Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Lowlight of My Year

It happened a little before midyear. Just about my whole family had been plugged in and very involved in our church. We were there early and late. We loved it. We ministered and were ministered to. However, bad things happen to good churches.

Here is some of what I learned: (A very condensed version.)

Pastors do bad things when tired. Our Pastor was exhausted. A dream job came along and he took it. He had been a good pastor. He really cared for my family and many others. He made a bad decision of who would take his place. He only knew the guy for a matter of weeks.

Some pastors are evil. Looking back now, I would have to characterize the guy who took his place as a wicked infidel and charlatan. I don’t use those words lightly. He was Mr. bible babble. He could say it faster than you could hear it. He destroyed our church. He didn’t care about people, only his pet doctrines.

Leaders need to be strong, not yes men. The men who were supposed to be the leaders in our church did not do their job. They took the departing pastor’s recommendation of the new guy. They didn’t look into his background. If they had, they would have been warned of what was to come, by what he had done in the past. When his evil ways were exposed, they were afraid to oppose him.

Not all pastors are pastors; some are hirelings. John 10:12 says: He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. Sadly, this is what happened in our church. I don’t use this towards our senior pastor. After things blew up, he tried to make things right and through his actions the bad guy left. It was true of the associate pastor. Like a coward, he ran away.

Some pastors really care. Thankfully, we had a place to go when things fell apart. Our former youth pastor had started a church almost a year before. He gave us a place to land with no strings attached. We found a new home and a place to heal. He is real and cares for people.

You have to get back on the horse. There are not words sufficient to describe the devastation and broken lives left after this disaster. It was like being hit in the stomach. People were reeling. They were hurt and disillusioned. Would they ever trust again? But as the old saying goes, you have to get back on the horse.

All men will disappoint us. Only Jesus won’t. He is the only one we can put on a pedestal or give complete trust. We can’t give up because of what people did or didn’t do. Be assured, they or someone else will do it again.

We need other people. The devil tries to isolate us. When we are hurt is when we need people the most. We need someone to watch our back, to speak words of comfort, to point out our sin, to be a friend.

So, there it is. I know it’s raw but it’s real. I hope that the condensed version doesn’t leave too much unsaid and hopefully too much hasn’t been said.

Should I mention some highlights? Check back for that. In the meantime, what was a highlight or lowlight of your year?

Philip

Kill Them Quick

I came across this article in today's Denver Post (click on it to read). It advocates the screening of all pregnant women for Down syndrome. Previously, screening could only be done later in pregnancy. Now a test is available that can be done in the first trimester.

It was very interesting that the goal of the screening was never mentioned; it's abortion. The goal of the earlier testing is not to do something to help the mother or baby, it's so a cheaper and easier abortion can be done.

I applaud the parents who refuse to do these kinds of tests. I applaud the ones who refuse to label Downs children as not worthy of life or the extra care we might have to give them.

I wonder what the future might hold. Will these kinds of tests become mandatory? Will insurance companies not want to cover the Down child's medical expenses because it could have been prevented? Will prolife doctors be charged with malpractice if they refuse to advocate the screening?

Refuse and resist the slide towards barbarism and death.

In the battle for life,

Philip

Here is a link for more information:
National Right to Life on prenatal testing

Learn and Press On

From my morning reading

It is not by regretting what is irreparable that true work is to be done, but by making the best of what we are. It is not by complaining that we have not the right tools, but by using well the tools we have. What we are, and where we are, is God's providential arrangement,--God's doing, though it may be man's misdoing; and the manly and the wise way is to look your disadvantages in the face, and see what can be made out of them. Life, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who makes the fewest false steps. He is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victory out of mistakes.

F. W. ROBERTSON

From Daily Strength for Daily Needs, by Mary W. Tileston

This is encouraging. God can help make good from my bad. I can forget the past (after learning from it) and press on to the future. This is a good thought as we finish one year and begin another.

Philip

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Handicap Awareness

From my morning reading

1 Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

About 15 years ago, my wife broke her leg the day before she was to read Scripture before a large Christian gathering. After first aid was administered, we were told that she had to ride a wheelchair for the coming week. I became her loving and willing servant to push her to her public duties and private needs. Needless to say, we both got a major lesson in care for the handicapped. We have never been the same since.

What does this have to do with 1 Corinthians 8:13 ? Paul stated that the Corinthian church had people with weaknesses who were in danger of stumbling. Most of the meat sold in the public market was left over from pagan rites. New converts from paganism were in danger of returning to the offering of meat to idols and thus slipping away from the faith. Strong, mature Christians knew that idols were a figment of the imagination, so they had no qualms about buying and eating such meat. Some new converts, however, believed that such meat was contaminated with evil forces and therefore abstained from it.

