The turn around

Thank god for the turn around. If we didnt have the turn around then I
would pass up sooo many things the Lord asks me to do. But instead I
turn around and go back to pray, or talk, orr whatever it is i feel
called to do.

It typically happens that I walk past someone and almost immediately
feel convicted to talk to them or typicall to pray for them. One time
it was the boss of my boss, he had shared the week earlier about
living as a homosexual with AIDS. So when prompted by the Lord to stop
and pray. I promptly answered no. The only thing more awkward than
stating up conversation with your boss' boss who doesn't know you, is
to pass him on the sidewalk and then run back and ask him if you can
pray for him.

Thankfully he was willing and thankful... But then I had to pray for
his AIDS. How do you do that?

Yesterday it was for a crippled guy in the street. To stop and pray. I
rode a hundred yards past him and finally got my head on straight to
go back.

I wish I didnt hesitate and could do it right the first time. I
imagine I have to develop the habit but then it could become second
nature obedience. Instead it typically takes until I decide I dont
want to feel guilty for ignoring what the Lord asks me to do.

Thank God for the turn around.

All sins are a form of idol worship

I've been reading a book which tries to relate the Old Testament to the New by explaining the foreshadowing in the Law of Moses and how it relates to Christ. Something I just read today which intrigued me was an argument that the first commandment really sums up all of our sin. That when Adam and Eve ate the apple in the garden they were really turning from God as the ultimate power and their Lord and trusting something else could bring them satisfaction... Something we do everyday.

I think of the sins that are so prevalent today and the two that really stand out for me (at least as man) are the love of money and the love of sex. Serving mammon or sex is putting your faith in something other than the Lord. They're both idols.

This may seem obvious to you but it has never been put in such clear language for me before.

This also helps me to understand something I've learned in the last few years, which is the key to freedom from sin. The key is to stop trying to just not sin. If you just keep focusing on that you'll never succeed because you begin to worship something other than God. You think Not Sinning will bring you satisfaction. But this isn't what we're looking for. What we're looking for is God despite our sin. When we take our eyes off our sin and put them on the Lord, we seem to actually see freedom from our sin. Because that is when we are finally worshiping what is right and good....

Why is this not taught as essential to our lives? After salvation of our souls, this is THE gospel. Is it not?

Dr. Mature., PhD

Today I'm thinking about maturity. This is a bit away from my typical theology topic, but it will have to do for today.

Why is it that a 16 year old is so much less mature than an 18 year old? And yes, there are exceptions to this, but it can be held as a general rule. My question then proceeds to ask, why is a 25 year old considered nearly the same in maturity as a 35 year old?

At what point we do we suddenly decide it is no longer important to mature? Or is it really school which gives us the flagstones by which we measure maturity and once we're on our own we lose that ability? That or we suddenly consider being able to relate to people of all ages and life stages as a sign of maturity.

I also wonder how this ties into seminary. As I see people go into seminary, the flagstones come back. A first year looks up to a third, and an MDiv student looks up to the PhD students in much the same way a freshman in college cowers at the sight of a senior.

Odd.

And how I fear an award, a test score, a degree might give me the hubris to look down on others, even those older than me.

"We Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers"

I've been thinking about my feeling that I'm called to be a professor at a seminary someday. I dont have a clue what I want to teach at this point, but I think practical theology would be a good idea. I wonder if such a thing exists...

I'm reminded of what Soren Kierkegaard says as quoted in Shane Claiborne's book. I think I will get this printed and framed in my office if I ever make into a seminary.

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any word in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."

The hero-disciple dilemma

Why do we make some people into heroes whose act could never possibly be followed up, and if it was we would just consider it a shadow of the original?

I think of Mother Teresa. There are boatloads of people in Calcutta doing the same thing she did. She seems to have successfully made disciples. So what I dont get, is why we only remember he name?

To be honest I dont know much of what goes in Calcutta in the ministry she was doing, but I wonder about the branches. Did she branch out and open other houses all over Calcutta? If she did, was she actually successful at raising up another person who had the same unique love, care, patience, and relationship withthe Lord?

Or why does Hybels have a mega church? Why does anyone have a mega church? Even if they're the most dynamic speaker in history, why aren't they raising up others to be like them, to learn from them and then be better? I understand the arguemnt that the people in America don't really want community, and so they go to these mega churches where they can get lost in the crowd.

Is that what our churches are supposed to look like? Why aren't they raising up disciples? And if they are, why are they still famous?
And why wont we let them be something other than a hero before they fall into massive overwhelming sin? We wont let them get back to a normal life, and its our fault.
I want us to consider who we choose to be our heroes. Martin Luther is one of mine, and I love that his wife brewed him beer. He seemed to have it together, but he also sure seemed to have a breakdown regarding the Jews later in life (a lesser known fact)...

If we learn to make disciples instead of heroes, the church will probably have a lot easier time remembering THE hero in Jesus.

Life worth living

I read something a couple of months ago which said something along the lines of,
"We Christians have been living a myth, that without heaven our Christian lives are worth living. But the truth is, a life following after simple satisfaction sin is more satisfying in the here and now than a life of pietism, or avoidance of sins."

Now I don't know what my problem was when I read this, but for some sick reason I agreed with it. Thinking, "A life of listless sin really would be more satisfying."

But I then read something else just yesterday which asks "If there were no heaven and no hell, would you still follow Jesus?" And I find my answer being an overwhelming yes. I remember what life was like back when I sinned. It was filled with temporary satisfaction. Things that I often find myself desiring to return to.

But the thing I'm shocked that I forget is just how empty those things are. There is meaning to life. There is value in life. Life is not entirely about sex, or drugs, or "sins" or music or whatever. It may include some of those (read sex, and music....), but in the realm that pleases the Lord.
The longer I follow God, the more I am convinced that I have real satisfaction and VERY few of my friends do. Several of which are Christian but dont yet understand the freedom they have in the Lord, the joy they can experience because of what He did. And there is not one of my non-Christian friends that is not chasing after something that I know very personally will not satisfy.

It's sad, but there is absolutely no life outside of Christ. There is no life worth living outside of Him. If He created us, of course he knows how we can best live. And there is a place for sex, for joy, for alcohol even, but outside of his plan for these things they become twisted, and unsatisfying.

Thankfully people out there eventually do admit that they cannot find anything that satisfies in life. Some of those do eventually turn to Jesus. And some of those do eventually find a life that satisfies. I just wish I was better at articulating what an amazing joy it is to find satisfaction in all I do. If we knew how to express that life with Jesus is not a life of sin management but a life of overwhelming joy in knowing and loving and serving your maker, maybe people would understand that its something truly to be desired....

The next temptation, the next sin

It can be frustrating to conquer a sin. Or even to have some level of victory. Because, it seems to me, as soon as the devil sees us succeeding at conquering one sin, he throws another at us. What stinks about it is when you begin to gain victory over a sin which you know is sinful but is still kind of fun, and then you head into being tempted to something that is no fun at all. Imagine going from gambling to fear. Gambling - if overindulged - can definitely become sinful, but at least its fun. You find yourself finally have victory over gambling and then the devil throws fear at you.

Whats fun about fear? It stinks, its sinful, and it's absolutely no fun.

I guess this doesn't take into account that I may have always faced all of these things, and just never been aware of the fear until I dealt with the gambling. etc...

Nevertheless, in my constant struggles to overcome sins that I have, I'm always slightly concerned with which sin I will be faced with next, and will it be as comfortable as the last?

