Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hung out to dry?

So I was reading Acts 12 today and came across the story of Peter being saved from prison and certain death by an angel of the Lord. The angel basically just supernaturally releases him from his chains and leads him out of the prison past the numerous guards assigned specifically to him. Okay so that story sounds crazy, but I have no problems just believing that it happened. My question though is the aftermath of it all. So Herod is pissed and cross examines all of the guards. They obviously have no flippin clue as to what happened, but that doesn't matter to Herod. He simply orders that they get executed. So let me get this straight. The guards are simply doing their job and as a reward they got executed for what God clearly did through the angel. So did God hang the guards out to dry? Were they being punished for holding Peter captive - regardless of their personal feelings over it? I am not claiming that God is unjust, but when reading that I think it pretty much sucks for the guards. The only explanation I can think of is that they are guilty for keeping Peter in prison so their death is their punishment. Any thoughts on this???

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
-Charles Dickens-

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In the face of adoration...

So I came across the passage in Acts 10 today where Peter first walks into the home of Cornelius. It says, "As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. 'Stand up,' he said, 'I am only a man myself.'" This is incredible to me. Here is a guy who literally is bowing down to Peter and he has the humility and presence of mind to stop this from happening. I marvel at his "I am only a man" comment. I think the reason this is so mind-blowing to me is that I do not think I could respond like that. I think I would like to respond like that. I believe it is the right way to respond in that situation. But I think the feeling of someone giving me complete adoration and reverence would go straight to my head. I think I would have to fight every single impulse from within me that would thrive in receiving such respect and dare I say worship. I think the world of people who just live their lives with complete humility. They trust in God and find their worth in God so that they do not care what people think about them - good or bad. Humility is such a hard, hard thing to have. As my friend Jeremy once said, once you think you have accomplished humility you haven't. So as I study this passage, I see that in all situations I must realize that I am just a man. Therefore the adoration some might choose to have for me means nothing and the hate and contempt that some might choose to have for me means nothing. My worth is found in Christ alone and all glory and honor must only be given to Him, NOT me. Well done Peter. In the face of a tough test you passed, where I think I would have failed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Woo-hoo!

Well my grades for the fall semester were finally put up online by NAU. It was a difficult semester with lots of reading & writing, but I ended up with 2 more A's to the collection!! Yay! They bumped my GPA up to a 3.96 which is pretty good for a nerdy history student. I am so thankful for another solid semester. Now I only have one to go until I graduate from college!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Magic of This Country

President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday defended his pick of evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration next month as one of "a wide range of viewpoints that are presented."

I find this very interesting. On one hand you have many liberals upset over the selection of a guy like Rick Warren. They are upset at President-Elect Obama because he would dare to select someone who actually was conservative in his social values. On the other hand, what do all of the conservatives do who were (are?) convinced that President-Elect Obama is the devil and only wants to bring about evil to this land. I personally enjoy that both liberals and conservatives don't know what to do with themselves right now over this.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Baby Changes Everything

Persuasion over Coercion

To the outrage of local clergyman and do-gooders, he [Lincoln] announced in an 1842 lecture that "if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class." Consequently he refused to coerce them into temperance, but he enthusiastically backed the Washingtonian Society's program of converting alcoholics by "persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion." (Lincoln, Donald, p.82)

I continue to be amazed at Lincoln. This political and life stance is one I have to wholeheartedly agree in. Too often we assume that if we can just coerce people into believing or doing something, we will have won the battle. Its sad to me to think that we assume too often that a law or a forcing of an activity will somehow solve all our problems. My dad and I have often talked about the idea of gentle persuasion over harsh coercion in making societal changes. You can make laws and force change but in reality all that does is change things on the surface. The Prohibition movement did not stop stop the problems of alcohol abuse in this country. It might have removed the issue on the surface, but in reality it did not change the heart of the problem. The same is true in Christianity. We can scare people with hell and force our "Christian values" down people's throats with hardcore coercion, but has that really changed anyone's heart? Kind, unassuming persuasion seems like a much better position than harsh coercion. And yet it seems on a regular basis Christians want to take over political positions and change this country for the better. Just because you make a law (or overturn one) doesn't mean that you have actually done any good. You don't win an argument by spitting out facts and being harsh with someone else. You "win" by showing your heart and showing the truth through loving action. Unfortunately, it does not seem like many people understand this concept. Lincoln did, and that is what amazes me about him.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Strong Enough For a Man...

...But Made For a Woman. Well today is the day to try this slogan out. After taking a shower and doing my once a week shave (yes I shave as much as some 14 year old boys), I went to put on deodorant this morning. Unfortunately the stick of High Endurance Old Spice was out. I remembered at this point that I was suppose to pick some up at WalMart yesterday. So I searched all over to see if I had a back-up to no avail. So at this point I remember somewhere in the back of my mind the add that once proclaimed the woman's deodorant as being strong enough for a man even though it was made for a woman. So I figured - what the heck, why not see if that's true. So today I will be emanating a nice smell of "powder fresh" and apparently according to the stick of deodorant I can "dare to wear black" as well. We'll see how this little experiment works. Thanks Sweetheart for the use of your deodorant!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fantastic

I had a friend send this to me. Its awesome.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How do you rank them?

So my nearly identical twin Scott Thomas and myself often have what we call our nerd debate in which we try to rank who we think is the greatest US Presidents of all time. The debate is pointless and we often end up picking guys we know will fluster the other (ie Andrew Jackson). It makes me think though. What makes a good US President? How do you define "good"? Do some guys get the benefit of the time period they serve in (ie Eisenhower or Clinton) while others take the shaft for a rough time (ie LBJ)? What do we as American people really want from our President? What do people outside of the US want from the President? Do things like character, vision, competence, economic policy, preservation of liberty, national defense, foreign policy, etc all really matter? Are we willing to sacrifice morals for a healthy America in terms of economics? What is our standard of the President and do we hold all leaders to this standard? I don't really know all the answers to this. But nevertheless I suppose I will continue to have the debate because it satisfies my nerdy history brain.

By the way in case you are wondering...

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. Theodore Roosevelt
  3. George Washington
  4. Thomas Jefferson
  5. Harry Truman
  6. Ronald Reagan
  7. James Polk
  8. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  9. Andrew Jackson
  10. Woodrow Wilson

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Self Made Man

I am currently reading a book on Lincoln by David Donald. A group of guys and myself read a book (or books) each "winter" on a famous historical figure. Abraham Lincoln won the honor this year. I am completely fascinated by history so for the next few months I will probably drop a few things I am learning as I study Lincoln.

One of the first things that the book points out is the concept of Lincoln being a self made man. In other words, he was not handed anything in life. What he acquired and accomplished he did so on his own. In quoting a cousin and his stepmother the book writes, "somewhat dull...not a brilliant boy - but he worked his way by toil: to learn was hard for him, but he worked slowly, but surely. He must understand everything - even to the smallest thing - minutely and exactly. He would then repeat it over to himself again and again - some times in one form and then in an other and when it was fixed in his mind to suit him he...never lost that fact or his understanding of it." The guy came from nothing to make himself into one of the most revered figures in American history. Reading his story forces me to think about my own work ethic. Do I have that same drive, that same push, that same need to work my way through life? What am I not accomplishing because I lack the zeal that pushed Lincoln forward?

Another key was the book talking about Lincoln's early foray into the public service sector. Donald writes, "Lincoln seems to have had the unusual notion that a public servant's first duty is to help people, rather than to follow bureaucratic regulations." I am mesmerized by this quote. Not only for public servants but people in the church. Sometimes the bureaucratic regulations become so overwhelming for people in the church that we follow rules and conform to patterns of regulations and miss out that God never called anyone to work at a church. God calls us to love Him and love people. If we miss out on that and forget that no matter where we work we must learn to always help people, than what's the point? Everyone in the church is responsible for that. Sadly, it is "unsual" when people care more about other people than regulations.

