Friday, December 31, 2010

Gadgets! 2010 in stuff

I thought about making another thought-provoking year-in-review, next year-in-preview post today.  However, there's work to be done with the brain, and it's not going smoothly.  So, I thought I'd post this for you.  It's a review of some of the stuff I've acquired in the last year.  Some is awesome, some is quirky.  All of it is a challenge: do I have stuff, or does stuff have me?  Will I use these various gadgets for the glory of God or am I hiding behind my stuff?

These aren't in any order of preference, cost, or amazing-ness.  They're just in the order I put them in the blog post. FYI: If it's an Amazon.com link, it's probably my affiliate link, if it's not Amazon, it's not an affiliate link. Not trying to profit from any of this, just thought it would be fun.

First item: The Chop-Stir!  Ever have trouble when browning ground meat?  You can't get it quite chopped up and stirred up and well browned? This thing is the solution: imageIt's like a combo-spatula and chopping blade that's dull enough for non-stick, but sharp enough for ground meat.  This is one of the better $6 I've ever spent for a kitchen tool.  It's also handy for mixing frozen juice concentrates.  I have yet to duct-tape it to my drill for power usage, but I'm thinking about it.  Need to give a low-cost unique kitchen gadget as a gift?  Give one of these.  At the least, it won't be returned Smile .  I don't know if these are available from anywhere other than Chopstir.com, but the price isn't too bad.

Next item: The Amazon Kindle. Yes, I bought an e-book reader.  And I love it. Though I will say that I don't want to see these things replace real books, this little gadget is nice.  I now use my Kindle to store sermon notes, school info, and I've taken up about half the space with free books.  I'm not fond of the "experimental" mp3 player, it seems to lock up my Kindle.  However, they've now enabled lending on Kindles, which means I can borrow your book for 14 days or you can borrow mine.  Someday, I'll find a library that is setup for that, and I will be very happy.  

 

Third gadget: Well, not so much a gadget as a software package: Logos Bible Software.  It's required for my seminary experience at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, so I now have it.  This software has a multitude of translations, study resources, and very handily links it all together. Like the Kindle, though, this is no pure substitute for books, although if you could outfit laptops with it and distribute to English-speaking pastors around the world, that would be awesome.  If it hadn't been required, I probably would never have gotten it, but they may require it for that reason.  Anyway, good stuff.  Email me if you want more info.

Fourth gadget: TomTom One GPS (I think it's the "One" model).  This little gadget helps me find anywhere I want to be, except for my house, because it doesn't recognize the street number and the nearest intersection, well, it's misspelled.  But anywhere else I want to go, I can use my TomTom. It's been nice to have for finding my way back around from our new house.

Fifth gadget: A rice cooker:

Why? Because we eat a lot of rice, and also we're experimenting with a project called 30-meals-in-one-day, and that requires all of our pots and pans.  By moving rice into its own cooker, it saves a pot and space on the stove.

Sixth: Food processor.  We can grind all sorts of things! And shred cheese, and so on, and so forth. 

 

There's various other things.  Thankfully, most of the gadgets above were bought via Amazon reward points that accumulated from buying stuff we need (like groceries) with a card that generates points.  Points lead to money to spend at Amazon, which builds the stockpile.

Now, to put this in perspective: there's not a thing on this list I'd go back into a burning house for, nor would I grab it and run for a tornado shelter.  However, if I were building a fallout shelter, most of this would go in it.  It's stuff, handy stuff, but not the end of the world. 

Doug

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking backwards

I'm sitting here at my computer, thinking back over the last 12 months.  Well, a little more specifically, 11 months and 29 days.  I'm trying to mentally review life over the last year and see where I am now compared to where I was.  And to determine if it's helping me get where I should be going.

So, where was I?  Last year at this time, I was attempting to have a little bit of quiet isolation to plan ministry and preaching for the year.  It didn't quite work out, but that's the way things sometimes go. 

I never finished the sermon series I had planned, though.  Through a various series of both good things and bad, it became evident that my time in Monticello, Arkansas, was drawing to a close.  That led to a move at the end of the summer to where we are now, Almyra, Arkansas.

Meanwhile, I've started back to school, primarily at the prodding and insistence of people that are looking out for my best interest when I just want to sit on the couch.  The one class I took this fall was Hebrew, and I'll be finishing off Hebrew this spring, while also taking church history and Biblical interpretation classes.  Those should be a little easier, as I've done that work before.

This past year also marked our son's fourth birthday, thus showing the longest stretch in our married life without adding a child.  We added a cat, but it's not quite the same.  Not that there's a lot we can do about the child thoughts, but we may go borrow one somewhere.

So, here I sit.  I don't really feel much smarter than I was last year at this time, and I'm feeling like I've gone the other way from wiser. I've picked up a few skills, but more and more I've seen a great many areas for growth.

Have I met my goals?  Not really, though that's a mixed blessing.  I didn't really set any major goals last year.  I didn't write a book or learn to play guitar, though I did produce a decent number of blog posts. I wrote and delivered a multitude of sermons and lessons.

So, was the last year a resounding success?  Well, I survived it.  My family survived it.  We are still pretty happy to be with each other.

Can I find failure in last year?  Certainly. I can find some success as well.

There's a bit of both in everything I've attempted.  That's the nature of life for most of us.  Not everything goes as well as hoped, but rarely do things go as badly as they could have.  Were it not for the grace of God, it would have been worse.  Were it not for the grace of God, it would have been better, and I would have forgotten Him.

So thank God for the grace that's gotten you here, and that will carry you the next leg of the journey.  May you see His hand, whether of correction or protection, as you look back at the last year.

Doug

Monday, December 27, 2010

Flat tires

I went into the garage last night and discovered something.  The right rear tire on the van was completely flat.  In the past 4 months, I've had to deal with patching 2 tires, and now this one makes the third.  Yes, all on the same vehicle.  No, I don't know where I keep getting all these blasted nails from either.  I know I had at least 2 of them in Monticello, and maybe I picked up the third here in Almyra. 

All of them started out the same way: a perfectly good tire ran over a nail. (You wanted something bizarre?)  However, I didn't know it.  The symptoms then appeared: the tire appears to be slightly deflated, and a pressure check shows that it is, in fact, deflating.  So, for some time, I add air to the tire.  Once we moved, I even bought my own car-powered tire inflator to keep adding air. Eventually this routine gets old, and something must be done.  Or what happened yesterday happens.

I aired up this one yesterday in preparation for making the trip to Monroe today.  Then, last night, it was completely flat.  So, I jacked up the van, took the tire off, and started spraying soapy water on it.  Then I found it: a small hole, containing what looks like a nail and puts out little soap bubbles when there's air in the tire.  The slow leak became a fast leak.

