Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shoplifting by poor OK

I read a story in the Denver Post today where an Anglican priest in England said it is okay for the poor to shoplift. Click here for the story.


The Rev. Tim Jones in a sermon to his congregation said, “it is sometimes acceptable for desperate people to shoplift something they really need — as long as they do it at large national chain stores, rather than small, family businesses.”

How considerate that he makes the distinction between large faceless corporations and someone you may know. I wonder how his ethical system comes up with that difference.

Here is a guy who is supposed to represent God and Bible but his feelings and ignorance get in the way.

My thoughts went to Proverbs 6:30-31: People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. We may feel sorry for this person but stealing is still wrong and they will have to face the consequences.

The same ignorance can strike us if we fail to filter our thoughts by what the Bible says. We may know just enough to make us dangerous. Thoughts like, “how could a God of love send anyone to hell” or “divorce is an acceptable option because you are in a difficult marriage” or “it’s okay to steal some items from work because they don’t pay me enough”. The list is endless of ways we “soften” God’s word because it doesn’t apply in our situation or times have changed since it was written or it will make unbelievers think we are too harsh and out of touch.

Proverbs 12:10 says, the mercy of the wicked is cruel. Their good intentions end up causing harm to the ones they want to help.

If Tim Jones was a man of God he would instruct his congregation to walk with and trust God. Matthew 6:33 says: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (food, clothing and shelter) will be added to you. God doesn’t need sins help to provide for His people.

On the other hand, some people are just lazy or are making life choices that leave them needy. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. That hunger may motivate him to work if some well meaning person or politician doesn’t step in. True compassion sometimes requires us to take a step back and let God work.

Philip

Friday, December 11, 2009

If I Really Cared

I share this as an aspiration. It's not true in my life...yet.

Poem by Ruth Senter

I’d look you in the eyes when you talk to me;
I’d think about what you’re saying rather than what I’m going to say next;
I’d hear your feelings as well as your words.

If I really cared . . .
I’d listen without defending;
I’d hear without deciding whether you’re right or wrong;
I’d ask you why, not just how and when and where.

If I really cared . . .
I’d allow you inside of me;
I’d tell you my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my hurts;
I’d tell you where I’ve blown it and when I’ve made it.

If I really cared . . .
I’d laugh with you but not at you;
I’d talk with you and not to you;
And I’d know when it’s time to do neither.

If I really cared . . .
I wouldn’t climb over your walls;
I’d hang around until you let me in the gate.
I wouldn’t unlock your secrets;
I’d wait until you handed me the key.

If I really cared . . .
I’d love you anyhow;
But I’d ask for the best that you can give
And gently draw it from you.

If I really cared . . .
I’d put my scripts away,
And leave my solutions at home.
The performances would end.
We’d be ourselves.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Marijuana

I live in Colorado where Medical Marijuana Dispensaries are the fastest growing business in the state. A constitutional amendment in 2000 allowed certain people to use marijuana for eight specific conditions. The image used during the campaign was a cancer patient who may be given relief by marijuana. Another condition was chronic pain. It seems there are an incredible amount of twenty-some-year-olds who are suffering chronic pain. A quick trip to a pot doc, some money paid and they are “legal”.

Marijuana is still illegal on the Federal level. Recently the Obama gang announced that the Federal government would no longer enforce the law in states where there are medical marijuana laws. As a result we have a new growth industry and most of the clients are not really suffering from one of the eight medical conditions. Wink, wink, “stoner come get your pot.”

Another concern is who is supplying all of the dispensaries with the pot? My guess is that the illegal drug cartels have found new customers in these shops.

I’ve had a lot of personal experience in the use and effect of marijuana. I was around fourteen years old when I tried it for the first time. I fell in love but for two years, my use was limited by availability. At around sixteen, I used it more and within a year was smoking every day, all day. I was also selling so I had unlimited availability and some cash as well. This continued until I became a Christian at eighteen.

As I look back, I see two major problems with marijuana: it makes you stupid and lazy. You can even see that in movies that are sympathetic to pot use. The characterization is usually the goofy mess-up.

When I was smoking daily, that is all I cared about. My day was centered on pot. I had zero ambition concerning anything else. I had money and I had dope, that is all that mattered. My friend and I had great plans for the future but neither of us did anything to make it happen. The only constant was making sure the next pound was bought and that enough customers were serviced to keep the cycle going.

I came across some studies recently that cast an even darker light on pot use. It seems that the studies are showing that regular pot use can lead to psychosis. I’m going to give some quotes. If you are interested further you can look up the cites for more info.

Does Cannabis Cause Schizophrenia?

A meta-analysis suggests that cannabis use is associated with a 40% increased risk of psychosis in later life.

The risk for psychotic outcomes (defined as a range, with schizophrenia as the most severe manifestation) was higher in individuals who had ever used cannabis (adjusted odds ratio, 1.41) than in those who had not. A dose-response effect was observed, with increased risk in people who used cannabis most frequently (OR, 2.09).

— Leslie L. Iversen, PhD

Dr. Iversen is Visiting Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford.

Published in Journal Watch Neurology November 27, 2007


Cannabis and Psychosis: Two Studies

Evidence for the association is consistent across population-based studies, and cannabis use is associated with later worsening of psychosis.

Comment: Clearly, cannabis use is associated with heightened risk for onset or worsening of psychotic symptoms. Degenhardt et al. point out that their study showed only a small increase in psychotic symptoms in people with psychotic disorders and daily cannabis use. However, cannabis use is a modifiable risk factor and is associated with increased rates of use of other illicit drugs, which may also worsen psychosis. The evidence seems sufficient to justify warning people of cannabis-associated risks and to try to minimize its use by patients with psychotic disorders.

— Deborah S. Cowley, MD

Published in Journal Watch Psychiatry September 17, 2007
As I look at these studies and my personal experience, I have many reasons to oppose loosening the reigns on marijuana use. However, I don’t think any of it would mean anything to someone who wants to get high. They are in a different world. I know; I have been there.

Philip

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Child Porn

If you like to keep your head in the sand then stop reading now.

I was so upset to read an article in today’s Denver Post:
Child-porn sentences too severe, judges say.

It’s about a group of judges who think the sentencing guidelines are too severe for possessing and viewing child-porn. My guess is that the victims and their families would disagree.

From what I read, the judges must not think child-porn is a big deal. It amazes me that these judges with their many degrees and lofty jobs act like idiots. Morality must be a foreign concept to them.

