Monday, May 30, 2011

CSI - Light On Our Lives

It's Memorial Day, and  am taking a day off. I did write about it HERE.

I watch enough forensics shows to know that the use of alternate light sources can reveal evidence unseen by the naked eye. DNA tests can reveal the identity of virtually any perpetrator. The entire science of forensics, from gas chromatography to scanning electron microscopes, make it hard to hide anything from criminologists. I also find it amazing that in the city of London there are thousands of video cameras on which all types of activity can be watched on virtually any street in the city.

Undersea remote submarines equally amazing. They have ruined the myth of the Titanic and exposed the secrets of the Bermuda Triangle by finding ships that "supposedly" vanished. Those very mysteries, along with the illusions of Harry Houdini, intrigued me when I was in fourth grade. Even more intriguing is the NTSB as they reconstruct an entire airliner from a crash site. It is astounding how they seem to find all the pieces, let alone reassemble them!

Have you ever thought about the thousands of years of ancestry each one of us has? I know a little bit about my grandfather and heard about my great grandparents. But I don't know much beyond that. I wonder how many family trees would be altered with a few DNA tests? Isn't it scary the things which technology can bring to light?

If you watch the news you'll hear a lot about the right to privacy in medical records, cell phone calls and more... where do we draw the line? This blog really isn't about privacy invasion or the "big brother" of Logan's Run. God knows we all have something to hide. It is really about the way we live our lives. With technology, we need to be careful where and when we do things. However; as a Christan, we need to be careful what we do, regardless of the fact that there are no security cameras, or witnesses present.

What we do in private is as important as what we don on Sunday morning!

If you ran for office, what dirt would they find on you? If they confiscated your hard drive, what would they find on it? If they published your Internet log, or cell phone records, what would be there? There has been a lot said about our private lives being in the light, what do you think? Here is a story I read some years back. I think it is the perfect illustration of my point.

The Room... Joshua Harris

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've yelled at my brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.

Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I have watched", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows & but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content.

I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.

And then I saw it.. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.

No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own.

He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side.

He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."-Phil. 4:13 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." If you feel the same way forward it so the love of Jesus will touch their lives also. My "People I shared the gospel with" file just got bigger, how about yours?

About the Author:
17-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for a class. The subject was what Heaven was like. "I wowed 'em," he later told his father, Bruce. "It's a killer. It's the bomb. It's the best thing I ever wrote.." It also was the last.

Brian's parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager's locker at Teary Valley High School. Brian had been dead only hours, but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them-notes from classmates and teachers, his homework.

Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of the teen's life.. But it was only after Brian's death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven. "It makes such an impact that people want to share it. You feel like you are there." Mr. Moore said.

Brian Moore died May 27, 1997, the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend's house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted.

The Moore’ framed a copy of Brian's essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. "I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it," Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son's vision of life after death. "I'm happy for Brian. I know he's in heaven. I know I'll see him."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

To Heck with Following Christ, I Just Want to Be a Christian!

I have to say, when I hear the term Jesus follower, I want to puke. It seems to be the new fad to replace the word "Christian" which means little Christ. I know this appears to be a biblical term, but is it really what we do as believers? I don't think so. In any case here are the verses from which this misconception comes from.

Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Mark 1:17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

If you read them in context, which is really the only way to read the Bible, these are aimed at folks that did not know Jesus personally. Not to mention that it was before the Holy Spirit was given, and following God was all that you could do. Following is in fact pre-salvation if you'd like to get technical about it. It was only later that Jesus said we need to believe

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.

In context it says that we need to not only follow, as many did to see him perform miracles and preach, but to believe that he is the Messiah. There were lots of things that Jesus told his followers to believe.

John 11:26 Who ever lives and believes in me will never die, do you belienve this?

As I have discussed before belief and faith are not the same. The next step in becoming a Christian is faith. I understand that in English that those words can often be interchanged. Here is the difference. I believe that Obama is the President of the USA; it is a fact. Whether on not I have faith in him to do his job is an entirely different story  Faith is in the unseen works, and belief is in the facts.

It is NOT until we have faith in Christ, that salvation actually takes place. Therefore; belief is sometimes pre-salvation as well.

Why does it bother me to say that I am a "Christ follower," or "I follow the teaching of Jesus?" Because it does not accurately express the following truths!

I am a New Creation:
2 Corinthians 2:16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I am Transformed:
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Christ Lives in Me:
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I am a Christian, a little Christ bought with a price. God lives in me, so that I can be conformed to His image. Umm and I can't follow myself! I can believe the teachings of Christ are important, even essential, but without faith I cannot please God. (Hebrews 11:16) Once He lives in me, under the power of the Holy Spirit, I can be  Him to a lost and dying world.

Let's stop being like Jesus and be Jesus, for we have the spirit of God within us!

How about you, are you just a follower, or are you a Christian?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yeah, There's an App For That!

Wow, one day I am Blackberry user, and the next I am not. Like my mentor and friend, Tony C. who actually dumped his Blackberry for another phone, my break up was covered by a prenuptial agreement with Sprint.

I really like technology, but only when it works. In the late 60s I traveled to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. It was there the Ma Bell was showing off their push-button phones, the replacement for the rotary dial phone (above right).

My new phone is an HTC EVO operated by Google's Android OS. It's a phone that allows you to do a lot more fun stuff than old fashioned talking! It's a mini-computer, and there are some applications that make your handheld device something out of Star Trek. But who cares about that, what can one do for you?

Keep in mind that I have had my phone for two days, while my wife has had hers a bit longer. She has the fully touch-screen model, and mine has a shift out Keyboard. You would have thought using the web, texting, chatting, phone calling, calendaring, looking up sports scores and using the Blackberry as a GPS would have been enough - but its not even close to the iPhone/Android world! Without further ado, here is are some free apps/trials which I discovered in the last 24 hours.

Please note, if you are reading this from your Android device, links go directly to the Market Place where you may download for free. If you have an iPhone or Blackberry, you need to Google them.

