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 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


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


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


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.


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]

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


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


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.

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, 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.