People don’t even understand.

It’s like nothing else in the world. There is no other team in any sport who is as adept at losing as the Chicago Cubs. There is no other team who has had such high hopes for so many years and yet never has once capitalized on those hopes. 1908. 1908. 1908.

1908 is the last time the Cubs came through and won the whole point of baseball. 1908. Mark Prior pitches nine innings and strikes out 16 batters. 16! and the Cubs lose in 12 innings after leaving the bases loaded three times. How can they even invent new ways to lose like that? It boggles the mind.

People don’t even understand.

The Church of England has been struggling to get people to come. In an attempt to get lapsed church-goers to come back, the Anglican church has created a get back to church Sunday where people who attend will be given bars of chocolate.

However, just so you don’t worry, the bars of chocolate are not a gimmick. Oh no, here’s what they are: “When people come and receive the chocolate they discover it is not just a gimmick, it’s not an ordinary kind of chocolate fondant. This is a piece of fair trade chocolate. The point then to make is that church isn’t just about going to a cosy club, it’s about belonging to an organisation which has a job of trying to bring justice and fair trade across the world.”

Now that we have that cleared up. The most disturbing part of the article is the point these people see for the church, I quote from the article on the BBC: “The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, says the church is trying to bring “justice and fair trade across the world”. I was unaware that was what the church’s purpose for being was. Guess I better get to work at redesigning RBC. Wonder if I can get a good deal on chocolate at Wal-mart?

The pathetically inept Cubs gave up a run in the ninth and two in the eleventh to blow yet another game to the lowly Cincinnati Reds. Sick I tell ya. They are now in second place in the Wild Card behind Houston. Luckily for the Cubs, the only redeeming thing that could save them, is that the two teams they are battling with are known for choking as well. We’ll see who chokes the most, I think I know. We’ll see who snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

In Luke 17:5 the disciples asked Jesus to “increase our faith.” That’s an interesting question by itself, but what’s even more interesting is Jesus’ answer.

First, Jesus tells them hat just a little bit of faith can cause a tree to uproot and move itself! Cool, this is similar to what he said about moving a mountain, you don’t need much faith do get things done.

Second, Jesus talks about a servant and his duty. A servant does what he’s told and you don’t tell him thank you, he just does his job because he’s supposed to. A servant concludes that he is unprofitable and is just doing what he’s supposed to do.

Now, what does this all mean? It seems that the disciples wanted their faith increased–notice they want Jesus to increase their faith rather than they themselves–is so they can feel better about themselves, it’s more of an arrogance thing for them. So Jesus knocks them back a bit–first, you really don’t need that much so increasing it may be “pointless” anyway. This also gives encouragement to us that we don’t need to be supermen of faith to be used by God, we just need some! Don’t worry about how much you don’t have, use what you’ve got!

Next he tells them not to worry about it anyway! We’re here to serve Him, do it and don’t worry about how much of this or that you get out of it. Our life of faith is to be about Christ, not us. We are fallen people anyway, we’ll always be brought down by our sin nature. Without faith it is impossible to please him–the only way to get things done is through faith, which is a gift, but we won’t retain much due to our nature. But that’s ok! We’re here to do the Lord’s will using what He’s given us.

Well, the moronic Cubs are living up to their oh so wonderful reputation by choking away their wild card lead to pathetic loser teams. The Cubs are now tied for the lead with San Francisco and Houston is now only a half game behind both. Sick really, but the way they are playing, they’ll get massacred in the playoffs anyway. You just hope the end is quick.

The Department of Homeland Security is pushing for and implementing a finger scan program to people entering and exiting the United States. The digital scan of the finger can be used to verify that the same people using the visas to come in are the same people using the visas when leaving.

So, we are using a part of the body to verify a piece of id eh. That sounds like a step closer to a number on the forehead or hand. It’ll all make sense and be perfectly reasonable when it comes. Fun to watch it!