The book is good so far. I recommend it off the first 70 pages...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Best Seat in the House

My good friend Jeremy taught a great lesson tonight at church. It was about the Pharisees and how even today there are Pharisees among us. The sad reality that came to me while I listend to the message was that it is so easy to get trapped in the "woes" that Jesus called the Pharisees out on. Jeremy preached from Luke 11:37-54. There was a whole lot that he covered, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was verse 43. "Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces." I am sure I am guilty of all of the woes that Jesus pointed out, but I think this is my biggest struggle. As much as I like to pretend that I don't care about my reputation or what others see and think of me, I know that I struggle deeply with this. What others see, think, and say about me matters a great deal to me. I don't know if I necessarily aim for the best seat at church, but I certainly want to be seen there. I want to be seen in whatever the equivalent of the "marketplace" is for my life and lifestyle. I enjoy attention. The problem is that I get more wrapped up in getting attention instead of just focusing on doing what I need to do for Christ. Suppose God took me aside and offered me a chance to make a HUGE difference in the world but I would receive no credit or no attention. Or I could make a little difference in the world but get loads of credit and attention. Which would I take? I desperately want to say the former, but too often my life reflects the latter. In the end the biggest problem with it all is that instead of focusing on how I can help people in their lives, I get derailed by worrying about my own life, reputation, and appearance. As much as I want to look down at the Pharisees, when I read about their lives and choices I see a reflection of myself more often than I want to admit. My only hope is instead of getting angry with Christ and the conviction that comes from His Word; I choose to humble myself, admit I am wrong and seek to choose a better path. Thanks Jeremy for a great message. I loved hearing your heart tonight.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stress

Stress is a biological term which refers to the consequences of the failure of a human body to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats to the organism, whether actual or imagined.
I hate stress. I hate that it happens. I hate that I cannot handle it well. I hate that it causes me to act like a complete idiot. I hate that I go all Bruce Banner when things get chaotic around me (well minus the green skin and massive muscles - though I wish that would happen sometimes). How did Jesus go through life without flippin' his lid? Even the incident in the temple can be explained away with the "righteous anger" argument. He just always was in full control of himself. I don't get it. How is that possible? What do I need to do to get better control of my stress? I heard that learning to meditate (prayer) and relax were two keys to bringing down stress levels. Interesting that I feel convicted on my lack of consistent prayer while noticing a problem with my stress levels. Maybe that's how Jesus did it. He just kept connecting to God the Father. At the very least it had to keep him cool in a lot of situations. Anyway, I recognize this is an issue and I also recognize that a lack in ability in controlling it will kill me eventually. So here's to figuring it out...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Prayer

To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.
-Martin Luther King Jr.-
I have to admit that one of the things I understand the least in my quest to discover God and His will, is the concept/act of prayer. I do not doubt whether or not I should pray, I guess I just don't know "how" to pray, what to pray for, where to pray, when to pray, and just how effective my prayers are. I want to believe that God listens to everyone's prayers...but do they change anything? If I fail to pray, will things not work out because I never asked? I am reading through the book of Acts right now, and I am amazed at just how much they prayed. No decision, no action, nothing was done without prayer. I feel like an idiot, because I feel like I don't pray enough or necessarily for the right things. Paul says that the Holy Spirit prays for us, and I wonder if the Holy Spirit has to step it up a notch with me because of my lacking in this category. Later on, Paul writes that we are to pray continually or pray unceasingly. What does this mean? How much did Paul pray? Is that the standard?
I look at the quote from Martin Luther King Jr, and wonder how I am making it. It is easy for me to go long stretches without prayer or at least serious time devoted to prayer. What aspects of my relationship with God are suffering because of my lack of effort in this area? What am I missing out on, failing to "tap-in" on because of this weakness?
Anyone else struggle in this regard??

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fork 'em Devils.

Always knew the President was a Sun Devil @ heart. This makes me proud. GO DEVILS!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas Characters

Okay so of all the Christmas stories and movies, my favorite character has to be Yukon Cornelius. A few years back my wife picked up the old tv classic on dvd so now I get to watch it with the boys. Not sure they appreciate it as much as I do.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Evil

So in my religious studies capstone class we are discussing Manichaeism. One of the more interesting aspects is the concept of dualism in the religion. In essence, the Manichaeism faith believed that good and evil (light & dark) have always existed. They are in co-equals in eternity. Good is made up of light particles, and bad is made up of darkness. So all of the bad in this world comes from the darkness. As humans we are a made up of a "mixture" between the light and dark. The goal is to get all of the light back to a heaven like state (though some light has to be sacrificed to keep the darkness in check basically). The interesting part of a dualistic system is that it is able to explain why there is evil in this world without blaming God by attributing evil or the allowance of evil to God. It is the darkness. The light is good, but the darkness has existed forever too.

Now I am not a proponent in beliving in Manichaeism but the class has challenged me in my notion of where does evil come from and why is it allowed to exist. At one point (in my understanding) all there was, was God. God then proceeded to create everything, including the dark angel satan. Evil then came into existence. But how? Why did God allow it to happen? I have heard people say that He allowed it because it then allowed for free will choice of God over forced choosing. That makes sense, but it leaves the idea of evil still existing. Did God create satan knowing that satan was deliberately going to rebel? When did satan first have an evil thought? Was satan created perfectly but then fell? The serpent helped adam & eve fall, who helped satan? All of the issues and philosophy of evil are swirling in my thoughts right now, especially because my good friend Jason is reading a book by Greg Boyd on the subject.

All this to say I know that God is good. God is love. God is grace. Without an understanding of the origins and complexity of evil, I still know that I need God. But I still wonder all the same.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tolerance?

I recently read an article by Tim Keller in which he stated that, “Finally, Christians will have to use the gospel to demonstrate true, Biblical love and tolerance in the public square toward those with whom we deeply differ. This tolerance should equal or exceed that which opposing views show toward Christians. The charge of intolerance is perhaps the main defeater of the gospel in the non-Christian west.” My three questions that popped into my head were:

1. Are Christians fair, objective, and undogmatic in our viewpoints?
2. Do Christians show an interest and concern for opinions and viewpoints that differ from their own?
3. Should Christians be known for their tolerance?

I would love your insight and opinion on this, so please let me know. It is my opinion that the church (as a whole not specifically speaking about one particular church) is become more and more irrelevant and less tolerant towards people. We are becoming more known for our doctrine of right and wrong and less known for our love and community. I am not saying we don’t stand on truth, just saying that in many cases what the world really does need is love and not to be treated like they are some evil person. Our human traditions and viewpoints in the church must never supercede the love and grace that Christ has called us to stand strong on.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's back!

I absolutely love Christmas music. This is my favorite season, and I get so excited by it. The red cups at Starbucks, Christmas lights, Christmas decorations, cooler weather, watching Christmas movie favorites, and best of all...99.9 KEZ plays Christmas music nonstop! I usually only listen to talk radio in the car, but with the Christmas season back I have switched back to FM to listen to some great Christmas tunes. Do yourself a favor and listen to some. Oh and if you don't like Christmas music, perhaps your heart is three sizes too small and you need to work on that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"mutts like me"

With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. I think it's generated more interest on our Web site than just about anything. We have -- we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So -- so whether we're going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household. -President elect Barack Obama responding to what type of dog he will get for the family upon entering the White House

Perhaps the funniest & most awkward statement of Barack Obama's speech today in Chicago.

5

There are plenty of things to be upset, angry, depressed, frustrated, anxious, sad and paranoid about in my week. I think it is far easier to be a cynic than it is to be optimistic. My wife is constantly challenging me on my pessimistic outlook which I am constantly trying to defend as "realistic." Her life verse is from the book of Philippians, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. So in honor of my bestfriend, I will let you know my top 5 things to dwell upon each week to keep my thoughts on the right track (in no particular order).

