Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prejean to defend marriage...

Some believers have panned Prejean because of her participation in a beauty pageant that requires that she parade around before the world in revealing clothing. I understand there point, but am still proud of the stand she's taking against same-sex "marriage" in D.C. as reported in this article from the NY Daily News...

The battle over the beauty queen is getting uglier.

Miss California USA Carrie Prejean announced Thursday she will star in an anti-gay marriage ad sponsored by the controversial National Organization for Marriage.

"I was attacked for giving my own opinion on stage at a Miss USA contest, and I'm going to do whatever it takes, Matt, to protect marriage," Prejean, 21, told NBC "Today" show host Matt Lauer.

"The National Organization for Marriage basically just respects, um, you know, marriages and people who support it," she said. "That's what I'm here to do today, protect traditional marriage."

Pageant officials called Prejean a disappointing opportunist.

"In the entire history of the Miss USA, no reigning title holder has so readily committed her face and voice to a more divisive or polarizing issue," organizers said in a statement.

"We are deeply saddened Carrie Prejean has forgotten her platform of the Special Olympics, her commitment to all Californians, and solidified her legacy as one that goes beyond the right to voice her beliefs and instead reveals her opportunistic agenda."

Prejean became a YouTube sensation after she answered a question on gay marriage posed by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton at the April 19 Miss USA pageant.

"I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman," she said. Hilton, who is openly gay, excoriated her on his popular blog, calling her a "dumb b----."

Prejean later said she thought she had lost the contest because of her stance.

The National Organization for Marriage was quick to defend Prejean.

"The statement by the Miss California USA Pageant is another example of the disrespectful way the pageant has treated Carrie Prejean," Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM, said in a statement.

"Carrie Prejean does not have an opportunistic agenda. She's a young woman of courage who chose truth over the Miss USA tiara. Many people are revealing their core character and convictions in a very public way in this incident," Gallagher said.

"Carrie Prejean is one who comes out shining. I'm proud of her. Americans are proud of her. God bless her."

BY Nancy Dillon


Stop complaining step by step...

So how do we escape from the complaint-trap of the devil? We need a strategy, a plan of godly action that, with God’s power, will lead to gripe-free living. If we don’t do something, sin will trip us up over and over and over again. This is true of all sin. It’s true of complaining. If we don’t actively pursue quitting, we will never stop complaining.

So here we go.

First things first: daily turn your complaining problem over to God. You can’t conquer complaining in our own power. You are powerless before this mighty foe. So turn it over to God first thing every morning. When you pray, God will hear you and he will help.

Next step: cry out to God whenever the temptation to blurt out a negative comment comes. Ask him for power over your tongue throughout each day. It will be his pleasure to give it. He loves producing self-control in his children. Every humble believer is given grace for the moment when the urge to sin is greatest.

After you’ve turned your struggle to overcome complaining over to God and you’re regularly crying out to him in times of testing, you can enlist further help. Do you have a friend you associate with on a regular basis with whom you could make a pact to hold each other accountable in the area of complaining? Could you give another believer permission to correct you when they hear you whining? There is strength in numbers when it comes to overcoming sin, so join a fellow complainer in seeking to become complaint-free. Find someone at church or at work or in your family who can ask the hard questions with grace when you fail and encourage you in the Lord when you succeed.

While we’re talking about our fellow human beings, let me encourage you as you’re beginning your fight against critical talk to avoid complainers. “Do not be misled,” Paul warns believers in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good character.” (NIV)

Hang around complainers and you’ll become a complainer. Complaining is contagious. You hear a complaint and soon you’re complaining. Another hears your complaint and they chime in. Soon the whole break room is abuzz with negativity. It happens.

So don’t hang around complainers. You’ll be tempted to join in. You’ll be defeated. You’ll sin. So avoid bad company. Do so especially in the early days of your struggle against this oh-so-present sin.

Finally, I want to suggest that you develop the twin habits of encouragement and thanksgiving.

We’re all in this together. We’re all in a fight against sin. We all win some battles. We all lose others. We need encouragement. So rather than complain about a person, speak well of them to others, talk about the good in them. Better yet, encourage the person you were planning to whine about. Thank them for the good they’ve done for you or others.

Let Ephesians 4:29 be your new life verse: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)

And concerning your difficult circumstances: thank God for the good he’s doing through them. Romans 8:28 is sometimes used as a “suck it up and be a man” rebuke, but it isn’t intended to be that. It’s intended to stir up thanksgiving to God in the midst of trying times. “And we know,” Paul writes, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

God is at work in your life. He is bringing you through times of suffering and pain and difficulty so that your character will be refined. He is training you to be the helper to others that he knows he’ll need in the near future. Talk to God about your problems, your difficulties, your troubles without complaining. Then thank him. Thank him for his presence. Thank him for his provision. Thank him for his protection. Thank him for his goodness in the middle of the mess that tempts you to complain.

Ready to live complaint-free? I am. I’m going after God’s help on this one. I intend to be an encourager. I commit myself to thankfulness. What about you? Will you do whatever it takes to stop complaining? Will you be an encourager? Will you give thanks?

I’m encouraged when I think of what the church will be like when every believer is praising God rather than pouting.

Let’s pray to that end.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leave your life of complaining...

“Leave your life of complaining.”

That’s what we’re going to spend a bit of time exploring. How we can escape from this trap of the devil. Where we can go for strength to overcome this sin. Who we can turn to for victory over complaining.

The strength and victory parts of our exploration are fairly simple. We go to God for strength to overcome the sin of complaining just the same as any other sin. He gives us the victory. God, by his Holy Spirit within you, within me, makes it possible for us to live a complaint-free life.

Do you believe that? Before you answer that, let me ask you a few related questions. Is it possible, by God’s power within you, to live an adultery-free life? Can a believer, with God’s help, live a murder-free life? What about theft-free or idolatry-free?

Those things are possible once you’ve believed on Jesus and given your life to him, aren’t they? If you have been able to live free of any sin since you put your trust in Jesus, you are able to live free of complaining.

