Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wall of Separation

I just finished American Gospel by Jon Meacham. It was a pretty good book, though it was rather short (only 250 pages) and could have explored topics a little bit more in-depth. I did like that Meacham pointed out that America was NOT founded as a Christian nation and that it has done its best as a nation when it straddles the middle line between hard-core religious fundamentalism & philosophy-driven secularism. Giving people freedom of choice is critical - and he does a decent job at conveying that message. People who use the Bible as a source of political or personal strength against others are ridiculous. As Meacham says it, if God doesn't force beliefs on people - who gives us the right to do it. I also like his thoughts on how people have always justified themselves based upon their interpretation of Scripture - for example: slavery. So when Christians argue that we should base everything off of Scripture - who's interpretation are you talking about? Finally, I think it is critical to remember that Christians enjoy overstepping their boundaries in the political arena when it is their own faith being supported - but what about when it is the Muslim faith or some other faith? Will they still be comfortable then? The point being - the United States was founded by a solid group of men (most of them not being Christian as we would define Christian today) who believed in freedom and republicanism. The government was based upon those principles and that is what makes this a solid nation. The values, attitude, and actions of Christ are incredible to follow - and the great thing about this country is we are allowed as citizens to do just that. But when we start blurring the line between faith & politics - we usually get a watered down version of both.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.
Jeremiah 3:3

As I read through Isaiah & Jeremiah, I cannot help but notice how many times God compares the Israelites to prostitutes. As a people they literally gave themselves to idols, pride, and sin. Instead of being faithful to God - they chose a path of prostitution. In many ways, it seems like nothing can be so degrading as prostitution in this world. Whether it is chosen or forced upon someone, it is humiliating, degrading, and wrong. Yet how often do I choose the same route as the Israelites in my relationship with God? How often am I no more then a whore to sin? I give myself over to it in a shameful and disgraceful way, not only humiliating myself but in some ways the God I claim to have a relationship with. In reality, why would a spouse stay with their spouse if that spouse willingly chose to have sex with as many different people as possible? It sounds crude - but that is how God choose to describe it when we choose sin (often times repeatedly & without shame) over Him. So what do you do when you are the prostitute? How do you escape that life - when its all you have ever known? How do you heal your heart, reclaim your mind, improve your actions - when prostitution comes so easily? How deep is the well of God's love despite our prostitution? I feel like these are the questions that God calls us to grapple with. For it is the desire to get out of prostitution that is the first step towards reclaiming a healthy relationship with God. Until then - we remain whores to the sinful passions of our every day lives.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I remember that I first started loving Michael Jackson because of my oldest brother Logan. If Logan thought he was good - then he had to be good. So since I was a little tyke, Michael Jackson has been a musical icon for me. Honestly, I think he is my favorite alltime musician. Its weird how the death of celebrity can matter so much, as if I knew the guy personally. He may have been weird, he may have had problems, but in the end he was the King of Pop. He will be missed. I always loved listening to you Michael.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Full Of Them

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

Psalm 127:3-5

So I saw a video by my friend Neil tonight which showed discussed the fertility rates of the western world as compared to that of the Muslim world. The statistics were staggering. It has me thinking. Do we (Americans) really value children as we should? Do we truly believe that children are a blessing? The Psalmist tells us that a state of "blessing" comes to the man who has lots of kids. Yet the United States barely maintains a fertility rate for replacing its current generation, and mainly maintains that rate simply from the influx of the Latino population. So are we really seeking that particular blessing? My wife wants 5 kids and the more I think about it, the more I can see why. She gets it. She sees the blessing that having children are. I get so wrapped up in simple things like having a big enough house for them, feeding them, clothing them, any & all medical expenses, etc - as if somehow God won't take care of us. If we truly believed verse 5 of the 127th Psalm - how would that change our mindsets in approaching the question of "how many kids should we have?" Not sure I know - but this definitely has me thinking.

Monday, June 22, 2009

You are what you read...

