Saturday, September 30, 2006
A common comment of non-believers can be along the lines of "Your life doesn't appear to be any better off than mine. You have the same daily problems and face the same struggles. Why would I want what you have?" And, fact is, on the surface, they appear to have a point. However, what the transformed life gains is much deeper -- soul work.

Here are a few things that I thought of that Christian lives can naturally gain or reflect. Some of these are qualities and traits that, yes, the non-believer can reflect as well but it is my thought that, with the life transformed in Christ, these things emanate on a supernatural level, as an outpouring of God's love and grace through us.

Please feel free to weigh in with any thoughts you may have! This topic is pretty fascinating to me.

Forgiveness for those things in our past that make us wince.

Grace for the fact that we're still subject to human frailties.

Peace that overpowers our lives even in tumultuous times.

Grace for the guy who cuts you off in traffic or slows down the line at WalMart.

Compassion, love, and respect for the hurting.

A desire to help the hurting of this world, at our own sacrifice.

Realization that we're all equal though we have different paradigms.

Desire to celebrate all successes of all others.

Passion for peace.

Respect that there ultimately is only One in whose eyes we must be acceptable.

Appreciation and gratitude that that One loves us very very much and yearns for us to be in constant communion with Him.

Eternal life with that One.

Desire to share this with all others.

  posted at 5:43 AM  

The following devotional is by Os Hillman of TGIF (Today God is First).

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: "Moses My servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites. - Joshua 1:1-2

A rocket launch is truly an amazing phenomenon to me. Tons of weight is stacked vertically to the sky with thousands of gallons of fuel exploding in a matter of moments. Soon the rocket drops its take-off boosters and uses additional boosters to move the rocket to the next stage of the mission. The first engines have a unique get the rocket to the next stage.

Joshua was known for almost 40 years as "Joshua, servant of Moses." God's preparation for him required years of selfless service, training in the desert, and tests of faith. Those preparation years were booster rockets designed to move Joshua into each new stage of his development and his ultimate calling.

God allows each of us preparation times to lay a foundation that He plans to build on. Some of those foundation times appear to be laborious and meaningless, yet these varied experiences are what God is using to frame your life for the message He plans to speak through you. Without these foundational experiences, the Jordan River can never be crossed and we cannot enter the Promised Land.

Embrace these times of seeming inactivity from God. They, too, are a rocket booster to your next stage of your walk with God.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

  posted at 5:34 AM  

Friday, September 29, 2006
This has been “Banned Books Week,” an event designed to encourage people to not forget about our country’s freedom of speech and their individual freedom to read. It is sponsored by the American Booksellers Federation for Free Expression, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. It is also endorsed by the Center for the Books of the Library of Congress. Those groups all have really long names. No wonder they promote freedom of speech.

I learned about this event from a picture which was in yesterday’s Dayton Daily News of the Dayton Library’s children’s librarian sitting locked in a cell-like cage, surrounded by books which have been questioned over the years and subjected to challenges that they should be banned. Books like Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, and Catcher in the Rye, as well as a number of much racier tomes.

This all got me to thinking about a Speech class which I took in college. To fully appreciate this, you need to keep in mind that I attended a very small (about 800 students at the time) Midwestern college sponsored by the Mennonite Church. Mennonites, as you may know, are often referred to as “Mennonots” by their own younger members. We did have an occasional school dance but drinking and smoking were very verboten on campus. Those two things attracted me to the school in the first place. My alma mater also had an interesting tradition of never having a prof or other monitor present in the room when you took a test. Instead, at the end of the test, you wrote out and signed an Honor Code stating that you did not give or receive assistance on the test. That was pretty neat. Someday I will write about the time which, very regrettably, I kind of sort of (okay, definitely) violated that code.

Anyway, I think it was probably my Sophomore or Junior year that I took this particular Speech class. I do not recall the name of it. It was a very small class – maybe just six or so of us in it and most were upper classmen. It was taught by Professor Dickey. And, no, I am not practicing Freedom of Speech by making up that name for him. It was his real name. A couple of interesting things about Prof Dickey. First of all, his wife had been my kindergarten teacher. That is odd by itself. Her as my first teacher and him as one of my last “formal” teachers. Next, he was a Presbyterian minister. Finally, he was a fairly tall man of average build. He was very much American but he liked to think of himself as a Brit. He often tooled around campus in a very small MG with the convertible top down, wearing a newsboy cap. (There’s another word for those caps I think … I have a nice suede one … but I can’t think what it is.) He looked like he should have a pipe in his mouth but, of course, there was that no smoking policy on campus.

Professor Dickey was rather quiet and reserved and never gave much feedback to his students. You would often go an entire class with him with very little idea of how you were doing. However, to soften him a bit, I must say that he had eyes that twinkled, and a heart of gold … I think.

One of our assignments during Speech that term was to prepare a speech on a controversial subject and deliver it to our classmates. Now, you must also know that I considered myself to be a bit “hip” and “cool” at the time. I was a Communications major but I often thought of that as being a Journalism major since it was the closest thing we had to Journalism. I did a couple of independent studies in Fiction Writing during college and one on the Theatre of the Absurd. I often went off campus for various things. I had a job writing for the local newspaper. I got around to interview various people and even attend press conferences with Phyllis Diller and Hugh Downs. While my college very much encouraged all students to live on campus, I had friends who lived off campus. I often wore my hair in a sort of messed-up style, I usually wore funky glasses, and I wore vests a lot. I often went off campus and studied at a local coffee shop. (This was the mid 80’s, long before coffee houses in this part of the country, mind you.) Okay, in case you don’t have the picture yet, I will spell it out for you. I kind of sort of (okay, definitely) thought that I was better than most of the other students on campus. I am not proud of that now but, at the time, it was a fact.

So, when invited to prepare a speech on a controversial subject, I felt that I had to shake things up a bit. I really don’t recall what anyone else spoke about. That probably is because I thought I was better than them. It seems like their topics were rather innocuous. But, as for me, well, here I was thinking I was better than everyone else and a bit too cosmopolitan for this sleepy little college. I also fancied myself a writer and a journalist. So, I chose to speak on some subject loosely related, as best I can recall, to censorship and book banning.

I started my speech by reading a particularly raw page or two from a short story that, if I recall correctly, I had found in the college library. Now, that said, I must explain my relationship with the college library a bit. Those of you who know me will probably not be surprised by this. When I was researching something or writing a paper, I would go to the library to check out books on the subject. Whereas most folks might check out two or three or maybe four or five, I would check out 15 or 20, and I’d have the college sending away to borrow books from other colleges. And then I’d have these books spread all over my dorm room, usually not really cracking them until just a few days before the paper was due. Our college didn’t have the fanciest of systems for checking out books. You actually would end up writing your name on a card which, when you returned the book, would be placed back in a pocket in the book. I took great pleasure in the possibility that my name was written in more books in the library than anyone else’s. I thought it was cool that someday someone in their research would keep stumbling across my name as someone who checked out the same books. I hope and assume that that whole card thing is gone now, replaced by something a bit more modern in library technology.

I was also bad about returning books on time. Fortunately, I had a good friend who was a student librarian and, whenever she saw that I had a book overdue, she would just automatically renew it for me, reminding me near the end of the school year, that I had to return something like 750 books before I went home for the summer.

Back to Speech class … so I opened my speech with a particularly graphic and racey reading from some short story. I do not recall what it was but I can assure you that I would not want it sitting around on my bookshelf today. It was really really filthy though it was taken from a “serious” short story by a respected author. It included words and phrases that would make a pirate blush and his parrot faint (or vice versa). After the speech, several of my classmates asked me “Did you really say what I thought you said?” After I confirmed their suspicion, they laughed nervously, concerned I believe for how the Presbyterian minister was going to grade me on all of this.

Professor Dickey videotaped our speeches, claiming he’d play them back for us and give us feedback. Funny thing, he never played my speech back for me, nor gave me any feedback at all. I recall looking back at him during my Speech, though, and thinking that he looked a bit like Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream”. (Which, by the way, was recently recovered by the Oslo museaum from which it was stolen a couple of years ago.)

This was one of about three times during college when, for a few minutes, I shook up at least a few members of our sleepy campus. Today, I regret doing what I did. I think I could have made my point and not have had to read words which make me wince now to think that I said them at all, much less in front of a class. I guess that is what freedom of speech and freedom from censorship is all about but, still, I think that I could have made my point in a much better way, a way which hopefully would not have threatened shortening my dear professor’s life … or my time as a college student.

  posted at 6:15 AM  

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Can anyone else relate to this? When he was a toddler, Evan always enjoyed, after his bath but before he was dressed, hooking a hooded towel over his head and then running through our house as Superman. It was cute and we figured it wasn't too shocking to people who might be looking in our windows. Not that we necessarily have a lot of people looking in our windows but you never know, because they'd be outside and we'd be inside and we wouldn't be able to see them.

