Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mom and Chicken Soup

I read this morning of a friend who was sick. Her mother came over and made her homemade chicken and vegetable soup. My wife did that recently for one of our sons.

One of the things every one of us shares is having a mother; I had two. One was my birth-mother and the other was a lady who could not have children and adopted me when I was three months old. She is the only one I ever knew as a mother.

Due to various health problems, my mom was sick a lot. It was serious stuff and fills a lot of my childhood memories. She died when I was sixteen.

As a devoted mother, my mom did the best she could with me. My guess is that chicken soup made its appearance somewhere during my early years.

It's not easy being a mother to a child like I was; even harder when your own health is bad.

I have two distinct memories of times when I was sick with a cold and cough. Now this was back before all the candy flavored medicines came out. One time my mom was trying to give me some Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup. I don't know if it was as bad tasting as I remember or if it was just the contrary child at work but she actually had to chase me through the house. Finally I was cornered in the bathroom shower where I sobbed.  At that point my memory goes blank so I don't know who prevailed.

Another time I was given a Faustin formula for cough which was called a "strong drink". Normally it consisted of Old Stagg Bourbon and 7UP which was similar to Sprite. I hated the taste of Bourbon which ended up helping a lot in my teen years. There was always a bottle around our house but even with a passion for getting drunk I had to force the stuff down while holding my nose. Now I am thankful for that bit of external restraint.

Anyway, on this occasion the mixture was Bourbon and honey. I think the theory was that the honey would coat the throat with the "medicinal" properties of the Bourbon. Well as usual, I was an uncooperative patient and would not drink the mixture. It was left sitting on the night stand.  Sometime during the night my continued cough convinced me I should submit. I reached for the cup and took a drink. What you need to know is that by then, the honey had settled to the bottom so I got a mouthful of horrible tasting fire-water. That went a long way towards keeping me abstinent for a few more years.

So what struck me this morning as I thought about the chicken soup was what I missed. I didn't get to have a mom during my adult years. She wasn't at my wedding, I didn't get to see her playing with my children and she didn't get to pass on Faustin stuff to my wife. I could go on for a long time.

Be thankful for your mother even if she is less than ideal. If you are an adult and have a mother in your life it is usually a great blessing and one that can be taken for granted.

Thank her and be thankful.

Philip

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Adoption - Thoughts at Christmas


I spent the first few months of my life in an orphanage. I was adopted when I was about three months old. My birth name was William Paul Bibelhausen.

I have a brother who is two years older and a sister who is three years younger. They were adopted also. I remember going to the orphanage when we were picking out my sister. I remember being in a courtroom, before a judge related to her adoption. I have a picture in my mind of my mom and dad in the front seat of the car with my sister between them. She turned around and gave my brother and me a huge smile. She was now part of our family and we were all very happy.

One of the first clues I had of being adopted was a time when a neighbor lady was breastfeeding her baby. Later my mom told us that we were bottle babies. There might have been more said that I don't remember but somehow I knew I was adopted although I may not have understood all it meant at that time. I was probably around five years old then.

I have never had any bad feelings about being adopted and have never felt abandoned by my birth mother. I do have a friend who was raised in an orphanage who was angry with his birth mother when he met her. He wondered why she gave him up. That may be the difference. I felt like I was raised in a good home by good parents. I have never had a desire to meet my birth mother although I am very happy that I wasn't aborted.

In a Bible study recently someone made a comment that we can't choose our relatives. While that is true in most cases, I thought back that my parents chose me. When I was about eighteen, I was at a Bill Gothard seminar and one of the things he said was that God placed adopted children in special homes. I agree with that and am thankful.

As I said, I was raised in a good home by good parents. It wasn't always easy though. From what I hear, I was an especially difficult child. I also know that my mother desperately loved me. She wanted so much to be a mother. She was devastated years before when due to a hemorrhage, she had surgery and could never bear children.

From childhood, my mom was sick. She had rheumatic fever that led to future problems and many other illnesses all through her life. I have many memories when I was a child of her being sick and in the hospital. She died when I was sixteen from a heart condition related to the rheumatic fever.

After that, my dad did his best to raise us well. There were friends and relatives who came into our home to help as they had at times when my mom was in the hospital.

That must have been a very difficult and frightening time for my dad. I had already begun my decent into drugs and my sister became pregnant a couple years later. He used to say, "Things would have been different if Ida (my mom) had been there." I'm sure that would have been true.

I am thankful that I was adopted. I’m sad to think of all the kids now days who don’t get that chance because of abortion.

As I ponder the meaning of Christmas, I am thankful that Jesus made it possible for me to be an adopted child of God.

Philip

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Lesson of Tim Tebow

To begin I must say that I am not a sports fan and know very little about football. I'm not the person who could show from statistics or analysis what kind of quarterback Tim Tebow is. I also have not watched the games he has played in this year.

But I have followed Tim Tebow very close and am moved by what I see. He seems genuine. He loves football and sees his position as a platform. He also views football as just a game and from what I've read said that God doesn't care who wins or loses. That would probably make him a blasphemer in many sports fans minds.

So here is what I know. Some amazing things have happened in the fourth quarter and overtime when Tim Tebow is playing and not all of it has been from Tim's hands. Other players both on the Broncos and on the teams they have played have contributed to the wins.

I am 56 years old. I am close to the fourth quarter of my life and may already be in it. My life so far looks like many of the Bronco games Tim Tebow has played in. I have scored a few points and have missed many opportunities. I don't have a lot to show for the years I have lived. It would be easy to say my life has been a failure and it's not going to change in the future; I will never be a great husband or father.

But here is the lesson of Tim Tebow for me. The game is not over yet. I can't let my past failures paint the future. God can turn things around and bring glory to Himself through my life.

Tim Tebow is a very inspirational player. He seems to bring out the best in the team. He helps them believe they can succeed.

He is not a one man show either. He doesn't speak in terms of I but we. He recognizes that the whole team is essential. He doesn't demean the other players when they miss an opportunity but convinces them that they will do better in the future.

When the bad history of my life plays in my mind the volume is turned all the way up. It's hard to see anything changing for the good. I feel like the people who pack up their stuff and go home early, convinced this game is lost. Tim Tebow shows me it's not. An exciting win may be just around the corner.

With God, amazing things are possible. When I really think about it, He always seems to wait until the last minute to do things. He also loves redemption. He fixes broken things.

Another thing I know is that there will be future losses. I am going to sin. I am going mess up and miss good opportunities. I hope the people around me will yell encouragement rather than say they knew it wouldn't last and that I'm no good after all.

Tim Tebow teaches us to hang on in prayer. It doesn't matter how long we have prayed. It doesn't matter if we don't see an answer. It's not over yet; persist.

A good thing to remember is that our opponent is getting weak and may be overconfident in the fourth quarter. They may be leaving the game, already convinced of a win. We need to keep playing with all that we have.

I will close with this quote by Sir Winston Churchill:

When you feel you cannot continue in your position for another minute, and all that is in human power has been done, that is the moment when the enemy is most exhausted, and when one step forward will give you the fruits of the struggle you have borne.

It's not just Tebow time but God's time to shine.

Philip

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving - In All

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

"YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!" I heard you think that. I have too.

Now it's front in center in our mind: The thing. Yes - the thing that collides with this verse.

The thing that is wrecking our life. The anchor that has slowed us or stopped us from moving forward in our life. The thing that causes rage or the looking for medication.

It doesn't matter what it is. Some thing entered our life; now it dominates. It may go under the surface for a while but it always dominates. Maybe there is a legion of these things.