Now the tire cannot be used until I get it fixed.  Ann and I discussed replacing all the tires on the van, but the tread depth is still decent on them and apart from the holes, they're in good shape.  It seems like a waste of money to replace tires that only have small holes.  Instead, we'll patch this one too and put it back in service.

Why am I troubling you with my tired old story? 

I was contemplating the idea of tire damage and life stress, that's why.  Sometimes, you run over something with a tire, and the puncture is catastrophic.  You see the damage, the tire goes flat or blows out, and instantly there's a problem.  It's not something you can put off fixing or ignore.

Yet most of our difficulties aren't like that.  Many of our problems are the small nails in the tire that leak out slowly.  We can delay fixing them by pumping ourselves up, but that doesn't fix the problem. Eventually, the need to actually fix the issue comes due.

What slow leaks are compromising your life right now?  If you can't think of any, that's either good or a sign of denial, you'll have to figure out which.  If it's not denial, then use your non-leaky life to be an encouragement to others.  Most of us have leaks somewhere, and we need to get through until they're fixed.

And realize this about yourself, folks: you probably don't need replaced, metaphorically speaking.  All my tire needs is for the nail to be taken out, a little buffing and smoothing inside it, a patch, some heat, and it will be in good shape for quite a few more miles. If there are slow leaks in your life, get them fixed, but don't mark yourself for discard yet, because you're not there.  And if you're dealing with a leaky person, be patient with them, because they're not ready for the recycle bin.

True, we all need to surrender our lives to Christ, and He makes us a new creation. If we need to stretch the analogy, then, let's do so: that's trading out your rims for new, perfectly round, and clean ones. How you live is the tubeless radial around that rim, and it still gets leaky, and will until we step into eternity.

Until then, keep patching that radial, and keep on drivin'

Doug

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26 Sermon

Audio link here

The outline is weak.  Originally, I was going to be preaching Isaiah 65, and changed at the last minute.  Well, not quite the last minute.  I changed about 3 hours before church.  I have changed sermons during the offertory before, but that's pretty rare.

Matthew 2

Magi:

Highlights: sought, found, with joy. Exceeding joy! Worship! For the opportunity to give:

3 Gifts:

Gold

Frankincense

Myrrh

Precious due to rarity

Gifts given to show how much more valuable the receiver is than the gifts

What do we learn:

Gold: wealth of the earth

Frankincense: often used in religion

Myrrh: a burial spice

Like many things, these had multiple uses, but these are some of the main ones.

Therefore:

1. How should I use my earthly wealth in view of the coming of Christ?

2. How should I use my religious life in view of the coming of Christ?

3. How should use my lifespan in view of the coming of Christ?

Realize:

1. Not everything goes well: The Magi went to the wrong place to begin with

2. Not everyone means well: Herod

3. Not everything ends well: The Magi had to leave a different way

Boxing Day!

Today is a holiday that's semi-unknown in the US, and mostly misunderstood by those of us who know it exists.  It's…Boxing DAY!

What do I know about Boxing Day?  Well, original I only knew what was referenced on the TV show M*A*S*H years ago, that on Boxing Day, the officers of the military do the enlisted jobs, and the enlisted do the officers' jobs.  It's a one-day swap out, to see how the other side lives.  Apparently, if you trust the Wikipedia, there is some nature of this day originating in allowing the household servants the day off, since they were required to work on Christmas.  However, that's more a matter for legend and not the point.

The point is this: well, there are a couple of points:

1.) Words shift their usage with time.  How many people assume Rocky is the movie for today? (Apart from some of you loons who think Rocky is the movie for everyday!) It's not about boxing, though it is Boxing Day.  Likewise, we must be careful assuming we always know what is meant by a word constantly repeated.  It may not mean what we think it means.  Look it up or ask about it!

2.) Just because you don't know of a holiday or special event, doesn't mean it's not important.  Also, just because someone doesn't know your holiday, you don't have to get overly irritable.  In due time, I expect that nothing of celebrating the birth of Christ will remain in public American conversation. So what?  Like Boxing Day is special to some, Christmas ought to be special to Believers.  Shall we focus on our own behavior or spend time lamenting the behavior of others?

3.) Finally: while I don't know if the M*A*S*H version of Boxing Day is perfectly accurate (given it took them 11 years to fight a 3 year war, who knows? Although, to their credit, for those 11 years the Forgotten War could not be forgotten, and Father Mulcahy is still why I want to be an Army Chaplain), it's a perfect complement to Christmas.  Why?

What happened at Christmas? For you picky folks, what do celebrate at Christmas, whenever it actually happened?  We celebrate the birth of Christ.  The Incarnation, where God puts on flesh and dwells among us, where He sees how we live from the inside.  Where the flesh annoys and distracts.  Where hunger is, and danger dwells.

Yet He came anyway.  And unlike the demi-gods of mythology, He meant to.  This wasn't the result of unquenchable lust or jealous wandering, but rather the intentional plan of redemption.

And not for one day, but beginning one day, and ending one day some 30-plus years later, when He ascended, after having died and risen, that we may all someday come to Him, and by coming to Him, be with Him for eternity.

So, today, let's celebrate that.  Not that our faith hinges on one day, but that it hinges on eternity.

Doug

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Service Outline

The service tonight did not lend itself to being audio recorded, and I didn't arrange for a video either.  Here's what we had: various Scripture readings and group hymn singing.  So, I'm going to paste the complete outline, and try to find video embeds for all of the hymns. Hymn numbers included are Baptist Hymnal 2008 from Lifeway.  Merry Christmas to all.  Doug

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1, NAS)

Joy to the World Hymn #181

“The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ” (Luke 2:10–11, NAS)

How Great Our Joy Hymn #202

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14, NAS)

Hark the Herald Angels Sing was actually an unintended, and not peaceful, collaboration of George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley.  The story is that the Wesleys had written the hymn, and Whitefield changed the opening line to what it is today.  Realize that, whatever other disagreements that exist: Glory to the newborn King is what matters most!

Hark the Herald Angels Sing Hymn #192

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say,

REJOICE!” (Philippians 4:4, NAS)

Good Christian Men Rejoice Hymn #183

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; ” (Hebrews 10:19–23, NAS)

O Come All Ye Faithful

Hymn #199

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. ” (Isaiah 7:14, NAS)

Longfellow had lost two wives, and was living in a country destroyed by war.  Yet he found comfort, the rebirth of his faith: God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Hymn #187

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. ” (Isaiah 9:6, NAS)

Rejoice in finding peace around the manger, across cultures and times, languages and disasters, finding peace in that moment: the Incarnation of God, the point in history that we see that truly, we are not alone.

