Other Reading

Another book I just finished is called The Search. It is a history of search on the internet. While at first that may not sound like that exciting of a subject, I found the book to be very interesting.

It tells the story of Google and how they have come to dominate the search field. He explains why internet search works and also why it doesn’t. He speculates about the future of search and how it will consume our lives.

Google set out to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.” They’re getting closer. It may overtake our lives soon as all our decisions will be entered into a vast search database so that search will become automatic.

Some of it was fascinating and some of it was a bit scary. I also found my new favorite search engine A9.com. It learns by your search history and will improve your search results the more you use it. If you go ahead and click the link, I’d guess that A9 already knows your name.

Spooky. Get used to it!

9/11 Jesus


Mary Jane La Vache, whose mother was killed in the World Trade Center attacks, admires a statue of Jesus holding the World Trade Center towers in his hands that she commissioned in memory of nine St. Ephrem’s parishoners who died in the attacks.

Free At Last

The book that inspired my 6 part series on the “victorious life” was Tony Evans’ Free At Last. Just finished it last night. It wasn’t a bad book, had lots of good things to say. Perhaps he confuses a believer’s freedom and liberty with unstoppable victory though.

All in all, his main point–that we have liberty in Christ because of His grace and all-sufficient work–was well done.

I did, however, also have a hesitation about his understanding of the old nature–it’s a factory that turns out sin but the factory has been closed but the sin is still running around in the body. That’s why it is important to save people as kids so they don’t sin as much. Hmm. Not sure on that one.

Anyway, it was a fine book.

Truth And Freedom

“The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.” –Oprah Winfrey

Clarence Darrow

“The pursuit of truth shall set you free – even if you never catch up with it” –Clarence Darrow
Gloria Steinem

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” –Gloria Steinem

“For all the talk of “lies,” the truth will set the president free.” –Deroy Murdock

James A. Garfield

“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” –James Garfield

John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Has anyone ever used this verse in context?

Verse 36 tells you what the “truth” is that Jesus is speaking about,

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

The truth that sets people free is Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

He’s not talking about the pursuit of truth, the truth of WMD’s, the truth of reality, or the truth of false fear.

There’s only one truth that sets free: Jesus Christ.

Playing Possum

A church youth leader who dragged a dead possum behind his car has avoided a possible jail term for what a magistrate described as extraordinarily antisocial behaviour.

“I’m at a loss to understand what process of logic would make any reasoning person, whether a teenager or an adult, to think that it was somehow humorous … to tie a dead animal to a car and then drive around with it in front of others,” [the magistrate] said.

Well, you’re not dealing with a reasoning person, you’re dealing with a youth leader in a church. And, come on, it is kind of funny.

The Bad Shepherd

A 63-year old pastor has been indicted on charges of sexual assault of a 22-year old woman. She claims that the pastor raped her during an exorcism.

“Owens said she had a sex spirit and lesbian demon inside her that he needed to cast out.”

“Afterward, Owens, a self-proclaimed prophet, ordered her to wash her face in the name of Jesus and to read Psalm 105:15, which says to do no harm to prophets, the woman told police.”

Should have sent this guy to Hitler.

Takes One To Know One

“Of course the Devil exists and he can not only possess a single person but also groups and entire populations.”

“I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler – and Stalin did. Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil.” So says Father Gabriele Amorth who is Pope Benedict XVI’s ‘caster out of demons.’

I wonder if that is his official title? How cool would that be? “So Gabe, what do you do for a living?”

“Well, currently, I’m serving as the pope’s caster out of demons.”

“Wow, impressive. What kind of bennies do you get with that?”

Anyway, Devil made him do it. Apparently the pope of the time tried to do a long-distance exorcism on Hitler but it didn’t take.

According to Gabe, “One of the key requirements for an exorcism is to be present in front of the possessed person and that person also has to be consenting and willing. Therefore trying to carry out an exorcism on someone who is not present, or consenting and willing would prove very difficult.”

Hey, he would know, he’s the pope’s caster out of demons.

Spiritually Drunk

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

Being intoxicated by a substance changes ones entire behavior. Scripture tells us that believers should be intoxicated, spiritual alcoholics, addicted to the Holy Spirit, which changes our behavior.

