The snow is lucky it came sooner than it was supposed to, it must have gotten scared of my wrath.

I went for a walk out in the blowing blizzard conditions, I love that. There is nothing more fun then heading out into that stuff and feeling the raw power of it. It just charges me up! I don’t know what it is, but I like it. It shows the many aspects of our God, the one who invented weather. The beauty of it added with the power and force, the brutality of it even. How can something that brutal be that beautiful? Yet that is our God.

He gives snow like wool;

He scatters the frost like ashes;

He casts forth His ice as fragments;

Who can stand before His cold?

He sends forth His word and melts them;

He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.

Psalm 147:16-18

Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it.

I grew up in a pastor’s home. We went to church all the time. And by all I mean all the time. In the winter I remember many nights where it would be snowing and horrible roads and we would head out to church anyway, because my dad was the pastor, he had to be there.

We would pass many bars on the way to church and without fail my father would say, “Well, the snow aint keepin them from the bars.” But sure enough, the church would be almost empty. So, I’ll admit I have a bit of skepticism and or bad attitude built into me.

But doesn’t it seem like every winter we get more snow on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday? I’d like to study that sometime if it were possible, to see what days the most snow has fallen in the winter and I would almost bet that these three days would top the list. Satan is the god of this world and I wouldn’t put it past him to mess with the weather.

And here’s another thing–since when did we have to have “Severe Winter Weather Advisories” for 2 inches of snow? People are more worried about snow advisories than they are about snow. Could it be Satan?

(The preceding entry is written mostly in jest, mostly.)

I got my taxes done yesterday. What a thrill that is. Here’s something I don’t understand. Let me restate that–here’s yet another thing I don’t understand.

I got a refund from the state last year so this year, when I do my Federal taxes I have to report my state return so I can be taxed on it! Hang on a second now, what what?

The state steals my money from me, then they decide to give some back because they knew they were wrong. So when they return the money they took from me I get taxed on it? Boy, if I had some tea. . .

I am reading through the Bible using The New World Translation put out by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is so weird to me. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just weird. It seems as if they just read the King James but knew if they just copied the King James they’d get busted so they change a word or two in a verse into some ridiculous sounding word. Like they just thought, “Oh, I should use a different word here, look that up in the thesaurus would you.”

They hardly use the term “everlasting” but rather “indefinitely lasting.” What is that? “Our everlasting God” is changed to “our indefinitely lasting God.” That doesn’t even make sense. What do they mean by indefinite? Like, we can’t define it–we don’t know how long he lasts or are they still saying that God is eternal? I’m indefinite on that one.

Anyway, I’m not starting a new church over it, er, well, anyway. that’s all I have to say about that.

“Freedom is like a blanket which, pulled up to the chin, uncovers the feet.” John Updike said that. Said it very well too me thinks.

At this time of year it’s cold. I like to pull the covers over my head when I get into bed until the sheets get warmed up and it’s almost too hot for my head to stay under. I pull my head out and the cool air feels refreshing and then I can sleep. Weird, yes; effective, yes.

However, if I don’t curl my little feet up it defeats the whole purpose because my feet won’t be covered and if my feet are cold, all of me is cold. When we pull the blanket of security up to protect our head, we end up uncovering something else. That’s what freedom does. The question with our choices is–is it worth it? Is giving up this responsibility worth exposing something else? Too often we don’t consider the “something else” but with everything in life, there is a “something else.”

Since most would rather not deal with the “something else” and the exposure of freedom, we choose to get rid of freedom. It’s hard to make choices in the Christian life–we set ourselves up for criticism, the possibility of failure, the pain of going on faith, etc. So instead of dealing with that, we choose to go under the safety of the law. Galatians 5 tells us to “stand fast in the liberty” we have been given. It’s not easy, something gets exposed, that’s why he tells us to make sure we keep it!

Unity is overrated. No really, it is.

Our world today values unity and seems as if everyday we see more distinctions being removed. In some respects this may be a good thing, but it all depends on what price you are paying for unity.

Ephesians 4 is a great chapter on unity. It talks about “one God, one faith, one baptism,” etc. It also prescribes unity for the church but it says that unity is a byproduct of doing the main thing right. The main thing is teaching sound doctrine. When sound doctrine is taught, unity is the result.

It’s crucial for the Church to remember that unity is not the main point of Church. If it were, we would eliminate all causes of division, beginning with doctrine. That is in fact what is taking place in the Church around us. But doctrine is what unifies, the more we try to unite by eliminating doctrine the worse we will become.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 further supports my notion that life is a constant struggle between extremes. There’s a right time for things and a wrong time. Our job is to know the time.

Many people have said they wished they knew what God wanted them to do in their life. But there are some passages of Scripture that kind of make me glad I don’t know the specifics.