Silent Night

Hymn #206

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ” (Matthew 5:14–16, NAS)

 

Take your candle with you: you are the light.  Carry it with you!

Doug

Friday, December 24, 2010

Inadequate words

It's Christmas Eve, and I've finally put my finger on what I've been thinking the past few weeks.  I'm a preacher.  I spend my days, my nights, my efforts to put into words the love, majesty, and truth of God.

Yet there are times when I cannot put into plain words, because words alone often lack the beauty and completeness to communicate what needs to be said.  Christmas is one of those times.  While I can find Scripture that says what needs to be said, my own words are too often inadequate.  It's a time and a celebration that needs music and enthusiasm.

So, while the angels say "Glory to God," we people need to sing it.  One of the other amazing things about Christmas is that it's possible to sing the message without truly believing it.  It's amazing to hear artists on the radio sing songs of the joy of Christ, of the birth of the King of Kings, and sound amazing doing it, and next week they'll be back to broken hearts, drinking, and whatever else. 

So, with thanks to various bloggers like Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, and Kevin DeYoung, who are some of the famous good bloggers that I read, I'm going to relink some of the Christmas music videos they've posted and a few others. (note: Challies, Taylor, and DeYoung are in no way affiliated with me, this blog, or these links, so don't go complaining to them about me.)

Inadequate words

It's Christmas Eve, and I've finally put my finger on what I've been thinking the past few weeks.  I'm a preacher.  I spend my days, my nights, my efforts to put into words the love, majesty, and truth of God.

Yet there are times when I cannot put into plain words, because words alone often lack the beauty and completeness to communicate what needs to be said.  Christmas is one of those times.  While I can find Scripture that says what needs to be said, my own words are too often inadequate.  It's a time and a celebration that needs music and enthusiasm.

So, while the angels say "Glory to God," we people need to sing it.  One of the other amazing things about Christmas is that it's possible to sing the message without truly believing it.  It's amazing to hear artists on the radio sing songs of the joy of Christ, of the birth of the King of Kings, and sound amazing doing it, and next week they'll be back to broken hearts, drinking, and whatever else. 

So, with thanks to various bloggers like Tim Challies, Justin Taylor, and Kevin DeYoung, who are some of the famous good bloggers that I read, I'm going to relink some of the Christmas music videos they've posted and a few others. (note: Challies, Taylor, and DeYoung are in no way affiliated with me, this blog, or these links, so don't go complaining to them about me.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

H/T: Tim Challies

"Prayers are done for today"

I use a Bible software program.  It was required for several of my seminary classes, and I love the study tools on it. Plus, it has multiple devotional classics on it, so I'm reading through those, although I long to be able to create a daily reading on it and send that reading to my Kindle.

One of the features of this program is a daily prayer list on the home page.  I've entered a few things on that prayer list that I want to keep up with, and the system allows you to check those items off as you pray for them.  Side note: I'm very pleased that there is a place to enter how the prayer was answered in the prayer list section.  Makes me think the program authors believe that God answers prayers.

After you've checked off all the prayer requests on your daily list, the prayer request section gives you the message that you see in the title: "Prayers are done for today." 

Now, imagine that you create a checklist of things to speak to your dearest friend about, your closest loved one.  In brief spurt, you rattle off that list, and then say "ok, I'm done communicating with you for today."

Imagine that you go to your boss, tell them what you need to do your job today, get your instructions for the day, then say "ok, done talking to you or listening to you."

Now, combine the two.  While some of us might relish the second, it's not really feasible, is it? And the first doesn't sound like much of a relationship, does it?

While I know what my organizer is telling me, that I have checked off the whole list for the day, prayer and communication aren't just check boxes.  Throughout the day, my heart should be praising God and seeking His guidance, praying for wisdom and asking God to show mercy on others and myself.

I should also be listening for orders and directions throughout the day.  It's not optional for Christians to listen and obey, even when we've got plans.  True, there's often monotony in life, but God guides, and we don't celebrate Christmas as the birth of the Suggestion-Maker of Suggestion-Makers.  We celebrate the King of Kings, and kings must be obeyed.

So, today I am reminded to not allow either heavenly or earthly communication to be just a checklist, but rather to allow it to be a flow of life.

Doug

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore

Book Review: Voices of the Faithful

Voices of the Faithful: Inspiring Stories of Courage from Christians Serving Around the World

While this book is fairly new to being published by Thomas Nelson, from whom I received a free copy to review, it's actually been around for a few years. It was originally published by Integrity Publishing, and the copyright is jointly held by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. All that aside, you didn't come to see the history of publication. You came for a view on the book.

First, let's address the question of authorship. The book credits “Beth Moore and friends” as the authors of the book. If, however, you were to credit based on volume of material written, the “Friends” would be in much bigger and bolder print. As far as I can see, Beth Moore wrote the introduction as well as smaller introductions for each month. The daily devotionals are actually written by various missionaries and others who, as the credit puts it “put their lives on the line for God.”

This is an important facet of this work. It is not the writing of just one person, but instead represents a variety of experiences and cultures around the world. So, for the typical reader, there will be some days that the writing strikes you and speaks to your heart, and other days that will be less inspiring.

In all, though, as I have read through this book, I find the devotionals to be well-founded Scripturally, and the reading easy. Well, easy in terms of language, though challenging to the person. How can one not be challenged when you read of those who have left home and family to share the Gospel, and those same ones talk of not feeling like they are showing commitment? When you read the stories that missionaries tell of the sacrifices of the people that they encounter, who actually face baptism and church membership as a life and death decision, rather than a matter of convenience as we often treat it?

If you'd like to track down a fluff-hearted devotional book to make you feel happy all year, you'll need to look elsewhere, but if you are looking for a challenge to provoke your thoughts, this will bring it.

A good “appendix” section that gives some practical tips for involvement in praying, giving, and going in international missions rounds out the book.

Not moving on

I'm going to post the tracking info on a package the Postal Service has.  However, this isn't to rant that the quasi-government agency isn't efficient or effective, because we all know that already.  I actually have a point.  Here's the data:

December 21, 2010
01:43:00 AM
Memphis TN US
Arrival Scan

December 18, 2010
04:58:00 PM
---
Arrival Scan

December 18, 2010
09:56:57 AM
Fedex Smartpost Southaven MS US
Departure Scan

December 18, 2010
09:56:00 AM
---
Arrival Scan

December 17, 2010
04:42:19 PM
Fedex Smartpost Southaven MS US
Arrival Scan

Now, all of that shows this: for almost a week, this package hasn't moved 5 miles.  It leaves Southaven (Memphis area), goes back to Southaven, and then goes to Memphis.  I don't expect it to arrive before Christmas, though I could drive to where it is and be back by lunch today.

