Friday, January 29, 2010

5 Ways for Obama to dodge the coming tsunami

During a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, President Obama stated that he would rather "be a great one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." (I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist of the quote). That dichotomy obviously leaves out a few other options, like being a mediocre or even a terrible one-term president or being a good or great two-term one. Further, as much as I'd like to help President Obama find his way to ending his administration in 2012, I think there are things he could do, consistent with his priorities, which would be both good for the country and his presidential legacy. More importantly, they wouldn't represent his current, "give 'em more cowbell, keep kicking against the clear will of the people" strategy. And while I obviously don't hold out much hope that the President of the United States will read this blog, I do think that perhaps those of us who want our country to prosper regardless of the letter after the name of its leaders will consider and perhaps support the following things in the leaders they vote for this fall:
  1. Scrap the current health care plan and go simpler. Like the lady who runs the scrap yard in Mystery Men, the only words I know in response to the current plan on offer are "Junk it!" Seriously. J-u-n-k- i-t. It's overly complicated, won't achieve much in the way of insuring the uninsured and will radically drive up costs while limiting choice. What's the upside to this bill? Health insurance reform should ideally be three things: portable, individual, and cheap. Thus, I think that a good reform policy would tie insurance to the worker rather than his job, eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions, allow rate-for-risk, eliminate restrictions on inter-state policies sales (under the Interstate Commerce and Equal Protection clauses of the Constitution), and give the tax exemption for insurance to individuals rather than companies. This policy mix would, I believe, increase real wages as employers were freed from having to budget annually for unpredictable rises in premiums, lower costs due to increased competition (why shouldn't I be able to get quotes from all 2400 insurers in this country instead of the three available in my area?), decrease unemployment, and most importantly, be fair.
  2. Declare victory in Iraq. The war in Iraq is, effectively, over. Bush's surge worked as advertised. Throw the right a bone by admitting that Bush did a good thing, and throw the libs one by reducing our troop presence there by 75% from the current 107,000 and celebrate that we as a country did something against our cold-hearted self-interest. We brought freedom and voting rights to a country that knew nothing of either, and did so in the heart of the most oppressed region of the world. What's not there for a liberal to like? Moreover, this would be a great place to deploy some of Obama's patented no more red/blue rhetoric. As in, "WE, the people of the United States, not Republicans or Democrats, but as AMERICANS, defeated an evil dictator, overcame an Al-Qaeda stronghold, and set free 25 million Shiites, Sunnis, and Assyrian Christians." Immediately, commentators on the right would have "strange new respect" for Obama, and libs would have something to celebrate in that our troops are coming home.
  3. Surge into Afghanistan. If the Afghan war is worth fighting, then it's worth winning. So let's put enough boots on the ground to win, not simply enough to look like we're doing something, and taking casualties without gaining ground.
  4. Reverse course on Gitmo and stop granting citizen rights to terrorists. When your own Attorney General says that Gitmo is a Geneva Conventions compliant prison, what's the rush on closing it and moving its inmates here? Again, other than allowing for liberal moral preening, what's the legal, diplomatic, and national security/strategic benefit? More to the point, during WWII, we tried German spies as foreign combatants with military tribunals and summarily executed them. Further, the Geneva Conventions only apply to those in uniform with an identifiable chain of command (i.e., ranks). Now, I am not saying that we shouldn't apply Geneva protections to enemy combatants, but why not interrogate, try in military commission, and then execute or imprison as appropriate? That's surely a more legally, morally, and security-wise coherent policy of granting full citizen due process rights to KSM and his Gitmo ilk while Hellfire missiling suspected terrorists and their families overseas.
  5. Radically cut spending. Don't "freeze" certain categories of spending, or cut the rate of growth. Cut real spending entirely. Remove the "baselines" for all programs and set your total budget at less than $3 trillion (which was the 2007 budget) and veto any spending that exceeds it. When we're already spending more $ than we take in at a gigantic rate, you'd get credit for balancing the budget and generating a surplus, just like Bill Clinton. Dems could claim to be the party of fiscal sobriety and a lot of the "out of touch" sentiment would vaporize overnight. Fears that we are spending our grandchildren's inheritance would diminish and consumer confindence would improve. Dems would reap the electoral benefits and the economy would breathe easier. Of course, libs like Speaker Pelosi would hate it, but she'd swallow that a lot better than Steny Hoyer being the new minority leader come next January.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why She Stayed