Well, the stupid Cubs won last night in “convincing” fashion finally. With six games left they hold a one game lead in the Wild Card. The Cubs tried their hardest to blow their 12-1 lead by giving up four in the eighth, but managed to cling to a 12-5 win. Only the Cubs can make a 12-5 game seem close.

There is a mistaken notion out there that the older you get, the more virtuous you get. I heard an old guy tell me once, “It’s not that I don’t want to sin, it’s that I don’t have the energy to anymore.” But old people are still capable of some pretty evil stuff.

For instance, an 88-year-old man murdered his 82 year-old nursing home roommate by attacking him with his bed’s footboard! When his roommate was found dead he readily admitted he did it. He was probably proud of it even–hey, look what I’m still strong enough to do!

Ah yes, the battle is never over.

The message yesterday was about fear. The presence of a Higher Power is often enough to eliminate fear, whether that higher power is a parent, president or God. One area of my life which is marked by anxiety and fear is the Chicago Cubs.

The stupid Cubs lost two games this weekend to a horrible New York Mets team. The Cubs are doing their best to give away their playoff chances. There is no higher power that makes me have confidence in the Cubs. There are a mere 7 games left this week and the Cubs hold a precarious half game lead in the Wild Card race. I am quite nervous. This week could bring out the worst in me, I warn you now, for your own good.

Luke 16:8,9 are probably verses I have mentioned here before, seems like I did, but I want to mention them again because I wonder when the last time was you ever heard someone mention this principle of living:

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

Jesus is making a point about using things in this world, including people, to manipulate others in the world so that you can save some. We are to use all things in this life to save some. Since people in the world are best equipped to reach people in the world, don’t be afraid to influence people in the world. A novel concept, yet one that is growing out of favor with most Christians as we are more afraid of the enemy than we are confident in our Savior.

Christianity Today has an article/editorial about church music and how most of it is about us rather than God. I couldn’t agree more with his opinion of the state of music. However, he seems to think the solution is to write better music about God, which is fine.

However, my solution is to scrap music in church all together!

If you look at music in the church today the main thing it is accomplishing is dividing the body of Christ. We now have services for the “old people” and the “young people.” Yet Paul tells me that the older should be around to help the younger. I don’t recall him adding a clause saying that church services should separate old from young. The primary force behind this separation is musical taste, which has absolutely nothing to do with anything in the overall scope of eternity.

In my over-familiarity with churches over the years, I have heard the music department termed the “war department.” Music always gets in the way. How many churches have split over hymn books, drums, etc? I think it’s one more tool of Satan to get our minds off our purpose.

Furthermore, show me where Paul tells churches to sing? Any mention of singing by Paul is “in your heart.” Hmm.

Further, furthermore, look at how much time is given to inane, repetitive music in churches over preaching. The foolishness of preaching is what God uses to get his message out.

All that being said, I love music and I greatly enjoy some Christian music. Music is nice, fun and makes us feel at home in church, so for that reason I will have music in church. But it will never be stressed and I will never allow it to overshadow our purpose–preaching the Gospel of Grace. But I must warn RBC, if music ever causes trouble, I’ll have no problem getting rid of it!

There is a new book coming out about the Mormon Church and the belief that Native Americans are the lost tribe of Israel entitled Losing a Lost Tribe. The book examines native American DNA and concludes that Native Americans are not in the least bit Semitic, which I know comes as a surprise.

The book is not available yet, but will be soon and is already causing quite a stir. The Mormon Church hates it, of course, and people who don’t like Mormonism are all for it. It has been reported that many within the church who are aware of the evidence are questioning their faith, probably not nearly enough however.

Mormonism has had to deal with the Book of Mormon and facts before. The unavoidable conflict has ceased to make much of an impact so far. Faith trumps reason in many cases, in fact, the more unreasonable it is, the more it becomes an issue of faith. Although the Bible has things in it hard to be understood, it’s pretty easy to spot a fake when you see one.