How should these opinions live together in one church? Again, love for the other person outweighs one's rights and privileges. The strong dare not offend the sensibilities of the weak. What sensibilities of new Christians do you need to respect?

O Lord, please help me to respect and love the brethren as You do. Amen.

From GOD'S MAN
A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character
Edited by: Don M. Aycock

Here is what really struck me about this reading: love for the other person outweighs one's rights and privileges. We are a rights society. So often, the decider is that it's my right. When we talk about something being not fair, it means we didn't get what we want.

James 4:1-2 says this: What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don't they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask.

This attitude manifests itself in our homes, our churches, at work and in the world around us. How different things would be if love for the other person was our motivation. Sometimes we don't want to do that because the other person is just being weak. Why do I have to abstain because they have a problem with ____ ?

It's hard! I want what I want. Maybe I'll give you what I want if I still get what I want.

The reality is that many times there is a certain pleasure and joy that comes when we defer. Not my will but thine. We may give up one thing but we gain another. Jim Elliot said: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

I want this. I want love. I want to learn to love others as I love myself.

Philip

Friday, December 29, 2006

Snow Update

Here are a couple of pictures of the snow as of 7am this morning. We got about a foot so far and may get a few more inches over the next couple of days. At least that's the guess at this point. You can compare these pictures to the ones in the last post and see the before and after.

I spent about two hours this morning moving snow. Since it is below freezing, as soon as the top snow was moved, the slush on the bottom froze. I took my work van out to see the streets and once I was off the side street it was good. The side streets are very rough especially where they meet the main roads.

I hope our trash gets picked up today. Last week was skipped and we are at max capacity. I do feel sorry for the guys who have to do it though. Same for the mail carrier.

Philip

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Update

We are on the verge of another big snow here in Denver. I wonder if travel around the side streets will be worse than last week since a lot of the old snow is still around with a lot of ruts in the street?

Thankfully we have a snowblower. I think I would have been one of the fatalities last week if we didn't.

I am not planning to work tomorrow. I didn't have anything scheduled and will leave it that way. Last week I had two very urgent jobs that I ended up doing on Friday. One was installing phone jacks in a home that a customer had just moved into. In the process we found that the former owner had cut the phone line to the house down in the crawl space. Try to figure that out.

The second job was assembling Christmas presents for the grandkids of a regular customer. Very important! They live in Cherry Hills which is a country like setting south of Denver. Their home is about two blocks from the plowed dirt road. From there it hadn't been plowed. I ended up having to park in a lot about a half mile from their home . They came in their four wheel drive and picked me up. That was different. The ride back to my van was in the Porsche Cayenne SUV. It did really well as it cleared the snow with it's bottom side. Life is rough.

I'm reading a couple of books. I'm taking my time with both as the content is so good. As soon as I finish I will pass on some of the details. Here is a clue: one is about making marriage better and the other is about why we should be married verses remaining single.

It will soon be a new year. I was thinking yesterday about one of the major lowlights of this past year. There are some good lessons to be learned from it but it's a little hard to write about without stirring up too much emotion. I'll see what I can do on that around the first.

Well, one good thing about the coming snow is that aside from clearing snow, I'll have some time to read. That part I will look forward to.

Philip

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

For the Faustin family, today was the time for family gifts. It is a tradition that started many years ago when we would end up with visits to extended family on Christmas day. So we began getting up on Christmas eve morning and exchanging gifts from each other. Another tradition is tamales and a Mexican fiesta after opening gifts.

One thing different this year is we discovered that the video camera was broken so there will not be a film record of this years festivities. That will probably be the most missed thing as it is so fun to look back years later and see how cute the kids are and how much they have changed.

Tomorrow on Christmas day, we will have another great meal and more visits with family. What a blessing it will be.

Every Christmas I remember back to 1973. It was October 14th of that year that Jesus invaded my life. No. it wasn't forceful or in the warped Calvinist way, but as a result of realizing that I didn't know Him and an awakening that I needed Him. At around 7pm that night I made a decision. I didn't know exactly what it was going to mean but I decided that I wanted to follow Him. In that moment a transformation happened in my life. The next day I wanted to tell people at work about it.

Day by day, He has been with me. Day by day, He has been changing me. Little by little, I am becoming more like Him.

So, I remember every year since then what that Christmas eve was like in 1973. I sat by the tree in our house with only it's lights visible and understood like I never had before what Christmas meant. It's all about Jesus. God came as a man to save me from my sins. He conquered death and sin so that I could be free.

Thank you Jesus.

