Wednesday, May 31, 2006


As a nation we began by declaring that All men are Created Equal. We now practically read it “All men are created equal except negroes.” Soon it will read “All men are created equal except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer immigrating to some country where they make no pretenses of loving liberty; to Russia for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

--Abraham Lincoln

Friday, May 26, 2006

Chuck Norris Facts

This is a snapshot of some of the very funny statements about Chuck Norris. Very Funny.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Don't Look for Shortcuts

I got The Message Bible recently and I am fascinated by it. Peterson offers a fresh take on the Bible which is very interesting. I thought I would post some of the interesting passages on here with a little commentary. This one is from Matthew 7:13-23.

"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life--to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention.

"Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. "Knowing the correct password--saying "Master, Master,' for instance--isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience--doing what my Father wills. I can see it now--at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, "Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? "You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'"

There are some very serious statements in there. How often do we as Americans want to take the easy way? The shortcut? With God, there are no shortcuts. A relationship with God requires my total attention. I must admit that so often other things get my total attention, and God gets what's left.

Charisma vs character. Charisma is outward. Visual. Noticed by all. Charisma gets attention. Character is inward. Hardly seen or noticed by anyone but God. Character doesn't make the headlines like charisma. But which would my life say that I am pursuing?

Would I describe my obedience to God as "serious obedience", or am I still "fooling around" with obedience?

When have I been guilty of "using God" to further my own agendas, popularity, or importance?

The words seem to hit hard when they are presented with new words. I am thankful for The Message. More to follow.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It Truly is In Christ Alone

I cannot get enough of the song that is fairly popular in Christian circles right now called "In Christ Alone" by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Written in the style of a hymn, it serves as an anthem for the believer in Christ today. In a time when I feel that we focus too much on the music of a song, and not enough on the words, the text, the message, I wanted to post the lyrics on here. They are very powerful. What a great creed for our lives! You can read about the story of the song here. Be sure to pay special attention to the last verse of the song.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Book Review: Pondering Blue Like Jazz

"I never liked jazz music," says Donald Miller "because jazz music doesn't resolve. But sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself...I used to not like God because god didn't resolve. But that was before any of this happened."

Blue like Jazz is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read. Subtitled "Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality," and accurately so, the book takes you on an adventure through some of the life experiences of Donald Miller: a guy who after being raised in a strick Baptist household, walked away from the faith in college only to return later where he has a very unique but personal relationship with God.

Before moving on, as an introduction to Donald Miller, I recommend this sermon, delivered by Miller at Mars Hill Bible Church called God is Fathering Us. What an amazing insight to our relationship with God as our father and how we have missed the point so many times regarding this idea. This is a must listen to sermon! Allow me to say that the first 11 minutes of the download is Mars Hill ministry updates that, while valuable, is not the material I want to stress here. Feel free to fast forward to about 11 minutes in. Also, you must enter a valid email address to download it, but I assure you it is safe and will not result in any type of spam or unwanted solicitation.

Back to the issue at hand. There are several statements I will now make on what makes Blue Like Jazz so unique...perhaps even unlike any other book you have ever read.

1. Miller is perhaps the most honest author I have ever come across. You really must read the book to fully understand what I mean by this, but Miller has a certain quality about him that allows him to say that things that we were all thinking, even if we were not aware of it. Miller is also very honest about his own shortcomings, as well as those of a myriad of other organizations, including the church and government. However, it does not come across in a judgmental way, but in a "concern for truth" way, if that makes sense. Miller is a man who has thought about things on an extremely deep level.

2. Second, Miller's creativity as an author is unmatched. I do not want to say too much, as I do not want to give away some of the surprises the book holds, but he at times takes a completely different approach to writing than most Christian authors do. For one broad example, whereas Christianity has traditionally looked to the Bible first and then applied those truths to daily life, Miller starts with what is true in daily life, and then points out how that is true in the Bible. This is not to say anything about Miller's view on scripture, just on his approach from a "nonreligious" mindset.

