January 2008 - Posts
Project American Warrior, as many of you know, is a project that Fluffy Cow and I dreamed up to share some love with two soldiers in Iraq. Istvan's son and Fleur-de-lis's daughter are both currently serving in Iraq. And for that we are grateful and want to say thanks.
And thanks to you guys, the loving Steeple Media family, we have currently collected several notes of encouragement and $124 for two huge gift baskets. How wonderful is that? You guys are awesome. I really love you. I do.
Yes, we're well on our way of sending two packed-full gift baskets, but we're not finished. It isn't too late to participate. How can you help? Send some cash. Send some cards. Send some letters of encouragement and prayer. Although $124 is wonderful, we can do more. We still need money. We still need cards. C'mon show some love!
Visit the forum [link], and tell Fluffy Cow that you're in. She'll send her address to you via private message and you will be on your way to shower some love. 100% of the gifts will be used to fill gift basket items to be sent to Iraq. And, hopefully, at that time, I hope that we can talk Fluffy Cow into taking photos and
listing the screen names of those who participated. What do you say,
The deadline is currently set at the end of February.
About an hour ago a saint went home to be with our Father. She was a wonderful friend, a sister in Christ and a beloved member of our church. For years, she has battled cancer with a cheerful and thankful heart. But, today, January 28, 2008, God decided that she had completed her work here and called her home. Although it is a sad time for those of us who will miss her, today is a day of celebration. She is home.
She testified daily through her loving actions and encouragements that she is a faithful follower of our wonderful Redeemer. And the thought of her being ushered just moments ago into the presence of the throne of God to much applause and rejoicing brings me to tears.
I love you, Babe Julian.
So, now, how should we live? Please pray for her family. Pray for comfort for her family during this time of loss. Pray for our church. And pray for the man that will bring the funeral message.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
On the way home Friday, I heard a political ad on the radio extolling the virtues of a candidate for the county commission. What I found interesting was that the narrator paused noticeably between bullet points, giving me just enough time to think about what was just said. And, since I love to offer my services, I thought how great it would be for you, my readers, to have a translation of "politicaleze." So, allow me to try.
Candidate: Vote for me because I have a strong understanding
of how local and state government works.
Translation: During my career as a politician, I have conducted more than a fair share of back door dealings.
C: I have the ability and know-how to
get things done for the district and a 30-year record of being involved in
T: I am completely sheltered and disconnected from you, the voter, because I've surrounded myself with lobbyists and activists as a career politician.
C: I have a deep interest in our
T: I have been able to squander your tax dollars for years by saying that my pork-barrel spending is "for the kids."
C: My children are both products of the county
T: My kids were conceived in the backseat of my '67 Nova during my senior year in high school.
C: I strongly believe in public education.
T: ...Because hiding money in education budgets is easier than hiding it in my freezer.
C: I have a long history of
working with bonds and financing mechanisms as well as all types of municipal financing.
T: I love spending your money on stupid crap.
C: I believe that the government should be open to public information requests.
T: Ha, ha, ha. Rrrrright. Like I mean that. If you knew of all of the shady goings on that take place at the poker table in my garage, you'd be flabbergasted. Once in office, I'll put a layer of lawyers and red tape between you and me so thick that you'll get so terribly nauseous simply trying to get a copy of the county commission's meeting transcripts that you'll possibly not vote in next year's election. Stupid fool!
Thus nobly did the whole body of Lacedaemonians and Thespians
behave; but nevertheless one man is said to have distinguished himself
above all the rest, to wit, Dieneces the Spartan. A speech which he
made before the Greeks engaged the Medes, remains on record. One of
the Trachinians told him, "Such was the number of the barbarians, that
when they shot forth their arrows the sun would be darkened by their
Dieneces, not at all frightened at these words, but making
light of the Median numbers, answered "Our Trachinian friend brings us
excellent tidings. If the Medes darken the sun, we shall have our
fight in the shade." - The Histories by Herodotus, Book VII
Many Christians stand on the plain of battle only partially clothed. Paul the Apostle exhorted us to put on the full armor of God. Today, we stand on the field of battle and fight in the shade of the enemy's arrows. Today, commit to submit. Put on the full armor of God.
There is the belt of truth. This belt is the foundation of all the other armor. The belt of truth is Jesus alone as our redeemer.
Next is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate holds one purpose: It protects the vital organs. Although we fight in the shade of the enemy's arrows, our battle is one-on-one -- hand-to-hand. If we leave the breastplate of righteousness at home and lean on our own effort, the advantage quickly swings in favor of the enemy.
On our feet shall be the "readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." This gospel of peace is Jesus' life, death and resurrection. What can the enemy do? Kill us? Death for a Christian means to immediately be in the presence of God. With that assurance and our feet properly fitted, we can fight with boldness, perseverance and confidence.
Then we shall be equipped with the shield of faith. Drop this or fail to be equipped with faith and your fate rests solely on yourself. Those flaming arrows will find their mark.