A great crowd of witnesses

And when my friend decided to accept the Lord as his savior. I asked him if he believed. "Yes!" he proclaimed. "I could not and would not believe it if just one person had told me. But people from Italy, the Philippines, America, England, and China" have all told me. How could I not believe?!"

I feel honored to be surrounded by such a crowd of witnesses. And to be in the right place at the right time to yield fruit already ripe.

Hope in a hopeless world

Today I was raving to a friend about a wonderful experience I had today. A friend who turned to the Lord. And the hope it gave me. There is a shocking amount of sadness in this world, and when I encounter hope in a hopeless world it overwhelms and excites me.

My friend then shared about his recent experience in a poor neighborhood at a tea house charging a mere twenty cents for a cup of tea. Outside of the neighborhood a five star hotel was just built and now there is an upper class shopping market going up in between the two. As my friend joked with the owner of the tea house about his new competition in the five star hotel, he couldn't help but wonder how long until the neighborhood is torn down completely and replaced with upper class housing.

There is a shocking amount of hope. And an even more shocking amount of hopelessness in this world.

I'm reminded of something I've read lately where someone asks "Why is there so much pain in the world?" And the response is, "you tell me?"
Simply implying the hopelessness of the world is on our shoulders.

What do you think?

Useless gifts...

I feel like I have all these gifts thats I've wasted. For example, I understood computers really early on. I loved working with them and I learned some of the basics of programming in high school. Fearful that I would work with computers the rest of my life and not with people, I gave up programming before college.

But my head still works that way. And occasionally I still switch into a mode where I'm dying to go back to it. But right now I just don't have the time. I'm attending a part time student at two universities on top of work and a baby on the way. Time is not something I'm oozing.

I feel bad letting them go to waste. But what can you do?

to be honest... when the iphone came out, I hoped that was my calling. To develop for the iphone... Ah. idle fancy.

Wealthy Christians in poor countries

One of the biggest issues for the believer who lives overseas is money. If you live in a wealthy country it's not all that big of a deal, but if you come from the western world and you leave the western world. Chances are that you've moved from a place with money to place without.

The dilemma you find yourself in is where will you live? (OPTION A) If you live a poorer part of town you may feel better about inviting over your local friends because your house will not be intimidating to them. However, you may quickly find it unbearable to live in a setting where everything breaks, the plumbing doesn't work well, the power is out regularly and your spouse wants to kill you (if your kids are old enough they may want you dead as well). Your capacity for longevity in that field may be directly reduced by your choice to live in less than comfortable circumstances... Yet many people take this route (in my opinion few of them make it in the long run).

The other (OPTION B) is you could buy or rent a nice house which would still cost a fraction of what it would cost you back home, you'll be saving money and your family will be comfortable. The issue will then arise in inviting your local friends over. Are they intimidated by your money? Are you able to bless them with your things? Or are you raising all kinds of questions that cant be answered and will only make your friends less comfortable with you?

The truth is, the vast majority of the people overseas simply choose to not come to a conclusion on this issue. It's just too hard.

I would argue that if the Lord calls you to the poor, or even the poorer, and you feel you (and your family) have the calling clear enough on their lives to take that step, then move into (A). Stay there and thrive.

Otherwise you're probably stuck with (B) for the sake of your family, your spouse etc... In an ever globalizing world, this is less difficult because the locals -- often no matter how poor they may be -- are acutely aware that because of where you come from you'll likely have money.

Apart from these views there is one other thing, often left unconsidered. Possessions, money, a big house, doesn't have to own you. I'll admit that I was 22 years old before I met someone who could live this appropriately.

The man was a very successful lawyer and lived in (what in my opinion) was a mansion. He invited me in and as I looked around he said "I know! Can you believe how the Lord has blessed us?" He showed me the back yard, his private pool, and then took me upstairs to show me his theater room. He had a massive projector showing Major League Baseball on one wall and six or seven leather lazy boy recliners stacked on risers throughout the room. It was spectacular. And he was blessed. And he knew it. And he wanted to share it. I never felt more comfortable in a wealthy home.

No matter where we are, what we do, there are those around us who are poorer, and those who are wealthier. Often the house you move out of to downsize, will be moved into by someone who is them-self downsizing.

If we remember who gives us the gifts, and we are willing to give them back. Then we can live where we feel called and how we want. We can bless our wives with good gifts, and our children with running water and regular baths and heat... But don't forget the locals...

Dirty smelly poor people

I've just started to read "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. I'm not far into it, but it doesn't take long to tell that this is one of those books thats stretches you in ways you're uncomfortable with (good but uncomfortable). It challenges you to get out amongst the nitty gritty. To hold their hands and love them.

Thats hard.

I figure that getting used to working with the poor, the alcoholic, and the smelly, is kind of like getting used to cold water. At first its pretty uncomfortable. Easing in slowly will eventually get you submerged, but its a painful process. And weather you jump in head first all at once, or move along slowly. At some point you have to be in over your head and moving around pretty hard if you ever want to get used to the way it feels and find yourself comfortable.

Also once you're in, if you sit around for a while... you'll get cold and uncomfortable again.

I've been easing myself in slowly... its not been easy. I've been in the water before, but gotten out... but I'm pleased that since I've gotten back in (and I'm still in only up to my knees), I've been active in that little bit and the water is starting to feel warmer and warmer and its almost comfortable again.

I shake the guy's hand in my neighborhood who was hired to go through our trash cans and sort what he finds. But he's a sweet guy, and when he takes his hand out of the trash can to say hello and shake my hand, I've got to step up.

My mentally handicapped friend who sits on the steps a couple of blocks from my house and tries to pinch me when he holds my hands, is pretty gross. His hands are dirty, he drools and screams when he sees me. But the Lord loves these guys like he does me. And as I get dirtier and dirtier I'm getting used to the mud.
When you're running to get out of the rain, you eventually slow down, accept that you're soaked, and then you're able to enjoy the downpour. Thats what this feels like.

I'm reminded of James 2, how we can show favoritism to the rich over the poor. Also our faith needs to be matched with works. Typically when I think of works, I think of social service, but it also means prayer. Keep your works up with your faith. Otherwise you become the guy on the shore who has forgotten how to swim. And when God throws you in the deep end, its hard to get used the water when you've forgotten how to swim.

May God give us the grace to dive in and be willing to get wet.

Broken hearted over a friend I barely know

I think I've mentioned before about a guy near my home is isn't quite all there mentally. It's really quite hard for me to process. I see the guy and my heart just goes out to him but I don't know what to do. Finally I began to stop and to talk to him. Try to hold his hands and say a prayer for him for healing or for the Lord to reveal Himself to him. The hard thing I deal with is that as much as I want to see this guy healed, I MUCH more want to know that he'll have a chance, a hope for eternal life. How can he know if he cant understand?

So today I went back to visit. It was a rough day, but the Lord seemed to want to use it for good, and we were able to prayer for him. To love on him for a bit, and then even to go back and meet his family. Pray for them and love on them.

I try to explain that there is a God. That we believe in Him. That he is powerful. Magnificent and capable. That he desires to see those He loves be healed. I try to explain that the Lord created us to be perfect, but our imperfections are out own doing. That the Lord desires for us to be a part of redeeming these things. We prayed for him briefly and then shared with them how to pray. I asked if they would be willing to talk with the Lord every day about this young man. To pray for healing.