Here are some of the judge’s quotes and my comments:

"We do not see producers (of child porn) or the parents who sell their children or the stepfathers who attack them," Kane told the commission in October. "What we see are the men on dialysis confined to a wheelchair who spends all of his time confined already and no economic analysis of what it would cost to keep this man in prison."
U.S. District Judge John L. Kane
Is this guy for real? Is that really the only type of person who comes before his bench? What a shame that he would act like the child porn viewer is no threat – just sitting at home not hurting anyone.

Kane testified there is no empirical research referenced in the sentencing schemes to indicate whether long prison sentences will stop defendants from re-offending or help them overcome their compulsions by the time they get out of prison.
At least if they are in prison we know children are safe from them. Part of going to prison is punishment. If we can do something to help them “overcome their compulsions” that is great but a nice long prison sentence may help too.

"It is too often the case that a defendant appears to be a social misfit looking at dirty pictures in the privacy of his own home without any real prospect of touching or otherwise acting out as to any person," U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron of Oklahoma City said in her testimony to the commission. "As foul as child pornography is, I am unpersuaded by the suggestion that a direct link has been proven between viewing child porn and molesting children."
U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron
So all they are is “dirty pictures”? She speaks of “the privacy of his own home” in a way that makes me wonder is she thinks it is acceptable behavior. And how does she know that there isn’t “any real prospect of touching or otherwise acting out as to any person”. She must be a mystic as well. She goes on to say that she is “unpersuaded” that there is a link between viewing child-pornography and molesting children. Well I’m sure that not every viewer goes on to molest but has there ever been a molester who wasn’t a viewer first?

There was a sane voice in the article. Here is what Ernie Allen, president and chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said:

"There are too many judges who continue to provide token sentences for what we consider to be serious crimes," Allen said. "These are images of prepubescent children, growing numbers of them infants and toddlers, and they trade with each other for purposes of arousal and breaking down the inhibitions of other children."

Allen said educating the judiciary about the impact of child pornography on victims is key.

"We are not in favor of disproportionate sentencing or disparities, but the problem here is too many judges who simply do not recognize how serious these crimes are," he said.
Yes, these judges in their ivory towers don’t recognize how serious child-pornography is and where it leads. I hope God raises up a voice to silence their ignorant ramblings.

Another concern I have is that this liberalized attitude is the same one that preceded the mainstreaming of regular pornography and much of the sex industry.

May God have mercy on our country.

Philip

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

The following is from The Manhattan Declaration. I have read the full document (about 7 pages) and signed it. Take a look for yourself. It is a solid document and worth our support.

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

   1. the sanctity of human life
   2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
   3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The Manhattan Declaration

Philip

Friday, November 20, 2009

Health Care Reform?

Funny video about ObamaCare.



Philip

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Delight or Destruction

I was thinking about Psalm 1 this morning.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalms 1:1-6
Where do we walk, where do we stand and where do we sit? Who and what do we hang out with? Where do we find delight? Who do we fellowship with? What do we meditate on?

As I look at the contrast between hanging out with the wicked, the sinners and the scoffers versus delighting in the law of the Lord I think it is either one or the other. If we are delighting in God’s word we will not put ourselves in compromising situations. If we are enjoying the bad company then we won’t be in God’s word.

I know many people say we need to be engaged with unbelievers but I think the problem comes when the relationship switches from evangelism to a peer relationship. Scripture is clear in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that bad company corrupts good morals.

I don’t think is just speaks of people either. Television and movies are a great source of wickedness, sin and scoffing. It is the fool who thinks they can watch the latest and greatest Hollywood has to offer and not be changed for the worse.

An Eskimo fisherman came to town every Saturday afternoon. He always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command. Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight and the fisherman would take bets. On one Saturday, the black dog would win; another Saturday the white dog would win - but the fisherman always won! His friends began to ask him how he did it. He said, "I starve one and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he is stronger.
From "The Holy Spirit: Activating God's Power in Your Life," by Billy Graham (1978)
The benefit of hanging out in God’s word is clear. There will be good fruit, endurance and prosperity. The choice should be easy yet the call of the world and its delights is loud and unending. Only one is going to win.

Philip

Sexually Transmitted Infections on the Rise

From CitizenLink:

Sexually transmitted infections continue to rise, with the number of chlamydia cases setting another record in 2008, government officials said Monday.

There were 1.2 million new cases of chlamydia last year, The Associated Press reported, up from 1.1 million cases in 2007. Syphilis also has been increasing, with 13,500 cases of the most contagious form reported in 2008.

Dr. Miriam Grossman, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and author, noted the diseases are spreading quickly among teenagers.

"If you look closely at what young people are being taught about sexuality," she said, "you will discover that it is being assumed that they will have sex at an early age and that they will have multiple partners."

There are an estimated 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections annually. Experts say the most common is human papillomavirus (HPV).

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn the myths and the truth about abstinence education.
Check out Dr. Grossman's book You're Teaching My Child What?


— Josh Montez

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Truth About My Sin


I read this in my devotions this morning. It’s from the book Whiter Than Snow.

The Bible requires each of us to accept, at the most practical of levels, that we have profound moral flaws within us that we can do absolutely nothing in ourselves to solve. 
Self-help doesn’t work. Here is the solution as I see it:

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

Philip

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Elf Yourself

It's never too early to start this...


Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lovers of Death



All who hate me love death.
Proverbs 8:36

Representative Diana DeGette in an email I received some weeks ago sent assurances that the ObamaCare bill would not cover abortion. Now I see she is furious that the bill passed the House with the Stupak-Pitts amendment that insures it won’t cover abortion.

It’s clear that she is both a liar and a lover of death. It’s not health care she is primarily concerned about but the expansion of abortion.

DeGette has also been insatiable in her promotion of Human Embryonic Stem Cell research. This despite the fact that embryonic stem cells show very little promise, have many problems and kill a little baby. Induced pluripotent stem cells (not from embryos) are where the action is. She acts as if they don’t exist and ignores the true science in their favor. Maybe it’s because no one has to die to acquire them.

Pray for leaders like Diana DeGette. Proverbs 21:1 says: The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. Thank God she isn’t a king! Nevertheless, the principle applies; God can turn her heart and work through her despite her love of death.

For interesting information on the truth about Stem Cell research, see StemCellResearch.org

Philip

Monday, November 9, 2009

Prayer


In the book A Praying Life, Paul Miller wrote that sometimes we don't pray because we want to be in control and sometimes we don't pray because we think we can't be in control: "But the point of prayer is shifting control to God." Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.

I believe in prayer. Every weekday morning I pray for family, friends and even some people I don’t know like the “homeless sign” guy on the corner near our house.

I added a friend last night; Randy has been diagnosed with Lymphoma. I will carry a burden for my friend during this difficult time.

Another thing I pray about is our political leaders. I use a verse out of Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. I pray for God to surprise our leaders by having them do things they didn’t plan to do.