Take next the helmet of salvation. Salvation is total deliverance. The helmet is essential.
And, finally, we are to take the sword of the Spirit -- the Word of God. Don't just hold the sword. Study the sword. Know the sword. Write its words on your heart. It is our offense. It is the story of Jesus.
1. "Free Prose Friday" is soooo 2007. Welcome to i-Friday!
2. A recent study shows that when Tiger Woods steps onto the course the other players perform worse than when he's not there [link (via kottke.org)]. That same phenomenon occurs here daily. When I show up and post, the other blog writers perform worse. Fore!
3. At BoingBoing.net today, I discovered this wonderful gem: Chris Harrison's "Visualizing the Bible" diagrams the relationships between people and places in the Bible -- what Chris calls a "biblical social network" [link]. In an email from him, Chris states that he is working to get the images mirrored so that the website is more responsive. If you have problems like I have all morning, check back later.
4. OK, this may sound strange to some people, but I cannot view Youtube videos at work or home. It's blocked by both content filters -- the one at home by choice. But I read an interesting article this week about three unemployed graphic designers who recreated D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy [link] and post the link here with the aim of watching it at the next available opportunity.
5. Quote of the week: "The shallow consider liberty a release from all law, from every
constraint. The wise man sees in it, on the contrary, the potent Law of
Laws." - Walt Whitman. (e.g., [link])
6. And, finally, books that make you dumb: [link].
So, the government is going to give $1,200 of my money back [link]. Does Hallmark make a "You're Welcome" card?
I've batted around the idea recently about actually committing to contributing more posts to this blog. You may have seen that my post-per-hour count has dropped significantly since the wrap-up of the "hunt". As the readership grew, I posted less and less because I was afraid that I'd offend someone and then everyone would leave. But recently I've had a birthday and my give-a-dang-o-meter has been recalibrated.
I've realized that for the past few months, my original intent of being a bigoted, opinionated know-it-all has taken a backseat to a more sophisticated and politically correct say-nothing wuss -- an antipodean Joe almost like Superman's alter ego, Clark "Wobbly-kneed" Kent.
I had a great post the other day about how cheating is sometimes the best option, but I was a little concerned that some prepubescent homeschooler would no longer look up to me. So I posted ... nothing.
Then there was the post about William Wilberforce and how few African-Americans actually know his name. But that was a little racially controversial, so I posted ... nothing.
And I can't tell you how many times I wanted to get charged up how intolerant some religious people can be and chose to post nothing or had a wonderful insight on some subject but did nothing.
Those days are over, people.
Man the topsails! To the battle stations! Damn the torpedoes! I'm pressing on and in my wake will be blood and tears.
I'd say I'm in a Fred Funk, but that guy's a golfer and that is just silly.
How do I get excited for McCain or Romney? Hickabee is a loser. Paul is a nutjob. Giuliani is done. And don't get me started on Obama and Clinton. What are we doing for Pete's sake? Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison are surely rolling over in their graves.
So while I still stew in disgust and disdain for American voters, check out this wonderful tribute to Fred: via [link].
The only people more stupid than general election voters are state primary voters. What is the appeal of the Manchurian candidate, John McCain, and the Carter look alike, Mike Huckabee? Since it doesn't appear that Fred Thompson will be president, I am putting on sackcloth and ashes. I'll reserve a spot for you. Bring some cigars.
Pictured above is an oud (Flemish, old) picture of the City Library of Antwerp. There are more modern pictures found here: [link]. Click on "Nottebohmzaal" in the pane on the left.
For an interesting history in English, click on the British Flag in the upper right-hand corner of the website.
What I find most interesting about this library, though, is the picture above. How cool would it be to be in there during a thunderstorm? Imagine yourself on the catwalk with the lightning in the window at your back, wearing German safety goggles, elbow-length rubber gloves and a white labcoat while you look down on your humpbacked assistant who is working a Tesla-coil thingy that's firing high-voltage bolts around the room. Mwahahahahahaha!
Last night, while reading my third biography of "Old Blood and Guts," I realized that every movie in my top ten has a moving and powerful speech. There's the beginning of "Patton" with George C. Scott. There's "Braveheart" with Mel Gibson. And there's "Gladiator" with Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridus, commander of the armies of the North.
They're all good. But nothing compares to the great speeches of the Bible. Boy, just to have the jingleberries that Stephen had in front of the Sanhedrin. Check it out:
Then the high priest asked him, "Are these charges true?"
To this he replied: "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 'Leave your country and your people,' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.'
So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. God spoke to him in this way: "Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves," God said, "and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place." Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.
Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food. When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family. After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died. Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.
As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased. Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt. He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.
At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father's house. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, "Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?"
But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?" When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.
After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord's voice: "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.
Then the Lord said to him, "Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt."
This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, "Who made you ruler and judge?" He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert.
This is that Moses who told the Israelites, "God will send you a prophet like me from your own people." He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.
