Friday, December 26, 2008

How Would Christ View the U.S.?




This might make several of you mad, but stay with me here. Here is a news story about a speech delivered by Iranian President Ahmadinejad. He delivered this message on Christmas Day. Speaking of the United States, he says:

"If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers."


He continued:

"If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over. If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime."


My question is does Ahmadinejad have a point? Many Americans dismiss his words because he is attacking the United States. Many empires (and yes, we are an empire) have crumbled because they went against God. Are we one of those empires?

I want to know if you think Ahmadinejad has a point. Has American gone too far? Are they on the verge of going to far? Is Ahmadinejad completely wrong? What would Christ say about role in international affairs?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Random Thoughts

I don't really have a lot to say. I'm just bored.

Check this out. Apparently "Snowzilla" was breaking the law. It's a 16 foot snowman in Alaska.

And I also found this really cool blog. It's about South Africa. I have never been there, but I've always been interested in Africa. I remember in the 6th grade I did a 45 minute presentation on Africa. It was suppose to only be like 6 minutes or so. If you do nothing else, at least check out the pictures.

And here is an interesting story about President Bush writing letters to every single fallen soldier during his tenure in office. Until now, the press did not know about it. Regardless of what you think of the man or the wars, this is an honorable act by him.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prayer Request

I have a prayer request. My wife's grandmother, who lives here in town, is having knee surgery on Monday. I'm not exactly sure what the surgery is for, but I know it isn't your typical knee surgery, and there could be complications. She is on medication to keep her blood from clotting. Obviously, she will have to go off of those medications before the surgery. I think today is her first day off. Since she can't move because of the bum leg, the chance of clotting is even greater. Chances of complications are so great that the other grandchildren were in town this week to visit just in case things did go bad. Also, her husband is in the early-to-middle stages of dementia and has not been told yet of the impending surgery for obvious reasons. She is also raising two kids, a 14 year old boy and a 10(?) year old girl. Needless to say, they aren't exactly angels. Rumor has it that the father of the kids is coming into town on Sunday. He is not popular with the family and has been professionally diagnosed as bipolar. He seems to cause lots of problems. This woman has made some poor life choices that have made this whole process pretty difficult, and the burden will fall on all of us to take care of her, her husband, and those kids. I would be kidding myself if I said this was going to be a your run of the mill knee surgery and recovery (I haven't even told you the half of it). Pray first that she makes it through the surgery. Then please pray for a stress free week of recovery for her and the rest of us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here's Your Sign?


If you've been reading this blog (which I'm sure millions of you have been), you know that I'm kinda in transition. I'm trying to figure out where to go from here. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life. This morning I was reading in Matthew and ran across verse 39 of chapter 12. It reads, "But Jesus replied, 'Only an evil, faithless generation would ask for a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.'"

At this particular time Jesus was talking about how many of the Pharisees wanted Jesus to prove he was from God. While I will admit I am taking a bit of liberty with the verse, I think it applies to many of us even if we belief He is from God. How often do we pray for direction and then ask for a sign? How often to we ask God for a sign that what we are doing is right?

I'm not saying that God isn't in the sign business. I believe that I could walk into my bedroom 5 minutes from now and there, plastered on the wall, could be a huge sign saying "Michael, do X. Love, God" It could happen! But ya know, when I read this verse I was reminded that faith is so important. God doesn't create faith with signs. That is evidence. We have faith because we need no evidence. Faith is action on our part in the absence of evidence. God may not tell me "Michael do X". He might not tell me anything, but I might very well do X, or Y, or Z, or whatever. As long as I have faith that God will direct my path, I don't need signs. If I have faith that God knows what is best for me, even if I step out in faith and do the wrong thing, God will bring me back to exactly where he wants me.

So often when people are making big decision, I hear them say, "I don't want to make the wrong decision. I want to do what God wants me to do." Right before I committed to come get my Ph.D. I said those very words. A very wise friend said, "Michael, no matter what decision you make, even if you make the wrong one, God is big enough to fix it." She had faith in God's plan for me while I was stuck looking for signs. I am so thankful for her and her wisdom. I need to remember to approach life like that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying go willy nilly, do whatever you want to and God will fix it. I'm saying that God doesn't sit around with a remote control directing our every movements through some sort of signal to us. I think a lot of times, He wants to see what we can do with our faith, so He puts us on autopilot.

So, that's just a little note to myself about how I need to have faith in God. Don't wait. Go. Do. Step out onto the water.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Semester Down




I just finished another semester. This was probably the toughest, most depressing of them all. My fellow classmates agree with me on that observation by the way. This one was hard because we are nearing the end of our course work, the classes offered this semester were, ummm, dreadfully uninteresting to any of us, and most of us took classes taught by new professors. Needless to say, we are all burnt out and ready to jump ship.

I would love to get out of here, or at least move to part-time, but I just don't know if it will happen. I keep hoping I'll get a call one day and someone will offer me a decent paying job that appeals to me. I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks to all who prayed for me this semester. Unfortunately, the job is not yet done. I need a solid dissertation topic by next semester (probably early March or so) to continue to receiving funding from the university. Honestly, at this moment, I would take almost anything as long as it gets me a degree. That, or I'll just hope Jesus comes back in the next 3 months.

Also, please be praying for what I do next. Even though I am probably 2 years from graduation, some of the jobs I want may take a good year to get through the application process. When and where do I apply? What about my wife's job? What about the fact that we are not the richest people in America and moving or time without both of our incomes would be devastating? There are lots of questions to be answered. I just pray that I rely on God and not my own hopes and dreams.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What if . . .


Do you ever think about history and wonder "what if . . ."? I do. I'm a huge fan of history, and it is interesting to see how seemingly minuscule events changed the course of history. What would have happened if the South won the War of Northern Aggression (the Civil War for you Yankees)? What would have happened if Hitler had died while fighting in World War One? What would have happened if Kennedy hadn't have been shot? What would have happened if Steve Bartman hadn't attended Game 6 of the NLCS? What would have happened if I woke up 1 hour earlier today?

The answer to all these question is "I don't know". Today I read the first four chapters of Matthew. Very briefly, they cover Jesus' ancestry, his birth, flight to Egypt, return to Nazareth, his baptism, and his temptation by the Devil. While reading these four chapters it got me thinking "what if?"

What if Joseph had broken his engagement with Mary when he found out she was pregnant? What if Joseph didn't listen to the angels and didn't flee to Egypt or go to Nazareth? What if the wise men returned to Herod and gave away Jesus' position? What if John the Baptist had refused to baptize Jesus because he felt unworthy to do so?

Now, I have no doubt that God's plan would have worked out in the end regardless of what the above people did or did not do. What I find interesting is how these men each had a role in history. It got me thinking that each one of us has a role in God's story. When Joseph and/or the wise men sat around thinking about life, I can only imagine them being proud that they followed God's direction because it was an intricate part of keeping our savior safe.

We too have a role in this story. I hope one day when I am old, I can sit back and think "Wow. My role in God's story was to . . . and I did it for Him." My only problem now is to figure out what is that role. : (

So, what is your role in the story? How do you know?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Jesus Saves Souls, Lubbock Style!

If you don't know by now, I live in Lubbock, Texas. It's a growing city of a little more than 200,000 people. It isn't huge by any stretch, but for a small town Texas boy like myself, it seems like a bustling metropolis. Lubbock is one of the few places in the country that has been left nearly untouched by the financial crisis. Houses are being built, help wanted signs are everywhere, and people are moving here from all over the nation.