Isaiah 20 is one of those passages. It’s a very short chapter and it always brings a smile to my face when I think of wanting to know God’s will. It’s also funny to look this passage up in commentaries. Most commentaries have a hard time believing that God would actually tell His prophet Isaiah to walk around naked. I think it probably means what it says.

I am now reading Light From Old Times by J. C. Ryle about various English churchmen around the Reformation. In describing these men, he also describes the time in which they lived. Although we may disagree with some of their theology, based on where they came from, they did a fine job.

Many of these men gave their very lives for what they believed. The Roman Catholic Church had pretty much taken over Christianity. Priests rarely did sermons or read from the Bible in a way people could understand. Some of the early Reformer’s main job was to translate Scripture into English, for which they died.

The major doctrine they were killed for was denying the real presence of Jesus Christ in communion. Now, for us, that may seem like a minor thing to die for. But to them they knew it was the foundation for all of Catholicism’s ritual and placing a human mediator between the common man and God. If the only way you could communicate with God was by having a priest change the bread and wine, you had to go to a priest, setting up Catholicisms monopoly on God.

Again, as we look back, these things almost seem silly. To the early Reformers it was a matter of life and death. If it wasn’t for their willingness to stake all for what they believed, whether it was all right or not, is much of why we do what we do in our church today. So thanks guys!

An enbalmer at UCLA has been charged with selling corpses and body parts for personal proft. Of all the ways to make a little cash. At least Ebay was not involved, that we know of.

Finished Chesterton’s book on Francis of Assisi. Francis was basically a naive kid who turned his naivete into a career. He despised possessions and book learning. He wanted to keep his message as simple as possible so no one would miss it.

Although it’s easy to criticize Francis and the naivete of him and his followers, his naivete also allowed him to achieve some amazing things–founding a monastic order, meeting with the pope, etc. Now, most of these things seem to be stumbling blocks to true growth, but again, Christianity at this time was pretty much Catholic. For the time he lived in, he made a mark.

Chesterton admitted that much of what Francis did would constitute heresy and his followers got a bit weird and embellished many stories–during a play on the birth of Christ the doll came to life when Francis held it–Francis did more for his day in making Christianity a viable option for many hurting people the Church had left behind. As with everything in life, you take the good with the bad.

I am reading a biography of St. Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton. I like Chesterton and his way of thinking, when I can follow it. I know of Francis of Assisi and know that he is well known. So, the book seems interesting to me.

So far, it is. Chesterton makes the point that we may not agree or like Francis’ asceticism and lifestyle of denial, but when you understand the times he lived in, his behavior makes sense. It seems as if it was exactly what Christianity should have done.

The world of his day was very rich and luxurious. Christianity had fallen right into that same pattern. The only way to react against it was to go to the opposite extreme.

This brings me back to my point made last week that life is a battle between extremes–not finding a middle ground but knowing what extreme to go to when. Francis went to the extreme of asceticism because the world was at the opposite extreme. If Christianity is about “come out from among them and be ye separate,” you sort of have to know what “them” are doing!

I am reading a biography of St. Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton. I like Chesterton and his way of thinking, when I can follow it. I know of Francis of Assisi and know that he is well known. So, the book seems interesting to me.

So far, it is. Chesterton makes the point that we may not agree or like Francis’ asceticism and lifestyle of denial, but when you understand the times he lived in, his behavior makes sense. It seems as if it was exactly what Christianity should have done.

The world of his day was very rich and luxurious. Chrsitianity had fallen right into that same pattern. The only way to react against it was to go to the opposite extreme.

This brings me back to my point made last week that life is a battle between extremes–not finding a middle ground but knowing what extreme to go to when. Francis went to the extreme of asceticism because the world was at the opposite extreme. If Christianity is about “come out from among them and be ye separate,” you sort of have to know what “them” are doing!

I was given a book to read, A Durable Peace, by Benjamin Netanyahu. It was about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict over the land and showing how the Palestinians are the ones who took the land and it rightly belongs to the Jews. He went through the history of Zionism and how the Palestinians were able to rewrite history to convince the world they were right.

I got about 90 pages into the book and couldn’t take it anymore. I feel for the Jews, I really do. I also think that they were wronged. I also think that all this was supposed to happen based on the decisions they made.

I mean no disrespect, but I just get very bothered by “poor me,” victimhood stuff that just sounds like so much complaining. My solution is–fight back and get your land or be quiet! What am I supposed to do about it? I don’t know. Again, I think they have a point, I’m just not sure what I can do about it and I’m not sure that going around whining is going to help.

It also seems to me, that according to my Bible, the only way they will get their land back is when Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom, something they don’t want to hear. So if that’s the answer, and they don’t want to hear it, I guess I don’t know what to do for them.

Well, we got about 6 inches of snow on the ground this morning. My snowblower quit as soon as I put it into the snow. I think I might be about done with that thing now. So then I started shoveling. After about 7 minutes of shoveling, my back went out.

