Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mar 31 2009

Sorry this is late. I had an early start to my day yesterday, and didn't get the chance to move this from paper to internet.

Motivation quote: "Innovation comes only from readily and seamlessly sharing information rather than hoarding it." -Tom Peters

Thought #1: This is crucial for your business or your church. Hiding information about what is going on is a sure-fire way to lock down any growth or development. Even bad information needs to be shared. The people who have their lives invested in your operation need-to-know.

Thought #2: John 15:15 'nuff said.

Prayer: Lord God, people do strange things, and all of us fail to truly live our beliefs, even when we believe in You. give us the strength, Lord God, to live what we know! And let us not take our freedom to serve You lightly, but help us to free others!!

Luke 22:16 ->Fulfillment of the purpose ->the previous symbols pointed to Jesus.

Luke 22:17 ->Share now, for we may not gather again.

Luke 22:19 ->We are commanded to remember!

Luke 22:20 ->How does this cup to relate to the cup in 22:17?

Isaiah 50:4 ->Sustain people with the Word ->As we are weary, we need His Word.

Isaiah 50:7 ->Lord God's help is not disgraceful, no matter what happens to us on this earth. He is to get the glory!

Proverbs 31:6 ->Drinking does NOT improve life. It just causes us to forget life.

Proverbs 31:10 ->She's over here. But she's mine. Go look for your own.

Proverbs 31:30 ->What matters in a wife? And what do we emphasize? And what do we teach our sons to seek?

1 Timothy 3:9 ->There are mysteries in faith, and church officers must be okay with that. We must believe the invisible, unseen realities.
Moving toward the Horizon,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mike S. Adams

I'd like to point you to Mike Adams' columns at Townhall.com. I find the website a little clunky at Townhall, since you always get a pop-over ad when you visit, but he's worth the reading:


Take a read at his archive, there's some good stuff there. I'm still looking for his history, as he has referred several times to having been an atheist and coming to Christ. I'd like to see the whole story.

Mar 30 2009

Motivational quote: "Infatuated, half through conceit, half through love of my art, I achieve the impossible working as no one else works." -Alexandre Dumas

Thought #1: Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo (which are both, for the record, better than their respective movies, although the Jim Caviezel version of Monte Cristo is quite good). However, Dumas is pointing out here that the truth behind his success, his 'impossible' victories as an author, is that he worked. Really hard. How about us? Are we working hard? We find ourselves amazed at some people's success, but it really comes from hard work. As the commercial once quoted Lee Ann Womack, "Before it took me 10 years to be an overnight success."

Thought #2: Half through conceit, half through love of my art: his conceit was his belief that he actually could accomplish something, his love of his art his passion to do it right. Do we have the deep-seated belief that we can actually accomplish something for the Kingdom of God? And the love for Christ to do it right? We seem overly satisified to sit back and hope for the best, or fear the worst, rather than, as William Carey put it: "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." We know His strength is the difference maker, but are we doing anything at all?

Prayer: Lord God, I'm not exactly feeling capable today of living out my calling. I need to remember that it is Your strength that changes the world and the people in it anyway, and do all I can.

John 13:1 ->knowing His hour had come: the Cross was not a surprise. The Lord Jesus Christ knew what was going on.

John 13:10 ->There's a difference between the 'cleanliness' of a believer and a non-believer. Believers still need the cleansing, but only of the things they've picked up when out of the presence of God. It's dirty feet, but God will cleanse those dirty feet. Let's get them dirty taking the Gospel!

Isaiah 49:16 ->God does not forget you!

Isaiah 49:4 ->the reward is with God.

Proverbs 30:5 ->Tested=proven.

Proverbs 30:6 ->Seriously, don't do this.

Proverbs 30:8-9 ->Not a bad prayer. This is closer to how we should think about the material things of life...

Proverbs 30:33(ESV) ->Press it, see what it turns into. Pressing people sees what they are capable of as well...

1 Timothy 3:8 ->Deacons should also be held to high standards. Any leadership role in the church, especially the Scriptural offices, God defines, not the church. It's an important distinction.

1 Timothy 3:8 ->Honest speech and monetary behavior? How many problems have we Baptists had because we don't hold our deacons to this verse? Seriously. Most of the deacon-pastor problems I've ever heard of would not have happened with 1 Timothy 3:8 deacons and 1 Timothy 3:3 pastors. In fact, I'd say here in 1 Timothy is where we depart most seriously from the Bible in seeking church leadership. If we'd get back to it, as much as anything else in Scripture, we'd see much greater things. And if we'd emphasize all of the qualities, instead of making our checklist look like this:

Pastors: Is he male? Is he divorced? Does he use alcohol? Yes, no, no. Ok, he's qualified...
Deacons: Is he male? Is he divorced? Does he have a successful business or a lot of money? Yes, no, yes. Ok, he's qualified.

That's not exactly what the Book says, is it?
Moving toward the Horizon,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why? Why not?

Ok, inspired by the actions of Nathan Bransford over at Nathan Bransford-Literary Agent, (hey, I can dream about needing a literary agent, right?), I've created a fantasy baseball group on ESPN.com. It's for the simpler version of Fantasy Baseball, called Baseball Challenge. Everything is free, and all you have to try and do is, once a week, pick 1 player for each position and one team's pitching staff. Or you can pick 'em now, and see how they hold up all year. Anyway, look for and join the group 'Doug's Blog Readers.' The password is the appropriate term for someone new at a job, especially used in sports. It rhymes with the race of alien that Chewbacca is in Star Wars. It starts with the same 4 letters as the castle piece in Chess, or that card game with the bird. If that's not enough, comment and ask.

Anyway, create an entry, and at the half-way point in the season, I'll give the leader something. Probably a book. I'll work this week on creating a list you can choose from if you win.

And, no, I don't expect you to be really good at this. But every blog I read, almost, has been doing some form of give-away, and I thought this would be fun. Plus it'll be interesting to see if our attention spans hold up through baseball season!

Mar 29 2009

Motivational quote: "Excellent organizations do not foster 'we and they' attitudes." -Tom Peters 

Thought: Especially in a church, there is no room for 'we and they.' If you are harboring a 'we were here when....' and 'they weren't' division, you need to let it go.

Prayer: Lord, today we'll be hearing from your people about your word.  Give each of our speakers courage and guidance. I think you, Lord God, that you speak to others as well as to me!

Proverbs 29:1 ->There is no guarantee of a 'final warning.'

Proverbs 29:2 ->Is this even when the people are evil?

Proverbs 29:9 ->Such as some of the more argumentative moments in apologetics.

Proverbs 29:15 ->and what about the idea of the church as 'mother'? And our lack of church discipline?

Proverbs 29:18 ->Without God's word! This is not about 'vision statements' or the actions of leaders.

Proverbs 29:20 ->And fools don't have much hope.

1 Timothy 3:7 ->Reputation needs to be a reputation of God-centered righteousness. Also, I'm seeing a need for those outside to know he's a church leader, to have a reputation for his church leadership. This is not about a 'business' reputation or outside skills, it's about the outside world realizing that God is the focus of this man's living and that they can't dissuade him.
Moving toward the Horizon,

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: Christianity in Crisis

My next review is of Hank Hanegraaff's book, Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century. This is not the first book that Hanegraaff has produced with the main title of Christianity in Crisis. He wrote a book published in 1993 simply titled Christianity in Crisis. Both books, not surprisingly, deal with the same subject.

Hanegraaff expresses in the introduction his desire to see this book contrast the truth of Scripture with the Word of Faith movement and its teachings. His hope is that this book will help people see the difference between the two, and prevent new people from following in the Word of Faith movement, and to persuade people to depart from its teachings.

I think that Hanegraaff has written a book that will acheive this first purpose. He opens with a 6-page summary that he feels reflects the Word of Faith (WoF) view of Biblical history and theology. He backs this up with citations of various WoF teachers and preachers, and presents this not as the view of one single teacher, but of a sweep through all of the varied teachings. It's enough to say that his overview is phrased to differ greatly from the Biblical presentation, and therefore no one who truly accepts Biblical teaching would accept the ideas presented in these first pages.

The book then moves on to develop the supporting evidence for his views. As he progresses through each of the following chapters, he continually undermines various preachers in the WoF, contrasting their own quotes with Biblical truth.

Taken on its own, this book would adequately persuade someone who has simply seen a few sermons on TV, perhaps wondered at a book or two in Wal-Mart, and has considered looking further, to take two steps back and think twice. In this, Hanegraaff has accomplished the purpose of stopping his reader from drifting into the WoF movement.

His second purpose, to draw participants out of the WoF movement, however, falls short. His opening story is structured to be a broad sweep, but it is doubtful that any adherent to Benny Hinn, John Hagee, or Joyce Meyer would see themselves or their beliefs in this story. So, his opening looks overly caricatured in this light.

Additionally, his quote selection throughout the book could be viewed as 'cherry-picked' for his own purposes. Since his readers do not have the context of the quotes, it will be difficult to determine if Hanegraaff has accurately reflected the sense of what the speaker or author has intended. I doubt that any current participant in the WoF movement will be persuaded by these arguments, as the teachers in the movement can easily dismiss his logic and structures.