But look again: In everything give thanks.... It's a small word but it changes everything. It liberates us to practice this Scripture truth. IN not FOR. In everything not for everything. Do you see?

I was hit by a car on my bike last week. Giving thanks in that situation is different than giving thanks for it. I am not a Calvinist. That person would say God caused or orchestrated or willed the accident so I have to give thanks FOR it.

I do believe in a big, huge, sovereign God. He isn't surprised by anything. I also live in a fallen world where horrible things happen. Evil is everywhere. The devil and demons are real and in some way are out to wreck my life. These two or three colliding things are beyond my ability to understand. I think error and false doctrine come when we try to put it in a neat little box that we can understand and explain.

So back to my bike wreck: I am thankful IN it. I'm thankful to be alive. I'm thankful I wasn't seriously hurt. I'm thankful that I learned to be more observant; in the future I will make sure the driver of a car turning right on a red light sees me before I pass in front of them. I'm thankful that I was able to meet with the driver of the car a couple days later and extend grace to him. I'm thankful that he took responsibility and paid for the damages to my bike. I'm thankful for a new bike that I like even more than my old one.

So a bad situation in a fallen world is redeemed because I can give thanks in it. I can turn it around in my mind. And something else can happen. Here is what Romans 8:28 says: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. God will work this situation for good. He will take a situation that was meant for bad and redeem it.

Thanksgiving and gratitude will save us from ourselves and an evil world. When we choose to give thanks we won't be tricked into blaming God for evil or for not caring about us or what is going on in our life. We will have a completely different perspective.

So, about your thing: In and not for. Start now.

Philip

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mistakes

I was hit by a car yesterday. I was near the end of a great bike ride on a beautiful afternoon. I was about 10 minutes from home after a 20 mile ride.

I had a green light and headed into the crosswalk. The driver of the car was making a right turn on the red light. Thankfully I hit the side of his car rather than him broadsiding me.

The driver made a mistake. He should have looked to the right before turning. I know I have done the same thing myself.

What a jumble of memories I have of the accident. Things are coming to me this morning that I didn't remember yesterday. I have a slight pain in my left rib. That is where my body hit the car. Right after the collision I felt okay. Someone came to my aid and was asking if they should call an ambulance. I didn't think that was necessary. I didn't hit that hard, although there was quite a dent in his front fender right above the tire.

I expected my bike to be bent up. It ended up better than I thought. After some adjustments I rode it home.

The driver made a mistake that could have ended up worse for both of us. He will have some consequences and once my bike gets repaired or replaced I should be okay. I'm thankful for minimal damage.

I could have been in his place. He was more shook up than I was. I'm glad I wasn't the one who had messed up this time. But maybe I did. My wife said I should have called the police. Maybe so. What if he denies responsibility later she questioned. I don't think he will. He didn't seem like that type of a person. I probably should have called someone to help me think straight.

I called him on the phone later. He was very sorry and still upset. I imagine he will have his own flashbacks. It had to be very traumatic for him too.

So on this Thanksgiving Day I am very grateful for many things. I am also grateful that we can learn through our mistakes and that in God's mercy we get cut a lot of slack.

It's good to remember these things.

Philip

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Body and Blood

I am reminded this morning. Body and blood; not just any but that of Jesus. We have communion.

Resignation in the garden: there is no other way. Sweating blood in anticipation.

Betrayal and arrest.

Mocking, hitting, beating. Flesh ripped away. Crown of thorns.

Rejection.

Dragging a cross through the streets.

Nailed to a timber on a hill. Agony.

Separation from the Father. Unthinkable.

Spear to the side: last blood spilled. Death brings darkness.

Forgiveness and reconciliation. I am a friend of God.

Thanksgiving.

Philip

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Fitness Pal

I was surprised yesterday by a message from my food diary app. I have used it for 365 days straight. I credit that app with helping me lose 70 pounds last year and keeping it off for 7 months now.

It can be very difficult to lose weight if you don't know the calorie value of what you are eating. If you are guessing, you are probably way low – that’s why we progressively add weight. Some people try extreme exercise, hoping that that will help. Others try fad diets or think there are foods they can never eat again. That doesn’t work in the long term either. I have written in other blog posts of the need for a lifestyle change so I won’t repeat that here.

My Fitness Pal is the app I use. It is available for most phone platforms or you can use their website. I use it on an IPod Touch. It is completely free. It is also very easy to use and only takes a few minutes of time each day to track what you have eaten or what you are thinking of eating. I have been spared from many high calorie meals by looking up foods before I eat them.

Here is the link to the MyFitnessPal website where you can set up an account and get the apps. All of the data syncs between app and website so you can enter info in either.

You can also track exercise in the app and get a realistic picture of how many calories are burned. This is an important part of weight loss too. If I walk 30 minutes at a very brisk pace I will burn between 160 and 180 calories. If I ride my bike very hard for an hour at 14 mph I will burn about 500.

Well I hope what I have learned in my weight loss journey will help you be successful in yours.

Here is a link to other posts about my weight loss journey.

Philip

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Grief


It comes in waves; it settles in layers. It brings pain, sorrow and sadness.

Today was a day of celebration that turned to sadness. My son Matthew turned 13 today. We celebrated him being a part of out family.

Then my 23 year old daughter, one who could be called a prodigal, brings news that tears the joy out of me. She is one who pursued God with a passion. Then came bad company; the kind that Scripture says corrupts good morals. It was a spectacular slide downward. She abandoned her husband of 1 ½ years and took up with an infidel. Her whole life changed.

On the way down she joined the company of those who call themselves “childless by choice.” Yes, this from a lady who so loved children and would be an amazing mother. But caught by the snare of the world, the one that says there is so much more than the blessing of children. Money, possessions and fun were to be chased after.

So the news of today: Some health issues I won’t go into but leading her to a hysterectomy. This bad news for a 23 year old, my young daughter and one I love but feel so far from.

And she says it’s all okay, no big deal, didn’t want kids anyway. But is a rock thrown into a pond with no ripples? The ones that hit me feel like a tsunami. Is a curse come upon her; the one called barrenness? Oh I know that is such archaic language; and such archaic thought. Yes in a society that no longer values children in the Biblical way.

I grieve for my young daughter even if she can’t or won’t or maybe will at some time later. And to be honest, I grieve for me. Yes, this will affect me and my wife and the legacy we had hoped for.

And I will pray for something else. I pray for her heart to soften, to be broken by the gentle hand of God that it may be made tender like His once again and that she will return to Him. And I pray that she will not have such a final thing happen to her. That she and the news will change. There is so much being lost now in the place where she dwells.

Will you hurt with me for this wandering lamb? Will you now say a prayer for her? Thanks.

Philip

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fear

Bandit
We have a dog that is full of fear. We got him from the pound. Who knows what happened in his life before he came to our home.

When I walk I take Bandit with me. He knows when I am getting ready and gets all excited. Sometimes he is disappointed when he finds out I am going on a bike ride. I look the same for both. The clue is I either get the leash or water bottles.

It's on the walks that I recognized his fears. He will see someone or something and his pace changes, he slinks down and I have to encourage him along. It used to seem funny to me.

One of Bandit's bad habits is barking at the mailman. Some people around the house have said he is being protective. On our walks I have noticed that when we encounter a mailman he becomes especially fearful.

With some things I have read recently and some work I am doing in my own life a light went on. I think the reason he freaks out about the mailman is not because he is being protective but because he is terrified.

I see the same thing in my life. Certain experiences have led to various fears in my life and those fears help cause me to react in wrong ways.

