Friday, December 23, 2011

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. ~James D. Miles

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

- George Orwell

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The second half of a man's life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.

- Fyodor Dostoevsky

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christianizing Politics

A quote from a story a bit ago. I forgot to post, but the point is still well made.

And this is what one always wants to know about candidates who flourish the Good Book or who presume to talk about hell and damnation. Do they, themselves, in their heart of hearts, truly believe it? Is there any evidence, if it comes to that, that Perry has ever studied the theory of evolution for long enough to be able to state roughly what it says? And how much textual and hermeneutic work did he do before deciding on the "inerrancy" of Jewish and Christian scripture? It should, of course, be the sincere believers and devout faithful who ask him, and themselves, these questions. But somehow, it never is. The risks of hypocrisy seem forever invisible to the politicized Christians, for whom sufficient proof of faith consists of loud and unambiguous declarations. I am always surprised that more is not heard from sincere religious believers, who have the most to lose if faith becomes a matter of poll-time dogma and lung power.
From:http://www.slate.com/id/2302661/

Political Christianity drives me crazy. I'd really love to see Christians either a) grill professing candidates to evaluate their sincerity/orthodoxy or b) stop using sound bits as a spiritual litmus test. Either one seems like a good first step.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

- Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Repenting False Prophets

http://www.christianpost.com/news/family-radio-founder-harold-camping-repents-apologizes-for-false-teachings-59819/

So what are we to think of a false prophet who repents? I'd love to think a guy like Camping has turned from his sin and error, that would be God's grace indeed. Reminds me of 1 Cor 6... "such were some of you."

But I'll wait a while before celebrating his return to the faith. What do you think?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Learning to Pray

Father, we are so unfit to be your ambassadors. We are such vessels of weakness and decay. How many times have we failed you? But you, O Lord, are not limited by our frailty. Your strength shines forth precisely because you cause your plans to be carried out in jars of clay.

Praise the Father for his perfect plans. Praise the Son for fulfilling those plans with his life, death and life once more. Praise the Spirit for his sure hand, bringing many redeemed children home safely through this wilderness.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.

-George Burns

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Learning to Pray

My Father,

I confess that I turn to your word to find ammunition rather than turning to your word to find you. I confess that I see the world's need for you more than I see my own. I confess that I have lips that desire to speak of you more than a heart that desires to draw near to you. I confess that I have chosen every trinket this world can offer over an eternity of riches that you would lavish upon me.

Help this believer's unbelief. Drive from me my double-minded nature. Give me grace and may I never yearn for fool's gold again.

Amen.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.

Jef Mallett

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Learning to Pray

My Father, in the smallest details of your creation you are amazing. Even as crickets chirp at the stars, you demonstrate the art of your creation. Somewhere in eternity, you gazed at creation like an artist at a blank canvas. You said, "I will create, and it will be good." And in the million details you orchestrated, you decided crickets would fill the lonely night to keep us company. And you said, "This too is good."

More than creation, my God, you are amazing.

Amen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Plagiarizing Pastors

Reading this article the other day. Basically the idea is that students who are willing to pay are hiring people to write term papers for them. It's not a new article, nor, I'm sure, a new phenomenon. The part that stood out to me was this:

I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.
So, the inevitable reactions was something like this: "Idiots. You guys are idiots." But then I realized that was a bit knee jerk and superficial of me. I let it soak in a bit and this is where I landed.

I'm not really surprised.

The obvious part is that, yes, future pastors cheating on their seminary courses is a bad thing. But it's not like the sin is a different kind of sin. It's the same thing that creeps into lives everywhere, where the thing we stand most against is the thing we undermine with the way we live our lives. It's a blindness to the most obvious and the most egregious. And it's the sin that rules lives and drags souls to the grave.

If that's depressing it's because it is. So maybe the closing note is this:

"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

It comes back to that. We live in a world full of despair. We're hypocrites of the deepest kind. But thanks be to God for a church that will persevere despite our faithlessness.  For the hope of a world that won't always be like this. For the faithful shepherd coming back for his own.

Friday, September 23, 2011

No matter what side of the argument you are on, you always find people on your side that you wish were on the other.

-Jascha Heifetz

Sunday, September 18, 2011

buzz

I just heard that somehow, these posts are showing up in Google Buzz. First off, I disabled buzz on my account a while ago, so not sure what to make of that. Second, I thought Buzz was long gone by now. Third, sorry if I'm flooding social media 1.0. Fourth, if you want to see the blog posts at the real site, come to believelikeitmatters.blogspot.com. Also, that's where you have to make comments, I don't get to see any clever comments if they're in buzz.

Here's to you, Buzzers!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Learning to Pray

Our Father,

We fill this world with so much brokenness. Our relationships splinter and deteriorate under the weight of our sin. The things that should be strongest teeter on the brink of disaster.