They said they would.
God showed up in a real way and it sure is fun when he does...

Tea Drunk

So the other day I go into a tea house to buy some tea and a couple tea cups. But lately I've been mentioning the problems I've been having with my health. The issue seems to be that every time I drink tea I get a little dizzy or maybe foggy (its hard to describe) and it seems to mess with my digestive system too. It makes me uncomfortable enough to affect my everyday life. I find myself not wanting to go across town to eat because I dont want to be far from home when I start to feel like I might pass out.

Anyhow, so I'm at this tea house and I'm explaing to the lady making our tea that I think I might be allergic to tea. She asks me what my syptoms are and after I explain she laughs at me. "You're not allergic," she says, "You're Tea Drunk (醉茶)." And then she goes on to explain how this a relatively common problem. She doesn't know anyone who has it but she's heard of it. Oh, and tea drunk is worse than alcohol drunk apparently.
So whats the fix? Eat while I drink tea, and drink less.

That sucks.

Tea has become THE reason I can study. Study the language. Study for seminary. 1pm to 3pm is the most productive time of the day for me thanks to tea.
So I'm tea drunk. And apparently destined to be for a while.

Bummer.

Not My People, adopted

"I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;" - Hosea 2:23

I wonder what we would do if this read "I will say to the Gentiles, 'you are my children';"? Would we respond differently if it was spelled out for us?
How often do we realize just how big of a deal it is that before Jesus we were just "Not My People." We we're the child of an unfaithful wife. Now because of who the Lord is, because of His overwhelming love for us, we're his children.

And he knew this all along. His plan was to die for us even back when our forefathers were living lives of unfaithfulness.

The morons of the early church.

Its a tough thing to try to follow up an article that is poorly written, poorly photographed, and basically unrelated to the rest of my blog but yet drives more than twice the traffic to my site as all my other posts combined.
But after the humbling, I figured I'd do my best to give it a try.

Lately I've been chewing on what the early church looked like in discipleship and evangelism.
First of all, was the early church something which we should even hope to envy? I don't know that it was. Sure Christianity exploded in to the world in a huge way, but is that because we as people or as the church did anything right? I'm not convinced it is. Any more than just circumstances of the time. The Far East is turning to the Lord in droves these days, and not because we're suddenly much better at evangelism, or doing something different, it seems to be that we're just finally offering a way to the one true God and people are thrilled at the opportunity.

In the same way, in the early it church, it was rough for someone other than a Jew to serve YHWH, there was a process but it wasn't easy, and you would always be a "gentile" instead of one of God's chosen people.
Suddenly the Lord offers a way for everyone to know Him instead of just the people born into the right families. I imagine people are thrilled. It's the same thing here, religion has been illegal, and while it still is in theory, people are still excited to finally hear the truth. Probably any religion (I'm sad to say). People are thrilled to grasp on to anything they can. We're not doing anything right, the situation is just ripe. Ripe as can be.

Anyhow. We definitely have to take advantage of the situation while we can. But we're still the bumbling morons making all kinds of mistakes in evangelism, yet we're seeing people come to the Lord in huge numbers. In the early church there were no books on evangelism, the clearest gospel message literature was Pauline, and how many people got that easily? They were bumbling idiots as much as us. But the Lord used them. The time was ripe.

All this is to say, we seem to look at the early church and analyze it and try to mimic it, but I'm not sure we should. I'm not sure they were doing anything particularly right. They were still just a whole bunch of unhealthy people trying to lead other unhealthy people. the Lord just had grace on them. I pray he would continue to have grace on us.

Healing, Salvation, Prayer

"And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord
will raise him up." - James 5:15
Why doesn't this say, "and the Lord will heal him?" I've been dealing
the last three months or so with some pretty annoying health issues.
None of them major by any stretch of the imagination, but all of them
annoying and actually sort of frightening. Scary because I don't know
what they were, so it was hard to know that they weren't major.

But I found when I prayed, that the Lord would lift me up. And when I
pray for healing for a guy I see that isn't quite all there, I seem to
hear salvation first. Can someone believe who does not understand? I
want this guy to know the Lord so very badly, but how can I share with
him if he doesn't understand the words out of my mouth.

Lord you love this man. Help me to pray the prayer of faith, that this
man will be saved. That you will lift him up. Thank you for being more
patient and loving than me. Thank you for loving him as he is. Help me
to do the same.

Redemption of a cockroach

So I'm sitting there and I'm teaching on redemption. I've gotten
through creation, the fall, and now I'm on to redemption.

"God wants to redeem all things on earth," I say, "not just human
souls (even though this is still probably the most important
thing)"...

Just then a little cockroach runs across the floor in the middle of
our little circle. As the teacher, I felt it my work to stand up and
swiftly stomp the little guy out.

"Oh...." says one of the girls, "Thats how we redeem a cockroach.... I
think I understand."

Why am I troubled?

"And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise
in your hearts?" -Luke 24:38

I wish I could compartmentalize. I'm not like other men in this regard
and its a skill I truly desire. For me when something small is wrong,
it ruins everything. I just get downright down. Fearful. Troubled. You
could definitely say that doubts arise in my heart. Tonight before I
go to bed I'm reading Spurgeon's morning and evening... well really
just the evening and this verse is striking me as all to
uncomfortable.

I know I am precious in the Lord's sight. So why do I fear a small
infection will lead to amputation of certain limbs? Why have I so
little faith and so much time to dwell on it? Lord I know you will not
leave me or forsake me. But I forget you're even in the picture. I
know I prayed that I would really learn to trust in you with my health
before I was healed... but now I just want healing! Have mercy on me.
Faithless and without reason. Not just good reason, but absolutely no
reason.

I literally cannot find a day in my life where you have not be
overwhelmingly faithful to me in some way or another... Save me Lord.
Mercy. I need mercy.

Are you troubled?

The law of liberty

"So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty." - James 2:12

There seems to be a whole lot around this verse that must be saying the opposite. Just before this, James tells us that if we transgress just one part of the law, we are guilty of all of it. It is easy for me to clearly say I have not murdered. But I have more than certainly disobeyed my parents. This makes me guilty of putting other gods before the one true God.

Think about the horrible implications of this. Our smallest sin is as bad as any other sin, though we don't really in our hearts believe lying about stealing a cookie from the jar is equivalent to rape. But it is. An more than that, James says it's the same thing. By doing the smallest thing that breaks the law we are guilty of all of it.

Now I understand why we are judged under the law of liberty. Because we are ALL guilty of ALL of the law. Open the Bible to most horrendous sin and you will see what you are guilty of. Then remember how great the blood of Christ. That his fulfillment of the law brought us liberty. We are saved though we are guilty of FAR more than we imagine. And how aweful to think how often we count ourselves sinless.

"But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." - 1:25

Look into the law of liberty, and do not forget what has been done for you. Do not forget to speak, and be a doer who acts. You will be blessed. Praise God for our freedom.

Faith

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." - James 1:2&3

It really is amazing how often our faith is tested. But I guess I shouldn't really be shocked by how much I dislike it. It is miserable. Mostly just because testing of our faith means that we're in a situation where we NEED faith. Granted we -should- have faith in all situations, or be living a life of faith. But the truth is that we often live on our own strength. We genuinely believe we can handle most of it on on own because most of time frankly, we can (or at least we feel that way).