He did expound on a third purposes, and that was to show people who have already left the WoF movement that they didn't see true Christianity. He does this adequately, though I find his tone slightly sterner than would be helpful. If his purpose is to show that the frustration from the WoF movement was not true, loving Christianity, a book-long rebuke is not the solution. In this, I think he has written a book with one too many targets. It is written with the rebuke due to false teachers, the correction to followers of false teachers, and the warning to avoid the trap of false teaching. It's difficult to also speak with the words of restoration for those who need a hand up at the same time.

As an Evangelical pastor, I found this work somewhat helpful. It's not short, but does a good job working through the Word of Faith movement. I have not checked all of his references, but if I had time to run them all down, I wouldn't need this book. I would have liked, for my purposes, to see fewer examples, with more details. I think it would be more helpful in that structure. However, I understand his purpsoe of illustrating each chapter of the book with actual quotes from WoF teachers.

Overall this is a good work. I will make the assumption that Hanegraaff has done the research, that the quotes given are correct and appropriately. Some people will no doubt question his motives and his conclusions. In this, Hanegraaff needs to be prepared to response with grace and even temperment, lest he behave like those he is criticizing. I think that this book will be well received and touted by critics of the Word of Faith movement, but totally drubbed by participants. Moreover, his directness can come across as overly attacking, and his stern tone mistaken for harshness. As such, I wouldn't recommend picking up this book for your Word of Faith friends and hoping they'll read it and change their minds. They'll more likely responds with defensiveness. However, for the Evangelical Christian, this is a worthwhile read that can give some discussion points for engaging members of the Word of Faith movement.

I would close with a thought for all of you who worry about counterfeits of the true Gospel arising in Christianity. I was once told of how the Secret Service trained bankers to detect counterfeit currency. Now, this may not be true any longer, and it may have been urban legend all along, but the story was basically that to train people to detect counterfeit currency, the Secret Service has them to spend hours upon hours with real currency. Studying it, handling it, getting to know all aspects of what the real stuff feels like. Then, near the end of the study, testing is given by introducing counterfeit currency. The counterfeits stand out, not because the students have learned about counterfeit currency, but because they are so adept at knowing true currency. Now, even if that's not what is done anymore, it makes for a good point:

It would behoove us as Christians to be adept with the truth. It will take less effort to detect the counterfeits.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Week in Review: w/e 3/28

This week saw:

Me spend a lot of time bickering with AT&T. Finally, one hidden gem of a customer service person did what was right. So, I'm not as mad as I was. We'll see how it goes.

I have been taken off the terror watch-list for the state of Missouri! That's right. See post here about how I got on it. Here's a link to the info involving the state deciding to remove the report completely. I think the most significant thing here is that, except for Glenn Beck mentioning this on Fox News, there was no national media coverage. It was the sheer overwhelming responses of bloggers, emailers, callers, and word-of-mouth that brought pressure on the Missouri government to realize the error of their ways. Very much a power to the people moment.

In evidence of power to the stupid ideas moment, Burt Reynolds, David Hasselhoff, and others will not be allowed to drive their signature cars in California if a new law passes. Why? They're talking about banning black and other non-reflective color vehicles, because of the environmental impact of cooling them in the summer. Really. But aren't the Suburbans and limos the Fed uses to transport the President and others around black?

Let's see, what else this week? Oh, Dad's funeral home is graciously donating some furniture from a business they owned, and sold, to our local crisis pregnancy center. Much appreciation to them. May all their competitor's clients begin taking vitamins and using the Jack Lalanne power juicer for longevity.

The folks at Will it Blend? Are back! Here's a link to watch: Will it Blend? The Bailout Package!

Had a good discussion Wednesday night about gambling and the church.

Looking forward to Sunday morning, when we'll have 7 of our church members sharing their favorite Bible verses. It'll be great.

Like the Will it Blend? Here's another one:

And yes, those are Polish subtitles! And I know some of those words!!!!!

Hopefully the embedded objects worked. I'm a little shaky with some this fancy stuff...

Tonight, we're looking forward to tornadoes and nasty storms. So, we finally got around to video inventorying our home. Hopefully if we lose everything, we'll still have the inventory!
Have a great weekend!

Mar 27 2009

Motivational Quote: "Make the Mission and Vision clear and tangible by sharing it with others. Say it out loud and put it on paper. Often." -Rhonda Abrams

Thought #1: God did this. It's called the Bible.

Thought #2: Articulating a clear mission and vision is crucial. If people know what your organization stands for, if they know what you as an individual stand for, they can determine their involvement and commitment. Also, you have the bonus of accountability for your own actions. Never place yourself above someone asking "Is what you're doing in line with the mission and vision you've put out there?"

Prayer: Lord, people need You. And I have to do better with sharing your word with them. This world is spinning rapidly away from you. Give us strength for the task.

Proverbs 27:1 ->Be careful!

Proverbs 27:2 ->Let God provide for your exaltation.

Proverbs 27:6 ->If it's your enemy, don't accept the compliment. None of this 'noble foe' garbage. It's deceitful. They want to win and want you to lose.

Proverbs 27:12 -> And also guards his family from evil. What kind of parent sees the evil, hides themselves, and then sends their kid straight into it?

Proverbs 27:14 ->Blessing needs to be blessing to the blessed. Consider the recipient, not the giver.

Proverbs 27:21 ->How we handle praise is a reflection of our character.

1 Timothy 3:6 ->Should we hold new converts back from committing to the ministry? Should we insist on a 'waiting period' for ministry commitments? So that the new believer has a chance to grasp their adoption first? Hmmm....
Moving toward the Horizon,

Fridays just aren't Fridays without....

Reposting Dr. Turner's blog from the Arkansas Baptist State Convention!

All credit goes to Dr. Emil Turner at the ABSC.  And I've said it before, but I truly believe Arkansas Baptists have one of the best, if not the best, state-wide organizations in the SBC.

| Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Posted on Thursday, March 26, 2009
< go back

The bill for the lunches came to $4.80. Charlie could not change the ten dollar bill, so he promised to bring the customer’s change as soon as he could. He forgot. The customer also forgot, and left the cafeteria. Charlie placed the $5.20 beneath the cash drawer to give to the customer when he saw him again. He never did. Months passed and a death in Charlie’s family required a trip home. There was no money for the fare, so Charlie borrowed the $5.20 fully intending to pay it back. But time passed and Charlie forgot.

Charlie Culpepper became a missionary in China. After several years Charlie sought God in a special way, and God reminded him of $5.20. “Lord”, he prayed, “I will give ten times that amount to missions, but I can not confess that to anyone.” Finally, Charlie, in an effort to have peace with God, wrote the president of Baylor, confessing the theft of $5.20 and submitting himself to whatever punishment was required.

Then God sent revival. The great Shantung Revival in northern China began when a missionary named Charlie Culpepper confessed all his sin. Missionaries were revived, people were healed, and thousands were swept into the Kingdom. The revival lasted for years, and God used it to save many before war with Japan and Communism devastated China.

Now, what is in my heart, what is in your heart that hinders God’s work? Have you sinned against someone and tried to cover it with excuses? Is there bitterness? Envy? Resentment? Do you have something you have not paid for? When we are clean, God can use us.

This blog posts every Friday.

turnere.JPGEmil Turner serves as executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He and his wife, Mary, have two sons and two grandsons. Turner enjoys fishing and hunting in his spare time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Proposed SBC Resolution #2

I told you there'd be more of these:

Whereas the Great Commission has experienced no bubble bursting or market slide, AND

Whereas the Cooperative Program has worked well for Southern Baptist causes over the years,

BE IT RESOLVED that we, the messengers assembled at this gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention challenge each Southern Baptist Church to increase their Cooperative Program giving by 1% of their total church budget in the coming year.

There you go. That would be enough said, but I'll say more: For churches that give percentage, go up a percent. For churches that give a flat rate, figure up 1% of your budget and add it to your flat amount. And give it a cool title, like the 'Louisville Challenge' or something like that, and have a question on the ACP, "Did your church take the Louisville Challenge?" to see how many did it.

Now's not the time to back away, but to step up! Something I noticed watching football this year is that not all great quarterbacks scramble away from a pass rush. Some of the best step forward, between their linemen, and throw the ball, often for great gains. It's not time for Southern Baptists to scramble! It's time to step up, into the things we know have worked and do work, and keep going forward. (sorry for the sport metaphor, but it's the best I've got at the moment...


Why I'll never get an iPhone, part 2

Ok, so after a good week of bickering with AT&T, they have relented and agreed that honoring customer service commitments is a useful business tool. So, since they did what I said they would have to do for me to stay with them another 2 years, I'm staying with them another 2 years.

So, now, I'll never get an iPhone because: 1.)Apple's going to be paying out big for Steve Wozniak's Dancing with the Stars injuries, and might have to shut down. 2.)by the time I'm done with this contract, the iPhone will be passed by some other amazing widget from Cupertino; 3.)Global Warming/Cooling/Climate Change will eventually destroy all electronics, except for Al Gore's beard hologram generator.

