
The fur is flying in California as critics spar over a Bay Area company that charges $32,000 to clone an owner's cat.
It was just four months ago that the price was $50,000. That is a 36% decrease in a short period of time. Business must be booming!

All sarcasm aside, it is sad to me that people place so much stock in genetic material. From cloning pets to all the various "reproductive options" people have these days, the culture is putting too much emphasis on genetic material. DO this many people really not understand that there is so much more to us than out genetic material?

A friend paraphrased Dallas Willard to me at church yesterday -- Given that chimpanzees and humans share about 98% of their gentic material, do we conclude than man and chimp are very much like each other, or that there is much more to our being than our genetic material?


A Great Way To Support Our Troops

This weekend, my wife and I discovered, joined and will routinely particpate in Books For Soldiers. It's a great charity that let's you pick a soldier that is looking for books and send him or her the book they request. If you are like us, book space is at a premium. What a great excuse for a trip to teh book store, and a way to never have to throw a book away.

Why don't you participate today!



MSNBC carried a story over the weekend about lawsuits in gospel music. I am bothered by how much money is involved. I am bothered by the fact that they are suing each other. I am bothered that "gospel" music has this much business involved.

The gospel is supposed to make us into people for whom contracts and committments would be extraneous and never need enforcement. I think we need to find a new name for it -- "Music about God, but not necessarily with His blessing." Unwieldy yes, but more accurate and it won't besmirch the good word "gospel."




Well, the top story of the week had to be the release of the UK report claiming that we have used up "two-thirds of the world's resources." Here is the Guardian telling of the story and here the BBC's.

Radioblogger had some great comments. This kind of thing is so short-sighted. We thought we were 10-20 years away from being out of oil 30 years ago. Even more, 200 years ago, petroleum was thought to be a nuisance that seeped from the ground in some ugly places to be avoided. The matter itself hasn't gone anywhere, it's just changed form. Today's nuisance will likely be tomorrow's fuel. I have a lot of faith in mankind.


Can you say Nanny State?
Bill Would Legislate Maryland Students' Use of Sunscreen
The thing you have to love about this story is that it is not about forcing students to use sunscreen, it is about removing "zero tolerance" obstacles to it's easy use in schools. You have to love this, nannies with umbrellas at 10 paces...


Finally, I want to point to fellow SoCal Alliance member Cheat Seeking Missles who posts a great send up of an new book claiming Christians want to destroy the earth. There is no need to comment, Laer does a fine job.


Looking At Love

A blog called Seeing Life Differently is doing an examination of "love."
Huh!?!? Yes, you heard me right. God's love is not "Unconditional Love" either, at least not as we're used to thinking of that. Its something much better than that. Let me see if I can explain.

You see, when people talk about God's "unconditional love," they are actually getting the answer partially right - they are realizing that ultimately none of us have anything to offer God; if there is going to be any acceptance for us, it can't be based on our ability to meet the conditions. We're his enemies, for Pete's sake! (Rom 5:10) We're dead in our sins! (Eph 2:1).

Nevertheless, God does accept us. So we tend to use words like "unconditional" to try and capture just how generous he is - he doesn't say, "clean yourself up and then I will love you" - he says, "I love you even though you are a slut and a whore and you are absolutely incapable of cleaning yourself up because you are addicted to your sin."

The only stipulation is for us to believe. So there is a sense in which "unconditional" is a very appropriate term.

But there's a problem with it too. Many times when people say love should be "unconditional" what they really mean is "Stop judging me! Don't say my actions are wrong! I want your love and approval, but I don't want to change my behavior. You should accept me the way that I am!"
Well...those are words of wisdom for our time. This may be a blog to keep an eye on.


Geopolitics And Prayer For Our Troops.

Between Terri Schiavo's and the Pope's death most other things have been pushed out of the headlines. I sure was glad when I saw this piece on MSBNC.
U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said Sunday the Syrian government pledged to remove all Syrian troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon by April 30 at the latest.
That is probabaly the best news I have seen in a week. Hurray for the Lebanese people! Use your freedom well.

But we must never forget the cost of that freedom. Sheep's Crib shares the story of an injured soldier, miraculously saved by military medical personnel, and offers a prayer for all soldiers everywhere. I'll pray with John about this any day and I urge you to as well.