Then, when he got a year or two older, Evan went through a Captain Underpants stage. He would strip down to his underwear and jump off of the furniture and all kinds of stuff, fighting crime. Not that we necessarily have a lot of crime going on in our house but you never know. A super crime fighter could come in handy and perhaps he would have a future on that "Be The Next Superhero" reality series.

However, Evan's eight now and we still seem to be having an issue with this and I still wonder if people are looking in our windows. If I tell him it's time to go take a bath, he will very likely strip down right then and there, wherever he is in the house. I just hope no one ever yells "Bath time" at school for some reason. But, of course, if they did, I may have a whole different set of worries to deal with.

Anyway, has childhood innocence turned into an unhealthy tendency toward exhibitionism? Should I be writing to Dear Abby about this?

  posted at 9:44 AM  

Last evening, we watched "The End of the Spear" with the small group from church that we're members of. One couple from our group has a business that, among other things, sells home theatre systems. They invited us all over to their "demo room" so we were able to anjoy the movie in luxurious chairs with a real big screen and sound all around. Wow. :-)

"The End of the Spear" is about a small group of missionaries living in Ecuador in the 1950s. They were determined to make contact with a group of natives who were particularly savage toward each other. They feared that if they did not reach these people, the government military would come in and just wipe them out.

In the process of this, several men from their group were martyred when they were attacked by the natives through a series of lies and deceptions on the natives' part. The movie then turned to focus on the wives of the martyred men and how they went on to break through and reach these folks, changing their culture, and ending their brutality one toward another.

It is a powerful message of the maximum impact that God calls us to. One of the missionaries, before he left for the trip on which he was killed, was saying good-bye to his son when his son asked him if he would kill the natives should they be attacked by them. The missionary's response was that, no, he would not kill them because they were not ready to die. Then he pointed out that they, as the missionaries, were ready to die. Their death went on to haunt even the most cruel of the natives, becoming the catalyst which led to the change in their culture.

In doing a bit of reading up about the movie, I have read that a documentary was also produced about this true story. It was titled "Beyond The Gates Of Splendor". I would like to see it sometime as well.

In "The End Of The Spear," one of the male leads is played by an actor who, in real life is gay. That fact has gained some harsh criticism unfortunately. That sort of lack of love shown for all human beings does not further our call as Christians unfortunately. And, besides, playing the roles of people different from themselves is really kind of sort of what actors do! :-)

Anyway, this movie is, like I said, indeed a powerful message of the maximum impact God intends for our lives. He may not call us all to Ecuador but he does call us to do his bidding, and to have a God-sized impact on others wherever he takes us in life. I would encourage you to pick up this movie and see how it impacts you.

  posted at 6:04 AM  

My wife and I have always used separate bathrooms. This is because I often get up at some ridiculously early morning hour and I do not want to bother her. So, she uses the master bath and I use the hall bath. We have done it that way since our first house and it just works well.

Once Evan came along, he used the same bath that I do.

Evan and I go through a lot of Q-Tips. We both have some ear issues from time to time and we just use up a lot of those cotton-tipped swabs. We keep them in a drawer in the bathroom we share.

Somehow, Lisa always knows when we're running low and, almost miraculously, a new box of cotton swabs appears in place of the emptying box just at the right moment. If there are a few left in the old box, she takes them back to the master bath to use them up herself.

There are other examples of this, too, but it is so incredible and loving how she always watches after Evan and me, making sure in her own quiet, selfless way that we are taken care of. And well-cared for, we do feel!

Thank you, sweetie. There is a lot of love in those Q-Tips and in everything else you do for us. We love you, too!

  posted at 5:45 AM  

Monday, September 25, 2006
"ARGH!" is what I kept thinking this morning as I got around to go to work. And not a Pirate "ARGH!" but more like a Charlie Brown "ARGH!" with a little more emphasis on the "GH!"

I wanted to pull the covers over my head and not face the world. I wanted to lock all the doors to our house, turn off the telephone and cocoon with my family. Anything but face my work and the world!

On my drive in to work, though, I was listening to K-LOVE and "The Glory" by Avalon came on. I have heard this song probably a hundred times but the line "When He was only thirty-three" just kept ringing in my head.

Jesus was sent here by His Father -- our Father -- as a man designed for maximum impact. Whenever I read the Gospels, I am forever overwwhlmed by the impact Jesus had. Thirty years of preparation and just three years of active ministry. And to think of the path that He walked and the various reactions which He received during those three years, culminating in a criminal's death, betrayed and denied by the very group He had chosen as His followers. But yet He changed the world forever.

There really is only one credible explanation and that is that Jesus' entire life was designed for maximum impact and He followed His father's bidding to the letter.

Not to sound John Maxwell-ian but I believe that we were each designed in our own way for maximum impact as well. If we seek our Heavenly Father's bidding and follow it, we could never dream of having the kind of impact that Jesus had ... but we will live a life that reflects His beauty, His love, His compassion, His grace.

I do believe He has a plan for each of us and mine today was not to pull the covers up over my head. So I face the day knowing that my power does not come from nor reside in anyone but our Lord and Saviour. I have a week ahead of me in which I anticipate a couple of conversations which will bounce me around a bit, perhaps even leaving me a bit bruised or bloodied. But, again, there is a plan in place. He is teaching and preparing me for living out the plan He has for my life.

He was only thirty-three and look at His impact. I have almost ten years on Him and so I go forward, attempting to boldly and bravely seek the Father's plan ... I may still let out an occasional "Argh!" but perhaps it will have a hint more Pirate in it -- a wee bit of emphasis on the "AR" instead of my good friend Charlie Brown's "GH!"

THE GLORY by Avalon

In the solitary moment of His birth
On this barren dusty land
All of heaven kissed the face of the earth
With a miracle of love
God became a man
But He was sent away to draw His final breath
When He was only thirty-three
And in the shame of dying a criminal's death
He cleansed an angry world
And in His suffering I see

The glory of the blood
The beauty of the body
That was broken for our forgiveness
The glory of His perfect love
Is the heart of the story
The glory of the blood

Now I have tried to find salvation on my own
In a search for something real
But there's a guilty heart inside this flesh and bone
Fall upon His grace
And I begin to feel

(repeat chorus)

And when I close my eyes
I can see Him hanging there
Oh the precious wounded Lamb of God
All the majesty in this world cannot compare to the glory
The beauty of the body
That was broken for our forgiveness

(repeat chorus)

But He was sent away to draw
His final breath
When He was only thirty-three

  posted at 7:39 AM  

Sunday, September 24, 2006
I just finished reading Scot McKnight's book The Jesus Creed. This is a fast-reading easy-to-follow book with a simple premise. Jesus commanded us first to love God and, after that the second most important commandment was to love others. But, once you've finished reading the book, you realize that the author has provided you with a huge amount of support for what it means to have God truly abiding in your heart and mind, flowing through you with love expressed for others.

McKnight relates back to numerous Jewish traditions, showing the change that Jesus brought. His scriptural references are always spot-on and there were numerous Biblical passages with which I was familiar but he helped me to apply them to my life in ways I'd never before thought of.

Don't be intimidated by the book's length -- about 300 pages. It is not in-depth reading that makes your brain swell. Instead, the author puts forth his own ideas in a clear easy-to-understand way complete with numerous stories and references to other works. It's impact aside, it is just an enjoyable read.

After reading and reflecting on this book, followed by prayer, I think you will find yourself in a renewed and deeper relationship with God. A relationship which drives you to continually express your love for Him and also to pass that love along to others.

  posted at 7:44 PM  

Thursday, September 21, 2006
I have recently been reading The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight. This morning, I read a chapter titled "Abiding in Jesus." It opened with the story of Martha and Mary and the time that Jesus visited their home. Martha was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Doing this and that, worrying about her own needs to be doing the things that she felt needed to be done since Jesus was there in her home. She was growing impatient with her sister, Mary, who, instead of running around preparing things, was sitting at the master's feet, abiding in Him.

