March 2008 - Posts
If we found 200 billion barrels tomorrow, would you begin kicking yourself for being upside down in a pansy, hybrid-ugly, skirt-with-wheels battery-mobile? Well, starting kicking wuss boy: [link
Human Blogger commented on a previous post and I wish to respond because I suspect that there are more than one of you questioning the post.
First of all, all Scripture is God-inspired and beneficial (2 Ti 3:16). There is truth in every passage that we can mine. I don't believe you meant that the passage in Luke is only for the faithless because even those with great faith can find assurance and peace in that passage.
Second, I wasn't preaching to the woman in China. The post was concerning my response to the story. When I read the email, I was saddened and angered. I asked how could this happen to a new or budding Christian? The post was the answer to my question: God is in charge.
You see, there is not a speck of dust in this Universe that doesn't move without the permission of God. Not one leaf blows in the wind without the permission of God. There is no struggle between good and evil. God is not pacing the floor and wringing his hands over the work of Satan. And, likewise, the Holy Trinity does not hold emergency meetings. Everything is going according to plan.
There is tremendous hope in that.
There are exactly 14 days, zero hours, zero minutes and zero seconds until the first tee shot at the Masters Tournament in Augusta.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"
They stood still, their faces downcast. One
of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem
and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
"What things?" he asked.
"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but
we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And
what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."
He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Theyasked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he
talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. (Luke 24:13-35, NIV)
Today, BJ sent a message to our family group on Yahoo!. You can read the details here: [link].
What I find fascinating about this is how it relates to my personal Bible study. My first reaction to BJ's email was a mixture of anger, despair and feelings of injustice.
The two guys in Luke -- recorded no where else in the Bible -- are visibly upset. They are walking and talking about the events that had unfolded in Jerusalem. Multitudes of people had followed Jesus, trusting that he was the anointed one sent to throw off the yoke of the Romans ... to redeem Israel. They stood in the streets with palm branches and cuttings from the fields proclaiming, "Hosanna!" And a few days later they're guy was a bloody pulp hanging from a wooden cross with the criminals. It was over. How dejected they must've felt.
Cleopas and his friend were so engrossed in their gloomy conversation that they probably didn't see Jesus walk up. And when he did show up, for some reason whether they just weren't paying attention or were prevented, they didn't recognize Jesus when he greeted them and asked, Why the gloomy faces? Cleopas -- and I'm sure later he was hitting himself on the forehead for even saying it -- said, "You must be the only person within miles of this place that doesn't know what went down."
And, Jesus, said -- and you can't convince me that Jesus didn't use playful banter at times -- he said, "What things?" The two guys emptied the truck on him -- BLAM! They whined. They moaned. "And can you believe it? Someone even took the body! We thought for sure that he was he to lead us in independence. Nope. Just a dead guy now with no body to even memorialize ... Nothing."
The problem with Cleopas, his friend and me -- and probably you, too, if you're honest -- is that we sometimes get stuck in horizontal views and neglect the vertical view. Jesus Christ, an innocent man, was unjustly nailed to a cross. Your church full of God-fearing men and women isn't impacting the community because the culture is devoutly postmodern. Believers in Korea are being unjustly imprisoned and shot. Women in China are forced to abort children. All in all, things look bad. How can they possibly get worse? Woe on us, right?
Yet -- and this a big one so pay attention -- God is on His throne. God has a plan and is seeing it through. That's the vertical view.
Do you remember that last big trial that you went through or the current one that consumes your time and energy with worry? Guess what? God knew it was coming. It was part of His plan. Everything -- in fullness -- is God's (Psalm 24). So -- and I ask this many, many times when blogging -- how should we live? Chuck Swindoll reminded me yesterday: Live life without expectations. When you wake up in the morning, don't ask what you're going to do -- ask what God is going to do with you. Ultimately, He's in charge.
Today, I pray for this family in China. I pray that whatever may happen, God's Will will be done. I pray that through life or through death, God will be glorified.
Christian is to resist the spirit of the world. But when we say this,
we must understand that the worldspirit does not always take the same
form. So the Christian must resist the spirit of the world in the form
it takes in his own generation. If he does not do this, he is not
resisting the spirit of the world at all.
In our modern forms of specialized education there is a tendency to
lose the whole in the parts, and in this sense we can say that our
generation produces few truly educated people. True education means
thinking by associating across the various disciplines, and not just
being highly qualified in one field, as a technician might be. I
suppose no discipline has tended to think more in fragmented fashion
than the orthodox or evangelical theology of today. Those standing in
the stream of historic Christianity have been especially slow to
understand the relationships between various areas of thought. When the
apostle warned us to keep [ourselves] unspotted from the world, he
was not talking of some abstraction. If the Christian is to apply this
injunction to himself, he must understand what confronts him
antagonistically in his own moment of history. Otherwise he simply
becomes a useless museum piece and not a living warrior for Jesus
orthodox Christian has paid a very heavy price, both in the defense and
communication of the gospel, for his failure to think and act as an
educated person understanding and at war with the uniformity of our
modern culture. (Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, Ch. 1)
Dyngus Day organizers in Western New York are in a *** willow panic.