- YouVersion Bible: Just a great app which allows you to download all your favorite versions from the King James to The Message. Of course you can access any of the online Bible sites too. Speaking of access, your phone can use you home WiFi too. That means that your gadget can download as fast as your home PC! It's 5 times faster than 3G, and as good as 4G. YouVersion offers spiritual protection, but then there is digital protection...

- Lookout: Android's can get viruses, therefore I downloaded Lookout. There is a free version, and a paid  version which backs up your phone's data including your pictures, contacts, documents, and some other important stuff. Your smart-phone is really a handheld computer, and one that is easy to misplace. Speaking of misplacing your phone, you can send it an ear piercing 95 db SCREAM message from the online site, GPS its location anywhere in the world, lock it, or wipe all the data off it.

- GroceryIQ: My wife and I try to keep groceries in the house. Because we like fresh food and we have a snacking 23-year-old, we shop more than once a week. We often end up calling each other from aisle 7 to ask if we need anything from the store. Sometimes we send a text message, while other times, like today, we just stop and get what we need. Yes, we both bought Greek yogurt and now we have enough for 2 weeks.

Well GroceryIQ is THE app to end all this insanity.

With it you may share a grocery list for everyone in your family sorted by store name! It even allows you to compare prices and provides coupons based on what you are buying!

Oh, but who has time to type in all that stuff? Not me. So you simply scan the bar code and shazam, your Ritz crackers in the list!

- Shazam: No more walking around all day with that song in your head driving you NUTS! If you like music, this one can take a 15 second sample from the tune playing on your radio, PC, friend's iPod, or the elevator, then look it up as well as providing a link to purchase it! Come on, can I get an amen!? Speaking of music, mine holds about 500 CDs worth!

- Swiss Army Knife: It is just what you'd expect, a bunch of nearly useful survival tools. It has a flashlight, a compass, a stopwatch, a ruler, a bubble level and a couple of other nifty things!

- Hungry Shark and Hungry Sharl 2 (Free): If you can hear Quint's brogue in the movie Jaws during your nightmares, this game is for you. Guaranteed to reduce your stress while waiting for your mate to get ready to leave the house, or kill time at the airport after a full-body pat down. It's very entertaining, though not for those the faint at the sight of blood or get queasy from an occasional scream.

- Paper Toss: A virtual office game. You flick toss a wad of paper and try to get it into a virtual wastebasket. Amusing. Or yo can download Angry Birds Rio!

Those are the essential apps for your first 24 hours. Although, as a certified nerd and musician, I also downloaded a Sound Pressure level meter, an Audio Frequency AnalyzerPandora, a Metal Detector, an FM Radio, TV, a virtual Rotary Dialer, and oh you probably don't want to know the rest...

I am going to look into some Christian apps in the next week or so and report back. And my wife is leaning over the keyboard reminding me to add the Honey Dew List app....

There now, doesn't that beat the Royal Wedding (Which I am sure you are not surprised, there is an app for!)?

How about you, besides phoning family, friends, and business contacts, what do you do with your phone?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We're not Going Anywhere Yet!

Well today was supposed to be the day that Jesus returned. It's not going to happen! He is coming back, but this is not the season.

A lot of folks are concerned about who is going to Heaven at the rapture, and according to Family Radio today is the day. I suppose by tomorrow, you'll know. The Bible says there is a great and mighty day of the Lord. However; before that day comes, Jesus said the following would take place and that these events are only birth pangs.

Matthew 24:5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

Forget the fact that Jesus said the day and the hour are unknown!

There are some that think that Christianity is hoax because Jesus never really lived. Others are fine with Jesus the man, Jesus the prophet, but not with Jesus the God - and that's OK with me. However; in the last year or so we've had some really devastating quakes, and it wasn't because that Democrats lost the House. Let's take a look at earthquakes, famines and wars.

Here is a list of quakes for 2009 and another for 2010. Except for 1 in Illinois; a 3.8, they were all over 6 on the Richter Scale with Haiti being a 7.0. Then there was the quake in Japan and a pretty sizable list of others in 2011. As Jerry Lee Lewis once said, there's whole lotta shakin' going' on.

According to an estimated 1.02 billion, 1/6 of the world's population, goes hungry and 16,000 a day are dying of starvation daily.

We have a few going on besides Iraq and Afghanistan. HERE are the details. Rumors of war? Let's see, North Korea, Pakistan, Libya, Syria along with both China and the former Soviet Union doing some saber rattling as well.

Without trying to decipher the symbolism in Revelations, there is some more plain talk about the last days in the Bible. See if any of it resonates with you.

2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

Here are a couple of sites that are bolder than I am in interpreting the season for the End Times if you care to look. 28 Signs and 26 Signs.

Armed with the potential knowledge that Jesus is really coming back - and soon, I have some real issues with the following articles on Yahoo News. (And you thought Pat Robertson was off his rocker!)

Below is a remix of what I wrote at the time of the Haiti Earthquake. The same sort of stupidity prevailed after the Japan earth earthquake. HERE is one pretty sharp article on judgement.

If I am going today, I want to make sure that I have clean underwear, and dang it, I hope I don''t sucked into a jet engine on the way up, and have to spend the eternity in the Hudson.

It is wrong on so many levels, I don't know where to start - but I'll try:

"Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of Evangelicals started shouting." (and throwing rocks)

Are you kidding me? Flesh against flesh - what a horror show. When Elijah confronted evil (1 Kings 18), he called on God to prove himself - sure, he did a bit taunting, but really rocks and shouting?

"Religious tension has also increased: Baptists, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists, Mormons and other missionaries have flocked to Haiti in droves since the earthquake to feed the homeless, treat the injured and jockey for souls. Some Voodoo practitioners have said they've converted to Christianity for fear they will lose out on aid or a belief that the earthquake was a warning from God."

Ah yes, the every religion melting pot. It really bothers me that the writer of this article lumped them all together - but as Christians we should take note. If all we have to offer is a different deal devoid of power, maybe it's best we are lumped together.