This reminded me so much of my mornings. I typically get up at 5 a.m. or a bit earlier, with the intention of praying and doing some Bible study and other reading and perhaps checking in on my email and planning for the day before I hit the shower around 6. All too often, though, I start worrying about my "self" -- the things of this world -- and my email and planning time expands to fill the majority of that hour instead of just 15 or so minutes. Rather than putting the emphasis on abiding in Jesus, I put the emphasis on my "self" and my needs in this world. And, again all too often, my Bible study becomes Bible reading instead -- just reading the words in order to get through them rather than reflect upon and study them and make them apart of my life going forward.

Then I remembered how last evening, as I dropped off Evan at the church for Wednesday evening kids' programming, I ran into a good friend from church, talked to him, and spent a few minutes with him. But rather than really abide in that time with a brother in Christ, my mind was all over the place thinking about things I needed to get done, places I needed to go. I was too busy with all of my "self" stuff to really abide in Christ through fellowship with a good friend. I thought of how my behavior short-changed my relationship with Christ and was probably just flat-out rude to my friend.

This morning, I started reading the book of Nehemiah. Chapter 1, verse 11 reads "O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you..." How can I expect God to really pay attention to me if I am not abiding in and paying attention to Him? I have had a lot of focus lately on trying to let His love flow through me but yet, in order to do that, I must be abiding in Him rather than worrying about my "self."

And then, as if I needed another 2 x 4 upside my head (which I did) in order to get this all through to me, following is the email devotional I received from Steve Troxel this morning. Do you think God's trying to get through to me? Wow.


Jehoiakim was king of Judah just prior to the first Babylonian invasion in 605 B.C.. He had become comfortable in the security of the palace, and an alliance with the Egyptians made him feel even more protected. But Jehoiakim led the people of Judah further away from God; "he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his fathers had done" (2 Kings 23:37).

God sent the prophet Jeremiah to warn Jehoiakim and the people of Judah that disaster would come if they did not repent; "If you do not listen to Me and follow My law..., then I will make this city an object of cursing among all the nations of the earth" (Jeremiah 26:4,6). But with his every need and desire fulfilled - and with all his fears removed - Jehoiakim did not see a reason to listen to God.

Jeremiah 22:21 "I warned you when you felt secure, but you said, 'I will not listen!' This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed."

We spend the majority of our lives building security in our job, finances, and relationships. But security within the world system is extremely shallow and deceptive; "Do not store up for yourselves treasures {security} on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19). We ought to be thankful for every one of our earthly blessings, but we should NEVER receive our "security" from the world. Our complete dependence must always remain on our Heavenly Father, and our eyes and ears continually open to His leading.

Our daily walk is made one slow step at a time as we "trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). Usually, we are allowed to see only the next few steps; "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105). But our true security, peace and comfort, comes from simply knowing we're on His path, not from feeling we control the direction or pace of the journey.

This security begins with faith in Jesus Christ and builds on a pure love which flows from the innermost part of our heart. Even activities such as church attendance, Bible study, or work in various ministries mean nothing without a faith based love; and these well-intended actions become a false security when they replace the need to abide in the presence of God or daily seek His direction.
Let's not allow our lives to develop a sense of security which shuts out the need for God and the absolute hunger for His presence. Our walk of faith will always require stepping into the unknown where all we have is what He provides - and a loving trust is confident that His provision is enough! Let's lean on Him, love Him, and draw ever closer. Let's seek true security by only being secure in His presence.

  posted at 5:54 AM  

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I have a friend who once told me that he thought that he was Benjamin Franklin reincarnated. I am not sure what had led him to that belief. I did see him carrying a key and flying a kite a lot though and his hair was rather long and wavy. Oh, and he had glasses, too.

Anyway, I recently read a blurb in a book about old Ben's attempt at "moral perfection". Fortunately, I was able to find the text where he wrote about this attempt and I am pasting it below.

In my search for this, I found several articles which talked about the faith and religious beliefs of our country's founding fathers. I need to do some research into that area because perhaps their beliefs were not quite as I thought. That got me to thinking about what an advantage we today have at spreading God's truth because so much of the world is literate (though certainly not all) and because copies of the Bible can be pretty readily found in just about any language. Communication is much different than it was 100 and more years ago.

As I read over this by Ben Franklin, I concluded that while these may be good things to strive for, I am glad that God does not call us to abide by a random list of virtues in order to have His love and redemption. Instead, He calls us to believe in Him, profess Him as our Lord and Saviour, and follow Him. It's not that that is any easier nor that it doesn't call us to morality but there's something special about having a God who loves us and acting out of our love for Him rather than just out of a desire for moral perfection.

I got a kick out of how he chose the order in which he would attempt his list of virtues. I think he kept the ones he enjoyed the most for last. Like all of us would be I suspect, Ben was surprised to "find himself so much fuller of faults than (he) had imagined."

Enjoy the writing and don't be surprised if this is the only time in your life that you will come across the word "foppery".

Practical advice on obtaining a perfectly moral bearing. From Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.

It was about this time I conceiv'd the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish'd to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I bad imagined. While my care was employ'd in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore contrived the following method.

In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. Temperance, for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking, while by others it was extended to mean the moderating every other pleasure, appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our avarice and ambition. I propos'd to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex'd to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr'd to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully express'd the extent I gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:

TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judg'd it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro' the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arrang'd them with that view, as they stand above. Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits, and the force of perpetual temptations. This being acquir'd and establish'd, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being to gain knowledge at the same time that I improv'd in virtue, and considering that in conversation it was obtain'd rather by the use of the ears than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break a habit I was getting into of prattling, punning, and joking, which only made me acceptable to trifling company, I gave Silence the second place. This and the next, Order, I expected would allow me more time for attending to my project and my studies. Resolution, once become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavors to obtain all the subsequent virtues; Frugality and Industry freeing me from my remaining debt, and producing affluence and independence, would make more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, etc., etc. Conceiving then, that, agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras in his Golden Verses, daily examination would be necessary, I contrived the following method for conducting that examination.

I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues. I rul'd each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. I cross'd these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues, on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.

Form of the pages.
I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus, in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offence against Temperance, leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line, marked T, clear of spots, I suppos'd the habit of that virtue so much strengthen'd and its opposite weaken'd, that I might venture extending my attention to include the next, and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots. Proceeding thus to the last, I could go thro' a course compleat in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year. And like him who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but works on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplish'd the first, proceeds to a second, so I should have, I hoped, the encouraging pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress I made in virtue, by clearing successively my lines of their spots, till in the end, by a number of courses, I should he happy in viewing a clean book, after a thirteen weeks' daily examination.

This my little book had for its motto these lines from Addison's Cato:
“ ``Here will I hold. If there's a power above us (And that there is all nature cries aloud Thro' all her works), He must delight in virtue; And that which he delights in must be happy.'' ”

Another from Cicero,
“ O vitae Philosophia dux! O virtutum indagatrix expultrixque vitiorum! Unus dies, bene et ex praeceptis tuis actus, peccanti immortalitati est anteponendus. ”

Another from the Proverbs of Solomon, speaking of wisdom or virtue:
“Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” iii. 16, 17.

And conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I thought it right and necessary to solicit his assistance for obtaining it; to this end I formed the following little prayer, which was prefix'd to my tables of examination, for daily use.
“O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful Guide! increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to thy other children as the only return in my power for thy continual favors to me.”

I used also sometimes a little prayer which I took from Thomson's Poems, viz.:
Father of light and life, thou Good Supreme!O teach me what is good; teach me Thyself!Save me from folly, vanity, and vice,From every low pursuit; and fill my soulWith knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure;Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!

The precept of Order requiring that every part of my business should have its allotted time, one page in my little book contain'd the following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day:

I enter'd upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and continu'd it with occasional intermissions for some time. I was surpris'd to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish. To avoid the trouble of renewing now and then my little book, which, by scraping out the marks on the paper of old faults to make room for new ones in a new course, became full of holes, I transferr'd my tables and precepts to the ivory leaves of a memorandum book, on which the lines were drawn with red ink, that made a durable stain, and on those lines I mark'd my faults with a black-lead pencil, which marks I could easily wipe out with a wet sponge. After a while I went thro' one course only in a year, and afterward only one in several years, till at length I omitted them entirely, being employ'd in voyages and business abroad, with a multiplicity of affairs that interfered; but I always carried my little book with me.