It's kind of like the way we sometimes get stuck in a rut in life.  We want to move forward, be more like Christ, be more organized, more disciplined, less messy, whatever.

And we leave where we are, and we can herald our departure.  Then we find ourselves arriving right back where we were.  It's not that we didn't start.  It's just that, well, somehow, we didn't get there.

To all of you who feel like you keep repeating: keep trying.  Someday, I'll get my box. Someday, we'll get where we're going.

We may not get there when predicted or even expected.  We may not make our hoped-for date, but if we keep striving, with help from God Almighty, we'll get there.

So don't lose hope, and don't give up. Just keep putting yourself in the box, and getting on the truck.  Try, though, to get on the right truck.

 

Doug

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chazown by Craig Groeschel

Book Review: Chazown by Craig Groeschel
Chazown
One key to book sales today, it seems, is to have an off-the-wall title. That title then gets someone to pick up the book, if only to figure out what's inside. Chazown by Craig Groeschel certainly fits that mold. The title is enough to attract attention which then, hopefully, results in an examination.
Let's take a few moments and examine Chazown. First of all, the title is a transliteration of one of the Hebrew words that is translated as “vision” in most Bible translations. A quick aside: it's not the only word translated that way, nor is it always translated that way. Groeschel has taken the word, though, from Proverbs 29:18: Where there is no vision, the people perish. (KJV)
From this, he has constructed something that is less a book and more a guidebook. As you pass through Chazown, there are exercises to complete, thought-provoking questions to answer, and notes to take. Unlike many books, this isn't really optional, which shows plainly as you continue to read. How? You'll get to a chapter and Groeschel will tell you to refer to what you wrote down a few chapters back, and to use that as a reference point.
The reading sections are short, and in this internet era, give the feel that this started as perhaps a web-series, but got to be too big for the servers. That's not really a positive or a negative, but just should help you see some of the flavor of Chazown.
As to the content, Groeschel has placed this entry into the great field of “How do figure out what God wants me to do with my life?” answers. He's putting forth the idea that God will guide Christians to know what they should do, and then that we ought to, with God's guidance and sound wisdom, figure out how to do it.
In fact, that's the hyper-simplification of this book. For some, they will see too much 'man-work' in this, and others will see Groeschel's use of 'vision' and 'revelation' as troublesome, since the only clear 'revelation' we have is the Bible. I find that he hits a good middle ground here.
The length and practical interactions could be intimidating to some. It is for me. I read through this book, doing a very basic interaction, so that I could accomplish the review, but I don't know where I will find the time to clearly focus enough to go back through and tackle all the steps that are presented here. Still, I hope to do so. A little more clarifying won't hurt.
I would recommend this book, especially if you have the opportunity to plant it in the life of someone who is starting out fresh, whether by choice or not. It's not going to help someone facing a mid-life career change find a specific job, but it might help them figure out what they really want. Put in the hands of a high school, college, or even seminary student and grasping even part of the concept would do a world of good.
So, grab Chazown. Just don't try to ask for it by name.

To be clear: I received a free book in exchange for this review from WaterBrook/Multnomah Publishers.

Unstuff by Hayley and Michael DiMarco

Book review: Unstuff by Hayley and Michael DiMarco

Unstuff: Making Room in Your Life for What Really Matters

When I was a kid, there was a TV show with Gerald McRaney. No, not Major Dad, but after that, where he and his family sold most of what they owned, loaded up in a Suburban pulling a camper, and toured across America. For the record, this was an old-school Suburban, not one of the new stylish ones. It was an interesting show, and a fairly positive one. I've wondered about living that life with my kids, or if anyone has ever tried it.

Well, Hayley and Michael DiMarco took a shot at it. They didn't exactly have to divest everything, but they downsized and then spent 3 months living and traveling in an RV, with only what they could fit in it. This led to the book Unstuff, which I received free from Tyndale House Publishers to review for this blog. Now, to give the qualification to the situation, the DiMarcos kept their jobs, although being authors isn't exactly stable work anyway, and still had a place to come back to.

However, the book is a great read. Why?

  1. The DiMarcos present in this book the real clash between American culture and Christianity: the American ideal lends itself to amassing material wealth, while Biblical Christianity does not focus on stuff. Nor should we allow material wealth to come to us and sit idly, rather than using it for the purposes of the Kingdom of God. They present, very plainly, what Scripture says of these issues.

  2. They also, though, put their own feelings into the book. Rather than sit back from a pious perfection of “we did it and had no regrets,” the regrets are here. The struggles are here, the thoughts, the frustrations. It's refreshing to see people admit that it's difficult to do what's right, rather than proclaim a truth as if it was easily learned and easily done.

  3. Visuals: this book is constructed for the short attention span. Honestly, I have a feeling that most people prior to my generation will have trouble with the book. Not over content, but over form. There are font changes, simple graphics, and set-off boxes to highlight material. It makes the book easier to go through, and I found that I had read the whole thing much easier than I expected.

There is one major irony in this book. The DiMarcos do an excellent job challenging us to focus less on material, focus more on God, and focus on the real relationships we have. There are a couple of points exhorting the reader to be where they are, interacting with the people around them. Yet all through the book are short, one-liner phrases that are 140 characters or less. Yep, while reminding us all to focus on real talks with real people, the book still gets summarized for Twitter. That's the 21st Century, though. What would we expect? After all, how many characters would you have allotted to telegraph it in the 19th Century?

I liked this book. I will actually be pressuring the young adult Sunday School teacher at church to read it and consider using it as a study guide for a few weeks. It's well worth it.

And speaking as someone who has averaged moving no less than once every two years of his life, I'm all for reducing stuff. Though I hope to not move for quite some time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Living Translation Contest

We’re highlighting three ministries, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Oasis International, and The Dream Center, (click on the link to learn more details about these ministries) and by voting for one of these ministries you’ll be entered to win one of many prizes.