"Many missionaries oppose Voodoo. I hope this does not start a war of religions because many of our practitioners are being harassed now unlike any other time that I remember."

Where in the Bible does it say we should harass people? I'm just asking.

"We would give food to the needy in the short term but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel."
-Pastor Frank Amedia

Help me out here Frank, where in the Bible does it say that we should not feed the poor if they participate in voodoo or any other sin for that matter. Isn't the point of ministry to show the love of Jesus and go beyond that which the world would do? When we are different, it is easier for them to see what they are doing as futile, no? Even Paul let the slave girl be - well, for a little while. (Acts 16:15-20)

Carnal weapons can only be used in a carnal war.
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I think it's time for a revival, how about you?

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Not Okay to Use A Toaster Oven in the Bathtub

I have finally distilled what it means to be a true Christian. I have read blogs on being spiritual and not religious, on the reasons why the Book isn't really the "book", on being followers of Jesus, about the doctrine of universalism and been slammed in the comments over the years for being to narrow-minded about the path to salvation.

Please allow me a short paragraph to sum up where I have been over the years. I mean there are nearly 600 posts on this blog and even I haven't read them all! We have discussed denominations, who gets to go Heaven, is there one true God, dead religion and host of other churcified topics. I have also challenged belief and faith.

And today, I am going to tell you why I know what makes a true Christian! POWER!

There are a million debates we could have. This whole mess started about a bajillion years ago when the earth was without form and void. There we see the adolescent God of the universe messing with the chemistry set he got for - actually it might not have been for a holiday, we didn't have those yet. He took a week out of his summer vacation to create creation. Actually we didn't have season yet, but I am pretty sure it was a vacation.  (sort of a paraphrase of Genesis 1) Since that Genesis, the spiritual forces have been violently opposed to one another. (Matthew 11:12) Adam and Eve knew both God and Satan, but future generations were not always so sure.

Elijah had this same scenario with religions people back in his day. Ahab sent 450 prophets of Baal to challenge the God of of Israel. It was quite a showdown. (1 Kings 18:20-40) God's pyrotechnics that day make a Kiss concert look like a skit from Sesame Street, and would have had Oscar trying to find his trash can floating in the Mediterranean.

So here we are in 2011, standing in the bathtub full of water with a toaster oven plugged into the wall, wondering if it will kill us if we drop it.

That is how the church is. We believe this, and we believe that, but is not always connected to a power source. It is sad. The Kingdom of God is power! The Word of God is power, not a book! The Holy Spirit that resides in us is power. The new man in us is powerful, the old man has lots of good ideas, cunning schemes and evil thoughts - and no power.

Without power, we can drop the toaster oven into the tub in complete safety, and with power, it not a good idea. Amen?

God's power is attracted to love, to the preaching of the Gospel and it's available for advancing His Kingdom and defeating the Devil's. His power flows through those who know Him. Regardless of what you believe, it is only visible by FAITH! It is miraculous, forgiving, revelatory, loving and explosive. God's power does not have to conform to science, logic or intellect. God's power IS and always was - and will be forever. The expression of God's power is the fruit of true Christianity, you can bank on it!

Do you know his power?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How Well do You Fit In at Church? - Remix

God's will, what is it for you? For the church? For the world? The basic plan for the Kingdom is to bring salvation to all mankind so that they can share in God's love for Jesus. We were created to be a witness to, and participate in this amazing love. The church has been chosen for this task. (Ephesians 4) But what about you and me, the individuals? How do we fit in the church in such a way that we fall into God's will and bear fruit? How is it that we do the work of God, be led by the Holy Spirit, and stay humble at the same time?

God's will isn't all that simple some days, yet there is only one will for you, and one will for me.

A few years ago I received and email linking to a pastoral sermon about what we could do for the pastor; how we could pray to make him a better servant of Christ. Now don't get me wrong, I want every pastor to be awesome, but I was bothered by the tone of how we could serve him. Certainly I do think we need to pray for our pastors and bless them. My problem was with the tone of this sermon which bordered on pastor worship. I am totally against against that.

Before you stop reading, let me give a you couple of positive examples. I once heard a pastor speak on Father's day. He preached about how fathers need to get at the back of the line to serve their families. The sense of humility in his sermon was amazing. He asked the question, "Did you know that shepherds lead from the back of the herd? That was nearly 20 years ago. His form of leadership was to serve, always getting at the back of the blessing line. I have a friend that is a missionary and he is the same way. We give him a gift, and he passes it on to the poor.

It is interesting that people seem to want to lead or be led. I also find that when challenged, they rarely mention God as the one they are following, and when they do, that in itself can be an excuse for bad behavior. Read Romans 12, there are some biblical gems in there. "Do not be conformed to the world," "don't think more highly of yourself then you should." That's is good stuff. My point is simple, we need to be a church, not a corporation. People need to have significance and value in church to achieve their destiny in God. God is not looking for ability, but availability....

 Jesus is already good at everything and ready to empower us!

One of the main problems that I see in the church is the improper use of authority and/or a corporate mentality (which is not biblical). That along with a good dose of control, often used as a tool to cover up insecurity, the church fails to reach more folks for Jesus.

I will say it again, people need to have significance and value in church to achieve their destiny in God.

The church does not need power brokers or control freaks. Those types of leaders end up with a following that will most likely never reach much in the way of potential, and in the end, probably be a huge stress on the leader just to keep them going.

So what is the plan for jump starting the church and providing significance and value for the average parishioner?

-1 We need to pray corporately. We need to identify our prayer worriers, intercessors and storm Heaven as a group. This is intercessor led prayer.

-2 We need to stop being spectators at church. That's right. We are not there to give the Sunday sermon a thumbs up or down. We should be there expecting God to use us for something. Maybe it is us, that is there to do some of the feeding, not just to be fed. We may not take the pulpit, but that doesn't take us off the hook for doing something for God.

-3 Leaders need to staff for their weaknesses, not try to create clones. We're a body, and we can't all be armpits. If you are an evangelist, then you better raise up a teachers, pastors etc.