My scheme of ORDER gave me the most trouble; and I found that, tho' it might be practicable where a man's business was such as to leave him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman printer, for instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master, who must mix with the world, and often receive people of business at their own hours. Order, too, with regard to places for things, papers, etc., I found extreamly difficult to acquire. I had not been early accustomed to it, and, having an exceeding good memory, I was not so sensible of the inconvenience attending want of method. This article, therefore, cost me so much painful attention, and my faults in it vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in and had such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect, like the man who, in buying an ax of a smith, my neighbour, desired to have the whole of its surface as bright as the edge. The smith consented to grind it bright for him if he would turn the wheel; he turn'd, while the smith press'd the broad face of the ax hard and heavily on the stone, which made the turning of it very fatiguing. The man came every now and then from the wheel to see how the work went on, and at length would take his ax as it was, without farther grinding. "No," said the smith, "turn on, turn on; we shall have it bright by-and-by; as yet, it is only speckled." "Yes," said the man, "but I think I like a speckled ax best." And I believe this may have been the case with many, who, having, for want of some such means as I employ'd, found the difficulty of obtaining good and breaking bad habits in other points of vice and virtue, have given up the struggle, and concluded that "a speckled ax was best"; for something, that pretended to be reason, was every now and then suggesting to me that such extream nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in morals, which, if it were known, would make me ridiculous; that a perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of being envied and hated; and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance.

In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But, on the whole, tho' I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies, tho' they never reach the wish'd-for excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavor, and is tolerable while it continues fair and legible.

  posted at 9:24 PM  

I had a perfect reminder yesterday of just how perfect God's timing always is.

For many months, I have been talking off and on to a friend of mine, Mark, about possibly coming on the board of directors for the Christian school Evan attends. He has waffled back and forth during that process. He had confided in me that his wife was encouraging him to pursue this but he needed to pray through it some more and make sure it was the right thing to do. I couldn't argue with that (though I sort of wanted to!)

I spoke to him again last week about it and he asked me if we could get together for coffee or something sometime to talk it through a bit. Well, I must admit, he had asked me this during a time when I was betwixt and between a number of projects and it slipped my mind and never made its way on to my "to do" list.

On Monday of this week, though, we had a school board meeting and the possibility of Mark joining the board came up again. All of the board members have been very much in favor of his joining the board because he has a great deal of experience and expertise in the financial area and that is an area where we could use some help. During Monday's meeting, I was reminded of the need to get together with Mark.

On Tuesday morning, just as I was thinking of calling Mark, my phone rang. He was going to be driving by my office and asked if he could stop by to say hello. We talked about a number of things and eventually the conversation turned to the subject of his possibly joining the school board.

This is perhaps something he'd told me before but I had not fully grasped it. Mark has, on a volunteer basis, been lending his financial expertise to the school so, with that already going on, he was struggling in his own mind with the question of whether he really had anything of additional value to bring to the board.

Well, in our board meeting the day before, we had spent some time strategizing on the board's activities for the next year or so. Things like surveying community members, needs analysis, impact assessment, visioning, and a possible capital campaign are all at the top of our priorities for the next year. I could see Mark's face light up as I told him these things. You see, he currently works for a very large non-profit organization and the things I was telling him that we want to do are exactly the things that he has been involved with as part of his work for the past several months.

It was then that he saw how he indeed would fit on the school board and would play an important role in things going forward.

I believe that God's hand was very much in establishing the timing of all of this. There have been points when I was frustrated by not having Mark on board sooner but I now see that this needed to be a calling for him from God, not just a couple of friends asking him to help out. I also see how this has all created a huge affirmation that the school is heading in the direction that God wants us to go with the things we're pursuing.

But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. (Habakkuk 2:3, NLT)

  posted at 10:01 AM  

Here is another devotional by Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word Ministries. It continues the theme of my recent study and focus on what it means to continually be in God and have His love flowing through us.

Our life in these mortal bodies will always fall short of God's standard. From the moment sin entered the world, we've been unable to satisfy God's requirement of perfection. But, knowing our weakness, God gave His Son as a sacrifice to perfect those who believe; "By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Hebrews 10:14).

Faith in the sacrifice of Jesus makes us perfect forever - this is the gracious gift of Salvation; "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith" (Ephesians 2:8).

The grace of God makes us perfect the moment we are saved; but, for the rest of our days on this earth, we are in the process of "being made holy." This is why Paul, who freely writes about the gift of grace, can also exhort us to a life free of sin; "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires" (Romans 6:12). Paul understood that, though we have become "perfect forever," we have also been called to a high standard of holiness. He therefore refers to his life after Salvation as a race to be won; "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me" (Philippians 3:12-14).

The picture of a well-conditioned athlete straining toward the finish line can be a wonderful motivator. However, when we press and strain toward the wrong goal - or with our own strength - we will soon become fatigued and discouraged. We are in a race, but we must allow Jesus to establish the goal as well as the route to be run. The goal of a Christian life must always be to produce fruit that glorifies God; "This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit" (John 15:8). And the route of fruit production must ALWAYS be through the vine of Christ.

John 15:4-5 "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."

We are called to produce fruit by living a life of holiness and bringing glory and honor to God in all we do. However, fruit can only grow if we remain intimately attached to the vine - a branch cannot produce anything by itself! In our own strength we cannot produce holiness or ANYTHING esteemed by God. But when we allow the life of the vine to flow through our veins, we WILL produce a bounty of fruit.

Let's attach firmly to the vine of Jesus Christ and allow Him to flow though every area of our life. Let's live each day in the holy presence of God and produce baskets of fruit for His glory and honor. Let's run to win the race as we press and strain toward the vine.

  posted at 7:03 AM  

Monday, September 18, 2006
I'm going to seriously pay for that wench comment in my previous post, aren't I?

  posted at 8:33 PM  

Ahoy, me hearties! Well, shiver me timbers! Do ye know what day tomorrow be? Arrrrr! Tomorrow be my favorite day of the year. It be Talk Like A Pirate Day.

All year-long, I be tellin' me wench about September 19. It is the one day of the year when I can really let me true self shine, it is!

Are ye interested in this here special day but not sure how to get started? Not sure ye got any talent for Pirate talk? Afraid I be making ye walk the plank if ye skuttle yer skippers and don't get it just right, are ye? Well, let me help. Helpin others is a pirate's true goal in life, ye know.

What's the letter after "Q"?

What do most people be drivin' to work in?

Who used to be the king of Russia?

What be that black gooey stuff on top of the road?

See now, ye be gettin' the hang of it, eh?

So, tomorrow, the nineteenth of September, I'm hopin' ye won't be a landlubber. It be a truly special day, it be. Let's all wake at the zenith of the moon, weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! Thar's a storm a brewin' and pirate talk to be talked.

Unless, of course, yer three sheets to the wind.

Argh. Are ye' savvy, ye scalawag?

  posted at 8:17 PM  

I recently read a quote that someone had written about Mother Teresa. In it was included a powerful statement about the people she ministered to in Calcutta. The statement was that their "horizons had shrunk to the bowl of rice they craved." Unfortunately, there are many people today whose horizons have shrunk to the bowl of rice they crave. Even one person whose entire focus has shrunk to basic needs is too many.

And, there's another side to this. That bowl of rice can indeed be food for the hungry or it can also be the next "fix" for the drug addict or the next drink for the alcoholic. Our hearts and compassion naturally go out to those who feel so hopeless and helpless because of their physical situation. We do not want to lose sight of our need to help them. But often we do.

I would say that most Americans have horizons that have "shrunk" in a different way, often blinding us from acts of compassion and love toward those mentioned earlier. Despite the world in which we live where, for the vast majority of us, our needs and even many of our wants are fulfilled, we are often missing our internal call to follow any innate morality and sense of fairness and justice by serving others. In fact, it is the material things of this world which are blinding us. Our horizons have shrunk from where God wants them to be to instead be that next vacation, that new car, a new house, or, in some very unfortunate cases, perhaps a new spouse.

We speak a lot these days of the "greatest generation" -- those folks who came into adulthood during World War II. They had a horizon that was broader than all of this. Their horizon, I believe, called for a peaceful and God-loving world from which prosperity would naturally spring forth. They wanted to raise their families without the spector of war or evil run rampant in the world. Yes, they wanted to be prosperous but only after they first focused on showing God's love to those arouund them. I realize that I am making this all much simpler and typified than it actually was but I do believe that part of that generation's "greatness" was the result of having goals that were much bigger than their own personal next bowl of rice, in whatever form that rice can be.

There is a group of people, right now, who are in the final half of an experiment with "30 days of nothing". This idea spread primarily through the online community and bloggers. The concept is, for 30 days, to not buy anything you don't have to have. Focus on meals at home, avoid rampant consumerism, walk instead of drive when you can, even minimize computer time. I have followed one person as they have blogged about this experience and she has relayed many difficulties through this but, fact is, I believe she has done far better than I could have done.