  1. Time with God. Whether this be in prayer (which I am horrible at), Bible reading, reading some book that challenges my thoughts, journal writing, or just sitting and reflecting. I love being able to spend time with God whenever I want. I love that God desires intimacy with me. I love that I follow a God of love and grace. I don't do this enough, but when I do I see how critical it is to my life.
  2. Time with my wife. As the Kenny Chesney song says it, "no one can make me cry, make me laugh, make me smile, or drive me mad like she does." I do not think it is possible for me to love anyone else as much as I love her. She challenges me, she drives me to be a better person, she won't let me settle, she loves me despite my flaws, and when she smiles it makes me know everything will always be okay. God has made many amazing things in this world, but He hit his creative apex with my wife.
  3. Time with my kids. I absolutely love my boys. They are among the greatest gifts God has ever given me. They make me laugh. They challenge my weaknesses. They make me cry when they want to snuggle and Trenton says "love u" to me to. They are so wild and crazy and yet so gentle in spirit. I cannot begin to comprehend how much better of a man I am because of their impact on my life.
  4. Time with friends & family. Honestly this does not happen enough. I have a great family. My parents & siblings are amazing. I don't deserve them. My "family-in-laws" are awesome too. Its no doubt where Danielle got her incredibleness. Finally, I have such great friends. I could not make it through life without their advice, friendship, and willingness to help me process things without judgement.
  5. Time spent with students and servant ministers @ church. I get a great opportunity to spend time with students and adults serving students. They are all such a blessing to me. When I get frustrated with the church or overwhelmed by the politics, I remember it is all about them. Ministry is people, and when I remember that I am on cloud nine.

So these 5 things are what I try to think about and spend my time on. I believe they are all "excellent & praiseworthy" and so that is where my heart and mind will focus on. My challenge to you? What's your 5?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A President cannot always be popular

Historians, beginning to examine Bush's legacy, note that the 43rd president could end up with a better reputation down the road -- something that happened to Harry Truman. At different points in his presidency, Truman earned some of the highest and the lowest public approval ratings in history: 87 percent approval in June 1945 vs. 23 percent approval in January 1952, according to a CNN analysis of polling at the time. Truman, who is often noted for his upset victory over Thomas Dewey in 1948, faced several domestic and foreign policy problems throughout his term in office, which lasted from 1945-1953. Most notably: The Korean War, World War II and later, Cold War relations with an aggressive Soviet Union. "One of the things that has been conventionally done is to compare George W. Bush to Harry Truman, both of whom had upon leaving office dismal approval ratings and of course as it is well known by now, Harry Truman's reputation has, by virtually every account, not only improved, but I would say escalated nearly to the top of the list of greater American presidents," Kellerman added. [article from CNN.com]

It will be interesting to see what happens to George W. Bush's legacy over time. One of my favorite US Presidents of all time is Harry Truman. Like Bush he left office with a low approval rating with even most of his own party turned against him. Time has helped improve and showcase his actual value to the country. I wonder what historians will say about W given enough time to evaluate everything. Easy to hate now, might be easy to like down the road.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Unity?

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too. - President Elect Barack Obama-

Sen. Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that. It is natural. It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again. -Senator John McCain-

Can we find unity as a country? Can we move forward together? I worry about the deep and bitter divide this election has shown that this country has. Hopefully we can leave our differences behind and work together towards a better, more unified America. Both candidates offered big promises, and now it is on the shoulders of Barack Obama to deliver. I do not envy his position. But it is my hope that we as a nation can move forward together.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We'll see

There's a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse... and everybody in the village says, "how wonderful. the boy got a horse" And the Zen master says, "we'll see." Two years later The boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "how terrible." And the Zen master says, "We'll see." Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight... except the boy can't cause his legs all messed up. and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful." Now the Zen master says, "We'll see."

I absolutely loved the movie Charlie Wilson's War. My favorite part from it was when Philip Seymour Hoffman's character (Gust Avrakotos) gives the little story of the Zen master. Honestly that is how I think we need to view whatever happens in today's election: we'll see. Too often we get overly excited or depressed about something without knowing what the future will look like. So before you get yourself worked up because your candidate won or lost, remember to say "we'll see" and trust that God remains in control.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

God/world

So I was at the gym this afternoon when I noticed a guy lifting weights while he studied himself in the mirror. Then I realized that the section of the gym with all of the weights was surrounded by 3 walls of mirrors. Perhaps I am slow, but I discovered today that the gym is not about making oneself healthy but about making oneself look good for others.

That got me thinking. How much of what we do in life is in the pursuit of making ourselves look for other people? Making it even more personal, how much of my day do I spend worried, obsessed with, and focused on the pursuit of making myself look good for others? The clothes I wear, the things I say, the actions I make, the jokes I attempt to tell, the political choices I make, going to the gym, etc. I began to realize that my life is just like that guy @ the gym. I am staring in a mirror obsessed with myself and the idea of making myself presentable to the world.

In all of this, I realized that I leave God out. I don't care about His opinion. I don't care about His desires. I don't care about His thoughts. Because God is invisible and doesn't seem to offer an audible opinion, I downgrade Him to second-class behind any and all humans being I encounter. That is not right, but it is seemingly true. I literally care what strangers "might" be thinking about with a casual glance my way then what the Creator of the Universe thinks. How sad and desperate is that?!?

I think this might be the root of all my problems and sins in life. I make too many decisions based upon what looks best in the mirror, what looks best in the eyes of my world. Why does it matter? Who cares what anyone else thinks? What matters is what God thinks. And if I feel like I am okay with God on something, then it does not matter if the church or the world is against me. After all, the mirror/world does not give an accurate reflection of me, only God can.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Has it come to this?

I received this forward today. This is sad to me. Has it really come to this? Do we as believers really believe that stopping Senator Obama from becoming President is the same as God raising Jesus from the dead? Do we truly believe that Michelle Obama hates white people? Do we really believe that Obama is evil? Do we really believe that wearing a flag lapel somehow makes a person patriotic? Have we still not learned that Senator Obama is not a Muslim? Do we truly think that George W. Bush is a prophet without honor because the war in Iraq is a "holy war" that Americans have not accepted?

I think everyone is entitled to vote in the way they feel is best for the country. Economic plans, morality, environmental concern, abortion, the death penalty, gun control, education, and many other factors are needed to determine one's voting choice. But I am saddened if a person's choice is swayed by e-mails like this.