Prayer is mysterious. Isn’t it awesome that the God of the universe beckons us to ask Him for things. What if we neglect prayer? Are there good things that will be left undone and bad things that will come to pass?

I always hope that people are praying for my family and me.

Philip

Friday, November 6, 2009

Medical Marijuana Quacks

In the newspaper recently, there has been a lot of coverage on the doctors who are signing applications for “patients” who want legal pot in the Denver area.

I wasn’t surprised Sunday when I saw the name Dr. David Muller in a Denver Post article. Muller is a psychiatrist in the Cherry Creek North area.

Last year a friend of mine tried to commit suicide using prescription drugs. When his various prescription bottles were being collected, Dr. David Muller’s name appeared. There was another doctor represented who provided most of the drugs. My friend had become severely addicted to various drugs that were supposed to help with depression and sleep problems. Instead of helping, the drugs were destroying his mind and body. Any competent doctor would have noticed it if he cared.

I wonder if there is an underground where certain doctors lurk. They pass out prescription drugs to anyone willing to pay the fee and now are signing pot applications. I guess if you run in the right circles they are easy to find.

My friend wasn’t served well by his pill pushing doctors and the potheads aren’t either.

Philip

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pets and the Rapture


I think I’ve seen it all:

Christians who believe they will vanish from Earth in the rapture can now hire an atheist to care for their pets.

Eternal Earth-Bound Pets

What’s even stranger is they will probably get some customers.

Philip

Monday, November 2, 2009

Child Sex Trafficking


I went to a seminar last night on Sex Trafficking. It’s a subject I am not very familiar with so I wanted to learn more. What I know so far is that child sex traffic isn’t just something that goes on in other countries even though United States tourists are responsible for 25% of the child sex traffic business. It’s going on in our country and probably not far from our homes. It’s estimated that around 300,000 children are working as prostitutes in the United States. At the seminar, it was said that many of these children are kept in a cage in a basement.

I read an article in the newspaper last week about a nationwide crackdown by the FBI on child prostitution. Almost 700 people were arrested and 52 children were rescued. It went on to say that since the beginning of the project, almost 900 children have been rescued and most of them began prostitution around age 12.

That should knock us out of our chairs. How can we not be moved? With what little I know about this subject so far, I know I must learn more and that some kind of action will be required. Prayer will be first and then those prayers will need feet.

I was left feeling empty last night after the event. I expected to be educated and then given some tools. The education came but I felt the message fell short of what it could have been. As I heard it, the call was for us to become completely dedicated to Jesus, for fathers to be fathers, and to lift up God in worship. Then righteousness and justice will come down and problems like child sex trafficking, abortion and idolatry will be taken care of.

I don’t disagree with the need for changes in our lives and churches. I know we are far from what we should be.

I have been involved in leadership in the prolife movement for over twenty years. I have done my share of trying to motivate people and pastors to involvement. I have heard just about every argument of what we should or should not do to combat abortion. Some say all we should do is pray and God will do the rest. Some back certain laws and others say that Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics. Some say we should establish more pregnancy centers to provide compassion and support for abortion minded women. Some say education is the key. Some support direct action such as picketing and sidewalk counseling and others say that is too confrontational. And sadly most sit on their butt while providing criticism of those who are trying to do something.

I have always supported a multi-faceted approach. We need to work on every front. We need laws, we need education, we need pregnancy centers, we need protest and we need prayer. There is a spot for everyone to get involved.

So that is why I was disappointed last night. Every day I seek to be pure before God and I know I need to be a better father but I know I can’t stop there. If there are young boys and girls in my community who are being held captive in some way and are being sold for sex they need help now. I want to know what God wants me to do. I now have knowledge and I will be held accountable for what I do with it.

I don’t know the answers; I don’t even know the questions but I’m praying for revelation of what to do from here.

Here is a link to the newspaper article mentioned above.

Here is a link to the FBI Innocence Lost National Initiative

Here is a link to Children of the Night

Philip

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Freedom

Men are qualified for freedom in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites.  Society cannot exist unless a controlling power on will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there is without.  It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free.

Edmund Burke

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Balloon Boy and the Circus Master


I wasn’t surprised at all when I heard that Richard Heene, father of the balloon boy, had hired David Lane as his attorney. Richard’s goal had been the generation of publicity and David Lane, as circus master will provide plenty of it.

You may remember David Lane as attorney for Ward Churchill, the pseudo professor from CU. Lane provides a never ending stream of media flotsam for his clients.

About a week ago, Lane tried to discount the confession of balloon boy mother Mayumi Heene by saying “Her English is not that great, first of all”. I guess that will be part of his strategy as he pits one Heene against the other in his quest to get an acquittal for Richard regardless of the cost.

In today’s paper Lane’s three ring circus comes center stage again. His latest performance involves an attempt to turn the tables and have the light focused on Sheriff Jim Alderden. He claims that the sheriff gave negative pretrial publicity against the Heenes.  I think they did plenty of that on their own. Their elaborate hoax had people all across the world stopping their lives as they prayed, watched and wondered about the little boy. It soon became apparent that it was all a scam. Nothing the sheriff said could add to the opinion most people already had.

I wonder how attorneys like Lane sleep at night. It seems they don’t care about guilt or innocence. What matters is that they accumulate “victories” even if it means the guilty go free.

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Proverbs 12:19

Philip

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts about my week


The week is coming to a close. I enjoy my work but I love the weekend with time to read, write, relax, be with my family, go to the Samson Society meeting and to church.

This week was busy and strange. There were a couple of jobs I wasn’t looking forward to and I was glad when they were over. There was a crisis at a house the day before the closing and I ended up expending a lot of energy and time for little pay.

There was the day I worked for two homeowners who represent what is good and bad about people. Both had work they needed done. One called me early in the morning to tell me that she was sick with a fever. She was on antibiotics for bronchitis but wanted to warn me and give me the option of rescheduling. I ended up going, figuring I wouldn’t be too close to her. She did her best to stay away from me as I worked. After that job I went to the second where the homeowner, upon answering the door, told me that she was sick. As I followed her around the house looking at the jobs she had to do, she continuously coughed and did nothing to contain it. I felt like I was being showered with her germs. In the kitchen I saw a box of Tamiflu and wondered just what sickness she had. Was it the flu or maybe Swine Flu?

I had to go to the dermatologist yesterday to get some suspicious spots looked at on my head. He said it’s probably more basal cell cancer but he was willing to freeze the areas to see if that will work. It’s something I’ve gone through several times before but I hate the whole process.