People through the years have seen Jesus or Mary or the cross in various places and then make a big deal about it and cause thousands of people to come see it and pray and light candles and all the rest. I wonder what they will do at the site in Rome where a 7-foot crucifix fell on a woman and killed her! How’s that for bad karma? I guess the stars weren’t aligned right for her. Perhaps in her next life she’ll come back as a cross-billed cuckoo.

Well, you know, it’s not funny, she died, but it is a very interesting way to go, you just never know when you’re time has arrived.

Jimmy Swaggart has offered his apology, which seems the thing to do. But here is a quote from what his apology said from this web site:

On Wednesday, Swaggart said he has jokingly used the expression “killing someone and telling God he died” thousands of times, about all sorts of people. He said the expression is figurative and not meant to harm.

“It’s a humorous statement that doesn’t mean anything. You can’t lie to God — it’s ridiculous,” Swaggart told The Associated Press. “If it’s an insult, I certainly didn’t think it was, but if they are offended, then I certainly offer an apology.”

Interesting apology to say the least. He talks about killing various people thousands of times eh? Hmm… perhaps more groups of people should be upset! Hey, maybe I’ll be upset, just for kicks.

After reporting on Jimmy Swaggart earlier, I felt it necessary to make a clarification. Perhaps it seems like I only report bad things about fellow Christians. I suppose the reason for that is that only bad things make the news. But I wanted to clarify what I am doing.

I am not endeavoring to pile on or kick people when they are down. My purpose is to show the stupidity of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. I will fully admit that I am a sinner who also happens to be a pastor. I am not setting myself up as above these other pastors who fall. My point is to make us aware that we’re all sinners, even when we try to act like we’re not.

It’s a crucial warning for all believers to remember at all times–you can blow it at any second. No man should think higher of himself than he ought. It’s also vital to not put anyone on a pedestal and shape your life after them, as they are fallen as well. “The head of Christianity is Christ; keep him there” is my basic point.

Paul Crouch, of TBN, is currently under investigation for sexual misconduct with a male coworker. Meanwhile, Jimmy Swaggart, another teleevangelist, recently had a sermon addressing gay issues and said the following which I quote from this site:

“I’m trying to find the correct name for it … this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. … I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.”

So, if a gay man looks at Swaggart he’s going to kill him. I’m finding it hard to locate the scripture which Swaggart gets this particular teaching from. I know how easy it is to say things in a sermon you wish you hadn’t said, however, killing gays as a subject is pretty easy to avoid one would think.

Luke 14:15-24 contains a parable about a great supper and how the guests all make up excuses to not come. It’s a parable to show the extent to which people pass on the benefits of salvation because they have “other things” to take care of. Looking at the excuses it seems they are the following:

Excuse One–Verse 18–I bought some land and have to go look at it. This is the excuse of materialism–we have stuff we have to go look at or play with or use so we don’t have time for spiritual service. Seems to me this guy should have looked at his land before he bought it as well!

Excuse Two–Verse 19–I bought some oxen and I have to train them. This excuse has to do with work. We’re busy, we have to work so we make a living so we can pursue excuse number one.

Excuse Three–Verse 20–I married a wife so I can’t go. This excuse is either the fact that this guy married a hyper-controlling wife! Or, more accurately, has to do with putting family before the Lord. Although it seems that family is the ultimate trump excuse, it won’t fly with God. Verse 26 makes God’s point rather clear on this issue.

Verse 27 and 33 make the cost of following Christ obvious and plain, not something which is hidden. There is a personal cost to following the Lord. I don’t think these things prevent us from being saved necessarily but they will get in the way of being effective with what Christ gave us. These three things are probably the main excuses for people not getting saved but they don’t stop once you are saved. It’s a constant battle. What’s your excuse? How do you deal with it? Are you sick of this line of discussion yet?

In another brilliant move by Republicans to get the Christian vote, Republicans have sent out a mailing showing a picture of the Bible with “BANNED” written across it and a picture of two men getting married with the word “APPROVED” across it.