Let me put it another way. If God is able to deliver you and I from the grip of “major” sins, but unable to rescue from small evils, is he truly all powerful? No. So if God is all powerful – and he is – he must be able to give me victory over complaining. He must be able to help you stop whining. He must or he is not all powerful. Make sense?

Does this mean we all will live complaint-free? No. We won’t because, rather than submit ourselves to God, rather than ask for help, we’ll go it alone. We’ll try to quit griping, but we’ll fall back into the whiny trap. We’ll fail because, quite frankly, we’re too weak to stifle the strong, strong, strong inner compulsion to grumble. The spirit may be willing, but your flesh is weak.

I have no doubt that every one of you mean well. I truly believe that you don’t want to complain, that you don’t intend to be critical. You are good-hearted people, but you fall short of God’s standard and grouse about this and that and the other thing. I do too!

Every believer who tries in their own strength to quit mumbling about their circumstances or about the stupid idiots that surround them will fail.

The good you want to do – not complaining – will not be what you do. No! The evil you hate – complaining – you will do. Who will rescue you from this craziness? Who will set me free? Thanks be to God, we have victory in Jesus Christ our Lord. Praise be to the Father who gives his Holy Spirit who in turn gives us the power to say no to ungodly grumbling.

The Holy Spirit will produce his fruit in our lives. What is that fruit? In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (NIV)

These are the things that God produces in us when we live in him and for him. Can you see how these things can combat our tendency to voice our complaints? Would we be able to gripe about others if we truly loved them? Can we be patient with our friends and still complain about them? If we are full of God’s kindness, can we speak out of a critical spirit? No! If the Spirit of God lives in us and we are living in him, complaining cannot come from our lips.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14, NIV)

Are you eager to do what is good? I am! We are God’s people. He is purifying us. He has given us the power to say no to ungodly complaining. It’s only when we say “thanks, but no thanks” to God’s help that we are defeated. It’s only on our own that we can weep and wail and whine. Our victory is in Jesus Christ alone!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hate the injustice...

At the end of the graphic video that runs automatically when you log on to is this simple message: "Don't hate the messenger...hate the injustice." The site, the online home of The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, seeks to educate the public about abortion's true victims through video and photos of abortions in progress and the remains of dismembered aborted babies. Delicate little hands and feet and arms and legs and faces are shown clearly next to dimes which give size perspective. The CBR's hope is that the reality of these photos and video images will wake people up to the atrocities being systematically carried out against the unborn. This genocide is the worst in history. It's time to stop it!

WARNING: The website linked to above displays graphic images of babies killed by abortion and of abortions in progress.

Complaining is serious sin...

In the Old Testament, there’s a story about complaining that shows the seriousness of this offense against God. The tale is told in the first three verses of Numbers 11. It is a short story – not a lot of detail – but it packs a punch. You won’t believe the consequences the Lord metes out on the whiners in Israel’s wilderness camp. They’ll seem harsh – insanely severe. But who are you, who am I to question God? Our Maker knows the heart of every complainer and judges each one rightly. He is perfectly just. His punishments always fit the crime. They are never cruel or unusual. Never!

So here’s the story.

“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them.” (Numbers 11:1-3, NIV)

I told you the consequences were grave! Fire from the Lord consumed, burned up, toasted the complainers. Fire from the Lord! I thought that his fire was reserved for really bad people – people who do nasty stuff, stuff I would never do, stuff you wouldn’t do. But no! God’s fire isn’t just for the sexually immoral or murderers or false prophets. His wrath is poured out on complainers too.

Bummer. I cannot escape God’s judgment. I am a sinful complainer. I deserve death. My only hope – your only hope – is the grace of God.

Moses prayed to God and he had compassion on the people. The fire died down. The majority of the complainers was spared.

God is holy, but he is full of grace too. The name he proclaimed to Moses years before this gave testimony to that fact. Our God’s name is “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Immediately after proclaiming this name, God spoke these words concerning his actions: “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Exodus 34:6-7b, NIV)

Who God is has not changed? He is a gracious and loving God. He is slow to anger. He forgives. But he does not leave the guilty unpunished. Today, we must pray to God for mercy just as Moses did. Our God’s grace is sufficient. He will take away the guilt and condemnation of all our sin – even our awful griping – when we cry out to him. That’s good news!

“If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV)

When we admit our wrongheaded grumbling, it’s forgiven and Jesus says to us, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11b, NIV)

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Monday, April 27, 2009

The other Miss CA story...

By the time a story like Miss California’s has been covered on blogs and in tweets for three days, it seems like old news. On Tuesday, the editors at Her.meneutics discussed how to cover 21-year-old Carrie Prejean’s answer to celebrity blogger Perez Hilton’s question about same-sex marriage in the Miss USA pageant Sunday. At first the story seemed to offer too much hype and not enough meat. But of course, the mere fact that Prejean’s answer — which more or less conveyed what many U.S. citizens still believe about marriage and family — got so much attention is the story.

When Hilton, who is gay, asked the politically charged question, “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or not?” Prejean answered, “We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite [marriage]. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

After Hilton went on a slandering blogging and Twitter rant, and Prejean told several media sources that her answer had cost her the crown, many Christian media lionized Prejean for standing up for biblical convictions in the face of public scrutiny. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins released a statement Wednesday saying, “Put simply, Miss Prejean is right: Marriage can only occur between one man and one woman. Mr. Hilton absurdly wants to translate his opposition to this truth into a standard for beauty pageants.” Gary Bauer, president of American Values, apparently sent an e-mail blast Monday saying, “The backlash to Prejean's commonsense comments demonstrates the naked intolerance of the militant homosexual movement . . . And if it gets its way in Congress, comments like [hers] may someday be considered a ‘hate crime.’ ” Even State Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery, a Christian, has drafted a resolution supporting Prejean. It states, “Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the Legislature of Alabama that Carrie Prejean . . . is honored for affirming her faith and standing true to her beliefs . . .”