(Which reminds me of one of my favorite descriptions of a person in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 16:15, “ye know the house of Stephanas. . . and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” That’s cool.)

We are to be Spiritaholics. I thought it would be interesting to look up a list of symptoms of alcoholism and compare that to some of the believers in Scripture as well as instruction given to believers now. Thought it was interesting, probably not fascinating or even biblically consistent, but interesting nonetheless.

Of course, instead of drinking the concept would be doing spiritual things.

Drinking alone or in secret
Matthew 6:6
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret
John 6:15
he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Not remembering conversations or commitments
Philippians 3:13
forgetting those things which are behind,

Losing interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring pleasure
Philippians 3:8
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ

Feeling a need to drink
1 Peter 2:2
desire the sincere milk of the word,

Keeping alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in the car
1 Timothy 2:8
I desire therefore that men pray everywhere

Having legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances
Luke 12:51,52
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Luke 14:33
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Unexplained mood swings
James 4:9
let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

Missing work
Matthew 4:21,22
[He saw them] mending their nets; and he called them. 22And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

Losing interest in social activities
2 Timothy 2:16
But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

Neglect of physical appearance
Matthew 3:4
John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
Isaiah 53:2
he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Submitting To The Powers That Be

Nickie Marks is a “spiritual counselor” in Greensboro, GA and he’s upset because his city removed a six-foot tall statue of Jesus from his front yard. The city claims it violates zoning ordinances, Marks claims it violates his free speech.

Marks says “It really was like someone just taking a Bible and throwing [it] in the dirt.” Except, of course, that it wasn’t a Bible it was a six-foot tall Jesus.

Speaking of the Bible, there is that bit in there about making no graven images of God. Just thought I’d mention it.

The zoning law prevents people from putting up signs with no words, which was put in place to “keep business owners from welding cars to the tops of large poles as advertisements.” Must be the South.

John And Bob

John McCain recently said he would consider an offer to speak at Bob Jones University. When George W. Bush spoke there in the 2000 election season, McCain ripped apart the University for its ban on interracial dating and being anti-Catholic.

The potential 2008 presidential candidate and Arizona senator said he would have to look at Bob Jones University’s latest policy statements. “I understand they have made considerable progress,” he said.

They have indeed changed the interracial dating ban deal. However, the real hindrance is that if John wants to take his wife he has to find koolats somewhere for her.

End Of The World, Twice

September looks to be a busy month. According to two separate cults, the end of the world is coming. The earliest End is September 8th and 9th, as predicted by The Lord’s Witnesses and the True Bible Code.

If that one don’t get ya, the House of Yahweh has predicted that nuclear war, which will lead to the End of the World, will begin on September 12.

According to Yisrayl Hawkins, the countdown to nuclear war began with the signing of the Oslo accords on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993. He says that the book of Daniel shows that although this is a seven-year agreement, it would take fourteen years to be fully carried out, ending on October 13, 2007. He then cites prophecies in the book of Revelation showing that nuclear war would begin a year, a month and a day prior to the end of the Oslo agreement.

The reason it takes 14 years is because he initially predicted the End in September seven years ago. Oops. I suppose now it will be 21 years. Both groups have been wrong before, so don’t tell your boss off yet.

Inconsistent Interpretation

This book I am reading describes the mature believer as one who is “consistently victorious in his life.” At the very same time, earlier in the book he described a mature believer as one who is “pained and frustrated by sin.”

Even he knows his notion of the victorious life is flawed, inconsistent and unrealistic.

The answer is that the victory we have is not fully lived until we are released from the body of this death, when we’ve left this present, evil world. While we’re here, sin and its results make life a real bummer. Deal with it, looking forward to the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Christ Life

I have now progressed 60 more pages in the book that spurred my 5 part series on the sham of the victorious life. He has referred to Colossians 3:4 to tell me that my life is now Christ. Galatians 2:20 is the central verse of the book–it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.

To which he says, “Christ is our life.” I agree, but have you ever read about Christ’s life? I don’t see Christ’s life marked by victory, freedom, triumph, or joy. Rather, it was filled with sorrow, suffering, frustration, annoyance, anger, and arguing, with a victory here and there.