What steps a bit over the line is the notion that the Bible will be banned by Democrats if they win the election. That seems to be unnecessary fear. Although I don’t doubt that at some point the Bible will be eliminated from the public debate almost entirely, I really don’t think it will be a specifically Democrat deal. I certainly don’t think it will happen if John Kerry gets elected, and even if it was, he would just reinstate it the next day.

Christians often think that Christianity means wimpy, happy, nice guys. We read “blessed are the meek” and chalk that up as the pinnacle of Christian virtue. What we miss in the same chapter (I’m using Luke 6:21-38) is stuff like “blessed are you when men hate you.” We also miss the “woes” that come after He’s done with the “blesseds.”

Luke 6:26 is an important verse, maybe even more important, or at least equally emphasized, as “blessed are the meek.” It says, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.” Having everyone like you may not be all that great of a character trait. We like to think it is, but it really means that we don’t take stands, we don’t discern between bad and good, we aren’t living for the approval of God but rather for that of man. You never hear that verse though do you? Well now you have.

Ravi Zacharias, the Christian apologist, has been invited to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle! He is going to speak on defending Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life. No word as to whether he will address how Mormonism differs from Protestantism or other issues.

Although the Mormon church has officially invited Zacharias, they were told that Zacharias’ role in the new edition of Kingdom of the Cults was only ceremonial. The importance of this is that Kingdom of The Cults has a whole chapter on Mormonism! However, Zacharias wrote part of the book! Could be interesting.

Zacharias is the first Protestant to be invited to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle since Brigham Young invited Dwight L. Moody back in the late 1800’s.

We’re back from our trip down south. We had a fabulous time. We listened to some radio on the way home, although I can’t remember exactly what it was we listened to, I do remember that it was good stuff.

Usually on Sunday I think that a blog entry about football is appropriate but seeing as how I can’t think of anything in particular concerning football to talk about I guess I’ll just move on.

We saw a guy who played Meriwether Lewis at a theatre in the Chicagoland area. A one man show recounting the Lewis and Clark trail and the life of Lewis. It was quite interesting although very overpriced. I also ate at an Italian restaurant and had chicken fedducini alfredo and ate way too much of it, but it sure was good. Now we are home and looking forward to a nice week. Glad to be back.

Well, what do you know? The Cubs won both games we went to! That’s one of the few times I’ve seen the Cubs win in person. That just doesn’t happen to me. So that was fun.

However, transportation to and from the games took about as long as the games themselves. I also got beer splashed on me when Sammy Sosa hit a grand slam. That was a nice bit of culture. A good time was had by all.

A guy sitting next to Cindy struck up a conversation with Cindy and asked what her husband did. When she told him I was a pastor he said “oh.” and got very quiet. Then the process of sanctification began as his cuss words were changed to more socially acceptable cuss words. Always funny to see how people change when they hear I am a pastor. Just doing our part to make Wrigley Field more holy!

Barry Bonds hit a home run yesterday giving him 699 homers for his career. His next one will obviously give him 700 and he will become only the third person to hit 700 career home runs, with Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.

I’m hoping he does, but I’m hoping it takes a few days so the hype gets going. About a month ago, I heard he was 7 homers away and so I bought one of his rookie cards on thepit.com, which is an online baseball card trading site. Barry Bonds is my retirement fund. However, since hitting his latest home run his card has remained unchanged in value, hmm, my retirement plans never work out.

Mr. Paul Crouch, leading man of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, home to such preachers as Benny Hinn among others, has been accused of sexual misconduct and is attempting to silence the accuser.

Whether the allegations are true or not, and apparently the man accusing him has a history, it goes to show you that you can’t trust anyone. You never know what your “apiritual leader” is up to and if you pin all your hopes on a person watch out. Even if it’s false, he’ll have to take time from his schedule and obligations and resources to deal with this.