PRAISE GOD FOR CHARLES STANLEY
A message from Charles Stanley
I was very dismayed when recently a member of my Church said to me with great resignation that she was afraid Obama will take the presidency. These words came from someone that in the past has been a great prayer warrior. What is happening was my question??? Why are we Christians settling for the loss of our Christian heritage, not issuing a battle cry and falling to our knees and taking our country back? We allow ourselves to be stripped of the right to pray at school functions and in school, we have the Ten Commandments removed from government places and are told we cannot pray publicly or proclaim Christian principles, all the while providing public prayer places for Muslims. We allow Muslim mosques to operate in America funded by Saudi Arabia, and proclaim anti-American, anti-Christian threats and terrorism.
What in the world is going on and why are we being so apathetic? Why aren't we praying? Our God is an Almighty God who is waiting patiently for us to raise our voices to heaven to stop the tide of the anti-Christian actions in our world today. Now we have a charismatic, albeit inexperienced, candidate for president that does not respect our flag and refuses to wear one on his lapel except when it becomes politically expedient, and whose own wife and pastor that he loves profess to have strong anti-white feelings, and we sit back and say 'it is a given, we can do nothing???' There has never been a time in 2000 years that we can do nothing, never a time that we must sit back and allow the evil in men's and women's hearts to take over our world! We should be afraid, very afraid because our apathy is leading us to perdition.
It is time for all Christian Americans to raise the battle cry and take our nation back! Maybe McCain on his own cannot defeat Obama, but our God can and He will if we take to our knees in prayer and raise a mighty cry to t he heavens to 'Save us O Lord'. We have God's promises in 2 Chronicles 7:14, 'If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.' We have the power to change the course of this election and to keep a man as suspect as Barack Obama from leading our country to who knows where with his message of 'change'; a change which I fear will be away from our Christian ideals, and away from Christ, and further away from one nation under God to one nation under Allah.
We are great at passing stories and pictures around the internet but where are our prayers and prayer warriors praying to stop this tide of Barack Obama? God parted the Red Sea, Jesus was raised from the dead, and we can bring our country back to its Christian roots and stop the undermining of our country by Muslims. We can stop our country from being 'under Allah' but we must begin to pray, to pray as our country and our lives depended on it because they do. We can stop all these atrocities against God's commands that have taken root in our country through something as simple as sincere prayer, a call to God to deliver us, to forgive us our sins of apathy and to protect us from the evil that is upon us.
Okay prayer warriors, here is your challenge, start those prayer chains. Get the spiritual power working on our behalf and stop Barack Obama the proper way, by calling on our God to save us from the deception that charismatic preaching is using to lead us on the wrong path. Stop those who would take God out of our country and our government. Raise up good men to lead us and protect us. George Bush is being buffeted because he has fought a holy war against the evils that attack us ... and we should not be surprised because a prophet is not honored in his own country. But we should not rest on our laurels and allow ourselves to be taken further off the path of Christianity and to have God removed from our presence in our schools, courts, government and businesses. Invite God into the fray. Ask that His power rest upon us and give us the victory. Ask him to raise up a mighty army t o defend us and to protect our country as he did in days of old. Let us be victorious beginning NOW.
The battle is His but we must call on Him without ceasing and unite our voices and hearts in prayer and fasting. Please pass this around to all people of prayer that you know and maybe, just maybe, a more eloquent person of prayer will write something better and more inspiring and even the rocks will shout that Jesus is Lord and our Mighty God is with us and bringing the victory for us and ultimately for Him. AMEN!

Redskins Rule?

So while reading on ESPN.com, I read an article about the upcoming MNF game between Washington and Pittsburgh. Chris Berman will be interviewing both John McCain and Barack Obama; so it might be worth while checking out even if you don't like football.

Well the interesting part of the article was this...

The Redskins, in fact, are an accurate barometer for presidential elections. According to Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, who coined the term "Redskins Rule" in 2000, the following bromide has held true for the past 17 presidential elections: If the Redskins win their last home game prior to Election Day, the party that won the popular vote in the previous election wins the White House; if the Redskins lose, the party that lost the popular vote in the previous election wins. In this Monday's case, a Steelers win would forecast an Obama victory; a Redskins win would indicate a McCain win.

So I guess Republicans are going to be cheering long and hard for the Redskins, while Democrats are going to be busting our their terrible towels and cheering for the Steelers.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Spirit & Wisdom

"There's a constant contradiction, what feels good and what feels right. But, you live with decisions that you make in your life. And what steers your direction is hard to understand, the spirit of a boy, or the wisdom of a man." -Randy Travis-

So I love country music. I grew up listening to it, and I still love it today. I cannot help but think about these lyrics right now. For whatever reason there seemingly is a divorce between older generations and younger generations. I think that is one of the things that makes this such a bitter, bitter divide in this election. The sad reality to me is that I think both youth and age bring about important perspective and viewpoints of how to make decisions and move forward. Being young tends to bring sarcasm, cockiness, and a certain amount of brash/bold decision making. It is that "spirit of a boy" that moves us forward. Being older seems to bring about more calculated, wise, and long thought out decision making. It is that "wisdom of a man" that moves them forward. What feels good in a decision? What feels right in a decision? In my opinion, I think both are needed.

Here is my problem. I feel like many people "of age and wisdom" love to approach us youthful people with condescending attitudes. We get treated like idiots, like we do not know how to make decisions, and that we cannot possibly have any intelligence because we are young. I understand that some of that is deserved because of how brash and cocky we can come across. But in reality all it does is cause further separation. At some point both sides need to concede a little in my book. Because if the power of the "spirit of a boy" was actually combined with "the wisdom of a man" - great things could happen. My issue is that I don't think they will because both sides remain so far apart, mainly because their pride automatically thinks of boasting of their side's strengths while deriding the other. Do I make mistakes and foolish statements because I am young? Yes. However, attempting to belittle me into thinking I am so stupid because of my youthful ignorance does not necessarily move me forward. And I understand being older brings about wisdom, but I lose count on how many times older people have lost that "spirit" quality that brought excitement and joy to life. Playing it safe may be wise and yet it may come at a cost of all that makes life worth living.

What are the chances we can move forward? Who knows. All I know is instead of writing insults and poking holes in each other's thoughts/opinions, it might do us all some good to realize the benefits of both the spirit of the boy and the wisdom of the man.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Way of the Fool

The way of the fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.

Okay. So let me admit that I have a tendency to think out loud - in other words speak while still processing my thoughts. The point of my blog is simply to throw down whatever it is I may be thinking about at any particular moment. Is everything I say/write true? No. It just helps me process my thoughts as well as allows others to see and speak into my thinking. I am happy that Jim B. decided to post a rebuttal to my last post. It means that someone is trying to help me process my thinking better (at least that's what I hope his post was about, it may have just been trying to put me in my place - which I probably could use too).

So pride on the shelf, I admit that I do not know who to vote for this upcoming Tuesday. I have to believe it is more than political party. I think both candidates have some key things I like and both have keys that I dislike. So this is YOUR chance to weigh into my decision making process. Please let me know who you think I should vote for and why by leaving a comment on this. This is not to breed argument or frustration, it is to make sure I along with anyone else who reads this is informed come Tuesday the 4th.

I promise to read, listen, and learn. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Liberal Judges

I am beginning to lose count of how many e-mails I am receiving from people who are convinced that putting John McCain into office will end abortion, bring school prayer back, eliminate the idea of homosexuality, and make everyone a believer in Jesus. As I recall, it wasn't that long ago when the Religious Right and conservatives were bashing this guy. Now that he is up against the "evil Obama" - he is looked at as a saint. Each person is entitled to their own opinion and vote, but here is what thing that drives me nuts. When asked about Obama and why he is so evil, I am continously told by church people that it is because he will appoint evil, liberal judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial posts. In my opinion, this is a stupid argument. Why? Because look at people like John Paul Stevens or David Souter (even to a degree Anthony Kennedy). Stevens & Souter were both appointed by Republican Presidents and both have turned out to be liberal judges - especially Stevens! What is the guarantee that a McCain appointed judge will not turn out to be just like them? What is the guarantee that an Obama appointed judge will not view decisions fairly and even possibly become more conservative while on the bench? There are just no guarantees that a person's judicial/political viewpoint will not change. Plus, before needing to suck-up to the ultra-conservatives of the Republican party, McCain always seemed to be more middle-of-the-road rather than staunch conservative. My guess is his appointments would be more like that than guys like Scalia or Thomas. Do I want judges who favor pro-life over abortion? Heck yes. However, I worry about making a decision for President simply based upon the assumption that McCain will appoint and get approved judges who will support the right to life. History has a way of showing us that this just doesn't happen like one would assume.

What do you say?