Today the driver’s door handle on our car broke and a crack appeared on the windshield. Both were a fitting topper to this week. Tomorrow I will get a part and replace the handle; it’s no fun crawling in from the passenger side. The handle is cast metal and prone to breaking; I have had to replace it before. The fix involved reaching up inside the door where an infant’s hand would fit better. You then have to hold a nut with the tip of two fingers and maneuver it behind other parts and try to get it onto the bolt. It usually falls off many times before success is achieved. I’m not looking forward to the job.

It’s good to recognize the things that upset me before I’m upset. Maybe I won’t sin in this if I admit where I’m at and ask God to help me. His mercy is new every morning.

I did have a nice time going out to dinner tonight with my wife Wendy. We had a good steak dinner at Rosemary’s and then went birthday shopping for our daughter-in-law. Our Friday night date is the beginning of the weekend that I look forward to.

Thank you Lord for the help you give me each day and for the adventures that will come tomorrow.

Philip

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sinner

He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
(San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1954),
112


That's why I like the Samson Society. It provides a place of honest fellowship for men where anything can be said and where nothing need be held back. A place of complete confidentiality where it is safe to be transparent and where that transparency leads to healing and change.

Men, you are welcome to join us...if you dare. We meet every Saturday night for an hour then go to a restaurant for fellowship after.

Check out Denver Samson Society for details.

Philip

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy 31st Anniversary Wendy

Today Wendy and I have been married for 31 years.

Dear Wendy,

The years have passed so quick and our family at home is shrinking. Changes come quicker than they used to.

I know at times I have been a dream come true for you and sometimes that dream has been a nightmare. Thanks for loving me through both. Thanks for putting up with a fellow sinner.

Thanks for the love you have shown to me. Thanks for being a mother and teacher to our kids. Thanks for the comfort and encouragement you give to me and for the motivation to go to work everyday. Thanks for making a home that I love to come home to.

You are everything I could want in a wife. It’s been fun hanging out with you through the years. Thanks for helping me become what God wants me to be. Without you I would never have grown into what I am.

I love you!
The modern gift for a 31st anniversary is a timepiece. That is going to make for one romantic gift. Every woman dreams about getting a clock. Good husband that I am a clock it will be. It does have its good points. We will be reminded that time passes quickly, that our days are numbered and when it’s time to make dinner. Those are good things to keep in mind.

Philip

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Calvinism and Arminianism


In our last Sunday School class we touched on Calvinism and Arminianism. The context was the study we are doing in the book of Genesis and how the sovereignty of God plays out in that book.

The basic side of each view was given without bias towards either. That was good.

The wonderful thing about an honest presentation of both sides is that you soon see that both are true. Both sides have their verses that prove they are right. With proper Biblical interpretation you then see that neither side is right. When Scripture is taken as a whole we see the truth.

We should reject both Calvinism and Arminianism and accept the full truth of Scripture. It is error to take only one side of the argument and then use exegetical gymnastics to explain away the Scripture of the other side.

So what are we to do as we look at Scripture and find doctrine that seems to have opposing yet valid views? Honesty requires that we accept the whole truth and sometimes we have to admit we don’t understand it all. We can agree with the sentiments expressed in Psalm 139:6 I can't understand all of this! Such wonderful knowledge is far above me.

Philip

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Nobel Prize


My wife thought it funny that I said Nobel Peace Prizes were available in the claw machine at the grocery store. Hey, there is nothing funny about that and it proves that the prize is more elusive than some would say. Have you ever tried to get a specific item out of one of those things?

I must confess I have never tried a claw machine. I hang my head in shame thinking that with my lack of experience I will probably never get to be the proud owner of a prize that at one time would have distinguished me from so many other common men.

And now I find that Obama will get one. All I can say is that guy has some skills and he didn’t even have to go to the grocery store. What was once prized is now becoming absurd. I guess we should have seen it coming when Al Gore scored one.

Philip

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Patience


Puritan Thomas Adams offers this encouragement: "Patience to the soul is as bread to the body . . . we eat bread with all our meats, both for health and relish; bread with flesh, bread with fish, bread with broths and fruits. Such is patience to every virtue; we must hope with patience, and pray in patience, and love with patience, and whatsoever good thing we do, let it be done in patience."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Circumcision and Salvation


I was listening to Scripture this week as I drove from job to job. A section from Acts 15 stood out to me:

Some men came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the believers, "You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised as the Law of Moses requires."
It was a question that required Paul and Barnabas to meet with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. After much debate it was affirmed that circumcision was not necessary for salvation.

As I listened to the reading, I thought how things would be different if the answer had been different. Can you imaging the change in evangelism?  “Oh, by the way, there is one more thing I need to tell you” he said as he sharpened the razor. I guess that would have winnowed out the insincere.

Sometimes I think we want to make it too easy for people who come to Jesus. I know that salvation is by grace through faith and works don’t add a thing so I’m not advocating adding to the gospel but what about after?

I think about some people I know who started coming to a church I used to go to. They both had “interesting” backgrounds. There seemed a hesitation to encourage them to separate from those backgrounds. One worked at a head shop/tattoo parlor, the other held a lot of aberrant spiritual ideas. Over time the old ideas and ways of doing things caught up with them and caused them to stumble.

I wonder if being too soft on them lead to their downfall? Should they have been encouraged to make a separation from the old behaviors and ways of thinking?

In the Old Testament, circumcision was a sign of separation, consecration, covenant and purity. It showed they were the people of God.

What are our signs today? Sometimes we seem too eager to show that we are no different from the world except that we are “saved by grace”. Many talk the same, drink the same, smoke the same, look the same, live the same and take pride in that.

What should our signs be? What sets us apart? One thing Jesus said is that our love for one another would show we are his disciples. What else are the true signs of a follower of Jesus?

Philip

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trials of Various Kinds


The reason many of us do not ardently believe in the gospel is that we have never given it a rigorous testing, thrown our hard questions at it, faced it with our most prickly doubts.
A good friend of our family has been diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer. It’s a mole gone bad and now life had radically changed for their family. Things will never be the same no matter what the outcome. As I think of them, my own troubles look small.

I am thankful that Mike and Caryn are people who love Jesus; this time will deepen their relationship with Him. But why can’t that come some other way? Why do we need adversity to do certain works in our hearts?

As hard as times like this are, they give us an opportunity to see how big God is. Grace will come and life will be bearable. How many times people look back and declare that the growth and experience gained were worth the effort.

But the beginning is not that way. My friends will be on my mind and I will pray for them. I will hope for them.

We are nor scavenging in the dark alleys of the world, poking in its garbage cans for a bare subsistence. We are traveling in the light, toward God who is rich in mercy and strong to save. It is Christ, not culture, that defines our lives. It is the help we experience, not the hazards we risk, that shapes our days.
God saw the mole a long time ago. He knows what will happen in the future days. I rejoice that my friends will see God’s glory in their lives as the future unfolds. I pray for peace in the journey.

