Now Reading

On thinking that God only has one begotten son – the rest of us are children by adoption – and that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers…This is pretty long, and it’s worth the read.

Our church is doing "Adoption month."  Yes, an entire month on the topic of adoption - and I had the following story a few months ago...it's great.

 PROOF” by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones - is a reworking of TULIP - I like the book.

“Because I’m Yours”

I never dreamed that taking a child to Disney World could be so difficult – or that such a trip could teach me so much about God’s outrageous grace.


Our middle daughter had been previously adopted by another family.  I [Timothy] am sure this couple had the best of intentions, but they never quite integrated the adopted child into their family of biological children.  After a couple of rough years, they dissolved the adoption and we ended up welcoming an eight-year-old daughter into our home.

For one reason or another, whenever our daughter’s previous family vacationed at Disney World, they took their biological children with them, but they left their adopted daughter behind with a family friend. Usually – at least in the child’s mind, this happened because she did something wrong that precluded her presence on the trip.

And so, by the time we adopted our daughter, she had seen many pictures of Disney World and she had heard about the rides and the characters and the parades.  But when it came to passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, she had always been the one left on the outside.  Once I found out about this history, I made plans to take her to Disney World the next time a speaking engagement took our family to the south-eastern United States.

I thought I had mastered the Disney World drill.  I knew from previous experiences that the prospect of seeing cast members in freakishly oversized mouse and duck costumes somehow turns children into squirming bundles of emotional insecurity.  What I didn’t expect was that the prospect of visiting this dreamworld would produce a stream of downright devilish behavior in our newest daughter.  In the month leading up to our trip to the Magic Kingdom, she stole food when a simple request would have gained her  a snack.  She lied when it would have been easier to tell the truth. She whispered insults that were carefully crafted to hurt her older sister as deeply as possible — and as the days on the calendar moved closer to the trip, her mutinies multiplied.

A couple of days before our family headed to Florida, I pulled our daughter into my lap to talk about her latest escapade. :I know what you’re going to do," she stated flatly.  “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?”  The thought actually hadn’t crossed my mind, but her downward spiral suddenly started to make some sense.  She knew she couldn’t earn her way into the Magic Kingdom — she had tried and failed that test several times before — so she was living in a way that placed her as far as possible from the most magical place on earth.

In retrospect, I’m embarrassed to admit that, in that moment, I was tempted to turn her fear to my own advantage.  The easiest response would have been “If you don’t start behaving better, you’re right, we won’t take you”  But by God’s grace, I didn’t.  Instead I asked her, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?”

She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed.

“Are you part of this family?”

She nodded again.

“Then you’re going with us.  Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong — but you’re part of our family and we’re not leaving you behind.

I’d like to say that her behaviors grew better after that moment.  They didn’t.  Her choices pretty much spiraled out of control at every hotel and every rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista.  Still, we headed to Disney World on the day we promised, and it was a typical Disney day.  Overpriced tickets, overpriced meals, and lots of lines, mingled with just enough manufactured magic to consider maybe going again someday.

In our hotel room that evening, a very different child emerged.  She was exhausted, pensive, and a little weepy at times, but her month-long facade of rebellion had faded.  When bedtime rolled around, I prayed with her, held her, and asked, “So, how was your first day at Disney World?”

She closed her eyes and snuggled down into her stuffed unicorn.  After a few moments, she opened her eyes every so slightly.  “Daddy,” she said, “I finally got to go to Disney World.  But it wasn’t because I was good.  It’s because I’m yours.”

It wasn’t because I was good…it’s because I’m yours.

That’s the message of outrageous grace.

Outrageous grace isn’t a favor your can achieve by being good; it’s the gift your receive by being God’s.

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Every once in a while, there is a book that I just cannot finish - it's not worth my time.

This month, it's a fiction book (murder and general mystery book) titled "Liquid Fear."

Even with the plot already laid out, I don't get it.

well, I do get it, but I'm not enjoying it. Others might, it's just not my deal.