"We are potentially looking at one of the largest *** willow shortages in Dyngus history.” (Am-Pol Eagle, [link] March 13, 2008)
I really stirred the pot up when I knocked that fake holiday Kwanzaa. Let's see what comes out of the woodwork with this: Dyngus Day.
Forgive me, but I had not heard about this holiday until today. After some research, I have discovered that it's okay if you don't know what it is either. It is only celebrated in Buffalo, NY and South Bend, IN. And, really, at this point I still don't "get it."
Celebrated on the Monday following Easter, Polish people around the States celebrate the baptism of Prince Mieszko I with pivo (beer), parades, polka and *** willows. Ahh, alliteration! Girls tap guys with *** willow branches. The guys, in turn, sprinkle or douse the women with water. And on top of all this happy innuendo, the beer and buffets flow freely.
And that's it. Everyone is back at work the next day.
Are you kidding me? Somewhere in here is a Pollock joke but I can't seem to find it.
By the way, what ever happened to Pollock jokes?
Update: By "*** willow," I mean Salix discolor.
This will be the last post of the week. The remainder of the week will be filled with yard work, NCAA basketball tournament watching, more yard work, church work and preparation for my favorite holy day of the year -- Resurrection Sunday.
All week I have contemplated two individuals in the Bible that are often overlooked. First, there is Barabbas. Let's consider him.
More than likely Barabbas would have been held in the dungeon in Fort Antonius before being let free. The fort was situated immediately beside the Temple complex. In the middle of Fort Antonius was the Praetorium (Matt. 27:27) which was the Roman cohort (John 18:12) commander's building that also housed Pontius Pilate, the Roman military procurator (or governor) of Judea. You can find two pictures here: [link] and [link].
The location of the dungeon in Fort Antonius is unknown. But we can speculate based on Roman architecture [link] and history that Barabbas was probably held in a temporary undergound holding facility that served as a prison for the condemned. I speculate that it would have been near the soldiers' barracks with an opening to allow in some light.
So, with this in mind, look at Matthew 27:11-26. Barabbas would have been in the prison awaiting certain death. Outside the prison window, he probably heard the crowd gathering near the Judgment Hall. He would not have heard the voice of one man, Pilate, but would have heard the crowd. What do you think raced through his mind when he heard the crowd in verse 21 yell, "Barabbas!"? And then in verses 22 and 23, he heard the crowd become quiet to listen to Pilate's response only to respond magnificently with "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
A few minutes later, the jailer's keys would have jingled outside the door and Barabbas would have been escorted above ground to the waiting crowd. Surely that was a terrifying moment for Barabbas after hearing his name and the crowd shouting "Crucify him!" Yet, only a few moments after that terrifying time would he realize that he was a free man -- absolved of his crime. He was certain death was coming because of his involvement in the rebellion, wishing that he hadn't been so stupid to get caught up in it. And, now, he was free to go -- free to walk out of the gate into the city because an innocent man took his place.
Amazing. I've wondered for quite a while what happened to Barabbas.
And the second man is the thief on the cross that chastised the other thief for blaspheming Jesus as they hung there. In my mind, this would be an awesome movie plot: The thief sitting in the dungeon with Barabbas thinking about the "good days" when he was one of the crowd with Jesus. And then thinking of the day he was caught in whatever heinous crime that warranted crucifixion. And, finally, seeing Barabbas sent free, the thief would have been awestruck to see beside him Jesus hanging on the cross at the Place of the Skull.
I don't know. Maybe you're not as excited about it. But this has been my focus all week: Jesus's substitutionary death on the cross for my sins. And, not only that, but his resurrection, too. He came back to life! I mean, think about it. He came back to life -- conquered death. Amazing. Simply amazing.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all. (Isaac Watts, 1707)
Have a wonderful weekend and holiday. I'll see you on Monday.
I'm no psychoanalyst. But, if I were, you people would be crazy!
The doctor is in.
I was on the way in to work today when I heard a reporter on the local news radio station say that the Iraq war is starting to take a toll on President Bush politically. As we all know, the mainstream media outlets want us to think that President Bush was deeply irresponsible invading Iraq and the war has an abysmal future. And because of that Bush is losing face politically. Oh, really? The last time I checked he wasn't running for office. In fact, the opposite is very true. He is on the last leg of his second term with nothing but retirement on his ranch in sight.