-4 Invest in People: I once attended a church that had the motto "reach, teach and release." No one got released. Why? The churches teaching didn't allow others to participate at any meaningful level. There was no mentoring, and little encouragement for ministry outside of the what the pastor was called to do personally. They filled the programs like Sunday school, but they had no place for missionaries or other ministries. The excuse, it's not or vision. As a church, we must train people to do something and then let them do it! How long do we have to show up before we let someone clean a toilet, do an announcement or greet folks at the door? For God's sake, you can get a paying job at Wal*Mart doing this stuff. Character? It is built by allowing folks to make mistakes while teaching them the truth.

-5 Passion: I attended another church that has the motto "passion, vibrancy and relevancy" or something like that. Same old stuff. Musical worship, teaching and coffee. I read Acts and I get excited about Jesus. Some days I would rather just stay home and listen to worship music and read the Word, dreaming about being used like that. One of these days I want to turn around and hear someone saying, "gold and silver I do not have, but what I do have I give to you, walk in the name of Jesus!" (And hopefully it's not the firing of the head of the deacon board.)

-6 We desperately need to hear form God. Who are your prophetic folks, your dreamers and interpreters? Are you listening? Are they tested? I always find it funny that some people seem to hear from God, and we don't test it. I would think a pastor would be overjoyed if he had someone that was hearing from God that he trusted in his church. Well of course, until it conflicts with their vision.

-7 Love, we need love. We need sold-out lovers in the church, ready to lay down their lives for one another. And with it mentoring, really showing someone else how to do our job as toilet cleaner, secretary or pastor. What would happen if we were left in the dust by our protégée? Is our ego so big that we don't want someone else to be better that we are?

-8 Power. We need His power, not our own understanding. We need more power as the days grow evil. If you have been on this earth 20 or 30, or 40 or 50 years, you'll see that things have changed. Only the Holy Spirit can convict others of sin, and only He can empower us to do the tins that Jesus did and greater.

Did I miss anything?

Monday, May 16, 2011

5 1/2 Barriers to Truth

Over the past few months, probably since Rob Bell's new book came out, I have been reading about what people believe, and don't believe about Christianity. In fact there is a lot blogarrhea about what part of the Bible is or isn't correct, authentic, or infallible yakity yak. I just shake my head at the myriad of opinions. It's like everyone is a religious pundit! Maybe you think I am one as well.

The real questions are these: Is the Bible true, all of it? If not, which part is not true? Is there more than one interpretation for a given passage? Who has the correct theology?

Certainly there are many more questions to be asked, but you see where I am going. How can we get out of this mess and become "true" disciples of Christ? It is not easy or it would have been done, and there would be no denominations. Is the splintering of the church and variety of thought OK with God? I don't think so. That is why we need Jesus!

It is not enough to be a Jesus follower - I know so popular, yet so shallow. We are meant to become disciples teaching ALL the things that Jesus taught as well as doing what Jesus did - and greater things than he did!

For those of you that are parents, is it okay with you when your child does specifically what you've told them not to? I don't think so. Is it okay with you when your child believes something that is damaging to their life? I don't think so. God is our Father, he feels that way too.

There is only one theology, and some have it more right than others!

If we look back in the Bible, we see that there were city churches which were comprised of many home churches. Everyone's basic beliefs were pretty much the same, although culture and local law were a battle everywhere. The Epistles of Paul were letters to those churches; it was the broadcast teaching of the day. Yes there were divisions, but that didn't mean that both were right! Paul told the church to be patient with those that oppose them, and do not argue with words. Other times he said to rebuke them.

There is only one true theology, and you don't have it!

This morning I scanned Paul's letters to Timothy. I find it amazing the warnings he gives Timothy [us] about false teachings and it seems as if most of the bloggers have overlooked them.

Here are 5 reasons why you may never know the "truth" and have God's perfect theology:

-1 Tradition: Let's face it, churches like tradition. They can build one on just about any verse, and then dress it up with some religious looking acts and words or turn it into a program.

-2 Religion: This is simply a belief system that may, or may not be connected to the living God. It's like Charismatics raising their hands during worship, Pentecostals wearing suits and ties to church, or the Pope wearing his pope-ly garb on the balcony at St. Peters. It is either God, or it is not. If it is not, then it is just religion.

-3 Laziness: Are you eating someone else's food, or are you getting your own? It is so easy to read a book or a blog, and never read the passages in context. This is where the greatest possibility for errors arises - building faith on non-biblical sources like psychology, scientific theory, logic, and good ideas. The context of biblical passages is important. My blogmate, Charlie said "sex feels good." And he is correct. It just needs to be in the context of marriage.

-4 Lack of Experience: We spend so much time talking about faith, that we can end of worshiping faith like an idol. Jesus promised us that he would heal through us, give us the ability to cast out demons, and raise the dead. Some of us believe that is true, but for some reason it only seems to happen in 3rd world countries, and "those" churches. Get over yourself, and get out there and experience God, you never know, maybe you are a prisoner of religion and didn't even know it.

-5 Narrow-mindedness: I think these folks were called stiffed necked in the Bible. This is the one that allows you to tie up all of the above in  nice neat little package, and say, "I don't need ________ from them!" "They are in error!" "So and so is of bad character." and the list goes on and on. It is easy to distance ourselves from things we don't understand. You can learn from people in error. If you are not comfortable with your own faith, you will stuff it all in a box that fits your little god.

-5 1/2 Unbelief...

Do we embrace every wind of doctrine? NO! Like Timothy and Paul, we are not threatened by it, and we do not fear it; we address it as needed. Do I think everyone is going to heaven because Rob Bell says so? NO! Has Rob Bell ever taught anything of value? YES! Would I go to his church every Sunday? Only if God told me to. I mean he sent me to a Southern Baptist Church for a few years. I assure you, I am NO Baptist! Interestingly they completely denied the gifts of the Spirit, and my faith and use of them grew even greater.