For me, Book Fail

Reading "Surfing For God"

When I was in high school, my best friend's dad smoked a pipe.  Coming from a Baptist family, who were all non-smokers, had only used pipe cleaners in craft projects.  I was waiting for Denise one day, at their dining room table and amused myself with what was available.

Now...imagine the horror that she felt when she discovered that I had made little animals out of all of her dad's pipe cleaners!  Imagine my confusion when told her dad used "pipe cleaners" to...well...clean his pipes!  She was afraid that her dad would be angry at the wrong use of his pipe cleaners.

There was a legitimate use of the pipe cleaners that I didn't quite have the experience to "get."

(this is not a good parallel, but it meant something to me.)

In reading "Surfing for God," the author, Michael John Cusick, related a story:

My friend Danny is passionate about baseball. He is also deeply committed to working on his soul—understanding his brokenness and walking with Jesus to be restored. In 2005 we drove together to the Colorado Rockies’ opening day game. During our drive he shared that he hadn’t missed an opening day game in years.

Through his involvement in a men’s group, he realized that he “needed” to attend opening day the way an alcoholic needs a drink. Danny had recently discovered that opening day numbed the pain of growing up with an absent father because it symbolized the minimal time and attention his father gave him. His legitimate desire for fatherly involvement attached itself to a designer gift—a legitimate good.

But because attendance at opening day was an attempt to protect himself from the pain of his wound, the legitimate good became a counterfeit good. He was turning stones into bread. The game we attended was the first time his heart was free from the need to be there. (1)

It reminds me of something that C.S.Lewis wrote

If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. But in reality we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad... But pleasure, money, power, and safety are all, as far as they go, good things.

The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much...I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness.

Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled...In order to be bad he must have good things to want and then to pursue in the wrong way: he must have impulses which were originally good in order to be able to pervert them.(2)

Cusick echoes this:

Every gift from our Designer has a corresponding gift from the deceiver—a “shadow” gift. And you can bet your three hundred ringgits that every deceiver gift is a counterfeit. Satan cannot create anything; he can only take what has been created and twist it against its design. So, we are tempted to overindulge the Designer’s gift of food. We might make a god out of alcohol—turning to it addictively to meet all sorts of inner needs—or maybe we make a god out of not drinking alcohol. We are deceived into believing that deceiver gifts will actually make us flourish.(3)
.

So, something in the sermon on Sunday reminded me of those pipe cleaners, which triggered the memory of this segment of the book.

I had taken a "thing" with a use - a use for which the thing was made, and made something frivolous of it.   I cannot see making animals out of pipe cleaners as "bad" - but it certainly isn't the intended use.

Food isn't bad - God gave us the good gift of food.  But abusing food twists the good gift into a bad use.

God gave us the good gift of sex, with an intended good use.  We can twist that good gift by using it outside of the intended arena.

I've written on "lady porn" - trashy romance novels that twist the good gift of romance into mere fodder for emotional flights of fantasy.  This abuse of a good gift can twist a marriage into a competition of sorts, where the husband feels the need to live up to the "romance" of his wife wanting to be swept off her feet by a "knight in shining armor."

More and more current studies show that women share the porn problem with men.  Women may get different things from porn than men do, but the problem gets shared.  Women twist the good gift of sex and intimacy just as easily as men do.

Cusick wrote:

We begin our journey from slavery to freedom when we expose the counterfeits at the root of our brokenness and admit our thirst for the real thing.(4)

.When a woman uses porn (or lusty romance novels, or food, or anything else) because we thirst for something else...what do we thirst for?

When I feel stressed at work, I do this crazy thing:  I hit the quarter machine.  You know, you put in a quarter and turn the knob and it gives you 11 or 12 Good~n~Plenties.  But I can't just eat them.  I need to line them up...pink and white and pink and white...and I need to eat them in the right order.  When I thirst for order and control, I feel that I can quench that thirst by arranging and eating pink and white candies in the right order.  That's some sort of twisted...

Humans twist all sorts of things, and the point of this post centers on porn, but it doesn't need to...throughout life test all things...do you have the "right use" in mind?  or something else?