Philip

The above quotes from: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meth

I finished reading Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town yesterday. It’s about Meth, Speed, Crank or whatever your favorite name for it is and it’s impact on a small town.

My experience with speed was back in the early 70’s. We called it white cross for the score that divided the small white pill into quarters. On occasion I would buy a hundred lot and would use them every once in a while and would sell some. If I remember, you needed about five of them to get going.

I was aware that you could get really messed up by speed so I never went on a binge and it never became a big part of my life. From what I read in Methland, I would guess that the stuff I had wasn’t as powerful as other stuff that was around.

The Colorado Meth Project has a slogan, Not Even Once. Good meth is very addictive because of the changes it makes in the brain; it causes an intense rush of pleasure. Here is what The National Institute on Drug Abuse says:
Dopamine is the brain chemical that allows us to feel pleasure. Meth unnaturally raises dopamine levels to more than 10 times the amount caused by life's normal pleasures, including eating and having sex. In stimulating this dopamine release, Meth creates an intense rush of pleasure. This powerful rewarding effect is a major part of the biology of Meth addiction.
The slogan is good. What if once leads to forever? What if the rush is so good that you decide you can’t live without it even though your body is being destroyed, you have lost everything, you are going to prison or just got out of prison?

Another thing that sets meth apart beside the intense pleasure is that for a while at least, it makes you incredibly productive. I remember at sixteen years old finding out I could stay up all night and then go to work the next day. Many Americans have found out that meth lets them work double shifts and still have a life. It works for awhile until everything falls apart.

As I thought about meth this morning I thought about addiction in general and I thought about myself. The drug I fell in love with was marijuana. Thankfully when I became a Christian in 1973, the transition to life without pot didn’t involve the physical withdrawal of so many other substances. My love for marijuana probably kept me away from addiction to many other drugs I experimented with. One thing I know though: I loved to get high.

I became a Christian towards the end of the Jesus Movement. In turning to Jesus most of us turned away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco as those things were viewed as sinful. While I will have to admit that there isn’t a Bible verse that covers absolute prohibition of alcohol and tobacco, I’m glad that is the way we felt. I don’t think I missed a thing by not indulging in those things.

I will not drink alcohol these days because I don’t want to risk falling in love with it. That may sound weak but I know myself too well to feel otherwise. I may find it comforting during difficult times or maybe the love of a buzz would lead to some other disaster.

Not Even Once can be a good slogan in many other areas of life too. There are many sex and porn addicts who wish they had never taken the first look. Do you know if you will be able to continue as a casual drinker if you make alcohol a part of your life?

I love good coffee and I know it is a stimulant. There was a time when I avoided it for that reason. I drink coffee in the morning and in the afternoon, two cups each time. I don’t drink to avoid sleep or instead of sleep. I buy the good stuff and grind it right before brewing. It’s a pleasure I enjoy. If I become addicted to coffee I probably won’t lose my job, steal from friends or beat my kids.

There are many things that resist the hard rule. Some things are plainly sin and others require a lot of thought. “Is it wise” is a good question. “Could this lead to danger” is another. It’s also good to have people in your life who can view you from the outside. They may see what you cannot.

Philip

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Anxiety

Anxiety: An unpleasant state of mental uneasiness or concern about some uncertain event.


Here is my story of anxiety this week. It all started Monday morning.

I had done a computer backup during the night. When I looked at the computer in the morning I knew something was wrong. It wasn’t on and wouldn’t come on. My first thought was that the backup had killed the hard drive. For a little while… okay, for longer than that I have heard a click coming from the hard drive. I knew that is a bad sign of impending failure. I also thought it could be the mother board. I tried many times to get it to turn on but it wouldn’t.

I decided that I can’t let this problem determine my day. I decided to continue with my early morning routine which is going through my prayer list. After I was done I did a quick Internet search and was reminded of the power supply which should have been my first thought. I noticed the fan wasn’t turning so it seemed that the power supply was probably the problem. I went to work at the normal time and picked up a new one on the way home. I put it in and was back in business. Wow, what a relief.

I knew I needed to replace the hard drive. I planned to pick one up Tuesday after work. I was trying to keep this problem in its place but it was growing inside of me. On my way to work Tuesday morning I felt sick. I could not believe I was letting this computer problem turn my world upside down. I prayed for God to help me. I felt like canceling my job.

I called to mind some things I have been learning lately. This is from the book, Telling Yourself the Truth.
    Anxiety is:
  1. Fear in the absence of real danger.
  2. Overestimation of the probability of danger and exaggeration of its degree of terribleness.
  3. Imagined negative results.
I could see how all of these were playing into this situation.

I got home too late Tuesday night to do anything about the computer. It seemed to be working okay other than the fear that the hard drive will die. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I just let it go, didn’t feel anxiety about it and hoped I wouldn’t forget to work on it. So Saturday morning I figured it was time. At the suggestion of a computer tech I downloaded a program that clones one hard drive to another. If all went well it should be very simple. The old drive would be duplicated and the new one would work just like the old one. I didn’t believe it. My past experience is that easy upgrades on the computer usually end up with collateral complications.

To my cynical surprise, it did go easy. I installed the new hard drive, ran the program, did a reboot, it copied everything over and about an hour and a half later I had a new hard drive running with all my programs and data. I was excited, an emotion I don’t let myself feel very often.

At my Samson Society meeting last night I was glad to talk honestly about how I had been feeling this week both about the anxiety and the excitement I had felt. If I wasn’t among such good friends I would have felt silly; how ridiculous that I had been so worked up. But that was the reality of my week and it felt good to share it with others.

Well this morning it was time to do another scheduled backup. I turned on the external drive, started the backup program and as soon as it started to make the Volume Shadow Copy, the horrible Blue Screen appeared with an error of "Bad_Pool_Header" Stop 0x00000019.

I restarted the computer and as soon as I tried the backup again, the same thing happened. After the error report was sent to Microsoft, it returned a recommendation of upgrading the mouse/keyboard utility. I decided all this would have to wait until after church. I would try to put it out of my mind.

After church I downloaded the update and installed it but the problem persisted. I tried a couple other things but still no resolve. Back on the Internet I started searching for a solution. In the back of my mind I was wondering just how bad the problem was.

I found a discussion about the exact problem I was having. A solution was presented that seemed somewhat complicated – it made me nervous – what if it makes the problem worse. I kept on reading and someone else came up with a resolution that seemed much easier to do and many others concurred that it worked. I took a few deep breaths, followed the directions and soon the problem was gone. Tonight I will find out for sure when I do a full backup.