So imagine yourself in a situation where you NEED to have faith. I'm thinking, you wake up and your child is crying and your wife is complaining of a toothache and needs a root canal and NOW, and then getting out of bed you break you foot.

Just as an example.
And we are supposed to count it joy? Not the pain of the foot break obviously, but the need to depend on the Lord. If we do depend on the Lord it produces steadfastness (or the ability to not be shaken). This is good. This is REALLY REALLY good. It even goes on to say "And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." - v4.

I long to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Imagine just how nice it would be to obtain this without the broken foot, agony-filled wife, and crying child. Now, learn to have faith in situations where it doesn't -seem- like you NEED it.

Lord give me faith, test that faith, but have patience with my weakness. My frailty and fear.

winning

I won my first game today of Xiang Qi (or chinese chess). It about my
20th game in three or four weeks and the very first one I have won. I
find joy in winning.

It's truly an amazing game, chess.
I sit down and before I've made even a single move, I fear. I feel
locked up. "There is no way I'm going to mobilize my pieces better
than my opponent," I think. But it is a beautiful game of taking it
one move at a time.

Really the trick is to look just enough moves ahead that you don't do
anything stupid, and then once and while something really uniquely
good will present itself and if you jump on it.... eventually you'll
get enough of those to win.

I know... ridiculous, I have a whole impenetrable philosophy on how
to win at a game I've only won once.

I hope I don't find too deep of a parallel with life from this
situation.

White roses

And hand grenades
They say we threw them both at the teachers funeral
Sad i say.
Who throws grenades at a funeral?

My biggest fear
Tea allergy?
Or lack of faith in He who has provided
How can look on Him
Who is
Perfect

And yet
Fear?

And why dont fear height or depth
Or even death.
But health?

Grenades for me please

Big, black, and cheap

We went to go buy a used bicycle. I was given rather vague directions
that the place to buy was on such and such a side of such and such a
bridge. We took a taxi and when we got there it was not at all obvious
that this was the right place. No one was standing around holding a
bike and looking all interested in selling. So I asked the driver.
"You used to be able to buy a bike here, but I don't think so anymore," he said.
This wasn't all that encouraging because we had traveled some way just
to get there. As soon as we stepped from the cab we were immediately
overwhelmed by people pressing in and yelling "Bike for sale... bike
for sale!"

I guess was the right place, so we just followed the first guy. Weaved
back and forth through a fish market, into one home and then around an
old outhouse to another hole in the wall where we slipped through a
four foot door into a one room home. A single light bulb hanging from
the ceiling, a bed, a desk and about 10 very stolen bikes. The door
was closed and locked behind us and the business began. The problem
was the lack of older bicycles. Every one of these were just too new,
too likely to be stolen again and brought back to be re-re-sold for
the same price.

The owner assured us there were no other bikes for sale in the whole
market even though there were literally thirty other people out there
ready to give their lives to get us to look at their available bikes.
But after refusing his prices too many times he walked us out of this
small room. Closed the door and locked it. Stepped across a small pool
of sewage and opened another small sketchy room filled with even more
bikes.

Sketchy.
But fun.

In the end, my current beauty was purchased. Tall and black and older
than I. But beautiful as the day is long and she rides like new.
Well... Almost.

How do you teach the Old?

I've been told if your children's curriculum says the moral of the
David and Goliath story is that little people can be used by God too,
then you should throw out your books and look into new curriculum.

But why?

I'm reading a book right now which promises to make enough sense out
of the Old Testament to be able to understand just how it should be
taught. It doesn't seem full of the practical application that the New
Testament does seemingly merely because of its nature being much more
historical and also containing the wisdom and lament literature.

Anyhow. I'll keep you posted on what I learn. I guess the point is
that we have to remember the Old Testament through the light of the
New Testament. Everything that happened in the old seems to at some
level point to the new.... we'll see.

18 cups of tea

I have a problem. I'm horribly addicted to tea. All kinds of tea. I drink tieguanyin (a type of oolong), puer (hs an earthy wood taste), kouding (my current favorite - bitter as can be), and often the plain local flavor of huamaofeng (a green tea with flowers added).

I also suffer from mild chronic gastritis (I think thats what the doctor called it). Which basically just means that whenever I eat something which actually tastes good I get all dizzy, light headed, and gassy. Apparently gastritis is inflamed by excessive caffeine.

This is a problem for me. Yesterday i spent all morning drinking tea. I had a Pepsi with lunch (which is admittedly unusual for me) and then drank tea by the litre for the whole of the afternoon. Then my face and fingers started to tingle, as well as my belly which is just flat out freaky.

Its harder to trust the Lord in a place with a healthcare system I dont trust. And why? Fear sneaks in really quick when I feel like I'm going to pass out and dont really know why.

I just want tea. Lots and lots of tea. And I dont want to pass out or anything. Sad how much comfort I seek in my health.

Ahhh. Sweet refreshedness

We say we take them but we really leave them behind. And when we do....

There is this sense of great relief. Of having lost a heavy burden. Sadly the feeling doesn't stay for long. We quickly become used to our new comfort and the novelty is quickly lost.

But we'll gain this burden again. And setting it down is certainly essential to our continued well being.

I almost wonder if this daily relief is a reminder. A way for the Lord to tell us just how wonderful it will feel to leave behind all of this filth once and for all.

Tea helps me lay my worldly burden behind.
Really passing from our eartlhly bodies to our eternal state will be like taking some form of a heavenly laxative.

And boy will we feel burden free and fantastic.

Useful

"Men who do their best always do more though they be haunted by the sense of failure. Be good and true; be patient; be undaunted. Leave your usefulness for God to estimate. He will see to it that you do not live in vain." - Morrison's selected sermons.

This a perfect response to the things I've mentioned lately. And pleasantly presented after a long sermon on joyfulness looking at Paul singing in prison. I find myself stopping and talking to a young man who suffered from childhood polio. He's kind and speaks clearly.

Ever morning he pushes himself from his home out to the bus stop. From there the bus driver actually gets off the bus and carries him onto the bus. Often requesting help from someone else nearby.

Completely at the mercy of others, and as far as I know a stranger to God. And yet this guy smiles. Everyday he begs, he smiles. He isn't forceful in the same manner as many of the others, he simply holds out his can. Smiling.

And when I stop and talk, I feel useful. A pleasant break from my nagging conscience telling me to do more. And I hope a little friendship makes a difference.
God don't let us live in vain.

Rehab

Remember how the rain used to fall?
You would limp
You didn't have a knee
And yet you always smiled

Alan would mumble
Something fully unintelligable
About england or his childhood

And we'd turn the corner to the springs
Or the dam, or the mountain
Wherever we were going

The roads were closed because of the
Rain
Seirious rain

But we kept walking.
Life was so simple because
You had chosen victory

And it would take some time
But your needle filled arm
It healed
And you smiled

Skin graft after skin graft and
This one would stick

Even in the rain

It washed everything
And we were clean.

Quality entries, and sandwiches

Alright, I'll be the first to admit that I haven't really submitted
what you might call a "quality" blog entry in some time. Part of this
is due to my own initiative to write at least something everyday. The
other part is due to the fact that I know next to no-one is reading
this blog at this point. My priorities have become centered around
writing. I want to write what I enjoy to write. I want to write things
that are actually interesting and I'm not sure how long I can write
about any one topic and have it remain interesting to the general
public.

