Monday, November 26, 2007

Gonzo

I read this book for the same reason I stare at an auto accident and then drive around the block for a better look.

This is the story of a horrible wreck. Lives were damaged in many ways.

I subscribed to Rolling Stone in the early seventies. Hunter Thompson was a writer for it at that time. It's possible I read some of his stuff but I don't remember. I haven't since.

My memory of him was of his drug and alcohol excess. That is what this book is mostly about.

It was also about how he would borrow money and not pay it back, how he would steal, about various crimes he would commit and about how hard it was to get him to do his job.

Yet he was a hero. He was an icon. He was the pinnacle of the drug, alcohol and sex generation. I think that is why it was hard for his peers to criticize him. To do so would call into question all they had fought for.

It was the same reason the feminists couldn't denounce Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinski scandal.

A recurring theme in the book was how hard it was to get Hunter to do his writing. The drugs and alcohol got in the way. It was always late if at all. Assistants and editors would be driven close to insanity with the process.

He was on the lecture circuit for a while but even though he could have made millions, his lifestyle was in competition. He would either be hours late, not show up at all or be incoherent.

It's amazing that he lived as long as he did. He ended his life with a .45 slug through his mouth and brain stem. His grandson was in the other room.

After his death, his fans held him up as a man totally in control of his life to the end. They say he decided how he would live and how he would die.

He may have ended his life but he didn't control how he lived it. His personal demons did that. The drugs and alcohol ruled.

To someone with experience of a transformed life this is a particularly sad story. Things could have been different.

The fun turned to tragedy. Many people besides Hunter were hurt by the way he lived and the example he set.

So what about us? What is trying to get control of our life?

Is something controlling us, are we trying to control our life or is God in control of our life? Don’t live life Hunter’s way.

Philip

Monday, November 19, 2007

Surrender

Most of us are slow to recognize that we have lost the war against our besetting sin. We deceive ourselves about the progress of that war, taking false comfort in inconsequential successes, distracting ourselves with elaborate battle plans and issuing orders to internal forces we cannot control. Our losses continue to mount, affecting everyone around us, but we ignore them. We imagine that we are "fighting the good fight" against sin, but the battle is already lost. All that remains is the formality of surrender–and the opportunity, the wondrous alternative, of surrendering to God instead.

Until we grasp the magnitude of our defeat, the prospect of surrendering to God is distasteful to us. We recoil at the thought of giving up, fearing a loss of our imagined liberty, and we frantically carry on our feeble resistance. But on that great and awful day when the inner defensive ring finally collapses, we fall toward God exhausted, and there to our inexpressible relief we find welcome instead of rebuke, dignity instead of shame, and life instead of death.

From Samson and the Pirate Monks
Whose struggle is this? Is it common to every Christian or is it only speaking of really bad sinners who aren't serious about following Jesus?

One of my Samson Society friends read this book quote Saturday night. It landed on all of us like a ton of bricks. But it was good!

I think everyone of us must pass through this struggle and more than once – sometimes every day. Sin and the devil are on a rampage and we are in a battle for our very souls. It's something we will fight until we are out of this world.

Being the proud people we are, we want to do it ourselves. Somehow, we think we can demonstrate our spirituality by winning the battle. That is where this book quote comes in. All we can do is surrender. No matter how long I walk with Jesus, I will never be able to do it alone. My flesh will always be my filthy flesh. My righteousness will always be as discarded menstrual rags (Isaiah 64:6).

And what about that besetting sin? I think that is common to all of us. There is that one (or more) thing we just can't get a handle on. Some would call it a thorn in the flesh. The thing that keeps us from boasting and drives us to the cross (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

The solution is surrender–I am hopelessly lost and weak. In that surrender I find victory and a Lord who speaks words of comfort, strength, peace and life. I am home where I belong.

We can't focus on the failures. We need to admit defeat, confess our sin (again), ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit and continue to walk in the right direction. I'm also finding it is good to have a friend we can share these struggles with. That person can remind us that we are in a battle common to all Christians and that our concern about our sin shows that we really do want to walk with Jesus.

Not so bad after all.

Philip

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chlamydia Hits Record Level in U.S.

More than 1 million cases of chlamydia were reported in the U.S. last year — the most ever reported for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), Fox News reported.

Gonorrhea rates also increased after hitting a record low, federal officials said. Syphilis is rising, too.

"It’s vital that everyone understand how the increase in sexual activity at younger ages is skyrocketing the number of STIs in our country," said Linda Klepacki, sexual health analyst for Focus on the Family Action. "Pre-teen and teenage girls are at much higher physical risk of contracting STIs than mature females. Youth should not be encouraged to be sexually active.

"Parents need to teach their children about sexuality and the health that God built into His plan for sexuality."