We need you. We need the salvation you won for us on that dark hill. Here and now, we beg for mercy and help. We cry out for peace and relief--for deliverance from our chaos. But for the ages that come, we praise you for giving us hearts that yearn for the goodness that is desperately lacking in our lives. Give us faith to keep expectant eyes trained on eternity, longing to see glory revealed and creation redeemed.

Amen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine.

-Fran Lebowitz

Monday, September 5, 2011

Great stories

We don't always realize it, but Christians have amazing stories. I'm not talking about the addict who quits drugs. I'm not talking about the bigot who learns to love those who are different.

I'm talking about the dead ripped from the grave. I'm talking about the vile and treacherous being brought into the house of God. I'm talking about the Spirit of God himself transforming the slums that are our souls into places fit for the King. Read Ephesians 2 for more on that.

The problem is that no one seems to realize that. If Christians realized this, they would shine. They would sing for joy, they would dance in the streets--they would be those people who couldn't stop smiling. I think of the early church. The apostles get arrested for preaching. Then they're beaten, they they are released and told not to do it again.  As they go limping away from their beating, they're rejoicing.

Now someone has to be watching these guys walk bleeding and celebrating down the street and think either a) These guys are nuts (likely option) or b) what do these guys know that I don't?

Even if there are a million possible interpretations of why these men are acting like they are, the bottom line is that these you've got these believers who are utterly enthralled with the redemption that's been won and the role they have to play in it. Is that us? Is this our view of our faith? By and large, I'd say it's not.

The reason I don't think we Christians realize this is that the world doesn't seem to be getting even a whiff of this kind of testimony. They think of Christianity as something that costs you what is good about this life and only pays you back in the form of false hopes for eternity. If we were enthralled by our salvation, by the work of a God who would seek out his enemies and by the privilege of having a place in his household and plans, they might have some reason to doubt that. But the world sees us and they get a sense of what they'd have to give up and they think, "That just isn't worth it."

What an upside down world we're in where eternal treasure seems uninteresting and fools gold steals the show.

So what smothers our rapturous joy? What gags our exuberant songs? Is it hearts grown cold or hearts grown distracted? Have we heard the good news too many times or have we never really heard it?

The question for the day, or the month, or the generation: What's missing? I have my own ideas, but I'd be interested in what others think.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Learning to Pray

My Father,

Help me to serve. Overcome my selfishness and my lack of perspective. Give me eyes and strength to serve as Christ served his disciples and all his chosen ones. Thank you for the gospel that rescued me from darkness and my own self-inflicted destruction. Come once more and serve a needy servant, so that in your grace I might serve others.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


How many Christians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
None. The Bible makes no mention of lightbulbs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's preaching worth?

In some areas of the world, Christians still risk their lives and/or possessions for their faith. They fear angry mobs who will burn their churches, vigilantes who will punish them for believing and authorities who will either aid the locals or persecute the Christians themselves.

For these Christians, church is not a social function. Church is a risk to life and livelihood. For the preacher, he risks not just his own life but he also endangers those who come to listen. For this preacher, every sermon must be worth prison, every sermon must be worth provoking the wrath of this world. He must ask himself every time, "Is this worth my life? Is this worth my congregation's life?"

Why should our sermons be any different? I fear no angry mob, does it mean my sermons can be cheap? I fear no persecution, so does that mean I can spend my time giving anecdotes instead of the word of God? Just being called to be heralds of the king should sober and embolden us on its own. But recognizing the price our brothers and sisters pay for the word of God spurs us on. Let us cherish the proclamation we make.

Lord help us. Help us so that we, in addition to honoring our savior, would also honor the sacrifices and risks our brothers and sisters must make every time they choose eternal blessing over the crucible of this world.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Learning to pray

My Father,

O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great redeemer's praise... So the song goes, but I can hardly keep up with that. It's more like I need a thousand hearts to gather the emotion and love your praise deserves. Give me a heart that longs to shout the great things you have done. A tongue made loose to speak of your wonders. A mind harnessed to explore the great depths of your goodness. May gospel overflow my heart and surge unstoppably through my thoughts, words and life.

Amen

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don't let the pulpit drive you to the word. The word must drive you to the pulpit.

-Tim Keller quoting someone else

Monday, August 1, 2011

Learning to Pray

Our Father, merciful one, give me grace to pray. I am like your people throughout all time, prone-eager even-to squander all the good things you give me. You offer me wisdom that I do not receive, you offer me comfort that I will not embrace and boundless privilege that I regularly ignore.

Thank you for your Son, my redeemer. The one who gives me access to you. Thank you for the Spirit, the one who transforms my careless prayers into divine intercession. Thank you for hearing a sinner's prayers.