So I'm sitting in my REL421 class in Flagstaff this past Monday, when the concept of heaven comes up. We are talking about Manichaeism right now, and we were looking at their concept of light/darkness and the eventual pull towards heaven. Usually we incorporate other ideas and stories from other religions (including mainstream Christianity), so it wasn't a surprise when the girl sitting next to me started sharing a story that her "Christian sister-in-law" said to her. Apparently the sister-in-law was attempting to witness to her (or something) and when this girl would not budge, the sister-in-law responded with I'm going to be sad when I am looking down at you from heaven and you are burning in hell. Wow. The entire class was laughing at the stupidity of the comment (coming mainly I would assume from a complete lack of belief in Christianity as well as the absurdity of the comment). The rest of the class I felt terrible for this girl. She does not seem all that shaken up by it, but what a terrible look "Christianity" has in her mind from the stupid comment of one person. It made me realize just how damaged the idea of Christianity is in this world. It is so refreshing and fun to spend time with people who don't believe in Christianity, and yet it is so sad and depressing at the same time. What am I suppose to say in a situation like that? Do I apologize? Do I attempt to show the girl how off-base that comment is from what her sister-in-law should have said? I was just left speechless. I pray for forgiveness in a moment like this. It is my hope and prayer that God will forgive all of us who understand the saving grace of Jesus from the sins we have done in damaging the Name and Being of God. Hopefully I get a good opportunity to start a dialogue with this girl in my class. Not that Jesus cannot restore His own honor, but simply so I can apologize for the mistake made by yet another Bible-thumping, lack-of-grace&love Christian.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

God Bless David Bowie

Bitterness

Growth in wisdom may be exactly measured by decrease in bitterness. Friedrich Nietzsche

For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin. Acts 8:23

I recently experienced a couple of people who lashed out on me in complete bitterness of stuff that had nothing to do with me. They were upset about circumstances in their own lives and decided the best way to deal with it was to bitterly yell at me. The funny thing is at first I wasn't really upset about it. I could see their immaturity in the situation and could tell that they were the ones suffering, not me. Yet given time I grew increasingly frustrated at their stupidity. Why was I getting yelled at? Why were they so blind to their absolute bitterness and ugliness from the inside that they were exposing? But the million dollar question came down to what should I do in response to that? Honestly, I wanted to tell them to shove it and jump off a cliff. However, I realize that I was letting their bitter, emotional outpouring control me now as well as themselves. Why is it that we as people let bitterness just sit and stew inside of us? Why do we enjoy being miserable? Why do we enjoy dropping our crap on other people? Honestly, I am beginning to think that most of the sin we have in our lives comes from a form of bitterness wrapped up within us. So I want to take the "wisdom route" and decrease in bitterness, and yet I know that I am still very frustrated by what happened. I would say I should just confront them, but knowing them they'll be extremely defensive and nothing will come except another blow up. Do I still do it? Not sure, but this is what I am trying to figure out right now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where are my tangible relationships?

Advertisements by their very nature are intended to coerce thinking and behavior. They are needed when there is no personal relationship between the seller and the potential buyer. This type of coercion is expected when you're trying to decide what beer to drink or car to buy, but it's highly offensive when people try to tell you important truths without any tangible relationship. If you want an authentic heart for people outside the church...you've got to be with them. [The Tangible Kingdom - Halter/Smay]

This book continues to challenge me beyond belief. I have had to read it in such small doses because my head is reeling after each chapter. I have forced myself to journal on the discussion questions that come with each chapter and that has proven to be far more important than the actual reading of the book. The quote from above is convicting me on every level. Why do we advertise Jesus instead of actually building relationships with people? Even more gut-wrenching is the thought of how many tangible relationships I actually have with people who know Jesus in the same way they know Miller Light or Toyotas - from an advertising perspective. So much of my time is wrapped up inside the church with the idea that I can come up with enough programs and "coolness" that somehow people will fall through the doors to hear about God. Even if they somehow do, is what I am doing even effective? I would like to think that I am a relational guy - yet my concern is that I am pouring my time into relationships that don't necessarily need my time. Harsh sounding? Maybe - but in reality is spending time with people so that they will continue to serve versus pouring into neighbors who don't know the Lord more important? I guess on some level they are both important, I am just trying to figure out where and what I need to be doing with my time. Am I realistically doing enough to advance God's Kingdom? In other words, am I communicating the most important truths of life in the most effective manner to the people who need it most? Am I pouring into relationships where people desperately need to hear about why Jesus is actually important beyond just avoiding hell? Or do I think like the Miller Brewing Company and assume that if I make funny enough commerials and broadcast them enough times that people will naturally want my "product" [Jesus] that I am trying to "sell"? Sadly I think that is where I, along with the Church, happens to fall right now. The goal would be to spend time starting NOW making tangible relationships that will lead to natural paths of sharing the news of Christ.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Savior and Lord

Jesus is suppose to be my Savior and Lord. Savior in the sense that He saves me from my sinful choices that I have willingly made. Lord in the sense that He should be in control of my life. That is basic Christianity, and a point in which I don't think there can be a whole lot of objection to. However, here is my problem. I really like Jesus as my Savior, but I am not always so fond of making Him my Lord. I like the idea of eternal life and not going to hell. I don't always like the idea of my life not being controlled by me. I like the idea of forgiveness and mercy. I struggle with the idea of obedience at all cost. The sad part of this all, is I like to proclaim that Jesus in my Savior and Lord, but often I live a life of deception. I am not always willing to submit control to Christ's lordship of my life. Where does this leave me with God? Can a person truly be saved if they have not given over control to God? How much push-back does Jesus allow on the "Lord issue" while still being willing to acknowledge us before God? Is my whole relationship with God a facade because I struggle with this concept? I truly love Jesus, but for whatever reason my selfishness and control issues get in the way of allowing Him to call the shots for my life. Or I give him the easy calls to make, while keeping others to myself. Perhaps the reason for the desert in my life is to test my heart. To truly see if I will take His path and His choice over my own. What are God's feelings towards me when I struggle with this? Pity? Anger? Frustration? Sorrow? I am jealous of the disciples who though they struggled with their faith, seemingly gave up everything to follow Jesus. I, on the other hand, struggle not only with my faith but my willingness to follow. What am I clinging to that I need to let go? What areas of my life have I refused to give control over to God? Is my dream of happiness in the way of the path of obedience? Can I have dreams, desires, and wants or by having them am I disobedient? I know I need to accept God’s sacrifice on the Cross for the redemption of my life. What happens though if at the end of my life when I face God, He declares I never truly took Him as Lord? Will I face eternal separation from God because I struggled so much with this concept? Is part of “selling everything I have to follow Christ” include my wants & desires? Are the preferences inside of me from Christ, or has my fallen nature twisted me in such a way that I don’t see the desert for the oasis that it is? How do I know if I am truly following God? Do I need to be experiencing certain dissatifactions with life to know that I have accepted Jesus as Lord? If so, what are those dissastifactions? Is it possible to truly know exactly what God’s will is in every situation? If Jesus is Lord it seems like every decision must come from Him. How do I get to that position where “every move I make” I make in-line with what God is commanding of me? This is my struggle.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux

The Little Prince. Antoine De Saint-Exupery wrote one of the most incredible books ever. If you have never taken the time to read this, your life is missing out. Take my recommendation and read it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Pizza, Pop & Recess

In the 4th grade I ran for class president in Mr. Anderson's (no relation to me) class. I had never really thought about going into student council, but I did not like Bridget H. who happened to be running for class president at the time. So in the spirit of this great nation, I decided the best thing to do would be running against her. Since student council is almost always decided by popularity instead of actual ability, I figured I had a good chance at beating her. Kids liked me. Kids did not like Bridget. So I made some hefty "campaign promises," and ran under the banner of more pizza, pop & recess for all 4th graders. Needless to say, my campaign was very popular and when it came time to do class speeches I easily crushed poor Bridget (who was extremely intelligent and actually probably knew what she was doing versus me). Well I lasted about 2 months on the job as I routinely forget student council meetings, did not do well at actually reporting back to my classroom what was discussed, and pretty much did not know what the heck I was doing. Oh, and there was definitely no increase in the amount of pizza, pop or recess. Mr. Anderson gently removed me from my post and put Bridget in, who probably should've been there in the first place. What's the point? I seriously am beginning to wonder if McCain or Obama actually know what they are doing, and if either of them have any shot of actually being able to pull off what they are promising. Things like universal healthcare, tax cuts, and massive increase in budget for public education all sound great. But can they all realistically be pulled off without putting the national government in even bigger debt and increasing the economic downturn this country is now facing? I doubt it. This election seems to be coming down to who can make the biggest boasts, largest promises, and who looks the best while doing those things. My worry is that shortly into the new term for whomever wins, we will all realize that like me in the 4th grade, we elected someone with style and popularity, but with no real ability or substance to pull off and do what is needed most.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Iced Venti, 2 pump classic, SPLASH of soy, Iced Coffee