From CitizenLink.com

Monday, November 12, 2007

Crazy for God

I read a lot and I read very fast. This book was around four hundred pages and I finished it in a few days. I wanted to get to the end so I had the whole picture before I passed judgment.

Do you know who Francis Schaeffer is? He was a famous Christian apologist, founder of L'Abri (a Christian study center in Switzerland), husband of Edith and father of Frank (Frankie) Schaeffer who wrote this book. Thankfully, Francis is deceased, Edith is very old and suffering from memory loss and neither of them will have to read this book. I doubt a book like this could have been written if they were around. The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17

The book is Frank's memoirs: life as he saw it, looking through brown stained glasses.

A review I read of the book promised "dirt" on Frank's parents, their ministry and most of the rest of the evangelical community. I must say it didn't disappoint. I know some of what Frank says is not true so I suspect a lot of the rest.

I wonder if it was written to try to find a place on the bestsellers list with the other anti-God books that are so popular now.

Once passionately prolife, Frank has now found that abortion is not as simple as the "nutcase" prolifers made it out to be. Of course, he has rethought homosexuality as well. He is not even sure God exists.

I think this book shows what happens when unforgiveness produces bitterness. It shows what happens when a person lives life on their own terms with God pushed to the fringes. It shows what happens when someone who was on the "inside" tries to excuse their failures by poking their finger in the eye of old acquaintances that did something good with their life.

If you can stand the bad language and sex there are some lessons to be learned from this book. Too bad Frank Schaeffer didn't learn them.

Philip

Crazy for God at Amazon

Saturday, November 10, 2007

How to Obey God's Laws

From my morning reading.

So now we can obey God's laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us. Romans 8:4 TLB

Are you not glad that the Word of God makes things so simple? If we really want to obey God's laws, His resources are available to us. First and foremost, the Holy Spirit abides within to guide us. While it is true that we have all of the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion, we cannot expect the full blessing and power of God until the Holy Spirit has full control of all of us.

As we appropriate the fullness of His Holy Spirit by faith, we are supplied with supernatural power to obey God's laws. That supernatural power, even, is contingent upon our cooperation in that we must not only commit ourselves to the Holy Spirit but we must also be familiar with the Word of God if we are indeed to obey its commands.

Obedience is a key word in the Christian life. This verse points it out quite clearly, for we either obey God's laws or we obey the old evil nature. The choice is ours as we are controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Someone has well pointed out that all of life, really, is nothing more nor less than a series of choices. The secret of the successful Christian life is in making the right choices. And even the wisdom to make the right choices is available - as a gift from God.

That leaves us, you and me, without excuse. We can, if we choose, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, obey God's laws and thus accomplish His purpose for us as believers.

From Promises
A Daily Guide to Supernatural Living
by Bill Bright

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chastity

Here is an article on chastity by one of my favorite authors, Lauren Winner.

Some meaty thoughts!

Philip

"Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues."
— C. S. Lewis

Friday, November 2, 2007

Not My Will

Not my will, but yours, be done. Luke 22:42

I’m going to stretch this verse in a little different direction. Jesus spoke these words in the garden. The decision had been made that the Father’s will would be done. There was no other way to accomplish the mission of Jesus.

Here is where my thoughts on this have drifted. We hear a lot about will power. Some people even go so far as to say that if we think something, we can accomplish it. As Christians, we deal a lot with the will. It usually goes along with a promise we make to God or someone else. “I will not do that again!”

Maybe what we need to do is give up our will and let God’s will work through us. The truth is that the only power or will power we have is through His grace and mercy. I will be much better off when I quit trying to live in my own strength.

It’s hard to let go of it sometimes. If God does it all then I can’t boast of my discipline, will power or look down my nose at brethren who can’t seem to overcome some sin in their life.

What got me thinking about this was an article I read by Chuck Colson where he quoted Lauren Winner. She explained the problem with chastity pledges and young Christians. “Pledgers promise to control intense bodily desires simply by exercising their wills. But Christian ethics recognizes that the broken, twisted will can do nothing without rehabilitation by God’s grace.”

The article goes on to say: She also rightly draws our attention to the brash individualism of such pledges. Quoting Methodist bishop William Willimon, she writes, “Decisions are fine. But decisions that are not reinforced and reformed by the community tend to be short-lived.”

The article also spoke of the lessons learned in working with prisoners, that a community of support is needed if lasting change is going to happen there and when they get out.

Here is the final paragraph: It is not easy work, but congregations must step forward to engage in the difficult work of becoming grace-filled communities that support and undergird the values central to a biblical worldview.

I like what has been said here because I am learning these things in my life. I am weak and poor. My will is not enough. I need God’s grace and power and I need my brothers and the church at large. In that there will be victory.

Philip

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