So, AT&T is off my bad side. Pending. But it shows the difference that 1 willing Customer Contact person makes. I had contact with 7 people at AT&T that said I was out of luck. One person went beyond that, and took care of the problem. Train your people to be that 1.

Mar 26 2009

Motivational Quote: "The fact is we'll never have all the information we need to make a decision--if we did, it would be a foregone conclusion, not a decision." -David Mahoney

Thought #1: But don't worry, there will be enough people around to criticize you in hindsight without acknowledging that fact.

Thought #2: This is why, as a Christian, I find prayer to be crucial to decision making. God does have all the information. Ask Him.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for adopting me as your son. I know that it was your grace that did it. I ask for your help and strength to become worthy of being your child. My hands falter, and my efforts are fruitless. In you alone will I find my success.

Rev. 4:1 ->This is a unique happening for John.

Isaiah 37:4 ->The Lord, YOUR God ->Said by Hezekiah to Isaiah...get the preacher, we need his God to help

Isaiah 37:20 ->O Lord, Our God ->Said by Hezekiah to the Lord...never mind the preacher, let's remember our own relationship with God

Proverbs 26:2 ->Quit stressing on such things. Don't live in fear of random curses or the angry words of unbelievers.

Proverbs 26:7 ->Hm. Like people who cite Scripture without a hint of godliness or a clue what it means. 1 John 4:8 comes to mind.

Proverbs 26:18-19 ->Be careful with your joking. You can't take it back.

1 Samuel 9:4 ->Saul and Kish are of the tribe of Benjamin. Why don't they live in the land of Benjamin?

1 Timothy 3:5 ->Not his business, his household. Why do we miss this? Why do we elevate people who succeed in business at the cost of their family?

1 Timothy 3:5 ->Also, obviously churches have problems, so knowing how to handle problems in your family would be a good thing. We're not expecting a perfect family from church leaders, just one that is well-directed toward godliness.
Moving toward the Horizon,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'll never get an iPhone


Because Apple only lets you use an iPhone on the AT&T Wireless network. And I will soon be leaving AT&T for another wireless network. Okay, it'll be 3 months still, but I'm leaving. I had a BellSouth Mobility phone. Then it became Cingular. Then I went to seminary, and couldn't afford a cell phone. Then Mom and Dad very graciously paid for one, and back on Cingular we went, and stayed while Cingular became AT&T again. All told, I think we've been with this company since 2000, with about a 1 year break when we had no cell phones.

So why do I want to leave? When we moved to Monticello last year, we had our numbers changed to local numbers. We specifically asked if this would affect our ability to upgrade this spring, and were told no, no problem.

Well, guess what? We went online to try and upgrade. The system claims we can't upgrade until next year, because they restarted our contract period, adding an extra year. I went to the AT&T store to get it corrected, they can override it in the store, if I pick out new phones there. Problem being: I want a phone that is free after rebate if purchased online. It's $70 after rebate in the store. And they will not match online pricing in the store. I asked.

So, I call their 1-800 number. I'm told to call the order in. Problem? Well, there's hold times. And the fact that the online store and the call-in store have different availabilities, and different prices, and again, I'll be out an extra $100 to order from the call-in than online. And, personally, I do not want to do business with a company that expects me to pay for their mistakes. So, when I am done with this service agreement, I'm gone.

They may think I'll just go quietly and come back as soon as possible, but it's not likely. I still don't buy anything from Office Depot after they called Ann a liar, and that's been 6 years. And when I taught UPS employees about service and customer needs, I used the whole Office Depot story to illustrate, using the bad experience from that company to point out how reputations get destroyed.

So, AT&T, you may not care if I go. But I will be happy to tell people how you treated me. How many 1 angry customers will it take to move you from #1? How long before iPhone users make switches, however they can? I would happily have stayed with AT&T, even though the upgraded data plan with them would have been $10 more a month than with the competitor. Not now.

So, no iPhone. Maybe I'll get a Palm Pre this summer. Probably just get an ordinary Blackberry. Which will rock! EMAIL on my phone!!!

Things you didn't ask

Although no one has asked my opinion on these issues, here you go:

Lifeway's "Read with Discernment" program: Lifeway is in the undesirable position of being a business that needs to make a profit that people expect to act like a ministry that puts values and ideas first. While I think everything should be read with discernment by believers, I also recognize that there are some books available from Christian publishers that aren't exactly stable. What do you do if you're selling books? Well, if you have a church bookstore, I doubt your pastor lets you sell just anything. What about Lifeway, that is essentially the bookstore on behalf of Southern Baptist Churches? We don't all agree. Some like The Shack. Some hate The Shack. Some are looking into the ideas from the Emerg*** (with props to TeamPyro for the term), some don't want them at all. Same with Rick Warren, Beth Moore, Doug Hibbard books. (ok, nobody wants the last one.) So, they make a decision to label certain things as not quite solid Baptist theologically. Why is this a problem? Do you remember the outcry when they pulled some magazines that pushed a non-Baptist viewpoint? Would we rather not be able to buy at all? The "Read with Discernment" will hopefully get some people to think twice, and do some research. Is Blue Like Jazz the right book to give your questioning teenager? Well, it's got a great title, some great recommends, and a cool cover! But, as a general customer, do you really know what's in it? Or are you buying it because, hey, it's in Lifeway, it's got to be good? Read all things with discernment, whether it be books, blogs, or stickers in books. And cut Lifeway some slack. 15 years ago we agreed to let them try and market outside of Baptist worlds, now we want them to be perfectly Baptist. You can't do businesses that way.

The BCS: No, it's not perfect. But is this what the US Senate needs to spend time on? Get real, people. Fix real problems. Like disposing of the designated hitter rule. If he's pitching, he should hit. That's part of the strategy.

Guns in church: Nobody should need a gun in church. Unfortunately, apart from the work of Christ, people are totally depraved. I'm not for everyone in church with a CCL carrying, but I also don't think we should delude ourselves into believing it's a 'gun-free' zone. I remember kids in high school carrying. I'm almost persuaded we didn't have mass shootings in my school because there were extra guns. I might be wrong. I'm also glad to home-school, since I know where the guns are in school. And yes, they are there, and yes, I intend to teach my children how to use them. My father taught me, and I've never shot anyone. I've only carried a few times for personal defense, and was uncomfortable with the idea, but it's a sometimes necessity. Back to church: the church should have the freedom to make the security arrangements it sees fit. These arrangements should NOT include government involvement. Very little good will come from having armed police at church on a regular basis.

Tax cuts: really only exist if you cut taxes on people that pay them. You can't give me any more federal tax cuts, I already am able to credit my way out of paying anything. So, anything else is taking from people that pay to give to me. I'll take it, but is that really a good idea? Let people keep their money. Then, maybe they'll spend it, instead of washing it through the government, where half of it will disappear.

Reaching out to moderate Taliban: There aren't any, by definition. Mr. President, not everyone is a politician. Some people have tightly held values whether popular or not. Remember, those of us that cling to guns and prayer when things go bad and we get bitter? Now, change Jesus's command to 'do unto others as you would have done unto you' to 'do unto others before somebody does unto you' and you get the Taliban. Bitter, angry, clinging to guns, a violent religion, and a dislike for America and freedom. There's no moderation there. Unless you count moderate Taliban as the ones who prefer handguns to AK's.

Retroactive tax increases: This will kill economic growth, more than it's already dead. Why? Because a business needs to plan for the year. If you start now making tax rules that go back 3 months, then you'll have businesses holding on to more money through the year, for fear their taxes will go up.

On blogs you should read: There's lots, but here are my favorites: Ann's Blog, Ann's Other Blog (which is a great, short, daily post), Emil Turner's blog at ABSC.org (which needs a permalink and RSS feed. Thanks.), there's the Teampyro blog, Ruthanne's blog, Ken Coffee's blog, Aaron and Joanna's blog, and lots more. Add these to your read. Oh yeah, add the Family Blog. It's a great way to know what my crazy family does as a whole. And I write another one at Toward the Horizon. See, you didn't ask, but there they are.

And now, the fickle finger of fate

As of last Friday, my retirement contribution of $200 was worth $197. Therefore, I felt that capitalism had failed, the government was robbing me, the fat cats on Wall Street were doing me badly, that Geithner needed to go, and that I'll be so broke in retirement that I'll have to live with then-former President Obama. Moreover, I was convinced of the impending collapse of the entire nation of America, that we'll never recover, and that we are living at the end of time, from an Apocalyptic standpoint.

As of today, my $200 is worth $206. So, I guess the bailout is working, we got the money back from AIG, the government's not so bad, Geithner can stay, I won't live with the Obama's, the world isn't coming to an end. All's well.

When you read those 2 paragraphs, it sounds stupid. And it is. But that's what we've done as a nation. The market's up! We're good! The market's down, we're doomed. I understand the market is an indicator, but it's only one indicator. I remember the market going up in times past when companies announced layoffs. You won't convince me that Dow going up=Economic recovery. Not when sometimes people losing jobs makes the market go up. Their economy isn't recovering. But it is useful.