Thus.... Henceforth I shall be writing ridiculous versions of actual
stories that have happened to me or of which I have witnessed third
person.

e.g. About 10 minutes ago (now this should be assumed that this may
not be an actual 10 minutes but rather a figurative form of the same
idea - such as a Biblical creation day or something) I devoured (and
by devour I mean cartoon woodchuck style where there are wood shavings
going everywhere) a delicious (and by delicious I mean blackened
mahi-mahi with a side of a strawberry margarita delicious) sub (and by
this I mean sandwich) from a restaurant which is actually titled "The
Mutts Nutts."

Now that was my sort of writing.

And for the record, I do most of my blogging from a PDA, and I have
very little patience for grammar and tend to leave out words. If you
cant appreciate what I write for the beauty of the words and not the
perfection of the grammar then this is probably the wrong blog for you
to be reading. I say that with the utmost certainty that this will
anger at least 50% of my readers, and also the confidence with which
to say, that 50% is probably only 1 of ya'll... so thanks to the rest
of you for sticking around.

Alright.

Emmm... a burp is like second sandwich.

Are for the most part crippled

Which sets us apart from the ones that arent crippled right? Or so it would seem.

And while I dont really see how it relates to global warming... I still feel obliged to mention it... At least subtly and in passing.

Upset is how I would feel if Colorado beat me too. But thats no reason to get down over it... It is, after all, my alma mater.

gerbils

Thy aint good for a whole lot
But then
At least your friends dont smell.

Dumpling breath

There isn't much in this world that can make my wife scream with horror quite like jiaozi 饺子(dumpling) breath can.

All i want is a kiss... Is that too much to ask?

Ahmanijidad-idad-ihimed

Remember that time when that leader guy with the funny name from Iran came to new york and spoke at colombia?
What was that about anyway?

My tutor says he is an athiest but respects others religious beliefs.
He also says there is no way to understand a religion of hate and revenge. If you are higher in heaven based on how many infidels you've killed then most of us are in pretty bad shape.

Remember how we say it might even be a position of honor if you're killed for certain reasons?

For the sake of a mannerism

And my teacher just turned to me and said
In his best english
He looks like a gay.

How are you supposed to recover from that?

Pick a vice. Any vice.

I feel like one or two vices are really necessary to be somewhat down to earth. That is, capable of relating to the real world.

I dont mean vice as in sin. I mean vice as in something which makes the Christian culture uncomfortable because it stretches their comfort zones.

Such as drinking an occasional beer (Luther was particularly fond of his wifes own brew...) or a cigar with friends.

If a man should lack even one vice, is he following the Lord with discipline or has he removed himself from the real world?
I'll not soon forget Abraham Kuyper's assessment that the reformed faith is really a faith that encourages the arts, but dancing is just flat out sinful.

I want to be released from my significance

And genuinely believe God can do this without me but delights in using
me to do it....

Why must i so vainly believe in my own worth?
I literally am worthless apart from Him.
And what He did. I just cant get it into my head.

Early in the the morning

My heart will rise to thee....

What is it about the morning. Specifically the early morning that the Father really shows up. I sometimes if its just the sacrifice we make to get out of bed...
Or perhaps He likes the symbolism that the night will soon be over. The day will come.
I wish it weren't so dang refreshing sometimes.... It sure would make it easier to sleep in....

Slop bucket

Are we really to believe that we can honor our Creator as much by our menial tasks done in praise as we can with those things we more naturally see as holy?
Ask yourself. Do you genuinely believe cleaning up horses dung from the streets honors the Father as much as the work of a Pastor?
I'm not sure I do.
I'm being told that I should. But I find it difficult to wrap my head around anything that is of this world being as important as a soul which will pass through to the next. Does the Father wish for us to treat the things of this world as just as important? Or are the things that are menial reserved only for those who've been called to menial jobs?
I genuinely want to believe that any job and all work brings glory to Him. But I've been so steeped in a divided sacred and secular split worldview that I find difficult to believe anyone is really honoring the Lord in their work unless they're doing ministry in their workplace. Or living differenly or something.
Sure we are called to live differently, but those who accept that the Lord has called them to the workplace, how well do they succeed at doing what they do unto the Lord?
Have I been called to full time service because I am to immature to honor the Father in any other line of work?
Am I mature enough to believe a bridge well built is as glorifying to the Lord as turning a sinner turning forever to serve their Creator?
No. Not yet.
I'd like to figure it out though. Maybe there is a part I'm missing.

Polio

The kid has polio... he says he's had it since he was one. I don't
really know how to process it. I want to bless the guy. I want to
pray for him. I want to believe that something will happen when I do.
If I do.
Lord, I believe, take away my unbelief.
The lesson in church today was about that story... I believe! Take
away my unbelief, and he even gave an example of a lady he knew who
was healed miraculously of polio. I recently started reading a book
that has challenged me to think about the realities of praying for
healing for this guy. Even if it means praying everyday for years,
will I do it? Do I believe God will heal him? Wants to?
Is my pride so big that I wouldn't be able to rejoice in the Lord,
but instead I would rejoice in my ability or my faith?
And would God let that keep Him from healing this guy?
He slides around on a wooden board with metal wheels. He begs. They
don't get wheelchairs here.
God this HAS to break your heart like it breaks mine.
Will you bring this healing to this man?
Do you even want to?
Why wouldn't you?
And how do I process this?

32

chicken broth
pregnancy

a veritable dynasty mishap
and purple bamboo

in a garden, not a park
keep that one straight
its a completely different tone

Pizza and my old age

Last night we all went out for a big dinner as it was a good friends birthday. This place was a little nicer than where we normally go.
Anyhow, everyone is eating like shrimp and steak. I ordered the Hawaiian pizza.
What am I like 10?

The way things used to be

and wrap me tightly
dipping
steeping me
in your word

Discipleship. Are we changed?

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19

Why didn't Jesus say "Go and make believers of all nations?" And what is the difference?

This is something that I struggle with relatively regularly. What is discipleship and why is our calling to that instead of just believers? Or rather, why do we care so much about evangelism and so little about discipleship.

Granted, when someone chooses the Lord, they make a decision that affects their soul for all of eternity. This is a huge deal. Perhaps the biggest deal. But by stopping there its like we're saying, "The Lord has nothing to offer you in this life, but you're good, just wait till the next."

Can we really say that? How many of us mean that? How many of us genuinely believe that? I'm sad to say that I was quite far along before I began to believe that a relationship with Jesus would actually make a difference in my everyday life. That trusting in Him actually affected my daily decisions and the way my life looks.

I remember in High School one of my friends asked to put his faith in the Lord. I was thrilled, took him outside (we were at a friend's Bible study), and I stumbled through some verses in Romans that I still know far too poorly, and he prayed a prayer in the snow.
It was spectacular.

But then we were just friends. I never knew how to offer him anything different because my life didn't really look different. It might have moral in some ways, but I didn't act any different because of my relationship with the Lord, but rather just what my parents had taught me was right and wrong.

Can all of life be redeemed? Can our lives be redeemed? And if they are, do we know how they are? Do we live any differently?

We need to re-evaluate what we think of the great commission. I don't think its about numbers. It's about actual changed lives.

Before we can hope to disciple, we need to know what makes us different. We have to actually be able to articulate what Jesus brings to our everyday lives, our work, our sports, the way we spend our time, and love our families.

God has to be real to us, for us to make Him real to others, and in order to fulfill the great commission we need to disciple. Discipleship is teaching people who the Lord is, and what He brings, and how He changes us.