Yum. That's all I can say. Yum.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Happiness

So I have been wrestling with God over the issue of happiness lately. God does not care whether I am happy or not. God does not care what makes me happy. God does not care what my personal preferences are. He does not care about any of that. God simply expects me to be obedient to His plan and live/do exactly what He wants me to do. I was talking to a friend of mine who was telling me that it was not his choice to live in the desert, but that is what God wanted him to do. I totally get that. I hate the desert. The "valley of the sun" is a terrible place to live...who would choose the desert? Yet, I know this is where God wants me to be right now. The hard part is knowing that God knows that I do not like the desert, and yet He does not care about that preference. I am just expected to be joyful and be/do exactly what He wants me to. I guess part of my problem is seeing happiness as getting my own way versus trusting in God's way. But I wonder, why did God design me this way? If God wanted me to be a youth pastor in the desert of Arizona, wouldn't it make sense that He would put a burning passion for the hot-dry-desert and working at the church? Why give me a love for cool weather and pine trees? That just tortures me. Why allow me to go off to school to become a history teacher which has given me a love of history only to have me not use that in the slightest bit today? Why allow personal preference and things that make a person happy if they don't mean squat to God? I guess there is a free-will argument somewhere in there, I just don't get it. God does not care about my happiness or personal choice. That is what I have come to realize. Perhaps I have known about that all along, its just now sinking in. Who knows? Anyone else out there struggle with this? What are your thoughts on it?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

To My Fellow Americans

My father-in-law sent me this, I enjoyed it...

To my fellow Americans...
I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.
Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.
To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.
Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child.
So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.
So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.
My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.
Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.
Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.
That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.
But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife has $595,000.00.
What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.
Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads.
Put away money for college – it'll be there.

Save in a bank – create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
Buy a new car – create jobs.
Invest in the market – capital drives growth.
Pay for your parent's medical insurance – health care improves.
Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or else.
Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back.
And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.
If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( 'vote buy' ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.
If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!
As for AIG – liquidate it. Sell off its parts.
Let American General go back to being American General.
Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.
Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.
Sure it's a crazy idea that can 'never work.'
But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!
How do you spell Economic Boom?
I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion.
We Deserve It Dividend more than the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC .
And remember, this plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.
Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.
Kindest personal regards, Hank in Bull Hampsha

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Christian Club

Churches can make a difference in some way with some Christians, but it's unlikely they're making a dent in culture by reaching the unreached or helping the truly disenfranchised. [from The Tangible Kingdom by Halter & Smay].

I just started this book (thanks Dad!) and it is already getting the wheels in my head turning. I remember back to High School when we had "Christian Club" - a place where Christians could eat lunch together and hear some lesson by some local youth pastor. We were encouraged to bring our "non Christian friends" but in reality most of the kids did not really have any non-Christians that they could actually call friends, and those of us who did were too embarrassed by the lameness of the club to bring a friend. Sad reality, but truthful. Flash forwad to today. I look around at many churches and find them operating in much the same way. We as the church do a good job at creating a club for Christians. Christians feel safe inside and hang out with other people who do not scare, threaten or intimidate them. Christians jump from club to club feeling for the one that most matches their style. But just like the club back in high school, what good the church might be doing for those who are already believers is completely overshadowed by the fact that society at large is not really being impacted. People who do not believe in God and have no concept of a relationship with Jesus are left outside, because those inside the club don't really care about them and the club itself has no relevancy to them. I see churches doing a lot of good in the lives of "believers" - their lives are getting better and happier. But its those who actually need to taste the saving grace of Christ for the first time that are left wandering. What if churches across America stopped doing programming for believers? What if there was no club activities on the inside of the club? What if the only focus was on helping the community and world at large - primarily taking the time to invest in those who have never been a part of the club? Who knows. I have a hard time believing that will ever be the case. I love church. I just wish church could mean more to more people.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The United States of...France?

I read an interesting article on Time Magazine [onlinel] via CNN.com this morning. It has some delightful witty sarcasm in it but takes an intriguing look at the state of the American economy and the direction it is heading with all of the government bailouts. "We're more French than France." It does make me wonder though. I heard Nancy Pelosi yesterday say, "We will not simply hand over a $700 billion blank check to Wall Street and hope for a better outcome." Now I am not a big Nancy Pelosi fan but that just seems to make a lot of sense. There just does not seem to be any consequences for making stupid mistakes with a lot of money for Wall Street. I understand that many people (most/all people?) are dependent upon Wall Street doing well, but I feel like $700 billion is just going to end up getting blown and then what do we do? Where is the accountability? If Mr. Small Business Owner makes stupid decisions and goes under - who helps him? Yes it is true that less lives are dependent upon him making it - but I am pretty sure he and his family and what small amount of employees he may have will all suffer. Its just so frustrating because this all seems like "regular people" are the ones getting fleeced here. If you are responsible, pay your taxes, invest your money, live within your financial means, and recognize accountability in your life - the US government has no care for you. Frustrating. When will our 2 candidates talk about this and be REAL with their answers? Probably never, but one could hope...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I love my boys

Seriously. Outside of my wife there is nothing greater in this world than my boys. I absolutely love them so stinkin' much.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I say the Red Sox...sex...and breathing.

Okay so I absolutely love sports. If you asked my wife, she would say that I love sports too much. Seriously. Since I can remember I have fallen on the obsessed side of sports. I remember for my tenth birthday my parents took me to Toronto to see the Blue Jays play (for some reason as I kid I loved all the Toronto sports teams). They fell behind after the first couple of innings, and so I did what any rational 10 year old would do. I started crying and ran away. Literally, ran from our seats onto the main concourse. Not sure where I was gonna go or what good it would do. I remember repeated arguments with my brothers about who was the best player, the best team, the best win, the best whatever. I remember getting into a fight with Ben Swails because the Packers lost the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos. I remember not feeling sorry when Mario Lemieux got diagnosed with cancer because I was angry at the Pittsburgh Penguins for beating the North Stars in the 91 Stanley Cup. I remember taping up a photo of Byung-Hyun Kim up in the urinal in my college dorm room so I could pee on him I was so angry for him blowing back to back games in the 2001 World Series. I can also remember all of the times I have felt an immense amount of joy in my heart because my team or my player did well. What's the point? I have slowly begun to realize how much I let sports run my life. My whole attitude can change depending on who wins the Ryder Cup. I can be upset for weeks if the Packers lose a game on Sunday. Even the most obscure of sporting events can change my outlook for a day good or bad. The sad reality is that at the end of the day sports do not matter. They don't. Eternity is not impacted by who wins/loses. God doesn't stop being in control just because the Twins don't make the playoffs. There are bigger and more important things in life and if I spent about half as much time worrying about them as I do sports, I cannot imagine how much I could do for God. So while I will continue to watch Sportscenter, check ESPN.com, and follow my teams...my goal is to not get so wrapped up in them that I miss out on the real & true joys of life.

By the way, for those of you who didn't see Fever Pitch, when Jimmy Fallon's character is asked "Where do the Sox rank in terms of importance in your life?" he replies with "I say the Red Sox...sex...and breathing." Sad but understandable. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Awesome

I love these guys. They make some pretty hilarious videos.

