Thursday, February 28, 2013

Go in Peace

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
- Psalm 1 New International Version
Interesting that of all the psalms, this, which emphasizes the difference between the outcomes of sin and righteousness, should be the first. It is almost as if the writer implores us to understand that regardless of our intentions, sin will rob us of our blessing in Christ. I especially related to the phrase "or sit in the company of mockers". It reminded me of the hours and hours I have sat watching cable news shows, listening to one speaker after another mock one thing and person after another.

Others, I know, sit and watch reality TV shows that literally make a mockery of the human condition, and encourage the users to mock those on the screen. Are we becoming a world of mockers, reveling in the disgrace of others?

Much of the bad behavior of the world is excused by many who paraphrase a certain event in the life of Jesus. Recalling the instance of the woman caught in adultery who was about be to stoned, many choose to selectively point out that Jesus essentially asked "who are you to judge?"

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 
 - John 8:7 NKJ

Our well-meaning friends who seek to excuse the sinner seem to overlook that Jesus points out that the very thing which disqualifies those who would judge sin, is the sin in their own lives. By excusing the sinner, they seek to excuse themselves. They also never, never mention the end of the story:
And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 
She said, “No one, Lord.” 
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
- John 8:8-11  NKJ
Jesus forgives our sins, but even as he does he commands us to give up our sin. Not for His sake, but for ours. For by giving up our sin, we can become like the tree planted by streams of water, living water, blooming and yielding our heavenly fruit in season.

Go, and sin no more. Go, and give up those vulgar and demeaning television shows. Go, and give up those radio talk shows that fill you with anger. Go, and give up those violent movies and video games. Go, and turn off Facebook, text messages, and email, and talk to real folks all around you.

Go, and meditate on the Word of the Lord. He will fill you with love and peace in this world of hate and anger.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Grasping for the Wind

I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered.
 - Ecclesiastes 1:12-15 
One of the lures and traps in today's world is that modern technology allows us to pay attention to a much wider range of issues than we used to. From grabbing the smartphone in bed at our morning wake up, to watching our favorite cable news shows late into the night, we can literally listen to and develop opinions on topics and issues that impact us only marginally at best, and perhaps not at all. Yet we strive to understand, in a vague sense of being able to do something about it all. In the verses above, in fact in all of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, tells us to relax and not to concern ourselves with things we do not and cannot really understand.

The deeper problem is that these sources of knowledge are not very healthy for us. The apostle Paul warned Timothy to
...guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith. 
- 1 Timothy 6:20-21 
There's a lot of "godless chatter" out there, and some of it even poses as Christian viewpoint. But a truly Christian viewpoint is one that is alignment with Paul's advice to the Philippians:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 
- Philippians 4:8
Not a lot of that sort of thing in the daily news that we're bombarded with. We shouldn't be surprised...we've always known the world was a hard place. We just hear about it a lot more these days. And that process of following the news, as bad as it is, tends to become a bad habit that forms negative thoughts and turns to frustration and anger. Which is why Paul suggested doing the opposite.

For, as Peter reminds us, we already have the knowledge we really need to function effectively in the world...
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
2 Peter 1:3-8 
I recently resolved to turn away from the news feeders, the radio talk shows, and the cable was just dragging me down and rendering me ineffective as a tool for the Lord. Ten days later, I am refreshed, positive, and more upbeat about life. And there's a lot more Good News in front of me to focus on.

Thank you, Lord, for setting me back on the path of knowledge of righteous things.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Thank You, Lord, for Fresh Eyes

Haven't posted for over a year. But recently I've had a couple folks contact me for other reasons, who said they saw and like this blog. So, I take that as the Lord saying to get back to work.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the time of rest and reflection. Bless us here with Your Spirit as we continue to seek You and Your ways.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Joe Paterno, A Man for the Ages

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Jesus in Our Tank

In church today, it came to me that Jesus takes us where we go, and church is one place where we go to make sure we're on board with him.

When we're really riding on God's grace, and things are sailing along smoothly for us, it's kind of like riding from State College to Harrisburg in a nice new car. No problems, no traffic, smooth ride, pleasant scenery...we get there and we don't even think about how we got there.

Unfortunately, we can take the ride for granted. If we make that same trip in a 1976 Ford Pinto, we'd be thinking about the car all the way, every mile afraid of what might break and send us to the side of the road in a puff of smoke.

