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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why Ron Paul?

He is a man of patience.

Sure, there are some points like...

He's not an eloquent speaker.

He's doesn't say anything new or exciting; it can be boring to hear him speak because it's always the same.

He chooses to discuss issues that I might agree with but certainly wouldn't feel inclined to debate. Example.

Yet at the end of the day, his patience reveals a deep understanding about the reality of this world. His comments at the end of his speech at the St. Louis regional conference sums up what he's all about: know you're stuff and wait for people to come to you for the answers. (He then shared a couple of short anecdotal stories. One story was about a Congressman on the banking committee who asked to confirm that the dollar isn't back by gold any more!)

Ron Paul knows that the solutions to our nations problems are not simple and will not fit on a bumper sticker. (Well, ok "End the Fed" does fit on a bumper sticker but that's only part of solving our problems.)

He knows that no one can cheat in the long run. Despite the world-class packaging, selling lies and calling them truth will only last so long.

He's a man of patience--the kind of patience that stands up when the opportunity comes and trusts that the opportunities will come.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Quotes that Made Me Think In March

"Lies can be as simple as you want. Truth is complicated" -Eric, my co-worker and friend

"I like type A personalities. If there the world were only full of type B personalities, where would the world be?" -my friend Beth (Type B personality who's humble and her love for people transcends personality quirks)

"Marriages are team efforts." - Gary North

"The greatest threat to you leading a fulfilled life is a misguided pursuit of happiness that blinds you to the possibility of a more meaningful Hero's Journey"- from the Acton Institute's Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (A Cautionary Tale)

"Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." (Ps 121:1-3)

"Something's not right" - my co-worker Deb

"I want to love people for who they are" - my friend Beth

"Who you marry will be the most important decision you will every make. It's great that you still get to make that decision." -June Silber

"Christ stands between us, and we can only get in touch with our neighbors is through him that is why intercession is the most promising way to reach our neighbors, and corporate prayer offers in the name of Christ, the purest form of fellowship. -Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

"We cannot rightly acknowledge the gifts of God unless we acknowledge the mediator for who sake alone they are given to us. -Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MIAC Director apologizes...

While the MIAC director apologized for linking supporters of Ron Paul (a Republican) and other 3rd party supporters to terrorism, he didn't mention why he felt it's ok to suggest that all militia members are terrorists. See apologize letter (PDF).

The original report also suggests that people who are "anti-abortion" or oppose calling another Constitutional Convention could be connected to terrorist activity.

Hmmm...seems like this apology might be an attempt to put to rest questions that haven't been answered yet like how did such a sloppy report end up in the hands of Missouri Law Enforcement officers?

Monday, March 23, 2009

How do you want your story to end?

In her song Sober, Pink asks "How can I feel this good sober?"

There are so many things and people we use in this world to feel "so high" that "nothing can touch us," but leave us wondering if it's possible to feel this "high" without the consequences: "the party's over." She, like most of us, often feel "broken down in agony just tryna find a fit"--even at high costs to our self-worth.

Those things and people we've used for "protection" will always leave us feeling empty. At some point, we will start "coming down, coming down, coming down" and "spinning ’round, spinning ’round, spinning ’round" struggling to find our fit in a reality in which a continual high isn't possible.

Pink, in this song, exposes the temporary nature of the things and people she uses and regrets these short-lived attempts to feel good: "I have heard myself cry, never again."

She acknowledges that she's "the only one to blame" because she listens to the "whispers" she knows to be a lie.

She laments that she doesn't want to stay stuck in a lifestyle of perpetual highs and lows; good intentions and lack of follow through; new resolutions and old regrets: "That’s not the way I want my story to end."

Are you living a life that will lead you to how you want your story to end?

What will the legacy of your life on earth be?

What things or people do you need to get out of your life to get out of a cycle of artificial highs and lows?

Pink - Sober Lyrics - ALL

I’m safe Up high
Nothing can touch me
But why do I feel this party’s over?
No pain Inside
You’re like perfection
How do I feel this good sober

No Pain Inside
Nothing can touch me
But why do I feel this party’s over?
No pain
You’re like perfection
How do I feel this good sober?

Will I ever feel this good sober?
Tell me, No no no no no pain
How do i feel this good sober?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reality Check: Do I take full advantage what I've been given?

Imagine that you're curious about the Christian faith, but you can't get any answers in a language you understand from an official source.

Imagine that if you do go to church, the pastor preaches sermons in a language you don't understand.

Imagine that any Bible you put your hands on is in language you can't read.

Imagine that when you have questions about the Bible or God, you have no written resources available to help you.

Imagine that when you do come across a book that might help, you would have to read it by candle light because most of your day light hours are spent doing all that's necessary for survival.

Imagine that you live in a different century where this is describes your life, as many people have...