At a time when most people are scared for their lives because of the pressing financial situation, there is at least one man who has put his life in God's hands. That man, Johnny Landrum, lives right here in Lubbock. You see, Johnny sold all of his possessions and made a sign that says "Jesus Saves Souls". He takes that sign and stands on a busy street corner every day, all day. He says he did this because God told him too. Admittedly, when I hear stories like this, I am kind of skeptical. I always think "this person is crazy". However, I think Johnny is legit.

You can read the article here. You can watch the news clip at that site as well. Now, I don't know much about Mr. Landrum. I don't know a lot about his theology or how he got to this point. What I do know is that this man is really energizing a lot of people around town. I pass his street corner at least once a day; usually several times. My wife teaches at the Christian High School whose corner he stands on. Needless to say, we see a lot of him and he is rarely alone. It's really cool to see him out there rain or shine, cold or warm, morning or night, etc. When he first started, he was there all by himself. Now, he almost always has someone standing by him or a local motorist stopped to give him some aid.

Anyways, I don't know what will come of his actions, but I find it quite a story.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Galatians, Peter, and Contemporary Legalism

I started reading Galatians today. I completed the first two chapters this morning. I like how bold Paul was. He said that his purpose wasn't to please men, not even church leaders. His goal was to serve God. He was also very bold in his public denunciation of Peter who believed people were saved by faith, yet acted as though people were saved if they obeyed the law. Paul said, "We Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ" (2:16).

I have no dispute with Paul's words. I'm sure this verse is used quite often when preaching against the idea that we are saved by works. My thought was about current legalism. What are the current legalistic restrictions we put on people in order to deem them worthy of eternal life with God? No, it isn't A.D. 49, and we don't care much for Jewish law anymore, but we Christians do have a more contemporary legalistic tradition.

For example, my mother-in-law doesn't like how I dress when I go to church. Even though I think dress doesn't matter, I sometimes get confused when people show up in flip flops and athletic shorts to Sunday service. That is me being hypocritical.

Another contemporary law that I believe we focus on (especially us Baptists) is drinking. The Bible doesn't say don't drink. It says don't be led astray by alcohol or liquor. Why do we automatically assume that someone who has an occasional beer or glass of wine is a faux Christian?

As silly as it sounds, some even accuse those who are politically liberal as not being Christian. While I'm the most conservative (NOT Republican, NOT neoconservative) person you will ever meet (or read), I really don't think God is registered with either political party.

Those are just some thoughts I had this morning. Have I missed the point in any of these examples? If so, please let me know. Are there other legalistic traditions that we Christians need to step away from? If so, what?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Americans Know Nothing: A Civics Test For You

Something I've known for many years has been empirically tested and supported . . . Americans don't know anything about government. This is why I favor civic test for voting. Go ahead, call me racist, sexist, elitist, or whatever other hyperbole you have stored up in your head. None of those adjectives have anything to do with why I believe voting should be restricted to those that actually know about government. The idea that I spend hours, weeks, months, years forming well-thought out opinions for how I vote, just to have my ballot canceled about by the guy behind me who only voted because "it's the right thing to do" or because someone talked him into it, really bothers me.

The Founders restricted voting to white, male, landowners. Did you catch that? It wasn't that they were white or male. It was that they must have owned land. Even female land owners were able to vote if they were in charge of the house. The reason for the land owning qualification wasn't because the Founders were racist, or sexist, though some most certainly were. The reason voting was restricted was because the Founders didn't trust the population as a whole to put the interests of society above their own. So, they decided to only allow those people who had a vested interest in society (land owners) and those that had a knowledge of government (the educated, i.e. rich white guys) to vote.

Today, to be educated or have a vested interest in society, you don't have to own land. I own none, yet I consider myself fairly well educated. Most children get free, public education. While the level of education is different depending on what school you go to, the opportunity is there. Detractors will say that poor kids don't get great educations and they can't study because they are too busy working or taking care of siblings. That may be true. However, a simple civics test would not necessarily exclude these groups. Study guides could be available. If you don't have time to know what branch of government creates law, then you don't have enough time to form an opinion for whom you should vote.

So, what would I do? Restrict voting to people 21 and older. The only exemption are military personnel who are 18 or older who are serving or where honorably discharged. Once you turn 21, you have to take a civics test to determine your political knowledge. We could let said test be valid for ten or so years, so you wouldn't have to take it every elections. If you fail, you can take it again, and again, and again. This test is free. All you have to do is pass, (say 70 maybe 75%) and you're in. The test will not be partisan. It will be over general U.S. government information. Who passes bills? Who vetoes legislation? Who declares war?

So, if you're brave enough. Take this test and let me know what you scored. I got 30 out of 33 correct, which was a 90.91%. I teach political science at the college level and I didn't even know them all, so don't feel intimidated.

Friday, November 28, 2008

2 Deaths After Wal-Mart Stampede


Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede

BY JOE GOULD
DAILY NEWS WRITER

Updated Friday, November 28th 2008, 10:19 AM
A Wal-Mart store was the scene of chaos this morning. Anderson/News

A Wal-Mart store was the scene of chaos this morning.

A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."

Nassau County Police are still investigating and would not confirm the witness accounts. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. Police did say there were several injuries but weren't more specific.

Jessica Keyes was among the shoppers. She told the Daily News she saw a woman knocked down just a few feet from the dying worker.

"When the paramedics came, she said 'I'm pregnant,'" Keyes said.

Paramedics treated the woman inside the store and then, according to Keys, told the woman:

"There's nothing we can do. The baby is gone."

Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk's life.

"They were working on him, but you could see he was dead, said Halcyon Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."

Only a few stopped.

"They're savages," said shopper Kimberly Cribbs, 27. "It's sad. It's terrible."




________________________

From Me: I hope y'all think this behavior is as ridiculous as I do. I think getting up that early to save money is silly in and of itself. Saving money is great, but is it really worth the trouble, or in this case the life? Thanks to the materialism of many, two families will have sad, tragic Christmases. I hope those stampeding through Wal-Mart are proud of the money they saved! It cost 2 lives!

Something tells me we will hear more stories like this before Christmas is over.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beware: John Hagee

My wife and I get about 20 TV channels. We can't afford the fancy stuff. I don't even get the History Channel or ESPN. :( Thankfully, I at least get WGN for my Cubs games. Anyways, I was channel surfing about 5 minutes ago and ran across John Hagee. Now, I don't have a Theology degree. I'm not a deacon in a Church. I'm not even in the choir, but I do know that Mr. Hagee is a dangerous man who is missing the point of God and his Word and is misleading many people.

Just had to get that out.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Rant: Where Am I Wrong?

This is going to be a bit of a rant. It may not even get posted. It all depends on how I feel when I get done writing.

Anyways . . .

I've become annoyed, frustrated, puzzled, etc. with some of my fellow followers of Christ. I don't know them, but I read about them, hear them on TV or radio, see stories and commentary about them online. Who are these people that are causing me trouble? They are the Christians that are so critical of the Church, Christian organizations, Christian political activists, and fellow believers that it makes you wonder if their whole goal in life is to bring Christ down from the inside.

Don't get me wrong, the Church needs to be criticized from time to time. I've been critical on other blogs about the health and wealth gospels. I'm obviously being critical right now. It is far from perfect. The Bible has many stories about churches that were not representing God. Christian organizations too can miss the point, but that does not mean that we should go looking for their faults just so we can tell everyone about them. I differ on the means of many Christian political groups, but not the ends, but that doesn't mean I want to see their whole group fall off the face of the earth. And just because the guys sitting next to you has a more literal interpretation of the Bible doesn't mean he is anachronistic or ignorant, or that you should wait for him to fail, so you can rejoice.