Do you know? Can you help me understand? I'm sad how little connection I make between these lofty ideals and my practical life.

You labor in vain.

Psalms 127:1-2
"A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep."

You are completely useless. In fact, without God you can do literally nothing (John 15). Isn't that ridiculous? What's perhaps even more sad is how much we genuinely believe ourselves capable of.

Think of that successful CEO. Think of all he' accomplished. And then think about what God thinks of it... Worthless. Labor done in vain.

That is unless it is done unto the Lord. But think about what you have built? A house, a toy train, or your social network. Think about your kingdom. How often are we out to build our kingdom? And in vain.

But for some reason, to those whom He loves, God gives sleep. Rest. It all of a sudden becomes meaningful to arise early and go to bed late. Your labor will be of value and I believe this verse tells us that the Lord will even bless us with physical sleep.
Now I don't think this is a verse about overexertion. Or that ridiculous attitude we have of work work work. Yes the Lord will bless our toil and it will not be in vain, but His blessing is sleep! How many of us understand rest? Especially those of us still trying to earn His love (we all are at times, such a silly easy trap to fall into).

So turn to the Lord. Labor no longer in vain. Seek Him early in the morning and late at night. And He will give you rest.

One thing is for sure. Those who sought the Lord earnestly were not heroes of the faith by mere chance.
And the Lord gave them sleep.


A quiver full

Psalms 127:3-5
"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."

I'm still young and I've not been married even 2 years yet, but for some reason I'm dying to have children. I know that having read this verse definitely has something to do with it.

I also know that until you have kids there is absolutely no way you can be ready for them. I can see that they will at once be an overwhelming blessing and also just overwhelming. The thing is, when I watch my friends who have children, I can see the joy they have in just having a son or daughter. There is a unique joy that this is yours. I long to have a child that looks and acts like me, and for their sake looks and acts even more like my wonderful wife.

I have heard again and again from parents just how much of a blessing it is to have kids. I even frequently hear older couples talk about how happy they are that they had many, or how they wished they had more.

Apart from the obvious benefits (such as the more you have the more likely one will be a doctor or a linebacker), I just cant wait to share my love for the Lord with a child. I want to watch my son or daughter discover a leaf for the first time, or bounce a bouncing ball. The physics engine (computer gaming wordage) God gave us is awesome and too few people my age really appreciate it. I want to help my kids see just how awesome their God is. I want to praise God with an awe like I did as a kid. Understanding an all powerful, all caring God much better than I do now... Oh what joy!

God knows they are a blessing. I pray your quiver be full. Pray the same for me... We cant wait to have them, we cant wait to adopt them. If I can afford to feed them I want to keep having them.

(yes I recognize that may all change as soon as I have ONE, running around like a crazy man exactly like I did...)

Oh the joy and the fear! Fill my quiver with kids who seek you Lord!

Money and You

One day I sat in a Sunday school talk on money and heard the teacher share about how we should all give at least 10 percent, "I'm not in a place where I can give ten percent," he said (seriously), "but I hope that someday I will be."

I can honestly not believe how many people genuinely believe that they will someday reach a magical income where they will all of a sudden find it easy to give. A friend some years back told me that while he doesn't give right now, he really feels he is called to give huge amounts of money. He wants his life to be about giving... But he doesn't give.

It has to be a pattern, and it really has to be developed early. My first job in high school I was making $200/paycheck and giving up that 20 bucks twice a month was just about killing me. But as I learned to enjoy giving it became more and more natural, even eventually enjoyable.

Now as a person who lives on support to do what I feel called to do, I find it particularly enjoyable to give because I know what a blessing it is to recieve.

Some suggestions, if you have never given, start by giving a little, like 5 percent, and work your way up from there. For me the most rewarding things to give to are people whom I personally know in minstry, because they send regular updates and I feel like I'm part of something significant.
I also really enjoy giving to Adopt a Child programs (check out www.foodforthehungry.com) because it doesn't take much ($25/month or so) to make a significant difference.

I have also felt compelled to give to our local church. There are a lot of things wrong with the church today, but the people there are generally doing what they can to use the money to glorify the Lord.

Giving really is a blessing. Man that sounds cheesy, but I do mean it.

Money and the Church

I have a good friend who some years back left the faith due to (among a few other things) the way he saw the church handle money.

How do we as believers maintain integrity in the area of money? When is it alright for a church to spend 3 million (and sometimes much much more) on a new building when the same amount of money could feed all the hungry in the same city for 10 years? But at the same time
where would those people in the church go to worship if a new building is not constructed? How does a board of elders decide on something like this?

I once attended a church that had 6 services every Sunday because it had grown so fast the current facilities couldn't keep up with its' people. When the new building was complete I was thrilled to hear the pastor preach a lesson that was still exciting and new to him, having
not been already delivered 5 times.
But can I justify where the money could have gone had we toughed it out for 6 services a week?

Another issue is how much to pay pastors. I've heard it said that a general rule is to pay the pastor about the same as the average person in the congregation makes. The issue is when you live in a community where the average person makes $200,000/year (or again, much much more). Is it appropriate for someone doing the Lords work to be making so much money? Is there reason that we inherently react to it, feeling as though its not? The Bible doesn't seem to say that someone in the ministry should make no more than enough to buy two Ford F150's per year.... And you certainly don't want to pay the pastor so little that he has to live three or four cities away just to be able to buy a house.
Then how will he minister to those in his congregation?

It's a tough question.

My solution is this: if you give generously then you can feel free to spend generously. The church needs to be seriously giving before it should feel free to spend the way it sometimes does. And while I think this is a relatively good principle, I also recognize this can mean a lot of different things to different people....

Athiesm and questions

Riddle me this. I genuinely wonder why atheists spend as much time as they do arguing for atheism. What is at steak? If you genuinely believe there to be no God then what is it to you if someone misguidedly follows him anyhow?

Maybe in an evangelical light you just want to awake people to what you believe to be true. In the same way Christians do.

I guess the reason for my confusion is that as believers in Christ, we genuinely believe someone's soul is at steak for all of eternity.

Should there be no God worthy of praise, necessary for salvation, all powerful, and wonderful to serve.... Then why proselytize?

If all we're missing out on is some booze or some pleasure or something, then why care that we're missing out? Why do atheist's identities get wrapped up in a negative belief system. Why not define themselves for what they are rather than what they are not (that being anything other than atheist)? And why are atheist chat rooms so full of atheists talking about a lack of a God? Do they want someone to come and prove them wrong? If you have it right that there is no God, then why spend your life arguing it? Shouldn't there be more time spent on hedonism?

While I honestly believe in a God, I also am genuinely glad that there is more than this world has to offer. As I have tasted and seen the Lord to be good I become further and further distanced from a desire to run from the creator. He knows how to live life to he fullest.... Why fight Him? Seriously... I'm downright befuddled.

Humility and Hollywood

When we watch movies ridiculous things can happen. For example Tom Cruise can stick a piece of explosive bubble gum on the windshield of a helicopter as he hangs on by a shoestring and the helicopter flies through a tunnel. That piece of gum can then proceed to blow up the helicopter and leave Tom without a scratch (or bleeding eardrums for that matter) flying through the air just fast enough for him to land safely on the trunk of a car going 90 mph.

When we watch a scene like this, most of us will simply choose to ignore the ridiculous nature of the scene for the sake of our entertainment and desire for the protagonist to survive. (My father, by contrast, would scream 'Absurd!' at the top of his lungs and ruin the moment for everyone).