Love must be sincere

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I am continously overwhelmed by this passage from Romans 12. I wonder what God could do with my life if I was obedient to these words written by Paul? I feel so convicted because I know that my life does not reflect this passage and then I wonder why I feel distant from God and people do not see Christ in me. My challenge, though, is to not wallow in self-pity but attempt to get my life to reflect these verses.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

University of Phoenix Stadium


So my wife and I got the opportunity to see the Cardinals game today at University of Phoenix Stadium (thanks Dad!!!). The game was great (Kurt Warner was amazing), the food was good (who doesn't like a Big Red Dog), the atmosphere was rocking (yes there are such things as Cardinal fans), and I got to count a football game as a date (score one for the boys). Glendale feels like it is California for those of us in the East Valley, but other than that I cannot complain about a single thing from today.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Discipline

One of the repeated conversations that my wife and I have is over discipline. How do we discipline our kids? How much is too much discipline? What things do you not worry about because discipline is not that big of a deal for them? When do you raise your voice? Do you have to spank them every time? All these things swirl around. Today Trenton wanted to play with some styrofoam cups we had leftover from our friend's going away party. I told him no. So he decided he was just going to grab them anyway. I told him NO again but still he did not stop. Finally I grabbed his hands and pulled him away and gave the classic "don't make me ask you again line." His response to that was to pick up a toy and throw it at me. Beautiful. What to do...what to do...So I immediately marched him over to a corner and made him stare at the wall for a few minutes followed by a short talk on listening. Not sure how much an almost 3 year old can comprehend...but then again he is really smart so I'm not going to sell him short on understanding. All this to say that I don't exactly know what I am doing. I do not want to be the strict Christian parent that keeps my kid from doing anything and punishes any sign of wildness. On the other hand I don't want to be the laissez-faire parent who doesn't discipline at all and as a result produces little hellians who do not respect any authority and end up getting into all sorts of self-destructing crap. Where is the balance? Of course the Bible is full of stuff on the importance of discipline and God disciplining us like we discipline our kids and so on and so forth. But as much as "spare the rod, spoil the child" looks good on paper - when does it apply and how is it properly applied to make sure my kids learn, grow, mature, and develop into solid men? How do I teach them that discipline is for their benefit? How do I teach them that I absolutely love them and that is why I discipline them? All of this is swirling through my head this morning as I try to get a grasp onto what exactly I am supposed to do as a parent via discipline. Then on top of all that, every parent with more than one kid has told me that each kid is different and you have to learn how to discipline them in their own way. Oh man. I guess this is all part of learning how to be a parent...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Football

I absolutely love the return of football. College football (go Sun Devils!), pro football (go Packers!), fantasy football (too many teams this year but nevertheless go teams!), watching football, teaching Trenton about football, talking smack about football, everything to do with football. One of the best parts of football coming back to us though is the blessing of watching Miller Lite commercials. I absolutely love John C. McGinley (and love it even more that his Dr. Perry Cox character comes out in the commercials). The More Taste League. I just saw this one recently and it made me laugh. I am a simple person so if you don't find the commercials funny perhaps you have never seen Scrubs or you are dead...either way your opinion doesn't hurt my viewing enjoyment.

"Dad...pee"

So I am writing this post at 4 am. I am tired, but so joyful right now. Trenton just started calling out from his bedroom so I went to check on what was the matter. As soon as I opened his door he looked up at me from his bed and said, "Dad...pee" - which in his short sentences was his asking to let him go to the bathroom. So he got up and ran into the bathroom and went pee on the toilet. How awesome that he asked - even in the middle of the night. This is a major breakthrough! Yea for peeing at 4 in the morning. Anyway I am a little loopy since this is the middle of the night, but now I cannot get that stupid "Its not a going problem its a growing problem" Avodart commercial about shrinking your enlarged prostate commercial out of my head. The guy in the commercial said he had to keep going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and here I am focusing on pee in the middle of the night. I am pretty sure Trenton's prostate is not enlarged, he just has a small bladder. So no worries on the Avodart, we'll stick with celebrating him choosing to pee in the toilet over simply just going in the night diaper we put him in.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What to do...

Well after the hoopla of both the DNC & RNC it comes down to a final two months of mud-slinging ads and a few debates to determine who will be the next President of the USA. I have really been interested in this election and like many people am honestly torn on what to do. There are "promises" (sketchy when it comes to politicians) that both candidates are making that seem positive. There are negatives to each candidate that stick out as well. I was talking to my buddy Jeremy and he said he is leaning towards not voting at all. Is that the solution? When it comes to not being completely comfortable one way or the other, do we abstain from voting? I don't know. Is leadership experience the most important thing? Is a impressive military service record the most important thing? Is natural charisma the most important thing? Is abortion stance the most important thing? Is tax policy the most important thing? Is health insurance the most important thing? There are so many variables. What about character? It appears in Scripture that the most important thing to God was whether or not a leader had character and was willing to follow after God. Where do Barack Obama and John McCain truly stand in their "claimed" relationships with Jesus? Where does that rank in a system set up to separate church & state? How do you evaluate a candidate outside the lens of your own personal biases? So many questions and I honestly don't feel like I have the answers. Does God care about this election? One way or the other, does God care that one of these guys wins? Or does God simply ask that the Christians of this great nation continue to seek and serve Him no matter who the leader is trusting that God remains in control...which then brings me back to does it matter who I vote for?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Stereotypes

So one of the classes I am taking this fall is on the Islamic faith. I know very little about Muslims, and am looking forward to decreasing my ignorance. One of the first things we did in the class was read an article by Mona Eltahawy discussing "what does a Muslim look like." The saddest part of the article is the idea that people are genuinely shocked to see diversity amongst Muslim people. Because of the media and the ignorance of so many, it seems as if Americans have a perceived image in our heads of what a Muslim "must be" versus what they might actually be. This isn't to say that some people within the Muslim faith have not done wrong and projected the image we as Americans have...its just that it is unfair to stereotype all people because of the actions of some. I think about my own Christian faith and see all of the examples that I do not want to be lumped in with. Do I really want to be represented by Pat Robertson? By James Dobson? By Joel Osteen? By the abuse issues in the Catholic church? By anti-homosexual tirades? By the Republican party? The media only seems to latch onto the sensational news stories and then projects those as status-quo for a whole group. It is frustrating when trying to share Christ with someone because they already have some misconceptions based upon what they have seen/heard on television. The article and subsequent class discussion that went along with it really reminded me of how often I listen to stereotypes and get duped by the media. Not every Muslim wants to burn an American flag...just like not every Christian wants to bomb an abortion clinic. Unfortunately the only way to move beyond these simplistic and foolish generalizations is to cut down on our ignorance. That is my hope with this class.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fear

The concept of fear is very intriguing to me. I have blogged a few times on what some of my fears are, but I keep coming back to why do we react the way we do when our "fears" are put in front of us? Last night I got home late from work (Nick Vujicic was great) and went to check on the boys. I wanted to make sure they were okay with the giant thunderstorm going on and I hadn't really seen them much this week. Well when I went into Trenton's room I could not find him. He was literally not in his room...or at least that's what I thought. I went over to his closet, and when I opened the door he was curled up inside with his blanket and penguin. Sleeping in the darkness of his closet which apparently was protecting him from the lighting. It was funny and sweet at the same time. It reminded me of when I was really little and my brothers and I use to go into my sister's room in our house in Mendota Heights because it was the room the thunder and lighting were the least scary in. From young ages it seems we are taught or learn on our own to run/hide from that which puts fear into our lives. We spend so much time hiding and running that when it comes time to actually face those things which make us afraid we have the most incredibly hard time doing so. How do you counteract that? I'm not going to make Trenton sleep in a sleeping bag on the driveway during the next storm...so how do I help him with his fears. Of course things like being afraid of thunderstorms, spiders, scorpions, clowns (completely rational), or stuff like that doesn't totally matter. But what about the fears that a person must overcome? How do I teach my boys, how do I teach myself, how do I teach those around me to face the fears when it goes completely against what they and myself have done since we were little? I don't know if I really have an answer on this, but I have just been spending a lot of time thinking about it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What do you do?