So, it is my professional opinion that the media is projecting its Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD, [link]) on President Bush.
Wow, I make this look easy. And to think that I did all of that without charging an exorbitant amount of coin!
My daughter in pirate training: [link].
No purchase necessary. There's no money riding on this one. If you want to compete for bragging rights and a virtual pistol wink, email me at the link above and I'll send an invite to the Steeple Media brackets on CBSSports.com. In to win!
1. I have a new workbench in my garage and I am absolutely thrilled. I've always wanted a decent one with lockable drawers, peg board organization, a vice, a stool and a mini-fridge to cool the Hefeweizen. And one day I will have that. Today, tucked under the stairs in the garage, I have an old door atop two sawhorses, above which is a dilapidated '70s-style fluorescent light fixture. Despite the overall crappyness, I love her. A man needs a workbench and this man has one gnarly hag of a bench.
2. Because of my new workbench, I have creative sparks daily. Other than the decorative cornice that I've been promising my wife for months, I have a refreshed interest in the arts. My new interests? Legos [link]. Papercraft [link]. And steampunk [link]. What did you think? Rembrandt? Pfff.
3. Does anyone else think that it totally rocks that we live in a nation with ray guns [link] with the ability to shoot down satellites with ship-based rockets? I mean, now that doors open automatically like they did on Star Trek and now that we're contemplating using antimatter propulsion to get to Alpha Centauri, what's next? Broadcasting the Beatles' music across the Universe? Oh, yeah, we're doing that, too [link].
4. BJ, thanks for the gift. I am reading Mark Driscoll's The Radical Reformission and it is enlightening, encouraging and convicting. It is such a good read that I would consider buying each of you a copy. Want one? Email me.
5. Want in on the NCAA tournament brackets? I have set up a Steeple Media group at CBSSports.com. Email me and I'll forward the invite. Or do you lack the essential guts to take on a statistical Jesse James like me?
6. It's pinewood derby time! Tonight, we will set up the track. Tomorrow, we race. It's on like Donkey Kong!
7. Easter is nearly here! Oh, how I love the Resurrection celebration! Jesus was crucified in Barabbas' place. He took his place on the cross. Barabbas deserved death. Yet, Jesus was the one hanging there by the end of the day ... in his place. Now, substitute your name for "Barabbas". It is well ....
8. Have a amazingly blessed weekend. Plant some pansies. Pick up sticks. Blow or rake the leaves. Whatever you do, get outside! Spring is almost here. See you on Monday.
The in-laws are coming over this evening for a birthday dinner. Squirrel and I have agreed to a cease-fire. Well, not really. The bird feeder -- err, squirrel feeder -- is empty.
Yesterday, I saw this [link] and wondered aloud how difficult it would be to automate a firing mechanism and rig the huge device to a pressure-sensitive squirrel detector.
I was so eager to install the bicycle hooks and the inherited fluorescent light fixture over my new workbench that I overlooked greasing the shepherd's hook. Today, squirrel, you dine. Tomorrow, you choke!
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My soul, reject not
the place of thy prostration, it has been the robing room of royalty.
Ask the great ones of the past what has been the spot of their
prosperity, they will say "it was the cold ground on which I was lying".
Listen to this: Ask Abraham, he will point you to the sacrifice of
Moriah. Ask Joseph, he will direct you to his dungeon. Ask Moses, he
will date his fortune from the danger of the Nile. Ask Ruth, she will
bid you build her a monument in the field of her toil. Ask David, he
will tell you that his songs came from the night. Ask Job, and he will
remind you that God answered him out of a whirlwind. Ask Peter, he will
extol his submission of the sea. Ask John, he will give you the Psalm
of Patmos. Ask Paul, he will attribute his inspiration to the light
that struck him blind on the Damascus road. Ask one more, the Son of
Man, ask Him whence has come His rule over the world. He will answer: "From the cold ground on which I was lying, the Gethsemane ground, I
received My sceptre there''.
Thou, too, my soul, shalt be garlanded by Gethsemane. The cup thou fain wouldst pass from thee will be thy coronet in the sweet by-and-by. The hour of thy loneliness will crown thee. The day of thy depression will regale thee. It is thy desert that will break into singing; it is the trees of thy silent forest that will clap their hands. The last things will be first in the sweet by-and-by. The thorns will be roses; the vales will be hills; the crooks will be straight lines; the ruts will be level; the mist will be heat; the shadows will be shining; the losses will be promotions; the tears will be tracks of gold. The voice of God to thine evening will be this, "Thy treasure is hid in the ground where thou art lying." (V. Raymond Edman quoting George Matheson, blind Scottish theologian and preacher, in his book The Disciplines of Life, World Wide Publications; Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn edition, 1948)