So now I’m pretty much done for the day, which aint all bad. I have things I want to do which requires me to sit down anyway, see, all things do work together for good, or something like that. If growth requires struggle, I should be growing any time now!

There is a proposed new reality show in the works, “Amish in the City” where Amish teenagers will be moved into the city and confronted with temptation for the “first time.” This idea is from the same people who wanted to do a Beverly Hillbiliies type reality show taking rural hicks and putting them in the city. That show was squashed because rural lobbying groups protested.

One would think the Amish would protest this show on many different levels. However, the director of the show said, and I quote, “the Amish don’t have much of a lobbying group.” So that’s nice, we can pick on them because they can’t defend themselves. Don’t you just love our new caring and respectful to religions society?

Marge Schott died yesterday. She used to be the owner of the Cincinnati Reds who got herself in trouble on more than one occasion. She once called her black baseball players “niggers” and had some Nazi paraphanelia. She was never one to hold back saying what she thought.

The problem is, what she thought was complete idiocy! But in this country of ours we have a thing called freedom of speech. Not only is this freedom for normal people, it’s also for complete idiots! If you censor speech on the idiot fringe you will also end up censoring speech on the “smart” end.

Freedom to speak does not imply freedom to make you listen. She played out her thoughts in public and she dealt with her consequences. Idiot–yes; exercising her constitutional rights–yes. If idiots were not allowed to speak, I’d have to shut up first!

I was looking at an encyclopedia of evolution yesterday and in it they had articles on the Piltdown man, the Cardif Giant and the Tasada tribe. When each of these things was “discovered” they “proved” evolution. After further review, however, each of these things was discovered to be a hoax.

Anytime people’s faith must be backed up by physical evidence, look out! it doesn’t matter if it’s faith in God, evolution, or the Green Bay Packers–you will always be able to distort reality to back up your faith.

However, anytime reality proves your faith–your faith ceases to be faith. Every person needs to be careful in this matter and especially Christians–those who actually have the truth. Let’s be careful not to sell out for “proof” that our faith is real. You either believe it or you don’t.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield have all received steroids from a certain place which is getting busted for distributing steroids.

Well, I guess I’m not surprised and I imagine I won’t be surprised when other people get busted too. What it does is it really deligitimizes a lot of accomplishments. If Bonds gets busted all his records will be tainted. Even if he leaves the substances and gets clean and does well, who would trust him?

It certainly proves the point that our reputation carries a lot more weight then what we do. Granted, what we do makes up our reputation, but if you mess up bad enough no matter what you do after, you in trouble.

I suppose the world in general probably won’t care. They’ll fine the guys, or maybe they won’t even be able to prove they took any. It’ll all blow over and we’ll go back to normal soon. But, it’s one more reason not to trust what’s going on in the world. One more reason to be cynical. Sure will be nice to leave this place!

Life is made up of extremes. Every time we make a choice we are joining one of the extremes. Recently I have been examining my choices and my extremes and wondering if they are consistent with scripture. The problem I kept running into was that I could prove or disprove each extreme! That was not very helpful.

But it lead me to further thinking which got me pondering what is so bad about extremes? Perhaps two extremes can both be right when properly applied. For example–fight or flight. Is it better to stay and win a battle or is it better to run away? In certain cases you should fight; in others you should run. Those who always run are cowards; those who always fight are bullies.

The Christian life seems full of extremes, two things which don’t seem consistent and yet are–we lead by serving, we live by dying, etc. Christian doctrine follows the same idea–old and new nature, flesh and spirit, good and evil, etc. Jesus said that “no man can serve two masters.” Why two? Because there are always two extremes.

Many have gotten sick of extremists–people who are sold out to their side and see no reason for leaving it–and in reaction have developed a centrist position. I’m not sure being a little bit of both extremes is an answer. I recently read the following quotes in Philip Yancey’s book Reaching for the Invisible God.

“Most heresies come from espousing one opposite at the expense of the other.”

Philip Yancey

“Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them furious.”

G. K. Chesterton

“Truth is not in the middle, and not in one extreme, but in both extremes.”

Charles Simeon

It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this conclusion. Christianity is supposed to be a struggle. It’s supposed to keep a fair amount of doubt. When we are weak He is made strong. If you are struggling and unsure, you are right where God wants you!

The big Oscars were on last night. I saw absolutely none of it. Nothing is funnier than a bunch of people who all do the same thing sitting around congratulating each other for doing the same thing. Who cares?

I wonder what it is that makes people feel like they should be rewarded for what they do? Hmm. I could never figure that one out. Why would it be that we work and work and then expect to be rewarded? I have no idea.

All of these awards shows are a foreshadowing of the time we’re going to have in heaven when we all sit around congratulating each other getting our awards for the work we’ve done. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. I’m looking forward to that award’s ceremony and I’ll skip most of the ones here on earth for the drivel they are!

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