Philip

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Debt of Honor

From my morning reading

1 Peter 2:17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Do you remember what people typically said during the last political campaign? Many of them verbally attacked and cursed the candidates who were running for office. Have you ever paid attention to what the fans usually say at sporting events? The language is what I call "trash talk." Have you ever listened to what your coworkers say about the people who run the company? They often sneer at and ridicule the officers.

1 Peter 2:17 directs us to show respect to everyone, which means that we are to speak in a respectful and affirming way about others. The Lord wants us to give all people the gift of dignity that is theirs because they are created in His image. This point remains true even though people do not always deserve to be given respect. In the play Man from La Mancha, the honor and respect with which Don Quixote treats Dulcenia challenges her to become an honorable woman.

Honor all people so that they might be encouraged to live up to that honor. Also, be sure to love the brotherhood, thus encouraging them to respond in kind. Above all, revere God, for He is your Lord, and respect the authorities, who serve in His name. Doing so will greatly please your Maker and Master.

Dear God, please help me to give people the respect and affirmation that they should receive as those who have been made in Your image. Amen.

From GOD'S MAN
A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character
Edited by: Don M. Aycock

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

For Men Only

Now that I’ve got all the women looking… just kidding, really, I was joking, ow!

I finished reading this book last night. Now I’m going to have to go back and take it one step at a time and try to put it into practice.

The book goes a long way in helping men understand women. After many years of marriage, I’m slowly realizing how important that is. As we look at our spouse through “me” colored glasses, we end up with all kinds of misunderstandings, not to mention hurt feelings.

In the front of the book there is a quick start guide that identifies six key findings about women. The chapters build on them.

Here is a taste: one finding from each of the sections.

Why does she…?

  • Ask, “Do you love me?” even though you just said “I love you” this morning?
  • Out of nowhere, bring up something that happened two years ago?
  • Say she doesn’t feel close to you, when you two are married, in the same house, and sharing the same bed.
  • Say she doesn’t want you to fix it, she just wants you to listen? And what does that mean anyway?
  • Say she doesn’t feel “close enough” for sex—when sex would bring you closer.
  • Ask, “Do these pants make me look fat?”

So there you have a little of what you will find in the book. It really is interesting to hear the answers to these and many other questions that highlight the amazing differences between men and women. And thank God that we are different; life would be boring married to a clone.

I should also mention that the companion book is called For Women Only. I won’t say anything about that.

Philip

Monday, December 18, 2006

What is Purity?

On Focus on the Family today, the broadcast was about teens and purity. I had heard parts of it before but this time it really hit me.

It seems that even though I know sex is happening earlier, I am amazed when I hear the details of what is really going on.

According to a survey, at least 50 percent of kids ages 11-18 are engaging in oral sex. To be honest, I don’t think I even heard of it until my late teens. The sad thing is that they don’t even consider it as having sex. In some places it is called Christian sex because that’s what the Christian kids do. When that was brought up, a question was asked: “Are you finding that Christian kids don’t even understand what it means to be pure today?” The answer was that many see it as a line in the sand; as long as they don’t technically have sex, as long as they don’t lose their virginity then they can do anything up to that line and still be pure.

That made me wonder how we should define purity and what guidelines should be conveyed. What we have said in the past is to save sex for marriage and that true love waits. Are we losing the battle because things have been redefined so kids are doing certain things while thinking they are still pure?

The old question was: “how far is too far?” Can that be defined? Is anything too far or is everything short of intercourse okay? Can you kiss passionately as long as you don’t use your hands? Can hands caress certain places and it still be okay? Now I’m not talking of kids whose intention is to get away with as much as they can. I’m thinking of the ones who do want to be pure and to save sex for marriage.

One thing I have advocated previously is that physical boundaries need to be in place and there shouldn’t be too much privacy. That will help keep good intentions in place.

In Real Sex, Lauren Winner spoke of the guidelines that she and her fiancĂ© put into place. There was a very public place on their college campus called the Rotunda that they would walk past on their dates. A friend gave them this piece of guidance: “Don’t do anything sexual that you wouldn’t be comfortable doing on the steps of the Rotunda.” That was their line. She said they would kiss to their hearts content on those steps.

I think that fits with my boundary idea. Before marriage, certain aspects of the relationship need to be very public. You have to admit that standing on those steps is a lot different from sitting in the back seat of a car or snuggling on the couch at your girlfriend’s apartment with no one else around.

With something like the Rotunda rule, the boundaries were on display before friends. Lauren said it established a discipline – almost like a budget. It (the spending) could be done without guilt or concern because the boundaries had been set out before with clear thought.

So what do you think? How should we specifically define things? What kinds of Rotunda’s can we establish? I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Feel free to post a comment anonymously.

Philip

Being Constructive, Not Destructive

From my morning reading.