The truths are this: we have some economic hurdles ahead of us. We need to adjust off of this consumption based economy to something that is sustainable. And not just environmentally sustainable, but socially and personally sustainable. Secretary Geithner still needs to go. I know he caught up on his taxes, but if he can't understand the tax system, how will he enforce it? Unless he comes out soon and says it's time to go to an understandable flat tax, or better yet, the FairTax.org proposal, I'm not going to be his biggest fan. Not that he cares.

Your future, in truth, is either going to be found in trusting God for your spiritual, physical, and financial needs, or you're on your own. My whopping $200 of retirement's not going to get me anywhere, is it? No. But some people thought their $2 million would. It didn't, because now it's gone. The things of this earth will not sustain you.

So bottle your anger, make it something productive. Be angry at sin, and go forth to tell people about Jesus. Be angry at greed, and let it make you generous. Generous to the poor, generous to support the work of the mission to tell the world. Be angry with stupidity in politics, which is the fundamental bi-partisan value, and pray, vote, email, call, and do something. Be angry at the mistreatment of the elderly, and go treat them better. Be angry about abortion, and go adopt. Be angry about education, and help improve a school, homeschool your kids, start a free church school. Something.

But let's quit letting Dow Jones tell us if everything is good or bad. He's doesn't see the whole picture.

Mar 25 2009

Motivational quote: "Our integrity is the basis of our confidence in ourselves and the confidence we inspire in others." -Stephen R. Covey

Thought: Without knowing ourselves to be trustworthy, having the assurance that our motives are as pure as we can make them, that our intentions are solid, we will truly fail to lead. Moreover, people will sniff out a double-minded leader in a heartbeat. At least, usually. Oftentimes we think people miss it, but they know, they just still hope to benefit themselves. Your own lack of integrity will lead to a lack of integrity in your followers. They'll end up only following you until it's in their best interest to abandon you.

Prayer: Lord God, there is no one like You. We need to be found by You, and drawn into your greatness. Guide us, let us know You and strengthen our hands to the work of following You.

Rev. 4:11 ->Only by the will of God does creation exists. There is no room for random, chance, guided mutation, or anything of the sort.

Proverbs 25:6-7 ->Let exaltation and blessing come to you.

Proverbs 25:20 ->Don't act like nothing is wrong to people with legitimate cares. You're not helping.

Isaiah 39:6-8 ->if this is a rebuke, as traditionally interpreted, why does Hezekiah say it's good? And Isaiah not correct him? Here or in 2 Kings 20:12-20?

1 Samuel 9:21 ->False identity concept->Saul is one of God's people. He's not 'the least of the least' but a servant of God Most High. He's being tasked to do something he can only do with God's help.

Proverbs 25:1 ->Can't help but wonder if Hezekiah was listening to Isaiah's prophecy of future deportation in Isaiah 39:6-8 and said to the scribes "Write down some of that oral tradition, lest we forget." To which I say: write down much of that oral tradition now! Lest it be forgotten. Make copies of the Constitution, make Bibles, make good books, before we digitize everything and then lose it all.

1 Timothy 3:4 ->children under control with dignity->men of God, the means are as important as the ends. Destroying your children to keep them in line so you 'qualify' for ministry is as disqualifying as anything else.

Moving toward the Horizon,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

James 3

I wanted to take a minute and consider James chapter 3 and blogging. What about James 3? Well, this part:

5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life , and is set on fire by hell . 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race . 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;

James 3:5-9 (NASB)

We need to remember that this applies to what we write as well. It's remarkable to me that I sometimes forget it. What we say in print needs to be considered alongside what we say with our mouths. Why? Because James is writing in a primarily oral culture. It's not just about that thing in your mouth that you taste with, but about the words you use. Keep that in mind when you comment on blogs, post on blogs, write letters to the editor, speak, email, and so forth. Does it pass James 3? Does it pass Philippians 4:8 ?

And, yes, I desperately need to do a better job of this. It's why you'll see my name associated with the comment 'This comment has been deleted by the author' in not a few places...

Mar 24 2009

Motivational quote: "The job of the manager is enabling, not a directive job...coaching and not direction is the first quality of leadership now. Get the barriers out of thew ay to let people do the things they do well." -Robert Noyce

Thoughts: First of all, there's a difference in leadership and management, although the jobs often combine to one person. You certainly can't manage well if people won't follow your leadership, and poor management will crush your leadership. But, leadership is about setting the direction, not clearing barriers and letting people do whatever. There's a balance. It's not just about getting the right people on the bus, it's about making sure it's the right bus going the right way.

Prayer: Lord God, you set the direction. Help us follow you. Let me not spend my days in mindless rote, but direct my heart and my steps toward you. Help me also develop the prayer life I should.

Rev. 4:8b ->The worship of the Lord remains couched in the same terms as Isaiah 6:3 so maybe we don't need all new music?

Rev 4:2 ->John is understanding and seeing in the Spirit. This is significant for interpretation.

Isaiah 37:38 compared with Isaiah 37:14 ->if you've got the right God, going to the Temple is a happy thing. If not, well, not so much...

Proverbs 24:21-22 ->CHANGE!! oh, wait...

Proverbs 24:35 ->not denying appropriate rest. just excessive rest.

1 Samuel 9:2 ->Tall guy! Good looking guy! Bet he's a good basketball player...

1 Samuel 9:18 ->This may get a longer blog over at my longer blogging space. But, Samuel's been leading Israel for a while. Is Saul clueless or Samuel totally blending in? How does Saul not know Samuel?

1 Timothy 3:3 ->Not addicted to wine ->nothing should control but Jesus

1 Timothy 3:3 ->gentle, peaceable ->among the body, a healer and gentle shepherd. Towards sin...that's a whole different issue.

1 Timothy 3:3 ->free from the love of money ->which is the root of all kinds of evil ->and, therefore, willing to work for what is available, not for what he can get. Ouch. That one kind of hurts.
Moving toward the Horizon,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mar 23 2009

Motivational quote: "Make visible what, without you, might perhaps have never been seen." -Robert Bresson

Thought: There is, inherent in our life as Christians, a call to make visible to the world the unseen God. Is this not what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us? Colossians 1:15

Prayer: Father, I am walking by feelings and not by faith, expecting to see greatness without any work or focus on my part. Lord, you are God, and will do all things to your glory, but I'll not be obedient or see the blessing if I don't focus.

Isaiah 36:1-39:8 ->Well, Lifeway slowed down some. But it's still pretty dense material, and covers both the highest and lowest of Hezekiah.

Isaiah 37:35-36 ->God is able to deliver as He promises.

1 Samuel 9 ->Saul shows as someone willing to follow directions. He doesn't end up that way.

Proverbs 23:12 ->Being disciplined to learn

1 Timothy 3:2 ->Able to teach: would include willing to exercise/direct discipline and correction.

1 Timothy 3:2 ->1 wife: faithful to commitment. Weren't most marriages at that time arranged? If God expected faithfulness to a marriage covenant not entered by two people who really 'loved each other,' how much more would He expect that in our American 'marry for love' society?

1 Timothy 3:2 ->prudent: which, while not an excuse to not act, is important. As Dad said, 'There is a time and a place for everything.' Which was occasionally followed with 'Now is not that time' or 'This is not that place.' A minister of the Gospel must be prudent to act when appropriate, not before or after.

Isaiah 38:19 -> Yet see 2 Kings 21:9 so did Hezekiah do it or not?
Moving toward the Horizon,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mar 22 2009

Motivational Quote: "Set your sights high, the higher the better. Expect the most wonderful things to happen, not in the future, but right now. Realize that nothing is too good." -Eileen Caddy

Thought: As believers, we must set our sights high, especially when it comes to obedience. Too often many of us write off that 'we'll never be perfect until we get to heaven' and it becomes our excuse. We must strive, and realize the possibility of following God to the fullest of our ability, though that ability is frail.

Prayer: My Father, today we'll gather to worship and praise you. Help us present your word, in Sunday School, sermon, and interaction with people. Let me see you today at work in lives, and let awe of you be communicated and effective among the church.

Rev. 3:7-13 ->The church is being instructed to pursue God's directives, not to try and be like anyone else or even to try to grow. Just to hold on to what they have received.

Isaiah 30:17 ->Trusting in the world leads to panic. And bank runs, stock collapses, and revolutions.

Proverbs 22:6 ->This is directed to people responsible for all aspects of child-training. There were no government schools in Solomon's day, but extended families training up children. Remember, whomever is helping train your children impacts how this promise is kept. This includes government schools and TV programs in your home.

Proverbs 22:13 ->Don't stay home and do nothing, even if you have fears of the world outside and its dangers. Don't fear lions!

1 Samuel 8:20 ->Because, after all, no king would take a bribe, right?

Proverbs 22:3 ->Are we 'sheltering' our kids? Or being 'prudent' and keeping them from evil? What does Scripture teach us to do? Expose our children to evil so they can learn what it's like?