How about you, are you secure in your belief system? Tell us why.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Counting the Cost of Following Jesus - Greatest Hits

Have you ever wondered what it was really like for the disciples to follow Jesus? Think about it, you leave your job, you drop everything, and go into full-time ministry. Most people I know, can't just leave their job and house and go into ministry. I also hate to call it ministry, because they actually became friends of Jesus; even Judas. Real ministry flows out of relationship.

Jesus' insight, genuineness, warmth, and His can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it qualities were somehow very attractive. Of course, now we know why, but the disciples, they didn't. They had some sort of religious notion that there would be a messiah, a king greater than David - one that would rule and reign in Israel, defeating all their foes. Which is true, but the way that God carried it out, well it wasn't what they thought - not even close. How about you, do you have some sort of religious notion about church, about Jesus?

I could write a hundred things about being religious, and I have. However; today, I want to write about what is costs to follow Jesus. The disciples went from working for a living, to living by faith. They had no idea what was going to happen to Jesus - I doubt they knew what was going to happen in the next minute. The Triumphal Entry must have made them feel amazing, even exhilarated - and then the crucifixion shortly afterwords. That was one of the prices for Jesus' ministry here on earth - He is our example. He also became poor, and never married. He put His life in danger more than once. How about you? What is it costing you to follow Jesus?

It is true that the disciples; later called apostles, feared for their lives because of their relationship with Jesus, and in some cases suffered persecution, imprisonment, while eleven of the thirteen, suffered death.

For most of the church in today's world, things are different for Christians; they don't fear for their lives. (I don't mean to minimize what goes on in some places in the world, it is heinous.)

I think the love of mammon and the love of God are very similar. We look to both to provide for us, protect us, keep us healthy, provide for leisure (happiness) and give us some sense of worth. Money and material possessions can do that. The difference is what it costs us in terms of tension, as we try to insure and protect our wealth. One weighs us down, the other lifts us up. Where are your treasures?

But what about you? What has serving Jesus cost you? Money, prosperity and materialism can certainly come between us and God. But there is a much deeper cost to serving Him. What would you do to have an all expenses paid mission trip to Brazil. Out of the blue, a man at church writes you a check for $1000, and the church sends you off with a powerful time of prayer? Most folks could probably do that pretty easily. I know I did. But what if you came home to find you were laid-off from work, or lost a parent to an unexpected illness? I have experienced both.... and I am no martyr, not even close. I am just your average Christian going though my days trying to make a difference for the Kingdom.

I took another trip to Europe and received a call from my kids with an emergency, there was nothing I could do. Even Paul was buffeted by the Devil. It is part of the cost of following Christ. In some ways, it is easiest to say it this way, "you trust Him or you don't." I didn't at the time.

Luke 14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it--"

There is so much more to the cost of following Christ - we forsake all that we have, all that we are, and all that we own. As followers of Christ there is always the possibility for losing our earthly treasures - but there is for those that don't follow Christ. Paul also said that they could take our life, and that to, would be glorious. I have some friends that were missionaries in Indochina. They expected to lose their lives for Christ at some point, yet they pressed on preaching the gospel in Communist countries. They often prayed, "Lord we give it all to You, but could you spare us the torture please."

The cost of serving Christ is greatest when we have a lot of earthy possessions to lose. When our treasures are stored up in Heaven (Matt. 6:19-21), we can do all that we are asked by the Master without fear. The less we have to lose, the more valuable we are to the work of the Kingdom.

As I was writing this blog I was reminded of a story about a little girl. I believe it was in the book, Intimacy Cover Up. Her Father loved her so, and took her on outings; just the two of them. He bought her little gifts, but she especially loved her sting of "princess" pearls. Of course they were only plastic, but she loved them so.

He father saw how much she loved them, and decided to buy her real pearls - for she so treasured the plastic ones he was certain that she would take care of them. One evening he looked at her while she lay in bed waiting for her goodnight kiss. In his pocket was a string of beautiful pearls in a velvet jewelry box. But when he asked her for her plastic pearls, she said emphatically "No, I love my pearls, Daddy! But you can have my purple pony." Her father kissed her good night as he always did, and left the room.

He returned the next night and asked her the same question. She was confused, "I love my pearls Daddy, but you can have my dolly." Each night her father would come into the room to kiss her good night, and ask her if she was ready to let him have her treasured plastic pearls.

One night he came in to say good night, and she was sitting up in the bed crying. In her hand she clutched her beloved plastic pearls. "Here Daddy, you can have them." He placed them in his pocket, and caressed her face as she sobbed. Finally, from his pocket he withdrew that little velvet box, and with delight, he watched her open it. "Oh Daddy, they are beautiful!"

He lovingly looked at her and said, "I have been longing to give you these."

Everybody Get's to Play - Remix

John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement, used to say "everyone gets to play." What he meant was that the leadership wasn't going to be doing all the ministry. And that is a good thing because, in most denominations, the pastoral and overseeing authorities were really separated from the laity. They were the paid "holy men," often doing all the praying, all the teaching and all the administration and counseling too. Bigger churches just had more paid holy men to carry out the so called ministry of the church.

When I was doing missions in Brazil, I found it really difficult to just be a regular guy, trying to do what I saw the Father doing. Everyone wanted to address me with some sort of title -- out respect for sure -- but I wasn't ordained at the time. The separation between me and them was perceived. Sure, I studied the Bible in a formal school... but really, who gives a flying epistle? Paul the apostle was a very well educated Jew, but he didn't count his formal education as anything that made him special. Me, all I wanted to be was David... I even insisted on it.

I once ministered in a Korean church. They required that I have an ordination certificate, so I went out and got one from a local congregation that was a plant of a mega church in OK. It's been in a packing box for nine years. I remember ministering in the sanctuary, and my friend Holy Spirit came in a mighty way. For many there, this type of ministry was new, however; the pastor was very savvy. Instead of having another altar call where the manifestations of the Holy Spirit could be misunderstood, he simply sat me in the front pew, and let folks come in one at a time to let me minister to them. Wow! All the paradigms of church went out the window as God healed a woman with a deaf ear, caused demons to flee, and provided insight and wisdom from His Spirit. And the Asian Buffet next to the Waffle House was great too!