Tributes To The Pope and Related Things

I am feeling a little guilty that I do not have a great, long, eloquent to post in tribute to the Pope. The fact of the matter is I think he was a great world leader, but not being a Catholic, there really is little else for me to say. Fortunately, lots of people have had great things to say about him, so I shall defer to them.

Actually I think the man wrote his own greatest epitaph, at least as quoted in this Sunday Times of London piece.
As the end approached, history's best travelled and third longest serving pontiff had urged his followers not to cry for him by dictating a message to his secretary.

"I am happy and you should be happy too," he said. "Do not weep. Let us pray together with joy."
That is a great Christian witness.

World leaders. most of whom can barely stand in the man's shadow have chimed in. This is a good overview and this is President Bush's statement.

U.S. News & World Report has a great recap of his life.

There are two blog tributes that I consider must reads. Texasbug has a post that simply lists quotes from the Pontiff. Condensed wisdom for all to enjoy. Fellow Warnie winner, Ales Rarus offers up some wonderful prayer in light of the Pope's passing.

Finally, while not a tribut of any sort, John Mark Reynolds (yet another Warnie winner) writes about the most irritating things we will hear from the press regarding the election of the new Pope. I think Dr. Reynolds is absolutely right, and I think the misconspetions he addresses says as much about society in general as the media.

UPDATE: Be sure and read this great tribute and rememberance from GEORGE WEIGEL in OpinionJournal.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Have You Sprung Forward?

The first day of daylight savings time, that odd convention of timekeeping designed to make life convenient for those that like to stay up late into the night. What about those of us that like to get up early in the morning? How come the federal judiciary is not protecting my minority desire from the oppression of the majority? That's what I want to know.

I grew up in Indiana which does not do daylight savings time. Know why? The farmers were afraid the crops would not get enough light! (rim-shot -- thank you, I'll be here all week.)


The Very Heart of The Matter

I Corinthians 2:2 -- For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

I could not help but think of that verse when I read this post from Mr. Standfast. (HT: Transforming Sermons)
The cross is not simply a place of beginning, a place you leave from, a place you cherish in memory. It is, strangely enough, a place of life, of possibility, of hope. He that hung there, by God?s design and for your salvation, is not simply alpha, but omega. Not simply source, but destiny. Not simply foundation, but capstone. Not simply servant, but King.
I can never be reminded enough about why I do what I do. Whether blogging or working, serving or relaxing, the cross and the resurrection stand in the center of it all, lest I forget.


Sermons and Lessons

Calling again on Devotional Classics:

Hannah Whitall Smith was a Quaker born in Philadelphia in 1832. Her book, The Christian?s Secret of a Happy Life, from which the following excerpts are taken, has become a classic. Published in 1870, it was a beacon of encourage¬ment in the age in which it was written, and continues to inspire men and women to a more joyful life with Christ. It has sold nearly two million copies.

Whitall Smith was by no means a dour servant of Jesus, but rather, her life expressed the joy that is found in complete surrender. The ?secret? to a happy life, according to Whitall Smith, is to trust implicitly in the promises of the Bible. Her goal was not to impress the scholar, but to elevate the sim¬ple man or woman who longed for a more consecrated way of living.

Deeply practical, her writings deal directly with the day-to-day struggles of ordinary people. She weaves her scriptural theology in and out of the stories of people?s lives. In the following selection she deals frankly with the problem of feeling burdened by Christian service. What can be done when our work for God has lost its joy? Hannah Whitall Smith offers us excellent counsel.


The "Must I" of Duty

There is, perhaps, no part of Christian experience where a greater change occurs, upon entering into this life hid with Christ in God, than in the matter of service.

In all the ordinary forms of Christian life, service is apt to have more or less of bondage in it; that is, it is done purely as a matter of duty, and often as a trial and a cross. Certain things, which at the first may have been a joy and a delight, become after a while weary tasks, performed faithfully, perhaps, but with much secret disinclination, and many confessed or unconfessed wishes that they need not be done at all, or at least that they need not be done so often.

The soul finds itself saying, instead of the "May I" of love, the "Must I" of duty. The yoke, which was at first easy, begins to gall, and the burden feels heavy instead of light.

