One of the problems in Christian faith is our willingness to cash it in for something we can see. We take an example or verse from Scripture and turn it into our own personal plan to manipulate God. One of the areas I have heard Christians abuse is fasting.

Jesus told the disciples, who were having trouble casting out a demon, that “this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.” I remember a guy telling me he was praying for a friend and his friend was getting worse. So he fasted to see if it was a demon, but he still kept getting worse.

A man in China is attempting to break the recently set record for fasting by going 49 days without food. He’s a Buddhist. I wonder how many of his prayers will be answered? It takes more than outward show to impress God or change His plans. Be careful not to get sucked into outward displays of a hoped for inward reality.

I just read a piece by J. C. Ryle about Matthew 8:11 “many will sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” He was making the point that when we look around it doesn’t seem like many agree with us or are on our side. But when it’s all said and done, there will be many in God’s kingdom.

It’s sort of like my observation of the Yankee game yesterday, we know the outcome but until the seventh inning, it didn’t look like it was going to happen. Revelation says that a multitude which cannot be numbered will come with Christ. Hebrews 12 says there is a great cloud of witnesses.

Although it seems as though we are outnumbered and doomed, and even though the Bible says the way is narrow and few enter–when it all comes to an end we will see just how many believed. What a comfort God’s word is in the face of reality. Some may call it wishful thinking or wearing rose colored glasses. I call it living by faith not by sight.

I was reading something about Nazi Germany and how Neville Chamberlain thought the best way to handle Hitler was to appease him. After giving in to Hitler over and over it became clear that Hitler was a really bad guy and not responding with niceness.

The US remained neutral, also appeasing Hitler, until Japan made the mistake of awakening the sleeping giant. Once force was properly applied, Germany and Japan and their evil rulers were taken care of.

Bad people are bad. They do bad things. They take advantage of what is good. Trying to deal with evil people with nice words will never work. Evil people must be met with force.

Romans 13 says the government has the responsibility to respond with the force of the sword to those who are practicing evil. All we need do is look to God for a good example of this mindset. When God meets totally evil people, where few, if any, righteous ones can be found–God wipes them out.

During this age of grace, God seems to be taking a back seat when it comes to intervening in our world affairs. Does it seem like sin is increasing or decreasing? Exactly. When this age of grace ends, is God going to appease evil any longer? Oh no, evil will be out the door.

For the believer, it seems our mindset towards evil people is one of appeasement, one of grace and humility. When it comes to nations and God, they are to exercise force to curtail evil. During the age of grace, God has given this job over to government. As the one world government forms, their stand on evil will get increasingly wimpy and that’s when God will take over. It’s just the way it is, that’s how God set it up, I say we go with it.

The 2004 Major League baseball season started today in a game in Japan between the Yankees and Devil Rays. Since the game is in Japan, it is on here at 4 in the morning. They replay it in the afternoon.

I saw when I got up that the Yankees lost 8-3 but decided I’d check out some of the game anyway when they replayed it at 3 this afternoon. The Yankees scored two in the first, the Devil Rays looked out of it for two innings with a miss-throw, easy outs etc. I almost began to wonder if what I heard was the truth. Did the Yankees really lose?

Ah yes, this is what happens when you walk by sight rather than faith. We know in the end we’re going to win, but we see that we’re losing right now and we’re not playing so sharp. But where is our confidence? Do we still believe we win or are we acting like losers?

After billions of years of evolution, humans are finally ready to create new life. Scientists believe they are ready to create life. Amazing that it took them this long to think and arrange the necessary components to create what got here by chance.

As you can see, by returning to report on the news, my son must be better. He is and has plans of returning home today as soon as they finish all the paper work, which who knows, could take another two days. But peace and happiness has returned to my home and I am very glad.

Articles like this always beg the question–where did the separation of church and state suddenly go to? News of this type makes you wonder what any politician of any sort is doing in any church.

It is funny how a pastor cannot say anything in a public building or any gathering of government now, but it’s just fine and dandy for any politician to walk into a church and hold a campaign speech. Hmm, wonder why that would be?

There was one point I wanted to make in this morning’s message that I didn’t (which doesn’t surprise me because generally I want to make approximately 5.3 billion points a message and I’m always surprised which ones make it and which ones don’t) which, in all reality, was a brilliant point so I’ll share it here, no sense wasting my rare moments of brilliance.

One of the problems of knowing things like God does is that He knows our sin before we ever commit it. He sees it coming, He knows it’s about to hit. That’s even worse than being surprised by it.