During a conversation with my Dad last night, it struck me: I can read the Bible. I thought to myself, what would it be like to go to Mass in Latin, when most Bibles were only translated into Latin, and there was no internet for me to click--Matthew Henry's commentary for the entire Bible at my finger tips?

Do I really take full advantage of the great gifts God has given our generation to understand the Christian faith?

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Invisible

"Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God." Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ

All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing." Ecclesiastes 1:8

We try so hard to substitute the invisible with the visible, but the more we seek to satisfy our longings with those things close at hand, the less our senses desire that which will truly fill us to the full.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Significance of Serving

Are you serving--loving--people in your family? your neighborhood? your church? your life?

"God sees our care for those around us. He places a high value on the meals we make for our hungry family, the care we give to our sick relatives and neighbors, the countless drinks of water we serve to our children and grandchildren, and the welcome we offer to people by opening our home. Jesus made it clear that when we provide for others' daily needs, we're giving directly to him. We serve Christ by serving those he loves" (128) .

"...within the limitations of our hours and days we can make significant contributions by caring for those God loves. We serve in an upside-down kingdom where God is pleased with the small and unseen, with the widow's mite, the mustard seed, and the loaves and fishes. Faithfulness in the little things will make the invisible kingdom bright and visible. It is not for us to strain again the limits boundaries that God put in place at the creation of the world and called "good." By his power and for his glory he brings the increase. And because he cares for us, we can cast our anxieties upon him and run to him to find rest for our weary bodies and souls" (129).

Andi Ashworth, Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Are you in pursuit of communion with God?

If you're looking for a great teaching on fasting, I highly recommend a 3-part series that I just finished by John Piper called "Prayer, Meditation, and Fasting: The Pursuit of Communion with God."

In part 3, Piper looks at several passages of scripture but one in particular that I've never connected to fasting is Matthew 9:14-17, the parable of the new and old wine skins.

Piper's point? Well, you've got to listen to it (or read you can read it). I could just copy and paste the key point, but then you'd miss out on how he unpacks scripture and how it applies to your life and relationship with God.
The teaching-learning process will be most effective when both students and teacher are adequately prepared. -The Law of Readiness, Dr. Howard Hendricks from Teaching to Change Lives
For you to be prepared for the point, as Piper is prepared to give it, I'd encourage you to listen to all 3 parts.

Quotes that Made Me Think This Week - Mar. 8-14

"A man is one whose body has been trained to be the ready servant of his mind; whose passions are trained to be the servants of his will; who enjoys the beautiful, loves truth, hates wrong, loves to do good, and respects others as himself." - Author Unknown

"Every person is an artist. the whole of life is a creative act. The warp and woof of each life is equivalent to the artist's paint or the musician's sounds." - Ranald McCaulay and Jerram Barrs, Being Human

"I don't want to go one more day without at your all consuming passion inside of me. I don't want to spend the rest of my life thinking, 'What if I had given everything.' " -Matthew West's song, The Motions

"Controlling people are generally the most insecure, which is why they try to control other people." - Pastor Doug (paraphrase, but it's close.)

"We are in error if we believe that just because there's a need, we're the one to fill it." - Andi Ashworth, Real Love for Real Life

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Word to Single Women from John Piper

(This is an excerpt from Piper's message "The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood"; listen or watch. Before listening to this message, I never considered how singleness can magnify God's love in ways marriage cannot.)

The apostle Paul loved his singleness, really loved his singleness. He loved it because it gave him such radical freedom to get arrested month after month without having a wife at home crying her eyes out, and to be beaten with rods over and over, and be lashed so that his back became jelly five times multiplied by 39, and so he could be shipwrecked at sea. Singleness is a high calling if you take it like that. He celebrated it and called many of you to follow him in it, even though marriage is meant to display the glory of Christ.

So how can that be? Why would He lure some of you out of marriage, that is out of pursuing marriage? Why would He do that if He made marriage as this magnificent portrait of His Son's covenant-keeping love with His bride so that husbands and wives, living out their unique manhood and womanhood, become a magnificent drama of that glory? Why would He lure anybody away from that, which He does? There's a very clear reason why.

In this season of history since the Fall, the natural order that God established at the beginning is not absolute. "It's not good that man should be alone. It's not good that woman should be alone." That's true. It's just not absolutely true because now sin has entered into the world, and there are other things to take into consideration besides the sheer natural order that God set up before there was sin and collapse, and thousands and millions of people to be rescued from perishing. The reason that it is not an assault on God's glory for the apostle Paul to say, "I would that you were single like I am, if you had the gift" (see 1 Corinthians 7:7).

The reason that's not an assault on God's glory is that in this world there are truths about Christ and His kingdom which can be more clearly displayed by womanhood in singleness and manhood in singleness than by womanhood in marriage and manhood in marriage. I'll give you three of them.