I have come across all kinds of religiousness in my day, and sadly, been one of its promoters too.

Another thing that I loved about the Vineyard movement was that they trained everyone to pray for others. My church taught me the laying on of hands, how to pray with someone for salvation and/or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Sure, I knew how to do some of that, but this was a complete package. It took only four two-hour sessions, and changed the paradigm from "we are the senior holy men" to "you too can partner with Christ for the work of the kingdom." I don't promote any denomination, but the training was freeing for me. Since that time, I have received ministry training from a number of other big name venues... but it all comes down to, be loving, listening for God's leading, be willing to mess up and be accountable, and getting out there and doing it.

What is the impact of this type of Christian life? I find it exciting, amazing, humbling and little scary sometimes.

When I was in Brazil the first time, I went to a Full Gospel church... one where they believed in the gifts of the spirit (1 Cor 12). I traveled with a team (see top photo); one with a healing gift, another a preacher with a doctorate in theology and another a real evangelist. As the worship played, I just prayed in the spirit-- mostly because I didn't understand the words. This particular night my team decided that one of us would preach, and I would do a time of ministry and the laying on of hands.

Something was a little odd about all that was going on there. From the outside, it looked like a standard Pentecostal worship service. But as folks came forward during the ministry time (altar call), there was a lot of speaking in tongues and flopping around on the floor... honestly, this isn't a problem for me, but this night there was something wrong. As I laid hands on people, they began to jump around like pogo sticks, praying in tongues - but they were false tongues. You might be thinking, how do you know the difference if you don't understand tongues? I dunno-- some sort of Holy Spirit insight is all I can say.

After a few of the folks went bouncing off, a young woman came forward and started the pogo stick-ing along with the false tongues. I simply said, as she went up and down while I laid my hand on her forehead, "I break the spirit of religion in the name of Jesus!" In the spirit, I heard a loud snap, just like a breaking bone, and she hit the concrete floor and lay there under the power of the Holy Ghost. After a few moments she began praising God-- and then something stranger happened, she began to speak in tongues; Holy Spirit tongues. It was beautiful, just beautiful. As she did this, tears streamed down her face to the floor. I continued down the line of bouncing congregants.

After a few minutes she got up and began to speak very loudly, and with such authority. The worship team stopped playing, and she gave a short testimony. Through the interpreter, she said. "Brothers and sisters in Christ, I have received this prayer and God has changed me. I know Him now and I didn't know Him like this before. Come, get in line with this pastor (they just can't help themselves :o) ) from the the USA. Don't pray, and don't hop, just receive." That night many religious spirits were broken in the name of Jesus. By the end of the service we had such an amazing turn out that they scheduled a special meeting the next morning for us to minister again.

Formal religion can be tough because there are so many perceived expectations of so called leaders. They must be this and that, gone to school for this and that -- yikes. No wonder we feel separated from them, and worse, less useful to the Kingdom! They have been given the job that is rightfully that of all believers. You don't need to have a degree-- thermometers have degrees and you where some people put those. You just need to have a heart for the Kingdom of God. Jesus said it is at hand-- your hand and His. Jesus said that we could do greater things than He did. SO why aren't we?

Paul Cain, a man I perceive to be a prophet, gave a mighty prophecy about a nameless and faceless generation for workers that would simply be Jesus to a lost and dying world. A generation of sold-out and equipped Christians, that would go out and make a difference for Jesus. I don't know about you, but that's what I am looking for-- a place to just be me, and do His work.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Have You Ever Felt Like a Basket Case? I Have

Today it will have been five weeks since I was rushed to the ER with a a heart attack. As I type this, it was only a few hours ago that I said "I am not the same as I was before." Something has changed....

My friend Joyce always tells it like it is on her blog: Sounds of Hope. She's a trooper and has become the near pure fragrance of the Holy Spirit through a lot of refining; I have not. After some of her stories I just shake my head in amazement at that which a human can endure, especially one as kind and sensitive as she has become.

Today I am going to imitate her a bit, and be real about the my Christian life. Faced with some challenges since my hospitalization, the biggest one being that I need to get back to work, I have been shaken. Interestingly I suppose that isn't actually the biggest hurdle. Before me still looms recovery, one that is far more complicated than I ever thought. I have been in denial about the seriousness of my condition. In spite of the fact that two cardiologists, my primary care physician, and a number of nurses have told me "THIS IS A BIG DEAL AND IT IS GOING TO TAKE TIME," I have decided that I should be better than I am - I should have more energy, more enthusiasm, and a clearer mind.

I spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts, which is probably not the safest neighborhood. My mind has so many things to accomplish, and my body is resistant. I continue to try to do more than I should. I am supposed to "listen to my body", but without caffeine (which I can't have), it doesn't listen. I have doctor's orders and they don't fit my feelings or my lifestyle. They don't allow me a fast-track back to my old life. In fact today, I am certain something has changed; I have changed.

I was reading a web site about the emotional health of a post heart attack victim, me. It put names to the things I am feeling. I felt like a basket case before I finished reading the page. It was as good as a word from God, though.

Although I am what Jesus says I am, and I don't always believe the reports I get from doctors, I do listen. I think He knows more than they do. I'm just saying.

How does Jesus fit into all this? Well, when I read what I am experiencing (HERE), and it seems normal, I need to remember that Jesus is normal. In the end he suffered some pretty sever medical conditions and didn't give up. With his strength, each day, I get up at the regular time, I try to maintain a normal schedule, I do small chores that I can finish, I pray, I walk, I eat well, and I take the medication. I have had a hard time resting, and not over exercising. I made 3 miles on the treadmill 2 days before all this happened.

My friends say I was too busy, and that is why I got sick. I guess I don't know what busy is - I worked/commuted 50-55 hours a week, wrote 4 blogs, played in a band one evening, dated my wife one evening, did a few chores on Wednesdays, went to the gym 3 or 4 times, and participated in church. Too much? I don't know, it still seems normal to me. Life is for living.