For the most part, when I read Christ’s life, I see a man who doesn’t belong and who has no real desire to belong. I see a man who is on a mission: to carry out His Father’s will, even though He didn’t enjoy it, “not my will but yours be done” He said at one point while sweating drops of blood.

I’m all for living the new life Christ gave you. I’m not all for assuming that it is some kind of joyous thing that gives you one sweet deal after another. I just don’t see that.

I have liberty to not sin and to love; I have freedom from the agony of guilt, wrath, punishment and the curse of the law; I have triumph over death; I have joy because I’ll be delivered from this present evil world, but none of this means I’ll have a life marked with “victory.”

Show me the verse that says I’ll have victory in this life and I’ll change my mind immediately.

New Messiah

I’m not sure I could adequately summarize this story. It goes something like this: A filmmaker is offering to hire someone to start a religion so he can film it as a documentary. It’s a study on how new religions start and take off.

He found a guy and has begun work. He hired Joshua Boden who invented the Church of Now. It has 14 precepts, including, “The only ‘sin’ is not living fully,” and, “This life is the one that counts; this IS your eternal reward.”

Sounds pretty much like modern Christianity to me.

Here is Joshua’s myspace page, viewer discretion advised.

Here is the filmmakers page.

Meathead Knows Best

Mel Gibson’s apology for making drunken anti-Semitic remarks isn’t enough to redeem him, actor-producer Rob Reiner said. The actor also must acknowledge that “his work reflects anti-Semitism,” particularly the 2004 hit movie “The Passion of the Christ,” Reiner told Associated Press Radio.

“When he comes to the understanding that he has done that, and can come out and say, you know, `My views have been reflected in my work and I feel bad that I’ve done that,’ then that will be the beginning of some reconciliation for him,” Reiner said.

Yeah, I guess Reiner knows an anti-Semite when he sees one, all those years with Archie taught him good.

Loud Mouth Non-Blasphemer

A devout Christian was banned from flying with the budget airline Easyjet after she asked staff to “stop blaspheming”. Fiz Thomson, 55, was returning from a trip to Israel where she had been helping war victims, when she heard boarding staff at Stansted airport repeatedly exclaiming “Oh, my God” after a child fell and hurt herself.

According to Easyjet, Mrs Thomson was “ranting at female gate staff of Indian origin” who had had no intention to be blasphemous. A spokesman said her remarks appeared to be racist and a view was taken that she needed to calm down and would not be allowed to fly.

I’m all for people reminding others to not blaspheme, however, it does seem that little Mrs. Thomson was a bit argumentative and in-your-face about things. Pop pop fiz fiz. Most people who warn others not to blaspheme tend to do so in such ways.

Let he has no sin. . . of course, I wouldn’t be able to blog then. . . never mind.

Crazy Stuff

A preacher’s wife accused of waving a gun at her husband in church because he was text messaging some young girls is to go on trial Sept. 6. Tammy Ann Estes has pleaded not guilty to an aggravated assault charge that she threatened Larry Estes at the start of services July 30 at the Pentecostal Church of God.

Prosecutors say a prior investigation into the death of Tammy Estes’ former husband in 1992 played no role in the current case. Estes’ former husband, Jeffrey Allen Catt, was found dead in a home in Floral in 1992. She was considered a person of interest but was never charged.

“If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”
1 Timothy 3:5

Victory Is Overrated–Part 5

If victory is not for this life, do we just give up? Do we just go ahead and sin because we have no choice but to fall to it? No, that’s the whole point of the fight of faith–God tells you that you win but your sight and experience tell you that you lose.

The fight is to push on through the defeats to rest in the victory that comes later. We lose but in the end we win. Since we are winners who are currently fighting an uphill battle against a world and your flesh set against you, expect hard times.

To assume that victory will mark your life is ludicrous. Any believer who is enjoying the victorious life is probably also a believer who isn’t doing much. The best passage to describe our state is 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

We’re beaten but not defeated. We lose lots but we never give up because we know in the end the victory is ours. No battle loss here can upset our win in Christ. At the same time, our win in Christ does not in any way guarantee that everything in life will go swimmingly.