What has surprised me about the Christian media's response is a seemingly inconsistent sexual ethic at play: Celebrating Prejean as the lone voice for biblical convictions in a public square where it’s now bigoted to oppose same-sex marriage, while never questioning if a Christian woman like Prejean should be participating in the Miss USA pageant in the first place.

It doesn’t take much time on the official Miss USA website to see how much the competition is shaped by prurient interests. Unlike the rival Miss America competition, Miss USA doesn’t feature a talent category, where contestants play the piano, sing, or orate. No, the Donald Trump–owned Miss USA pageant only features evening gown, interview, and the ever-popular swimsuit category, in which contestants are judged on how “well-proportioned” their bodies are (i.e., bust and waist size) and how well they can strut in high heels on national television. Maybe some Christian women feel like the ministry opportunities that could come from winning far outweigh the troubling sexual implications of the swimsuit category. Maybe I’m na├»ve — maybe some Christians don’t see anything particularly troubling about a swimsuit competition. But I’m hard pressed to reconcile a swimsuit competition with Scripture’s wisdom about real self-worth and female beauty (Prov. 31:10–31, 1 Sam. 16:7, 1 Pet. 3:3, to name a few).

Therein lies the troubling inconsistency: Conservative Christians are willing to speak up about biblical sexual ethics in the public square when the issue is same-sex marriage, but are neglectfully silent when the issue is objectifying women’s bodies to spike TV ratings. Would Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer really have no problem with their daughter or granddaughter competing in the Miss USA pageant?

In an interview with the SBC-affiliated San Diego Christian College, where she attends, Prejean talks about the wonderful things she is already doing for Christ: serving women in the adult entertainment industry, volunteering at the local International Ministry Center to help refugees learn English, and working with a mentoring program to foster-care children. She says, “I especially have a heart for helping young girls with low self-esteem.” At this point, I would encourage Prejean to skip the beauty pageants, which set up the very standards of beauty that lead many young girls to devalue themselves, and focus on the far more lasting work she is already doing in the kingdom.

From Her-menutics, the Christianity blog for women

Stop complaining and praise God...

When our children were younger – much younger – they were pickier about their food than they are now. They would look at what was set before them and say “Yuck!” or “I don’t like that!” or any number of disapproving remarks.

The cooks in the house – mom or dad – did not appreciate this whining much, so they made a rule. Anyone who said “Yuck!” was given an extra spoonful of whatever it was they were criticizing. We allowed the kids to say, “That’s not my favorite,” and receive a smaller portion, but they could not say anything more negative.

Over the next few days, as we followed through and dished out additional helpings of peas and potato pancakes and pork rinds, the grumbling diminished. As that happened, the cooks became happier people and were more likely to avoid foods that caused concern. We have not served up potato pancakes or pork rinds in years. (Okay. I’ll admit it. We never served pork rinds. Yuck!)

One word of caution for those with small children who are thinking, “What a great idea! I’m going to implement it today!” The one-more-spoonful rule can have unintended consequences. Soon after implementing this policy our kids started saying “Yuck!” to cake and ice cream and demanding their just deserts.

Unfortunately my children aren’t the only complainers in the house. I complain a lot. I grumble about taxes. I whine about the weather – too hot, too cold, too wet. I criticize calls made by referees – sometimes with great vigor. I find fault with politicians – mostly crazy liberals. I’m a nitpicker – a sinner.

Yes, you heard me right. I said – referring to my propensity to gripe – “I’m a sinner.” The Bible commands – it’s found in Philippians 2:14 – “Do everything without complaining or arguing…” (NIV) Doesn’t that mean that complaining about anything is sin? If it does, I’m guilty before God. You are too. Aren’t you?

We are all complainers. We whine when we have so much for which we could be thankful. Crazy! God is justified when he judges us for our ingratitude. That’s really what complaining is. It’s ungratefulness given a voice. Such thanklessness has no place on the lips of God’s people. It’s not any more unforgiveable than other sins, but it’s certainly as wrong as lying or stealing or killing.

So stop whining and rejoice! Give thanks to God rather than grouse. Our God is good.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Reject the devil's ways...

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’

“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”’”
(Matthew 4:8-10, NIV)

Don’t know where the quote comes from, but I’ve heard it a dozen or more times. “Come over to the dark side. We’ve got cookies.”

We laugh at that, but Satan often employs similar tactics. The tempter, when we haven’t received what we believed for, suggests another path to gaining what we want.

“Follow the world’s ways to gain power. Put yourself first to get money.”

People who fall for this may show up to church on Sunday, but only if they think it will get them ahead in another arena. They sing on Sunday and sin on Monday. They know all the right answers in Bible study, but cheat their customers on Wednesday. They can pray with just the right number of “praise Gods” to sound holy, but prey upon widows on Friday. Their hearts are far from God. They worship themselves rather than their Savior. They worship wealth or fame or power and do whatever it takes – sinful or not – to gain these things. Their “righteousness,” their “religion,” is a sham.

Is yours?

Let me say this to all of you in love. You cannot serve both God and money. You cannot serve both God and yourself. You cannot serve both God and the world. You cannot serve God AND anything or anyone else.

Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. He will provide for your needs. He will fulfill his promises to you in his way. He will reward you in eternity in a way that will make all you might have gained through Satan’s ways seem like so much raw sewage.

Do not fall for Satan’s lies. The cookies the dark side offers are laced with poison. If you swallow the enemy’s lies, you will die! Rejecting God and following the devil has eternal consequences.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

New York Times bestseller...

Just got the news about Ted Dekker's latest novel!

No HARDCOVER fiction title from an established CBA author has ever landed in the TOP TEN of the New York Times Bestsellers list outside the Left Behind phenomenon, not even close that we can find. And definitely not an author of Thrillers.Until now.The Team at Circle Media and Creative Trust would like to congratulate Ted for news just received that BoneMan's Daughters will debut at #10 on the NYT Bestseller's list (May 3rd.)...

What's even more amazing about hitting #10 is that most Christian bookstores (which are very good to Ted) don't even report their sales to bookscan-if they did the book would likely be much higher on the list.

-From Ted Dekker's listserv

Thank you Miss California...