With the Give the Word Bible Contest and Giveaway:
    • Ministries win: Each time the NLT Facebook Page reaches a fan count milestone, votes will be tallied and the three ministries will receive cash donations from the New Living Translation and Tyndale House Publishers.
    • Everyone wins: Everyone who enters on the Bible Contest website wins a free download of Matthew West reading the Christmas story.
    • Daily NLT Study Bible winners: Vote on the NLT Facebook page and you will be entered to win two NLT Study Bibles—one to keep and one to give away. A new winner will be chosen every day.
    • Weekly Give the Word Locally winners: Tell us about a deserving local ministry on the NLT Bible Contest website and they could win five NLT Study Bibles and $250 worth of NLT products.
    • One Grand Prize winner will enjoy a unique trip customized just for them and their family (or three guests of their choice), to Wycliffe Bible Translators world headquarters and the WordSpring Discovery Center where they will experience firsthand the exciting world of Bible translation. The Grand Prize winner could also choose to donate the value of the trip--$2000--to Wycliffe instead.
Check it all out by going to the NLT Facebook page here.

Good hearts, strange choices

Last night, I went out to grab some firewood to put in the fireplace.  I noticed by the back door a small pile of Cheetos.  This was, certainly, not a normal thing to find outside the back door.

However, having three children, you learn to expect the occasional odd thing to happen.  So, the question was sent through the house: "Did any of you dump your Cheetos outside?"  Yes, parenting involves asking questions that you know the answer to.  I knew they weren't from my dinner, and Ann knew they weren't from hers, so we assumed that a random person had not come by, dropped Cheetos at the door and gone on.

Fortunately, we had a quick response that, indeed, we had a child acknowledging the crunchy cheesy event.  When asked why, the answer seemed a little odd, as it was "because of kids living on the street."  The final conclusion was this: apparently, for fear that a child might be living on the streets and need food, we had put the Cheetos outside for this unknown child.

The first issue to be determined, then, was this: are you aware of any actual homeless children in Almyra?  The answer was no, none specifically, but we have been learning to care more about others than just ourselves, and it's possible there's a hungry kid out there.

Second question: are you sure you'd want to eat those Cheetos now?  Um, no.  Follow-up thought: plus, Cheetos aren't exactly a nutritious meal, but we didn't go there.

Third, and last: are there better ways to be helpful?  We then had a good discussion that if we didn't waste our food, we would be able to keep doing things like giving a little to the Salvation Army bell-ringers or find some other hunger-relief groups to support.  That we could work through our church to help feed hungry folks around us, and that a pile of Cheetos by the door only provides one-half the recipe for chocolate-covered ants.

It was a noble, caring thought.  It was just, well, misguided in its application.  I recognize that I do the same things sometimes.  I'll have in my heart what I want to do, the ideals I want to uphold, but do I do it well?

There's times to stress about the methods, and there are certainly methods that will always be out of bounds, but let's remember one thing very important:

If the heart is in the right place, it's not rebuke that's needed.  It's gentle training to get the actions to be most effective.  If the heart is in the right place, it's opportunity that's needed, or opportunity will be created.

So, let's celebrate those who will do anything, even goofy things, to try and show their love for God and their fellow people.  Even if it means a pile of Cheetos by the back door.

Doug

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19 Sermon

Ok, so the actual sermon and the outline don't match very well.  However, here it is:

Audio link: December 19 AM

Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;

And you who have no money come, buy and eat.

Come, buy wine and milk

Without money and without cost.

2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread,

And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

And delight yourself in abundance.

3 “Incline your ear and come to Me.

Listen, that you may live;

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,

According to the faithful mercies shown to David.

4 “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,

A leader and commander for the peoples.

5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,

And a nation which knows you not will run to you,

Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel;

For He has glorified you.”

6 Seek the Lord while He may be found;

Call upon Him while He is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

And let him return to the Lord,

And He will have compassion on him,

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

And do not return there without watering the earth

And making it bear and sprout,

And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;

It will not return to Me empty,

Without accomplishing what I desire,

And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

12 “For you will go out with joy

And be led forth with peace;

The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,

And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Life contains a great deal of emptiness and frustration

The Lord can be found: it is not that we must seek emptily….

Rather, He has shown where He can be found:

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

So we come to Joy. What is joy? Joy is the outcome of living life in faith, living life with hope, and living life surrounded by love.

What were these things again?

Faith: to trust the unseen: to trust God

Hope: to know that what is now isn’t all, that all will be well

Love: to be seen, known, and still regarded as worth the best God has to offer: Himself

All of these lead to Joy:

Not a mere shadow of happiness, not something elusive, rather the knowledge that God with us is all that we have hoped for, and that He can be found…will you seek Him today?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Not quite hungry enough

Today marked my last day of deer hunting for this year.  The season ends Sunday, and unless things go differently than planned, I will not have the opportunity to get back out and find one of those tasty beautiful animals to kill and eat.

So, now that I've got a season behind me, I feel qualified to talk deer hunting on the blog here.  After all, 4 trips makes me an expert.  Never mind that I've shot precisely zero deer. 

Why have I shot no deer?  Well, I've seen a dozen.  They were on the road, and you can't shoot them from the road.  And I wasn't driving, so I didn't run them over!  All the hunting I've done has been from deer stands, where you sit, mostly quietly, and wait to ambush the poor, defenseless creatures when they show their heads.  None of them have shown their heads, tails, or vital organ areas, so I've shot none.

Now, thanks to the game cameras in the area we've been hunting, I know there are deer there.  Quite a few.  I heard this morning that there's an estimated 1 deer for every person in Arkansas.  That's right, about 2.5 million deer, and only about 5% have been killed.  I just haven't seen any at the right place and the right time.

This morning, Ryan and I were discussing why we haven't shot any.  Ryan's seen a few, but didn't shoot them, and I haven't seen any, as we've established.  We talked about where around us we thought the deer were, and came to this conclusion:

If we were going to go hungry without killing a deer, we would have tried harder to find one.

It's true.  Had it been the difference between clear soup and soup with meat, we would have gone more, and done more than sit in a stand and hope a deer came out.  We would have stayed longer in the woods, would have gone into the thicker areas, been more careful about noise, and so on, and so forth.  And if were really about starvation, not sport, we might even be willing to meet the deer (and then meat the deer) at the early morning times they're showing up on game cameras: 2 or 3 AM.

How does this apply beyond game hunting?  Simple: what are you hungry for?  What things are you willing to go to great lengths to bring into your life, and what things get a casual, once a week glance from a semi-comfortable seat?

For too many of us who claim to be Christians, we're as hungry for the Word of God as I was to shoot a deer.  We want convenient timing, comfortable spots, and are willing to dedicate just a fragment of time to the idea.

Is it no wonder we don't see what we claim to want?  I want to shoot that 10-pointer, but I don't want to bad enough to go out in all weather, and to wait all day.  I'm only interested enough to try a few times.

I want to grow as a follower of Christ.  Am I hungry enough that nothing will stop me? Rain, cold, time, or even if it becomes that I must go and seek in the night, in defiance of a government? 