Personally, I think the Bible answers every question of importance in my life. I also think that the message of the Bible trumps scientific studies because God and his power and principles are by definition immeasurable. I disagree with some Christian groups like Focus on the Family from time to time. However, I do not feel as though I should rag them for failing as the world measures success or failure. My job as a believer should be to point out their failure as it relates to the message of God. It is correct for Christians to point out false prophets like the Phelps and other preachers or groups that speak of things that contrast the Bible, but when did it become our job to attack people who we wouldn't dare call false prophets just because we don't like their agenda or the way they "do" church.

Today, Christians seem to look for reasons to attack other believers or groups of believers. My personal opinion is that they do this to appear either spiritually or intellectually superior. I think they are missing the point. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Bible isn't about intellectualism. It also isn't about appearing to be a more spiritual being than everyone around you.

Many Christians seem to have taken on the personality of the media. They look for juicy stories to tear people down rather than looking at the good in people. Yes, you may not agree with a given Christian political group on 100% of their issues, but does the 70% that you do agree on benefit the Kingdom of God? If so, is it worth your time to tear them down on the other 30%. Maybe the guy sitting next to you thinks abstinence only is the best sex education policy. Sure, there isn't a lot of scientific evidence to support it, but should we throw away God's principles for human science just because it makes us look more intellectual to our peers?

Perhaps I am way off in my little rant here. I am just getting tired of Christians who spend their time criticizing other Christians (I realize that is what I am doing) and never mention to good of the Church, Christian organization, Christian activists, or Godly people. I know "religion" is suppose to be bad and that saying you are a Christian really doesn't mean anything today because most people claim to follow Christ, but at some point, don't we need to stop arguing amongst ourselves and get to work? Criticism is important if its goal is to keep us inline with God. But does criticism help us if it is done not for the purpose of aiding the faulty, or spreading the gospel, but for propping ourselves up above other Christians?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Career Suggestions


I want a career where I can go workout in the morning, read my Bible afterward, then spend the rest of the day reading books about politics, history, culture, etc. I could write some if I needed to. I don't want deadlines, meetings, or to be bound by an office.

What jobs fit this description?

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Little Note To Myself

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct you paths." Proverbs 3:5,6

Friday, October 31, 2008

Texas vs. Texas Tech

These are a couple of pics from the Gameday set up outside my office.





Tomorrow night is the big showdown (or more likely shootout)! 7:00PM on ABC! I'm can't wait! Wreck 'Em Tech!

I've Done My Civic Duty

I voted yesterday. I don't know why. Neither of the top candidates are worth much to me. I live in Texas, so regardless of who I vote for it has no effect on the outcome. And regardless of the state, the chance of my vote mattering is not statistically different from zero. So why did I vote? I have no clue. I guess just because everyone expects a Political Science PhD student to vote. This has to be the least interested I have been in an election in quite some time. Maybe it is because the election has been going on for what seems like four years. Maybe it is because neither of the candidates represent what I believe. Maybe it is because studying political science has killed the things I once loved. I have no clue. Anyways, go vote, but only if you want to. It is supposedly the "democratic" thing to do. Yawn.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ephesians 6 and a Simple Prayer

I finished reading Ephesians today. The Armor of God is probably the most famous part of Ephesians chapter 6, but the message about the slave and the master was most striking to me today.

God tells slaves to respect their masters and to work hard and enthusiastically for them. As you can imagine, I'm almost certain that this was difficult. God tells slaves to work for their master as if they were working for Christ. Can you imagine being a slave and wanting to do that? I can't. A lot of times these verses are applied to the employee-employer relationship. That is what got to me today.

I am FAAAAAAAAAAAAR from enthusiastic about school. I certainly do not work as if Christ was my boss. I'm a bit of a rabble-rouser; always have been. I'm not vitriolic in these actions. I just can't stand inefficiency and bureaucracy. When you are working on a Ph.D. at a state university, you are burdened with both of these. As you might could imagine, I voice my opinion when things don't go like they should. Here, things rarely go as they should and everyone knows it, so it isn't like I am the outcast.

Anyways, I really have to work on this. I often pray that I will enter school with a good attitude. It is difficult. Not only am I one of two professing Christians in the program, but the stress levels are high amongst students and faculty, and many of the problems are endemic. How does one survive in such an environment without becoming bitter?

Getting over this bitterness is probably one of the best ways to show people that a relationship with Christ changes people. If I can show students and faculty that I am always joyful, then perhaps they will wonder what makes me different. That is the kind of message I need to be sending. Ephesians 4:31 tells us to "Get rid of all bitterness." Please pray that I can do this.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fireproof: My Thoughts




My wife and I went and saw Fireproof this weekend. I wasn't expecting much. I didn't really want to go, but I didn't put up a fight either. I'm a 27 year old male. I like movies that involve guns-a-blazin'. That said, I'm glad I went. Here are a few observations:

1) The first 10 minutes or so were a little tough to watch. The acting was a little rough, but they figured it out.

2) It was more spiritually-based that I originally thought. I knew it was done by a church, but I expected them to hint at things in hopes that it would make people question life without God. I was wrong. The movie just came right out and talked about salvation and God's love. It was surprising, but a great surprise! It's a no holds barred movie about the love of Christ and what it can do.

3) It was actually pretty humorous. Even better was the fact that the humor was ALL clean! I'm not one for super-crass humor like what you might find on Comedy Central. Nor am I a fan of the stupid humor you see on Saturday Night Live. This was real life humor and it was funny!

4) The main point, in my opinion, was that you can't love until you understand God's love. God loves us regardless of what we do. Even if we, to quote the movie, "spit in His face" God still loves us. That is the way we should treat others, and that doesn't just apply to our spouses.

5) It had some good messages to those who are unwed as well. The struggles with pornography, materialism (in this case a boat), and work are things that many people struggle with. While those may not be your struggles, I would be willing to bet that there is something out there that keeps you from honoring God or those you love. Kirk Cameron's character, Caleb did what he had to to break free from these problems. I won't spoil what he did in each case, but his actions were bold and they changed his life.

6) The movie shows how loving God isn't always easy. It isn't pain-free. It is never a one time thing.

7) It also shows us the wisdom of Godly counselors. Caleb's counselors were his father and one of his fire station buddies. Both were Godly men. His wife Catherine had the counsel of her coworkers. They were not Godly women. They were more interested in gossip and retribution than reconciliation and love. It wasn't until Catherine had a short lunch with an older Christian woman that was told not to continue with some of her behavior (I don't want to spoil what she was doing). I think it is definitely a good lesson. Having Godly counsel doesn't always mean you will have a fairytale ending or that you will do the right thing, but I bet that your decision-making process will be much more inline with what God wants.

That's all I got at the moment. Maybe I will come up with something else. Who knows? If you haven't seen the movie, I suggest doing so. If you have anything else to add, feel free!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Something to Think About

Today, I ran across a verse that I thought was worth contemplating.

Ephesians 2: 6 says, "For He raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms - all because we are one with Christ Jesus."

Just think about that for a minute or two.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Do You Play Like You Practice?

I just finished Philippians. In the notes, my study bible refers to many analogies of athletic training when speaking of the Christian life. The obvious one being that you have to work hard to accomplish your goals.

Sometimes, I find the notes to be a little bit of a stretch, but I went back and read the notes that I had taken and felt the analogy held. Being a follower truly is like being an athlete. Ever heard the phrase "you play like you practice"? I think that is the way Christianity is as well. If you work hard, spend time in the word, pray, fellowship (all = practice) then you will live (play) a life that brings honor to God.

Moral of the story . . . Don't be like this guy. (A touch of language at the end)


Many times I find my game play to be inadequate, the obvious reason, I don't practice enough. What about you?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Citizenship Gone Awry?


Today, I read Philippians chapter 3. A couple of thoughts popped into my head.