There are certain people that you get to know fairly well in life and you know how they will do things. You know how they’ve hurt you before and you know how they’ll hurt you again. You see it coming but you stick in there anyway, hoping maybe this time they won’t.

Then they do.

Oh does that hurt. It hurts even worse to know it’s coming. God knows what’s coming, it hurts, yet He still loves us. That is so amazing to me. I think of this point often in Spring Training.

They took Jacob off oxygen this morning. We’re all happy about that, especially Jacob who now has a free nose. Now we wait for the doctor to come check him out and see if we can bring my boy home. Sure will be nice to get this done with.

Thanks for thinking of us and praying. We appreciate it all.

Jacob is still in the hospital. Part of his lung collapsed during his bought with pneumonia. So, we are waiting for it to pop back out so he can breath normally. Not much that can be done to make that happen, so we’re just waiting.

Ever since Jacob went into the hospital my interest in basketball has waned considerably. I hardly even watch any of it anymore. Threw all my bracket sheets away too. Boy, what love I have for my son.

Has nothing to do with me picking Kentucky.

I knew as soon as I made a big deal out of it I would have my worst year ever. What I need is for someone to make fun of me because then God will allow me to win! Seriously, look it up–Proverbs 24:17,18

Jacob is still in the hospital. He has reached a plateau and is not getting better. He’s much better than he was but has sort of stopped. Which leads us to believe they’re not treating the right thing but what do we know. How ironic is it that while preaching a message on uncertainty and not knowing on Sunday, that the rest of the week would be filled with it? God has a sick sense of humor sometimes.

So anyway, hope the little man is better soon. It’s no fun for anyone. On the brighter side, I only had to take one can of garbage down our icey driveway today. I knew there was a bright side to having the wife and son gone.

But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

It’s so easy to be swayed by what goes on in our lives rather than relying on the eternal nature of spiritual things. It’s no use getting all bent out of shape over bad things on earth, because they will pass. It’s no use getting overly excited about things on earth, because they will pass too. Everything will pass away except for our spiritual nature–that’s where our hope is and that is why we can have joy.

I just went through the outline I’m going to teach on Thursday night and put it together and these verses jumped right out at me. Life goes on. God is constant. My hope is still the same and nothing in life will change it.

Little Jacob is no longer getting better. He’s staying the same. So now they are going back to the asthma thing. He’s in the hospital all day today and overnight again and we’ll see where it goes tomorrow. It will be nice to have this over with I can assure you of that.

Jacob just threw up all over, which is a good thing, means he’s clearing out his lungs or something. But he’ll probably be in one more day and night. Oh well, hope he gets better, although they say it takes about a month to really get over it. We’ll see what happens.

Poor little Jacob has been in the hospital since Saturday now. Now they want another day yet. He’s having trouble getting oxygen so they have the oxygen tubes up his nose which doesn’t make him real happy.

Several things about all this–everybody is dying, even cute little babies.

Jacob is so used to having people come in his room and pick on him that anytime anyone comes in he starts crying. I hope he learns his lesson and decides not to get sick ever again because hospitals stink.

Parenting stinks. Seeing your little kid so miserable and have him look at you in hopes that you’ll do something and there’s nothing you can do is one of the worst feelings. God must feel the same way–we’re down here so miserable and there’s nothing He can do, we’ve got to go through it. It’s the cost of living in this place we decided to mess up.

Insurance is very annoying.

Hospitals smell so clean they smell dirty.

It’s so reassuring to walk in the hospital and have statues of Mary staring at you. Boy, that sure gives you that extra boost of confidence.

Seems to me, the best way to get better is to sleep. Seems to me the main point of all hospital employees is to bug you every 36 minutes so it’s impossible to ever sleep. Seems to me this prolongs everyone’s stay in the hospital. Seems to me that’s how hospitals make there money.

That’s about it, I feel better now.

Little Jacob is sick. Not just a cold sick, but sick sick. Not sure what’s wrong with him. Took him to the doctor today and after looking at him the doc said, “Oh, he has asthma.” He then prescribed $200 worth of asthma stuff.

Hmm, I wasn’t aware that asthma caused babies to have fevers of 102. So we contacted another doctor and he said that Jacob might have pnuemonia, which makes a lot more sense to us. So now Jacob is at the emergency room waiting to get something done, who knows what we’ll be told next.