Last night Karen and I watched and discussed the recent Oprah interview of Ted and Gayle Haggard. Ted is the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of Colorado Springs' New Life Church who lost both of those positions when his relationship with a male prostitute (who was also his meth supplier) came to light in 2006. These revelations caused the usual high level of embarrassment for evangelicals nationwide, as yet another of our prominent spokesmen went down in flames amidst moral compromise.

Now it's three years later and Ted and Gayle went on Oprah to promote her new book, Why I Stayed. For many people, that remains a question without a good answer. In fact, though I'm far from a loyal Oprah viewer, it was fairly obvious that Oprah herself is skeptical of the answer given-that Gayle loves her husband and forgave him even this, a most terrible and embarrassing betrayal. Anyway, here are my stray thoughts on the interview:
  1. Where is the language of sin and repentance in the midst of all the talk of forgiveness? Ted used to a Christian pastor, the leader of a large evangelical organization, no less. Yet while he frequently mentioned his therapist, and frequently talked about his gratitude to his wife for her forgiveness, there was not a word about God, never mind about Jesus. I found this a bit strange, considering that it's surely his wife's faith (and his?) which makes this forgiveness and change possible. Also, there was no talk about sin, and no discussion of how he had repented. Weird.
  2. Apparently, this was not the first time Ted had a sexual encounter with another man while he was married and his wife knew this. Yet Gayle was shocked when her husband admitted to having a gay affair.
  3. Ted claimed to have completely conquered his same-sex desires. I find that, frankly, incredible. I believe that Christians can have victory over sin, but I also believe that, especially when a sin becomes life-dominating, even after victory there remains an ongoing decision to continue on the road to repentance. That is, I don't believe there is complete healing of the difficult of sins until glory. I think he may be setting himself, and his wife, up for another big, very public, failure.
  4. Oprah seemed genuinely incredulous that Gayle could genuinely forgive. Moreover, the underlying assumption behind many of her questions to Gayle seemed to be "You're simply not a strong woman. You're enslaved to your patriarchal notions of marriage and family when you should have dumped this dude." Yet it seems to me that it takes a great deal of personal strength to endure the public humiliation and still stay with your spouse. It was a very Gospel-centered move. The cynic in me hopes that the Gospel and God's glory displayed before a watching world were her true motives, and not some other, baser instinct.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How 'bout a steaming helping of THIS!

The Obama administration is evidently considering lifting a 21-year-old ban on the importation of authentic haggis from Scotland. For the uninitiated, haggis consists of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep mixed with salt, pepper, oats, and suet and cooked inside the sheep's stomach (which is consumed, much like the casing on a sausage). This "culinary delight" was banned because of concerns about possible transmission of scrapie, a spongiform encephalopathy common in sheep and closely related to "mad cow disease." Apparently, those fears have proved unfounded, but for the life of me, I cannot imagine who in their right mind would eat such a thing (I mean, seriously, who first had this idea?), nor whose life would be made poorer by lack of access to authentic Scottish haggis.

If big government won't protect you from a haggis invasion, just what will it protect you from?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What this thing needs is a little more power!