The Treadmill of Daily Christian Work

One dear Christian expressed it once to me in this way: "When I was first converted,"~ she said, "I was so full of joy and love that I was only too glad and thankful to be allowed to do anything for my Lord, and I eagerly entered every open door. But after a while, as my early joy faded away, and my love burned less fervently, I began to wish I had not been quite so eager; for I found myself involved in lines of service that were gradually becoming very distasteful and burdensome to me.

"Since I had begun them, I could not very well give them up without exciting great remark, and yet I longed to do so increasingly. I was expected to visit the sick, pray beside their beds. I was expected to attend prayer-meetings, and speak at them. I was expected, in short, to be always ready for every effort in Christian work, and the sense of these expectations bowed me down continually.

"At last it became so unspeakably burdensome to me to live the sort of Christian life I had entered upon, and was expected to live, that I felt as if any kind of manual labor would have been easier; and I would have infinitely preferred scrubbing all day on my hands and knees to being compelled to go through the treadmill of my daily Christian work. I envied,? she said, ?the servants in the kitchen, and the women at the washtubs."

A Constant Burden

This may seem to some like a strong statement; but does it not present a vivid picture of some of your own experiences, dear Christian? Have you never gone to work as a slave to his daily task, believing it to be your duty and that therefore you must do it, but rebounding like an Indian-rubber ball back into your real interests and pleasures the moment your work was over?

You have known of course that this was the wrong way to feel, and have been thoroughly ashamed of it, but still you have seen no way to help it. You have not loved your work; and, could you have done so with an easy conscience, you would have been glad to give it up altogether.

Or, if this does not describe your case, perhaps another picture will. You do love your work in the abstract, but in the doing of it you find so many cares and responsibilities connected with it, and feel so many misgivings and doubts as to your own capacity or fitness, that it becomes a very heavy burden, and you go to it bowed down and weary before the labor has even begun. Then also you are con¬tinually distressing yourself about the results of your work, and greatly troubled if they are not just what you would like; and this of itself is a constant burden.

The Things We Want to Do

Now, from all these forms of bondage the soul that enters fully into the blessed life of faith is entirely delivered. In the first place, service of any sort becomes delightful to it, because, having surrendered its will into the keeping of the Lord, He works in it to will and to do His good pleasure, and the soul finds itself really wanting to do the things God wants it to do.

It is always very pleasant to do the things we want to do, even if they are difficult to accomplish, or make our bodies tired. If our will is really set on a thing we view the obstacles that lie in the way of reaching it with a sublime indifference, and we laugh to ourselves at the idea of any opposition or difficulties which might hinder us. How many men have gone gladly to the ends of the world in search of worldly fortunes, or to fulfill worldly ambitions, and have scorned the thought of any "cross" connected with it! How many mothers have congratulated themselves, and rejoiced over the honor done their sons in seeing them promoted to some place of power and usefulness in their country?s service, although it has involved perhaps years of separation, and a life of hardship for their dear ones! And yet these same men, and these very mothers, would have felt and said that they were taking up crosses too heavy almost to be borne, had the service of Christ required the same sacrifice of home, and friends, and worldly ease.

Constraining Us by Love

It is altogether the way we look at things, whether we think they are crosses or not. And I am ashamed to think that any Christian should ever put on a long face and shed tears over doing a thing for Christ which a worldly per¬son would be only too glad to do for money.

What we need in the Christian life is to get believers to want to do God?s will as much as other people want to do their own will. And this is the idea of the Gospel. It is what God intended for us; and it is what He promised. In describing the new covenant in Hebrews 8:6-13, He says it shall no more be the old covenant made on Sinai,-that is, a law given from the outside, controlling a man by force,-but it shall be a law written within, constraining us by love.

"I will put my laws," He says, "into their minds, and write them on their hearts." This can mean nothing but that we shall love His law; for anything written in our hearts we must love. "And putting it into our minds" is surely the same as God working in us to "will and to do of his good pleasure," and means that we shall will what God wills, and shall obey His sweet commands, not because it is our duty to do so, but because we ourselves want to do what He wants us to do.