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Good for Miss California. Given a question about same-sex marriage, she stood firm in what she believed and did not answer in the safe way others expected. More concerned about being biblically correct that politically so, she spoke the truth. Marriage is only valid between a man and a woman. That's the way God designed it. If the government changes laws that defy and deny the truth, the truth does not change. If public opinion polls say there's nothing wrong with homosexuality, the truth does not change.

Thank you Miss California! Don't lose hope! Your reward is in Heaven and no man can steal what is yours there!

Don't test God...

“Then the devil took [Jesus] to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’

“Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’”
(Matthew 4:5-7, NIV)

Not many of us are going to find ourselves in the same position Jesus found himself here. The devil isn’t likely to take us to the top of the Danville Coop (local thing) and suggest jumping to prove God’s power. Even if he did, would you jump? I’d say, “No thanks. I think I’ll use the ladder. Adios, I think you’re gross.”

But there are times when we are tempted to test God, sometimes on the very promise we’ve already covered.

Some folks take God’s promise to provide for our needs to ridiculous extremes.

“God, you’ve promised to meet my needs so here’s what I need.” They have a wish list! And it’s a pricy one! “I need a new car that can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds. I need a boat for my family to enjoy to your glory on Sunday mornings at the lake. I need a bigger house so I can host bigger parties for my rich believing friends.”

Reasonable requests, right? After all, Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (NIV)

“I’m delighting in God. Where’s my boat? Where’s my car? Where’s my house?”

And what happens when God doesn’t come through? They doubt God’s power and walk away from him He wasn’t what they expected. He didn’t come through.

Or they doubt their own faith and keep praying for ridiculous stuff. That’s what they’ve been encouraged to do by the preachers on TV. “Call your greed faith and get your stuff.” Though that isn’t a direct quote from any faith preacher, faith charlatans make statements every bit as ridiculous as that. “If the Mafia can ride around in Lincoln Continental town cars, why can’t the King’s Kids?” (Fredrick Price as quoted in Christianity in Crisis, p. 191)

Thousands are being taken in by this crazy theology that has no basis whatsoever in Scripture. They put God to the test. They muster all the faith they can. They beg for that new Cadillac. And when God fails to provide, they say, “Phooey on you. You call yourself God. You can’t even answer a simple prayer for a car. Humph!”

They – you if you’re following one of these guys on TV – would do well to hear the Word of the Lord. Here’s what he tells us about his “no” to greedy prayer.

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3, NIV)

God will meet our needs. Humbly asking God to meet your needs is not putting God to the test. That shows faith. That shows trust. Testing the Lord is taking his Word and demanding that he do what he says he will do in our way and our timing for our benefit. Testing takes the Bible in hand and shouts at God, “You said you would provide, so hand over my stuff.”

Be sure of this: God is not likely to give in to your demands. He gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things you only say "yes" to once...

I walked into the church this morning and noticed this new poster on the bulletin board. "Who would you like to see kiss a goat?" the poster asked. My name was on it! (I did agree to this, but I'm not so sure about it.)

I'm hoping the kids at school will stuff cans all around town so their principal or superintendent can pucker up to the nanny. If not them, I'm hoping they have it out for our local deputy sheriff. Surely he's pulled over enough people. If not, I'm going to have to kiss a goat during Argonia Daze on May 16 around 1:00pm in Salter Park.

It's all for a good cause - 4-H camp - so may the best OTHER person win!

Killing is a human constant...

Some kill because their faiths explicitly command them to do so, some kill though their faiths explicitly forbid them to do so, and some kill because they have no faith and hence believe all things are permitted to them. Polytheists, monotheists, and atheists kill - indeed, this last class is especially prolifically homicidal, if the evidence of the twentieth century is to be consulted. Men kill for their gods, or for their God, or because there is no God and the destiny of humanity must be shaped by gigantic exertions of human will...

Men will always seek gods in whose name they may perform great deeds or commit unspeakable atrocities...Then again, men also kill on account of money, land, love, pride, hatred, envy or ambition.

Does religious conviction provide a powerful reason for killing? Undeniably it often does. It also often provides the sole compelling reason for refusing to kill, or for being merciful, or for seeking peace; only the profoundest ignorance of history could prevent one from recognizing this. For the truth is that religion and irreligion are cultural variables, but killing is a human constant.

David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions, p. 12-13

Expecting too much...

This cartoon expresses so well what it's like (for me at least) to be a pastor. I sometimes feel like I am supposed to know everything (even if I've not been given the facts). I sense expectations from others that I should be good at everything - counselling, preaching, visiting, writing, office work, etc. I know I'm "supposed" to be nice all the time and never offend.

I wish I was good at all that stuff. I wish I knew everything, but I don't. In reality, I'm good at a very few things. I am who I am because that's who God made me to be. He gave me the gifts I have and gave other gifts to others so the church could be whole.

I'm thankful that the church God has assigned me to is aware of this and that the many gifted people that surround me are willing to work for God's glory. God bless Argonia Friends Church!

Hate crimes bill considered...

U.S. Representative Barney Frank announced that the House Judiciary Committee will be considering HR 1913, The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the week of April 20th. U.S. Representative John Conyers of Michigan introduced the bill into the House on April 2. As of Tuesday it already had 42 co-sponsors.

The problem with hate crimes legislation efforts such as HR 1913, is that they go beyond providing equal protection under the law, to adding additional penalties based upon assumed beliefs or thoughts. This can lead to discrimination against religious views, and Gary [Cass] points out that this is already taking place in Canada.

From Crosstalk!

(Read the entire text of HR 1913 at GovTrack.)

God will provide...

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’”
(Matthew 4:1-4, NIV)

Now, you may be asking, “What would be wrong with Jesus turning a stone into bread?” He could do it, right? And he’s hungry. Bread is good. Why not do it?

While I’m not for sure why, I believe his response gives us a clue. It may be that Jesus is trying to teach us that our first focus must be on God not on the material things we need. He may be showing us that our first priority must be knowing God and his Word. It may be that he wants us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and trust him to meet our needs.