I know that my horizon is not that next meal. I am nowhere close to knowing what the pain and anguish of that would be. My meals -- my basic "needs" -- are covered. Thank God for that. I am truly blessed. The problem is, though, that my horizon is instead far too often focused upon material wants for myself and my family. If my horizon can instead be that others do not have "shrunken" horizons limited to their next meal or the next fix for their addiction, and my actions can live out the pursit of that horizon, then I believe that I will be doing what God calls me to do.

  posted at 5:53 AM  

This was written by Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word Ministries.

In the message "The Mountain of Faith" we saw the faith of Abraham as God told him to climb the mountain and sacrifice Isaac. But, more importantly, we saw this as a picture of what it means to truly believe. Jesus said, "whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16), but true belief clearly implies a willingness to obediently follow.
The gift of eternal life is given to those who have faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. This precious gift is never linked to a specific amount of faith; rather, the only requirement of the gospel is that our faith be genuine. In fact, Jesus stated that a small amount of faith can accomplish more than we can imagine.

Matthew 17:20
"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
This is amazing! Jesus used the example of a mustard seed because it was the smallest seed known. A few chapters later, He made a similar statement; "If you have faith and do not can say to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done"
(Matthew 21:21). If we are a child of God then we have already been given sufficient faith by Jesus, "the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). There is therefore NO obstacle which cannot be cast aside!

Of course, genuine faith also implies an alignment with the will of God. Jesus even said, "He can do only what He sees His Father doing" (John 5:19). This is why we don't see physical mountains moving around today - it's not in the will of God. However, it's most definitely in God's will that we move all mountains which threaten to block our path toward Him or hinder His plan for our life.

If we really believe, we ought to be living our life according to His truth and the faith we have been given! Though we may face mountains in our job, relationships, finances, health, kids, or parents; though we may face temptations or addictions which appear impossible to conquer; though we may battle a low self esteem which says we can't, we must believe the Word of God is true! "With God ALL things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). Though we may not understand, we must believe, in faith, that God is infinitely greater than the bounds of our understanding. We are not walking alone and NO problem is beyond His ability to direct.

If we desire to live the full life God intends - the life that honors Him with every move and even every breath - then God's Word must become our foundation. Whatever problems we face, we must fall on our knees with humble submission to His will and seek His face in prayer. Then we must rise up and step forward without doubt, and, in His strength, believe we have been given the faith to move mountains.

  posted at 5:49 AM  

Saturday, September 16, 2006
What did the cowboy say to make the man buy a dachsund?

"Get a long little doggy!"

  posted at 9:22 PM  

Virtually every organization I am involved with is currently in a mode of seeking to deepen its leadership and pave the way for new generations of leaders. Inherent to that is discerning those individuals with strong leadership potential. There are all sorts of theories, ideas, and programs for doing that. Certainly things like honesty, integrity, and being beyond repraoch are key factors. When I look for future leaders, though, equal to these things, I am looking for focus. This applies in many ways, the most obvious of which is the ability to stay focused on the organization's vision and to continually push toward it. But I am also just looking for people who can stay above all the "white noise" of this world without allowing it to drag them down to a base level where they lose focus.

In virtually any organization, all sorts of "politics" exist and many people fall prey to those things, building up walls between people or, really, building up walls around themselves. When this happens, consensus, trust and faith become virtually impossible to build. Those with true leadership potential refuse to engage in gossip, back-biting, and, like I said, "politics." If someone else builds up a wall against them, they refuse to recognize it, instead going forward and creating a situation where they are continually chipping away at that wall.

I guess I shouldn't say that tigers can't change their stripes and gain this focus in a positive way but, if it doesn't come naturally to them, they will need to have someone point it out to them and then mentor them in a positive way if they are ever to excel in a leadership role.

  posted at 8:04 PM  

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the cars I have had over the years.

I learned to drive in my parents' 1971 Pontiac LeMans Sport. I drove it in high school and college. I had all my early dates in that car. Lots of hauling friends around. Lots of memories. It seemed like a really old car back then even though it was only about eight years old when I started driving it. Today, an eight-year-old car doesn't seem very old. Of course, the LeMans had a lot of rust. Dad had it restored and the rust fixed during the time period in which I was driving it.

It was a pretty easy car to work on. The engine and other important parts seemed simple and understandable. I remember changing the oil, replacing brakes, thermostat, starter, plugs, points, wires, distributor, and alternator I think. It was a tad tempermental as it never wanted to run in damp weather. It died on me one day after school, blocking the driveway for other students to get out. The principal glared at me, but didn't offer to help. I got out and sprayed Wire Drier on the wires and then it started.

That car was at one point a matter of consternation between dad and me. He had agreed (I thought) to sell it to me and I had spent some money fixing it up and then I learned through mom that he decided he didn't want to sell it to me. He still owns it though it hasn't run in years. It sits in the plant at work, covered with layers of dust, on four very flat tires. I am sort of glad I didn't buy it.

Get this though -- it had an FM radio converter in it where the ash tray originally was. Dad put that in there. That was pretty cool. We used to listen to WTGN, the Christian station in Lima, on it. I never had a car with an 8-track player in it though my sister did. I never understood 8-track tapes.

I also drove my parent's Olds Cutlass when I was in school. It was a diesel so that was fun, especially in winter when it didn't want to start. I always liked that car though. White outside. Red inside. My dream car, which I have yet to own, was a 1976 Buick Regal. Red outside. White inside.

The first car I ever bought was before my senior year in college. A used 1984 Plymouth Laser. I remember I tried to put louvers on the back window but never got them to secure down properly. It was a pretty cool car for a college senior even though it was an ugly brown color. It had a standard transmission with a very finicky clutch. I was never able to teach Lisa how to drive it.

Shortly before Lisa and I got married, I bought a 1988 Dodge Daytona. That was my last car with standard transmission. Similar to the Laser in overall looks, it was black cherry in color. I actually gave it to the business as part of my equity when I bought into the business.

A couple of years later, the company was struggling a bit so we sold the car and I drove a company truck for awhile. It was really a pretty truck -- dark windows, dark maroon color. But it was an extended cab one-ton beast with a huge, thirsty engine. I decided I needed to quit driving it the morning I pulled out of our driveway at home and backed into our neighbor's car. Previous to that, it was his only car with color-matched fenders. I changed all that, quite unfortunately.

That was in 1991 and it was when I bought what was my pride and joy for a few years. An '88 Mustang 5.0 convertible. I didn't really know what I'd bought when I bought it. My uncle had to explain to me the value of it being a 5.0. All I knew was that it was bright red, with a white convertible top, and white interior, and it was pretty darned fast. I still have that car though it's in storage most of the time. It's a bad habit of mine that I never want to part with my cars. I dream of giving the Mustang to Evan some day though Lisa tells me she doesn't think it would be safe for him to have as his first car. Apparently that logic never applied to me though!

About the time I bought the Mustang, Lisa had a loaded two-door Grand Prix GTP. Bright blue with orange dash lights, it was one of my favorite cars we've had. Lisa's first car was an Oldsmobile Firenza that appeared to have been in a flood at some point. It was pretty bad. Then she had a Dodge Lancer. After that, she had a Dodge Intrepid, an Olds Intrique (which the company owns today and was the inspiration for the "INTRGD" plates that I have on my car), and then her Nissan Murano, the first "foreign" car we've ever had. I like it but I sort of think it looks like a '73 Gremlin. Lisa isn't too happy when I say that.

In 1994, I bought a new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Loaded out -- even leather seats and a CD player. Chargold color. Beautiful SUV. I miss it.

And then I made a mistake, sort of ... I thought I wanted a Dodge Durango. Bright Red ... and huge. Reminded me of that GMC truck once I had it. I got tired of it. Thirsty and rough-riding. It was probably a pretty safe car, though, so eventually Lisa took it over and I drove her Intrigue. We had her drive the Durango because she was transporting Evan a lot when he was young and we thought he'd be safer in it. I said it was "sort of" a mistake though and that's because Lisa was driving it when someone ran a red light and hit her one day. She was safe in the Durango but probably would have been hurt in a smaller car. That's a good thing.

And then I bought the car I have today, A Chrylser Pacifica. I'm embarrassed to say I am not sure what year it is. I have really liked the Pacifica but its lease expires in a couple of months. The buy-out is thousands more than it's worth so ... that is why I have been thinking about cars.
I have thought about driving the Mustang for awhile ... until I took it for a spin a couple of weeks ago and remembered how badly it leaks in the rain. I remembered that, unfortunately, just as I took it through an automatic carwash. There's nothing like sitting in the driver's seat of a leaky convertible as you go through the carwash to really wake you up. It may be why I have a sinus infection right now.