People who make hasty judgments are often wrong and this wrongness can have bad results. It’s true for a doctor and it’s true in a spiritual sense. Boy we’ve got to be careful what we say, we really do.

When the Puritans got to America, they had different notions about what their new churches should be. Some were still loyal to the Church of England, others were Seperatists who wanted nothing to do with the C of E. Then there were Presbyterians–people who wanted a central church structure with one guy at the top and a structure that ran down to include all Presbyterian churches under one rule. Then there were Congregationalists–each local church was independent so leave us alone!

One of the tasks of these churches was to establish membership. The major criterion for membership was being a saint–a Christian who could prove it. In order to belong to these churches they would go around the neighborhood and interview people asking them to prove their salvation. Not all made it.

Which begs the question–if 98% of Americans were Christian, why did they reject so many from church membership? I know I said I wasn’t going to bring up the persecution book anymore, but come on. How annoying. We need to think before we try to prove our points otherwise Christians will continue to get persecution and well deserved too.

I am now reading The Puritan Dilemma which is a biography of John Winthrop. He was one of the early Puritan’s who colonized in America. I am only 60 pages into it but it is very interesting. The Puritan mind is an interesting place. Everything is a struggle for them–they want to enjoy life, but not too much.

The reason they came to America was because they thought England would be judged by God soon because of how horrible it was. Interesting reading this book in light of the last book about persecution of Christianity in America. We like to assume that our world is worse than any other time, but it’s not, it’s always been bad and has always had a remnant of good.

One of the ridiculous things said by a prominent Christian in the persecution book was that in the settling of America 98% of the people here were Christians! First of all, how would he know that? Second of all, that’s not what I’ve seen in reading history–there were just as many scoundrels here as there was anywhere else. Third of all, I wonder where he placed the Native Americans in that pecentage. Hmmmm.

Let’s not kid ourselves people, our world stinks. Bottom line. It always will. No matter what we do, it won’t get any better. Bottom line. If we could make it better, why would there be a need for heaven? The best we can do is watch our life and our doctrine and by doing so we will save some. Take care of you and your family, if we all did that, things would be as fine as they can be. Carry on. I am now done talking about that stupid persecution book.

Last night I finished reading the book on Christians being persecuted in America. Believers in China or other genuinely hostile places would laugh themselves to pieces seeing what constitutes persecution here. I was glad to be done with it, a guy can only handle so much whining. The author does a fine job of confusing conservatism with Christianity, not sure he really knows what Christianity is apart from conservatism.

It also seemed apparent to me that his solution bordered on–instead of letting them silence us, let’s get our freedom of speech back by silencing them. He wanted the tables to be turned rather than equaled. I agree that it is hard to say things and be respected as a Christian, but that doesn’t mean that people have to back off, nor do we have to be bothered when they don’t.

Even more disturbing was the answers given in the last chapter by prominent church leaders. One said–we need to vote more. One said–we need to understand the postmodern mind and change our message. Ravi Zacharias said a piece which I thought was the best–we should learn how to think so we can explain our side more effectively. But none of them seemed to understand that we have a Bible that we should learn. No one brought that up.

I think the reason most Christians get “persecuted” is because they are genuine imbeciles. They say dumb things at dumb times in dumb ways. If we knew our Bible better I think we would avoid much of the “persecution” we get. Plus, in my mind, the more persecution the better. Any time the Church has been persecuted there has been tremendous growth. The main reason why I know we are not being persecuted is because the Church is largely lazy and ineffective. I say, bring on the persecution.

However, the bottom line is–marvel not that the world hate you. I never said who wrote this book or what the title was because I don’t want to tempt anyone to read it. It won’t do you any good. Live above it, our world aint that bad. In fact, it’s quite good. Go enjoy it and live consistent with the Lord Jesus Christ. Fight the fight!

I happened to catch a bit of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel last night, which is an interesting show from time to time. One of the myths they were trying to bust was whether goldfish have memories longer than three seconds. Supposedly people say goldfish can’t remember so you don’t feel bad about putting them in tiny bowls.

They took 45 days to train goldfish to see if they could go through a maze. They did! It was quite funny. They also tested a myth that a guy put a firecracker in his trombone and shot a mute out of the bell of the horn and knocked the conductor into the crowd. They tried that one with all manner of explosives and could never reduplicate it. It was quite funny watching grown men put gunpowder in a trombone, you had to see it, I thought it was hilarious.