He who lives a godly life will suffer persecution, not enjoy victories. To say otherwise is to admit that you aren’t fighting any fight or running any race. You’ve become the batboy on the Yankees, thinking you are solely responsible for their winning.

Bat boys don’t win games, the ones out there in the battle do. Join the battle. In the end you win. Right now we fight.

Victory Is Overrated–Part 4

All that being said, we do have victory. I John 5:4 says our faith gives us victory over the world and 1 Corinthians 15 says we have victory over death. As I said, these are two of the four passages that even mention victory.

The victory we have is nothing close to the victory we hear about that we should have. We hear that we can beat sin, that we can beat the flesh, that we can beat the world, that we can beat fear, etc, etc. The thing is though, is that you can’t.

The “victorious living” proponents act as if there is no point to strive over anything. The victory is ours. Let go and Let God! They act as if there is no effort to it at all. It’s just giving up and enjoying your win that Christ handed you.

But then there‘s this: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Notice what Paul says–run so you will obtain the prize. He did not say run because you already have the prize! He didn’t say, “actually, there’s no point running because Christ already did.”

No, in fact, he says he keeps his body under subjection so even while he is helping others in the faith he himself doesn’t lose it (9:27)! Even Paul doesn’t assume he has the win! The one who runs well is the one who shows he has the win by running to the end.

So keep running. The race aint over yet. You aint won jack.

Victory Is Overrated–Part 3

I recently read a book on Christianity in the United States. One of the points that was made is that the US Church is much more entrepreneurial and competitive. It has adopted the American Dream way of life–competition and performance rule.

The drive then is to have more people, bigger buildings, more programs, bigger budget, more employees, etc. By achieving these things we prove God’s involvement and blessing.

The Church in other countries is really nothing like this (however, the trend to be like America is spreading in this area as well). The Church according to Scripture is nothing like this either.

But the Church has done a fine job of convincing its members that victory is normal and all you have to do is set a goal, work toward it and you can achieve anything you want. We warp Scripture to pretend it says the same thing.

In reality, all we are doing is eliminating the insecurity of faith and replacing it with the security of sight and tangible goals. In order to win you must have evidence of victory. In order to have evidence of victory, you must have seen it.

But we walk by faith, not by sight. Those who are born of the Spirit are like the wind, we don’t know where we came from or where we are going (John 3:8). Hard to win at something if you don’t know where you’ll be tomorrow.

Trying to believe that there is victory on earth makes you focus on earth and trying to attain your win. We think on things above, where our victory already is. You can’t win on earth. That’s sort of the point.

Victory Is Overrated–Part 2

This is coming from a Cub fan but still, winning aint all that great. All winning does is increase the pressure to perform just as well, if not better, next time out. If you lose all the time, life is more relaxing and the small things are enjoyed even more. When a win does accidentally occur, it’s huge!

Tiger Woods barely even smiles when he wins a Major now; I would go ballistic for years on end if I won one. If believers are accustomed to winning down here, heaven would lose some luster. But heaven is going to be huge and will be celebrated for eternity.

Any believer who thinks he or she is living the “victorious life” is probably just not paying attention. They have learned to ignore this unpleasant thing called “reality.” How arrogant is it to assume you are living the “victorious life” and skip through it while others struggle to find their way onto the Narrow Way?

I have yet to meet a believer who claims to live the “victorious life” who is humble about it. They always know better and wouldn’t have done it like that. They try to convince you that you could be just like them if only you knew (insert favorite doctrine here) as well as they did.

People who live and boast of their “victorious living” can never admit defeat. They live with unbearable pressure to perform for others and put on the show. They do less and less, as the more one does, the more likely one is to fail.

We were not meant to attain “victorious living” in this life. Our victory comes in the next life, when we are perfect, when we can’t mess up, when all things are new. All things are old right now and tainted. You can’t win. Even Jesus didn’t live the “victorious life.” As I recall He was a man acquainted with sorrows who suffered and died.

Now we fight. Now we race. The victory is later.