I used to really enjoy watching Tim Allen's comedy and liked his show, Home Improvement. It was funny, clean, and well written. I also enjoyed the show's celebration of authentic masculinity. Tim the Tool Man might have been hapless at times, but he was a real man in the best sense-a TV dad who wasn't a complete bumbler, who seemed to be the leader in his home and to really love being a husband and father. On top of all that, there were the classic bits on manly items, like the Man Kitchen, the Man Sink Disposal, etc. Well, this morning a friend sent me the following item on what may well be the ultimate Man Snow Blower. Check this baby out!
If you're tired of anemic, one-lung snowblowers with their slipping drive belts, you might consider Kai Grundt's V8 snow blower which raises the bar on the traditional snow blower in every respect. With electric start, electric block heater, antifreeze heater and eight cylinders, it has no drive belts to freeze up and you'll never get bored with the job as the 454 cubic inch big block Chevrolet V8 produces 412 horsepower, 430 foot pounds of torque and can throw snow 50 feet(!) at just 3500 rpm.
Nor will you get cold as the machine has been ingeniously designed to route the engine coolant through the handle bars, with the rear mounted, enclosed radiator keeping the operator nice and comfy.
Maneuvering the massive beast (it has a total wet weight of 912 lbs) is a breeze thanks to the hydraulic-drive 4WD skid steer on independent walking beams which offers a zero turning radius. It's also as fast as you like, with an infinitely adjustable speed range on the drive wheels via dash mounted flow control. At the opposite end of the scale, it has more than enough torque to pull your car out of the ditch before the hydraulic motors stall!
Adding to the well-balanced feel of the unit, just 15 pounds of down force on the handlebars will lift the auger blade off the ground in order to climb stairs/walkways for ease of snow removal. Safety has and continues to be paramount with spring return to center "fail safe" type directional controls with emergency stop and tether cords.
Safety is one of the key theme, with a flashing blue light (as required by law in many areas) being the least of the safety features. No-one will fail to hear you with those twin throaty exhausts, which come standard with 92 decibels at the controls, though if the rumble of a V8 exhaust is music to your ears, you can obviously go much louder. Even at the standard baffling, hearing protection is strongly suggested.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wrestling with election

No, this is not another political post. I'm talking about sovereign election, the Bible's teaching that God really does choose those whom He wants to be His children and the corollary teaching that He has not chosen everyone to be saved. For the 2nd week in a row, I am wrestling through these issues with my Wednesday morning Men's Group.

That the Bible teaches election is obvious from even a cursory reading of the biblical text. After all, who has not at least heard of the Jewish nation referred to as the "Chosen People"? Indeed they are, but such references make no sense apart from the Bible's teaching concerning God's sovereign choice. That's the most obvious example of course, but consider God's choice of Abraham out of all the moon god worshiping pagans in Ur, of cheating Jacob rather than honest, if short-sighted, Esau, of Saul and then David and then Solomon as kings of Israel, and so on.

Moreover, Romans 9 is even more clear from the questions it raises and answers. For example, after writing for a while about God's sovereign choice of whom to save, Paul says this:
You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (v. 9:19-21, ESV)
It thus seems to me on reading my Bible in depth on this topic that any understanding of election in which God is not so sovereign in his choice that Paul's rhetorical question must arise is not a biblical understanding of it. I therefore find myself forced by the Bible's own words to embrace a strongly Calvinistic theology of election. That said, I am still not quite comfortable with it.

Specifically, my objections to election boil down to questions of mercy and caprice. While I don't want everyone to be saved (i.e., I like the idea of a heaven which does not include Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Alexander, Mao, Ceausescu, Che, the Castro brothers, and various other tin pot dictators and evil men), I also like the idea of a great wideness in God's mercy which encompasses most everyone except the most evil. Since God's Spirit can transform sinners into redeemed saints, why doesn't God do so in all but the most hardened cases? Or even do this with a few of the hardened cases just to make the point that God's mercy far exceeds even the greatest and deepest of man's sin? To put it another way, while it comforts me that God is perfectly just, so that He will finally balance the scales of cosmic justice, I find it at the same time disquieting that there will apparently be a lot of ordinary sinners (in other words, people like me) who go to hell. Since I am an ordinary sinner, but lots of other ordinary sinners will go to hell, does that make God capricious in his mercy?