I have fears about being abandoned. I have fears of relationships ending. I am just discovering how these fears influence my behavior. An example: why go to all the work of trying to build relationships with other men when they are just going to fall apart? And why would someone want to be my friend anyway?

So I am terrified and barking at the mailman.

Glad to hear your thoughts on either me or Bandit.

Philip

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Procrastination

What if my procrastination led to the death of some of my friends and family? That is a question I had to deal with this week.

Procrastination is one of my sins. That's not saying that putting off things is sinful but in my case sometimes it is. There are many things I do not do when they need to be done. In my misplaced priorities I get certain things accomplished I want to do each day while other more important things are not.

On our car the brake rotors were warped and needed to be replaced. It was a job I was going to do with supervision. The weeks and months went by as I always hoped for a better or more convenient time. The brakes worked okay; just a rumbling stop sometimes.

Well last weekend two friends, my son and I were coming back from a retreat near Woodland Park. It was a 90 mile drive, mostly on the highway at 75 mph. After dropping the two friends off, we soon noticed something was wrong. There was a strange noise and then another. We investigated but couldn't find the source. I drove on and soon my brakes went spongy. I pulled over and we looked for fluid leaks or something else. I decided to drive home slowly. After about a mile there was a grinding noise. Now it was apparent: a wheel bearing on the front was bad. Bad is too mild a word. It was seized and had almost burned and ground the retaining bolt away. If that had happened, the wheel would have come off.

All of a sudden, there was an incredible sense of protection. This catastrophic failure could have happened at a much less convenient place or it could have happened at 75 miles an hour. It could have been a fatal accident.

A sense of chastisement came: my stupid procrastination! Look at what almost happened. Over and over in my mind I replayed what happened and what could have happened. The car was at the repair shop Monday and Tuesday; it gave me a lot of time to think.

I was let off the hook a little when the mechanic told me that the brake rotor problem probably didn't cause the bearing problem. But I also knew that if the brake job had been done sooner then maybe the bearing would have been replaced or at least lubed better.

So did I learn my lesson?  I will confess that I probably have not. Sure I will be more sensitive to brake issues in the future but my sin is much deeper than that.

I am learning something from the Samson Society meetings I go to. Here is the first step of the path I am learning to walk: ...I surrender to God in simple faith - making no promises but merely asking for His aid. So I know it will do no good to promise that I will never procrastinate again or to resolve to do better. I am a broken, messed up guy who needs God's help. I need a power that doesn't reside in me. I have no bootstraps to pull up.

I also have confessed my sin to other people. I admit that I need the strength of community and I want to break the power that secret sin has.

I also feel foolish. Isn't it ridiculous that I can't be better motivated or better organized so the to-do list gets done in a timely manner? That is where I need God's help. I need Him to help me do what is important. I need him and others to bring the resources that will help in that process. What I need is not more of me.

So this is my story and my confession. I am not victorious. I can't talk of the way I used to be. This is me right now. I trust God's grace and power will come into my life and make the changes that need to happen.

I would be glad to hear your input, especially if you have dealt with this sin yourself.

Philip

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Drift - How did I get here?

Drifting....

It was the stuff good stories are made of: a beautiful summer day, a raft, a lake and a few boys. What fun to play in the water and drift around on the raft. Time stands still or it passes. On this day both happened.

This lake was no pond. Marston Reservoir is near what we now call Southwest Plaza. When I drive by it my thoughts always go back to that summer day. I see how big it is and picture that day in my mind.

One thing that makes drift dangerous is that it is silent. We easily miss what is going on. I also think it is the opposite of intentional. To be intentional on that day could have meant riding a power boat very fast in a straight line. A clear goal helps: Where do we want to end up?

My life is full of drift. There are many things I need to do but days drift by and they remain undone. The oldest item on my to-do list is dated December 1, 2010. I have things I can do to promote my Handyman business that I do for awhile and then forget.

Two events in my life help correct my drift. One is a weekly Samson Society meeting where I meet with some other guys. It reminds me of the important things I need to do in my life. The other is a monthly business meeting where I am reminded of the principals of cultivating business by referral. Every week and every month I am reminded of the basic things.

The raft drifted and the boys played. Time passed and it was getting close to meal time. If they drifted to the opposite shore it was going to be a very long walk back. Stevie decided he was going to swim back to their starting point.

Another problem with drift is many times, when we realize where we have strayed, we over correct; a radical move to get back on track; a move that may make things worse. We forget the basic things - the fundamentals, and come up with a whole new plan. What we need is calm and appropriate correction. 

Things could have been different that day. The boys could have joined together or taken turns and paddled back to their starting point. But that's not what happened. Stevie started swimming back; swimming way too far. Soon he was in distress, soon he disappeared.

Stevie's family was our old neighbors. He and my older brother were friends when they lived across the street. We visited their family at their new house sometimes.

I remember the next day the newspaper had a full page of pictures of the search. This was back when reporters and photographers wandered around looking for news. There were boats on the water, people who were watching and the one I remember the clearest: a picture of the hook they used to retrieve the body. For Stevie, his family and many others, time stood still that day.

One thing we can do to prevent drift is to have anchors in place. These are the fundamentals that keep us in line or that we go back to when we stray. The most important is Scripture. This anchor needs to be set daily because every day the world is trying to pull us its way. We need something firm to hold on to.

When drift is small it's not too hard to correct. As time goes on the distance back to shore can become almost insurmountable. Thankfully we have a God who can overcome the impossible if our stubbornness doesn't sink us.

Philip

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy 33rd Anniversary Wendy

.
Today is my 33rd wedding anniversary. On October 14, 1978, I married Wendy. We have a lot to celebrate.

We have eight children that we get to see on this earth and four that died before they were born. We will see them someday in a much better place. That is the Faustin nation.

God has blessed us in so many ways. Through all the trials and tribulations of life, we have stayed together. It’s not always easy but the reward is huge.

I love my wife and appreciate the daily blessing she is to me.

I celebrate another anniversary today. On October 14, 1973, Jesus became my savior and lord. Here is my story.

I have much to be thankful for on this day. I thank you Jesus and Wendy for being in my life. Thanks to both of you for putting up with me. Thanks to both of you for not giving up on me. Thanks for loving me.

Philip

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Castaway

...but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27

Why the body? 1 John 2:16 points out that the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes are the source of many problems. Think of the struggles in your own life. Don't many of them come from these two?

What really struck me about this verse is the castaway part. Many versions use the word disqualified. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament as reprobate. It has a very strong meaning.

The great apostle Paul didn't have a casual view of what sin can do and even the capability of his own heart. He realized that diligence in spiritual discipline and battle was essential. He realized that he could spend years preaching about salvation and heaven and then end up missing out on it himself.

I wonder if we might see more holiness in the church if people didn't have a false sense of "eternal security".  As things are now in many places, grace has been cheapened. Many have a sense that they can pretty much live however they want and God is obligated to let them into heaven because they prayed a sinner's prayer at some point or asked Jesus into their heart.

There will come a day of rude awakening for many people. Hopefully it will come before they enter eternity.

Philip

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Burger King Religion

"Have it your way!" Many people not only want food choices their way but also want the same pick and choose when it comes to God.

A couple of mornings ago I was reminded of this verse in my morning reading: Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5

As Christians these days we bristle at the word rules; it seems so rigid. We like flexibility. When we are telling a pagan about God we want to avoid telling them about the rules. We don't want to tell them that if they are going to follow Jesus there are things they can no longer do.

But what is really on my mind is people who call themselves Christians but want to be the Burger King; they want to have it their way.