At church we take care of our ride. Sometimes we're just  in for a gas-and-go, when the praise and worship is all we need to charge back out and get on with the week.  Sometimes we're a little more subdued, and we take care to wash and wax our relationship with Christ with a little soul-searching. Other times we need to pull in for maintenance, to repent of some part of our relationship that broke down during our negligence during the week. And sometimes church is like a day at the Ford Engineering College, examining the science of every nut and bolt to make sure we understand what makes the car go, and can explain it to others.

Some churches are like quick marts, mainly focusing on dispensing the gas. Others are like garages, and still others are like engineering college. People tend to gravitate to the type of church that best fits their personality, and sometimes they change churches when their needs change.

I'm blessed...our church is all rolled into one. Rock star praise band, love technician congregation, and a pastor that teaches the Bible like Einstein taught physics. Great place to pull into on Sunday.

After that, my week is like taking that drive in a mint '65 Corvette; smooth, fast, and tight on the turns. No way I'll take Jesus for granted when the ride is this cool.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Why Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy"

Don't read this article, entitled The Internet is Over, unless you want to spend a day mulling over the miserable state we are being led to by our technological wonders. I know this will happen because I read the comments...and 90% or more of the commentors reflect that feeling. It was extremely interesting to me because I recently read George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, and although the novel was extremely uncomfortable reading, I thought I was somewhat re-assured that at least some of the societal horrors depicted in the book have not materialized.

Then I read this article.  And I realized it is real, and it is here already.  And it will become worse.

Even as I personally come to use email, blogging, twittering, and my professional website more, the distinction between my work time and my personal or family time becomes blurred.  Am I becoming part of the "collective consciousness", or just participating in global gossip? Is there any part of this that enhances my spiritual life?  Or is this process attempting to rip me away from the private, comforting moments of clarity that I have when I am completely "off the grid" and thinking about Christ in my life?

Even as it did in late 1999, it seems useless to flee to the mountains. I'll ride this techno-wave and try to keep God as my co-pilot.

After all, if riots can be triggered in the middle east over cell phones, then why couldn't world-wide revival?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Passion of Joan

12:30 tonight on TCM.  Hope I can stay up that late...

Trouble with the embed code. If no video below, go here to view...

Cinematic inspiration, using the exact dialogue from St. Joan's trial.  Asked "Since you are sure of your salvation, you have no need of the Church? Are you in a state of grace?"  They had her set up for a confession of heresy.

Great acting, then Joan replies..."If I am, may God keep me there...if I am not, may God grant it to me!"

A Stephen moment re-enacted on film.  May God grant me the same grace in my own moment of trial.

A Prayer for the Japanese

Hard to think about much else after watching some of the disaster coverage in Japan.
Lord, please look down on your people in Japan in compassion. Lift them up with a power that can only be from You. Comfort the grieving, and strengthen the others to be kind in consolation. Turn the hearts of your people around the world to reach out in aid by whatever means are available to us. Please prevent any further disaster from hitting the island, and tame the furies of the nuclear energy within the disabled plants. Shorten the days of suffering, and hasten the recovery of their communities, their health, and their faith. 
We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, who  remains ready to receive all who seek Him... 

The Earthly Consequence of Fundamental Faith

Waiting for WW III by Doug Casey...offers an interesting and insightful analysis of current world affairs relative to the history of the Muslim faith. For instance...

Islam may be the world's largest religion, at least if you consider the number of real, as opposed to just nominal, believers. It's certainly the world's fastest growing, dominating the lives of about a billion people who live in what a wag might call the Koran Belt, extending from Northern Africa through all of the Mideast and Central Asia, right through western China and down to Indonesia. It's a part of the world with lots of poor people and little capital. Many repressive governments and little freedom. To what degree, if any, is that the fault of Islam?
Indeed, and to what degree is the relative prosperity of the West the result of Christianity? Much of the remainder of the article affirms our uncomfortable relationship with the fundamental observance of faith, any spiritual faith, that is, and wealth.
A good Muslim, even more than a good Christian, makes his religion not just the centerpiece of his life, he makes it his life. If the Koran is the exact and indisputable word of Allah, then it's almost a blasphemy to read anything else, or learn about anything else, or do anything that doesn't relate directly to what Allah expressly tells you to do, unmistakably, in black and white. Unfortunately, this presents a conflict with about a thousand other things a human may need or want. So compromises are inevitably made, rationalized and justified.   
Some say that Islam is fine in itself and, as with Christianity, the problem is fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is basically living your life exactly according to the dictates of The Book, as least as you understand it. And this gets us back to the problem of hypocrisy. If Allah, via the Prophet, says it is wrong to charge interest on a loan, under any circumstances, how can you rationalize that with modern banking practices and economic theory, in which interest is the time value of money? If Jesus, who many Christians believe is God, says that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven, how can you rationalize being rich?
To the degree Muslims take their religion seriously, they will necessarily fall behind in every other area of human endeavor. That's because their religion takes absolute precedence over everything else and regulates everything they do. The consequences of that are poor, at least if you value things like capitalism, freedom, science and technology. And their consequence, prosperity.