Anyway, it brings me to this point–it is amazing what people believe just because they hear it, we should always remain vigilant to test what we take in–test the spirits whether they be from God. Mythbusters, although many times very stupid, is a great concept. Perhaps I’ll start a faithbusters show.

Took a nice bike ride today. Came up with a good analogy, an illustration you can have for free, come up with your own lesson around it.

A pothole dressed in mud puddle clothing.

No charge. If you come up with a good point around it, let me know. Or if you think it’s the stupidest thing in the world, let me know.

In an entry yesterday I said that “the Bible is more conservative than any conservative I’ve ever met.” Which is true, but at the same time, somehow or other, the Bible is also “Liberal.” The Bible clearly advocates situational ethics (I am all things to all men so by all means I might win some), says it’s ok to drink alcohol, many “holy” men had multiple wives and other such women and never really said it was wrong, and so forth.

To make blanket statements is one of the dangers of being able to talk. Sometimes it’s good to think about what we say. Sometimes I do that even. It’s also good to keep Scripture in context. It’s also good to not jump to hasty judgments about what people are doing when we really don’t know.

Anyway, just thought I should add that statement about my previous statement that I stated which I’ll probably have to restate at some point.

One of the main jobs of a prophet is being annoying. They do a fine job. Reading the prophets in the Old Testament somewhat quickly gets really old. Everything they say is doom and gloom–Jerusalem will be wiped out, the Babylonians will enslave you, the land will dry up, etc. “Yeah, yeah, yeah” you can hear their audience mumble.

To make it worse, the only solution is to return to the Lord and obey His commandments–even more annoying! “Get off our back man.” you can hear them whine.

You really can’t get past it in the Bible–there are plenty of doom and gloom things going on in it. A person who has to speak forth what the Bible says has to say lots of doom and gloom things and be met with “Yeah, yeah, yeah, get off our backs man.” It aint no fun, which is why most believers don’t do it. Plus there’s that whole “grace” thing, much easier to talk about.

Paul repeats the words of Isaiah–“all the prophets have come and gone and I am the only one left and now they seek to kill me too.” Although sticking to truth isn’t easy, it’s the only thing that will help. The watchman is accountable to give a warning, not to make people listen, the choice to listen lies solely in the ears of the hearer.

Currently I am reading a book about how Christianity is being “persecuted” in our country. However, after reading about 60 pages, I don’t think what we’re talking about is quite persecution.

I see the point that is being made, in fact, I already knew the point before reading it, but I don’t see that it qualifies as persecution. In one instance there was a debate over whether a school would allow student prayer and it was decided that, no, there would be no student prayer. To sum up the persecution in the event it was stated that a teacher who led the annual Christmas program “almost resigned.” Boy howdy, that’s some serious persecution there, almost resigning? Shwew, send out the lions.

When this book came out I didn’t want to read it, but I am anyway because someone loaned it to me. I knew the main point would be–whay, whay, no one likes conservative values. Being against conservative things is persecution of Christianity–I don’t agree. Some conservative ideals are not consistent with Scripture, Scripture is more “conservative” than any conservative I’ve ever met–if conservative is defined as sticking with tradition–plus the whole notion that the world would be against Christianity seems rather unrevealing to me, no kidding. Why do I need to read a book telling me what Jesus already affirmed 2,000 years ago?

Christianity needs to be careful that we don’t get more worked up over who can pray and when, and where the Ten Commandments can be, than we are over the spiritual reality that we have gifts to use to spiritually edify those around us. Whining is not a spiritual gift, neither is protesting, neither is griping, neither is being a Republican. If we focused on our job that God has placed us here to do rather than on what other people who don’t like our job are doing, we’d all be better off.

In floor hockey last night the red sticks won. Led by the fabulous socring of Michael Heise with an offensive outpouring by one Cindy Weddle which shocked her more than anyone. Three goals she scored. Three. Amazing, we were all in awe. We’re not worthy.

No one got badly hurt either, mostly. A good time was had by all.

Well it’s here. The season of Bracketology.

My freshman year of college I entered my first bracket challenge which was a college wide pool playing for tickets to a Twins game. I won. First time I ever won anything. To top it all off, the tickets I won, I couldn’t go on that day, figures.

The years after that I always did bracket contests with friends and I always won for some reason. It’s like the one thing I win at, I really don’t know why, I don’t watch basketball until March. I’ve been entering web site contests playing for fabulous prizes. About four years ago I was in the top 100 going into the final weekend, out of 200,000. So close

So anyway, I have things to do right now, need to go fill out some brackets.

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