Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another political thought for the day

"Nothing says 'character reference' like a teeming crowd of thousands of adoring Germans chanting your name." -Jim Geraghty, The Campaign Spot

Top 10 Bible Stories You Didn't Learn in Sunday School

At CBC, we have been blessed to have an intern for the rest of summer. He's a big fan of the book of Judges, and out of a discussion of that book he mentioned that he and seminary buddy of his used to talk about the "Top 10 Bible Stories You Didn't Learn in Sunday School." Which got me thinking about the differences between what I would include in the Bible if I were writing it and what God chose to include and the differences in the reasons why. With that in mind, here's my list of the Top 10.
10. Abraham and Abimilech (Genesis 20)
9. Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38)
8. Zimri and Cozbi (Numbers 25)
7. The Annihilation of Midian (Numbers 31)
6. Ehud the left-handed warrior (Judges 3)
5. Jael & Sisera (Judges 4)
4. Jepthah and his daughter (Judges 11)
3. Amnon & Tamar (2 Samuel 13)
2. David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11)
1. The Levite's Concubine (Judges 19)

These passages teach me two lessons: 1) God's ways are not my ways; 2) God chooses to use deeply flawed people to accomplish His purposes. Both of these thoughts are deeply encouraging to me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Politically incorrect jihad humor

Two members of Hezbollah were talking about their sons' recent glorious martyrdom against the imperialist Zionist oppressor...

Jihadist #1: "You know, it's amazing to watch this generation mature and embrace true Islam."
Jihadist #2: "Yeah. Kids blow up so fast these days..."

Which reminds me of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's line that there will be peace in the Middle East as soon as the so-called "Palestinians" love their own children more than they hate Israelis...

A word to the wise voter...

In this political season, it's important to remember one thing especially. Every politician running for office promises "change." But "change" is not a synonym for "improvement."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Deuteronomy 6

One of my favorite parts of being a father is tucking the kids in for bed. It's time for hugs, kisses, and bedtime prayers for protection from nightmares and things that go "bump" in the night. It's also when I occasionally have very significant conversations.

The other night, we had one of those. There's an African American boy who lives on our street that's about John's age who likes to come over and play with my kids. Since we have been living in Iowa and small-town Illinois the last several years, our kids haven't not experienced much ethnic diversity. Out of the blue Sara asked me about Jaden:

Sara: "Daddy, is Jaden from Mexico?"
Me: "No, Sara, Jaden is an African American."
Sara: "What's that Daddy?"
Me: "Well, a long time ago, some of the people in our country bought and sold people like Jaden as slaves from Africa."
Sara (completely wide-eyed): "Didn't they know that was wrong, Daddy?"
Me: "Well, some people did. But there were still a lot of people who did it, so a lot of people thought it was okay. You know, sometimes, when a lot of people around you are doing something, it seems alright. But we have to look at what God's Word says and do that, even if everybody except us says it's okay to do the wrong thing, right Sara?"
Sara: "Right, Daddy."

After that, I reinforced the point by telling the story of Daniel's three friends and how they stood against the will of their king. Sara really got into it, especially the part where they all say, "Our God is able to save us. But even if he does not, O king, this we know: we will not bow down and worship the idol you have set up."

It was a great moment to be a dad. I'm grateful to God for giving it to me.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pickles and ice cream

We had some friends and their kids over for dinner and a board game Friday night. We had lots of fun with them and our kids seemed to enjoy themselves with theirs as well. Since I was still working while Karen was getting the house ready, she e-mailed me a shopping list. It included the following items:
  1. Pickles
  2. Ice cream
  3. Lemonade
Given this list, I quickly wrote back to see if there was anything Karen needed to tell me. She assured me that no, the stork would not be dropping off another bundle of joy at our house any time soon and that these just happened to be the things on her list that she forgot to pick up when she was at the store earlier.

So it was with much amusement that I discovered that at our local grocery store, the pickles and ice cream are located in the same aisle. Weirdly funny, to say the least. I guess the marketing people recognize the need to cater to every constituency.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


The longer I am in ministry, the more I am convinced that one of the most significant measures of a Christian’s spiritual maturity is their level of love for lost people. Christians may know their Bible, pray fervently, do devotions before sunrise every morning, and lead significant ministries within the Church, but if they are not passionate about spreading the Gospel among those who don’t know Christ, then they are not mature believers. Because God loves lost people. In fact, Jesus says in Luke 15 that there is more rejoicing in heaven when a lost sinner repents than there is over 99 righteous people. Yet too often, we in the Church tend to reverse Jesus’ priorities, celebrating contentedly with the 99 sheep in the fold and not worrying overly much about the one that is lost.