Let me be clear: I do not think that God is either capricious or unjust. I believe rather, that God is unbelievably merciful by saving anyone, and my deepest reaction to the fact that His mercy includes saving me is one of indescribable gratitude. Yet there is still a part of me which longs for the salvation of people I know and love but who do not seem to be included in God's mercy with me. For them I grieve, and pray, and continue to wrestle with God. Moreover, I find comfort in my wrestling in Romans 9. For alongside Paul's strong statement of God's sovereignty ("Who are you, O man..."), you also find Paul saying this:
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsman according to the flesh...(v. 9:2-3, ESV)
So I guess I'm not alone in my wrestling. It's even in the Bible. I hope that those of you, my loyal readers, who are theologically inclined will keep wrestling along with me, struggling toward a deeper and fuller understanding of our mighty and matchless God and Father.

The Boston Massacre and the health care debate

Okay, so a six point political victory isn't quite a massacre. Nevertheless, Scott Brown's victory over Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the open Massachusetts Senate seat is historic in a way that is difficult to overstate. Consider the following:
  • Brown ran as a Republican, in a state in which only 12% of registered voters share that affiliation and in which registered Democrats claim more than 3x that.
  • Brown was running as a Republican to fill a seat that had been occupied by a member of the Kennedy family since 1952 and by Ted Kennedy since I believe 1966.
  • No Republican has been elected to the Senate in Massachusetts since the African-American senator Edward Brooke in 1972. In other words, there hasn't been an election that resulted in a Republican senator from Massachusetts in my lifetime.
  • Scott Brown openly campaigned as the 41st vote against (i.e., the filibuster vote) the Reid-Pelosi-Obama healthcare bill currently making its troubled way through Congress. This, despite the fact that the bill was former Sen. Kennedy's signature issue and was being promoted as his "legacy."
  • Pres. Obama came in to campaign for Coakley in a state he carried by 26%.
In other words, Coakley should have won in a walk. What this means for our national politics going forward is difficult to discern, because it is not yet clear how the Congressional Democrats and the President will respond to this unpredictable, quite stunning, development. As I see it, their options are the following:
  1. Admit defeat on the current bill and start over by negotiating with moderate Republicans in the House and the Senate. In other words, give the Left the shaft (since the hardest leftists occupy the safest seats) and try something centrist that both conservatives and real liberals will hate, but which will have the votes to pass and will give the President his earnestly sought "victory" on health care legislation. I don't think this option very likely, because a) Congressional Dems and the President have already invested so much political capital in this that it would be incredibly humiliating to walk back the bill; and b) Republicans know the bill is a dog, but that fact being obvious will help their party win more elections in the fall. If they offer a lifeline in the form of a compromise bill, that will hurt their party and help the Dems. What would be the upside?
  2. Push for a vote through the budget reconciliation process. This means only 51 votes are required in the Senate. The downside is that this maneuver is a little shady, and given the amount of shadow already covering the bill (the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the union carve-out, etc.), this tactic would probably serve to make the bill even less popular with the voters and make the resulting political fallout even worse. Worse for the Dems, it's not clear that 51 Democratic Senators can even be counted on to vote for this dog, since in light of yesterday's results, it's not clear what a "safe seat" even means anymore. If Ted Kennedy's Senate seat isn't safe, is anyone's?
  3. Slow-walk seating Brown and try to push through a bill with Paul Kirk (the man appointed Senator after Kennedy's death who is filling the seat Brown won in the special election). This option buys you, at most, a few more weeks to try to get a bill passed. There is only so much you can do to slow the certification and seating process. Moreover, the 17th Amendment's language clearly states that Kirk is no longer a senator as soon as one has been elected to replace him. So even trying this would result in a legal and constitutional crisis, which would again worsen the already negative effects of the bill on Dem electoral fortunes.
  4. Make the House swallow the Senate bill. This means that reconciliation of the bill only has to flow one way. Since the Senate has already passed it, Brown's election would no effect on the Senate vote; it would not be going back to the Senate for a re-vote after reconciliation with the House bill. However, the sticking point here is getting enough votes for the Senate bill in the House. The original House bill passed 220 to 215. Joseph Cao (R-La), will not vote to be the passing vote on a Democratic health care bill. Moreover, Robert Wexler (D-Fla) has retired and will not be replaced until the special election in April (which Dems may well lose). Thus they are down to 218 votes already. Finally, and most importantly, Bart Stupak and 10 of his pro-life Dem colleagues in the House have already said they won't vote for the abortion-funding language in the Senate bill. Which means there's little chance of passing the Senate bill in the House, or passing the bill without both houses having to re-vote on the reconciled bill (bringing Brown's vote back into consideration).
My prediction: Eventually there will be something passed which is labeled "health care reform." Dems don't want their President to be left without a victory on his most major domestic initiative. But, if it passes in anything resembling its current form, by whatever means, the Dems are going to lose huge in the fall. Republicans will very likely re-take the House (which may happen regardless) and will gain most of the contested Senate seats, if not control. Calls for repeal will be strong and extensive reform of the current "reform" will result instead. This will present the President with the choice of being either Carter or Clinton. If he goes the Carter route, blindly pushing his principled commitment to left-leaning government, he will wind up discrediting progressivism and his party for a generation and wondering what to do with the rest of his life on January 20th, 2013. If, on the other hand, he wises up before November (or even after), he can preside over divided government, accomplish moderate, more center-left type reform, and coast to re-election in 2012 as a popular New Democrat. I don't know which course he will take, but if the past year is any guide, I'd put my money on the Carter option.