These are three things that your womanly singleness can say better to the world than any married woman can say by virtue of her marriage.

1) A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that the family of God grows by regeneration through faith not propagation through sexual intercourse. The family of God grows by regeneration not by propagation, by faith, not sexual intercourse. The main thing we're about is growing that family. So if you never marry, and you embrace a lifetime of chastity and biological childlessness, and you receive this from the Lord's hand as a mercy and a gift with contentment, and you gather to yourself the poor and the lonely, and you spend yourself for the gospel without self-pity; you will, in your unique single womanhood, magnify Christ in ways no married woman can.

2) A life of Christ-exalting singleness bears witness that relationships in Christ are more permanent and more precious than relationships in families. If a single woman turns without bitterness and regret from the absence of her own family and gives herself to creating God's family in the church, she will find a flowering for her womanhood in ways never dreamed of, and Christ will be uniquely honored.

3) The Christ-exalting singleness of a woman bears witness to the truth that marriage is temporary and finally gives way in the end to the relationship to which it was pointing all alone, Christ and the church, the way a picture is no longer needed when you're face to face.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, and I want to bear public witness and gratitude for Noel, who will have been my wife come December 21st forty years. I want to bear public witness that she has been a gift to me that I didn't deserve. We together have labored to raise five children and ten grandchildren and are still, with tears, laboring. As parents you never ever stop being a parent, we have now learned, never stop with tears, never stop with joy.

Nevertheless, she and I would both say, we say it with deep conviction: Marriage is not the main thing. It's momentary. Otherwise Jesus would not have said, "In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven because they do not die anymore." My relationship with Noel has a few more years, and then she and I will experience what that was all about, ultimately, with Him.

Therefore, a single woman who lives with that final day in view, and finds Christ to be her all in all here, says something very powerfully and very clearly about her Savior.

If you're interested in signing the "True Woman Manifesto" you can do that here, which is a beautiful statement about God's special plan for women.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Learning how to express me

Communication, in part, is about expressing oneself.

A monthly email newsletter I get from "Communicatrix" uses the tag ling: "A Monthly Newsletter About Expressing the Unique Fabulosity That Is You."

We are all fabulous in our own unique way. Some people have a talent for expressing themselves well with words; others with pictures, others with actions, others in ways I can't think of because as a perfectionist, I wanted one word words to use to keep the sentence balanced. But you know, people, I think, need other people to create balance--to fill full. I don't think anyone of us can be balanced or full all by ourselves.

In the the last issue of "Communicatrix," the author suggests that writers should "spend your time on the things under your control, and do your best to let go of the rest." She then asks:

What does "Control What You Can" mean in terms of expressing your unique fabulosity?

Her suggestions:
1. Share more of yourself, not less
2. Ask more questions...of everyone!
3. Spend more time making stuff of utility

The author seems to have latched on to an new concept to me: who we are can help other people, but that means we've got to be able to express ourselves.

It is, therefore, useful--not selfish--for people to spend time learning how to write, draw, sing, dance, act, play, record, create...anything that expresses the you that others need.

The author ends by saying: "basically, anything that will stretch your abilities and that other people will find somehow useful and remember, informative, supportive and entertaining all fall under the rubric of "useful")

(She hasn't archived her Mar. 2008 newsletter yet, but try going here "" to read it.)

How much time to you spend developing your talents in ways that are useful for others?

Cinderella Syndrome

"Cinderella Syndrome" occurs when women are more in love with the idea of marriage in a greater degree than love for the person which seems to promise marital bliss to her--a fairy tale.

I used to think "settling" would be comparable to a woman selecting the chicken meal that's ready now rather than wait for salmon (and chocolate mousse) that isn't ready yet--simply because she's consumed with the idea with being full now. The underlying fear that the salmon might not come is why she settles...err...selects the chicken.

But the problem with this analogy is that a chicken meal is nourishing even if it's not as yummy as salmon. Even more, this analogy supports the misconception that only marriage will bring the nourishment many women long for and that marriage later rather than sooner is the best arrangement.

A better analogy for women "settling" is the intoxication of alcohol. While intoxicated, everything seems fine; we're happy. We don't want the feeling to go away so we keep drinking. But the feeling will eventually will go away. It's not filling; it's not sustainable; it's not nourishing.
But the Lord knows we cannot live on Champaign all our life, and that if this emotional high were indefinitely maintained no one would ever get anything done, nor would they be able to think about the practical considerations that are necessary for raising and supporting a family. From "The Way of a Man with a Maid: A Response to the Courtship & Betrothal Movements" (PDF) by Robin Philips
If a woman marries, who she marries is the most important decision she will make in her lifetime. This person will guide how she will live the rest of her life. He will either be a support, or drag her to the bottom of the ocean of the cares of this world.