But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, "Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don't know what has happened to him!" That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made. But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:
"Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?
You have lifted up the shrine of Molech
and the star of your god Rephan,
the idols you made to worship.
Therefore I will send you into exile" beyond Babylon.
Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, who enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built the house for him.
However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says:
"Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.
Or where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things?"
You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it. (Acts 7:1-53, NIV)
After this, Stephen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. The Jewish leaders bum rushed him, dragged him out into the streets and killed him.
As a daily consumer of news blogs, sometimes running across creative websites is a refreshing change. So, take a break today and check out this creativity: http://bentobjects.blogspot.com/.
Here is something that I would hope will unite us. We have an opportunity to shower love on two individuals. As many of you know, Istvan's son, Joshua, just entered the fray in Iraq. His boots literally hit the ground just a few days ago and we are praying for him. Also, Fleur_de_lis's daughter is currently deployed to a location is Southern Iraq and will be there until June. Both Istvan and Fleur_de_lis are dear, dedicated members to our community at Steeple Media. So, Fluffy Cow and I have co-sponsored a notion to gather some money and gifts and send a gift basket.
I envision that we gather some of their favorite things that they can't get in Iraq, some necessities and maybe some letters of encouragement from the Steeple community. We certainly need some input from Istvan and Fleur_de_lis. But, I hope that we would have enough support on this to send a sizeable gift basket to both soldiers on behalf of Steeple Media that could potentially encourage not only these two but their fellow soldiers.
Here is an opportunity to love on someone that is in harm's way and share a word of encouragement from friends. If you're on-board, please join the conversation in the Son of Liberty forum [link]. If you're not on-board, why?
Legalism is a derogatory term that Christians toss around, I believe, haphazardly. But, since the word has negative connotations, you assume that legalism is something that someone else does. Why? Because you've accused others of legalism and so it must be someone else's problem. However, I believe that isn't always the case.
Here's how I define Christian legalism: Do something to appear righteous; or commit something to the Lord and expect others to do the same. Maybe that isn't crystal clear, so allow me to explain using an analogy.
While I sat in the McDonald's drive-through this morning waiting on my caffeine wake-me-up, I saw a couple come out of the restaurant. In this little country town, hip-hugger jeans, tight-fitting tops, big hair and cars with T-tops are normal. So nothing about the man garnered my attention. He was a plain-dressed young man in jeans. However, the woman stood out. She had on a long, ankle-length denim skirt and a white bonnet. It was different and not something seen every day. The reason I mention the couple is this. Would those two shun me because my wife doesn't wear a doily1 on her head?
Now, don't misunderstand me here. I have no idea who the two people
exiting McDonald's were. I've never met them, never talked to them or
even made eye contact with them. Until I do so, they are innocent. However, I've known people dressed like that who were conspicuously legalistic. In fact, my brother, sister and I have some great inside jokes that began on a family vacation to Ohio Amish Country. But this post isn't about the couple at the fast food joint or the Amish. Look at the first paragraph. I'm talking about you.
If you commit something to the Lord like the way you dress, what you wear to church, the day of the week you observe the day of rest (Hebrew, sabbat), the food you eat or the way you walk, I say to you, great! If you commit to abstain from alcoholic drinks, refrain from cutting your hair and avoid funerals and say that this is your sacrifice and humility before the Lord, I say, that's praiseworthy! But, when you say to me that I must do the same or you won't fellowship with me, you've stepped into a big, stinky pile of legalism.
You are not a child of God because of your fixation on wearing diddy boppers and exclusive association with diddy bopper wearers. You're a child of Him because of unearned grace through His son Jesus Christ. Got it? Good. Quit the pettiness.
1 The "doily" term is borrowed from Mark Driscoll's book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006).
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Jimmy Carter was an unknown candidate when he ran for presidency in 1976. He was considered to have little chance against more popular Washington politicians. No one knew much about this former governor of Georgia. However, Carter became the front runner of the Democrat party after winning the Iowa caucuses. Carter appealed largely to conservative Christian and rural voters. He was even a Sunday School teacher. Hmm? Sound familiar.
Yet, many political scientists consider Carter one of the worst presidents during the 20th century. During his presidency, he was faced with numerous issues: economic strains, energy crises, relationship with Taiwan and China, and the famous Iranian hostage crisis. In my opinion, he fell short in every category. Interestingly, these same issues are renewed in the 21st century. Now we must ask ourselves, is Mike Huckabee, the Baptist-minister and Arkansas governor who many did not know about until he won the Iowa caucuses, the next Jimmy Carter?
Will Huckabee cower to the Communist Party of China like Carter? Will Huckabee look the other way to Middle Eastern allies at critical times like Carter? Will Huckabee weaken our energy sources by placing heavy restrictions on the nuclear power community like Carter? These are important questions.
I do not ask these questions to infer that Huckabee will falter like Carter. I ask these questions because we often need to know more about a candidate than if he has perfect attendance in Sunday School and can quote large portions of Scripture.