Verse 18 says, "For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ." Verse 20 tells us "we are citizens of heaven".

It is very exciting to be thought of as a citizen of heaven. However, like Paul writes, many professing Christians conduct themselves in ways that are contradictory to the cross. We see many instances of Americans going overseas and acting . . . well, like arrogant, entitled, classless Americans. They bring dishonor to our nation. Their actions can negatively influence others' opinions of all Americans.

Paul tells us many who are Christians act the same way.

So, as a citizen of Heaven, are you acting in a way that brings glory to the Kingdom or are your actions producing backlash against Heaven?






Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 6:16-19
"There are six things the Lord hates--no, seven things he detests:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent,
a heart that plots evil,
feet that race to do wrong,
a false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord among brothers."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where Am I?

It's been a while, I know. Things have been kinda crazy around here. My wife got sick (feeling much better now), I hurt my back working out (still not quite 100%, but close), school got busy, and my wife has been working on some sewing projects at her mother's business.

All of these things have led to a lack of blogging, and quite honestly, a lack of spending time with God. It's amazing how much I depend on routine. I really need to work on that.

Anyways, . . . I will just go ahead and throw this out there, my wife and I need prayer. We are kinda clueless at the moment. Last week my wife told me that she doesn't know what she is meant to do. She is currently a teacher at a private high school. She took that job as a way to make a living while in college, not as a career. I'm a Ph.D. student in political science who is growing increasingly embittered with said area of studies. I don't know what I'm suppose to do either, I just know that it isn't political "science" research. For a long time I have questioned my purpose, but now that we both are clueless, it only adds to the enigma.

Also, my wife needs me to step up and be a better spiritual leader. This is something I have battled with. I am not confident in my knowledge or wisdom when it comes to spiritual matters. I am uncomfortable talking about such issues with people I know because I just don't feel that I measure up. That is one reason I started this blog. I yearn for the knowledge, and I find learning quite enjoyable. I just have trouble expressing my Biblical knowledge (or lack thereof) with others.

Back to jobs. I HAVE to have a job that makes a difference. I cannot handle doing irrelevant things. Honestly, since only God is relevant, I wonder if I should look into Christian organizations like Family Research Council or Focus on the Family, but I don't know what kind of job someone with a background in national security and conflict would be able to get at such an institute. And of course, going back to paragraph 2, I don't know how successful I would be at that.

So basically what I am telling y'all is that my wife and I are completely lost, wondering aimlessly through life at the moment. I'm 27, she's about to hit 26 and we are ready to find our niche. We just have no clue what it is or where it might be?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

2 John

I just read 2 John. A couple of things jumped out at me in those 13 verses. Neither of these should be a surprise. John seems to give us two necessary conditions for readers to think about in regards to living a Godly life.

First, we must love. "Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love on another, just as you heard from the beginning" (2 John 6). Of course, anyone can love. Many people love, but are without Christ. Some people have wonderfully-caring hearts and enjoy helping others, but this condition alone does not make them a Christ follower.

The second thing that John tells us is that we must believe that Christ was human. "Many deceivers have gone out into the world. They do not believe that Jesus Christ came to earth in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out, so that you do not lose the prize for which we have been working so hard. Be diligent so that you will receive your full reward" (2 John 7-8). Humanity, by definition, is sinful, but Christ is pure. Hence, many people do not believe that Christ was/is God in the flesh because they see a natural contradiction in the two.

I think that this very short book gives us a great insight. For those of us who proclaim to be Christ followers, do we love one another? For those that love, do they believe that Christ was fully God, yet full man and that he came to earth to live, die, and be resurrected?

Maybe I am overstating the case, but this book seems to "nip it in the bud". (bet no one has ever referred to the Bible like that). ;)


Proverb of the Day: Provers 16:3
"Commit you work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Big Z No-Hitter!!!




I've been a Cubs fan for 22 years (I've only been alive for 27). I've watched thousands of baseball games and probably thousands of Cubs games. I've seen many Cubs pitchers get close to a no-hitter only to lose it in the late innings of the ballgame. Not last night. Carlos Zambrano threw the first Cubs no-hitter since Milt Pappas in 1972. As an added bonus, Z threw his against the Astros. I watched it all! It was awesome. I even got a little teary-eyed when it was over. It was simply amazing!

Go Cubs Go!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 and Beyond




Today is the seventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks on America. There are many blogs out there expressing their feelings, veiws, etc. Here is a post about the events. Here is another, and another. Not to be outdone by some of my favorite blogs, I will give my two cents.

On September 11, 2001 I was a twenty year old college sophomore at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. That day was a special one for the university. We were inaugurating a new university president. The inauguration began in the morning. I, being a college student, rolled out of my dorm room right before the inauguration and strolled to chapel for the event. While standing in line to get in (we got double chapel credits that day) I heard some other students talking about a plane that hit the World Trade Center. I figured it was just a small single-pilot type of plane. I wish I would have been right.

I knew I was wrong at the moment the ceremony started. All the professors were in the academic regalia up on stage surrounded by other special guests who were there to mark the occasion. We did not open with prayer for the ceremony at hand. Instead, we opened with prayer for our nation, New York, and the Pentagon. It was then, in the midst of the prayer that I received the news of what had happened. It was an understatement to say that the ceremony was not as enjoyable as most had hoped. When it ended, I immediately ran back to my dorm to watch the news.

I remember the events like it was yesterday. I remember President Bush from Florida saying "Freedom has been attacked by faceless cowards, and freedom will be defended." I remember President Bush on top of the firetruck with the bullhorn speaking to the workers. I remember seeing people run as clouds of debris flew towards them. I remember seeing replays of those planes flying into buildings and seeing people jump from the top of the buildings. I still get teary-eyed. I still remember.

On September 10th, 2001, I was a Criminal Justice major who knew NOTHING about politics. On September 11th, 2001, I was glued to the TV for hours on end watching 24 hour news networks. I remembering asking a friend shortly after 9/11 what the differences were between liberals and conservatives. That's how naive I was about the world around me.

I was to graduate in 2003 with a degree in Criminal Justice, so that I could go be a law enforcement officer somewhere. After 9/11, things changed. I double majored in Spanish (hoping it would help me get a job in federal law enforcement or into a grad school). I read and read and read about politics, especially terrorism, and soon I founded a branch of a state-wide political organization on campus. I had stepped into the world of politics from which I haven't turned back. After I graduated in 2004 (a year later than planned), I went and began graduate school in Washington D.C. in the subject of Defense & Strategic Studies. I was even lucky enough to work at a think tank that studied strategic defense issues. I was a small town boy, in the big city. That was something I hadn't planned (I had once said I would never live anywhere but Texas). After completing my master's degree, I moved back to Texas to work on my Ph.D. in Political Science; the very subject that I was clueless on on September 10, 2001. And, for a bonus, I met my wife while working on my Ph.D. in that once-mysterious subject

I know not what God has in store for me, but I would be lying if I thought it was to be ordinary. I truly believe that God has led me to this point so that I can do something great. I think he has given me a passion for politics, especially foreign policy, for a reason. I just wish I knew what it was. I'm pretty sure he doesn't want me to be president. I think he wants me in a think tank or something similar.

September 11th did something for almost everyone. There are a lot of political implications of that day for the nation and globe. Some I agree with, some I don't. Those implications are beyond the scope of this post. For me, 9/11 changed the path of my life. It even led me to the city where I found my wife. I think it's safe to say that 9/11 changed the outcome of things in my life not yet done, seen, or thought of.

I continue to pray for healing for those who lost on that day. I also pray for our country, our leaders, and those who serve at home and abroad. I hope that you do the same.

God bless.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

God is Love!