We all have physical needs, right? I do. You do. Even Jesus did when he walked this earth as a man. We human beings get tired and need sleep. We get hungry and need food. We get thirsty and need drink. We get cold and need clothing or shelter.

Because we have needs, we tend worry about meeting those needs. We spend a lot of energy and time and effort pursuing food, clothing, shelter, drink. I do. Don’t you? During economic downturns we spend even more time concerned about these things than in times of plenty.

Worry about our physical needs when we’re in dire straits causes us to ask questions.

“Will I have enough money to pay the mortgage off?”
“Can I keep my family in clothes this winter?”
“Am I going to be able to feed my kids?”
“How can I keep the gas bill paid?”

Those are legitimate questions. We all ask them. There’s nothing wrong with them in general. It’s the worry behind them that has me a bit…worried. Worry means that we’re asking these questions of the wrong person. We’re asking them of ourselves rather than God.

Hear the truth! God knows what we need. He has vast resources at his disposal. He can provide in ways you and I cannot imagine. So why worry? We can trust him. Let me make it personal. You can trust him.

Let’s listen to Jesus as he speaks to us about this.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
(Matthew 6:24-34, NIV)

What you need, God will provide. So go after him. Leave the worrying to him. Seek to know him better. Seek to follow him faithfully. He will meet your needs. That’s his promise. He may not answer your trusting prayer in the way you want or expect, but he will provide. Through friends. Through the church. Through a new job. Through an unexpected gift. God will provide for your needs.

The devil wants you to forget about God’s promise, so he stirs up fear concerning scarcity. He gets your focus what you believe you lack. Money or your lack of it. Clothing or your lack of the right brands. Food. Drink. Whatever.

When he gets you focused on physical needs to the point that you can’t trust God, he’s happy. Anyone want to make Satan happy? I don’t. So let’s seek first God’s kingdom. Let’s trust God and leave the provision of our needs to him. God will provide. When Satan tempts you to doubt that, cry out to God. Trust him. He will see you through even the toughest of times.

To receive my once or twice weekly message via email, send a blank email to Past messages are available at

Another week?

I got on my bike every day last week. (I always take Sundays off.) I'm going to try to exercise every day again this week.

Here's the report...

Monday: Biked 16.16miles at 17.5mph
Tuesday: Biked 11.26miles at 18.1mph
Wednesday: Walked 40 minutes
Thursday: Biked 18.21 miles at 18.3mph
Friday: Biked 17.00 miles at 17.3mph
Saturday: Refereed 3 hour-long soccer matches

Three with skills...

Three of soccer's greats show their stuff on the field. Wish my U12 players could do some of this stuff. We've won (or tied once) all our games so far, but think what we could do with a young Zidane!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An honest sinner's prayer...

Heavenly Father,

I am a sinner. I thank you for blessing me with a changed heart so that I can hate the sins that offend you.

I know You poured your wrath out on Your Son, Jesus. I know he was crucified and you raised him from the grave on the third day. I deserve the wrath you poured out on Your Son, Jesus Christ. I cannot save myself, Jesus is my only hope and I am putting my faith in Him alone. I need forgiveness; please save me from the hell I deserve. I want to spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven.

God, I am answering your call today. I will follow Jesus. I turn away from my sin and I look to Jesus.

Lord, bless me with faith and repentance anew each day so that I may persevere in my walk with you.

I make these petitions to you today with the authority granted to me by your son, Christ Jesus.


Guest Blogger, Jsin

Praise Jesus on tax day...

"Jesus is awesome and there will be no filing taxes in heaven, no IRS, no W-2s, no 1099s, no FICA. Better than any tax break is His mercy and grace. I'm looking forward to that return." - Scott Gregory, Christian Comedian (on Facebook)

Political correctness defined...

"Political correctness is a doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end." - Unknown

The story behind BoneMan's Daughter...

Ted Dekker is one of my favorite author's. His gripping trillers engage the heart and mind as they teach theological truths. His latest novel, BoneMan's Daughters, is out now. I will read it as soon as I can get my hands on it. (I'm still reading Kiss, so it will be a little while.) Ted told the story behind the story of BoneMan's Daughters in the blog post re-posted below...

The release of BoneMan’s Daughters is upon us. The one question I am asked at nearly every interview is, “What inspired you to write this novel?” My answer is nearly always the same, I write to explore.

But BoneMan’s Daughters has a unique story behind it: The unnerving story of my own daughter.
Now, I would like to think that I am a good father. That I have raised each of my children in the way they should go, and given them freedom to make their own choices once they have enough of a sense of the world not to be crushed. But when my daughter began to fall for this one particular creep at the tender age of sixteen, I began to sweat.

No one else saw him as a creep, mind you. He was the kid at her birthday party who could break-dance and smile ever so charmingly. He seemed kind and thoughtful and all of the girls thought he was, for lack of a better word, hot.

I don’t know, maybe it was the way he kept looking at me with piercing eyes, or the way he yelled at me when I asked him not to date my daughter (go figure) but this kid scared me.

Fast forward two years. It was three days before Christmas. I’d learned that my daughter, now eighteen and in college, was madly in love with this boy. By this point I was certain that the kid was not only a punk, but truly dangerous. He’d yelled at me on numerous occasions. He’d told me I had no right to my daughter. He’d threatened my family.

But most of all, this kid, now twenty, had won the heart of my daughter and for that I began to hate him. My anger was directed at him, not my daughter, you see, because he was the monster and she was my precious baby and the fact that he’d found a way to seduce her was infuriating.

And that night…that night three days before Christmas, everything came apart, because that night my daughter informed the family that she was leaving our home to live with this monster. There are six of us in the family; five of us stood there at the door, crying, while the monster led the sixth out the front door. I can still see his face - he was carrying her suitcase and he was smiling.

But what could I do? My wife and I, and the other children had all begged her not to go with him. But, like a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, she had given her heart and mind to the monster, unable to see his fangs.

LeeAnn and I tried to comfort our other children. Our youngest, only a small child at the time, was devastated and we couldn’t stop her weeping. For hours she cried and hiccupped and all we could do was hold back our own tears for her sake while we held her.