So, what to do about my car situation? I really want to cut back on our car expense. That is important to me because I have come to realize that cars are a silly thing to spend large amounts of money on. Lots better things we can do with that money. Decent gas mileage would be good, too, in my next car. I am bothered by how quickly cars lose value -- much worse than it used to be. One of my thoughts is to buy a late 90s Mercedes if I can find one without real high miles. It would hold its value well if I kept it a couple of years. And, it would be about the same price as I paid for that first car I bought -- the used 1984 Laser.

It's easy to be tempted by all the bright shiny new cars though. I really had my eye for awhile on a new Dodge Charger Daytona RT -- orange with black stripes -- that was sitting at a local dealer for several weeks. I am really glad someone else bought it! As a couple of my friends have been blogging lately, the things we really ned, the things we really seek, are not the material things of this world. I've needed that reminder because I do have a weakness for cars.

  posted at 11:49 AM  

In Mark 12, Jesus told us that the most important commandment is to love God and the second is to love others. The last few years have been, to my way of thinking at least, the most significant thus far on my spiritual journey and, as I have sought to allow Jesus to live through me, I have tried to have great focus on increasing my love for others. It’s not easy, though. We live in a world that really doesn’t encourage us to love one another. It starts at an early age and is perpetuated by society. And, as evidenced on the sidelines of Saturday morning soccer games, it can even be perpetuated by the most well-intentioned of parents and other mentors.

Speaking for my own gender, boys are taught from an early age not to just do their best but to annihilate the competition. This often emerges in athletics at the younger ages but then can burst forth also in academic pursuits and, certainly, later in the business world as well. Those of us who do not come out in what is thought of as being “on top” in our various life and recreational activities end up taking solace in having been better than someone else. This is stuff that we may not like to admit but it’s there. Our world does not encourage us to just do our best but instead to win out over others. And, again, when we don’t, our minds switch to an attitude of “Well, I may not have “won” but at least I did better than “so and so”.” It’s all about this desire to come out “on top” in the view of the world. I find it incompatible to possess these attitudes that culture builds in us and to still truly live out an unconditional love for others. How can I love someone while at the same time wanting to see them lose? The two are not compatible.

Lisa was telling me recently of a program she saw on television, part of which focused on the behavior of teenage girls. They were involved in all sorts of things to put down or “defeat” others. Teenage boys who saw video of these girls’ behavior were shocked by it. I am not saying this for the purpose of picking on teenage girls but rather to point out that the cultural factors which drive us away from loving one another are by no means a “guy” thing. They are cross-gender and cross-cultural.

In the mainstream world in which we live, for a variety of reasons, there seems to be very little concept of “philos” love and virtually no concept of overriding “agape” love. “Philos,” in loose terms, refers to a love for friends. It is sort of a “give and take” love that is reciprocated between those involved. It is a hard love for people to “admit” to … due to fears that others will look at it in a sexual context. But, most of the people I know are in at least a few close friendships where “philos” exists and is being lived out.

What we really do not see much of though is “agape” love – this overarching complete and unconditional love for others – all others – even our enemies (who, in Luke 6, are described as those who hate us). The entire world can respond in moments of tragedy and reflect this sort of love through compassionate gifts. But that is done when a stressful situation exists as the catalyst. Whether it is really reflected in our everyday living is the bigger question.

My question is, can we love the person who cuts us off on the freeway? Can we love the person who treats our children poorly? How about the guy who slows down the checkout line at WalMart? And the one who puts a bad ding in our car door in the parking lot at WalMart? How about our competitor in business? Can we love those people? Can we live out actions that reflect that love? Can we live the supernatural life where our “immediate” (and only) reaction to these folks is one of love?

These things are a struggle in my life. Eliminating the negative human reaction but instead realizing how important Jesus told us it was to have “agape” for all others, and making that be my focus. It’s not easy. It requires constant reminders. But, I am finding that when I allow Him to, God fills me in a way which makes it easier. And, in the end, I realize that loving others – all others -- is not a chore but a blessing. It is not something to be avoided. Instead, it fills our lives with a peace and grace that takes the value of life to a whole new level … in God. I hope that possessing this is what I can view as coming out “on top”.

  posted at 7:01 AM  

Thursday, September 14, 2006
You know, I have to admit ... I used to wake up grumpy in the mornings ...

But now I usually just let her sleep.


(Just kidding, dear! Really!)

  posted at 9:43 PM  

Ben Witherington had a great blog post yesterday (September 13) as his response to the recent Time magazine cover story on "Does God Want You To Be Rich?" In recent years, I have come to realize that the dreams I had of being rich when I was younger (I think most of us go through that stage) were no one's dreams but my own. As part of my Christian journey, I have come to the realization that God does not call me to be rich in the monetary or earthly sense. (And, so far, He's keeping me right on track with that! Heehee!)

  posted at 8:48 AM  

I am not sure about where you live but, here, we have seen gas prices drop about 60 cents a gallon over the last couple of weeks. It doesn't make sense to me. The primary reason as to "why" we hear is that the peak driving season is now over.

Let's think about that ...

According to and another source, Americans use about 400,000,000 gallons of gasoline each day. I am sure that number includes industrial uses but those costs trickle down to consumers as well. Let's say that, for about four months (120 days), we were paying 60 cents a gallon more than we are today. That amounts to $240,000,000 per day, multiplied by 120 days ...

a staggering 2.8 (almost 2.9) billion dollars! That is roughly $100 for every man, woman, and child in the country -- in just four months!

That is money re-distributed in the American economy from where we had all expected it to go, say, at the first of the year. And we think there aren't businesses out there hurting from a decline in sales this year due to consumers having to spend so much more on gasoline? Baloney!

Where would you have rather spent your family's $100 per person this summer?

  posted at 7:31 AM  

I just finished reading "Leadership and Self-Deception" by The Arbinger Institute. It seems to be the latest in several books I have read where I felt like I only would have really needed to read the last few chapters.

The title of this book is a bit deceiving but it is really a pretty powerful analysis of relationships between individuals and then also how those relationships can affect group dynamics. If you ever feel yourself thinking badly of anyone in your life -- co-worker, spouse, child, parent, sibling -- (and who amongst us doesn't from time to time), I think you will be amazed by the insights this book provides on how to change our thinking and get over barriers to rebuild those relationships.

It forces an inward look, causing us to get away from placing all the blame and responsibility for failed relationships on the other person. By stepping away from that, and breaking the communication patterns that stem from that thinking, you open up the possibility of new and much better future relationships. In essence, the low expectations and opinions we build of others result in self-fulfilling prophecies because we deny our instincts of how relationships should really be and how we should really treat others and we start resisting those individuals rather than accepting them and inviting them in ways that will foster better relationships.

It sounds a bit complex but this book makes it all easy to understand through a fictional story format. I have certainly learned a lot about myself and how I contribute to the troubled relationships in my life.

Ultimately, I think you need to read the entire book but you will find that you can "skim" a bit until Chapter 14 when you really need to start paying attention through to the end of the book.

Post back here if you read the book and let me know what you think. "HeyJules," a friend from the blogosphere who comments on my site occasionally, has even said that her church used this book as a basis for a sermon series.

  posted at 6:00 AM  

This may have more to do with the shape I am in than I care to admit. Anyway, for some odd reason, I feel compelled to share a recipe and, of all things, it is for bean dip! I do not normally care for most bean dips but this one is really, really good.

Combine one can refried (20 oz) black beans with 3/4 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese, 3/4 cup chunky thick and salsa, 2 teaspoons lime juice, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and 2 teaspoons taco seasoning mix. Spread into bottom of small (6 x6 or so) baking dish and then sprinkle with 3/4 cup or so of chopped red bell pepper and 3/4 cup or so of canned corn. Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes. Top with another 1/2 cup or so of the Mexican blend cheese and 1/2 cup or so chopped red bell pepper and serve with tortilla chips.


  posted at 5:53 AM  

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Do not get me wrong. I am not at all delighting in the death of any of God's creatures but, if you can make it through this story without at least a little smirk, then God bless your big heart! (May He bless it even if you do smirk!)

And, if you can read this without thinking of the WKRP in Cincinnati Thanksgiving Turkey Give-Away episode, well, double bless you!

  posted at 7:34 PM  

The following was written by Dr. Bill Bright.

"Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).