I was praying this morning and thanking God for making me more aware of some of my sins. Things that I use to not think twice about, now I do. I'm growing more aware of my errors. I feel guilty about things that I use to not. That means I am growing in my ability to discern the Godly from the ungodly. Of course, I still have to work on taking it to the next level to stop repeating these ridiculous sins.

After I finished praying, I opened my Bible to continue reading in 1 John. Lo and behold, one of the first verses of chapter 3 reads, "So if we continue to live in him, we won't sin either. But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is."

Ok God! I got the message! I gotta work harder to not let the world get the best of me, especially when my conscience warns me first.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 9:11
"Wisdom will multiply you days and add years to your life."

Monday, September 8, 2008

God is Light!!!

I started reading 1 John today. I only read two chapters, but there was quite a bit of information in those few verses. Here are some of my favorites:

1 John 1:5
"This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all."
Two things come to mind. 1) How awesome is it that we serve a God completely engulfed in light? He is there, open, waiting, and ready for us. He is ready to reveal Himself--all of Him--to us. 2) How would I be viewed if there was no darkness in my life? Would my secrets or what I do behind closed doors bring people to Christ or lead them into a worldly life?

1 John 2:9
"If anyone says, 'I am living in the light,' but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness."
I can honestly say that I don't hate anyone. I wish no ill will on anyone, including my enemies. However, I would be foolish if I said I love everyone. Many times I am just apathetic. There are people in this world who probably think I want to see them fail. To those people, I probably appear to hate them. Even though I may not, my attitude towards them does not provide them an example of Christ's love. Gotta work on that one!!!!

1 John 2:17
"And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God you will live forever."
I want to live forever and I am growing more confident in my salvation, but what is God's will for my life?

There are also several verses on antichrists. We are told to be aware of anyone that leaves the church and tells us that "Jesus is not the Christ."(1 John 2:22)

Anyways, those are just a couple of thoughts from the first two chapters of 1 John.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 8:35
"For whoever finds me (wisdom) finds life and wins approval from the Lord."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

College Football Week 2

Tech plays Nevada tonight. I'm a little worried. Ok. I'm a lot worried. We usually have a game or two a season that we sleepwalk through. This game has that potential. I'm predicting a close game. I will be presently surprised if we dominate. As for the rest of the Big 12, they should have cakewalks -- minus A&M. The Aggies don't seem to even know what a first down is. (And yes, I ended a sentence with "is".)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is There A Right Way To Do Church?

My mother-in-law (of almost 6 months) has decided that she doesn't like the way I dress for church. I wear blue jeans, boots, and a polo shirt. I don't always shave, but I never look like I just spent 4 months in Siberia. To me, this is dressed up. You see, I'm a blue jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. I almost always have a hat on. So when I put on a polo shirt, and no I don't tuck it in, and "fix" my hair, I consider it dressed up.

Now, am I really in the wrong here? If I am please tell me. All I know is that Jesus hung out with prostitutes, criminals, the sick, and the poor. He didn't care what they looked like. The church should be welcoming of all. There should be no litmus test to sit in a pew.

You see, I dress the way I dress because that is me. I am as anti-trendy/cute/metrosexual as they come when it comes to clothing. When I was little and forced to dress up, I spent all of church counting down the minutes until I could get out of the fancy clothes. Worshiping was an afterthought.

I'm also a big believer that people should be real. There is no need to change who you are in order to get things done. I would venture to bet that a lot of young people don't go to church because the older generation constantly criticizes how they dress, how they play crazy rock music at church instead of hymns, and various other generational and cultural differences.

I don't think these differences matter. Personally, I believe that God wants us to worship, not look like we should be on the cover of Vogue or sing every verse of exactly 5 hymns.

Am I wrong? Am I missing something? Does the Bible tell us the proper way to worship?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hello? God?

I've been trying to think of something to blog about. I've had a couple of posts that I erased. Nothing was really flowing. This is all I've got:

I've been kinda out of touch with God lately and I'm not sure why. When I'm at church and the worship band is playing their heart out, I feel so in touch with God. When I'm at a Bible study that challenges and educates me, I feel so in touch with God. When I listen to our pastor preach, I feel so in touch with God. When I study on my own, I feel so in touch with God . . . part of the time. Why is it that I can experience God in such an amazing way in community worship, but I have trouble "getting" Him when I am alone? After leaving Bible studies or church, I often want to run out and conquer the world. After my own quiet time, I often want to take a nap. Why is this? What am I missing?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

College Football is Here!

It's college football time! Which is second only to baseball season. My prediction for today's Texas Tech vs. Eastern Washington game is 62-20. EWU actually has a decent offensive scheme, so they might be able to put up 20. Tech should have the advantage, however, in almost all facets of the game. My only concern is that there is a chance of heavy rain. If that happens, I would say a score of 47-17 is a little more likely. We shall see! Wreck em Tech!

Anyone have any predictions on their favorite team?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So, You Want To Get Your PhD?

So I've officially survived all of my classes at least once. The class I teach should be a breeze. The students seem to be very talkative and I like to think that I am a little more interesting than the average gray-haired, sweater vest-wearing professor. The classes I'm taking on the other hand . . . ugh. It is going to be a long semester. It isn't that the classes are difficult. It is that they are pointless. At this point in my PhD career these classes do nothing but waste time. The administration wants to get us through the program as quickly as possible, yet they drop massive amounts of pointless work on us. The bureaucracy around here is smothering and it's driving me insane. I, along with almost all of my colleagues, don't want to be here anymore. We want to be gone or done, . . . preferably both.

There was much more, but it was more of a rant about the fallacy of political science, which I'm sure no one cared to read.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Battle in the Basement

School has officially started. I can already tell it is going to be a battle. I want to be less irritable this year. That can be difficult in such a high-stress environment. I really want to be positive and loving to my students, classmates, and professors, but the mundaneness of some of the classes, the high level of bureaucracy and the general desire by some to cause and proliferate trouble makes it difficult for me to walk a straight line. This is going to be a trying year, but I am determined not to let it get to me. If I can muster up the courage, I even hope to mend a fence or two. Help me Lord!

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 26:14
"As a door turns back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed."

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of the Semester

Welp. It's the first day of school. I have 220 children that I will be introducing to Political Science this morning. I am probably the first ever college class for many of them. Pray that I teach them what needs to be taught, that I am a great Christian example to them, and that all goes smoothly.

Daniel 7: How Will You Be Judged?

Daniel 7 is the first of several of Daniel's visions. This particular vision is about the four beasts. Without going into detail, let me just say that I am glad I know how the story ends. With these four beasts comes the death and destruction of many followers. Thankfully, God comes and saves us from the beasts.

My question with this chapter is: How will God judge me? This chapter is very clear that God will come and judge in favor of those who are holy. Will that be me? I sure hope so. I would like to think so, but I often feel so inadequate in this regard. Perhaps my insecurities come from knowing that I am insufficient. Perhaps Satan is telling my I am not good enough and I am actually listening.

I don't know.




Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 25:6-7
"Don't demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great. It is better to wait for an invitation than to be sent to the end f the line, publicly disgraced!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Daniel 6 and the Line between Loving God and Respecting the State

Daniel and the lion's den is one of the more well-known stories of the Bible. I do not plan to go into depth about it here. It is in Daniel 6 if you want more info on it.

The story did make me wonder about when it is appropriate to shun the state's laws. The Bible tells us that God puts into power the person He wants in power for that particular moment. We are also suppose to obey the state unless they ask us to do things that are against God.

Undoubtedly, Daniel continued to pray to God instead of Darius because the law that forbid praying to anyone but Darius was counter to God's law. That is an easy one. However, what about more difficult questions? What about school prayer? What about being a man or woman of faith while at work? Where is the line between being faithful to God like Daniel was and being respectful of the state and/or employers?