The truth of this fact hit me in a fresh way while I was on vacation and doing some devotional reading in Ezekiel. After revealing Himself in a mighty way, God gave Ezekiel the following charge:
Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself. — Ezekiel 3:17-20
What’s interesting to me about God’s Word here is that God holds His messenger partially responsible for the death of the wicked if Ezekiel should fail to announce God’s message of warning and repentance. Though the wicked man dies for his own sin, Ezekiel is in some sense also held responsible and subject to God’s judgment (v. 3:20).

Like Ezekiel, God has called us to be watchmen for our people, warning them away from the death and judgment God will bring if they continue to sin and offering life, healing, and forgiveness if they will repent and turn to God. Like Ezekiel, we have been given both God’s Word and His Spirit to accomplish the task. And though I can’t prove it, I strongly suspect that if we fail to discharge our calling, God in some sense holds us responsible for those who die without hearing the Good News. Which is a pretty sobering thought...

Friday, July 11, 2008

The latest news from formerly Christian England...

The Daily Mail reports:

Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and ‘pray to Allah’ during a religious education lesson.

Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.

They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager High School, near Stoke-on-Trent – which included wearing Muslim headgear – was a breach of their human rights.

One parent, Sharon Luinen, said: “I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn’t join in Muslim prayer.

... “My child has been forced to pray to Allah in a school lesson.” The grandfather of one of the pupils in the class said. “But if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion there would be war.”

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vacation highlights

We have just returned from a two week hiatus-four days intense training at The Cove followed by about 10 days of time with family. Some of the highlights:
  • Karen and I drove through some of the areas where we honeymooned. A lot has changed in the 12 years since then, but it gave us a great time to reminisce.
  • I got to meet both of my new nephews (Abram Thomas Horn and Andrew David Robey) and see my rapidly growing young niece Lydia.
  • Karen and I had a great time visiting with our family. Lots of laughter and conversation did our hearts good.
  • Karen rode the tube not once but twice!
  • I caught a 25 inch, 10 lb. striped bass after 12 hours of fishing.
  • I discovered that while I still enjoy tubing, boating, and all the other aspects of a lake vacation, I should not, under any circumstances, attempt to water-ski again without some more time at the gym.
  • We got to hang out with Rick and Cindy Rosetto and their friends Jason and Cindy at the Cove. Entirely too much fun, though it was the first time I've ever been referred to as a "sluggard" by any of my friends (you'll have to ask Cindy R about that).
  • Also at The Cove, the Bishop J. D. Wiley gave an inspired sermon about the Good Samaritan. The key question: "What does it say about me if I don't help my neighbor?"
  • We had more fun playing in the water, going to the Smoky Mountain National Park, visiting Bass Pro, and just hanging out with the kids than should be legal. It was by far our most memorable family vacation.

From the heart

I've had a couple rants among my recent posts, and as I've thought about it, that has bothered me a bit. While I enjoy a good rant once in a while, I don't want my blog to become like one of those cable-news shout shows. So let me change direction and talk about what really matters to me in a positive sense.

The first time I ever really shared the Gospel with anyone was back when I was in the 8th grade. At the time, my parents had just embarked on a 15 year tour of duty serving as lay staff (i.e., unpaid, but more or less full time) for Student Venture, the high school ministry of Campus Crusade. Somehow, I was able to go to their annual Christmas conference despite being underage. Part of the conference agenda was to teach all of us how to share our faith using The Four Spiritual Laws. Immediately after our two hours of training, we were packed onto buses and dropped off two-by-two in Bloomington, IN neighborhoods to share the Gospel door-to-door. Most people weren't too interested in talking with us, but one single mother was really interested in what I had to say. We read through the entire tract together and when we came to the end, she placed her faith in Christ. It was the easiest experience I ever had of sharing Christ with someone. She was a divine appointment and just ready to believe.

That one experience gave me a passion for seeing people come to faith in Christ. Moreover, since I'd had so much training(!), I pretty much assumed that all of my evangelistic experiences in the future would be similar. Would that this were the case. Over the years, I've had successes, like the 35 people who came to Christ through one of my evangelism programs back in CR, but far more often I have needed to just keep praying and investing in folks whose hearts simply aren't "ripe" just yet and may never be. Still, the fact that God can and does use me (of all people!) to help lost people find their way home to the Father is a wonder too deep for mere words. I pray God will still see fit to keep using me, His imperfect mouthpiece, as herald of a perfect salvation from sin and death and hell. I pray too that He would use me to stimulate others to embrace the marvelous joy that can be theirs when they help people find Jesus.