1 Timothy 3:2 ->Respectable, not respected. The overseer should be someone who can be respected for right things. Truly respected, not the mock admiration of crowds

1 Timothy 3:2 ->Temperate: the hotheadedness and snap judgment, the angry demeanor and vitriol should not be present in the preachers of the Gospel. True, righteous anger at real sin is another story, but is that really what it is?

Memory verse: (typed from memory. let me know if it's right!): He who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys. Proverbs 18:9

Moving toward the Horizon,

Preaching it

Well, I haven't blogged through the sermon prep process this week. But, it's Sunday morning, so I thought I'd share these thoughts:

1. Public speaking scares the heebie-jeebies out of me. There's really no two ways about it. If you gave me an option, I would personally choose to sit in a room somewhere with my books and a nice fast computer, and blog, write, study, and come out to cook for people every couple of days. Throw in a nice coffee maker, I'd be set. When I'm not in front of crowds, I'm very happy.

2. Public speaking also is one of the most exhilirating I've ever done. Some people ride roller coasters because they like the scared/exhilirated feeling. Not me. Put me in front of a crowd with a topic to cover. Give me an hour to prep, a reasonable cup of coffee, and I'm ready to rock.

3. Preaching is not the same as normal public speaking. This is not simply about communicating a topic or getting over crowd fear. Now, the aspects of oral communication, the rhetorical skills, are nigh unto essential for a preacher. Don't think so? Reread 1 Timothy 3:2. What do you think 'able to teach means'? It's someone who has developed the skills to present information coherently and persuasively.

-->Note: Timothy and the other potential preachers of the NT had access to training in these areas. This is before widespread persecution. Don't think I'd advocate that house church leaders in North Korea or Iran were inept since they don't have education that they can't access. But for those who have the opportunity to learn to be better preachers, either in the classroom or by practice or by apprenticeship, and don't take those opportunities, that's not right.

Now, the biggest difference is that a public speaker has to present material he has a platform to deliver. For example, you wouldn't have me give a speech about athletics. I'm not qualified. Want me to talk about marching band? You're getting closer.

A preacher, on the other hand, is presenting material that no one is truly qualified to present. Preaching is about communicating the truth of a Holy God, that no one measures up to. Therefore, it requires the power of God. The Holy Spirit in the preacher and present in the message, the power of the Word of God that is being preached is what makes a sermon what it is. This is life-transforming truth here. No human being alone can present it.

That being said:
4. Preaching is an utterly terrifying experience. You are responsible for presenting God's truth in an appropriate manner, are responsible to be the vessel through which the Holy God makes Himself known.

Fortunately, God is present in the situation, and is capable of working through imperfect vessels. Never forget that you are an imperfect vessel, if you're preaching. Never forget your preacher is an imperfect vessel, if you're listening.

But never let sermons be about the preacher anyway. They're about God, God's Word, and the work of the Spirit in our lives.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dental update

Well, we took the kids to the dentist yesterday.

Olivia's teeth are fine, although we're going to seal her 6-year molars so they don't get cavities.

Angie, on the other hand, has a cross-bite. And needs a little bit of correction called a frenectomy or frenelectomy, because the connective tissues between her lip and gums and roof of her mouth is over grown, and she'll have a lifetime gap between her front teeth that would make David Letterman wince. And she has a little cavity in one of her baby teeth.

Naturally, we have a great dental insurance plan. Basically, it's like great health insurance: it covers routine, preventative beautifully. But don't get sick or need something. Then you're out about 50% of the cost. Now, at least that 50% is covered, but, well we weren't exactly expecting this yet. So, we're praying for God to guide us on the rest. Fortunately, we have some put back in a medical spending account, so that's a blessing.

I'm a little afraid of what the dentist is going find in my mouth, though....

Mar 21 2009

Motivational Quote: "Great companies make meaning. A company has a name, but its people give it a meaning." -Richard Pascale

Thought: The same is true in church. We can apply all the names, vision statements, even Bible tags to a church we'd like to. Without people to show the difference of Christ in their lives, it's all very pointless. It's people living out the adoption of God that gives an individual church its meaning.

Prayer: Lord God, we see again that our only hope of future provision is you. We trust in all things other than you, but help us, please to rely on You. And please let us learn that lesson through positive reinforcement.

Rev. 3:9 ->The end of things doesn't result in a happy reunion of the redeemed and the unrepentant. Eventually, the unrepentant will come and kneel at the feet of the redeemed, and especially, the Redeemer as evidence they were wrong.

Proverbs 21:11 ->Known punishment can be used to instruct others, whether it does the punished any good or not.

Proverbs 21:13 ->Ignoring the needs of others does not profit us, it impoverishes us.

Proverbs 21:31 ->Trust in God!

Proverbs 21:9 ->Better to avoid a contentious person for a spouse. Also, since 'wife' and 'woman' are the same word, could this be applied to 'women in church'? Better to have a less impressive standing than to have a church filled bickering people.

Isaiah 30:15-17 ->God's plan seems counter-intuitive. We are not to strive, but to repent and rest. To all the world, the church has to be willing to look like we are calmly accepting calamity, but we are trusting in God.

1 Samuel 8:8 ->All the deeds? But what about thier times of repentance? God understood it was a shallow turn. What about me?

1 Timothy 3:2 ->Bishops/overseers/pastors should not be just like everyone else, even those in the church. If these qualities were to be equally present in all church members, why list them as requirements for ministers? Is there not supposed to be some differential between church leaders and church members? Not that one is more loved than the other, but why else does Paul spell out for Timothy and Titus a listing of qualifications?
Moving toward the Horizon,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Looking back - Mar 20

This week--

Well, it's been a week that seems to have disappeared. I didn't blog through sermon prep this week. I'll get back to it.

I did spend some time this week looking at how I'm going to finish my Master's Degree. Right now I seem to be looking at 4 options;
Gordon-Conwell Seminary
Liberty Seminary
Southwestern Seminary
Asbury Seminary

Why these? Well, they all have online and distance components. Liberty, for example, I could complete without leaving Monticello. Asbury I can do 2/3 of from my own home, and finish the rest in 1-week intensives at their campus in Kentucky. Gordon-Conwell, I can knock out 1/3 online, and then find a way to go to North Carolina on Fridays and Saturdays to finish the rest. Southwestern, I can do 1/3 online, 1/3 in Little Rock, and finish the other 1/3 in one-week intensives in Fort Worth, but I don't know if the online and Little Rock course offerings duplicate such that I'd have to do more in Fort Worth.

Why else? Well, these 4 schools come from quite varied traditions. I'd consider doing Reformed Seminary, but they don't have a distance component for their M.Div. program, which is the degree I want. The truth is, I want the education and the challenge of finishing the degree. I want the language reinforcement of working in Greek and Hebrew. I'm thoroughly convinced of the truth of Scripture, and the adequacy of the Bible without any new revelation. I'm quite persuaded that we preach the Gospel out of obedience so that those who God draws to Himself will hear, respond, and be saved, all to His glory. We have to spread the Word, teach and preach the Gospel, and do it to the fullest of the ability God gives us. He's responsible for the results.

I'm not looking for a seminary that reinforces that belief or for a seminary that I'll get to argue for it. I'm looking for the opportunity to be challenged by professors I agree with and disagree with, to help me grow and learn to better handle God's word. I'm also not that concerned with graduating from the 'right' seminary. That's been a debate and issue for years for me and many other new ministers. There is a fear that we'll go to the 'wrong' school, and be saddled with having the wrong degree for all of our careers. Different schools get labeled different ways, and sometimes that labeling hurts a preacher's opportunity to preach, teach, write books, or serve in denominational leadership. At this point, it's not even a pious sense that 'God will help me choose the right one' or 'It shouldn't matter to anyone.' It's more of a 'I need tools to strengthen my ministry. If the fact that I, at one point, recognized my weaknesses and tried to correct for them in a way you don't like, that's your business and your problem.' I don't have time to play the politics. If you don't want to hear me preach in a Baptist church if I studied at a non-Baptist seminary, don't come listen. Some of the best preachers went to non-Baptist schools. Some went to Baptist schools. Get over it.

What will be the deciding factor? Well, if I could choose with money as no object, I'd take Gordon-Conwell hands down. I've taken a couple of courses from them online, and have read many of their professor's work. I just can't afford to fly to Charlotte every weekend to finish, and that would be the only way to complete.

Asbury is the most expensive option out there, so that'll probably be out. Liberty and Southwestern both cost about the same, Liberty has the benefit of being completely finishable from here in Monticello. Southwestern would be good because I'd have to go on campus some, which is a good mix into the process (I've done some campus and some distance learning before. They're both good, and a mix makes the most sense to me.). The down side is traveling to Little Rock (we own one car, with lots of miles. Adding a 200 mile weekly trip would probably not be good) and to Fort Worth (since I'd have to take the only car for the week and leave Ann and family stranded). Also, the travel and residence costs would balance out the savings.

So, what do I do? Well, for now, I'm praying for the funding to start. Southwestern, Liberty, and Gordon-Conwell will run be about $800 a course, so when I have that, I'm going to start.