Don and Ann wanted with all their hearts to please the Lord and worked at being victorious Christians. They diligently kept their quiet time and memorized Scripture, and they were faithful in church attendance. They did everything right. But as they said, "Even though we've claimed the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith and tried to understand and apply identification truths [in which they sought to identify themselves with Christ, his crucifixion, burial and resurrection,] we just don't seem to be enjoying the Christian life. There's something missing."
"In Philippians 4," I told them, "you will find a surefire spiritual formula for victory in the Christian life. Just allow the Holy Spirit to make this passage a reality to you and apply the following as He enables you:

As an act of your will, decide that you're going to be full of the joy of the Lord. You are the one who decides whether you're going to rejoice or be discouraged and sad. Demonstrate before all men an unselfish, considerate attitude. Remember that the Lord can come at any moment, and be prepared.
Do not worry about anything.
Pray about everything.
Thank Him in faith for His answers."

The results of practicing these steps is the most priceless and wonderful experience one can know, the supernatural peace of God that cannot be purchased or acquired in any other way. In order to succeed in this formula for supernatural living, of course, you must already be studying the Word of God, applying its truths to your life daily, living in the power of the Holy Spirit and sharing your faith in Christ with others.

  posted at 11:22 AM  

I have debated posting this because I do not want to come across as a whiner. But this whole blog thing is supposed to be a record of the shape I am in and where I am going.

By the way, that whole diet thing I started? It sort of fell apart. I have held my own though.

My immediate concern is that I am in the midst of a horrible fibromyalgia flare-up. I have felt it coming on for a couple of weeks and, this morning, honestly, I could have stayed in bed all day. I have never felt that way before. My fear this morning was that, if I did that, I might never get out of bed ... ever again.

So I prayed for courage, very gingerly got out of bed, took a long, hot shower, painfully drug the trash to the curb, and headed to WalMart for a bottle of Aleve.

Ahh, yes ... Aleve ... not something I would want to live on but it can help the headaches, muscle aches and painful joints dramatically. I am doing some better now. Still maneuvering gingerly but not so much as earlier.

I don't talk about fibromyalgia much. Fortunately for me, I do not have it nearly as bad as a lot of people. My approach has been to just work through it and try to ignore it because no remedies help much or for long. Unfortunately, Lisa does end up hearing me complain some. Okay, maybe a lot. I hate that.

But, the point is, I am still going. God and my little Aleve pills are helping and I will make it through this. The reassuring thing about fibromyalgia is that it is not damaging to your body. Just something you put up with and carry on. Fibromyalgia is perhaps the thorn in my flesh but out of my weaknesses come strength. Thank you, God, for blessing me so very richly.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

  posted at 11:20 AM  

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Here is another good devotional by Steve Troxel that I want to keep track of. It made me think. What if I had been one of the original apostles? What would I have done after Jesus' death here on earth? What about after His re-appearance? Now, living with the Son of God would be about as impactful as things can get one would think, but how often do I see things that stir me for a few minutes, hours or days but then forget about them after that. "Doing life" re-consumes me. But then I thought ... how would being one of the first apostles really be any different from what God calls me to today as one of His transformed? And am I really seeking and living out that call with complete self-sacrifice?

On the evening before He was crucified, Jesus ate one last meal with His disciples. For three years, the disciples had been instructed by Jesus and witnessed His miracles. He had taught them many lessons about the Kingdom of God - and about His upcoming death: "He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him, insult Him, spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him" (Luke 18:32).

Now with less than one day to live, Jesus told His closest companions that one of them would soon betray Him; "The hand of him who is going to betray Me is with Mine on the table" (Luke 22:21). Naturally, the disciples were shocked - but their focus soon turned to trivial matters.

Luke 22:23-24 "They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest."

These men were eating supper with the Creator of the Universe and witnessing the most awesome events in the history of the world. And yet, in this last day, with only a few remaining hours, their concerns drifted to matters of position and status.

It's tempting to criticize these first disciples: "How could they be so self-consumed?" But then, how often do we make this exact same mistake? With our eternal Home just around the corner, and a Savior who is willing to walk every day by our side, how often do we become absorbed in the non-eternal?

Sure, we have real responsibilities and concerns in our daily walk. Our finances or health may look uncertain, and the harsh words of others may offend and cause great pain; but when properly viewed against the backdrop of eternity, each worldly issue must shrink down to the trivial. If we really understood the glory we will one day see and how soon all else will fade away, we would be much less concerned about our "greatness" in the eyes of the world.

With wonderful hindsight we can say the disciples should have known their time with Jesus was short. They should have seen the events unfolding, taken advantage of every precious moment, and worshipped Him with every breath, every heartbeat, every thought, and every word - but they didn't.

And now, with the foresight given through God's Word and the guidance of His Spirit, we face the same challenge! Our Father has called us into a deep and personal relationship with Himself through faith in His Son - and our time is very, very short (much shorter than we realize). What concerns or passions will consume our time and energy? With all we have been given, what will we now do with this last day?

  posted at 5:30 AM  

Monday, September 11, 2006
Instead of remembering where I was when the WTC attacks occurred, I more remember where I wasn't. A friend and I were to have flown to New York on the morning of the 12th, with plans to have been in the WTC approximately 27 hours after the towers came down.

I have been a huge fan of NYC for many years. In the days following the attack, I felt like I was supposed to be there helping out. This friend and I had made several trips to the city prior to 9-11 but none since. We just really enjoy the city and, during our visits, we got to know it fairly well. We would frequently have tourists stop us and ask us for directions. We were usually able to help them, pretending successfully that we really were native New Yahkers. New York is one place where, because of its constant bombardment on your senses, I feel like I can forget any worries or concerns that I might have.

It's hard for me to imagine what New York is like now. Although Americans forget quickly, we can all remember those who lost their lives. And I suspect that natives to the city are a little bit more cautious and on alert even today. I hope they are. I do not want to see the city suffer another tragedy.

When I was in Israel, I got to see what it's like to be a place where, for security reasons, people are on "high alert" all the time. Security cameras and armed police and military are common. You don't dare leave your belongings or a package sitting someplace unsupervised. Israelis do security very well because they have had years of practice.

Realistically, probably very few countries in the world are as lax on security as the USA is. I was in Europe about 25 years ago and again about six years ago. I probably sensed greater caution there on my first trip than my second but still it is far different than the relaxed attitude we can maintain here in the states, even in this post 9-11 era.

As we all reflect back on 9-11, our hearts go out to those who were personally impacted in direct and painful ways. I have never experienced the tragedy of losing a loved one completely without expectation. It is hard to imagine how you cope with that.

But I also just think about how easy it has become for us here in the states to complain about difficulties with increased security measures in recent years. And yet we're still nowhere close to where much of the world is.

I grew up in a very small town, completely carefree. We kids would be out wandering around town for hours on end and our parents did not have to worry at all. I suppose that, in our small community, someone in town always recognized us and knew where we were but, still, we had a sense of endless freedom.

I wish my son could grow up in that kind of world. I wish the whole world could live in that kind of world. Let's pray for that.

  posted at 5:30 PM  

The following was written by Steve Troxel, God's Daily Word Ministries.

Very few are unaware of the significance of September 11th. Five years ago the world was saturated with images which caused shock, fear, anger, and confusion. And each year we again see the images which, in many ways, changed how we view our world. What does it mean to live in a world where people blow themselves up to glorify their god? But then, what does it mean to live in a world where thousands die of starvation and disease every day, where unborn babies are killed, where men hit their wives and children, and where the definition of marriage is freely changed? Dear Lord, we need Your message of truth!

2 Corinthians 4:18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Is it possible to look past the images of this world and receive a message from God? His messages are available, but they must not be clouded by what we see and hear, or processed through a filter of fear and anger. We must learn to see with new eyes and hear with new ears. However, God's messages cannot be received, and certainly not understood, unless we first believe; "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Those who have not, by faith, trusted in the sacrifice of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, cannot begin to understand; their heart is hard and unopened to the truth.

The first message God continues to send is that we live in a fallen world in which life is extremely fragile and short; "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14). God is not trying to depress us with this message; rather, He simply desires our priorities to remain with the eternal King of Kings - not with the temporary, and unsatisfying, gods of this world.

The other message from God is the challenge to speak and live His Word in the face of all kinds of evil and adversity; "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our actions, and reactions, send a message to those who are watching - and they ARE watching! If we are to declare the glory of God in all we do, then what do others perceive of God's glory as they watch our actions and listen to our words? Is our life being an effective ambassador of Christ?