Then, like the twin dead, we walked to our own room, closed the door, fell on our bed, and sobbed. And we sobbed.

For the next two months our bedroom was the weeping place. The monster had our child and there was nothing I could do about it. I talked to the police, I called all of our friends, I dialed the FBI, and I would have called the President if I thought it might help. I begged our daughter to reconsider every time I talked to her, but it was her life and I could only pray that she came to herself before he destroyed her.

It stuck me then that I would do anything to save my daughter. Anything. And every time I thought about the monster my outrage at his seduction grew. In my mind he was BoneMan. My daughter was now BoneMan’s Daughter!

In the end all I could do was stare at my blank computer screen for hours, lost in desperation. I knew then that I had to discover the meaning behind this terrible love I had for my daughter through a fully fleshed story. I had to write a story that made absolute certain in the mind of every daughter how precious they are to the father.

My pain was intensely personal and I needed to understand that pain in the context of every father who loses a daughter, be it in Iraq or in Hollywood or in Colorado. Even more I had to grasp that same pain in the context of my own Father’s love for me. Is this how God loves each of his children?

I still remember the day the call came. It was my daughter. She was crying so hard she could hardly get the words out. She wanted to come, oh how badly she wanted to come home, she’d wanted to come home for weeks, could we please, please take her back? Heaven filled our home that day.
And then we learned the terrible truth. The monster had abused her. That devil had crushed her! She was too ashamed to call, too proud to come home, but she’d laid awake in bed many nights crying for home.

Four years have passed and now, two months before the day Rachelle is to marry a man we love, she will tell you that she was snatched out of hell itself that day. I cringe to think what might have happened. And I cringe to think what goes through the mind of a father who has lost his daughter forever.

Not since writing When Heaven Weeps following the death of my brother many years ago have I written such a personal story as BoneMan’s Daughters. I’ve dedicated it to Rachelle, but this love story is for you. For every daughter, every son, every father, every mother.

Read the novel. Then go to your daughter, your father, your son, your mother, hold them close, and cherish them forever.

Guest Blogger, Ted

Monday, April 13, 2009

Driscoll's Easter sermon...

Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church is a great preacher. This message is full of hope. It calls us all to remember the resurrected Jesus. We have a living hope because we have a living Jesus! He is alive!

For one week...

It's been too windy, too cold, too wet recently to ride my bike...or so I've told myself. That means I haven't been getting much exercise and I'm beginning to feel the effects. I'm sluggish and tired. Yuck!

So this week, I've made it my goal to exercise every day! I would prefer to ride my bike every day, but if that doesn't work I'll be on the treadmill downstairs or something. I'm not going to lay around!

It was too windy (I saw a 22mph NW burst on my WeatherBug), too cold (42 degrees with a windchill of 30) and pretty wet (the pavement wasn't quite dry after yesterday's rain storm) today, but I rode 14.04 miles at 15.9mph. I'll update what I do each day below.


Tuesday: Biked 16.82 miles at 17.3mph
Wednesday: Biked 15.27 miles at 17.0mph
Thursday: Biked 14.32 miles at 16.0mph and walked 2+ miles
Friday: Biked 14.36 miles at 16.9mph
Saturday: Biked 21.48 miles at 17.1mph

The Obama connection...

Tuesday, the fifth of June 1900, Calvin Read, the official enumerate for the 1900 U.S. Census of Argonia, Dixon Township, Sumner, State of Kansas, left the home of Austin Newbold, an Argonia school teacher and his wife Lizzie, a druggist, and moved next door to the home of pharmacist Jacob William Dunham. The Dunham family was known to Calvin. He had visited them before, in the same rented house, when he was an enumerator for the 1895 State of Kansas Census.

Since I wasn't there and since neither Calvin nor any of the Dunhams are around to tell me, I can only imagine that Calvin sat down at the kitchen table with Jacob's wife Mary, since she was at home busy raising children and keeping house while Jacob was most likely at work in the pharmacy. Calvin learned that they had three additional children. When he visited in March of 1895, the Dunhams had lived in Argonia for only a year or so, having moved there from Labette County, Kansas and were the parents of four children, Hattie, age 6; Mable, age 4; Frank, age 3 and baby Ralph who had been born in Argonia on Christmas Day 1894. Now, there were four additional siblings: Cristabel, age 4; Pearl, age 3 and little Earl, age 1.

In visiting with Mary, Calvin learned a little about the family background of both Jacob and Mary. He learned that Jacob had been born in Indiana and that his father Jacob Mackey Dunham had been born in a section of Virginia that since 1963 has been a part of West Virginia. It wasn't required for his Census information but Mary may have told Calvin that Jacob's father, Jacob Mackey Dunham was a Veteran of the Civil War having served as a private in E. Company, of the 46 Regiment of Indiana Infantry and he had moved from Indiana to Labette County, Kansas to farm, sometime after the War and now resided in Oklahoma territory. Mary did tell Calvin that her father had been born in Ireland and had immigrated to America, ending up in Indiana, where she was born. She may have told him that her father Falmouth Kearney died when she was only nine years old.

I don't know if Calvin was the enumerator that would eventually visit the Argonia home of Jacob and Mary Dunham for the Kansas Census of 1905, but whoever it was found that Jacob was still a pharmacist in Argonia and Mary was still keeping house and busy raising their eight children, one more than Calvin had enumerated in 1900. Little Dewey had been born in 1901.

By the time the 1910 U.S. Census rolled around the Jacob Dunham family had left Argonia for the big city of Wichita and Jacob was now manufacturing medical supplies. Some of his children worked in his factory. Jacob eventually went back to being a pharmacist and later became a physician. He was obviouly interested in improving his lot and that of his family.

Ralph (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Dunham born in Argonia Christmas Day 1894, married Ruth Lucille Armour in Wichita in 1915. In 1920 Ralph was working as a mechanic (later working in the tooling department of Boeing Aircraft) and he and his wife Ruth and their two children Ralph, Jr., age 3 and Stanley, age 1 were living with her parents, Harry and Gabrielle Armour. Ruth tragically committed suicide in 1926. Ralph died in Wichita in 1970.