Oops. Just spent 3 paragraphs in my weekly summary. Oh well.

Also this week: HB 2144 was referred to interim study, delaying the assault on homeschool rights in Arkansas. This is good.

I got to review 2 books for Sterling Kids. These were good books, click on the book review tag and see my opinion on The King with Horses's Ears and Aesop's Fables.

I got my next book to review for Thomas Nelson. It'll be a good one.

We're taking kids to the dentist today. I have an appointment in a week and a half, for the first time in 14 years. Then the eye doctor, since my glasses don't seem to cut it anymore.

That's about it. Ann was sick Monday-Tuesday, Steven Wednesday-Thursday. And we still have 2 useless cats.

That's it from here...

Mar 20 2009

Well, I really thought I put this in yesterday. I guess I didn't publish it or something. So, here we go:

Motivational Quote: "The surest way to prevent an error from becoming a mistake is to admit it." - O.A. Battista

Thought: Confession is good for the soul. Also, being willing to admit our own inabilities can be helpful. Especially if you are leading and make an error, don't blindly follow it. Even if you can only admit it to yourself, admit it and change directions!!!

Prayer: Lord God, you are holy and righteous. The one thing I know about me is that I am not. I confess my lack of being like you. Strengthen me to follow with your strength. I admit my error, my sin, in trying to do this in my own power.

1 Samuel 8:6 ->Pray first. Then confront people with bad ideas.

1 Samuel 8:5 ->Excusing our desires by pointing to other people's sins. I should avoid this. Whatever someone else says or does, I must focus on Christ.

Proverbs 20:1 ->Erring by alcohol is bad. It's not just intoxication, but erring.

Proverbs 20:3 ->don't stir up unnecessary trouble.

Proverbs 20:11 ->Actions lead to distinction.

Proverbs 20:17 ->Deception for gain leads to destruction.

Proverbs 20:22 ->Allow God to handle it!

Proverbs 20:25 ->Don't hurry to commit or promise things to God. Wait and be sure you can follow your commitment.

Isaiah 30:21 ->God confirms through obedience.

Rev. 3:11 ->He will come quick enough!
Moving toward the Horizon,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quick update

Word came through today that Arkansas House Bill 2144 has been referred to an interim study. I won't presume to know all that entails, but my understanding is that it will remain a pending bill, be considered, its potential effects and usefulness evaluated, and then will possibly return in the 2011 session of the Arkansas State Legislature. So, for now, the state government is going to leave homeschoolers alone. Which is nice of them. There are adequate laws in existence in the state to address what Representative Cook was concerned about. Hopefully this will be seen in the interim study.

And I'm less upset with Congressman Mike Ross than I was. True, he voted for a bailout/stimulus/social reorganization plan without really reading all of it. But he also signed on to a letter sent to Attorney General Holder expressing that there is no need to meddle with the American people's 2nd Amendment rights. So, Congressman Ross, you're off the 'ain't no way I'll vote for you ever list' and on the 'looking for a reason to vote for you list.' That unborn baby humans are still human is probably going to be the deciding factor.


Evidence that, perhaps, we're going insane

I received an email yesterday that I've been hesitant to share. Why?

Well, frankly, I don't really want to believe it. The email is the same as this column here at Chuck Baldwin's website. Who's Chuck Baldwin? Well, at this point, he's an independent Baptist pastor in Florida. He was the Constitution Party candidate for President of the United States.

And now, according to a report from a 'Fusion Center,' having been a supporter of Chuck Baldwin is a potential indicator that a person might be a domestic terrorist. What's a fusion center? Essentially, it's a joint federal/state/local law enforcement group that supposed to help make America safer, and help various law enforcement agencies work together to share useful information. Alternately, it's a place for the federal government to do what they do second-best, boss around everybody else as if they are the only people with brains. (What do they do first best? TAX AND SPEND!) Depends on who is running it and what they think.

This particular fusion center report was about the American militia movement. Remember the Oklahoma City bombing? The folks involved were members of parts of the militia movement. Some militia movement folks are close to ok, some are into treason. The difference? There are people in the militia movement that think the US is close to collapse as the constitutional republic we are, and they are arming and preparing to try and restore that. Those folks are, for the most part, ok. Then there are some who advocate that the US government has crossed the line already, and advocate violence to overthrow it. I don't think that's appropriate. I also do not think violence targeted to cause sheer mayhem and chaos or used against civilians is ever appropriate. (and yes, to be consistent, I have misgivings about some actions of our country in the past 200 years. America is capable of mistakes.)

So, there are lots of factors that could indicate a person is involved with a militia movement. The problem with this report is that supporting a third-party candidate, particularly the ones that advocated small-federal government, is considered an indicator. What? These people were legitimate candidates for President. Bob Barr is named, as are the supporters of Ron Paul. Now, this should aggravate you, even if you supported the winning campaign. Why? This is a step toward viewpoint suppression. Be careful who you support in politics, even legitimate candidates, because you could be labeled a terrorist for it.

There is no mention of the American Nazi party, or anything else. Now, Pastor Baldwin says the report calls him a terrorist. It really doesn't, but what he is doing is taking the next step. If supporting him this year makes you a terrorist, what does that make him? And with our elected President a friend of an unashamed domestic terrorist who fought (or still fights, perhaps) for more government domination, there will certainly be efforts to hold back the dissenting viewpoint. (and there were, certainly and illegally, some efforts towards that end by the previous administration, and by, well, everybody back to President Adams with the Alien and Sedition Acts, in 1798). So, the next thing will be that Pastor Baldwin is promoting 'hate speech' by calling sin, sin. Then somebody will do something that Chuck Baldwin, Ron Paul or Bob Barr would never endorse, but they'll have a bumper sticker or web history showing that they like one of these men. Then it will be that they encouraged or enabled the crime. Then, these guys will be considered 'terror leaders' or other such criminals. Simply for running for office, for advocating the Constitution over international opinions, for speaking their minds in accordance with the 1st Amendment, and for holding that the 2nd Amendment is important.

So, why does this matter so much to me? Well, for one, I supported Chuck Baldwin for President in 2008. So, does that make me a terrorist? I have some other warning signs. I think that our government is too big, I think that the current situation in the United States is untenable. Eventually, America will not be able to stand together as we are now. You just can't have millions of people living off the work of others forever. You can't have the deep ideological divides we have forever. In 1861 our country split over what a person was, over the question of how far and to whom rights belonged. We fought a very ugly war, and still bear some of the consequences of it. And we still can't answer the question of how far human rights extend. Do they extend to all races? Certainly, except that we need legislation to prove we are really letting it happen, even though some of the legislation is counter productive. Do they extend to all people? Well, except we don't know who people are. Are unborn children people? Aged adults that can't take care of themselves? The developmentally disabled? We can't keep killing inconvenient people around here. Eventually someone will find you inconvenient.

So, I match a decent portion of the issues raised in the report. Now, I'm afraid to go to Missouri, although the report, being a joint federal-state report, will have gone to other states, probably including the one I'm in. Now I have to wonder, am I a potential terrorist? When I go to get on an airplane, will I have trouble? Will I be blocked from purchasing a firearm? (by somebody other than my wife who is convinced we should finish paying off some bills before I go stock up. I think I should stock up and wait for somebody to bail me out. Or that since my fellow Americans own 36% of Citibank, ya'll should just let me off the hook. Come on, please?

I know that vague information is less than useful, but it's time to stop seeing terrorist under every rock. Period. Whether in Islam or the Constitution Party. Are some Muslims terrorists? Are there some wackos in the Constitution Party? Do Democrats like taxes? Is the Pope Catholic? We know the answer to all of these questions is a resounding "DUH! YES!" but lumping everyone together is dangerous to our liberty. It's really not very different from racial profiling or gender stereotyping.

So, it's up to you. Paranoia? Or live and let live? Let's use our heads and our common sense, not our phobia.


Also, here's a news article about the story here. It's more balanced than the above blog post or the official response. Which is what's supposed to happen in the news.

Mar 19 2009

Motivational quote: "Being a prime minister is a lonely job...you cannot lead from the crowd." Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Thought: We must be willing to separate from the crowd and follow Christ, even if it means earthly loneliness.

Prayer: Lord God, guide my leadership to be an act of following you. Then it will not be so lonely. And let me never forget the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 13:1 that have gone before me.

1 Samuel 8:20 -> God goes before us, and we have to do our own share as appointed by Him. No government should take that responsibility, nor should we surrender it.

Proverbs 19:24 ->No sluggards are invited to mansaf!

Proverbs 19:17 ->Don't help the poor for your earthly repayment. Trust it to the Lord God Almighty.

Proverbs 19:14 ->Ask God for a wife. He's the best marriage arranger.

Isaiah 29:13 ->Don't let traditions become hollow and meaningless.

Isaiah 29:14 ->God's wonders aren't always nice.

Isaiah 30:1-3 ->God is our only dependable refuge. Egypt was the world power, the place of learning, economy, and culture, but it wasn't the solution.

Rev. 3:10 ->He holds us if we are faithful. We are faithful by His power and grace. All glory and praise to Him!