 

  1. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1174-1183). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. Lewis, C.S.  Mere Christianity, Book 2
  3. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1183-1187). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  4. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1195-1196). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

This was today's reading from "Everyday Prayers" - bringing to mind one of today's political hot topics.

(GSSR - "government sactioned same-sex relationship)

When caught between your faith conviction, and what the government says you should honor/do/buy...what do you do?

We hear "love the sinner, hate the sin."  And when the baker loved the sinners, made friends with them, served them baked good on birthdays and other non-wedding events...opted out of baking for a gay wedding, she got sued.

She was hating the sin, while embracing the sinner.  That didn't work.

Christians will increasingly face this challenge, and will increasingly find ways to comply with the law, while remaining true to their convictions...or will buckle to the state, giving up on living out their faith through their businesses.

The same is true for Christians getting married.

When the state gives you permission to marry, but what they're permitting no longer resembles "marriage" - how do Christians respond?

Do they get a "gender neutral" marriage certificate?  Do they opt out of statism?

"Everyday Prayers:

Though your kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18: 36 NIV), your kingdom has broken into this world and one day will utterly transform this world. Because this is true, Jesus, I need you to free me from both extremes of naive passivity and fear-mongering aggression. Very practically, show me what “obeying God and not men” looks like when the claims of your kingdom clash with the values of this world. How do I submit to the authorities for your sake while primarily only bowing my knee and heart to you as my King? (page 96)

I don't know what this will look like.  Will the state allow people of faith to enter into marriage covenants, outside of the state's approval?

In Michigan, a pastor who officiates at a wedding that does not have the state's approval, commits a misdemeanor.  Do we see "civil disobedience" in view here?  Can we see going outside the state's system as "obeying God rather than man?"

it all remains to be seen.

A couple of terms were introduced, both of which color the system's view of eschatology.

(note: the descriptions, as I understand them, apply only to end times.)

Dispensationalism: all things are interpreted literally, all promises to Abraham and David are yet to be fulfilled (no promises have already been fulfilled)

Preterist: most of all prophecies concerning the end times have already been fulfilled.

Riddlebarger explains that neither of these views are correct.

When Scripture uses figurative language, interpret it figuratively.  Dispensationalism takes the figurative and forces it into literalism.

Prophetic passages can also contain a "has passed, but has yet to come to pass" dual meaning.

Riddlebarger helps us understand that there were anti-Christ types before Jesus walked this earth, and that there have been many anti-Christs, and there will be more.

Therefore, since Antichrist has already come, remains with us today, and will come again, understanding the tension between the already and the not yet is the key to understanding what the doctrine of Antichrist actually entails, and understanding this tension enables us to know how we are to combat him.

Kim Riddlebarger. Man of Sin, The: Uncovering the Truth about the Antichrist (p. 36). Kindle Edition.

 

 

Just finished it the first time.

Still don't get it, so I'll blog through it.

the first piece I'll work through is the "why" - why are we so fascinated with the "anti-christ?"

Riddlebarger says that it's because we don't quite see "evil" as evil unless we can put a face to it.  Communism is bad, but unless we can put an evil dictator's face to it, we don't seem to connect it to life.

Another thing is that the "Left Behind" series put a name to him.  That makes it more tantalizing and we "see" more clearly.