What am I hungry enough for that I'll do anything?  What about you?

 

Doug

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A few wandering thoughts

Just a few thoughts this week, some political, some other…

1.  A federal judge struck down part of the health care law this week.  The same conservatives that rail against judicial activists undoing the will of the people's legislators cheered the verdict.  The same liberals that insist that the judiciary has the right and responsibility to remove laws, no matter how popular, that are against the Constitution stated that the ruling doesn't matter, the law will be enforced.  How about consistency from both sides?  Either courts are supposed to do this, or they're not. The whole idea is the rule of law, not the rule of whoever happens to be in charge and what they personally prefer at the moment. 

2.  Does anyone else think that sports coaches that are willing to look at other jobs shouldn't get million-dollar contract extensions for their wanderlust?  How many physics professors get 30% raises just for considering going down the road to another school?  And does anyone else think that maybe college athletics has become too big of a business, that employees of public universities are getting paid millions upon millions? How is standing on the sidelines calling plays more valuable than being Governor of a state?

3.  Any other e-book owners out there?  I've got an Amazon Kindle, and big news has come out regarding Google's bookstore, Apple's bookstore updated, and so on, and so forth.  Because of a school requirement, I've got a digital Bible software package on my computer.  It's great.  It's handy, I carry around 100s of free classics on my Kindle.  What happens when the power goes out or the batteries won't charge anymore?  While I readily admit this is pessimistic, but are we headed into trouble as a civilized world because we're moving from access to information based on electronic devices instead of print books?  I know you can have problems printing new books, but once they're printed, they stick around.  If we ever get to the only access for classics like Plato or Newton being 'digital,' following generations may never have them. Don't toss books.

4.  I'm still not sure what to make of the WikiLeaks situation.  America is a nation founded in rebellion against authority, so it's hardly fair for our government to expect perfect conformity.  However, there's also a reality that certain things ought not be broadcast. I do wonder, though, how much quicker stuff would get done internationally if open diplomacy was as honest as the private cables leaked.  Seriously.

5.  Still in politics, how is it that for 2 years, the Republicans have been keeping the government from doing anything useful for the economy, and now, the Republicans and President Obama (not a Republican) are fussing that Congressional Democrats are not doing anything to help the economy?  And the Democrats are still, until January, the majority?  Can we fix problems first and blame second?  What if we had a temporary law that stated that no one in Congress, no one in the Executive, no appointees would still be employed by the Federal Government come January 20, 2013? That all Representatives, Senators, the President, VP, Cabinet, none of these would be keeping their jobs?  Would that make any of them more likely to care and act in the best interest of the nation rather than themselves and their party?

Just wonderings today….I don't really have a full length blog post to give you.

 

Doug

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The voice, The call

We have cats.  This is not to brag or complain, but there are three of the furry parasites in this household.

One of the things we allow our cats to do is go outside.  This is positive, because since we started allowing this both the food and cat litter expenditures have dropped around here.  However, it's met with the inconvenience of letting them in and out.  I'm sure there's an illustration hidden in the in and out, cold, hot, raining, dry, whatever, but I'm not there right now.  I'll find it, though.

Where I am is here: the cats have taken to jumping into the windowsill by my desk when they want in.  Occasionally, I'm quick to let them in, but since I'm here, with a desk, with the intention of working they are not my priority.  So, the fuzzies are used to seeing me sit here for a few minutes, and then get up.  Sometimes I get up to do something else and then go open the door for them.

What I noticed today is that one cat has to be called very pleasantly with a happy "Here, kitty, kitty!" and then might come in.  Another one though, Big Jack, I opened the door and gruffly said "Get in here," and he came running for the door.  Now, Big Jack is also known as: The Fat Fuzz, Old Man, and Lumber Jack, because he's not typically the quickest mover (we adopted him as an adult, unknown age cat, and I think he's mildly arthritic.  But he's also fat).  So, he came running, even with the less gentle calling.  We have another cat that won't answer to me at all, but comes running when she hears Ann's voice.

So, what's the point?

We all hear and respond differently.  Jack was quick to respond this morning for a couple of reasons: it's cold and he was hungry.  He bolted in and headed straight for the food. I could have opened the door and called squirrels, and would have gotten him inside.  His hunger, his desires, these things had powered up his attention to the barest squeak of the door.  Now that he's eaten and is back out, he'll be slow to come in.  His desires are fulfilled so his attention is slackened.

What are my desires?  Do I desire to hear from and serve the Lord as passionately as the cat hungers for Meow Mix? (For the record, the food is always available, and he could probably miss a meal or two and be fine.)

Am I so focused on desiring to hear from God that I listen for the barest squeak of the door opening, or do I have to be sweetly enticed, begged by only one voice?

Doug

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A reminder

Quite some time ago (1996!), country music singer Collin Raye put out a Christmas album.  Well, probably there was never an album, but a CD and a tape.  Still, I remember albums, and know why that’s the term…but I’m chasing rabbits again.

This album featured a song that highlighted a Christmas story.  It was the first time I had heard this story, and to this day, the song and the story both haunt and challenge me.

The story is from the Western Front, 1914, during the First World War.  It was at a time when it was just the front, and just a European War, a war that eventually engulfed most of the world, and then took a 20-year hiatus in Europe before erupting again.  It only took a few years off in Asia, but the US wasn’t as involved as many other nations, except for 1917-1918 and 1941-1945.

The war was being fought between Germany on the one side, and England and France on the other.  The two sides were settled into trench warfare around the border of the two countries. (Yes, I’m simplifying. Read a history book.)  Trench warfare worked like this: soldiers, generally conscripts (draftees) lived in a dugout trench, some few hundred yards from the enemy, who is also in a dugout trench.  From time to time, one side or the other would charge out of the trench, attempting to take the next trench.  As I recall from European History, from 1914-1916 the Western Front saw hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, and the frontlines moved, over that time, 2 inches.  It’s a horrible way to fight a war. (Not that there are many good ones. I side with John Clark in the Tom Clancy novels: “Fair means all my people come home.”)

Christmas Eve, 1914, and many of these soldiers are spending their first Christmas away from home, and have spent more time in the war than many expected.  Somehow, and historians greatly debate where and how, the small units that faced each other, sometimes just the day before, in battle, the men who had tried to kill each other for months, found themselves between the trenches, celebrating the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace.

These soldiers took to the idea that, perhaps, they had enough in common as worshipers of Christ to not kill each other.  Then, more learned heads prevailed, and the battle was rejoined.

Collin Raye’s song “It Could Happen Again” raises the question, what if it happened again? Would it stick?