Welcome, Miss Jane!

My brother Steve and his sweet wife Mandy had their second child yesterday after a long labor at the hospital in Indy. My beautiful newborn niece, Miss Jane Lillian Horn, weighed 7 lbs. 9 oz. when she joined us yesterday evening.

I can hardly wait to see this new little one and hold her in my arms. There's just something about little babies. Anyway, at the Horn house, we're praising God and thanking Him for a healthy girl and a healthy mom.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Playoffs

Being a Colts fan is often weird. In the last several seasons, darn few teams have had a better record. Yet there's only one Super Bowl ring so far to show for it. The primary reason seems to be the head coaches' obsession with "resting" their starters at the end of the regular season prior to the start of the playoffs. This has meant losing momentum, and usually, losing the first post-season game they play in. So it was gratifying on Saturday night to have victory after the same crazy process as before. It's also ironic that the Jets, a team let into the playoffs by the Colts literally throwing the game to them (can you say Painter as QB?), are now the team facing the Colts this Sunday in the AFC Championship. But, to quote the legendary Al Davis, "Just win, baby!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Brit Hume and Tiger Woods

By now, I'm sure everyone not living on Mars has heard that Fox News anchor Brit Hume said in an interview that he thought Tiger Woods should convert to Christianity. Predictably, a media firestorm erupted over a major network news anchor making such a statement- how exclusivist, can fill the rest. Anyway, here's a couple random thoughts on this. First, let me give props to Brit for boldness. I have no idea what flavor of spirituality Mr. Hume claims, if any. His statement seems to imply a preference for Christian faith which may reflect his own heart's commitments, but I don't know. Regardless, it is too often that case that our Constitutional separation of Church and State is used as a reason to separate the church from all of life except for what occurs within the church. But why should we allow speech from every perspective except a religious one? I admire Mr. Hume's willingness to offer a point of view which he had to know would get him scorned. Second, recommending conversion to Christianity is bigoted only if Christianity is not true. Follow my logic here. Our current cultural consensus treats all religious claims as matters of preference, all equally valid and acceptable. Thus, forcefully claiming superiority for one religion over another is viewed as akin to rabidly arguing for the superiority of orange Tic-Tacs over the mint ones-weird, rude, and since we're talking people instead of food, a bit bigoted. On the other hand, suppose that a man is having a heart attack. If one group argues "Take an orange Tic-Tac and then call 911", another says "No, take a mint Tic-Tac, then call 911", and a third says, "No, take an aspirin, then call 911." In this situation, what the third speaker is advocating is true. It really is the only one of the options which will help save the man's life. Thus, though it claims superiority over the other belief systems, it does so in an un-bigoted way. Going back to Mr. Hume's statement then, if it is true that conversion to Christianity will result in a moral reordering of Mr. Wood's life which is better than his current Buddhism, it isn't narrow, bigoted, or triumphalistic to state that fact, any more than it is narrow or bigoted to recommend aspirin instead of Tic-Tacs during a heart attack.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pastors' Meeting

I spent the biggest part of my day today with about a dozen central Illinois pastors. We spent our time talking about ministry in both its ups and downs, about hope, disillusionment, pain, and God's faithfulness. I heard more openness from these men in a few hours than I bet most of them have had with anyone other than maybe their wives in probably a long while. I sensed among them a deep desire to be found faithful by Christ mixed with a deep longing for eternal impact. To a man, they are hoping and praying that the task to which they have given their lives and for which they have sacrificed (in some cases, greatly), will be found in the End, to have been worthy of the Savior. Yet in the interim it seems that many of us worry that somehow, there has to be more to the ministerial life than what we are experiencing.