Acts 23:5 As Paul stood before the Sanhedrin, he declared that he had served the Lord with a clean conscience ( Acts 23:1 ). When Ananias commanded an attendant to strike Paul on the mouth, the apostle stated that God would judge the high priest for giving such an illegal order (vv. 2-3). And when Paul was questioned about the appropriateness of his statement, he claimed that he did not know he had spoken against the high priest (vv. 4-5).
The apostle mentioned Exodus 22:28 , which prohibits speaking evil of a ruler. This commandment seems to be broken quite frequently these days. For example, we are not shy about saying uncomplimentary remarks about those in charge of our communities. Sadly, Christian public speakers seem to be in the forefront of those who are uttering unwholesome statements about elected and appointed officials.

Rather than be cynical and suspicious of those in authority, we should pray for them ( 1 Tim. 2:1 ). For example, we can ask the Lord to be merciful to them, and we can express thanks for the job they are doing (v. 2) . Also, we can pray that God will use the rulers over us to maintain law and order so that we can live in peace and quietness as well as godliness and dignity (v. 3) . Perhaps most importantly, we can pray for their salvation (v. 4) .
Dear God, please help me to be constructive, rather than destructive, in my demeanor toward those in authority over me. Amen.

From GOD'S MAN
A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character Edited by: Don M. Aycock

We should apply this to our church leaders as well. It's way too easy to express our thoughts, feelings and criticisms to each other and not to the ones we should.

Philip

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Disposals Are For Babies Not For Fish

Click on image for readable article.

In reading today’s Rocky Mountain News and I came across an interesting article. The basic story is some guy breaks into his ex-girlfriends house and throws her little fish into the garbage disposal. Yes, he flipped the on switch.

For breaking into her home he was rightly charged with criminal trespass, a felony. The bizarre addition is that he was also charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, which is also a felony.

Please understand that I’m not minimizing the true criminal act this guy did. He should be punished for breaking into the home.

I looked at the cruelty statute (Click here for CRS 18-9-202) and I guess I’m guilty as well. I must confess that I have stepped on bugs just to squish them. I have taken a magnifying glass and caused caterpillars to burn. I have ripped the legs off bugs. I’m serious, these things are criminal acts from my reading of the law and the interpretation that the Denver District Attorney’s office is giving to it. We have some sea monkeys in the window and the water is looking a little cloudy; is this criminal neglect? When we flushed the goldfish down the toilet, were we flirting with jail time?

Now here is my real point. There are people who are outraged and cry because a fish was ground up in a garbage disposal but they would defend the right of an abortionist to kill babies and grind up their little bodies.

Back in 1992 I was involved in publicizing such an activity. It was at the Mayfair Abortion mill in Aurora; it’s still there. The short story is that Curtis Stover, an abortionist from Arkansas, was going to buy the place from James Parks. He was learning how to operate the business and how things were done. At the end of the day came the time to deal with the babies. An old-fashioned meat grinder was assembled and one by one, the baby’s bodies were ground up and flushed down the sink. Dr. Stover ended up vomiting when he observed this. Now imagine that from a guy who makes his living dismembering babies.

In the end, nothing was ever done. It’s completely legal to kill human babies and do whatever you want with them after that.

Just remember, grinders are for babies not for fish.

Here is the material that Stover sent to the Colorado Health Department.

In mourning for our culture,

Philip

Keep Clear

From my morning reading.

The dominion of any sinful habit will fearfully estrange us from His presence. A single consenting act of inward disobedience in thought or will is enough to let fall a cloud between Him and us, and to leave our hearts cheerless and dark.
Henry Edward Manning

From Daily Strength For Daily Needs
- Mary Tileston

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Go Figure

From my morning reading.

Leviticus 6:1 -5 We've all heard the old saw, "Figures never lie, unless liars figure." You don't have to be a liar to get into trouble with figures. Did you hear about the statistician who drowned crossing a river? Its average depth was only three feet. Averages may not lie, but they don't tell the whole truth!

In Leviticus 6 Moses sets forth some legal standards for dealing with the crimes of embezzlement, extortion, perjury, and theft. The average person today would certainly agree that we need laws against such crimes. But would the average person agree that finding a lost item and telling a little fib to keep it is a "crime"? How about borrowing a power tool from a friend and conveniently forgetting to return it? Or failing to draw attention to the box of laundry soap on the bottom of the grocery cart that the checkout person missed? Maybe the issue is a ream of paper taken from the office and sitting by the printer at home?

What the "average" person would do is hardly the correct standard when it comes to questions of honesty and integrity. God's standard is, "You shall not steal." Period, end of discussion. Stolen property must be returned, and restitution must be made. The Mosaic law mandated a payment of 120 percent of the value of the stolen property, and the guilty party was required to provide a guilt offering: a ram without defect or its equivalent in silver.