I think of some people I know of who divorced their spouses. It wasn't for the reasons that Scripture would allow. One even proclaimed they were "happily divorced" yet God says he hates divorce. These people are now preparing to marry someone new. In Scripture, God says they are going to commit adultery.

So what if we really believe the verse I mentioned above? What if people who decide to have it their way end up not getting the prize? Maybe the rules are important, inflexible and only broken with serious consequences.

Now I'm not saying that people lose their salvation when they sin; 1 John 2:1 shows that forgiveness is available. But there is much Scripture that makes it clear that once you are saved you may not always be saved. For that reason we need to be careful not only of how we live our own lives but of what we excuse in others.

Philip

Sunday, September 18, 2011

ekklēsía

The Greek word ekklēsía means "called out." In Scripture it is translated church, assembly or congregation.

God is calling us out of the world. Not just the ultimate of when we go to heaven but in our everyday lives.

So why is there such a movement to look, sound and act like the world? Do we show how "relevant" we are in this way?

Will the world flock to our church if the pastor is hip and the music sounds like what they are currently listening to?

Will the right facial hair and pair of glasses show we are cool? Do we need that certain pair of pants, shirt and "the look" to attract people to Jesus?

And what about things like TV, movies and music? Are we consuming the same things people of the world do, things that influence us in an ungodly way?

God is calling and he is calling us out. Seek to be like Jesus; imitate him and not some pagan celebrity, sports figure or rock star. Find out what it means to be an individual created in the image of God. When you succeed, know that you will be very unfashionable. The world may even hate you. But that's okay; Jesus has gone before us and many other godly witnesses too.

A sick and desperate world isn't looking for more of the same. The world will try to squeeze you into its mold but the people of the world are looking for Christians secure enough to live truth even when it's unpopular and costs a lot. They are looking for leaders and not lemmings.

Philip

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pat Robertson and the Popularity of Divorce

Pat Robertson has brought evangelical thought on divorce to the forefront. If you are not aware of his latest dumb thoughts you can find the story here.

He basically said that it would be okay to divorce a spouse with Alzheimer's because they are essentially dead. I agree that Pat was way off on this one; nothing new for him.

Here is my thought on this. You would have a hard time finding an evangelical church anymore that hasn't flaked out on divorce. Some people would even contend that the divorce rate in the church is higher than outside.

In the church, people are divorcing like it's a change of clothes. Of course they act all serious like they have some grave situation but it gets down to being tired of living with a sinner and forgetting they are one too.

Jesus was so strict about divorce that the disciples, in astonishment said that maybe it is better not to get married. Adultery was the only allowable reason.

Today in our churches, people parade around as saints after divorcing a spouse, receiving much affirmation from their so-called friends. They can't point to adultery as the reason but have a litany of other "justifiable" reasons for their action. Many are the same lame reasons Jesus had in mind when he raised the bar that had fallen low.

The Bible is very clear on allowable divorce - shockingly so. It's also clear that if someone remarries after an "unbiblical" divorce they are committing adultery.

I think one big problem with the whole thing is that many Christian people are ignorant of basic biblical teaching and let the world shape their thoughts. Many pastors also wimp out on teaching the hard truths about divorce and remarriage because they fear the wrath of certain people. This combination leads to the landslide of divorce we now see.

So if we are going to shake our head about Pat Robertson then we may need to look a little closer at ourselves. We are not far behind him.

Philip

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why I Write

As a child I had the need to put words on paper. I remember the small printing press in the toy catalog. I wanted it so bad. It never became mine.

I remember taking a stack of small notebooks my dad brought home from work and filling them with words and pictures. I then put them in our neighbor's mailboxes.

One time I bought set of alphabet rubber stamps. It was tedious but I could put my words on paper in what seemed like professional output.

I loved using my mom's manual typewriter. Erasable bond paper made it possible to fix the mistakes which were many and what a miracle the invention of correction paper was.

Years later, in my early twenties, a ministry I was involved with bought an offset printing press. I became the operator and was able to print whatever I wanted. It was the adult version of the toy printing press I desired but never had.

It's not just words that I put on paper but it’s my thoughts. Things are coming out of my brain that won't come out of my mouth but find their way through my fingers.

I write because I can't not write.

But there is a big problem: I squandered my education. I wasted the years when I had the opportunity to learn the art of writing. I am always wondering if people are put off by my writing by the way I write it. Are they correcting my grammar and punctuation in their mind as they read and wonder why I even try? And many times I accept the fact that few are reading at all. But it doesn't matter; I will still write.

So why would I want to go to a writer's conference? I should have my head examined to even think I could spend a few days with real writers. I hardly like to be with people in social settings anyway. Wouldn't this be even worse; the poser amongst the professionals?

I will allow myself a small dream. Maybe I could win a free trip. Maybe if I won and people knew how I got there, I could get by with it. Maybe they would take pity. Maybe they would understand. Maybe I could learn and as time goes by my writing would be worth reading.

And maybe what I say could help someone out. Maybe someone else could be inspired to walk closer with Jesus. Maybe they would be warned of dangerous things and ideas. Maybe the world would be a little better because I put words on paper.

Here is the writer's conference I am talking about:
Laity Lodge Writer’s Retreat

Philip

Do you know Absalom?

Now it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men as runners before him. Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate; and when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, From what city are you? And he would say, Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel. Then Absalom would say to him, See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king. Moreover, Absalom would say, Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice.
2 Samuel 15:1-4

Absalom was King David's son. As I read this today I was intrigued by the slickness of Absalom. He has issues with his dad and with God's authority. He was unhappy with the way things were and he was going to make things happen his way. He had improvements in mind.

I think we all know an Absalom and at times many of us have played his game. Maybe it's at work or at church or maybe it was on the playground as a child.

We have a plan; we have a vision for a better job or world or ministry or game. The only thing separating us from world dominion is that someone else is in charge.

Of course there are proper ways and channels to work for change but many times we look for the shortcut. We wouldn't say it out loud but we believe God is moving too slow.

So we take matters into our own hands. We look for the disgruntled. We start to highlight the flaws and shortcomings of those in charge. We make it look like we are on the side of those who haven't gotten all they wanted from whoever is charge be they a boss, church leader, etc. The truth is, it's all about us. We couldn't really care less for the welfare of those we are using to accomplish our objectives. And little do they know how neglected they will be once we are in charge.

Watch out for Absalom. He promises great things and he has great plans but it may not be God's plan or way or time. Watch out when someone flatters you and then asks you to join in their new venture. Watch out for the subtle way that authority is undermined. Don't be jumping on the latest bandwagon all the time. Watch out when the new thing will hurt the old thing. 

Remember that all leaders are flawed. Yes, some of them are bad and need to be replaced but most are working hard to accomplish what they are supposed to do. Look for ways to support them. It's easy to tear things down but harder to build and maintain and usually less exciting.

Watch out for Absalom and you watch out for yourself.

Philip

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Story

Last Sunday I was given the opportunity to tell my story in our Sunday school class. It's far from over and I have a long way to travel. I am glad I'm not where I was.


Philip Faustin's Testimony from Bear Valley Church on Vimeo.

Denver Samson Society

God is good! He makes beautiful thing from dust and out of us.

Philip

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Coasting

We like to coast. Pick up a little speed and then just roll along enjoying the scenery. Hills are great for this.

What I find on most of my bike rides is that after I go downhill I soon have another hill to climb. In many cases, the inertia of the downhill helps a lot with the uphill.

When riding with my sons I will try to convey this concept to them. "Pick up some speed, there is a hill coming." Many times I will look back to see Andy lounging his way down the hill, resting and enjoying the scenery. Then he ends up slowly torquing his way up the hill with no help from inertia.