Just for reference, here is a link to the problem and the solution in case any of you ever encounter it. For the resolve, look for post #70 on page 4.
Volume Shadow Copy Causing STOP 0x00000019 "Bad_Pool_Header"

As I look back I see many lessons in this whole thing. When I encounter the unpleasant state of mental uneasiness or concern about some uncertain event, I need to keep things in perspective; it’s probably not as bad as my mind says. I need to let others know what is going on, both in my mind and in whatever problem I am facing. Hey, they might have a solution and they can pray with me. I also need to trust God; He is much bigger than the problem and delights in helping His kids. I need to calmly persevere and ask a lot of questions; someone else has probably already gone through what I am facing.

So that was my week. Thanks for listening.

Philip

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Don’t Need You


There are some really cool clouds in the sky tonight. Click the image for a bigger picture.

I’m thinking about one of the biggest battles men fight. It’s the Lone Ranger, the isolationist, the “I did it all by myself” battle.

Somehow we have been deceived into thinking it is some kind of virtue not to need other people. Many times it is the last resort to ask for help.

I talked with an old friend last week. He tried to kill himself last year. He now has over $300,000 in hospital bills. It took a lot of friends and doctors to put his life back together. People tried to help him before and helped him after.

Something bothered me about the conversation. He credited God with helping him and made it clear that he didn’t need a book or meeting to get well. It almost seemed that the unspoken thought was that he didn’t need other people to help him either.

I worry that he views himself as a self-made-man. I worry that he might not be as strong as he thinks. I worry that he is not surrounding himself with the people he needs.

Advice is another thing we need but many times resist. We know our way is best and that can keep us from consulting others. I’m trying to learn this lesson myself. I’m trying to make it a regular part of my life to let others know what I’m doing and thinking and to see what they think about it. I’m finding a wonderful strength in that.

What we find is that God built us to need other people. He doesn’t want us to fight alone or to take credit for doing it by ourselves. The Christian life is to be one of dependence on God and others. None of us have what we need to live alone. We are incomplete without the other members of the body.

I am proud to admit that I have friends who make my life much better than it would be without them.

Philip

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What I See Now


This is the view from my porch this morning. There is a full moon and beautiful colors in the sky. It’s a great Labor Day weekend, we have already done some fun things, ate some great food and there is much ahead.

Yesterday for lunch I made Pizza Margherita on the grill. It is a classic; dough rolled thin, fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden, olive oil and mozzarella cheese; simple and delicious. For dinner, my oldest son took us out as thanks for helping him move this week.

In a few hours we will go to church which I love. There is something so great about worshipping God with a huge crowd of people. After church there is a festival with barbecue and other fun things.

Tomorrow we will go to some friend’s house for lunch and fellowship. I am really looking forward to that.

Back to the picture: one of the things I enjoy most is getting up in the morning and being able to sit on the porch as I wake up with a cup of good coffee (Village Roaster). The birds start to show up at the feeders and there has been a squirrel that will come up to the porch and take peanuts out of my hand. Most mornings I spend the time going through my prayer list. That is such an adventure; I talk to God about the needs of friends, the problems in the world, and the need for wisdom, guidance and blessing. Then every day I get to see those prayers answered.

It won’t be long now and the weather will push me off the porch and back into the house. It’s a hard transition I usually resist; first a long sleeve shirt and maybe a coat then finally a storm or snow will force me inside. It’s never the same just looking out the window.

Life is like that too. We spend too much time looking out the window and watching things go by. It’s much better to get out in the middle of what’s happening where you can hear it, smell it and participate in it.

Well, time to look at the Sunday morning paper, another favorite activity of mine.

Philip

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Can the Church Compete With a Gang?


I just finished reading a book about a gang called MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha. It reminded me of when we had a gang living across the street but the gang members we knew were infants compared to the damage done by MS-13.

We were delivered from our gang problem after some of their members were involved in the shooting death of a ten-year-old named Auralia Cisneros. Her dad was a drug dealer and the gang tried to rob him. After that the police cracked down on them very hard. From what I understand, most of the gang is in jail now.

What is really swirling around in my head after reading this book is the group that the gang was recruiting from. It was the kids whose parents were too busy to watch over them. It was the kids who were separated from others by language; many of them from El Salvador. They were the rejects, the displaced, the kids looking for a family. I think you get the ones I am talking about.

These are the kids the Church should be reaching; but how? We can offer these “orphans” a real family but how do we get to them and touch them in a way stronger than the gangs do? I don’t have the answer and I’m not even sure what the questions are. I would recommend that you read this book for many reasons. As scary as it can be, we need to know what we are facing in our communities. The church may able to combat these gangs in a way the police can’t.

Philip

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Plumbers and Sex


My Dad was a plumber. He was a member of Local Union #3 for over sixty years. He was a good man and a hard worker. He dressed appropriate for the job and plumber’s crack wasn’t something you would have associated with him.

As a young boy I worked with my Dad in the summer for many years. I learned a lot but I think the real reason he took me along was so my mom would have a break; I was a very difficult child. I continued to work with him until I was around sixteen.

It was working with my dad that I first learned about sex. There was the thing about male and female threads, nipples, couplings and unions. Things fit together in a certain way and made something else. The male fits inside the female. I understood what it meant in the plumbing way and a little embarrassed as I understood where the male and female language came from.

My guess is there is a movement somewhere trying to rename these types of threads into something more politically correct.

A simple understanding of male and female anatomy shows God’s creative design. Things fit together in a certain way and when they do, something else is made. There is coupling and union and nipples, male and female. It used to be so simple.

Now we have the promotion of homosexuality and something so ridiculous called transgendered. In rejecting God’s created order people have come up with all kinds of foolishness. Learn from the plumber: male and male don’t fit together and neither does female and female.

Philip

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Obama Wants You – To Tattle

Here is an interesting story from the White House on their efforts to oppose those who would speak out against ObamaCare.

Here is the link to the page at the White House.

The first video doesn’t play reliably so here is a link to the YouTube page.

I love this line from the video: “One of my jobs is to keep track of all the disinformation out there…”

Here is the section from the middle of the White House page that concerns me:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Does that seem a little weird to you? Sure, there are people who knowingly lie and others who pass along misinformation but I wonder why the White House really wants Americans to tattle on their neighbors.

It would be one thing to have a site where you direct people to get the “truth”, that would be reasonable. However, it seems very suspect for the White House to be going about things in this way. It makes me think of other times in history where neighbors and even children were trained to rat out their friends, neighbors and parents. Can you say “Heil Hitler”?