Now I go out once a day because I am bored (I have driven all of about 350 miles for the month), I try to write a few blogs (I fortunately have a backlog of about 700 that I can remix), I walk a mile every other day, keep up with all the doctors and try to relax. It is a big span from where I am to where I was. With each task, I think, can't this be done some other day?

I am afraid that I won't be able to make a living like I once did.

When I was in the hospital, my pastor prayed for me, and I felt that the proof of my healing would be that my heart enzymes (released in a heart attack) would become normal. I actually saw some sort of picture in my spirit of that happening. I have faith for that, I do. I know I heard God.

In the midst of all this, Jesus also promised me that he would "redeem everything." Hearing from God is way cool, and vital to the peace that I do have. For me, although hearing from God always causes a dilemma: did I really hear Him, and do I have faith to believe it, to nah, that is just my wishful thinking. I am choosing faith in this promise.

Faith is serious business. It is not religious jewelry, but the turnbuckle that connects heaven to earth; the supernatural to the natural. Sometimes it fits the flow of life, and some times it is counter to that flow.

Well, you know God is awesome, right? As I typed the above bold sentence, I felt like I had more to say, but didn't have words to say it. I set a publish date for Monday, and forgot about it. I took a shower and was heading for the YMCA to do my tri-weekly mile. It was 5 minutes to nine, the Mother's Day breakfast in bed was a success, and I wanted to get to church for the 10:30 service. I heard the Lord prompt me, go to the 9 am service. I swapped my sweat pants for a pair of jeans and headed to the Vineyard. Mix-and-match gym/church clothes are awesome!

I sat through the acoustic worship, then a sermon on forgiveness - you know, the f-bomb. Both were introspective. I was in the lobby, getting ready to leave and one of the elders gave a word of knowledge. "There is someone here this morning with a weak heart that God wants to heal it." I didn't even hear him, but a woman that I know came and got me. I went up for prayer, and you know, I am now certain that my healing is on God's radar.

I heave heart enzyme tests next week.

How about you, have you had a life changing event, one you were never the same after? Tell us about it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

11 Crowns and One Broken Dream

As I spend time recuperating at home from a viral myocarditis, I have rekindled my love of ice hockey; watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs sure beats Oprah and Ellen! I know, you are thinking what does this have to do with Jesus? I'll try to explain.

Growing up in New England we have cold winters with frozen ponds from late November to early March, therefore;. hockey didn't require indoor facilities for which there were none in my town. We laced up a pair of department store skates, grabbed a hockey stick at the local hardware store and headed out the door. We used tree branches for goals, and protective padding was unheard of.

During the 1970-71 season I saw the New Haven Blades play. It was their last year, and one of their last games. It was hard hitting, fast-paced game with a number of fights - truly exciting and inspiring! My brothers and I headed to the pond and imitated them as best we could.

About the same time one the neighbors joined a "real" hockey team and started to make us look pretty bad out there on Brock's Pond. In the winter of 1972 my high school started it's first hockey club which my brothers and I joined. It was unfunded by the town, so we sold candy bars door-to-door to make money for ice time at Wesleyan University. My team had some added encouragement from the New Haven Nighthawks, a new AHL team in our city; that's their logo on my jersey.

We practiced once a week at the rink before dawn and had games on Saturday afternoon. The rest of the winter it was the ponds, or we lost the last puck in the snow bank.

A dream was born!

North Branford only won a couple of games that season at personal cost of a dozen stitches and a lost tooth. My mother's response, and my father's were quite different....

The Johndrow' became a hockey family with practices at 5 am, a net in front of the garage door, and summers at hockey school with the big names: Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Billy Smith and a bunch of others. We watched every televised game of out New York and Boston. I would lay in bed under a photo of Bobby Orr dreaming about going pro one day. If I worked hard enough, I just new I could do it. To stay in shape I rode my bike to school 12 miles each day. I ran a few miles three times a week and weight trained on the Universal. And my favorite, I shot a few hundred pucks a day at the net in front of the garage.

I had a few successes as a defenseman: there was the slap shot from the blue line that beat the second best goal tender in the state, as we beat our arch rivals 3-2 in sudden death overtime. And then I beat the number one scorer in the state as he and his teammates descended on me in a 3-on-1 break, slamming him into the boards with with hip check and stealing the puck away. We lost 2-1, but we were ranked 35th to their number 1.

Every season there were injuries - I stopped counting stitches and chipped teeth - I only missed one game due to a concussion.

Eventually I had try-outs with a local pro-am team. After 5 hours on the ice, I got cut; it was disheartening. I did go on to play at college where we got beat every single game. It turned out to be more about the party, than the game. After 2 years I was done playing organized hockey for good. I stopped following the Boston Bruins, Orr was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks - hockey was never the same. As I run my tongue over 11 crowns; which are a constant reminder of those 10 years of hard work, it the back of my mind it still seems possible to play pro.

Today as I watch my old favorites in living color, but it bothers me that there are teams in the NHL from cities where the average snow fall is zero!

As fate would have it, about three years later after I quit, God gave me a new dream, one to serve the Kingdom of God. Again, I thought if I just worked hard, I could achieve it. I was wrong, I couldn't make anything happen. I couldn't practice harder or study more, I just had to wait on God.

Isaiah 40:31But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

And finally one night I awoke about 2 am, and the Lord asked me if I wanted the ministry he had for me, and all that went with it.

1 Kings 3:5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”

I said yes.

How about you, what is your dream?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden and Jesus

Ding dong, bin Laden is Dead! - anonymous Facebook post.

This is not a patriotic post. It is not meant to catch the eye of up-to-the-minute news hounds. It is a blog about death, about hope and about Jesus.

Of course Mr. bin Laden is a high-value news target, one which stole the spotlight from the royal wedding on cable news. Many of my Christian friends had opinions about the raid in Pakistan. Here are some nameless Facebook stati:

Ah yes. Killing to show people that killing is wrong...