God's Way of Working

Nothing could possibly be conceived more effectual than this. How often have we thought, when dealing with our children, "Oh, if 1 could only get inside of them, and make them want to do just what I want, how easy it would be to manage them then!" How often in practical experience we have found that to deal with cross-grained people we most carefully avoid suggesting our wishes to them, but must in some way induce them to suggest the thing themselves, sure that there will then be no opposition with which to contend. And we, who are by nature a stiff-necked people, always rebel more or less against a law from outside of us, while we joyfully embrace the same law springing up within.

God's way of working, therefore, is to get possession of the inside of us, to take the control and management of our will, and to work it for us. Then obedience is easy and a delight, and service becomes perfect freedom, until the Christian is forced to explain, "This happy service! Who could dream earth had such liberty"

Entire Control

What you need to do, then, dear Christian, if you are in bondage in the matter of service, is to put your will over completely into the hands of your Lord, surrendering to Him the entire control of it. Say, "Yes, Lord, YES!" to everything, and trust Him so to work in you to will as to bring your whole wishes and affections into conformity with His own sweet, and lovable, and most lovely will.

I have seen this done often in cases where it -looked beforehand an utterly impossible thing. In one case, where a lady had been for years rebelling fearfully against a little act of service which she knew was right, but,which she hated, I saw her, out of the depths of despair, and without any feeling whatever, give her will in that matter up into the hands of her Lord, and begin to say to Him, "Thy will be done; Thy will be done!" And in one short hour that very thing ~ began to look sweet and precious to her.

The Lord Is Our Burden-Bearer

Many Christians, as I have said, love God's will in the abstract, hut carry great burdens in connection with it. From this also there is deliverance in the wonderful life of faith. For in this way of life no burdens are carried, no anxieties felt. The Lord is our burden-bearer, and upon Him we must lay off every care. He says, in effect, "Be careful for nothing, but make your requests known to me, and I will attend to them all."

Be careful for nothing, He says, not even your service. Why? Because we are so utterly helpless that no matter how careful we were, our service would amount to nothing! What have we to do with thinking whether we are fit or not fit for service? The Master-workman surely has a right to use any tool He pleases for His own work, and it is plainly not the busi¬ness of the tool to decide whether it is the right one to he used or not. He knows; and if He chooses to use us, of course we must be fit. And in truth, if we only knew it, our chief fit¬ness is in our utter helplessness. His strength is made perfect, not in our strength, but in our weakness. Our strength is only a hindrance.


Science or Politics?

Tech Central Station published a piece this past week that is critical of the most recent artcile in "Science" supportive of global warming. Dr. Pat Michaels demonstrates two really important things.
  1. Agenda really does play a large role in how data is viewed and analyzed, and
  2. If you don't adhere to the agenda, funding and publication are hard to obtain.

Bill's Comments points out that this may have very bad tidings indeed for the future of science in America. (HT: Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog)

I have had the opinion for years that the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) who publishes Science, has been more atune to political correctness than scientific "truth". Here we have in no uncertain terms the demonstration that it is so. Not only are the editors corrupt but so are the reviewers.
Bill, thank you for explaining why, despite my inestimable eligibility and repeated invitations, I have never joined AAAS.


Truly Terrifying

According to the Washington Post there may have been twenty people that knew the school shooting in Minnesota was going to happen.

I find that horrifying. I realize not all of them participated in the planning, but that they would not say something to a school offical is really troubling. In my mind it shows a real lack of compassion. I turned in a couple of friends when I was a kid for drug use, not becasue "what they were doing was wrong", but because I was genuinely concerned for their health, they were taking A LOT of prescription medications (barbituates). It was not easy, but it had to be done. Years later they thanked me.

Sadly, the kids that did not speak out about what was happening in Minnesota will never receive such thanks, because those they would have helped most are dead. Some 35 years later, my friends that I did "narc out" are still alive.



Sheep's Crib posts on the violent and tragic death of two Wycliffe Bible translators in Guyana. John offers up a prayer for the missionaries that I share. Such things are why I believe there really is a Satan, there could be no other explaination.


To Infinity and Beyond

There are oxmorons and then there is this.
Extreme accounting is the latest - and unlikeliest - adrenaline sport
PLEASE! "Unlikely" does not begin to cover this.

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