It will be nice for all of us to end up in heaven where we won’t have to worry about who we can trust and we’ll always know who to go to for wisdom.

Last night I saw a special on NBC about Aron Ralston who was trapped in a canyon in Utah for 6 days before cutting his arm off and walking out. It was a truly amazing story. In reflecting on the experience he said that it was a spiritual thing, that it changed his life, he felt he had a rebirth due to his near-death experience.

I have often heard of people having near-death experiences or second chances on life and how vigorous and passionate they become with their new life. How neat it would be to have a near-death experience without actually having to go through one!

Funny thing about that is that’s pretty much what Paul tells us the believer gets. Our old man is crucified, it’ s no longer I who live, we are born of the spirit, etc. Christians not only have a near-death experience, we actually have a death experience and we are left with a new life, one to be lived with passion and vigor.

Unfortunately, most Christians understand their new life mentally, but the reality of it has been lost in the fog of theological concept. An important thing to do is make your flesh’s death as real as you can, remembering the new life you have. Maybe even have a funeral for your flesh! Bury it in the backyard next to Fluffy. Our new life has begun, don’t be afraid to live it.

It wasn’t too long ago that Mel Gibson was cheered and hoorahed by Christians for joining the fold. His Passion movie more or less made Christianity worth living to many. I suppose you haven’t heard about his new film from many Christians.

There might be a reason why. The new film is called Paparazzi and it’s about a celebrity who gets sick of photographers taking his picture all the time, so he decides to convert them to Christianity. Ok, not really, he gets sick of the photographers so he goes around and kills them all and becomes a hero. Right, sounds like a good sequel.

This is one more reason why Christians should not be desperate. Anytime we pin our hopes on any man, whether he’s a celebrity, athlete, politician, pastor, or anything else, look out. Christianity is about Christ–the only person who will never let us down. Seems to me like a certain someone even said this several months ago, if only I could recall that guy’s name.

Our little Elizabeth went off to her first day of preschool yesterday. It made my heart sink. Another childhood is over and she’s off into the world where horrible, horrible things happen. I hated school. School was not enjoyable for me. I know what kids do to each other at school and I hate to think they’ll do it to Elizabeth, she’s so cute. But I know they will.

It’s a temptation for mom and dad to keep the kid home and always keep the kid under your wings. But, it’s not fair to the kid to do that, nor is it fair to the world. It reminds me of when Christ sent out the 70 and says “I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” You know what he means. These guys were not prepared for the job, they were as weak as anyone else, yet He sent them knowing they’d be rejected on account of Him.

You think of God the Father sending His Son to be born in a manger. What if God had just said, “Well, I know the world is going to hate you, trample on you, and mess you up, guess I’ll just keep you home with me.” I for one am glad He didn’t say that. If a baby in a manger can redeem the world, maybe my cute little girl can redeem her preschool. It’s the chance we all take.

A pastor from a mega-church in Charlotte, NC was asked if one of his recent sermons was really his. This opened a whole can of worms. The pastor admitted that he has been struggling with depression and found it hard to be creative and create sermons, so for about two years he’s been copying sermons from other pastors, otherwise known as plagiarism.

After revealing all this stuff he offered his resignation, which was accepted. He asked for a resignation two years ago due to his emotional state and the board wouldn’t let him! One of the church members said he was shocked and disappointed because his pastor was one of the first people he prayed for each day, which just goes to show that sometimes prayer aint enough.

As a pastor to a fellow pastor, I feel his pain.

There’s a new seminary out in California which was founded to teach dispensationalism. It’s called Chafer Theological Seminary, named after Lewis Sperry Chafer. The story I heard was that some guys who attended Dallas Theological Seminary were fed up with Dallas’ slide away from dispensational teaching so they decided to start their own seminary which would restore good dispensational teaching. Although they are in the formative stage and are not accredited yet, you have to give them a pat on the back for the guts to go ahead and try it.