One thing that is very clear to me is that Obama is a master of rhetoric, at least when the teleprompter is working. He says exactly what he wants the crowd to hear. The listen to him, you would think he is the most prolife president ever. To look at his actions, you see that he is the most proabortion president in history. The lesson is that you can’t go by what he says, you have to watch what he does.

Well, I must to go; I have some people I need to turn in.

Philip

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Riptide


I read a recent column in World Magazine entitled Riptide. I had heard of a riptide in a book I read about survival. I guess if you live in areas around an ocean you would know about them but living in Colorado I was ignorant. In the World article, riptides were used to describe the problem some Christians get into because of the influence of media such as songs, movies and television.

After reading the article I did some reading about riptides so I would understand them better. It was very interesting. A riptide can happen anywhere there are waves. Basically you have the wave coming toward shore and then the returning water forms a riptide. The problem is that if you get caught in a riptide it pulls you out into the ocean. It’s futile to try to swim back to shore as you will quickly become exhausted. Instead, if you swim across the rip you will soon reach the waves that will help you back to shore. By observation you can see the riptide and avoid it.

Well that is my poor lesson on riptides so back to the World article. A point of the article was that we can become deeply influenced by the media we expose ourselves to. An example is the many times where adultery is glorified and we find ourselves cheering when the couple comes together. Very subtly we have been influenced. We may agree with the Bible that adultery is wrong but our actions betray our beliefs.

Because we enjoy entertainment, we like to tell ourselves that we can listen to certain songs, watch certain movies and television and it won’t have a negative effect. In our ignorance we swim into the rip. Before we know it, we are far from shore. Or maybe we know what we are doing and prefer to believe that all the warnings against riptides are a bunch of legalistic nonsense.

I’ve seen the casualties: Christians who “all of a sudden” did something that seemed so out of character; unthinkable things. Maybe the only surprise should be that anyone thought that sowing isn’t followed by reaping. The diet of bad media leads us to actions that contradict beliefs. As the World article pointed out: “…the pictures in our heads sometimes influence us more than the words of the Bible, even when we know the latter to be true.”

Maybe it’s friendships. We start out thinking that we are going to influence the unbeliever by being their friend. It’s a noble aspiration if we are the one who leads in the relationship. What seems to happen so often is that soon the unbeliever is in control and we are fellowshipping on their level. They won’t come with us to church but we go with them to the bar. We don’t want them to think we are too holy so we watch the movies they want to see and we laugh at jokes that would cause Jesus to blush. Soon we find ourselves out to sea and becoming exhausted trying to get back to shore. Tragedy occurs unless we get out of the rip.

So what are those riptides? What is it that keeps pulling us away from Jesus? Is it something we are watching or listening to or the people we hang out with or maybe something completely different? There is a law of sowing and reaping. As Galatians 6:8 says, For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. What seeds are being planted? The crop is on the way.

If you want to learn about riptides, here is a very interesting video.



Philip

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Colorado Casino Crap


On July 2, 2009, rules for Colorado casinos changed. They can now be open 24 hours, the maximum bet went from $5 to $100 and “games” such as roulette and craps were added.

A story in the Denver Post this morning reported that business at Colorado casinos was up about 20%. The story estimated that the casino profits for the month of July would be $78 to $81 million. The same month last year brought in about $65.7 million.

I thought how different the casino business is from a regular business. If people go to the grocery store and spend $80 million they have a lot to show for it. That same money spent at casinos leaves people with nothing. I know some would argue that the value was entertainment. For a few that probably is true. My dad made occasional trips to Central City or Black Hawk and would spend a few bucks. To him it was the same as someone else spending money on a movie ticket.

I wonder how much of the $80 million spent at the casinos left people and families hurting. You can blow your whole paycheck a lot quicker with $100 bets than with $5. I wonder how many people who previously came to their senses at the 2 a.m. closing time now gamble on until some other reality slaps them in the face.

Another thing mentioned in the story is that the casinos are trying to draw in a younger crowd. One uses female dealers in “revealing outfits.” I guess there is no end to their creativity. The casinos in their greed gladly put another vice before the vulnerable.

It may take some time but I’m sure we will see the social fallout from the new casino rules in Colorado.

Philip

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Feelings

Thoughts from: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

This is from a section about security:

My feelings are important for many things. They are essential and valuable. They keep me aware of much that is true and real. But they teach me next to nothing about God or my relation to God. My security comes from a God who is, not from how I feel. Discipleship is a decision to live by what I know about God, not by what I feel about him or myself or my neighbors.
How true this is but hard to practice sometimes. Feelings can easily overwhelm the right thing that needs to be done. They can lead us in the wrong direction. They can convince us of something contrary to the truth.

I think the antidote is to be filled with God's Word. Then the Holy Spirit can bring truth to mind during the times when feelings are taking us in the wrong direction.

Philip

Monday, July 27, 2009

Obama the Meddler


After reading about the recent situation with Obama speaking out against the Cambridge, Mass., police department, I am wondering if there is any problem he thinks he can’t fix.

If you are not familiar with this story, here is a link.

Police showed up to the professor’s house to check out a possible break-in and he ended up getting arrested for disorderly conduct. A black Harvard professor was arrested by a white policeman; I guess that is racism on it’s face. Obama said the police “acted stupidly.” I wonder if he really had enough information to comment so broadly on this local situation.

Obama the messiah is now Obama the meddler. Soon we will have Obama’s messy fingerprints everywhere.

Maybe Obama thinks that the Federal government has a right to intrude at the most local level. Apparently, there is no problem too small for a big federal policeman.

Maybe this is an indicator of things to come. Maybe this shows us his real view of government.

Philip

Monday, July 13, 2009

Self Examination


Recently I was thinking about the need for self-examination. My thoughts were provoked by a section from the Samson Society Path. Here is what it says: I develop the daily disciplines of prayer, study and self-examination.

I do fairly well with prayer and study but I feel a lack in the self-examination area. I wondered if there was a list or something like that that would help. I did a Google search and found the results somewhat humorous. There was breast self-exam, testicular self-exam, various cancer self-exams and gynecological self-exam but I had to sift through a lot of results to find anything close to what I was looking for. In the end I was disappointed not to find what I wanted.

What really motivated my quest is knowing how easy it is to be self-deceived. We see it all the time; people fully convinced that what they are doing is okay yet the Bible says something different. Or maybe the law or another source of wisdom contradicts their belief.

My wife’s grandmother used to say, “You can’t put God in a box.” That was usually her way of justifying something she wanted to do or believe when the Bible said something different. It’s easy for any of us to do the same either through ignorance or stubbornness.

So how do we examine ourselves? Honesty would be the starting place but there are so many times when we think something is right because it’s what we think. My perspective, background and experiences color so much of my thinking without me realizing it.