Life is a lot like this. We love to coast. Things are going well, the scenery is great and we are enjoying the ride. Soon trouble appears and we are not ready. Exhaustion and defeat are probable results.

I think things like daily Bible reading and prayer are things we should always do.  When we don't we are not equipped for the coming hills, trials, tribulations and disasters. We soon run out of gas. We panic. We look for help in the wrong places. We ask people to pray for us like all that is needed is a magic incantation to patch things up.

We need the daily rhythms of spiritual disciplines to prepare us for the ups and downs.

Life is hard. I many times find myself on a hill, wondering if this is where I will die. My strength is exhausted, I'm in the lowest gear I have, my muscles are burning and I’m spent. It's in those moments where I am many times surprised to find hidden strength. I hear the voice of Scripture. A prayer from long before for strength is answered. The amazing power of the Holy Spirit becomes available. And I make it over another hill.

But all along the road are casualties; I know many: people who coasted too long; people who forgot to pedal. People who thought it would always be a scenic and easy ride.

I know I could end up there too so I keep pedaling on the downhill. I try to keep a constant pace. I keep filling my mind with Bible thoughts to oppose the daily onslaught from the world, the flesh and the devil. I pray for myself and others that we might live a life pleasing to God.

I know another hill is coming. I hear the voice calling, "Pick up some speed!"

Philip

Monday, July 18, 2011

Emergency

I get a message from my emergency phone number. Someone calling The Handymen. Not just leaving a message but calling the special number. They need help right away!

It's my neighbor. The power is out in half of his house. He wonders if I have the name of an electrician. He sounds desperate. He has done what he can; no help there.

It's not the kind of problem you want to leave or wait for tomorrow. The refrigerator is out and it's getting hot in the house. I know his wife is going through chemotherapy and the heat is hard for her to bear.

I tell him who I know about and hope he can get help soon. I'm then reminded to say a prayer. God can help in these type of situations too.

I'm reminded of one of our recent emergencies. The furnace quit working and freezing weather was on the way. I was glad to pay to get it fixed.

It seems in many emergencies we need other people. Wisdom and help come if we ask. It's not a time to keep to ourselves and try to take care of it alone. Even moral support goes a long way.

Maybe that's the gift in some of these situations. A certain bond us formed when you share your emergencies with someone else. Out of the terror comes a memory. Some pleasant and some we don't want to recall. If there us someone else to share that memory with, joy is doubled or sorrow is halved.

Philip BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Violation

I heard the car drive by and two sounds that were not good. Was it a small gun or a rock? Was it a drunk driver who clipped two cars?  I looked out the window and then noticed it was around 3am. I made a note in my mind (which was quickly misplaced) to look around in the morning.

Well since I forgot about it, it wasn't until later in the day that the kids noticed the back window of our car was shattered and glass spread around the seats and interior of the car. It was probably a rock that did the damage.

Aside from thinking about how much it was going to cost to replace the window, I started to take it personal. I felt a sense of violation. Why did someone do this to our car? Were we a target or was it random? I tend to think random because the second sound I heard made me think the same happened down the street.

Some years ago my work van was broken into. It happened in a church parking lot during a Bible study. Several thousand dollars of tools were gone and my ability to make a living. I remember how violated I felt. I spent hours thinking about what tools were in each tool box so I could buy replacements. Just yesterday, when I was helping my son repair his faucet, I was reminded of some parts that I had before the break-in that would have made the job easier. I find that you never recover completely from these things either mentally or physically.

The biggest loss from the break-in was that I no longer had some tools that my dad gave to me. He was a plumber and had given me many tools for obscure jobs that you may only use once in ten years, but without them the job is much harder. I'm sure when my tools were pawned, those items were worth nothing as the criminals both behind and in front of the counter would have had no idea what they were or their value.

So the sense of violation comes not from the loss of the tool but that I lost a part of my dad. And in this latest incident the sense of violation comes from feeling that our street is not safe. Those same vandals or others may come down the street on any night and do the same or worse damage. I woke several times last night to strange sounds, wondering what they were.

In all of this I think of God. I know he is here and I know he was there when each of these crimes were committed. I know enough of his goodness so I don't ask the question, "Why did you let this happen." I also know that in my humanness, even without that question asked, I will feel the sting of these signs of a fallen world for a long time.

God is good; all the time! I long for the new heavens and earth where only righteousness dwells.

Philip

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Change is Hard

A friend lost a lot of weight very quick on one of the latest fad diets. Now she is depressed because she gained it right back.

It made me think about change. Change can be very hard. I sometimes think we look for the easy fix because we don't want to travel the hard road to lasting change. Other times it takes a crisis to force change. After a heart attack the doctor almost demands change. The person on the edge of diabetes is told of needed diet changes “or else”.

A friend of mine, Nate Larkin, said this, "Most of the time we will not change until it’s less painful to change than to stay the way we are." I find that to be true. I could quickly make a list of areas that need to change in my life. I fear the work involved and progress is not made; it's not even started. I'm waiting for a crisis.

Sometimes I think we avoid change because we fear what will be different. We fear what we will lose. As I thought about losing weight the biggest thought in my mind was the loss of eating what I wanted when I wanted. Did I really want that?

Sometimes we look at the huge list of changes we need to make and that scares us. How about taking one at a time?

I don't have an easy answer on this change thing. Most of the time it's going to involve some hard work and things will be different after. But one encouraging thing is it seems after the dust settles that we find the changes that were necessary to bring change are okay and sometimes great.

It could be that we sometimes avoid change and the work involved because of lies. The devil and others want us to stay in our old, messed up condition. All sorts of dire things go through our mind as we ponder change. It will be too painful, it will cost too much, or how will I live without my favorite drug or my favorite addiction.

And the biggest hindrance to good changes is we forget God. We think it's up to us alone. We forget that grace is amazing. We forget what can be accomplished with his help and power. We live like atheists.

Many times the voice we hear pushing us towards change is the Holy Spirit. The challenge then is to agree, to admit, to confess to God and others and to take the first step. Think about Peter when he walked on the water. He had to step out of the boat and then something amazing happened. His miraculous experience was then cut short as he looked around and let his fear take over. He forgot that Jesus had told him to come and that the miracle was from God, not him or nature.

Facing the need for change? Have your own ideas and ways failed? Are fear and discouragement about past failures or the unknown paralyzing? Well it's Jesus calling. He says come. Look straight to him and take that first step. Then keep your eyes fixed on him. The change will be amazing.

Philip

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunshine, Storms and Fears

A day starts out good - really good. Then out of nowhere things change; from bright sunshine to stormy clouds, thunder and lightning.

Later in a book I'm reading, I come across some information on the almost complete failure of long term weight loss. Don't we all know people who always seem to be on a diet? Weight is lost and then soon or over time it comes back with even more.

This is particularly concerning to me. I lost 70 pounds in the last year. I knew I didn't just need to lose weight but needed to change my lifestyle. That is what I did but it’s scary to think that old behaviors and habits could return.

Sometimes it seems we control very little about our life. There is so much external stuff that comes along that pushes us in all the wrong directions. Pity the person who thinks it's all a matter of willpower. If it is, then most of us are sunk. I can hardly control my moods let alone the rest of my life.

The only consolation I have is that I belong to the one who holds the world in his hands. He is working to accomplish good in my life. He can do the stuff that needs to be done so moods don't rule my life, so other people and all their junk done mess up my life and so I can continue in the good changes he has brought to my life.

Rambling thoughts but that's what is up with me today.