If what you eat tends to define who you are, then what you read must have a pressing influence on what you think, how you think it, and what you do from those thoughts. I tend to like biographies. I like anything to do with history, usually focusing on things prior to the Korean War. I'm not sure exactly how that has influenced me, but I'm sure that the reason I think and talk about history a lot is because that is what I spend time studying. The reason this interests me is how I see the church becoming more and more like a corporate business structure. Not necessarily the overall Church - but at least the American Church. The leadership principles, practices, strategies, growth management, philosophies, ethics, building programs, etc of churches in America now seem to parallel that of the business world. As I have wondered why that is, it dawned on me how much church leaders love reading business books. I am sure it started long before, but I clearly remember when "Good to Great" first came out and every church leader seemed to be reading it. From that point on, I have noticed that the books most likely found in the hands of pastors are those that have been either written by those in the business community or based upon lessons learned from the business community. With the current sorry state of the economy and business affairs in America, I wonder where the Church is headed. Obviously the Church can claim that they, in the end, follow Jesus and that will separate them from the crash & burn of Wall Street...but if all the Church is doing is consuming that which the business community has to offer - what chance will it really have? Plus, where do people fit in? Does the American Church care enough about people - or have people become (like they are in the business community) mere statistics and measurements of success? Bill Hybels once said that the local church is the hope of the world. He may be correct, but only if the church is the one setting the pace - not simply following the tide of the latest and greatest business guide to successful leadership.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." -Dr. Seuss-

So despite having Democrat leanings, I don't really like change all that much. I got dealt another blow today with the news that my friend Jason will be leaving his job within a week. Eric Shark, Shaun Sawyer, Ryan Maxwell, Ryan Russell, Jon Moton, and now Jason are all gone. Its not that I don't have other friends on staff - but those guys all meant something to me. It will be hard going forward now. This isn't the time or place to put blame on anyone or anything - just me confessing that this change will be difficult. In the end I am just thankful for Jason. I am thankful for his heart, his passions, his talent, and his friendship. He has tremendous value and some church will benefit from his presence there. He sees ministry as relationships and chooses to place relationship over system & administration. That doesn't always jive well - but I understand it completely. So here's to you Jason - best of luck and know that you will always be one of my best friends. Central was lucky to have you, and your imprint will remain long after your departure from staff.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Whether Muir's deep faith in nature is still possible in our own time is a question that his admirers must continue to ask themselves and to find answers of their own. Can contact with nature inspire people to a higher ethic, a greater decency? Or is the human species by and large incapable of reverence, restraint, generosity, or vision? Have we truly learned to respect a nature that we did not create, a world independent of us, or do we see only the hand of humankind wherever we look? Muir was a man who tried to find the essential goodness of the world, an optimist about people and nature, and eloquent prophet of a new world that looked to nature for its standard and inspiration. Looking back at the the trail he blazed, we must wonder how far we have yet to go. (Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir).

I recently finished Worster's biography on John Muir, and it was fantastic. What an incredible guy John Muir was. I am awed by his love and commitment to a cause which laid a foundation that much of the modern environmental & conservation movement has been built upon. His strong belief in the wilderness being able to cure the ills of mankind resonates well with me. Having just gotten back from JH Summer Camp up in the mountains of California, I feel renewed from having spent time in God's creation. The crisp air, the tall mountains, the trees, even the extended day trip to the ocean - all worked together to help heal parts of my soul. It felt so good to have God wrap His arms around me thru the work of His creation. For me, I will honor the life of John Muir (beyond my membership with the Sierra Club) by doing what I can to preseve the wilderness of America as a means to connecting with God. Nature is my standard & inspiration because in it I find the clearest picture of God.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

God's Wildness

He [John Muir] promoted conservation as a means to improved happiness for people. Human health - mental, physical, and economic - depeneded on access to the natural world. To be prosperous a society must use its natural resources rationally and carefully; to be happy and fulfilled a society must be in contact with the natural beauty around it. Privately, he was still convinced that man should not be the measure of all value, that justice must extend to all creatures, and that accumulating money should not become the chief end of living. Publicly, however, he defined the goal of conservation as fuller human development. (Donald Worster)

"'There is love wild Nature in everybody,' he wrote in his journal, 'an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.' And he added (stealing shamelessly from Henry David Thoreau), 'In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.'" (Donald Worster)