So potty training is God's way of showing just how little control I have in life and His method of slowly torturing me to death. Trenton is finally in the process of actually getting potty trained. He is actually doing pretty good, but he is struggling with asking to go and what to do when he has to drop a twosy. So yesterday we had a clash of both problems that resulted in pure terror. We put Trenton down for a nap in a diaper since we didn't want him peeing in his underwears while sleeping. Well thirty minutes into his nap he has to go to the bathroom but you can probably guess it was the colon calling not his bladder. So he goes poop. Well that wouldn't be bad except that he now knows that he doesn't like the feeling of poop or pee in a diaper against his skin. So what does he do? He immediately takes off his shorts and removes his diaper. Now any rational human being (or perhaps any rational non-Anderson kid) would have stopped there. But not my boy! He proceeds to pick up the poop and put it everywhere in his room. His bed was smeared with it. The carpet was covered with it. Inside his pillow case had poop. His blanket had poop. The only thing that didn't really suffer was his stuffed animal penguin. Go figure he spares his best friend. We hear him and start to smell the funk so we enter his room to find Picasso has painted a nice brown shade everywhere. He is naked and covered in poop from his neck to his feet. His hands are coated. And on the back of his bedroom door is a nice little painting of poop. What do you do when the crap hits the fan they say? Well what do you do when the crap hits everything? We didn't know whether to laugh or cry, scream or giggle, clean or napalm the room. It is always an adventure in this home and yesterday proved no different. For your viewing pleasure I have included a picture of his door (which I couldn't help but take).


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Success

So Danielle went to bed early last night because she had to work early this morning. So I went to RedBox to rent a movie she wouldn't want to see. I came away wtih American Gangster. It was pretty brutal and there was a lot of violence, drug usage, and inappropriate scenes, but overall the film was pretty good. There was a line from the movie that really intrigued me though. It was, "Success. It's got enemies. You can be successful and have enemies or you can be unsuccessful and have friends." The more I think about it the more I think that is true. By our very nature, we as people are envious and jealous. I don't know why but the success of others can by itself make us dislike them for one reason or another. Promotions, salary increases, new & better toys, better jobs, etc. can drive us all crazy in envy & jealousy. Then again sometimes those with all the stuff are envious and jealous of those who are more successful in life - family, marriage, and the stuff that really matters. Does the success of others really bother me? Do I dislike people for doing well - "better" than me?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to school

So this upcoming Monday (August 25th) I begin my fall semester classes at Northern Arizona University. I have to travel to Flagstaff every Monday during the semester. It kind of sucks to drive 5 hours a day, but I will enjoy being on that campus again. I absolutely love Flagstaff. I will be finishing up the last 4 classes (12 hours) I need to graduate over the fall and spring semesters. So next May (after I started taking college classes in the fall of 2000) I will finally graduate! Yea. Its interesting because despite getting the degree I will still be on the outside looking in amongst my colleagues at the church. Imagine like a prestigious law firm where everyone has Ivy League law degrees and then a guy with a law degree from Iowa tries to fit in. Sometimes that is how I feel as most of the males I work with all have bible college degrees. Its as if I will have a degree but one that doesn't quite count. No one necessarily says this, but its like being the odd one out. I have never taken a preaching class. I have never taken a pastoral care class. I have never taken a theology class. I'm just some guy who is a bit obsessed with history that God has asked to do ministry. Its a weird feeling though sometimes. Nevertheless I am proud of where I went and continue to go to school. I have received a great education, learned a ton, and have really enjoyed my experiences. Maybe I don't fit into the normal pastor mold. Then again maybe that is exactly the way God wanted it to be. I have never been a normal guy and I think that is the way I like it to be.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Real" World

So one of the hardest parts to my job is that it keeps me at church with church people for most of my time. Don't get me wrong, I love hanging out with my fellow staff members and absolutely love the adults and students I get to experience life with. However, I miss having conversations and experiencing moments with people who do not know God or at the very least do not care anything about the church. I don't think we set out to be a holy huddle at the church, I think it just sort of happens. I have met very few people at Central who would claim that the church is not for those who are not yet a part of it...but in the end do not know how to invite or interact with those same people. And then I realize why do we classify people into groups anyway? Why does it have to be "believers" & "non-believers"? I understand that there are people who have a relationship with Christ and there are people who do not. But at the same time, I just refuse to believe that God looks at people in categories, so why do I? Anyway, connecting back to what I was originally saying; when I worked at Starbucks I got lots of time hanging out with and chatting with people not connected to church. They were just regular people. And the crazy thing is that I really do feel like when I was there I viewed all people as just people, not my current "two category" viewing. Have I gotten less like Christ in some ways since coming to the church? I don't know, but I struggle with that concept and not enjoying my conversations about life while making someone a latte. Last night I went to the DBacks game (which we won, woo-hoo!) with my friend Jason. Afterwards we went across the street to this bar Tiggo's. We wanted to just sit and have a conversation but we ended up talking with this bartender Anthony. He was an interesting guy, saying so many "colorful" statements. As we were talking to him it felt good to have just a regular conversation. I wasn't treating him like a "non-believer" and looking to hand him a fake twenty dollar bill witnessing track. Just talking about business, baseball, and a little bit about him. I don't know if I will ever see him again, and maybe I was supposed to say "go to church" but I thank him for providing me the opportunity to interact with someone who wasn't just like me. My hope is that I can continue to find opportunities and places to interact with people who aren't part of the church. Not because they are a different "category" but because I want the fullness of life in relationships with all sorts of people. I miss that. I like that. And honestly, it feels as if I am most Christlike when I do that.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Warning

Its funny how when I teach a lesson for the Junior High service the topic seems to apply as much to my own life as it does for their lives. This morning I taught about the warnings we waste in life and used the passage from Genesis 4 on Cain & Abel. Cain received a warning from God (But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it) that he ignored and paid the ultimate price. I wonder how often I ignore that very same warning from God. I choose to make poor decisions and that leads sin into my life. The crappy thing is that I know better. I read the warning God gave Cain and it is blatantly obvious what Cain needed to watch out for. Yet in my own life I repeatedly ignore warning signs that if I would pay attention would keep my life out of trouble. How many poor choices and bad decisions could I avoid by simply applying one of the first warnings God gives mankind? It sometimes seems like sin is not that big of a deal and that at any moment it can easily be controlled. The idea of sin lurking around, crouching, ready to pounce on my life and dominate my life seems unrealistic. Yeah right sin could have that much power and control...right? Unfortunately I don't think I realize the destructive nature of sin until its too late most of the time. I miss the warning and pay the price. Perhaps the time has come to realize how critical this warning from God is and heed its advice. How much trouble listening to it would have prevented for Cain's life, my life, and the lives of the Junior High students I taught this morning is astounding. Its the simple warnings in life that seem to have the biggest impact.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Memorization

So my friend Jeremy wrote a couple of blogs on the topic of memorizing Scripture. Basically he talked about he hadn't memorized Scripture since he was a kid and wanted to work on it. I thought about it and decided it would be a good idea for myself as well. However, I could not get the motivation to begin (as terrible as that might sound, it is true). So my wife and I were talking a few weeks back and she suggested a contest. She wanted to lose weight but didn't necessarily have the motivation to do so. So if we made it a competition against each other, perhaps the competitive edge will kick in and we'd be able to accomplish our goals. Nothing like a competition between husband and wife to accomplish goals...All that to say, is I have to memorize the book of James. I laid out a plan which would have me memorizing the book by the first part of December. That seems like a long time, but then it forces me to learn small chunks at a time and continously review the stuff I should have memorized already. So far I am up through the first chapter of James.

My observations thus far...

  • Memorizing Scripture is not as hard as I thought it would be. It takes time and great discipline, but it is not impossible.
  • While memorizing Scripture, God has a funny way of challenging me with what I am memorizing. For instance, Danielle came home from vacation in Colorado a couple of weeks ago but left her keys up there. My normal reaction was to freak out and have a meltdown in anger - yet "My dear brothers take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" popped into my head. Wow - it has served a purpose to memorize!
  • The book of James is extremely useful for daily living.

So I encourage you in the pursuit of memorizing Scripture. Its totally worth the effort!