For the Christian, the guilt offering for sin was paid by a Lamb without spot or blemish. We can be forgiven, but forgiveness doesn't eliminate the responsibility of restitution if we have taken advantage of another person or a company. Maybe our offense isn't a crime, but it does show a lack of integrity, a failure to respect the rights and property of others.

Let's start by looking in the garage or workshop--is that your brother-in-law's power saw? Put a new blade on it and return it with an apology for keeping it so long. How about the extension ladder behind the garage? Take it back to the neighbor with a coffee cake as an extra thank you. How many company pens, pencils, or other office items clutter the top of your dresser or desk at home? Paper clips? Sure, everyone accumulates a few, but what about the box you borrowed from the supply cabinet?

Coming clean before God may mean cleaning up around the house first. Sure, the average person wouldn't think twice about taking a towel from a hotel room or about how many ink pens are in his desk drawer, but a Christian isn't an average person--he's under new management with a mandate to not accept business as usual. Now, go figure

My world is filled with ethical shortcuts,Lord. The world's way of getting things done has no sharp edges, only rounded moral corners. I want the sharpness, the exactness of your way, Father, that cuts through the self-deceit and wrongness of the world's way. Amen.

From GOD'S MAN
A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character
Edited by: Don M. Aycock

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another Pastor Resigns

A friend called with the news. Had we heard? It was homosexual sex again. Another pastor, family, church, and community affected.

Maybe this is the next wave. It won't just be evangelical leaders getting busted for adultery but it will be homosexuality.

A while back Mark Driscoll, a big church pastor was giving advice to other pastors on how to avoid problems like the Ted Haggard situation. One bit of advice was to have a male assistant rather than female. So much for that. Oh by the way, Driscoll was dumb enough to indirectly implicate Haggard's wife. He speaks of some pastor's wives "who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness." Shove foot into mouth Mark.

There is a lot of analysis in these situations of trying to figure out how a guy ends up in such a high place and in such trouble. I wish I knew; that would make it a lot easier. One thing it should do is throw a serious scare in us. What it shows is that none of us are safe. It doesn't matter what we did in the past, what our title is, etc. It also shows that sin is serious. There must have been a place where each of these guys made small compromises that grew.

Remember the following lines:

Sin will take you places where you don't want to go.
Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.
Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay.

May we remember those words when temptation comes. The choices we make will have consequences - good or bad. We will become stronger or weaker.

Another thing to remember is that sin will be exposed either through humility and confession or judgment.

Here is the reality: none of us are perfect. All of us struggle with sin and a lot (most?) of the time we fail. What are we going to do when we find ourselves failing and failing? The only answer is humility, confession and accountability. We need to have someone we can talk to about what is going on in our lives. Someone who can help us get a good perspective on where we are and what needs to be done. The Lone Ranger will soon be dead. We have to get away from the self sufficient person syndrome. I can't do it by myself;I need others. If you don't have that going on in your life then you better get it going. Find someone of the same sex that you can be real with. Take small steps to transparency.

"The Bible says to humble yourself because if God has to humble you it's too late."

C. Peter Wagner

Philip

Links to story:
Denver Post
Channel 7

Monday, December 11, 2006

To my Pastor

On the loss of your unborn child.

Dear Dan and Trina,

Both of you and your little one fill my thoughts today. I want to tell you how much I love you and want to share in your grief.

So many questions wander through our minds. Why? Why at all if for so short a time? I sit quietly with you. I wonder also.

The answers seem to come so slow; sometimes they seem not to come at all. It makes me feel so small. But then, He is so big.

God, we ask you why. Do you hear us? I know you do...? I know that you have reasons. Can I wait? I’m not sure but I will try.

I hear that your little one was beautiful, tiny fingers and toes. He lives now. He is with Jesus, leaping and running. Asking questions. More alive than we can comprehend. Your separation from this one is so painful but the day will come when you will be reunited. I look forward to meeting him. Maybe the children Wendy and I lost will introduce us. I’m sure they know each other by now.

That joy is for the future but sorrow is in our hearts today. I wish we could wash it away. It wears off so slowly.

I really don’t know how to express it but both of you are so special to me. I want to reach my arms around you. Your loss is ours also. I hope we can bear some of your burden.

I pray that God will shower you with His blessings, flood you with his love and that your sorrow may be swallowed up in joy. Weeping lasts for a night but joy comes in the morning. It is now night and weep we must; and we wait. It will surely pass. The night must give way to the morning sun. The joy will come.

There is a big place in my heart for you. It will always be. I pray that the future will bring us all closer.

May His fullest peace be yours,

Philip

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Cheaper Than Dating?