Unfortunately, today, much of the world suffers under regimes that have allowed them no opportunity to know the Prince of Peace.  There is no common ground of Silent Night to sing, or a shared tradition of trees and mangers.  The greatest moment in history, the Incarnation of Christ, the coming of God with us, has been reduced to a battle over the labeling of parades or which songs are sung in school.

Meanwhile, people are dying.  Some are dying and going to an eternity with Christ.  Others are dying and going to an eternity with the wrath of God.  What do I think we should do?

Spread the message.  Don’t tell folks “Merry Christmas” as a correction to their “Happy Holidays” but rather as an encouragement to look to the Savior.

Spend your efforts to share the love of Christ.  Let what you give reflect His love.  Let what you say reflect His Word.

Seek peace, understanding.  True, no peace without Christ will hold, and many songs at Christmas sound almost idealistic and na├»ve, yet we can pray that they come true. Perhaps, someday soon, in the name of Christ all oppression will cease.  Perhaps, all the faithful will come, and we will see peace on earth throughout the world.

Until then, let us remember, we’re all we’ve got.  Our enemies, such as they are, need the Gospel, and when they’ve heard it, maybe they won’t be our enemies anymore.

And for us within Christianity: can we find ourselves together, humble at the manger and the Cross, astounded at the empty tomb, and quit fighting amongst ourselves?  If we can quit fighting ourselves, maybe we can win the world.

 

Doug

(below is an affiliate link to where you can download the song I referred to.  I think the intro is read by Kris Kristofferson.  I tried to find a way to stream it, but couldn’t find any legal methods.  It’s $0.99 on Amazon, so if you can handle digital downloads, get it.  If you can’t, swing by the house, I’ll loan you the CD, but you have to promise not to make a copy.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sermons December 12

Here's the weekly sermon post.  It's long, and you don't have to read it if you don't want to. I just want to enable you to catch up if you missed or review if you missed something.  The outline/sermon guide that you see is what I wrote in preparation to preach.  It is often at least slightly different from what I preach, because I don't read it, just refer to it. You're welcome to tell me that it would have been better to preach what I wrote rather than what I preached!

Doug

Here are the audio links:

Click here to download and listen to the Morning Sermon.

Click here to download and listen to the Evening Sermon

And click here to listen to the ladies group sing Silent Night.

Outlines:

Morning: Isaiah 53

Sermon: Isaiah 53: Love: Shown to us through the suffering of the Messiah

Text: Isaiah 53

Title: Love Sacrifices

Theme: The Suffering Messiah

Location: FBC Almyra

Date: 12/12/10

So, today we come to love. Love is, like many of the words that we find in Scripture, one of those words that does not quite mean what many people think it means. It's a word that many people use on a daily basis. We love a good cup of coffee or the feel of a clean shot at a deer. We'd love for gas prices to come down or for soybean prices to come up.

We love it when the Hogs win, and love it when the Yankees lose. We love dolphins or Dolphins, we love a good movie or a good book. We love our church, we love our kids, our parents, our family, and we especially ought to love our wives or husbands.

So, how is it that one word can express our feelings about such a wide variety of ideas. Well, quite frankly, that's where our confusion comes in. We're generally so careless with the word love that we miss what it really means.

You see, to love is to do more than just have strong feelings about something or even someone. Love is, well, something quite different from that. Let's take a look at Isaiah 53:

(I took out Isaiah 53. You can look it up or click it to see it.)

Now, let's look at how this matches with our images of love. Usually we picture smiles and hearts, and yet here we see something very different.

We see suffering here, we see anguish. How is this love?

We need to understand love a little better. Love is not something that is only a feeling. Love is the commitment of your life to do for someone what is in their best interest, no matter what the cost to yourself, the commitment to treat them as God has treated them and us.

Love:

  1. Love observes

    1. Love observes the need of the beloved

      1. What is it that people need?

        1. People need....food

        2. Clothing

        3. Shelter

        4. The latest and greatest cell phone...

      2. We are often not capable of sorting out our own needs

        1. We think we need things

        2. Yet the things we think we need often destroy us

        3. Think of the cycle...

          1. Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”

16–19 Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!2

          1. He thought he needed bigger barns, maybe a new hired hand or two

        1. What else? Feast for laughter? Wine for Merriment? Money to solve your problems? Ecclesiastes 10:19

      1. What do we see in Scripture?

        1. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 3

        2. God is aware of our needs, and holds a clearer understanding of them than you ever will

    1. He knew we had:

      1. Sickness

      2. Grief

      3. Sorrows

    2. He knew we were separated from God

  1. Love participates

    1. So He came to know them

      1. Not just to see them

      2. But to experience them

    2. He bore Himself the same griefs

    3. The same sorrows

    4. Even though the baby in the manger is the fullness of God, He has clothed Himself in human form and come weakly

  2. Love bears the cost:

    1. To relieve our suffering: affliction

    2. To relieve our sickness: scourging

    3. To relieve our isolation: Smitten

    4. To relieve our rejection: His own rejection

  3. Love sees it through

    1. The story of Christmas doesn't really begin at the manger, and certainly cannot end there

    2. Rather, it began when God said “Let us make man....”

    3. And it ends?

    4. Verse 12: Christ has been allotted a portion, given a reward, and borne the sin of many

    5. As He brings us back to Himself, finishing the task, the story winds towards its end.

Will you come back today? Will you surrender your fighting? Will you stop striving against the Almighty and accept His sacrifice, His stripes, His love? He has seen what you need, and has made the provision. He has provided the faith you need, has been lifted up from the earth on the Cross, and again at the ascension. Your debt is paid, if you will surrender and accept what He offers: a cross, true, but the cross that He gives you strength to bear.

Accept it today. It is only when you do that you receive what love has: what you need.

1 New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Is 53.

2 Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), Lk 12:15–19.

3 The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Mt 6:8.

Evening: Matthew 1

Text: Matthew 1

Theme: Who needs ancestors?

Date: 12/12/10

Location: FBC Almyra

  1. The Genealogy of Christ

    1. Highlights first:

      1. Jesus

      2. David

      3. Abraham

    2. Then back:

      1. Abraham: called out of Ur. Twice a liar to save his neck

      2. Isaac: once a liar to save his own neck

      3. Jacob: trickster, deceiver, conman, grumpy old man

      4. Judah: Leah's 4th son, before there is an interruption in her bearing of children; the one who thought up selling Joseph; also the one who persuades Jacob to let Benjamin go to Egypt, offers himself as a pledge

      5. Perez, by Tamar: Judah sinfully would not allow Tamar to have his 3rd son as a husband, and then found himself the father of her children. Neither Tamar nor Judah behaved very well here.