This is called willing suspension of disbelief. That we all be capable of this is necessary for Hollywood to make any money.

I would like to argue that true humility is reached through similar means. When I am in the company of others I tend to talk far to much. This tends to make my wife ashamed of me. Which is acceptable because it is my pride at stake. You see, often when I'm in a crowd I genuinely believe that I am the most interesting person there. So this is what leads me to my diarrhea of the mouth.

The trick to overcome this pride is to willingly suspend my disbelief. I have to choose to believe that someone else in my company is more interesting than I am. (Even though this may be as big of a leap of faith as Tom exploding himself to safety). As I make this step of faith, the hope is that I will find that I really can enjoy what others have to say. In a similar fashion to enjoying a ridiculous scene in a film.

If I get in the habit of this, my thinking will actually change to the point where I no longer think of myself in the crowd. This is a difficult process to begin, but as long as I'm willing to suspend my disbelief I'll be okay in the end, and I'll make my wife happy.

My hope is that my father will never mature and always genuinely believe that I am the most interesting person in any conversation. Even when Tom is at our table.

Spiritual Warfare

No matter what your background you inevitably believe in spiritual warfare. You may approach it differently than someone from a more liberal or someone from a more conservative background, but you will still accept it as a reality.

That said how many of us live like its a reality?

When was the last time that I said a prayer for the spiritual wellbeing of this nation? When did I last seriously consider that my ministry depends on the interference of the Lord? I sometimes ask for salvation, but I almost always forget that its a war.

I want to be aware of the battle. I want to believe its real enough that I intercede on behalf of others. I want to wield a sword a fight like I'm called t do. But more often than not I don't.

Are you engaging the world? The supernatural realm? Or have you become so worried with other things that you have forgotten that our battle is not against flesh and blood?

And eschatology...

I've recently been in a class on the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah
through Malachi) so it has been addressing the issue of eschatology
quite a bit. There are some things related to this that I've really
been chewing on. I come from an a-millennial background, but my wife
definitely comes from a dispensational background. How do you make a
common ground on the two?

First of all, I don't think eschatology is essential to salvation by
any means. So its certainly not worth raising any substantial battles
over, but it does affect some of how we respond to the world today.

My biggest beef with a-millennialism is over the issue of of the
millennium itself. It seems to be stated pretty clearly that there
will be 1000 years at some point. So why am I willing to just assume
it's a symbolic 1000 years?
I don't know, and maybe it's just because of my upbringing, but I wish
I had a better idea....

Then my biggest beef with the dispensational outlook is really that
they see the need for a physical temple to be built again. I don't
understand how they reconcile that one. We are the temple of God now,
right? Doesn't he dwell in us? So why would he need a house of brick
or wood to dwell in?

Anyone who has a good understanding of either of these, please let me know.

Freaky deaky Russia

So Putin has pretty much freaked me out since he removed all sorts of people inpower around him, (parliment was it?). And then there was the whole poisoning of the Ukrainian dude that peopl figured Russia was in on.

Now that they kicked the British diplomats out (albiet in response to the Brits themselves... Though they had seemingly good reason), and refused to give over the poisoning dude....

Why is noone else freaked out?

In my humble opinion, if Russia gets mad in this day and age, we have good reason to freak out.
Putin has intentionally made himself the new absolute ruler, why is the media not recognizing this? Do people hate Bush enough to actually not notice?

The secret to sin

Hudson Taylor's spiritual secret is that if your eyes are focused on the Lord then sin will fade away. This is probably the most profound truth I have heard outside of salvation.

What shocks me about it is just how few people are taught this. I never heard it until after college and reading this book. My parents never taught me, and I never heard it in church.

There are two issues associated with it though. First of all what does it mean to have your eyes on the Lord?
Well first of all it means that the key to not sinning isn't trying to not sin. That just flat out wont work for anyone in the long run. Don't get me wrong. Make every effort. Its good to try. But you cant win a race by staring at the starting line and praising yourself for how long its been since you left that place. No. You have to turn around and focus on the goal.
It is the same with sin. Stop praising yourself for how long its been since you've done that particular sin. Turn to the Lord with your thoughts and your desires and you will lose the desire for those other sins altogether.

Apart from him we can do nothing (John 15), let alone conquer sin.

For me this generally looks like worship. I have to play my guitar and praise the Lord to consistently be focused on Him. My quiet times are significant. But joy in reading the word, and my joy in prayer comes and goes. Somehow playing worship to the Lord always rends my heart. I still do the other things. I also fast when necessary to get my own attention.

But find what it takes for you to focus on the Lord. Take the extra time. Drop the other habit. Have coffee to keep you awake while you read the word. Do whatever it takes. Its the ONLY way to lasting freedom.

The second issue is will this take away sin permanently?
My experience is no. Hudson Taylor claimed he experienced total freedom. I find that I am still a sinner. I can be focused on the Lord and not sin sometimes for a very long time. But in my incompetence I lose focus. And my old man is there and ready as soon as I give in just a little.

1 John 1:10 says that if we claim to be without sin then we make Him out to be a liar.
So my take on this is that we will never have full and complete freedom. But we may come close. In seeking Him I have seen some amazing freedom...

The words are there... I just never saw them.

'Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full on His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace'


Contemplating death further.

One more thought on that.

A year or two back I read about a suggested prayer program where throughout the day you stop and pray about something. I dont remember it exactly but it was something like:

6am - Praise to God
8am - Thankfulness
10am - Prayer of forgiveness for sins
12pm - Prayer for the salvation of the world. God to send out more laborers.
4pm - Prayer for friends
10pm/bedtime - Prayer about your own death.

The whole process was interesting, but really that last thing got my attention. Every night I would stop and talk to the Lord about my mortality.

It usually began with something like, 'well Lord, I guess I'm going to die someday.'

While it sounds really horrible to dwell on, I quickly found it helping me to come to terms with the fact that I will someday leave this earth for a better place. The reality of that helped me to realize the weight of the now.

It was really strange. And I don't do it anymore out of incompetence. But give it a try. I think you'll be surprised by the result.



Death.

Everyone of us will die someday and yet we always respond to it as unnatural. Is it in any way more natural for a 90 year old to die from old age than it is for a 12 year old to die from an accident?

Our argument is that the 12 year old hasn't had a chance to really live his life. The 90 year old had probably come to grips with it.

For some reason when a 90 year old dies, I dont worry as much about weather they knew the Lord. I'm a grips with the fact that people die without hearing about Him. I dont like it. But for some reason I can process it.

But yesterday a 12 year old boy fell to his death right outside a restaurant I was in. I cant begin to process that. 'Why God?' I ask.

But why does anyone have to die without the Lord. If this life is less than a moment in eternity then what does it matter if you live 3 or 105 years? Especially if you're going to the same place anyways.

I just want everyone to have heard. Why wont they listen? Why dont they want to hear? Why was there grace for me know? And not for them?

In but not of the world

How do as believers do what we're called to do to be in the world but still manage to not be of the world?

Im reading a book about engaging the youth culture so we can relate to them. The book basically advocates that we need to be watching the music that youth listen to and watching the movies they watch. Reading the books and websites they read... This way we can unerstand their culture and then someday speak to it when they need to understand the lies that are presented or recognize when they feel lonely, hopeless, and lost.