I have driven past the Secrets Adult Store billboard many times. Their tagline, It’s cheaper than dating, has always bothered me.

Think about what they are talking about; it’s pornography and masturbation. A wife, husband, partner, date, whoever, has been replaced. All you need is yourself, some of their porn and you’re set.

I want to return to Lauren Winner’s book, Real Sex. I mentioned it in a post titled Bad Sex on November 27th. In Chapter six, two section titles are: Pornography: It Teaches You That Real Bodies Aren’t Good Enough and Masturbation: It Teaches You That Sex Happens Outside a Relationship.

Here are some quotes on pornography. Take the time to absorb what they say.

“Porn turns sex into something simultaneously fantastic and exploitative, removing it from the relational reality of marriage, importing outside standards into the bedroom, and thereby objectifying whatever living and breathing fleshly person one might later have sex with. Pornography is destructive because it communicates a tacit narrative about physical gratification without saying a thing about how sex really happens. It teaches its clientele expectations that are, simply, not connected to reality, to real men and women with real bodies (not to mention real souls, hearts, and minds).”

“Dude, all of my friends are so obsessed with Internet porn that they can’t sleep with their girlfriends unless they act like porn stars.”

“For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images' power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.”

The problem with masturbation:

“Masturbation teaches us that immediate gratification is a part of sex, and masturbation removes sex from a relationship. Indeed, the whole point of masturbation is to provide the release and pleasure of orgasm without the work and joy of a relationship.”

“…masturbating plunges us into a world of unreality. Rick's solution is to masturbate to I-porn. "Thing is, you can find a million girls just like them online," he says. "And they're naked, doing whatever you want them to do." This is, in Rick's own astute phrase, a "substitute for reality."”

Think about the guy who dials a 900 number and masturbates during phone sex. Your phone-sex lady may be talking passionate talk; she may be saying that she wants you; but in reality she doesn't know who you are. That a sexual act serves as a "substitute for reality" ought to give us pause. After all, we Christians are the people devoted to living the really real.

Above quotes from Lauren Winner, Real Sex (Brazos Press 2005) 110-117

The Secrets Adult Bookstore offers a cheap substitute for real sex; sadly many people fall for it.

Philip

Friday, December 8, 2006

Speakout in the Rocky Mountain News

This is cool.

This morning the Rocky Mountain News published a letter I wrote to the editor regarding the overpass ban. It was the featured Speakout which gives it a little better placement.

Click on the image to get a larger one for reading.

Here is the RMN link. It will probably disappear sometime in the future.

Philip

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Seven Deadly Sins

From my morning reading

The medieval church had seven deadly sins: pride, anger, envy, impurity, gluttony, slothfulness, and avarice. Proverbs 6:16 -19 gives us another version of these sins to consider. Of the seven vices there listed that God hates, five are associated with body parts (eyes, tongue, hands, heart, and feet) and two deal with types of people (liars and troublemakers). All seven vices are equal objects of the Lord's abhorrence, and all of them are taboo for men of God. The proud look reflects the haughtiness within one's soul and is opposed by God. A lying tongue is hateful to Him, for it contradicts the truth. God will avenge murderous hands for He alone is the Lord of life and death. A heart that devises wicked schemes is full of depravity, thus God condemns it. Feet that rush quickly to evil carry out the wicked schemes already devised in the heart. A false witness is odious to God. The one who stirs up dissension among believers destroys harmony and unity. The man whose eyes, hands, or feet perform such deeds has a perverted soul and therefore invites God's censure, not His commendation. What then does God commend? Among the virtues He applauds are humility, truthful speech, preservation of life, pure thoughts, eagerness to do good things, an honest witness, and the cultivation of harmony among believers. Are any of these qualities true of your life?
Dear Lord, please help me to make Your loves my loves and Your hates my hates. Amen.

From God's Man
A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character
Edited by: Don M. Aycock

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

So Much for Free Speech - 2


As expected, the Denver City Council passed a bill Monday night to outlaw protest on a highway overpass. See the So Much for Free Speech post from November 30 for more background.

It really is sad to see various rights eroded in this country. One thing that made us great was the right to free speech and the discourse that it brought about. As a teller of the truth I know that if I can get my message out it in the public square it will stand on it's own. I don't have to silence my opponent; I let our views battle it out knowing that truth will prevail over error.

Anyway, this isn't the end. When one door closes, God can open another. We have some very creative ideas in the works. It will be interesting to see them in action. We will watch the pro abortion Denver government chase us around saying we can't do that either. It's in those times that they really show their true colors.

In case you didn't know, if you click on the image you will get a larger version that you can read.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

O Holy Night

This is my favorite Christmas song. It was sang in church tonight. Spend some time thinking about it's incredible message.