But what we think we know (via end times fiction) might not necessarily be what the Bible says about the "man of sin."

~~~

Next question:  why am I interested in this topic?

End times in general, I think - everybody wants a glimpse into the future.  What will happen?  What will happen to those I love?  Will there be a rapture, or will we be here during the "great tribulation?"

I lean "a-mil" so I believe that Christians will be here during the great tribulation - we've been here before, we will be again.  The world hates us; and the more we love Jesus, the more they hate us.

Do I want to "date set?"  Since Christ left, Christians have looked forward to His return.  Is it near?  Is it far?  How do we know?

Is the Anti-Christ a sign?  Who is he?

In the end, curiosity brings me to this topic...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

``

 

How do these work together?

I started "The Daniel Plan" by Rick Warren (and others) - yeah, yeah...same old, same old.  But as something to work through, there might be some meat there.

Consider the introduction of the book.

Stewardship.  Stewardship over my body.

Friends, I’ve been a poor steward of my health and a terrible example for you. While we’ve been helping many around the world, I’ve ignored the problem here at home.

So today I am publicly repenting, and I ask for your forgiveness! God expects us to take care of the bodies he has given us, but I have not done that. Now, I’ve only gained two to three pounds a year, but I have been your pastor for thirty years. So I need to lose ninety pounds! Do any of you want to join me in getting healthy?

Committing to giving my body to God first, is a way of putting the physical focus on Him, away from me.

Yet, in this season of Lent, of preparation, of looking forward in time to the work of Christ on the cross...it seems like a good time to start this way of thinking about health.

My body is not my own, it was purchased by Jesus, with His blood.

Today we make the same common mistake Greek philosophers did thousands of years ago. Aristotle, Socrates , and Plato believed in dualism, 4 which included the idea that your mind (or spirit) is important, but your body isn’t important spiritually. They devalued the body. In fact, some Greek philosophers taught that your body is evil, so it really didn’t matter if you messed it up.

The Bible tells us the exact opposite. Your body is holy because God made it, and everything God makes has a purpose. We are to bring glory to God with our bodies, so we can’t compartmentalize our lives and think that we can divorce our bodies and live as if only our spirit matters. God owns your body!

Indeed, Jesus, you’re an engaged Shepherd, not an absentee landlord. Even as we make plans in our hearts, you are actively ordering our steps (Prov. 16: 9). Oh, the freedom and peace this brings! You are the Lord who “opens doors no one can shut” (Rev. 3: 8). And the converse is just as true; you also shut doors no one can open.

 

Our future is tied not to making the right decisions but to trusting the right Lord.

From "Everyday Prayers"

These days, all around us is the cry, "We worship the same God!"

But we don't.  Christians belong to a sovereign God who is in control of the universe.  Our future belongs to Him.

There was a time when I felt that - yes, there was a God, but I wasn't sure that He wanted me.  Coming from where I am now, I know that if I want HIM, He wants me.

For those of us dealing with job changes, financial stresses, and health issues, show yourself to be both merciful and mighty, Jesus. May your mercy keep us gentle and your might trump our impatience. For those of us having to make important decisions for the people we love, be huge and present. Long-term care for aging parents, the “right” education for our kids, the best treatment for family members and friends in the destructive whirlwind of addictions—make the way clear, Lord. As Prince of Peace, give us your peace as we wait upon you.

Huge changes are coming in my life.  Good changes, but hard changes also.  I'm leaving a great church, I'm leaving my kids (although I think I'll see them a lot.)   I hate moving.  I'm moving.  Addictive behavior of family members, all sorts of choices.

I pray for my family members, and my future family members.  Help me be patient, and pour Your mercy on us all.

I started this book once before and rarely do I find a book that is so antithetical to what I believe - that is presented as truth...that I am too distraught to read it.

"Allah - A Christian Response" is one of them

Three quotes:

What the Qur’an denies about God as the Holy Trinity has been denied by every great teacher of the church in the past and ought to be denied by every orthodox Christian today. I reject the idea that Muslim monotheism is incompatible with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

Let's start with the Doctrine of the Trinity

They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity, for there is no god except One God." (Qur'an 5:73)

Then: Jesus is the Son of God and **IS** God.

Christ the son of Mary was no more than an apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth! (Qur'an 5:75)

I recognize that the author makes his statement in a squishy sort of way...it is difficult to prove a negative.

But what is essential is that neither religion AFFIRMS what the other religion teaches about their God.

Christians believe that Jesus IS God.
Muslims believe He was a prophet and no more.

Christian believe that we worship one God in Three Persons...blessed Trinity.
Muslims believe that is blaspheme.

The effort to show that we worship the same God is an effort in a slight of hand.

So...yup.  Zero stars