Joy of Discipleship

(This is an email I sent to friend)

Here is a short passage from "The Cost of Discipleship" in the chapter "Grace and Discipleship" by Bonhoeffer. Two points that you've been a part of highlighting to me: Jesus isn't just about "emotional uplife" and grace is given to each in measure of Christ's gift.

I thought you might be encouraged by the following:

"It comes to us in the joy of discipleship and confirms us in it.

To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but inseparable from this mortal life, but a necessity. It is not the sort of suffering which is inseparable from this mortal life, but the suffering which is an essential part of the specifically Christian life. It is not suffering per se but suffering-and-rejection, and not rejection for any cause or conviction of our own, but rejection for the sake of Christ. If our Christianity has ceased to be serious about discipleship, if we have watered down the gospel into emotional uplife which makes no costly demands and which fails to distinguish between natural and Christian existence, then we cannot help regarding the cross as an ordinary everyday calamity, as one of the trails and tribulations of life. We have then forgotten that the cross means rejection and same as well as suffering. The Psalmist was lamenting that he was despised and rejected of men, and that is an essential quality of the suffering of the cross. but this notion has ceased to be intelligible to a Christianity which can no longer see any difference between an ordinary human life and a life committed to Christ....Each must endure his allotted share of suffering and rejection. But each has a different share...."

Friday, March 06, 2009

Quotes that Made Me Think This Week: Mar 1-7

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to obtain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

The true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good. -Ann Landers

Live one rank lower than your pay grade. -a lieutenant colonel & con law professor @ West Point

You can only exhale what you inhale. Do you want to exhale Jesus in your life? Then inhale Jesus constantly. -Doug Merkey

Conversation today:

Ruth: "It's humbling for people to grow older." [in reference to my 84 year-old boss falling and breaking her hip]

Mary (aid to my boss's sister-in-law who is 87 & still volunteering part-time): "The key is to accept it. What's the alternative? Dying young."

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Are you faint from hunger and disease?

Imagine if you were from a country where it's normal be be hunger and not feeling well? I just got a report from Zimbabwe that made me stop and thank God for his overflowing provision for not only my physical hunger, but my spiritual hunger.

"Barry Fitzpatrick (Chester, UK) and I (Alan Scotland) have just returned from a trip into Zimbabwe. The heart of the story has not been told even in the press. The people are seriously in trouble. Many people are faint from hunger and disease. We heard reports of families who are eating warm cow dung, trying to get nutrients to survive. The economy is in total collapse. People can only buy food and other things with US dollars or other foreign currency; but people are still being paid in Zimbabwe dollars which means they cannot buy anything really because Zim dollars are not considered tradable capital.

We had the privilege of taking a love offering from the churches in the UK by which we were able to provide food for 13 churches across the city of Harare. We were also able to help several pastors by giving sufficient funding to bless them for the next several months.

We then traveled to the orphanage spending time with Livingstone and his wife. They were looking forward to coming to the UK for a few months of refres.hing in the word, etc. but the British Commissioner rejected them so they have been unable to obtain their visas. They have been a little disappointed at that. Maybe it will be possible to get Livingstone over to the Horthrope Hall meetings on a tourist visa.

We were able to give the orphan children some special gifts of oranges, pencils, lollipops; things that we would take for granted but they treasure them over there. In terms of development of the program there, the footings and foundation are in for the toilet buildings, and we've now commissioned the purchase of all the materials so that they can start building in earnest in April, 2009. We want to see at least three or four homes built for the children within this next year.

In January 2010, we would like to run a Fast Forward in Zimbabwe with teachers from the UK and the USA to give their time to bless the church as it endures the suffering of the times they are in."

Link Link's Feb. 2009 Newsletter

Life's not Fair

The problem with life is that it's not fair. Or maybe it's not life's problem; it's a human perspective problem. We don't like the fact that the world does not center on us; thus we are sometimes wrong: both factually wrong or morally wrong.

The question isn't about whether something is fair; it's about who's rules you're using and if you're living in reality or your own little, or possible big, world. It depends on how many people you've convinced to join you or how many people you've joined with to follow someone or something else.

Consider the following:

"Liberty Counsel recently filed suit at the Florida Supreme Court against The Florida Bar and is requesting the Bar remain neutral on political and ideological issues unrelated to the regulation of attorneys. In January the Bar voted to file an amicus brief, arguing that the 1977 adoption law is unconstitutional. By taking sides on this issue, Liberty Counsel says that the Bar has violated the First Amendment rights of Florida lawyers. Outside of regulating the practice of law, the Bar has no authority to advocate on behalf of such issues."

Ok, so what is "neutral"? If the bar doesn't file an amicus brief, does that make it neutral? Why or why not?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Hope: 1.5 Millon Homeschoolers

1.5 million students are being homeschooled in the U.S. this year.

Data from the March 2009 Townhall magazine, pg. 19.