O Holy Night
* J.S.Dwight & A.C.Adam, 19th Century

O holy night,
the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of
our dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world
in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared
and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope,
the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks
a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees,
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine,
O night when Christ was born!
O night divine, O night,
O night divine!

Led by the light of Faith
serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts
by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star
sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men
from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus
in lowly manger,
In all our trials
born to be our Friend!
He knows our need,
To our weakness no stranger;
Behold your King!
Before the lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King!
before Him bend.

Truly He taught us
to love one another;
His law is love and
His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break
for the slave is our brother
And in His name
all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in
grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us
praise His holy name!
Christ is the Lord,
Oh praise His name forever,
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim
His pow'r and glory
evermore proclaim.

My Bad

I read this book yesterday. The title is: My Bad: 25 Years of Public Apologies and the Appalling Behavior That Inspired Them. It was interesting, sad and humorous.

Here are two of them (If you want to know what inspired the apologies you'll have to read the book.)

"I think what I did was stupid. I hope it was temporary stupidity and not terminal."
Ted Simonson

"If in my low moments in word, deed, or attitude, through some error of temper, taste, or tone, I have caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived someone's fears, that was not my truest self. If there were occasions when my grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head, so limited in its finitude, not to my heart, which is boundless in its love for the entire human family."
Jesse Jackson

How's that for opposites?

I get hung up with apologies myself. I feel the need to correct the bad behavior before I say I'm sorry. The problem with that, is many times I forget and other times the correction is long term and in either case an apology is never given or way too late. If you ask my wife, Wendy, she would probably tell you I never apologize. I don't think that is completely accurate but I do think it shows that my system doesn't work.

What do you think? Should the words "I'm sorry" be said right away or does that seem a cheap way to get off the hook? What if you are not sure you are sorry?

What works or doesn't work for you?

Here is a World Magazine review of the book: Apologizing in public

Another column in World covers the issue of forgiveness and how difficult the real thing can be: The thing we don't do

Hoping for help.

Philip

Friday, December 1, 2006

When a Brother Falls

Look thou with pity on a brother's fall, But dwell not with stern anger on his fault; The grace of God alone holds thee, holds all; Were that withdrawn, thou too wouldst swerve and halt.

J. EDMESTON

If, on hearing of the fall of a brother, however differing or severed from us, we feel the least inclination to linger over it, instead of hiding it in grief and shame, or veiling it in the love which covereth a multitude of sins; if, in seeing a joy or a grace or an effective service given to others, we do not rejoice, but feel depressed, let us be very watchful; the most diabolical of passions may mask itself as humility, or zeal for the glory of God.

ELIZABETH CHARLES

From Daily Strength

Thursday, November 30, 2006

So Much for Free Speech

On Tuesday, I was reading the paper when I found out the Denver City Council is planning on outlawing holding a banner on a highway overpass. As usual with these types of things, they try to act like there is a compelling reason for their action. They also try to mask their true motivation.

Here is a little background: This whole thing began back in September of 1997. That’s when I came up with an idea to make a three foot by ten foot banner that says Abortion Kills Children. The purpose was to hold it on the 6th Avenue and Perry overpass in Denver during rush hour. My wife Wendy spearheaded the once a month project. She and several others stood on the sidewalk of the overpass and held the banner up to the six foot fence. From September through November, there was no problem. In December, the Denver Police stopped by and tried to come up with an ordinance that was being violated. After more than an hour, three different officers, radio calls, etc. they decided there was nothing being violated.

In January, a state highway worker stops by and says that we can’t hold the banner on the overpass. He leaves after being told of the previous decision by the police. In February, at about the time to leave anyway, highway workers come by again as well as a policeman. The policeman is given the information from previous encounters and everyone leaves.

In March, police show up again and claim we are violating a state statute regarding signs on highways. Nothing is done as the sign was down already but it is becoming obvious that they are not going to give up.

Wendy contacts the legal arm of the American Family Association and they are very interested in what is coming to pass.

In August 1998, two and a half minutes after Wendy and the others start holding the banner an officer arrives and tells them they are violating the law. Four more police cars arrive and she is ticketed and charged with illegal posting. After a couple of court appearances, letters to the city from her attorneys, etc. the charges are dropped as it is obvious to the everyone that the statute didn’t apply to what she was doing.

Soon after this, the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy files a federal civil rights lawsuit on Wendy’s behalf against the City of Denver. As these things go, it is a very long process in many different courts. She prevailed in every court up through the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. It was interesting to observe this whole process as it seemed that the City of Denver was willing to spend any amount of money and time to suppress the prolife message. It was also interesting to see them continually change their story whenever they were rebuffed. In any other situation, I would have expected their attorneys to be censured for their behavior.