I finally came to the conclusion that this is one of the places where we really need other people in our life. If they are honest, they can tell us a lot about ourselves. It’s another place where God pushes us toward community.

In the Samson Society, a focus of the meeting is a time to tell the truth about yourself. It’s a time where you can speak without interruption, without judgment or without someone giving you tips on the solution to your problem. There is something very healthy about that kind of environment. It’s an opportunity to look inside and learn to tell the truth.

The real strength of the Samson Society is the “Silas” relationships that develop. This is where the real work happens. It’s where another person, in the privacy and security of that relationship is able to help me see things about me that I may be blind to or to give me a different perspective.

As I thought more about self-examination I realized that it will never be complete if it only involves self. I need others who know me to help with that process.

The other night I was reading an article in World Magazine about Mark Sanford, the disgraced governor who had to publically confess his adultery. It quoted a spiritual leader in Sanford’s community who tried through the years to get him into an accountability type relationship. Even though Sanford agreed with the need, it never materialized. Another problem was he rarely made it to church. Now his sin is public knowledge, the future of his 20 year marriage is in doubt, and his four young children will have to live with the consequences of his sin. With the right kind of relationships in his life, he may have avoided this disaster.

Honest examination of our lives both through our own and others eyes will go a long way to keep us out of trouble and to guide us on the right path.

If you are a man, I would recommend you check out the Samson Society. If you are in the Denver area, check out our local chapter. It may provide what is missing in your life. To get an idea of what a meeting is like, click this link.

Philip

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reasonable Service


Thoughts from: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

The section I have been reading in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is about service. It’s looking at Psalm 123. As I read the section I’m going to comment on, I realized it could have been called worship as well. Within the thoughts on Psalm 123 it looks at Romans 12:1.

Here is Romans 12:1 from the KJV: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The section that grabbed my attention uses The Message for the Scripture text:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering.” (Rom 12:1) The Psalms emphasis on actual physical service (not a spiritual intention, not a desire to be of service) is picked up in the invitation to present our everyday, ordinary life. The motivation for service (not coerced not demanded) is picked up in the phrase “God helping you.” But most significant is the remarkable last phrase logiken latreian, “place it before God as an offering,” which another translation renders “reasonable service.” Service that is, that makes sense. The service we offer to God (in worship) is extended into specific acts that serve others. We learn a relationship – an attitude toward life, a stance – of servitude before God, and then we are available to be of use to others in acts of service.

I think these thoughts can give us a clue to what worship is all about. When we meet together at church we sing, pray, listen to Scripture and preaching. We are encouraged to live in service to God and to others – in tangible ways. That is true worship. Our whole life is caught up in God not just the time we spend at church.

Worship is an all out celebration of God that is manifested in our everyday life. When I go to church, many times I am moved in a very emotional way. I have great feelings, brought about by the words and songs I hear. Those feelings are pleasurable and I think that is good. I don’t just want to know about God I want to have a great time with Him. Now if those feelings were an end in themselves, not much would be accomplished; most of the time they lead to a better everyday life.

Worship is sometimes mysterious but I think I now have a better idea of what it can do.

Philip

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My Chance

.
What if abortion ended the life of the only child you could ever have? That's what this song is about.



Here is a link to the story behind the song.

Life is a gift. Don't take it for granted.

Philip

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father’s Day 2009

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!

I heard something very meaningful last week about fatherhood. It said the important thing was to be involved in your kid’s life and not to get hung up because you are not perfect. That meant a lot to me. It’s encouraging to know that just being present goes a long way.

Here is a link to a story I read in the newspaper yesterday about President Obama encouraging fathers to be involved in their kids’ lives. I commend him for talking about that. I would disagree with him on almost everything else but on that we agree. Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Obama said that growing up without a father left a hole in his heart. It didn’t matter how great his mother and grandparents were, he still missed having a dad.

I’m thankful I had such a wonderful father. Here is a link to a tribute I wrote about him a few years ago. He has been dead for almost five years now but he is still a very important part of my life.

Today there will be a Father’s Day celebration in my home. I will celebrate the privilege of being a father to the wonderful children God gave to me. That is one of the best blessings I have ever had.

Philip

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scared of Submission?

I heard an interesting sermon the other day. It was good except for the part where the speaker choked.

He hit the part in Ephesians 5 that deals with submission. His comments began with Ephesians 5:21, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. He explained that it means that we are to out-serve one another. I agree that service is a good thing and probably most of us could do quite a bit more.

So then on to verse 22, Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Almost apologetically, he reiterated that it means that the couple is to out-serve one another. He then went on to say that if a wife is having a problem submitting it may be that the husband is not loving her as Christ loved the church. I agree that sometimes that is the problem but not always. Christ loves us perfectly but many refuse to submit to Him.

As an aside, he said that it really bothered him when in a wedding ceremony he is requested to leave the wife submitting to her husband part out. Last week I heard another preacher comment that if he is requested to leave that part of the ceremony out, he tells the couple to find someone else to marry them.

There is a lot being written lately about the feminization of the church and how women are viewed as being more spiritual and men are viewed as the root of most problems. If we can just get men and boys to act more like women, everything will be better. It’s some of this thinking that has preachers walking on eggshells when it comes telling the truth about certain subjects.

Yes, there are many men who are far from perfect – actually all of them. Yes, many times we have not loved our wives as we should. Still, men need to be men and Scripture has a lot to say about how that plays out.

What bothered me about the sermon is that a quick look in any Bible reference gives the proper definition of submission. We know that to submit to Christ means that He is the Lord of all. We don’t argue or debate with Him, we do what He says. We know that a soldier who submit’s to his superior can’t spin it to mean that we are to mutually serve one another. He knows that he does what he is told.

Here is a definition of submit from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:
1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject one’s self, obey
4) to submit to one’s control
5) to yield to one’s admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject

So we see that Paul had a lot more in mind than that we should just serve each other. I think that verse 21 wraps a context around it. There is a place for submitting to each other. A wise leader gets input from many sources, his wife included. We consult and consider and seek advice but in marriage there is an order that God has established. It’s really the same order that is in all of society. We are to submit to God and to church authorities. Children are to submit to their parents. Employees submit to their bosses. It keeps order and has nothing to do with who is smarter, more spiritual or more pretty.

As the message went on, he skipped the rest of the admonition from verses 23 and 24: For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. That further clarifies what God wanted us to know about this relationship.

Yes I know what Ephesians 5 says next. It’s a strong exhortation of how husbands should treat their wives. It’s something that many husbands, me included, don’t do very well. I agree completely with it and willingly receive rebuke and correction where I fail.

The question I have though is why is it becoming so hard for many pastors to properly speak of things like submission to women? I think it’s a good question to ponder.

Philip

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