Philip

P.S. Otherwise a very nice day.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

We Need Redemption

We had such high hopes for ourselves and others. Then sin messed it all up.

We believe in redemption but almost only in a one time way. I have salvation now; my child is saved now. We forget that we need it every day.

So our memory loss has us saying to Jesus: "Thanks, but I'll take it from here." We polish the exterior but forget that the inside will never be truly good; at least this side of eternity.

I wanted my life to be different from the day I came to Jesus. That somehow from that day there would be no more sin, no more mess ups. I believed the lie that I could keep myself good. Reality crushed that illusion.

We need a Savior all day and every day. Our children will need the same. All of us are in the same boat. Every family is messed up no matter how spiffy they look on the outside. No parent is perfect. No child is either. This life will be one tragedy, one devastating situation, one act of rebellion after another. We need redemption all day and every day.

The lies of perfection we believe are the devil's tools to disconnect us from others. Shame over what is going on behind the scenes push us to isolation and to that age old Garden of Eden behavior of covering up.

It's in these times, which are all day and every day that we need other people. In confessing our sins one to another we admit that we are not perfect. We admit that we are like everyone else. We admit that we live under the remnants of a curse. We admit that we can't be the savior in our own life or in that of our children or anyone else.

There is only one Savior. Jesus is ready to forgive us each moment; he is ready to work redemption into the cracks and crevices of our lives.

Don't believe the lies; don't hide; don't be intimidated into silence. Rip off the mask, admit the truth, and once again experience the power of redemption. Not one time but all day and every day.

Philip

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Cathedral of Trees and Praise

I start my mornings on the front porch now. I make coffee and put out bird seed. I hope the song birds get it before the squirrels.

There is something different here. This is God's place. Not that He isn't in the house but it's different out here. The birds present a symphony of praise. The trees raise their branches in praise. All of nature screams of God.

The green of the grass and leaves, the blue sky and the brown dirt; just common colors but beautiful. I can't even begin to name the colors of all the flowers. I would need that huge box of crayons to help.

All of nature...except one. Me and you. Mankind. We are different. We resist. We don't praise.

Busyness closes our eyes to blessings. Competing things. Numbing things.

Shake off the slumber. Look around. God is good. He is great! Even with all our troubles our lives are immensely blessed. We should be screaming - with the trees and birds and the rest of creation.

But at this hour, my screams will be silent, in my heart, lest my family and neighbors think I have gone mad.

Join me.

Philip

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Different and Less Difficult Hill

Today was hot but a bike ride sounded good. I didn't know where I would end up but I decided to head west. That way it's uphill there and mostly downhill back.

I would be alone. Matt and Andy had other things going. I miss them when they don't come. Without them I will pedal my fastest. My heart will beat hard and my breathing will be fast.

I start near Sheridan and Evans in Denver. Soon I am on Jewell nearing Kipling. I look ahead to a hill I rode up as a teenager. At that time it seemed steep and long. Not so much now.

After a day at work, my legs are tiring early. The hill I just dismissed as easy is proving to be a little more. I persist and soon it is behind me. The last time I rode that hill was 40 years ago. I think I did it faster this time.

Fifteen years old, on the way to my friend’s house and probably up to no good.

If Jesus hadn't come into my life things would have been much different now - in a bad way. I know the path I was on. It wouldn't have ended in a good place. I know many people who stayed on that bad path. I can see in their lives what only the mercy and grace of God spared me from.

I am very thankful.

Philip

Monday, June 20, 2011

Who Hates God?

Man is now only free to be what he is - a sinner who hates God.

I heard this line in a bible study video I was watching yesterday. It was referring to the condition of man after the fall. I don't think I agree with it.

I know it fits with the whole total depravity thing that is popular in Calvinistic or Reformed circles.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think unregenerate man is someone pretty or who has it halfway together. It just seems some people go farther than they should in their descriptions.

I think of myself: from as far back as I can remember, I wanted to follow God. Not that I did though. Yes I was ignorant and rebellious and on my way to he'll. But, I don't think I hated God. If anything I was indifferent to what I really needed to do.

I think of children who are rebellious: do they hate their parents? Not necessarily. They are ignorant and self-centered for sure.

There are some people who are God haters. I wonder about the person at NBC who bleeped out the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance during the US Open this weekend. Or the so called atheists who spend all their time denying and fighting against someone who doesn't exist. They may hate God.

So man after the fall was in bad shape and in need of a Savior but not all God haters, at least in the way we define hate. That's what I think at least.

Philip

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day Weekend Thoughts

It's Father's Day weekend. I stretch it bigger by getting up earlier.

I'm thinking of my dad and what a great father he was. In today's language that would mean he did a lot of things with me, told me he loved me and was involved in my life.

If I wanted to paint a bad picture of my dad I could complain that I never remember him doing those things, at least when I was little. The only thing I remember him and I doing alone was me going to work with him. That was mostly because I was a huge troublemaker at home and it gave my mom a break when I was gone.

Until I was way into adulthood and a father myself I never remember him telling me that he loved me.

And I don't remember him being involved in MY life.

I use the word remember a lot because I know things may have happened that I don't remember. I am accused of not doing things by my own kids sometimes and I could counter by saying, "You just don't remember."

Perception is huge. The glasses we look through color everything we see.

I could never stop speaking well of my dad. Not that he was perfect or won father of the year. He had his problems like the rest of us. Some of them from his past were pretty big. He did better as he got older - like the rest of us, at least as we should.

My dad was good as a father and as a man because he did the important things. He did love his kids, just not in the way kids sometimes measure it. He went to work and kept a roof over our head. He stayed with my mom even with her chronic health problems. He became a struggling father when my mom died while my brother, sister and I were in our teens. He kept on, day after day.

Thankfully when I was a kid, society didn't enforce the egocentric nature of kids. We weren’t taught that it was all about us. Not that we didn't think that, we just didn't get reinforcement from the "experts".

So anyway, that's a little about my dad. Tomorrow I will post my official tribute, the one I gave at his funeral.

I am a dad too. I love my kids and try to be a good dad - whatever that means. I'm sure their perception is different. There is probably a lot of what I have done that they don't remember and a lot they would like to forget.

I have eight children: six boys and two girls from 29 years old to 10 and all from the same mother who I have been married to for 32 years.

Oh by the way, I hear that some people want to do away with Father's Day. They say it is discriminatory and makes kids without fathers feel bad. More idiocy from the experts.

Well, it's Father's Day weekend. I will ride bikes and eat food with my two youngest today. Hopefully it will be fun for them. Hopefully something in this day will convey my love for them and hopefully they will pick up a little of the good that is in me.

Here is an old picture of the kids I have been blessed to be a father to.

Philip


Monday, May 23, 2011

The “homeless” guy on the corner

I’m told that his name is Chris. He has been on a corner near our house for several years. He moves to a different one once in a while. He’s been on my prayer list for a year and a half. I pray for healing of his mind and that he would come to know Jesus.

Yesterday I was on a walk to the grocery store and saw him on his regular corner. I decided I would try to talk to him. I asked him how it was going and he said not good. I asked what and he said no one was stopping and giving to him. He also said he had a horrible headache.

I decided I would get him something to drink in the store. Then I decided I would get him a sandwich too. On my way back home I asked him if he wanted something to eat and drink. He said he would take it and then told me that he couldn’t eat – his stomach upset from the headache. I said he should try to drink something but he said he couldn’t. I suggested maybe he could try a little sip but he said no. He then told me that the only thing that would help is if he got an IV from the doctor and that it cost $20.00 and he didn’t have that.