So even after the City lost at the Tenth Circuit they changed the story yet again, appealed another time and finally after eight years in the courts, they found a sympathetic panel of Tenth Circuit judges and things went their way. What relief they must have felt! Finally, they could shut up those annoying prolife protesters on the overpass. So now, after nine years, the Denver City Council will finally be able to stomp out such a dangerous activity as protest on the overpass.

They will claim that such action is necessary for traffic safety, yet in nine years of holding the banner on the overpass there has never been any traffic troubles associated with it. It’s simply a situation of having the power and hating the message of their opponent.

I have some advice for the Denver City Council: if they really want to stop a traffic hazard, why don’t they outlaw the morning sun, which contributes to an accident on 6th Avenue almost every day.

Look here for the Tenth Circuit opinion.

Philip

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Positional Recognition

If you treat a man as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become the bigger and better man.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Trifles?

This is from my reading this morning.

There are many things that appear trifles, which greatly tend to enervate the soul, and hinder its progress in the path to virtue and glory. The habit of indulging in things which our judgment cannot thoroughly approve, grows stronger and stronger by every act of self-gratification, and we are led on by degrees to an excess of luxury which must greatly weaken our hands in the spiritual warfare. If we do not endeavor to do that which is right in every particular circumstance, though trifling, we shall be in great danger of letting the same negligence take place in matters more essential.

MARGARET WOODS

The will can only be made submissive by frequent self-denials, which must keep in subjection its sallies and inclinations. Great weakness is often produced by indulgences which seem of no importance.

M. DE MOLINOS

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How Much is Your Sin Going to Cost Me?

This came from a message that Ted Haggard preached back in 2000. When news of his fall became public I thought of this message and dug it out.

Here is the line that I have remembered ever since I heard the message:

Sin will take you places where you don't want to go.

Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.

Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay.

How true those words!

Either Ted was a complete hypocrite (I don't think he was) or small compromises led to the horrible things we have all read about. I think the above words became real in his life.

So what about us? Do we have things in place in our lives to help keep us from following a similar path? Are there other people who have enough access to us so that they can recognize if something is wrong? Do we have barriers in place to protect us even if our good intentions fail?

What can we and what should we do?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bad Sex – when good intentions are not enough

A while back I read a book by Lauren Winner called Real Sex. The sub title is “the naked truth about chastity.” I was so impressed by the book that I read through it a second time and took meticulous notes.

The book does a very good job of explaining what sex is and why it belongs only in marriage. It deals with where our culture is and when I say that I must include the church in that as well. We don't have to look very far to see that the church has done a horrible job of teaching these truths and as a result our morals don’t fly much higher that what goes on in the world around us.

I have been involved in the pro-life movement for a lot of years. A scary statistic that I came across some time ago was that around 24 percent of women getting abortions identify themselves as evangelical Christians. If that statistic is true then we know that there is a lot of bad sex going on in the lives of the people who fill our pews.

Having read Real Sex, I have thought a lot about young people and what could be done to keep them from bad sex. It’s not that we are against sex, it’s that we are for the good sex that God created to be experienced between a husband and wife. I want to see the young ones given an opportunity to overcome the cheap counterfeits that are sent their way.

So anyway, how do we get there? One thing I am fairly sure about is that good intentions are not enough. In the book a study was cited regarding the effectiveness of the True Love Waits Campaign. A pledge is taken to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. What was found is that virgins who took the pledge were waiting about 18 months longer to have sex than the ones who didn’t take the pledge. I don’t think this means that we should scrap the program but maybe something is missing. Maybe good intentions are not enough?

I look back to a time in my young Christian life when my good intentions were not enough. I was in love with a young lady, wanted to marry her and had the purest intentions towards her. But we were alone to much, in places that were private enough and we ended up doing things that were wrong and I think it was those things that destroyed our relationship. I have regrets to this day for the damage that was done in both of our lives.

Please understand, I am not trying to justify anything or sugar coat sin. What I want to do is understand exactly what we need to do so that young ones can be spared what so many of us have experienced.

One thing I think needs to happen is to protect against the alone time and the private places. Here is where we need to hash things out. Do we need an all out ban? Should we bring back the parlor for courting?

I have some thoughts and will toss them out later.

What do you think so far?

Philip

For more on Real Sex: http://www.laurenwinner.net/

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Beginning

A blog seems like a good place to start sharing some of the thoughts that are rattling around in my mind.

To you who read this, I welcome your thoughts on them as well. Some of what I say will be well thought out and some things will be as infants.

May God be glorified, may we be edified, may His kingdom come and His will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Philip

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