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 22:2
"The rich and the poor have this in common: They Lord made them both."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Daniel 5: What is Written on Your Wall

Daniel Chapter 5 tells us that we are expected to learn from the mistakes of others and be humble. Nebuchadnezzar eventually learned which god was the God. Belshazzar, his successor, was not so lucky. He held a feast, and using items stolen from when Nebuchadnezzar overran the Jews, they celebrated and worshiped idols of all kinds. During the feast a hand appeared and wrote a message on a wall. When Daniel later interpreted the writings he told Belshazzar that he learned nothing from Nebuchadnezzar and that he had refused to humble himself before God. As punishment, he would lose his kingdom to the Persians and Medes, and his life would be lost as well. That night he was murdered and Darius the Mede took control over the kingdom.

For me, there are two lessons here.

1) Take note of other people's successes and failures. God doesn't put godly people in your life so that you can ignore them. They are tools for you. They are examples. The same goes for the ungodly. They too give us direction.

2) I wonder what the writing on my wall would say? This got me to thinking; we should make sure that the writing on our wall is a representation of our relationship with God. For some, the writing on the wall may actually be posted Bible verses. For others, it might be reading the Word regularly or helping those less fortunate. Those "writings" help the world to know about our future and they help to keep us on the right track. What does your writing on the wall say?

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 21:31
"The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Daniel 4: Who Created It?

Daniel 4 teaches us some very important lessons, especially for those who are viewed through the world's eyes as successful. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that Daniel later interpreted for him. The dream was a vision of Nebuchadnezzar losing his kingdom for "seven periods of time" unless he broke from his sinful past. Nebuchadnezzar would be punished by being placed below human society, having to eat grass like cows. Sure enough, 12 months after the dream Nebuchadnezzar was on his rooftop overlooking his kingdom and boasting about what he had created when the dream was fulfilled.

The lesson is obvious, we do nothing great without God. Our castle (even if it is a small two room duplex) is a gift from God. Our diplomas, job titles, bank statements, awards, etc. come from God. If we focus only on what we have done, then we have nothing. God giveth and God most certainly can taketh away. We should not let our pride and sinful nature interfere with all that God has done for us. He has provided shelter, clothing, food, and so much more for me. He has provided His son for all. The story of Nebuchadnezzar is a warning to each and every one of us. We need to remember who got us to where we are.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 20:22
"Don't say, 'I will get even for this wrong.' Wait for the Lord to handle the matter."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Daniel 3: Fear and Faith?

I continued in Daniel reading the 3rd chapter. This chapter tells us about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were thrown into a blazing furnace for refusing to worship Nebuchadnezzar's gold statue. After being bound and thrown into the furnace, which was burning at a rate 7 times greater than normal, Nebuchadnezzar looked in to see four men walking around. It was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and another supernatural being. The original three walked from the fire and were unharmed. Even their clothes were unsinged.

Reading this got me to thinking about faith. After learning they would be thrown into the fire the three replied, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God of whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn't, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up" (Daniel 3:17-18).

That is some serious faith. Not only that, but the Bible records no fear from the three. I wonder if they were scared at all? This led me to wonder if we can be fearful of our future and still have faith that God will protect us? The Bible tells us to fear only God. Moses fled from Egypt without fearing reprisal from the King (Hebrews 11:27). Perhaps to have true faith in God we must NOT fear man. What can man do that God cannot undo? NOTHING!

Another thing that was brought to my attention was the fact that the Bible tells us of many idols and religions that were created by Kings for their own good. I am not an expert in Church history by any stretch of the imagination, but I was wondering if Christianity can be traced back to one person who created the idea of God to further their own goals? (I would argue NO) If it cannot be traced to such a person, like other religions, then how can detractors of Christianity say that Christianity is "made up" or "all in your head"?

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 19:3
"People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Daniel 1 & 2: Sticking to Your Guns without Shooting Anyone

I read Daniel chapters 1 and 2 this morning. Of course, chapter two is the more well-recognized of the two. It is about Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the statue. That being said, chapter one spoke to me this morning.

After being taken captive and moved hundreds of miles to Babylon, the young Daniel was put into three years of training to be a King's adviser. What I found most striking was the amount of faith Daniel had at this time. His home had been destroyed and he had been taken captive, yet he STILL held on to his beliefs. He refused to partake of the King's food, instead preferring foods that did not conflict with God's laws. Not only did he not eat what the King had offered, but he was able to very wisely suggest another diet. I think too often Christians take a stance that is so very anti-worldly (read: militant) that they give Christians a bad name. Daniel didn't protest or tell those who prepared his meals that they would burn in Hell for creating such things. He didn't shun those who ate what the King offered. He very calmly offered a suggestion that was in line with God's laws. Not only does this show wisdom, but also faith. He had the faith to know that God would be with him as he challenged the status quo (and that is saying a lot after all he had been through).

Anyways, I thought it was interesting how Daniel was able to remain loyal to God and did so under the toughest of circumstances, but in a non-conflictual way. I'm not saying Christians should never stand up in protest. I'm just pointing out that in this circumstance Daniel shows us that we can defeat worldly things without being aggressive.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 18: 4
"A person's words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Random Thoughts

I was at a good friend's wedding a couple weekends ago and witnessed something that made me think. During the toast the best man talked about how God was evident in the relationship of the bride and groom. My first instinct was, "yeah right". They lived together a while before getting married.

I find myself having these reactions quite often. Maybe an athlete with talk thank God for his abilities, then go drop the F Bomb when he gets a bad call, or a musician will thank God for giving him/her the ability to sing that song about drugs, prostitutes, and violence, or someone I see at church spends their weekends getting plastered at a bar.

These situations occur all the time and I always think to myself "some Christian they are". I've been thinking though, how do I come off? I certainly hope people don't see the way I act and think "another Christian who lives his life no different than I".

I am not saying that Christians are perfect. We aren't. We sin . . . a lot. But can people recognize us as being legitimately remorseful for our sinful acts or do they see us as just arrogant folks who think we own morality?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Long Absence

Sorry for the long absence. I am teaching a summer class which means I have to lecture every day. It is quite demanding since it is an upper-level class. I'm hanging in there though. Just a few more days. I'm still reading blogs. I just don't have as much time to write my own. These are the time when I have to remember that God is first and everything else follows.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Jude Chapter 1: Be Weary of False Teachings

I started reading the book of Jude today. I only read the first chapter. The main thing that I was reminded of was to be aware of false teachers. False teachers are everywhere. They lead us to sin and destruction. This is a good example of what false teachers do. They look out only for themselves and distort Biblical teachings to do so. The Bible is clear, in order to reject false teachings, one needs to grow in the knowledge of Christ. This lead me to this question:

How do I know that my beliefs are the right beliefs? I am not talking about things like the fact that Jesus was the son of God. He was crucified for our sins and rose from the dead three days later. I KNOW those things are true. But what about other church doctrines? For instance, I have seen arguments that evangelicalism was a command to the disciples, not us. I believe this to be incorrect, but am I sure I am right? Many baptists frown on women in any leadership role in the church. I'm a little more liberal on this issue, but how do I know I am right? Look at the several different denominations. They all have something that separates them from the others. How do they know their "way" is better than the others?

I don't think it is wrong to question my beliefs. As a matter of fact, I think it can only make them stronger.

How do you know that what you believe is right?

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 9:11
"Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life."

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Take a few moments and do something few Americans have actually done; read your Declaration of Independence! It will be amazing what you will learn about the country by reading the documents produced by her Founders.

Below is a video of one of my all time favorite songs. I just can't help by think about how blessed we are to be Americans and the suffering many have gone through so that we can have the quality of life we do.