I'll bet that virtually no one in any of these congregations knows these things about their pastors. Yet I wonder if it would be good if they did? Would that kind of vulnerability help those in their flocks that feel the same way? Or would it be a wedge used against the man and a reason to dislike him or even release him from service? I've been around enough churches and heard enough stories from pastors over the years to know that it depends on the church, and that there would probably be some of both even in the healthiest places. Which is why these men talk to each other, where they feel safe, and not to many others, if at all.

Yet I can't help thinking that this is not the way the Church is supposed to be. It is not the healthy, after all, who need a doctor, but the sick. So why are people at the hospital so often offended when they find the ill and the dying in their midst?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Are YOU well pleased with Jesus?

I'm beginning a new sermon series this week. I'll be preaching through the Gospel of Mark a chunk at a time. This week, we get Mark's highly condensed account of the beginnings of Jesus' ministry from John's baptism through the calling of the first disciples in Galilee. Like all of the Synoptic Gospels, Mark records the voice of God saying from heaven, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

I read those lines again as I prepared for this week's sermon and also saw them repeated on a friend's Facebook status in the form of the question that titles this post (Thanks Robert!). Anyway, as I thought about it, it occurred to me that for many people, the answer to the question, "Are you pleased with Jesus?" is an emphatic "No." They aren't pleased with Jesus. Basically, these folks break down into one of the following camps:
  1. Hurting people. I know, I know, Jesus is the first person you should turn to when you are hurting. I believe that and have even demonstrated the truth of it with my life some of the times I've been hurting. Yet for a lot of people, and even for me in some moments, pain is the time when we are most displeased with Jesus. After all, how could He allow this (death, illness, loss, or other painful circumstance) to happen? More to the point, how could he let it happen to me?
  2. Religious people. Religious people never tire of being torqued with Jesus. I used to know some people who seriously argued that the water Jesus turned to wine wasn't really wine. They simply had no category for a Jesus who was both compassionate and enjoyed a glass of good wine with friends. Other religious people don't think God's grace extends to all kinds of sinners, but only to those who sin in the same ways that they do. To the religious, the real Jesus of the Scriptures seems a little too wild and unrestrained in his choice of crowd and in the selection of people to whom he ministered. Best to tone it down a bit, and put Jesus on a leash, they think. Wouldn't want any real sinners to get the idea they could worry about changing to a new way of life after they found forgiveness for their old one. Religious people aren't pleased with Jesus, or at least, not with the biblical one.
  3. Rebellious people. From a certain perspective, all people fit into this last category. Yet for some, this is where they spend their entire lives. They aren't so much displeased with Jesus as they are in full-fledged revolt against Him and against everything Jesus calls them to do. These are the people the religious look down upon, the real sinners: thieves, murderers, liars, adulterers, homosexuals, drug dealers, pornographers, etc., etc.
It occurs to me that many of us spend our lives in at least one, if not more, of these categories. It also occurs to me that in some sense a joy-filled life is directly tied to how much our thinking conforms to God's. So to the extent we aren't aligned with God's thinking on a particular issue or area of life, to that extent we will be displeased with Jesus.