      6. Amminidab, Nashson, Salmon---not a lot of info

      7. Boaz: see the book of Ruth. Apparently a profitable farmer

      8. Ruth: a Moabite woman, and the Israelites and Moabites did not get along. Likely from a family of idol-worshipers, and Chemosh/Molech was a bad idol.

      9. Obed, Jesse: not much here. Shepherds, and a tendency to overlook the runt of the family

      10. David: great warrior king and poet. Lousy: husband, father, moral guide.

      11. Solomon by “her of Uriah:” How would you like your sins to be your calling card 1000 years down the line? Bathsheba doesn't actually get mentioned by name. She's remembered as “Her of Uriah.”

      12. Solomon: not much of a moral leader either. Wise in all things, but his wives turned him from the Lord.

      13. Rehoboam: split the Kingdom. Need I say more?

      14. Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joram: decent kings, mostly, but had their ups and downs.

      15. Uzziah: died early in the life of Isaiah

      16. Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah: not good, not very good, good until he offered sacrifices instead of letting priests do it and God struck him with leprosy

      17. Manasseh: evil. Apparently, had a moment of reality near the end of his life and turned back to God, but already had pretty much destroyed the nation.

      18. Josiah—not bad, but then killed in an unnecessary battle

      19. Jeconiah—too short on the throne to know

      20. The exile, the post-exilic heritage: lesser known, certainly not kings

      21. In all: the earthly heritage of the Messiah is a little messy.

      22. And He was completely aware.

      23. The fact is only one thing truly mattered: He is the only begotten Son of God

      24. Down in, only one thing matters about you: you are adopted as a Child of God.

      25. You are an heir, then to all the promises of God

      26. You are a participant in the purposes of God:

      27. To bring glory and honor to God

      28. To show the world His love

      29. To reconcile mankind to Him

      30. To live in obedience to Him

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Today I will Preach

I’ve never been much of a poetic person, but I’m calling this an attempt at poetry because these days the only rule for poetry is that you can not follow grammar rules.  A poem doesn’t have to rhyme or even make sense, although there is some rhyming here and it made sense to me when I blurted out the words.

Today I will preach
I will get up
I will clean up
I will put on a suit
Lately, I have studied
I have prepared my words
I have sought out His words
I will stand before the body
I will stand before His body
I will stand, before that, I must kneel
I do not hope to motivate
I do not hope to captivate
I hope to not equivocate
Today I have nothing to offer
I am neither the eldest
Nor the smartest or wisest
Not even the funniest
I have nothing
No words that heal
No words that soothe
No adequate words
Only words not my own
Words owned by Him
My explanation perhaps
Yet His Word controls
Commands
Calls
Cleanses
Today I will preach
I may yet falter
I may yet fail
The Word never will
The Word precedes
The Word protects
The Word will persevere
Let the world forget me
Yet while I remain, let me stand
Let me arise, prepare, and kneel
My Lord may be done with me soon
But Today, I will preach.

 

Thanks for reading…now go find a good poet and get this one cleared out….

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Week in Review

It's been a roller coaster week, and I thought I'd just pour it all out here on the blog so you can share it with me.

Sunday went well.  We had good services at church, a good deacon's meeting, just a nice smooth day.

I spent Monday on the phone with various bank representatives trying to figure out if any of the billions of dollars banks got to help people who couldn't make mortgage payments or sell houses could somehow help me, since I have a house to sell that won't sell.  One bank seemed somewhat helpful.  The bank whose representatives talked me into splitting my 100% finance mortgage into an 80/20 Mortgage and Home Equity Loan, and who then sold the 80 and kept the 20, they weren't very helpful.  In fact, they basically told me that no matter what happened, they would have to have the final say in whether I sold the house.  They have no guidelines to offer about what offers will be acceptable short of 100% payoff, even criticizing me for having made the decision to accept the advice of their own mortgage department when I took out the loan.  Not a good day.  Not my finest hour, and I'm still a little steamed.

Tuesday went ok.  Then Wednesday rolled around, and I was asked to guest post on a blog that has a lot of readers! So, I wrote up something for SBCVoices.com and sent it in.  If you click over, you'll read it there.  I'll probably re-post it here in a week or so.  That felt good, to be invited to write and post elsewhere.  It feels pretty good that there weren't really any critical comments either.  Apparently it was generally agreeable or generally unread, but either way, I'm happy. 

Wednesday night was business meeting, and it went sleepily, which is wonderful for a Baptist church, especially at budget time.

Thursday was fairly normal, then Friday rolled along.  A little background for Friday: one of my favorite authors these days is Andy Andrews.  He's an inspirational author, and I've done a few reviews of his books and read many of them.  Well, since he's very much a writer interested in happy, heartwarming stories, he asked for heartwarming stories of Christmas to be sent in to his blog.  I thought I'd send him one. I checked back today to see if they had decided which ones to post, and saw a familiar story being used as the example of 'heartwarming story.'  It was mine!  (As of Friday afternoon, this link will take you to his blog and you can read the story over there.  It's at the bottom of the page about asking for stories.)

Meanwhile, as we've been praying desperately over the house, God has provided for the payments to keep being made for a little while longer.  We're hopeful it will give the house time to sell, and we're reminded God can provide.  And no, it's not a government bailout program.  We still need it to sell, but we can now not choose between making the payments and buying groceries.  This is a good thing.

So, I'm feeling pretty good about myself.  Well, actually, really good. Right now the only thing not going my way is I haven't shot a deer yet, but since I haven't gone all week, it's no surprise. I even cleaned up some ducks I was given and get to eat those.

Now, where does this story turn?  When does Doug get his comeuppance, where does his hubris show through?

Well, before I get carried away with myself, I simply have to look in the toolbar of my computer.  I see there a file, it's my sermon for Sunday morning.  It's a Christmas sermon, it's about love.  It's happy.

Not exactly.  It's from Isaiah 53:

“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:3–6, NAS)

I'm reminded just how far God had to come to make it to the manger.  Not just to trade the light and glory for the dark of Earth, but to come to know illness, sorrow, and death. To come and be pierced, stricken, and afflicted.

And it's not just that He loved me enough that, had been the only person on Earth He would have done it anyway.  It's also that I'm sinful enough that He would have had to do it all.  All of His suffering was necessary just for me.

And if that can't keep me humble, keep me on my knees before my Almighty King, what will?

 

Doug

Sermon Recap for September 20

Good evening! We had some major technical difficulties this week, so we don’t have the music part of the service, and you get the video from...