The closing words of the Declaration of Independence:
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

God and Vanilla Dr. Pepper

So today I was enjoying a healthy lunch at Sonic. Now, I love Sonic. I can sit in my truck, listen to the radio, and eat all at the same time. Not to mention, their drinks are fantabulous. I placed my order and in no time the carhop was at my window delivering tasty goodness. This carhop, however, was different. When we finished our transaction he said "Have a blessed day." As he skated off I got a glimpse of his name tag. It said "Choose Life."

I thought this was rather interesting. Based only on these two things, I think I could argue that this young man was a man of faith. I could be wrong, but that isn't really the point of the post. We could argue as to whether or not abortion is or is not allowed by God or if a name tag is the appropriate place to espouse your views. We can even argue if work is the appropriate place to overtly share your faith. Again, these question are not at the heart of this post. My interest is more of in "what if?"

What if every follower of Christ shared this young man's desire to spread the Word? What if all Christians had a name tag that said, "Spend Time with God" or "God Gives Me Joy" et cetera? What if all Christians ended their conversations with people with a "Have a Blessed Day"?

Now, I'm sure there are people out there who are thinking such actions might be a little jingo-istic. Perhaps they are, but I would have never known that young man was a believer had he never said what he said or had his name tag arranged like he did. I would have never written this post. You would have never read it. Some random person coming across this blog may not have had their life changed because of it.

We should exude a way of living that makes people wonder "what does he/she have that I don't?" We should be bold about our faith. As I wrote in the previous post, there is no perfect time to spread the Gospel. All the time is the time to spread the Gospel.

This young man, who probably hasn't even graduated high school yet, was putting it all on the line for God. Some day, someone will complain to management about his "Godliness" and how they don't like it being forced upon them (it wasn't forced, it was just obviously there), but this young man didn't care. He was out to do things for God.

What have you done for God lately?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ecclesiastes Chapters 9-12 : Some Concluding Remarks on the Book of Ecclesiastes

The final few chapters of Ecclesiastes had some good thoughts:

Everyone dies. This shouldn't be a shocker to anyone unless maybe Enoch is reading this. We all die and sadly, some die unexpectedly and tragically. We need to be living our life TODAY in a way that brings honor to God because there may be no tomorrow.

We also don't need to wait for "perfect" timing to do anything. Maybe we are waiting for the perfect timing to minister to a coworker or go on the mission trip. Ecclesiastes tells us that no time will ever be perfect, so we should act anyways without hesitation.

It is best that we don't waste our youth. We need to be living for God now. If we wait until we are old and frail to live for God, then we will not be able to enjoy it. Along with this, we need use our time wisely for God. We shouldn't waste our valuable time (remember, tragedies occur) on meaningless tasks.

SOME CONCLUDING REMARKS ON ECCLESIASTES: Here are just a few main themes that I picked up from this book:

1) Life apart from God is meaningless
2) All material things and titles are meaningless without God
3) Seek wisdom
4) Cherish your time and don't waste it on meaningless things
5) Everyone dies (the rich, the poor, the wise, the foolish, the joyful, the sad, etc.)
6) And . . . as the final two verses of the book say, "Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad."


Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 25 : 15
"Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition."

Ecclesiastes Chapters 6-8

A few bullet points from this reading:

1) God controls my destiny, not me.
2) Seek wisdom
3) Wisdom is difficult to obtain and even with wisdom we cannot fully understand God or His ways
4) Wisdom leads to righteousness
5) Since we cannot have total wisdom, we must lest joy and contentment replace the unkown

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 23:17-18
"Don't envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord. For surely you have a future ahead of you; your hope will not be disappointed."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ecclesiastes Chapters 3 - 5 : Turn, Turn, Turn

Much of this was similar to yesterday's writings.

We need to remember to focus on God, not on making money, being popular, having that prestigious job. As Solomon tells us, in the end, those things do not matter. Questions then arise, why not just do whatever we want? Why not be a couch potato? The answer is because God has a time for everything. We are not to work so hard that we pursue only riches, nor are we to be lazy. We are to do everything to the best of our ability without letting it consume our lives. God should consume our lives. If we are truly focused on God, then we won't have to worry about earthly possessions or awards. God will reveal our rewards to us at a later time.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 18:10
"The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ecclesiastes 1 & 2 : Wasting Our Lives Away?

Today's reading was the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes. These aren't the most optimistic chapters in the Bible, but they are important.

Solomon tells us that our lives, apart from God, are a waste. They are like "chasing the wind." He shows that wisdom, possessions, and hard work alone do not bring satisfaction and joy. Instead, we must live our lives according to God's plan for us. If we seek God's will and act upon it in faith, then our lives will count. Nothing we earn, learn or make can be taken with us once we die. If we fulfill God's plan for us, however, we will have our rewards in Heaven.

It kind of reminds me of the Casting Crowns song "American Dream." I listened to this over and over again when I lived in D.C., because this is how a lot of people live up there.



This passage speaks well to me. I'm pretty sure a Ph.D. in Political Science is pretty worthless, but I'm still here. God brought me here for a reason. Now, I have to figure out what that reason is. I'm pretty sure that reason is NOT to do the same type of pointless research most professors do. I also need to learn to approach this time in my life with joy and be excited about the opportunity that God has given me. Someday, the reason I am here doing this will come to light.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hebrews 10:19 - 13:25: Superiority of Faith

I finished Hebrews today starting with chapter 10 verse 19. These final chapters were pretty intense. There was everything in here from the fact that God created the universe from nothing, to the fact that He disciplines those He loves, to reminding us not to stray from Him. I will be focusing on the main theme of these chapters which was faith.

They begin by showing the superiority of faith. Without faith in God we have no salvation. Then, of course, comes Faith's Hall of Fame. We've all heard the stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc., but I still can't fathom the faith it took to act the way they did. Whether it was building a massive ark, preparing to sacrifice your son, or choosing to live among the oppressed instead of the wealthy and powerful, all of these men had to have an amazing amount of faith. I question whether or not I have this type of faith. I most definitely have this faith when things are going good. I might even show signs of it when things are going bad. I just can't imagine me giving up everything I have to do something that might seem crazy for God. I hope that my faith grows to be as strong and steadfast as those mentioned in Hebrews 11. It will take a long time, much discipline, and a lot of God to get me there.

The verses that really stuck out are below. Hebrews 11:32-39:
"32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised."


Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 16:33

"We can throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall."



Sunday, June 15, 2008

Do I Love the Same People God Does?

Given the fact that I am in a Sunday School class that is made specifically for graduate students, and given the fact that it is Summer, our class is obviously on hiatus. Instead, we, along with the entire university ministry are watching a video series called "Breakaway".

Today's lesson was about loving people. Yeah, that's pretty simple stuff, right? Well this session was not just about loving people, but about loving people that you find difficult to love. The argument was made that God so loved the world that He gave His only son. Again, this isn't earth-shattering. The first verse everyone learns is John 3:16. This session, however, made the point that even those people that drive you nuts and make you angry are covered in Christ's blood.

Think about it. That guy that cut you off in traffic, that waitress that charged you for an extra drink, that lady at the supermarket that was rude to you, that child that stole money from you to go get that fancy tattoo; all of these people were so loved by God that He gave His son for them. They may seem like rude, dishonest, degenerates to you, but to God, they are His children.

The point is, that Christ died for everyone, not just those of us that profess to love Him. He died for the unbelievers as well. He died for those that are hard-hearted and vengeful. If God loved them so much, and we claim to love God, why do we treat people that aren't in our circle so poorly?

Think to yourself: how would the world change if every person treated every other person as if they were important enough to God that He gave His son as a sacrifice?