This analysis is presented in the context of examining the inevitable economic disparity between Muslims and the rest of the world as technology lifts up the fortunes of those who live to prosper in the world, at the expense of those who shun it for the promise of better things in the next world. Resulting, the author hints, at the seeds of the coming (or present) third world war.

One wonders what the state of the world would be if the billion or so Christians were as fundamentally devout to their faith as most Muslims seem to be. Could it be that the secular world, already haven conquered the majority of "Christians", is now taking aim at the only faith group that remains to threatens The Dream of heaven on earth?

Friday, March 04, 2011

Teach us to number our days, O Lord...

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 
 - Psalm 90:10-14 NIV
Teach us to number our days. Every day is so dear, yet if we don't pay attention, they fly away without a thought on our part.

As we approach the Easter season, think about how Jesus must have felt in his last month.  Everywhere around him, he saw sin and violence. Yet, many people were hearing him, and heeding the Word, most perhaps for the first time in their lives. Every day he saw new people with their hearts lifted and their hopes raised. Jubilant crowds followed him everywhere, and people sought the knowledge of God with every question they asked. It was the most wonderful time in the history of man, and it all revolved around this one man, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Yet he knew his days were numbered, and short. Every encounter was important to him, even when little children upset the cultural standards of the time and tried to crowd in to see him. For he knew in them was the future hope, the witness, the enduring legacy that believers inherit.

So we are today. Whether we have seven days, seven years, or seventy-seven years left, each day is precious and can be a monument to God. And if we live in this way, we will be glad in all our days.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Source of Miraculous Healing and Spiritual Peace

More from Brother Lawrence...
To the same correspondent probably, and expresses his own abiding comfort through faith.
IF we were well accustomed to the exercise of the presence of GOD, all bodily diseases would be much alleviated thereby. GOD often permits that we should suffer a little, to purify our souls, and oblige us to continue with Him. 
Take courage, offer Him your pains incessantly, pray to Him for strength to endure them.  
Above all, get a habit of entertaining yourself often with GOD, and forget Him the least you can. Adore Him in your infirmities, offer yourself to Him from time to time; and, in the height of your sufferings, beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child his father) to make you conformable to His holy will. I shall endeavour to assist you with my poor prayers. 
GOD has many ways of drawing us to Himself. He sometimes hides Himself from us: but faith alone, which will not fail us in time of need, ought to be our support, and the foundation of our confidence, which must be all in GOD. 
I know not how GOD will dispose of me: I am always happy: all the world suffer; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual, and so great, that I can scarce contain them. 
I would willingly ask of GOD a part of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness, which is so great, that if He left me one moment to myself, I should be the most wretched man alive. And yet I know not how He can leave me alone, because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do, that He never forsakes us, till we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His presence. Do you pray for me, as I for you.
To the same he exhorts for fuller and entire confidence in God, for body and soul. 
I AM in pain to see you suffer so long; what gives me some ease, and sweetens the feeling I have of your griefs, is that they are proofs of GOD’s love towards you: see them in that view, and you will bear them more easily. As your case is, ’tis my opinion that you should leave off human remedies, and resign yourself entirely to the providence of GOD; perhaps He stays only for that resignation and a perfect trust in Him to cure you. Since notwithstanding all your cares, physic has hitherto proved unsuccessful, and your malady still increases, it will not be tempting GOD to abandon yourself in His hands, and expect all from Him. 
I told you, in my last, that He sometimes permits bodily diseases to cure the distempers of the soul. Have courage then: make a virtue of necessity: ask of GOD, not deliverance from your pains, but strength to bear resolutely, for the love of Him, all that He should please, and as long as He shall please. 
Such prayers, indeed, are a little hard to nature, but most acceptable to GOD, and sweet to those that love Him. Love sweetens pains; and when one loves GOD, one suffers for His sake with joy and courage. Do you so, I beseech you; comfort yourself with Him, who is the only Physician of all our maladies. He is the FATHER of the afflicted, always ready to help us. He loves us infinitely more than we imagine: love Him then, and seek not consolation elsewhere: I hope you will soon receive it. Adieu. I will help you with my prayers, poor as they are, and shall be, always, yours in our LORD.
Lord, I pray this day that all who need this message will receive it in Your own good time and way.