I confess to taking pleasure in knowing the last thing that went through Bin Laden's head was an American made bullet.

It is good to see young people in the streets celebrating a major victory for America. Cheers to the SEAL team, military, and intelligence agencies that brought down that terrible man!

Knock, Knock who's there? The Navy SEALS!

Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of everyone before God and man, and hopes and pledges that every event is not an opportunity for a further growth of hatred, but of peace.

"I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great joy" -Mark Twain

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Or the LORD will see it and be displeased, And turn His anger away from him (Prov 24:17,18). For there is none righteous, no, not even one. (Rom 3:10)

Dr Phil to Osama: How's that 72 virgins thing workin' for ya?

The main Bible verses floating around Facebook and Twitter were the following.

Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God    has God made mankind.

Proverbs 11:10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

So, Christians, where should we stand? Here is my take on all this. I don't think that we can rejoice in the death of a sinner who very likely did not have saving faith. They are all around us, some are seemingly good people, and others, well, they are seemingly evil. Jesus died for them all. We can't rejoice in their death because we too deserve death. I am not rejoicing. I am praying for those to turn from their evil ways without judgement. I confess, I never could watch the video of the hanging of Saddam Hussein. And although I thought he committed evil and deserved death (Gen 9:6), I did not rejoice, and neither does God.

This does not mean that I am indifferent to tyranny and murder. God is the one who knows their hearts. I can say that fruit of the evil that spilled out, was sickening. God in his wisdom chose both Paul and Moses to partake in the advance of the Kingdom of God here on earth. He also allowed a murderous and oppressive Egyptian army to drown in the Red Sea. God is a just God and our ways are not his.

The verse in Genesis is clear that those who purposely take life should lose their own. As Christians I do not see a case for aggressive action.

Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

How should we respond to the death of OBL? I think that we need to be very grateful that a man with the blood of thousands on his hands has been stopped. It certainly would have been better 10 years ago. If you are an American and want to be proud of the Navy SEALS, go ahead, I am.

I believe the Osama had an opportunity to surrender and did not. He chose the use of lethal force against him. Our military, border patrol and even local police have to make this choice every day - and on occasion a average citizen does too. I don't think I could do it. But when I see the shattered lives of thousands as I stand amidst the local 9/11 memorial in my town dedicated to 16 of my neighbor's loved ones, I an glad that some can. One of the nurses I had in the hospital lost her husband that fateful day.

Let me be clear. I do not applaud killing of any kind. Unfortunately the use of force is sometimes a solution to preventing more killing and I hate that. I do know that we have a just God, and his justice is perfect. He has the power over our very breath, his heart breaks for those the choose death, and rejoices for those that choose life. Mine does too.

It is this choice for which he sent Jesus to die on the cross; for those with faith and the seal of the Holy Spirit, the sting of death has been removed.

Now that the news has sunk in a little, how do you feel about the death of Osama bin Laden?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Take the Bull by the Horns - Health Care Reform

I think that I have spent more time exposing my privates to strangers in the past month than I have in my entire lifetime. In fact I am feeling almost like a criminal. My dignity has gone out the window, and some of the medical procedures and exams are more embarrassing than that which which took place in the men's locker room in high school!

First I'd like to make a disclaimer. Tony C Today seems to push the envelope which is a shock to my New England Puritan roots. I couldn't find the post in which he had a photo of the female reproductive tract - it was over the top. Today I am going to follow his lead as a more experienced Christian than I. If today's post offends your Christian sensibilities, please be sure to place part of the blame on him for leading me down this wayward path.

I posted briefly on dignity a week or so ago, and the situation has only gotten worse. As a conservative, puritanical New Englander, we don't talk about anything that has to do with a person's private parts, unless said person is well into the ale at an Irish Pub. Whereafter, no one remembers what was said. The lifeguards even make the foreigners in Speedos use the nude beaches. On missions trips to Brazil and Norway, what is seen on billboards, and television make Janet Jackson' half-time wardrobe malfunction look like a skit from Sesame Street. I had to cover my eyes.

I suppose the rest of this post will probably be more meaningful to the male readers who have had to cough for the doctor since they were 5-years-old. For the females, you can take a moment to join us in the feeling of utter embarrassment we men are subjected to in the health care system.

My mother used to say, "be sure to wear clean underwear, you never know when you'll get in an accident and have to go to the hospital." In the midst of having a heart attack, I made sure to change up. Like a teenager on their first date, I needed to decide on what color and style I should be seen in. Then again, I was having chest pains, and wasn't all that sure they were going to look "down there." I chose the ones in the top of the drawer.

Off to surgery I went, and even under the influence of fentanyl, it mattered what was going on below my naked waistline. Part of it is a little foggy, but when I awoke, I discovered they had in fact shaved me and it wasn't a dream. There next to my bed my nice clean underwear were neatly folded like Jesus' grave clothes along with my glasses and cell phone. My puritanical soul had been possessed.

For five days I tried to hold onto my dignity, but the problem was the dressing on the surgery had to be changed. You know, I think it would be a great idea if the cardio catheterization police used something other than the femoral artery - at least here in New England. I'm just saying.

You would think that after a week of being subjected to periodic inspections, I would deserve a long vacation from the underwear assaults. But no, I had to get an infection - yeah - I can't even bring myself to describe the location using medical terms. Though I'm more comfortable with the slang terms, I will refrain from using them as well. If I were to take Tony's lead, I would have to post a urogenital diagram, for which I only found one for a female hamster, which won't work. It might scare the children who read this blog from ever wanting a small pet.

The physical exam is embarrassing enough, and it doesn't matter what the doctor looks like, or their tone of voice, there is just no comfort in having someone look. What I can says is this: If you thought full-body scanners at the airport were intrusive, you should thank your lucky stars you haven't had to receive an ultrasound of said body parts.

To use an old saw, "it's time to take the bull by the horns." We need to add an amendment to the health care bill. You must write your representatives demanding a bill to force health care workers to HEAT UP the DANG ULTRASOUND GEL! I guarantee you that it makes your navel pucker!
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