Ralph and Ruth's son, Stanley, born in Wichita in 1918 was an Army Sergeant during WW2 he later worked as a furniture salesman. He married Madelyn Lee Payne in 1940. Madelyn born 1922 in Kansas, the daughter of Rolla Charles Payne and Leona McCurry would later become a bank vice-president. Stanley Dunham died in 1992, and is buried in the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu.

Stanely and Madelyn Dunham had a daughter Ann Dunham born in 1942 in Kansas. In 1960 she married Barack Hussein Obama, PhD, a senior economist in the Kenyan Ministry of Finance. They were divorced in 1963. Barack Hussein Obama died in a car crash in Kenya in 1982. Barack and Ann had a maile child, Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961. Barack Obama, Jr., is currently endeavoring to be the Democratic candidate for president of these United States of America. If Calvin only knew.

(Article originally appeared in the April 10, 2009, Argonia Argosy. Submitted by Stan Reed, Argonia class of 1961.)

Of first importance...

God drew me to 1 Corinthians 15 this week as I was thinking about his resurrection. At the beginning of that chapter, Paul makes a significant statement. In verses three and four, he tells us what truths are key to a proper understanding of the good news.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NIV)

Three things are vital to the gospel message.

First, Jesus died for our sins. He died in our place – the good for the bad, the sinless for the sinful, the innocent for the guilty. Jesus received the punishment for my sin and yours. Death was the punishment. It was the price that had to be paid. “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a, NIV)

All through the Old Testament you see that. Sin requires death. The blood of bulls and goats covered over the sins of Israel. Jesus’ blood takes away our sin!

John recognized Jesus as our sacrifice. He shouted out for all to hear, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b, NIV)

The prophet Isaiah said the Savior would take our punishment.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5, NIV)

Jesus died for our sins. He is the Savior!

The second thing Paul says is “of first importance” is that Jesus was buried. It doesn’t say it here, but the fact that he was laid in a rich guy’s tomb is important. We learn from Isaiah that the Savior would be “assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9, NIV)

Jesus was buried in the tomb of one of the members of the ruling council in Jerusalem – a rich guy! Amazing! God knew to mention that detail thousands of years before Jesus was even conceived in the virgin’s womb.

Finally, Paul says it’s “of first importance” that Jesus rose from the dead. Why? Well he tells us a few verses later in 1 Corinthians 15:18, “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (NIV) So if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we’re still dead, still condemned, still without hope.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, NIV)

Jesus’ resurrection guarantees the future resurrection of those who believe. We have hope because Jesus rose.

Jesus died for our sins. He was buried. Three days later he arose. This is the good news for sin-damned people. The price has been paid. Eternal life is available to all who believe. Won’t you believe and be saved?

To receive my once or twice weekly message via email, send a blank email to Past messages are available at

Tax freedom day...

"I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money." -Arthur Godfrey

Today is the day you start making your own money. According to a news report this morning on NBC News, the average American just finished making enough this year to pay all their taxes for the year. What they (or you and me) make now is there's free and clear. Nice to know isn't it? It takes almost three and half months to pay your taxes. That's more than a quarter of a year! The good news? This is the earliest Tax Freedom Day in recent years. Celebrate!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The don't song...

Thought you all might enjoy this fun song about married men and the things they shouldn't do. The classic 80s feel of the melody makes me long for days gone by. Don't watch if you don't want to laugh!

(Posted on

The service of the nails...

Last night we remembered Jesus' death on the cross with the service of the nails. Throughout the evening, we prayed responsively to God concerning our sins which sent him to die. I thought these written prayers did a good job of reminding us of our great debt to God and his free gift of forgiveness.

The Nail of Pride

O God - help us consider our own pride and where it leads.
O God - do not let us deceive ourselves. Our pride hurts us and creates walls between us and others.
O God - we know too that our pride hurts you.

The Nail of Betrayal

O God - help us consider how we betray others, how we abandon them in their time of need, how we think of ourselves first.
O God - do not let us deceive ourselves.
O God - we know too that our betrayal hurts you.

The Nail of Envy

O God - helps us consider how we envy others, how we desire more than we receive and seek to influence and rule over others.
O God - do not let us deceive ourselves. Our envy hurts us and creates walls between us and others.
O God - we know too that our envy hurts you.

The Nail of Indecision

O God - help us consider how we waver, how we seek to avoid responsibility and to blame others for our actions.
O God - do not let us deceive ourselves. Our indecision hurts us and creates walls between us and others.
O God - we know too that our indecision hurts you.

The Nail of Cruelty

O God - help us consider how we are cruel to others, how we malign and slander others and add to the evil that comes upon them.
O God - do not let us deceive ourselves. Our cruelty hurts us and creates walls between us and others.
O God - we know too that our cruelty hurts you.

The Nail of Hatred

O God - help us consider how we show hate to others, how we fail to care for others and make distinctions among them.
O God - do not let us deceive ourselves. Our hatred hurts us and creates walls between us and others.
O God - we know too that our hatred hurts you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Death by alcohol...

If you think alcohol isn't dangerous, listen up. This mom's story is heart-wrenching. Her daughter didn't die, as too many of my relatives and friends have, in a drunk-driving incident. She died because the alcohol in her system impaired her functioning and clouded the judgment of her drinking buddies.

It's time to sober up teens! It's time to wake up parents!

(Original news story)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Curse God and die...

“On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him.

“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’

“Satan answered the LORD, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’

“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.’

“‘Skin for skin!’ Satan replied. ‘A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.’

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.’

“So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

“His wife said to him, ‘Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!’

“He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’

“In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
(Job 2:1-10, NIV)

Job is suffering. Painful sores cover his body. He’s in agony. The pressure to give up and curse God is greater than ever before. The attack is personal this time. Satan is seeking to crush faith. He’s pulled out all the stops.

Even Mrs. Job chimes in, speaking the enemy’s cold, cruel mantra. “Still hanging on to your integrity? Give it up! Curse God and die!”