I talked to him a little more. I told him I was sorry for his condition. As I walked away I saw him drop the sack of food and drink in a bush. He then went back to his corner.

I wondered after if the “doctor” was a drug dealer? I know that when going through withdrawal, food and drink are far from your mind. Maybe that is part of his problem.

I now have more to think about as I pray for him. I’m glad that I didn’t give him money. He needs more that I can give to him. He needs Jesus.

Philip

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Radical or Not...?

I recently watched a series called Radical by David Platt. There is a book by the same name. While I agree with much of what was said in the series, I do think that his conclusions could cause false guilt for those who don't have a broad understanding of Scripture.

To sum up what the series was about: we are rich and should give most of what we have to the poor. His main text for the series is Mark 10: 17-31 - the story of the rich young ruler.

I hesitate to criticize his message because for the most part, the American church is very materialistic. I wouldn't want my comments to be an excuse for the baby to be thrown out with the bath water.

What I write here will not be an exhaustive review of the series and I will not cover all the good and bad things I see in it. Just a few comments of what's foremost in my mind.

What I agree with: yes we in America have a lot and for the most part are materialistic. Me too!

What I disliked most: taking various Scripture passages and either reading too much into them or taking huge leaps from them. Here is an example: he cites passages from the Old Testament showing that God's blessings made many rich. He then shows New Testament passages where possessions were used to help the poor. He then leaps to make the case that the difference is that in the OT God used the lavish blessing of His people to draw others to Himself and in the NT He used the sacrifice of His people to bless and draw others to Himself. Therefore it is now wrong to have riches. I don't accept that. Both examples are true but not exclusive to their times or 180 degrees opposite.

Early in the series we were encouraged to not try to get off the hook by comparing ourselves to others. I don't have as much as someone else; I give more than someone else, etc. Then he uses the comparison of us rich Americans compared to all the poor around the world. His conclusion is we are the rich who should probably sell most of what we have and give it to the poor.

He makes a claim from the story of the rich young ruler that riches cause us to become self-confident, self-sufficient and self-content. Remember, he reminds us, everyone of us is rich. While riches may do this, it’s a leap to say they always do.

In one place he gives a hypothetical: someone makes 10 million dollars and gives away 9 million. Platt says that would not be extravagant giving. Who says? The problem is that he has come to the false conclusion that in New Testament times it is impossible for God to bless someone with excess for pure pleasure. While I can’t imagine having 10 or 1 million dollars, I do know what it is like to have 25 dollars in my pocket. That is my allowance each week. I can do whatever I want with it. Or maybe I should feel guilty for that excess and give it to someone else.

Another thing I really disliked was the assertion that if we question (what is wrong with having stuff for example) it shows a bad heart. I disagree. We may have a bad heart but if we are being asked to do something radically opposed to what we are doing now then thoughtful wrestling through questions is appropriate.

In his final message he gives the challenge for us to look at what we have and identify if it is a necessity or a luxury. Assumed is that everything beyond food, clothing and shelter is not necessary. We should then consider selling all of the extra and giving it the poor. Then we should put a cap on our spending; everything beyond necessities is given to the poor.

While all of this self-examination is good I think his conclusion as applied to everyone is in error and dangerous. Dangerous for those who don't have a broad view of Scripture and prone to living under guilt.

So here are some of my luxuries: the computer I write this on, Internet access, coffee, the flowers I planted in the yard, perfume, my recliner, iPod, books, magazines, tools, electric blanket, my smoker, food above beans and rice, a gold wedding ring and muck more. I don’t have the money for big time expensive hobbies, a retirement account, various insurance plans, a fancy car, spacious house, or expensive dinners but I can sure be jealous of those who do.

I really wish Platt's challenge would have finished differently as we really need the heart of what he is getting at. Many people will reject it outright and not progress farther than they are now. Many with a good understanding of Scripture will see his stretched conclusions and reject his whole message. That's too bad. The heart of what he is getting at is good but some of his conclusions are beyond what Scripture calls all of us to.

The last thing is that I think there are many other areas where Jesus calls us to radical obedience that Platt neglects, at least in this series. With the rich young ruler, the issue was his heart and his love of possessions. The heart issue Jesus hits others with may be completely different. For many people it's nothing to give away money but they may have a problem with loving the admiration of people. Jesus may call them to take a position on an issue that will cause people to hate them. What matters is that we do what Jesus says and he says a lot more than caring for the poor. We have to be careful that our pet project or calling doesn't become the criteria we judge others by.

An issue dear to my heart is abortion. I could apply many of Platt's arguments to being a prolife activist. How can the church and the people in it barely conjure a yawn when millions of babies are slaughtered every year? That is my example of somewhere we could be radical and I think it is right up there with concern for the poor. At least the poor are alive and have the opportunity to improve their life.

Well those are my basic thoughts. Yes, I will spend time asking God if there is more I should give as David Platt suggests. That is always good. But I will not be motivated by guilt or biblical gymnastics and I will not be afraid to question.

Philip

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ultimate (bad) Breakfast Platter

I stopped at Burger King yesterday for a cup of coffee (and nothing else). I was intrigued by their breakfast menu especially the Ultimate Breakfast Platter. It is the kind of breakfast I loved before I changed eating habits; never mind that I was usually lethargic after.

I pulled out my IPod and opened a nutrition app. I soon found out that this breakfast wonder has 1310 calories. Bad unless you are going to hardly eat anything the rest of the day. The real damage comes from fat, sodium and cholesterol.

Here is the bad news based on a 2000 calorie diet: 72 grams of fat; 65 is the max.  455 mg of cholesterol; 300 is the max. 2490 mg of sodium; 2400 is the max although the FDA is now recommending 1500. So the Ultimate is not a very good breakfast choice.

Breakfast is a very important meal and one that should not be skipped. It also shouldn’t be one that starts the day off bad nutrition wise.


Here is a link to other posts about my weight loss journey.

Philip

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Men's Retreat - 2

My view this morning
“It is easy to find good teaching on how a man should live but it is hard to find a man who is living it”. That was a comment by one of the young guys at the retreat. Ouch!

But how true; I see it in myself. I know what the right thing to do is in many areas but my life doesn’t match my knowledge. Then there is the myriad of areas where I am clueless.

I then wondered if the guy he is looking for even exists. Is there a guy at church or out there anywhere else who has it all together? Now there are plenty who would proclaim so. There was a time in my life when I would have thought so for me.

Or is the lesson somewhere deeper? If the perfect, all together guy doesn’t exist then maybe we need something else.

Some years ago we went to a church with a near perfect pastor with a near perfect family. If they had any flaws, they must have been miniscule – at least that is what they portrayed. The message sent to the rest of us was if we were not like them it was because we didn’t really love the Lord Jesus or maybe we didn’t take Scripture seriously.

As you might guess, it didn’t take a lot of probing to see what was really there. The pastor surrounded himself with brown-nosed yes men. Disagreement of substance was not tolerated. If you felt different then you probably better find a different church.

An almost comedic example of the charade was what happened with the pastor’s daughter who married the youth pastor and then was divorced. Oh, I should probably mention that the pastor’s family was all employed by the church including son-in-laws. Anyway, a divorce might mar the near perfect illusion this pastor enjoyed. The daughter’s marriage was annulled and they went through remaining copies of the church directory and removed the page that had the daughter and ex-son-in-law. It was all as if it never happened. Some time later she married another guy and he too became a church employee.