So let me ask you: Are you well pleased with Jesus? If not, why not?

Greetings from the frozen tundra

We are in the midst of our fourth week as residents of the sub-Arctic region formerly known as Illinois. I grew up in the Midwest, so I'm used to it being cold in the winter, but what I'm not used to is it being this cold for this long. I mean, tonight the standing temperature (not the wind chill) is supposed to be -15 degrees. Those temps combined with the 12"+ of snow on the ground right now means we'll probably be really cold for a long while yet.

I've decided that if it is true that cow flatulence and SUV emissions are to blame for the "global warming" we're experiencing, then I'm going to start raising organic beef in my backyard and trade in both our vehicles on something a bit bigger, like maybe a Peterbilt...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I've decided to make some resolutions for the New Year in hopes that, by God's grace, I might see some of them come to pass. And let me be clear: I really do believe that for most of these, a large measure of God's grace is required for success. I'm simply not self-controlled enough to accomplish them by sheer discipline, nor enough of a legalist to believe that success without God's Spirit counts for very much of anything. Anyway, with those caveats in mind, here's my hopes for 2010:
  1. Increased Prayerfulness: I'm a pastor. I pray, preach, and shepherd for a living. Yet it's easy to slip into the habit of praying for your family and your church regarding the crisis du jour and not for much else. I want to remember to pray for the important things, not just the urgent ones.
  2. Renewed Hunger for God's Word: I've studied the Bible for 30 years, including 4 as a seminarian and 8 as a pastor. Along the way, it becomes easy for the Bible to become familiar and for a pastor to lose his sense of wonder and awe with respect to the Scriptures. I want to sense afresh the power of the Spirit's speech to me through the Word.
  3. Fresh Perspective: 2009 was a hard year for me on multiple levels. As I look back, I find that I finished the year more cynical, tired, and generally crabby and grumpy than I started it. Which is unfortunate, because even in the midst of the pain, there was a lot to be joyful about which I did not experience to the fullest. A new year brings fresh opportunities to remember that, if we are going to rejoice, it is going to have to be in this day, for it's the only one currently in our possession.
  4. More Romance with Karen: This year we will celebrate 14 years of marriage. We're a long way from our wedding day. But the fact that we're no longer newlyweds doesn't mean I can't bless my wife. I still long to know her more fully, to spend time alone with her, to talk, play, and walk through life at her side. I can write more notes, give more time and attention, and treat her with a higher degree of honor. I can plan more weekends away and evenings out. I can still make her feel the truth that she is my greatest treasure.
  5. Weigh less: I have weighed more than 200 pounds for the last 7 years. I'm sick and tired of being tired and heavy and at 36 I'm not getting any younger. Moreover, since I'm not going to get any taller, this needs to be the year when I get my weight in line with my height. This means adding aerobics to the weightlifting, writing down what I eat, and ceasing to eat when I've used up my calories for the day.
Here's hoping that some of you who read this blog will check in on me from time to time, just to see how I'm doing with these. I'll need your prayers and encouragement to make good on them all. And may God bless you all in 2010!