I agree. And i could listen to just about any music and not fall into sin. But there are a lot of movies out there that are just filled with straight up porn. I cant process that well. At all really. And i certainly cannot condone watching them to understand youth.

I once saw requiem for a dream. It did not make me a better person. Sure it was a grotesquely accurate portrayal of the lives of heroin addicts. Ive known many since working at a heroin rehab center in hong kong. But i didnt learn anything new by watching this movie.

I just got totally 'slimed'

Where do we draw the line? Are there some people who can watch any movie and not fall into sin in the way cursing in songs doesnt really affect me?

How do we understand the culture if engaging it leads us to sin?

Im sure there is a balance... But where?

Why do athiests have morals?

This topic came up in a craigslist forum on religion.

It reminds me of a discussion i had in college with one of my really
good friends who is an athiest. I constantly asked him why he didn't
just kill people and do drugs.

if you lack a God based worldview.
if everything around us really is an accident.
if our brain synapsis are just a piece of evolution
and if there is no objective truth.

then there is certainly no reason for morals.
if someone gets in your way, they might as well die, they're just
dust. they're no better than an ant. or even a rock for that matter.

if i lacked a christian worldview, i would lie cheat and steal till my
hearts content. the worlds consequences wouldn't matter anyhow.
drugs would be probably be the name of the day.

without a christian worldview, there genuinely is no good reason to be
moral. to have morals.

so why do they?

are you an athiest? why are you moral? help me understand.

Creation and the new covenant...

I am genuinely puzzled as to how someone can walk around God's
beautiful creation and not see His hand in it. It screams His name
everywhere. A leaf, has veins to provide water up from the ground,
breathes what we breathe out (to help cycle air), and has little
receptors that make it beautiful and green. I don't have a clue how or
why a flower comes out off of some trees and bushes. I dont understand
all the inner workings of the cell that makes it up. But someone who
truly does understand? How can they not just stand in wonder at God's
creation?

I know how complicated a watch's inner workings are, if I take one
apart. I cannot possibly believe that if you drop all of the pieces on
a table enough times that the watch will someday be put together. In
effect this is what a world without a creator is. But then you have to
imagine that the watch pieces aren't there to begin with. Nothing is
dropped. And nothing is dropped enough times to make something. Even
more, God had to create force. Before Him it couldn't even be
dropped. It would just float.

Nothingness just floated.

Just floated around long enough that eventually it became a bougainvillea.
Rediculous.

God is on people's hearts and in their minds. How can they deny Him? I
seriously do not understand.

But then what fascinates me more, is that in Jeremiah 31:31-34 when
God is talking about the new covenant he will make with the people,
and how He will write his law on people's hearts. Does this mean that
before Jesus came and fulfilled this, there wasn't an inherent
knowledge of the creator? God says they will no longer have to teach
one another about God because they will all know Him.

So people do know Him... do they really succeed in talking themselves
out of Him?

Old habits. Old hopes. Same sin.

I've recently been really surprised how much i find my thoughts going back to desiring old sin. Its like now that ive been free from some of this stuff for a long time, ive forgotten how empty it is. How dirty it made me feel. In my imagination they're always bringing satisfaction. But alcohol doesn't bring satisfaction. Why do i want to hope in it?

It makes me sad that my head goes there. Why dont i remember? Why dont i give thanks that they're gone? Why do i hope in things that i know cannot satisfy?

Things I believe before getting a degree.

(I only recently started the MDiv program).

1. Uneducated people should be allowed to teach. Not everyone, but some people.

2. God seems to bless even the very unhealthy (theologically or practically).

3. God seems to bless me, which isn't a sign that I'm doing anything right.

4. Conservative is probably a better leaning than Liberal

5. I have to be open to liberal ideas (definitely not all), and definitely new things in the christian world. Not closed off to music, etc.

6. Raising kids is not about how well you do it, or lead, or how good of a person you are. It seems to be 100% based on the Lord's grace that they will turn out well or not.  We can help, but they can still turn out funny.

7. Writing a book is one of the best ways to make a lasting impression.

8. Books can help you to fall more in love with the Lord.

9. Just because some publishing company printed it, doesn't mean its true, or even worth reading.

10. People all turn out weird. Its okay to become weird in your old age.

11. Money will wont make you happy.

12. Loving my wife is more important that my studies

13. I want my ministry to be first place before my studies

14. Taking forever to get a degree is probably a reality.

15. Having a PhD by 35 is still pretty impressive.

16. I shouldn't be concerned with how impressive it is if I ever get a PhD.

17. People with PhD's can be losers just because they have one. Dont be a loser.

18. Discipline sucks when you're developing it, but I seem to like life better when I am disciplined.

19. Children are a HUGE blessing no matter how much work they are.

20. Children are your most important disciples.

21. God's creation is fascinating, beautiful, and should be pointed out just short of the point of annoyance.

22. God has blessed me, but that doesn't mean I'm doing anything well.

23. Money still wont make me happy.




About Me


Name: Roger Mugs - pseudo on the whole name thing.

Occupation: I'm a minister recovering from a decade of ministry in Asia.

Interests: I could blab on for much too long about this, but mostly they consist of running, writing, pipe smoking, and general tomfoolery—reveling in the grace of the Lord and attempting to both live out and teach the gospel.

Email (always welcome) to say hello or mock me - rogermugs@gmail.com

My dog is dead.

There is this line in the man who knew too little, where Bill Murray
is asking how actors cry, "Do you say to yourself 'My dog is dead' and
then poke yourself in the eye?" he then proceeds to do so.

Well last week my dog died. Its the first dog I've ever had, he was a
cute little guy. A Shar Pei named Bear. He only lived 9 days. They say
this is common for foreigners in Asia, they all kill their first dog
because they aren't tuned into all the diseases that are common here,
so they don't take proper caution with their first dog. Bummer.

I cant believe how attached to a little puppy you can become in just 9
days. I miss him.

I cant help but look to the Lord and wonder what the plan was with
Bear. Was he always only supposed to live that long? Could I have done
something better? You knew he would die right? But then I imagine how
many of us lose the people they love. I cant fathom.

And God wants to redeem this. Man we're fallen.

Would you get another dog? Can you really replace this spot in your
heart? I cant imagine.

Kuyper on Transformation

In Lectures on Calvinism, Abraham Kuyper writes, 

"For our relation to the world; the recognition that in the whole world the curse is restrained by grace, that the life of the world is to be honored in its independence, and that we must, in every domain, discover the treasures and develop the potencies hidden by God in nature and in human life"(31).

Kuyper is making the argument that culture and all things are to be transformed. By developing the potencies hidden by God we will see the world become what it was meant to be. Men will turn to the Lord -- yes! souls will be saved -- and by their salvation cultures will change. This is the vehicle for change of the world, transforming it into what the Lord intended. Our job as believers is to look at the fallen state of the world and man, to then see what God created it to be and to be a part of the redemption process. To change the world back to a state of man's dominion and therefore God's glorification.

Can my life be redeemed?

I start this to discuss something I teach. That all of life can be
redeemed through Christ. I'd like to see it happen. So much of my
life has been redeemed, the Lord has turned me into something more
than solid waste. I'd like to see where it can go.
Recently I've felt led to re-evaluate my life online. Can the
internet, something I use exclusively to feed my information
addiction, be used to edify me?

Can I be a part of its redemption?
Maybe I can help to edify others.
This must first of course start with my willingness to write
consistently.
I'll work on that.