1 Timothy 3:2 ->Above Reproach! This is a call to live without opening ourselves up to reasonable accusations. It's also related to being able to show by life and word your response to unfounded accusations.

Moving toward the Horizon,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mar 18 2009

Motivational quote: "If we know how to listen to our own heart, we can listen to the hearts of others." -Stephen R. Covey

Thought: Our hearts are crying out for God, and when we hear His consolation of our souls, we'll hear those cries in the hearts of others. And strive to answer them.

Prayer: Lord, I've been hiding, and the results are a stubborn heart and a thick head. Help me, Father, to come out of hiding to serve you better. Help me to know you better, to surrender my defenses to you.

Rev. 3:8 -> You think you are weak, but you have the power of God.
Rev. 3:9 -> Don't be driven to please those who serve Satan.
Rev. 3:12 -> The pillars in 1 Kings 7:21 were called 'He shall establish' and 'In him is strength.'

1 Samuel 8:5 ->Do we reject God's leadership to be "like all the nations"?
1 Samuel 8:7 ->Those who reject godly leaders are rejecting God, not the person. NOTE: The leader must be submitted to God, and this is not a litmus test of salvation. Neither is this about all things a leader wants, but about God's word. Don't think rejecting the pastor's suggestion to paint the building is the same as rejecting the pastor preaching the Word of God.
1 Samuel 8:11-17 ->Kings will take as much as they can. In this passage, the warning is that the king will take as much as God expects, showing that sometimes the government thinks it is God.

Proverbs 18:2 -> Learn!
Proverbs 18:10-11 -> Trust God or wealth? all wealth is not evil, but trusting in wealth is contrary to trusting God.
Proverbs 18:17 ->Don't jump to a conclusion, hear all the sides. Even if you really expect one side to be really wrong.
Proverbs 18:22 -> I found mine! And she is greatly a blessing!

1 Timothy 3:1 -> Aspires? Desires? Those who lead the church ought to want to. Leadership is not something to be eschewed, but to strengthen yourself to aspire to do.

Isaiah 35:8-9 -> Compared to Proverbs 26:13 -> How many times are we sluggard before God, making whatever excuse we can, when He has promised 'no lions!' Get up, get out of bed, and get to it! There is no lion in the street! And remember 1 Peter 5:8 -> Your enemy goes like a lion, so if God promises a future with no lions, that's future without the enemy.

Moving toward the Horizon,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Review: Aesop's Fables

When I picked up Aesop's Fables by John Cech, my first thought, honestly, was that we didn't need another version of Aesop kicking around the house. We already have 2 or 3, I'm not even sure exactly how many we own. Why? Because Aesop, whoever he actually was, writes great fables with good morals.

Wait, you didn't know we don't know exactly who Aesop is? Well, there's one reason you should get this version. The author includes a brief explanation at the end about who we think Aesop was, and also the importance of storytelling to cultural memory. These reminders alone were worth it to me as a grown-up reading this book.

But, you're not looking to get a book to read one page, are you? With this retelling of Aesop's Fables, John Cech has focused on the stories that can be narrowed down to just a few paragraphs. Each one is accompanied by a vivid illustration by Martin Jarrie. The stories are easily read, the illustrations relate to the story (not always the case in children's books, for some reason), and by isolating the moral at the end, it's a great read-with-me with a child because you can read the story, and have them read the moral, thus getting it better in their heads.

All told, this is a good introductory collection of Aesop's fables. You'll want to add others after you've had this one, as there are fables that aren't present in this work, but starting here is a great point for learning these classic tales.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Mar 16 2009

Motivational Quote: "Diplomacy is the art of letting someone have your way." -Daniele Vare

Thought: I've also heard that diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy' while looking for a rock. Either way, I think we're mistaking diplomacy for deception. Diplomacy should be more about persuasion and the art of convincing someone that you know what is in their best interest better than they do. Which is a necessary, though dangerous, art to master.

Prayer: Lord, today, be glorified in our home. Guide us into knowing you better, Lord you know where we are, what we need, and what we ant. But Father, I know we need You more than all of those things combined.

Isaiah 24:1-35:10 (I know you can spend too long in Isaiah, but good grief!)
Isaiah 29:11-12 ->How many people of great learning have lost their way? How much have we allowed knowledge to supplant wisdom, and have allowed impractical 'knowledge' to shake our faith in reality? How much time is spent on things of little value? (For example, other than information, does it matter what exists smaller than quarks? And what do we really learn from trilobyte fossils? And do we allow people that study those things incessantly to shake our faith? Why?)
Isaiah 25 -> Click the link, read the chapter. It's great stuff. Don't miss it just because the Sunday School lesson skips it.

Rev. 3:12 -> Pillars are referenced in 1 Kings 7:12 -> I've often heard it said that Solomon had no real reason to put the pillars there. Except that God uses the image of pillars in His house. All things, folks, all things, are usable by the Lord God.
Rev. 3:8 -> No one can stop God's people, except themselves, when He calls them to obey. The door is open, and no one can shut it. But you can refuse to go through it.

1 Samuel 8:2-4 ->We blame Samuel for making the same mistake as Eli. But Samuel's sons are neither living in the worship center or with Samuel. Neither are they messing with the sacrifices. Moreover, there is no indication that Samuel knew about their perversion of justice until this moment.
1 Samuel 8:18 ->You might just get stuck with the king you demand, and have to deal with him without God's help. Scary thought.

Proverbs 16:4 ->God is sovereign over all things. It's not 'Why does a good God allow evil?' It's really 'Why does a holy God withhold judgment?' And the answer is: 'His grace, to allow repentance.' Really, when you think about it, there's a whole lot more good in the world, and a lot of averted disaster and mitigated evil, all of which show the providence and grace of God.
Proverbs 16:12 ->Those who lead must do right!
Proverbs 16:25 ->But this just feels right! Not everything that feels or seems good is.

1 Timothy 3:1 ->We ought to encourage more people to aspire to be an overseer or bishop or pastor. It's a fine work!
Moving toward the Horizon,

Book Review: The King with Horse's Ears

Yep, I read a book entitled The King with Horse's Ears. Actually, it's The King with Horse's Ears and Other Irish Folktales. The collection is retold by Batt Burns, and illustrated by Igor Oleynikov. Which was strange, given that you have a Russian illustrating Irish tales, but, hey, it's not my job to pick illustrators!

Well, what do I think of this book? It's a good book. (twitter-enabled review-fits in character limit).

Actually, I did enjoy reading through this book. It's part of a series of Folktales of the World put out by Sterling Publishers.

I'll say from the start, I can't say if this collection is true to Irish Folktales as told by Irish grandparents from memory. I'm not Irish. But after reading Batt Burns' retellings of these stories, I kind of wish I was. The stories are short enough to make for good bedtime story, but not so long that interest falters. There are pronunciation keys for the dialect words within the story, although I doubt I read them quite right. The stories, like any good folktales, come back with good morals about strengthening your family or helping your friends, and, generally, are uplifting.

Just to let you know that I wasn't finding fault with Igor Oleynikov as illustrator, I found his pictures really brought the stories to life. Especially in the tale of the Pooka, his illustration helps show a creature that is reasonably scary, but also fits with what the tale tells of the mythical creature. All in all, excellent stories to pass on, and a reasonable start to learning parts of Irish culture.

I look forward to reading more from the Folktales of the World Series.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mar 15 2009

Motivational quote: "It may be difficult, but it can be done. That much faith is a prerequisite of any undertaking." -Margo Jones

Thought: It can be done, because our lives are meant for His glory. Whatsoever He wills, He will accomplish.

Prayer: Lord God, here I go again. I ask you to be with me when I preach this morning and tonight. Father I cannot begin to express the importance of Your Word. You alone can impart to the people who enter. Let Your Spirit handle the Word, the people, and the preacher.

Rev 3:1 -> The Lord Jesus Christ has all of who God is, and is in charge of all there is, especially His churches.

1 Samuel 7:13-14 ->Records no human involvement at all, just that God was victorious.

Proverbs 15:3 -> God sees everything going on, both good and bad.
Proverbs 15:33 ->People worthy of honor were humble before they were honored. It didn't start afterwords.

Isaiah 7:9 -> Pekah loses his throne, not Ahaz.

1 Timothy 2:13-14 -> alongside Romans 5:12 we see that Adam is still the one who brought sin into the world. Men, let's not get too prideful that Eve was deceived. She was deceived and fell, and then Adam brought sin into the world.

Moving toward the Horizon,

Mar 14 2009

Motivational quote:"The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there." -Henri Nouwen

Thought: He's right. This is why the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, to live in the desert of humanity and lead us out of it! Philippians 2:6-11 seems to be right on point.

Prayer for today: Thank you, Lord God, that we are being lead from the desert of death by the one who has been there. God strengthen our hearts to follow You from this place. Help me to connect people to You, that You will be who they are following, not me.

Isaiah 7:3 -> the people are Ahaz's, not the Lord's. This could be part of the problem.

Rev. 3:6 ->never forget that each of us is responsible to God. If we have been made alive, we have ears to hear. Let us listen to Him!