Watchin Over

A couple in England had an ultrasound to see if everything was OK with their little baby. Not only is the little baby doing fine, Jesus is with him!

I kid you not. Look at the ultrasound for yourself.

Says the momma to be: ‘The pregnancy has been fairly difficult so to see a likeness of Jesus in the picture gives me a lot of comfort.

‘It’s as if someone is watching over Joshua. It’s helped make us feel more at ease and although I’m not very religious, seeing the picture does reassure me that things are going to turn out okay and that Joshua will be our little miracle.’

Victory Is Overrated

I read the following sentence in the introduction of a Christian living book, “It [this book] is written for sincere Christians who are sick and tired of enduring the agony of defeat and want to taste the thrill of victory instead.”

Now, I don’t want to have a problem with this book, it is written by a guy who I enjoy thoroughly. He is not a health and wealth guy, I think he is a very common sense guy.
I think the whole notion of victory is overdone. The word victory only appears 6 times in the KJV New Testament.

The main passage on victory is 1 Corinthians 15:54-57. What is the victory over? It is victory over death, not experienced until one is actually dead and raised to new life. The whole chapter is on resurrection. The resurrection of our bodies is our victory.

Certainly that is victory we have now, it is guaranteed and assured. This should give us “victorious living.” However, this does not mean that you can just push a few spiritual buttons and eliminate losing from life and just skip from one win to the next.

The Bible makes it clear that the Christian life is a struggle, a fight, a battle. Romans 7 describes it well. I know, I know, I’m supposed to move on to the victorious living of Romans 8. That idea always cracks me up as Romans 8 is all about suffering and groaning!

We do have victory in Jesus but we won’t experience it until Heaven. Right now, we have a fight to fight, a race to run. People who celebrate before the race is over often find themselves beaten by the end. Prepare yourself for battle not for the party, and your victory will be sweet.

Dorking Around

Yesterday morning, while eating our “free” continental breakfast in Duluth, our son was dorking around on his chair, as he often does. The inevitable happened, his chair tipped over backwards, he hit the floor and started screaming.

An older couple was sitting at the table next to us and began talking to my wife as I picked up my child and carted my kids off to get ready to go swimming. The woman said to my wife, “We always prayed for the Lord to protect our children and He always did. The Lord just protected your child.”

The old man chimed in, “So, what church do you go to?” At which point my wife pulled out the “My husband is a pastor” trump card, even though we don’t know what a trump card is, of course. They were a bit bummed as they were hoping this would be a great opportunity to witness to my wife, perhaps even save her. Lord knows she could use it. I kid, I kid.

But it led to a conversation between my wife and I about the arrogance of witnessing. What if we had a child who had already died? What if my child has not been protected? What if I don’t view you as having it all together? What if I thought the Lord should prevent my child from dorking around?

Is this how evangelism should take place?

Not So Lucky Potluck

State health officials have confirmed that a 73-year-old woman from Longville died Sunday of complications from an E. coli infection after she ate contaminated food at a church supper in July.

“We think primarily what happened was there were a number of illnesses associated with eating potato salad or another cold salad (at the church) that became cross-contaminated with the ground beef that was used to make meatballs,” said Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health.

One more reason to stay home when your church has another potluck dinner.

He’s Got Your Back

A Pittsburgh woman has found an image of Jesus’ crucifixion in an MRI image of her back. She claims you can see the nail marks in his hands and feet as well as the thorns around his head. Her friends tell her to put it on eBay but she has not to this point.

Has it changed her life? “I think I believe as much as I need to,” said Hodge. “I can’t be swayed by a picture. My neck does feel better. I don’t know if that was Jesus or physical therapy.”

Duluth, MN

I just got back from taking the family on a short little trip to Duluth, MN. It’s about four hours from us. If you have never been to Duluth, you should go.

The main attraction is their Canal Park, which lets in huge ships into the inner harbor of Duluth for unloading and loading. This allows you to get very close to these ships in action.

This photo shows the back of my two girl’s heads as a ship comes through the canal. The Duluth harbor has been done up real nice for visitors. It is also the starting point of Minnesota’s North Shore with many cool scenic spots. Make an effort to get there sometime before the Lord returns.

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