Some have heard that sentiment in their minds. When their whole world is all ajumble, the thought pops up unexpectedly. “This is too much. I can’t take it any more. God doesn’t care. I’d be better off dead.”

Some succumb to the pressure and attempt end it all. Satan snickers when it comes to that. He’s won when despair overwhelms reason, when doubt overshadows faith, when hope is drowned out by sorrow.

Friends, let me be really, really clear. Suicide is never the right answer - not ever! If you get to the place that you believe death to be preferable to life, get help. You need the love and support of a Christian counselor and of your believing friends to rescue you from the untruth the enemy has spoken into your heart. You are not seeing reality for what it is when you begin to seriously consider suicide.

The truth is you are deeply loved by God. The truth is you are cared for by others. If you can’t hear these truths, if death seems to be your best option, get help.

“When it rains it pours.” So says the old adage. “When it pours, it’s all over.” So says the enemy.

What he says is not so. God is still with you. In the worst of times, he stays close. If you will turn to him, if you will worship, he will show himself to be good in spite of our circumstances.

“Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”

It is in times of trouble that God proves his trustworthiness. It is in the most trying times, that his grace is most sufficient. It is in the darkest night, that God’s goodness shines brightest. Trust him and do not doubt. Praise him and do not curse. Hang on to your integrity. Worship him and find peace.

To receive my once or twice weekly message via email, send a blank email to Past messages are available at

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Curse God!

Twice in the first two chapters of the book of Job Satan comes before God and challenges the Creator. What he says to the Maker of All Things reveals one of his most vicious tactics. We may hear him say similar things when we’re in the middle of trying circumstances, so we would do well to listen in on this dialogue. If we pay attention, we will learn how to fight off the enemy when he attacks. Remember God’s word to us: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NIV)

Job 1 is where we’re headed first. The first five verses of this chapter introduce Job and his family. Job is described as “blameless and upright.” He “feared God and shunned evil.” He had “seven sons and three daughters” and vast herds. His kids were given to feasting in each other’s homes. When each round of feasting was done, their father would “send and have them purified.” He offered sacrifices for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.”

After this brief into, in verse six, the narrative leaves the man and his family and enters Heaven’s courts.

“One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’

“Satan answered the LORD, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’

“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’

“‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’

“Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.”
(Job 1:6-12, NIV)

At first blush, this conversation seems to have little to do with what we might be hearing from Satan. This is a case where we see how our enemy and our Maker interact. The words that spill from the deceiver’s heart are spoken to God, not to us. How can they be relevant?

But think more carefully about what he says. He admits that God is good. He says it plain as day. “You’ve made this guy rich. His life is cushy. You protect him. I can’t get at him.”

Those aren’t his exact words, but they’re the gist of what he says. Then he suggests that if God would take away Job’s stuff and his family that the man would not be so blameless and upright. In fact he says the man will curse God to his face. “He’ll hate you.”

God knows this is not true. He knows Job’s heart. He knows Job will remain faithful no matter what. So he allows the test.

It’s important to remember here that God has promised not to let us be tempted – another word for that is tested – beyond what we can bear. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV)

If we forget this, we begin to ask, “Why?” We do what Satan said Job would do. We curse God. And that is exactly what Satan wants.

Walk with me through this scenario. Something bad happens to someone you love – maybe several bad things to several someones at once. Your husband loses his job. Your mom totals her car. Your friend gets into a fight with her spouse. Your son fails a test. Your dad suffers a heart attack. Your daughter is injured severely in a soccer game. Your wife’s reputation is ruined by malicious gossip.

What kinds of thoughts pop into your head when things like this happen to family and friends? You question God’s goodness, don’t you? Where is God? Does God care? Why doesn’t he fix this? Does he not hear our cries for help? Is God really good?

Satan knows God’s goodness. He admits it before Heaven’s throne, but when he’s allowed to wreck havoc in our loved ones’ lives, he causes us to doubt the goodness of God that he knows exists. He blinds us to the good. He gets our focus on the evil God has allowed. He does everything he can to stir up anger. He wants us to lose faith in his enemy, our Savior.

Some people succumb to the pressure. They give up on God. They walk away from his church and miss the blessing of comfort and companionship through the mess of life.

I have a personal friend, a person I care about deeply, who has rejected God and his church because they thought he should have helped differently than he did; because he shouldn’t have allowed so many tragedies to come into their loved ones’ lives at once. Overwhelmed by sadness and disappointment and perhaps a little anger, they said goodbye to the One best able to bring them through their difficulties.

You know people who have made similar choices, don’t you? You hurt for them. You long for them to believe that God has never left their side. He hasn’t! But they are blinded by Satan’s lies and believe nothing but evil of the One they blame for their loved ones’ troubles.

I think a brief look at Job’s reaction to all the evil that befell him and his loved ones could be instructive.

“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’

“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
(Job 1:20-22, NIV)

Bereft of his children, flat broke, grieving deeply, overwhelmed, Job worships God. Rather than abandon faith, this blameless and upright man draws closer to his Lord. He is not willing to go it alone in a sin-damaged, hostile, unruly world.

I am not either. I am going to cling to my Savior, Jesus Christ, and to my Father through thick and thin. My God has brought me through terribly difficult situations in the past. I trust him to continue to be my helper, my comfort, my shelter in days to come.

Paul at the end of his life had the same attitude. In prison, knowing that he might soon die, he wrote these words to his dear son in the faith, Timothy. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV)

What are you going to do when disaster, death or disease come into the lives of your loved ones? I hope you will, with the thousands of believers who are living and have lived in triumph, praise God rather than curse him. Trusting God in difficult circumstances is the better way.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Easter office...

No Christian would ever deny that Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of our Savior. But to many, it has become more recognizable for its pastel colors, egg hunts, fluffy bunnies, and peeps. In the vain of NBCs hit comedy The Office, this video uses humor to remind us that Christ\'s death and resurrection is far more important than anything else.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy Atheists Day!

"The fool says in his heart,
'There is no God.'
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good."
- Psalm 14:1, NIV