1 Samuel 7:15-17 -> Serving the Lord does not guarantee that we get to stay in one comfortable place all our lives! Samuel was on the move, and couldn't always be home.

Proverbs 14:1 ->Wisdom strengthens our family
Proverbs 14:2 ->Lifestyle shows obedience
Proverbs 14:4 ->It's easy to keep clean when you don't do any work! It's easy to preserve a church building if you don't use it.
Proverbs 14:9 ->Sin is nothing to play with, joke with, or use as humor
Proverbs 14:15 ->don't swallow everything you hear! Double check that email before you forward it! (I recommend www.truthorfiction.com they're a little more objective than others.)
Proverbs 14:23 ->There's a time to stop talking and do something!
Proverbs 14:28 ->And yet, we tend to bash Christians that have 'too many' children. It's the glory of our King to have a multitude. Outreach growth and biological growth.
Proverbs 14:30 ->People at peace tend to be healthier
Proverbs 14:34 ->Um, we in it deep folks.
Moving toward the Horizon,

Friday, March 13, 2009

Looking Back

Friday Mar 13

Looking back:

This week we looked at preaching in Rev. 3:1-6

I got a new freebie gadget from Logos that puts up verses when I type references. It's nice.

I got to review a great book about business principles.

Let's see, Monday and Tuesday I came home from work and put on shorts. Wednesday night it was sleeting. Evokes James 1:6-7, which if James had been from Arkansas he would have written that double-minded men were unstable like Arkansas spring weather.

Found out about a bad homeschool bill in Arkansas. Hoping to make it go away.

The difficult news this week was over the murder of a pastor in Illinois. The reminder and challenge is that preachers the world over suffer for preaching. I have to keep in mind it's not supposed to be easy and earthly profitable.

And we're taking a mini-vacation this weekend with a free hotel night! Yay! We just have to buy food. And we get to stay in a hotel room with a separate bedroom, so Ann and I can stay up and watch TV. And she got an Olive Garden gift card for her birthday, so we'll eat good. And with free breakfast, we only have to feed the kids tonight.

Have a great weekend.


Mar 13 2009

Motivational quote from the top of the page: "The worse the news, the faster you should tell people." James Faludi

Thought: Is there any worse news than the fact people that die apart from Christ will go to hell for all eternity? Shouldn't we remember that bad is basically defined by its distance from good? And since the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the absolute best news, the absence of it would be the absolute worst news?

Prayer: Lord God, we have really good news, and really bad news. In truth, we should be telling people faster than any other news gets around. Give us a passion to do that!

Rev. 3:3 -> There is no new word from God. Remember the word you already received. Better yet, there is one Word, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Don't need a new one.

Rev. 3:2 -> Complete? or Perfect? The word gets translated both ways. It's not that they aren't done. It's that they aren't what God expects them to be.

Isaiah 7:12 -> Ahaz is refusing God's help, but dressing it up in nice, religious-y language. Stop it.

Isaiah 7:8 -> God's promises aren't vague. He brings about what He wills when He wills it.

1 Samuel 7:4 -> Baal and Ashtaroth were idols for prosperity, earthly victory, and sensuality. We need to put these aside from our lives and our churches!

1 Samuel 7:10 -> God thundered and smote! ->God's protection needs no human intervention but is based on His covenant promises. The Israelites were promised earthly protection, His people today are promised eternal protection.

1 Timothy 2:11 -> Is this general to all women? Or should this be just about wives? Wives of believers? Wives of preachers? (1 Timothy is, after all, primarily direction to pastors. earlier Paul broadens 'men' by saying 'all men' why not here if he means everybody?)

1 Timothy 2:11 -> at the risk of over-allegorizing, the church is the 'bride' of Christ, or the 'wife' of Christ, which is the same term as 'woman' in Greek. So, the 'bride' of Christ needs to listen to the 'bridegroom,' the Lord Himself, without arguing or bickering.

Moving toward the Horizon,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sermon Prep Rev 3:1-6 Part III

Difficulties in the text?

Not every passage has 'difficulties' to resolve. First a question on difficulties. What are they?

A text difficulty can be:

1. A variant that needs to be addressed. You find these especially in the Old Testament. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls put Goliath's height at 4 cubits and a span, the Masoretic Text puts him 6 cubits and a span. In the New Testament, there are fewer text variants, but they're noteworthy, like John 8 and the whole story of the woman caught in adultery.

How you deal with these variants depends a lot on where you've learned your Biblical interpretation skills. Some people will use the KJV as their deciding factor, others will jump into whatever the 'latest' scholarship shows. I really think you need to address each issue on a case-by-case basis, with a lot of prayer and study. I consider myself a conservative person, and I take the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, without any errors in the original texts. That being said, I think John 8 is right where it should be, but I think the Dead Sea Scrolls may more accurately reflect the height of Goliath. I think that the centuries of transmission on the Masoretic text may have allowed someone that looked at the previous copy, had a hard time making out the difference between what would be '4 cubits' and '6 cubits' and said 'no way a king of Israel that's a head taller than anyone else is scared of a guy who is only 6 foot 9 inches' and therefore thought '6 cubits' was correct. How do I preach that? Simple: Goliath was still bigger than anyone else, the people expected the king to fight for them, but he's afraid. Why? Because he doesn't trust God. It's not about the size of Goliath. It's about the size of Israel's God.

2. A translation difference: we have this in Rev. 3:1 ESV and Rev. 3:1 and Rev. 3:1 KJV. These types of 'difficulties' are generally easily explainable to a congregation, and only factor if you preach from a translation that the majority doesn't have. I've got a congregation that uses, roughly, 25% NASB, 15% NLT, 30% NIV, and 30% KJV. So, if there's a major difference in how a verse is translated, I take time to explain why.

3. A theological question. This is where a verse might be understood to contradict what your church generally claims to believe. Ecclesiastes 10:19 is a great verse for this. This is also what you've got in Rev. 3:5, a theological question. We understand the Lamb's Book of Life to be the listing of all those who are saved by the grace of God. We also believe that salvation is permanent.

So what's this about 'blotting names' out of the Book of Life? I'll have to address it. Either someone will ask later, or people will leave confused. Well, my conclusion is this: I hold that people are born in sin, and in need of a Savior. But, I also think that God, in His mercy, does not hold responsible those who don't understand sin, such as children from conception until understanding. (I think that understanding comes at various ages) Likewise, there are some born with developmental issues that never reach an understanding. Now, God is the standard of justice for the universe, so how He handles people is just, whether I think so or not, but that's what I see as feasible. We also see in Revelation that those whose names are not in the Book of Life don't go to heaven. So, an unborn baby, if going to heaven, must have her name in the Book of Life. (yes, I used her, not he or she, and certainly NOT it. Why? because most infanticide is committed against little girls. great job to the feminists on that one. you've made the same progress as tobacco companies.) So how will she get in? It can't be that her name will be written when she accepts Christ. Her name has to be there from being formed in the womb (Psalm 139:13-14 ). So, I see this that the Book of Life contains everyone's name. And those who reject Christ are blotted out. Otherwise, it's an idle threat to blot out someone's name. Since God makes no threats, only promises, either to bless obedience or punish sin, it can't be an idle threat.

4. Last difficulty type: apparent knowledge that contradicts the text. Whether it be evolutionary biology or astronomy and Genesis 1:1 or archaeologists and 1 Kings 6:1, there are times when researchers call the Bible's authority and correctness into question. I have yet to encounter a case, though, where research can posit a certain position. Usually the response is one of 'I know the Bible can't be right, so I see this' or 'There is no God, therefore, no creator, big bang is the only way to go.' Then, a little mocking thrown at 'dogma over science' and 'foolish fundamentalism.' Realize that all research can be biased by presuppositions. I presuppose the Bible to be right, therefore when I see that large numbers of extinctions come in massive lumps, a fossil layer that supports a sudden 'explosion' of life around the world at a specific time, I see 8 people and a small number of critters getting off an ark and starting fresh. An atheistic viewpoint can't accept the possibility that there's a God that might have something to do with it, finds a theory to fit the facts into their viewpoint.

To handle these, you have to know what the other side says. Attacking evolution simply based on a 'I didn't come from no monkey' standpoint won't hold up well. You need to realize that there are no facts that blatantly disprove Scripture. There are interpretations of facts that people claim to disprove Scripture. There are assumptions that build into assumed facts that cause problems. You have to take the time to study it. Someone may tell you 'Carbon-dating proves the earth is older that the Bible says.' Can you explain why that's wrong with something other than 'Nuh-uh!'?

Come to all of these issues with the assumption, the foundation, that the Bible is correct, and should be taken literally unless the Bible demands it be symbolic or allegorical. Then, realize that history, science, geology, and even language study actually do provide as much support as they provide difficulty. And that you're not bending facts, but using your head.

This comes back to what is your foundation: the Bible or the world? The Word of God or the word of man?

If you're not sure, deal with that. Soon. Before you preach.


Sermon Replay April 14 2024

 Here is the sermon replay from April 14, 2024.