Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jesus and Divorce

Every Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., you can find me down at the CrossWord Cafe with a group of men. We talk theology and true manhood, study the Bible, challenge one another to more closely follow Jesus, and then have breakfast and Sumatran coffee together next door at the Happy Thoughts. On a typical morning, we have a fair bit of discussion over several questions, but this morning we got stuck on one: What does Jesus think about divorce?

Based on Matthew 19, I argued that while divorce might be permitted for other reasons beyond marital unfaithfulness (Greek, porneia), it is the only reason that Jesus allows for a divorced person to remarry. I was a bit surprised that this would be so controversial or hard to swallow for our group. Perhaps I'm reading Jesus wrong? What do you think?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I feel like chukar tonight...

So it's not as catchy as the commercial. Sue me. But I do feel like chukar tonight. For the unitiated, a chukar is an Asian partridge, a relative of pheasants. They hold well for a bird dog, are fun to shoot, and taste like little bits of deep fried heaven. I shot two of them and a pheasant at a hunting preserve shoot this morning. It was colder than heck, with a 30 mph wind, a skiff of snow, and 20 degree temps, but when the little breast nuggets and thighs emerge from the oil tonight, it's going to be fully worth it.

Dave and Marty, it was a pleasure to shoot and freeze along with you, as always. I'm looking forward to next time.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist!

Believe it Charlie. These really do exist. This one's from Yunan Province in China. He has 1" long teeth and is straight out of the Fire Swamp.

Three Most Important Words

Valentine's Day was last week, and thinking about love and romance around that time has led me to some firm conclusions:
  1. Despite what I may have believed at one time, the best real love and real romance doesn't come in the heat of passion or the first flower of youthful love, but through long-term, fully-committed love of one spouse for the other. Passion and youth are really good, but God knew what he was doing when He gave us marriage to knit us together.
  2. The three most important words in any loving marriage are not "I love you," but "I was wrong," followed closely by "Please forgive me."
  3. "I love you" is a distant third behind these others, because without the ability to say and mean the words "I was wrong," and "Please forgive me," all the "I love you" in the world will mean little.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Are you stimulated yet?

From Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), here's the latest list of allegedly stimulating items in the Barack Obama Economic Recovery PlanTM:

• $8 billion for high-speed railway (including an earmark for an Los Angeles to Las Vegas MagLev)
• $1 billion for the “FutureGen” not-ready-for-primetime near zero emission plant in Illinois
• $53.6 billion for the “state stabilization” slush fund
• $1.3 billion for Amtrak
• $24 million for USDA buildings and rent
• $176 million for renovating Agricultural Research Service buildings
• $290 million for flood prevention activities
• $50 million for watershed rehabilitation
• $1.4 billion for wastewater disposal programs
• $295 million for administrative expenses associated with food stamp program
• $1 billion for the 2010 Census
• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries
• $650 million for the DTV converter box coupon program
• $360 million for construction of NIST buildings
• $830 million for NOAA research and facilities
• $2 billion for Byrne JAG program
• $10 million to combat Mexican gunrunners
• $125 million for rural communities to combat drug crimes
• $1 billion for the COPS program
• $1 billion for NASA
• $300 million to purchase scientific instruments for colleges and museums
• $400 million for equipment and facilities at the NSF
• $3.7 billion to conduct "green" renovations on military bases
• $375 million for Mississippi River projects
• $10 million for urban canals
• $5 billion for weatherizing buildings
• $2 billion to develop advanced batteries for hybrid cars
• $3.4 billion for fossil energy research (possibly including an earmark for FutureGen)
• $5.1 billion for environmental cleanup around military bases
• $5.5 billion for "green" federal buildings
• $300 million for "green" cars for federal employees
• $20 million for IT upgrades at the Small Business Administration
• $200 million to design and furnish DHS headquarters
• $210 million for State and local fire stations
• $125 million to restore trails and abandoned mines
• $146 million for trail maintenance at National Park Service sites
• $140 million for volcano monitoring systems
• $600 million for the EPA Superfund environmental cleanup program
• $200 million to clean up leaking underground storage tanks
• $500 million for forest health and wildfire prevention
• $25 million for the Smithsonian Institution
• $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
• $1.2 billion for "youth activities" (for "youth" up to 24 years old)
• $500 million earmark for NIH facilities in Bethesda, MD
• $1 billion for Head Start
• $32 million for home-delivered nutrition services
• $160 million for volunteer programs at the Corporation for National and Community Service
• $500 million earmark for the SSA National Computer Center in MD
• $220 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico

Many of these items are paid for under the regular appropriation process. So why the rush to get them in this monstrosity of a bill? And why the hurry to pay for all this stuff at a time when we are already running huge deficits?

Clearly, this is change we can believe in. What a sick joke that turned out to be.

The Interpretation of Dreams

So last night I had a dream. I dreamed of an all you can eat buffet, with lobster, fresh-grilled cheeseburgers and steaks, hot onion rings, and fresh pie all on the menu. I have no idea where such a buffet exists, but I'm sure I've never been to it. I just hope that "dreaming about food" is one of the stages on the Weight Watchers path to success...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day Reading

Since Valentine's Day is coming, and since we all need a little helpful encouragement now and then, let me recommend Michelle Weiner-Davis' site. It has tons of resources, including this helpful article that really got my attention.

Why Should I Be The One To Change?

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Satellite TV

We recently got satellite TV at our house, along with the greatest invention since the printing press, the DVR. This means that I can record things I want to watch without requiring either: a degree in engineering (like my old VCR) or even my physical presence. This also means I always have the latest in quality deer, bear, and elk hunting entertainment at my disposal, along with movies I haven't gotten around to renting, and the latest episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. That's the plus side.

In the negative column, we have ads for products to solve masculine shortcomings, and the Sham-Wow. To which, all I can say is, "I could have gone my whole life without seeing, or hearing, that."


Years ago, during my first week of seminary, Pastor Tommy Nelson spoke in chapel on "12 Landmines of the Ministry." It was a series of messages that have shaped my subsequent ministry and thinking about the church more than anything else outside of the Bible. One of the 12 landmines was the love of money. I could hardly believe he was even bringing it up. After all, to a person his audience was filled with people who didn't have any money to love.

But it is a landmine. And it's one that I have stepped on more than once, as I suspect most people, and most pastors have. It's so easy to have the deepest desires of our hearts be centered around the pursuit of more-more stuff, more exotic and better vacations, more and better restaurants, and so wearyingly on.

I've been thinking about that a lot this week as I prepare to preach on the discipline of simplicity. Because while I am far from being wealthy, God has provided much more than the basics of life for my family and I. In fact, if it really came down to it, we could live rather well on much less, albeit not without some major readjustments (selling our house and moving to a smaller one, selling my truck, etc.). I suspect the same is true not just for pastors like me, but for most other people I know. So why the discontented feelings at times? Why the constant longing in our hearts for the "new and improved," version 2.0 of our lives and our stuff? Why the problem following a man who had no place to lay his head?

At the root of it, I think, is the fact that our desires our fundamentally disordered by our sin. And so we are frequently willing to trade our faithfulness to God for service to Stuff, not realizing that there is more to want out of life than simply better stuff.
Father, help me to find freedom from slavery to my stuff. Help me to realize there is more to want out of life, and to find the rest my restless heart desires in Your presence. Amen.