So the perfect guy/mentor probably doesn’t exist. Maybe what we need to look for is a guy who knows how to get up after he falls. A guy who can be honest with the reality of his struggles. A guy who may have some areas together and we can learn a lot from him there. A guy who presses on when life gets tough. A guy who works hard to keep his marriage together. A guy who knows how to go to work day after day when he doesn’t feel like it. A guy who will expose his failings so I can learn what not to do.

So what I need is a messed up guy like me. Not perfect or all together but drawing close to the one who is perfect. That is the guy who can help me. I will never be perfect or have it all together so I can identify with him. I can be honest with what is really going on in my life. I won’t have to fake it when I’m around him. He understands and helps me get up after I fall.

And maybe I can be that guy to someone else.

Philip

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2011 Men's Retreat - 1

A view to the south
What does it mean to be masculine? That was the question asked. The weekend will probe and reveal the answer.

What stood out to me last night was a point made that one way a boy shows a transition from boy to man is in service. He goes from being cared for and served by his mother to caring for, serving and protecting women.

I don't like to be served all that much but I sure don't like to serve, especially if it's inconvenient. If I can fit it into my schedule or routine I may.

So in that way I have not made that defined transition from boy to man and I'm 55. In that way I am stunted.

I get the point though and I get why. Having men like that will make a much better society.

May God help me be the man.

Philip

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Appearances

Things are not always what they appear to be. Sometimes our eyes deceive us.

I am amazed that I needed to lose 70 pounds. When I set out to lose weight I knew I needed to lose 50 and probably a few more than that. My problem was I didn’t know what a pound of fat looked like or all the places it was hiding in my body. Now I have a better idea.

I had become so used to being overweight that I couldn’t remember what it was like before. Now my vision is becoming a little clearer and my memory is coming back. I remember in my young twenties when I joined a gym. I wanted to lose about 15 pounds. I weighed about 155. Life sidetracked me and year by year that number grew. If I had lost that weight I would have been where I am now.

Even my wife has no memory of me not being overweight. When we got together I was at that point of needing to lose 15 pounds. For her, my present appearance is something she has never seen.

This week I was replacing some fence posts. As I picked up the 50 pound bags of cement I was reminded of the extra weight I was carrying around - all day and every day. How thankful I am to God for helping me get where I am today.

So appearances can deceive. There are many other areas of my life that may look good on the outside or where my vision has become dull over time. I am thankful that God keeps pulling me along and conforming me into his image.

Here is a Latin saying I aspire to: Esse quam videri. It means To be rather than to seem.  That's what I want in my life. I want to be the real thing and have clear vision of what I am - both good and bad.

Philip

Here is a link to other posts about my weight loss journey.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sharing Jesus at Work

I read this yesterday and thought it was very good.

Here are a few suggestions to help you proclaim Christ in your place of work:

Work in ways that show you're a competent employee. A poor employee doesn't have much of an opportunity to be a good witness.

Always act ethically. If you don't, please don't tell anyone you're a Christian, and certainly don't try to get them to be like you.

Relate with care, concern, and fairness to all customers and fellow employees. Be especially attentive to this matter if you're in management.

Be respectful of the right of fellow employees to their own beliefs. Respect begins with listening.

As opportunities for conversation arise, talk with ease about what your faith means to you. Don't let proclaiming Christ degenerate into "arguing about religion." Let your fellow workers know how your faith helps you.

From God's Man by Don Aycock

This fits too:
Preach the gospel wherever you go; when necessary, use words.
~Saint Francis of Assisi

Philip

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Naked and Unashamed

We all want to be naked. We all want to go back to the garden where nothing was hidden. Instead, we all do a lot of work covering ourselves with fig leaves.

The world is obsessed with sex but what we really want is to be naked with someone and unashamed. To lay in the darkness; to know that this person next to me knows me and still loves me.

I want friendship where I am transparent. I want people to know everything about me and to still love me. Or even just one person.

I am afraid. I am filled with shame. I am a lousy person. I am not competent. I am a failure. I am a sinner. I have committed big sins. You don't know how bad I really am. There are many reasons to cover with leaves.

Fig leaves; they come in many styles and sizes. We all look very fashionable but inside we hurt - big.

I want to be naked.

Philip

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Love Wins or Jesus Wins?

Good contrast on the Rob Bell controversy regarding hell.

First video is his ad for the new book. Second is a creative, thought for thought response.

Love Wins?


Jesus Wins!


Thanks to Randy Alcorn for a tip on the second.

Philip

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Obsession

I love the smell of Obsession...but that is not what I'm going to write about today. But since we are here I must say that with all my good feelings toward Obsession both the Man and Woman versions they are mere teenagers in the grown up world of scent. I love the complex and multi-layered smells of Incense Rose or L'Air Du Desert Marocain by Andy Tauer or how about Timbuktu by L’Artisan Parfumeur or CozĂ© or Rien?  But now I'm obsessing. I love things that smell good. Food, flowers and skin all go there or not. In the last couple of years, through gifts and tips I amassed a small fortune in fragrance. As I run it through my mind it is close to a thousand dollars that the shelf of bottles next to my bed represents. It is a treasure of fragrance that will last for many years. Speaking of treasure, frankincense and myrrh were two gifts given to the Christ child; two things to burn or wear because they smell good. And what about the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume? It was worth close to a year’s wages. Obsessive behavior? The religious leaders and Judas thought so. It could have been given to the poor...

Obsession. The first time I was accused of it was in December of 1973. I had been a Christian for only weeks. My life had flipped a 180. It was as if the sound of skidding tires were heard for blocks and the wheels were cranked tight as the car spun around and roared off in the opposite direction.

There was a young girl I was attracted to and she felt the same. I had heard she was a Christian. We shared some times together. Then one night came the words that sounded a lot like accusations of obsession. I should slow down. I didn't need to be moving so fast in this Jesus direction. Well as you might guess that was the end of that.

With tires spinning (and heart hurting) I continued on. Even as a baby in the faith, I knew where I had come from even though I didn't know where I was going. My obsession with Bible reading had informed my changing mind that this Jesus thing was worth going all out for. The path was narrow and few would find the way - that's what Jesus said. No more leisurely broad road for me. If you want to read more about that story and see the pictures click here.

So fast forward thirty-some years: I have a family and a good job. I haven't done well with either; lots of mistakes and regrets. Many miles are behind me. One of the things that deeply bothered me was that I had become very overweight and food had become an obsession. I know it but I have neither the will nor power to change it. Then something happens. I'm not sure why or how but the day has come. Where do my will and the hand of God collide? All I know it was like my conversion so many years before. Miraculous. I am going in another direction. I confessed to myself, God and others: I need to lose weight - at least 50 pounds. I have no idea how but I am moving in the opposite direction. I am losing weight. This all started about 37 weeks ago. Interesting as I think about it, I have been a Christian for 37 years. All of that time overweight. A little at first, just a few pounds - barely noticeable and very acceptable. As the years passed the pounds increased and so did my shame. I had an obsession with food and had no will or power to do anything about it.

I have now lost 70 pounds. I started at 211 and am now at 140. That's almost a third. Again I am accused of obsession. When will I stop? Actually that is a matter of prayer. I still have a small amount of belly fat. It's called VAT (visceral adipose tissue) and makes you at risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary vascular disease, and some types of cancer amongst other bad things. That was news to me. I used to think all fat was the same but apparently this kind is significant.

So I want to finish well and stay well. I don't want to get close and quit. I don't want to leave the fat, even a small amount especially this kind.

Obsession? I see it as cooperation with God. He has given me grace and power to walk this road. I will not take that lightly. I will cooperate with him until I reach the place He wants me to be. I will not be content with close or good enough.

Here is a link to other posts about my weight loss journey.  

Philip

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