The more I read about John Muir the more I identify with him. Although I would be quick to point out that the majesty of the wilderness reflects God, I do see how critical the natural world is to my health. For myself, I often feel the presence of God more in the naked wilderness then in any building. However, the sad reality is my time becomes consumed with "cares and duties" and I often do not get the opportunity to renew myself in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, I feel the absence of time outdoors in my life. Physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually I can tell that I am headed for empty without it. The outdoor world is so close and yet so incredibly far. I envy the life John Muir spent outside. He was constantly traveling all around, constantly spending more time outdoors then within. Thankfully, I have a vacation to Alaska coming up. A chance to seek & find myself again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Listen & Learn

So I was watching Go Diego Go with Trenton tonight. It was the one with the humpback whales. Anyway, at the end of the show like usual they had "the review" with 4 questions that the kids should have learned about humpback whales. Well Trenton answerd all four correctly - and was super excited about it. It was pretty cool and I was proud of him - even if it the quiz was "simple." As I thought about it, I started to wonder if that is how God is with me as I study his Word. When I am learning and starting to understand the things God needs to me to know - I have to believe He is proud of me and gets excited. It might be simple things that everyone else already knows - but He is simply happy that I am willing to learn and have spent time listening to Him. Every time I see Trenton grasp something new - it just sends the most incredible joyful feeling throughout my soul. My hope and belief is that the same is true of God with me.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

18 Innings but a W!

It took 18 innings, but the Diamonds pulled out a W. How many times is the bullpen going to suffer late inning meltdowns though? How pissed must Danny Haren be at that 'Pen? But nice homer Mark Reynolds - and nice work by Rauch/Vasquez/Zavada/Rosales going innings 10-18 without giving up a hit to redeem the bullpen woes. My favorite part was watching Zavada pitch - mainly because of the mustache!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Questioning God

"What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more." (Job 7:17-21)

Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. (Job 41:11)

Friday, June 5, 2009

29 Silver Pans

So I'm not saying that every piece of the Bible is not important, but sometimes I wonder about the things included in it. I read the book of Ezra yesterday, and though there were some really awesome parts (my favorite being Ezra's prayer in chapter 9) there are some parts I just don't understand how they have any relevancy to me today. I suppose the names and numbers of exiles would have been important to the Jews reading the Scripture as they would identify with their family bloodline that left captivity - but what am I suppose to pull from that? The inventory of the supplies that Cyrus gave back to the Israelites - is it really critical to know that there were 410 matching silver bowls? Or even later on knowing that Eliashib decendent of Bani was guilty of intermarriage? My point is not to mock Scripture or say it is not critical - I am seeking out what we as people today are suppose to do when coming across passages of Scripture that describe names, numbers, and statistics that don't seem to have any point today. Maybe it just adds the "filler detail" to show the precise nature of Scripture. I'm not really sure. It certainly doesn't hurt the overall impact or importance of God's Word, I guess I just wish I knew what God wanted me to learn from the 29 Silver Pans...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I don't always agree with Steve Benson's cartoons, but this one is spot on target.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pissed Off

Oh how pissed off I am right now at you Tony Pena. 4 runs. That's how big of a lead on LA we had in the 8th inning and you have to cough it up. Hopefully in walking with your head in shame you pulled a neck muscle so we can put you on the DL for the rest of the year.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can you go back?

Once a bridge is burned, can you ever go back? I continue to dwell upon the concept of unity and what I need to do to contribute to unity. Today I dwell upon the idea of a bridge being burned. I can vividly see the bridges that have been burnt in my life. I remember the details and all of the frustration, anger, and hurt that built up ultimately leading to the bridge being burnt. What do you do once that has happened? The damage is done. The hurt is deep. The anger is burning. I understand the need to forgive - and yet what do you do with the charred remains? Even if the fire is put out - the smoldering remains leave very little to work with. I marvel at the ability of God to forgive. I struggle understanding how He can just wipe the slate clean and continue to love, deeply love, in the midst of all of the stupid & frustrating & hurtful things I do to my relationship with Him. I burn that bridge on a daily basis, and yet there he is pounding in new nails and boards to build it again. Its not enough for God to simply say well I tried enough - now I am done. God doesn't seem to allow for burnt bridges. Yet I do. Selfishly & emotionally I allow them to exist. I am ashamed at my behavior in light of the Truth of God. Yet, deep inside I sense an ugliness that will not let go of the hurt, pain, frustration and anger. Can burnt bridges be rebuilt? God seems to be an expert at it - what about me?