I know I have problems with this, especially at school. However, my eyes were really opened today. IF I LOVE GOD, AND GOD GAVE HIS SON FOR ALL MANKIND (AND NOT JUST THE BELIEVERS) THEN I NEED TO TREAT ALL MANKIND (AND NOT JUST THE BELIEVERS) AS BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST.

So, the next time you get a bit agitated at someone, think before you speak. Remember that Christ died for that person because He loves Him. Might this change your response?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hebrews 8 - 10 : 18: The Superiority of the New Covenant

These verses clearly establish God's new covenant with us as superior to the old. Through the old covenant blood had to be shed regularly in an effort to seek God's forgiveness. Through the shedding of Christ's blood, we were forgiven once and for all. Christ's blood is enough to buy us eternal life.

One thing I thought was interesting was that in the old covenant the priests sacrificed animals. These sacrifices were to teach the people that sin costs something. In the new covenant, the people did not have to sacrifice anything for forgiveness. Instead, God sacrificed His son. I just found it interesting that the sinners no longer are sacrificing to pay for their old sins. Instead, Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. We sacrifice NOTHING for salvation. This was kind of a no-brainer, but I guess reading it really put it into perspective for me.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 12:25
"Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hebrews 4:14 - Hebrews 7: Christ is Greater than the Priesthood

These chapters established Christ as more powerful than the Old Testament priesthood. As we know, only the priests could only enter into the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place on behalf of the people. Christ ended that. Praise Jesus! Now, because of Christ's experience as man, and his perfect nature, we are not limited like the days of old. And the only perfect being to ever live is now our intermediary. No longer are we dependent on a sinful priest to visit with God on our behalf once a year. Now, a pure Christ is there for us constantly.

The biggest thing I got out of this was in Hebrews 6. Verses 1-3 read, "So let us stop going over the basics of Christianity again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don't need to start all over again with the importance of turning away from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don't need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding." These verses showed me that Christianity is a process. It is true that following Christ is a decision that we make. However, growing in Christ is not a one time decision. Every day you have to tell yourself that you are going to live for Christ, that you are going to seek God, and that you are going to listen to His voice. This truly is a relationship. Productive relationships aren't stagnate. They grow; and so it is with Christ.

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 11:25
"The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hebrews 3-4:13: Moses, Promises, and Nakedness

These couple of chapters set forth the idea that Jesus was greater than Moses. Moses, obviously, a Jewish leader, was revered. Even after leading the Israelites for so long, even after bringing down the Ten Commandments, even after performing miraculous feats for his people, Moses, was still not greater than Jesus. As the Bible says, Moses was a servant of the house, but Jesus is the housekeeper.

These chapters also mentioned the fact that because we have chosen to believe in God, we are promised rest. If we disobey, however, like the Israelites, then we will be separated from God and will never enter the place of rest.

The most striking thing I read came from 4:12-13. It reads, "For the Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Nothing in all creation can hide from Him. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done." I found these two verses very telling. (1) The Word of God is the first tool that we should use to fight our battles. (2) God's Word tells us who we are. How we live according to His word tells us about our victories and our failures and His redeeming love that saves us. (3) We cannot hide from God. Nothing, not even the smallest particle, can be hidden from God. I will have to remember that the next time I think about doing something stupid because I think no one will know. (4) I have to explain my actions to God. Given number (3) that could take a while :(


Proverb of the Day: Provers 10: 19
"Don't talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn ff the flow!"

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hebrews 1-2: Jesus is Greater

I started reading Hebrews today. The first two chapters were about how Jesus is greater than all. He is greater than the greatest angels, and He is greater than man. These weren't necessarily news to me, but it was nice to be reminded that Jesus was, is, and always will be the most powerful resident on the planet.

I found it interesting that the Bible says that God provides angels to watch over the believers. This shouldn't have been a shock to me. Daniel was saved by angels in the lions den, while Peter was saved from Herod by angels. It is really a great thought knowing that God can deliver me from any situation. I may not find myself face to face with hungry lions anytime soon, but the fact remains that God has the power to do mighty things. It is kind of freeing knowing this. A lot of people think Christianity takes away freedom. I think this shows the opposite. God, and only God, can free people from the dangers of the world!

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 9:10
"Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge f the Holy One results in understanding."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Faith of Abraham

I read Romans 4 today. It is about the faith of Abraham. In no discrete terms, it says that Abraham was saved by faith. Works were not part of the deal. In Genesis 15:6 we see the same thing.

Abraham was saved because of his faith in God and not because he had obeyed the law. This is obvious because Abraham was declared righteous before he had ever been circumcised. Under the law, he would not have been righteous without circumcision.

Obeying the law is great. As a matter of fact, it is asked of us. However, it is not an end in of itself. One must not only know the law and obey it. One must have faith that God is who He says He is, that God fulfills His promises, that God is all-mighty. Abraham had this faith. He did not rely on scientific evidence or even logic. He relied only on God. When Abraham was told that his descendants would number more than the stars; he still believed.

Do you have that kind of faith?

Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 4:6
"Don't turn you back on wisdom, fr she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Humble God

Today I read Philippians 2. It was full of great themes.

The theme that has stuck with me the most was the idea that God humbled himself. Verses 5 - 8 read, "Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing, he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross."

It just amazes me that God loves us so much that he would make himself nothing. The most powerful force ever became nothing; a slave who died a criminal's death. That's pretty powerful.

How do I humble myself? Do I serve others? Am I a slave to those whom I have power over? Do I love so much that I am willing to disregard my power to show my love?

Proverb of the Day:
It is the same as yesterday's. I thought yesterday was the 3rd. Ooops!

Michael

Monday, June 2, 2008

Anyone Seen Any Purpose Around Here?

Today I read about purpose. When everything is said and done, my life will be judged on whether or not I fulfilled God's purpose for my life. Before I can do that, I need to know what is that purpose. Last week, I read about David wanting to establish a temple for God. God told him not to do that because he had a different purpose in mind for David. That purpose was ultimately that David's line would continue forever. David's original goal was awesome, but God's goal for David was so much more powerful. I have big goals in life. I wonder what purpose God has for me that I have yet to discover.

Today I read 2 Timothy 2. In a nutshell, the chapter is about how we are enlisted in God's army. He has plans for us. That plan is for us to spread the truth and to not spread untruths. Gossipping, lieing, etc. are not Kingdom-worthy acts. This is something I have been convicted of for the past several months. I work in an extremely stress-laden environment. To my knowledge, I am the only Christian there. As you can imagine, it makes it difficult to stay on the narrow path. I have realized that I might have missed some opportunities to minister to some of my classmates. I have also realized that if I am to minister to them, that I must make sure that I do not get pulled into their foolish arguments. Second Timothy 2:16 says, "Avoid godless, foolish discussions that lead to more and more ungodliness." This is something I need to work on. Hopefully, I can report back at a later date and say that I am not conforming to the actions of my surroundings.

Proverb of the Day: Provers 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding."

As someone who has 2 undergraduate degrees, 2 master's degress, and is working on a Ph.D., I more often than not depend on my own understanding. How foolish of me! I might be well-educated, but I am still a fool at heart

Have a great week everyone!
Michael

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Introductory Post

Welcome.

I don't know exactly what I am doing, but here goes. The idea is for me to write, rather frequently, about how I am growing in God. I have spent my whole life in the church. I even graduated from a Christian University. That being said, I do not have a great relationship with God. I am working on it. There is a big difference between being a Christian and having a relationship with Christ. Most people claim the former. I want the ladder. This may not be a super deep theological blog, but it might be the blog I, or you, need to get deeper with God.


Wish me luck,

Michael