Hallelujah Monks


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

On Suffering with Christ

Probably our most difficult tests of faith involve sickness and suffering of our loved ones, or ourselves.  We know that we are healed by the blood Jesus Christ shed for us...
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”  - 1 Peter 2:24
...but the healing we receive is primarily spiritual, more so than physical. Sometimes we recover completely, miraculously; other times, not so.

Brother Lawrence perhaps shared the best explanation of how to bear up under this difficulty. In his eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth letters, he explained the beauty and peace that grows within us as we use our faith to bear up to the challenge.

To one who is in great pain. God is the Physician of body and of soul. * Feels that he would gladly suffer at His wish.
I DO not pray that you may be delivered from your pains; but I pray GOD earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases. Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross: He will loose you when He thinks fit. Happy those who suffer with Him: accustom yourself to suffer in that manner, and seek from Him the strength to endure as much, and as long, as He shall judge to be necessary for you. The men of the world do not comprehend these truths, nor is it to be wondered at, since they suffer like what they are, and not like Christians: they consider sickness as a pain to nature, and not as a favour from GOD; and seeing it only in that light, they find nothing in it but grief and distress. But those who consider sickness as coming from the hand of GOD, as the effects of His mercy, and the means which He employs for their salvation, commonly find in it great sweetness and sensible consolation.
I wish you could convince yourself that GOD is often (in some sense) nearer to us and more effectually present with us, in sickness than in health. Rely upon no other Physician, for, according to my apprehension, He reserves your cure to Himself. Put then all your trust in Him, and you will soon find the effects of it in your recovery, which we often retard, by putting greater confidence in physic than in GOD.
Whatever remedies you make use of, they will succeed only so far as He permits. When pains come from GOD, He only can cure them. He often sends diseases of the body, to cure those of the soul. Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of soul and body.
I foresee that you will tell me that I am very much at my ease, that I eat and drink at the table of the LORD. YOU have reason: but think you that it would be a small pain to the greatest criminal in the world, to eat at the king’s table, and be served by him, and notwithstanding such favours to be without assurance of pardon? I believe he would feel exceeding great uneasiness, and such as nothing could moderate, but only his trust in the goodness of his sovereign. So I assure you, that whatever pleasures I taste at the table of my King, yet my sins, ever present before my eyes, as well as the uncertainty of my pardon, torment me, though in truth that torment itself is pleasing.
Be satisfied with the condition in which GOD places you: however happy you may think me, I envy you. Pains and suffering would be a paradise to me, while I should suffer with my GOD; and the greatest pleasure would be hell to me, if I could relish them without Him; all my consolation would be to suffer something for His sake.
I must, in a little time, go to GOD. What comforts me in this life is, that I now see Him by faith; and I see Him in such a manner as might make me say sometimes, I believe no more, but I see. I feel what faith teaches us, and, in that assurance and that practice of faith, I will live and die with Him.
Continue then always with GOD: ’tis the only support and comfort for your affliction. I shall beseech Him to be with you. I present my service.
Twelve and thirteen to follow...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A Different View of Church and State

Lessons we never learned in school...

Looks like I'm going to have to read a book about James Garfield. Just reading this Wikipedia page about him makes me realized I've missed an interesting character in U.S. history.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

firesetter news: Trust in the slow work of God

A worthy thought in this age of impatience and immaturity...

firesetter news: Trust in the slow work of God: "Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything &nbsp..."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Sons of God

"Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God."

- Matthew 5:9

Which US presidents shall be called sons of God? Lincoln for ending the Civil War, Wilson for starting the League of Nations, or Reagan for tearing down the Wall? Not exactly, at least according to Ivan Eland, author of Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty.

Congressman Ron Paul interviews Mr. Eland in this very interesting interview. It's worth an hour of your time if you're interested in evaluating American history through a peaceful, libertarian lens.

Give yourself a peace pat on the back if you guessed John Tyler or Grover Cleveland.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Modern Evangelism

5.2 million views...

4.9 million views...

4.5 million views...

7.3 million views...

1.5 million views...

The Lord works in mysterious ways...


All the apparent chaos going on in the world is tiring to watch, isn't it? That's one of the "blessings" of modern technology. Thank God it's Friday, and it's 58 degrees in Pennsylvania in February! Let's rejoice this weekend!


Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns!'
1 Chronicles 16:23-31 NIV