3. Third, Miller is a liberal. Though this may seem like a bad thing to some, it was extremely helpful for me to read thoughts from a different political perspective than my own, even refreshing. I found it helpful because Miller is not pushing a political agenda, but rather viewing God through a framework different than mine. In fact, we live in a country that has 2 political extremes, both of which are unhealthy. I'd like to think that Miller and I could meet in the middle and agree on a much healthier medium view. If you are a strong conservative (like me), don't let this scare you away. Rather, let this help you open your mind to a world that we generally do not get to see. And remember, God is not a Republican or a Democrat.

4. Lastly, Miller is extremely personable. His honesty, combined with great stories from his own spiritual journey and laugh out loud humor make you feel like you are sitting at a table listening to his story. I would love to meet Donald Miller. He seems like the kind of guy that would be a great person to have as a friend. You will feel that you connect with him through his writing.

Take the time and read Blue Like Jazz. You can purchase it using the link on your left. I cannot wait to explore Miller's other works. Let me know what you think of Miller and his works. And don't forget to listen to that sermon above!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Stewardship of Influence and Affluence, Part 3

In my final post regarding Rick Warren's idea of the Stewardship of Influence and Affluence, I will discuss the results of these huge lessons that Warren learned. After having come into all of this influence and affluence (money) by the unexpected explosion of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren spent time with God and asked him "What big issues do you want me to tackle with these resources?" He wanted to know what problems were so big that government or societies or anything else could not solve because they were so big, and that God wanted him to attack with all of the influence and affluence he could rally. He came up with what he claims are the 5 biggest problems on the planet earth, which he has given his life to overcoming. Here they are, along with my commentary:

1. Spiritual emptiness

This problem is pretty much taken at face value. This is what every "Life giving" church on the face of the planet is looking to correct. The definition of a person who is "Spiritually Empty" is one who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I need to continually ask myself what I am doing, both generally and specifically to solve this problem. Generally, I am both employed by and a member of a local church that is dedicated to doing this very thing. Specifically, I should be helping to point my friends and neighbors to the one who can fill this emptiness on a daily basis. I certainly can do better than I am currently doing.

2. Egocentric Leadership

This, Warren says, is true not only in the world, but in the church as well. He points to this as an increasingly severe problem in our world: leaders who are concerned with advancing themselves and their own agendas rather than the common good and the people they serve. When it comes to pastors, Warren says this has been an unnoticed and very serious problem. "Most pastors think their people exist to serve them," Warren says. "Reality is the other way around." He makes a great point. How am I doing at this? When have I put my own agendas ahead of what God has called me to do in my leadership position? When have I failed to serve because I was too proud? These are battles I need to be reminded to fight daily.

3. Poverty

Warren quoted some statistics, which I can't completely remember, about what percentage of the world lives on less then $3 per day. The results are alarming. We fail to see, here in America, the tight grip that poverty holds on much of the world. The hunger. The homelessness. Unfortunately, we have been trained in America to look down on the poor. We say a person's poverty is his or her fault and assume drugs, alcohol, and a host of other vices are involved. Shame on us for our judgmental attitudes and prejudices. What am I doing to stop poverty in my own community, as well as worldwide?

4. Disease

The majority of deaths in other parts of the world are because of diseases for which we have found the cure, but the medicine is not available to those who are sick. Again, we as Americans have become blind to this. While pharmaceutical companies get rich and count their millions, much of the world dies because they don't have a shot for tetanus, or an antibiotic for dysentery. What am I doing, and what is my church doing, to help stop this from happening?

5. Illiteracy

Half of the world is funtionally illiterate and uneducated. One of the most effective ways a people are kept subdued is by not allowing them literacy. What are we doing to reverse this trend? How can we expect third world children to become adults who will rise up and change things in their countries when illiteracy chokes out success?

In conclusion of this series, I appreciate Rick Warren for not only sharing the lessons he has learned about the stewardship of these important things, but by allowing me to share in the burdens that God laid on his heart. God has used these goals to change my focus and examine what I am doing with my funds, which allow me 2 cars, a nice apartment, a retirement plan, and more amenities than I can mention, and with my influence, which allows me a group of 40 students, 15-20 leaders, and hundreds of adults to communicate with on a weekly basis who value what I have to say. Will I be a good steward of what God has placed in my hand? Will you?