Two thousand years ago, God demonstrated His love by sending His Son to die for our sins; "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). He did this so that those who believed would be transformed and given the gift of eternal life. Once we understand the love of God and the magnitude of our forgiveness through Jesus, we can begin to follow His command to love and forgive others; "Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13). Without His undeserved forgiveness, we would all spend eternity in the same hell as anyone else who rejects Christ. Let's begin to listen for what is unheard and look for what is unseen. Let's focus on the eternal and respond in ALL situations with a new heart.

  posted at 9:23 AM  

We had the opportunity over the weekend to see The Power Team. This is a group of really big and really strong men who go out in teams across the country to perform feats of strength, while telling others about what Jesus has done in their lives. Sponsored by a local church, these guys typically go into a town and hold performances on five consecutive days. And, while they cannot talk about God during these times, they also go into local schools to do assemblies, hoping to use those as a platform to attract kids and families to their church-based performances.

A team of four of these guys recently came to a community about a half hour south of us. We saw them on their fourth night. These guys can do pretty incredible things. Break through huge stacks of bricks and blocks of ice. Blow up hot water bottles until they explode. Snap countless baseball bats in quick succession. Roll metal frying pans into cylinders with a handle. Bend pieces of steel rebar into loops threee times over! Break hardened steel files. Wow.

But the most powerful part is seeing these big -- make that huge -- guys share their testimonies -- the stories of what God has done in their lives that despite their physical strength, they could not do on their own.

When they go into a community, they have a well-planned system of marketing which they put in place. They ask for $2 per person, if possible, when you arrive at one of their events and they also take a love offering. They claim that they can dramatically boost church attendance on an ongoing basis and that they bring many people to Christ during each of their tours.

During the night we were there, there were a number of families present but there also appeared to be a number of elementary and middle school kids and a lesser number of high school youth. They end each event with a pretty strong "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?" altar call and many people respond.

The Power Team is an interesting ministry. I felt that the connection between their physical strength versus strength in Jesus could have been called out a bit more but, then again, I think they are seraching for slightly different angles on each of their five nights and we were only there one night. I respect the way they use their gifts and talents to call people to God in a powerful way. (No pun intended ... or maybe it was.) Needless to say, I could never do what these guys do.

It's worth checking out if you ever have the opportunity. The only thing I would caution is that, overall, it is a pretty intense thing. On several levels, it was too intense for our eight-year-old. I would suggest considering leaving the young ones at home until they are maybe fifth or sixth grade.

  posted at 6:10 AM  

Wow. This is all getting a little weird. My post yesterday about my recent re-realization of what a great time I have when I watch others be successful. A personal recognition of an increaseing amount of "head trash" I have been carrying around pertaining to lack of faith in others. An article in Guideposts that Lisa pointed out to me because it was written by a business consultant. The bottom line was the importance of helping others get what they want. Finally picking up and reading a book, "Leadership and Self-Deception," recommended to me by a friend a few weeks ago. The book is about getting outside the box of my "self" and being more relational, looking for others' perspectives and paradigms.

This is all stuff I try to teach to others but yet I see that recently I have gone through a period of expecting it from others but not modeling it for them.

This isn't good. Fortunately, today is a new day of a new work week. And work I must ... on these things.

  posted at 6:03 AM  

Sunday, September 10, 2006
When it comes to competitiveness, I am a bit of a paradox I'm afraid. Never being athletically inclined, there are many areas of my life where I really lack any spirit of competition. I would not say I am to the point of apathy or giving up but I just don't care who "wins". But, I have to admit, there is another side of me that likes to have any points I make or thoughts I have be correct. I won't necessarily get into arguments with others because I really don't see much point in it when I believe that neither of us will change our mind. (Of course, sometimes, that lapses into a situation where I acquiesce to their opinion, "knowing" in my mind that sometime they will come around and see how I was right all along -- yeah, right!) Generally, though, I will try to speak very authoritatively, explain my point a hundred different ways, and hope no one questions it. That is perhaps not my finest quality.

As I age, though, I think I am perhaps having brighter moments when I push aside my desire to be right. I hope I am getting better. I had some moments this past week when I really got to sit back, listen to what others had to say, and then revel in their success. We had some solid discussion of mutual respect but nothing could have made me feel better than to see their performance and their success. Despite the paradox within me, I truly take great pleasure in the success of others. There is huge joy in seeing others work hard and do well.

If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (Philippians 2:1-8 MSG)

In the end, God has made it very simple for us -- there is only One whose judgment we need worry about. It's all about Him, not about our selves.

  posted at 9:49 AM  

“I always tell the kids, ‘You know what’s great about going the extra mile? There’s very little traffic.’” – Jim Larranaga, George Mason University basketball coach

  posted at 8:34 AM  

Saturday, September 09, 2006
For youth growing up today, especially those outside the church, where is their “moral compass” if you will, to come from? When I was growing up, it seemed like often grandparents were that guiding force for kids. Grandparents tended to be pretty black and white about right and wrong, and they always represented the “right”. No matter where you strayed or what paths you took, you could bet that grandma was always praying for you, urging you back to the better path.

Certainly there are families today where that is still the case but, with families often being quite geographically spread out, and with blended families meaning a complexity of relationships, those ties are often lost. Additionally, grandparents are, it occurs to me, increasingly “unchurched” these days. That didn’t seem to be the case when I was growing up. They are, less and less, a positive force on their descendants.

We live in a society where negative pressures are everywhere. When we first started hearing a few years ago that half of all marriages ended in divorce, that seemed like a ridiculously high statistic. But, now, when I look at my friends and associates, there are certain circles where that seems like a ridiculously low statistic.

Not being absolute in telling the truth is now referred to as “spinning” – and it’s something that people seek to do well. There are even consultants to help you lie if you wish. Gambling seems to be at an all time high, whether it is in the form of lottery tickets to supposedly help your local schools or in the form of major gambling complexes now promoted as family vacation spots. Cheating, or getting around rules, is increasingly looked at as an artform which those who are involved in it will defend to the end. And pornography is absolutely rampant. The US, a country supposedly with its trust in God, is the number one purveyor of raunch, whether it is in our mainstream movies and TV shows or in even more base forms, making pornography available to folks of all ages on the internet at any time.

Whereas, I think, we used to reach upward, whether it was direct to God or God through our grandparents, we indeed had that vertical reach, providing that moral compass. In today’s society, though, our reach tends to be outward to the damaging and perverse things of this world – the comfort things we can revel in for the moment without seeking a greater authority.

I have been reading CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” recently – working my way through it with a group of men from church. We’re not very far along yet but, in the first few chapters, Lewis introduces this idea of “The Law of Human Nature” – that we all have this internal sense of right or wrong. He asserts that we have freewill over whether we choose to follow it but this concept is still built into our DNA and our psyches as humans.

I like to believe that he is right on that though I also wonder if, with the absence of a catalyst (such as grandparents seemed to be for my generation) to bring that internal moral compass to the forefront where we can actually make a decision whether to follow it, that any innate sense of right and wrong doesn’t sometimes get stuffed so deeply inside of us, covered up by all kinds of trash, that it isn’t sometimes completely buried and forgotten.

I am anxious to complete the book and see what more Lewis, obviously a brilliant man, has to say about that.

If that moral compass is there, if people internally know right from wrong, and they choose wrong, and if no one is there anymore calling them to “do right,” is that moral compass in them lost forever?

My generation is doing a lousy job of setting an example for future generations. To a large degree, my contemporaries and perhaps those a generation older than me, are the ones who have, in our current society, really pushed all of those negative factors I mentioned earlier. We took the legacy left for us by my grandparents – the “greatest generation” and chucked it all away I am afraid. Now, I am not speaking for my entire generation. Certainly there is lots of good being done by my age group as well but, for some reason, in contemporary culture, bad always seems to shadow over the good. And that is the situation we have today I believe.

It is no wonder that those younger than us are rebelling and seeking something different. Sometimes they are finding something better and sometimes they are driving even deeper into the abyss of darkness. But it’s no surprise that they are looking at my generation and saying “You are so very messed up -- why would I want what you have?”

God can shine true in the darkness, though. But there must be that example to follow – those “grandparents” if you will, whether literal or otherwise. We have reached a point where we are often open to listening to others but we’re not going to follow, we’re not going to believe or shall I say we’re not going to change our belief systems, unless the example is there to prove that what they’re calling us to is better. You can talk about what you believe in but you’re crossing a line to tell me that it would be good for me, too. Instead, show me and then maybe I will believe. That seems to be the perspective of the culture in which we live.

  posted at 6:17 AM  

Who Am I?

Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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