Friday, July 31, 2009

Validation in His Pleasure

My old friend Jim Wright, whom I've know for over 35 years, recently posted a blog on the danger of finding personal validation in the use of ones giftings rather than in simply pleasing God and being loved by him.

Understanding God’s calling and the associated personality gifts he’s given us is not difficult: We find joy and fulfillment in doing what we are gifted in, and we are gifted in what we are called to do. Furthermore, when we use our gifts and fulfill our calling according to God’s will, we feel his pleasure – in addition to our own.

There’s a problem, however, in seeking validation from using our gifts or pursing our calling instead of pleasing God. Instead of being content with God saying “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” we seek legitimacy in who we are, what we do, how others react or in the results of our actions. Such validation comes from and is about us, rather than God.

Read it all at"Fulcrum Prime"- Gifts, Calling and Validation Good job, Jim!

Churches Full of Idolaters (And Aaronic Pastors)

This great insight (and important reminder) about human nature and american culture comes from the, quoting Eugene Peterson's Under the Unpredictable Plant:

...We assume that because people want more religion, they want more of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We assume that when they gather in our congregations and ask us to lead them in prayer, they want us to lead them before the throne of a Holy God. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The people in our congregations are, in fact, out shopping for idols. They enter our churches with the same mind-set in which they go to the shopping mall, to get something that will please them or satisfy an appetite or need. John Calvin saw the human heart as a relentlessly efficient factory for producing idols. Congregations commonly see the pastor as the quality-control engineer in the factory. The moment we accept the position, though, we defect from our vocation. The people who gather in our congregations want help through a difficult time; they want meaning and significance in their ventures. They want God, in a way, but certainly not a “jealous God,” not the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Mostly they want to be their own god and stay in control but have ancillary idol assistance for the hard parts, which the pastor can show them how to get. With the development of assembly-line mass production, we are putting these idols out in great quantities and in a variety of colors and shapes to suit every taste. John Calvin’s insight plus Henry Ford’s technology equals North American Religion. Living in golden calf country as we do, it is both easy and attractive to become a successful pastor like Aaron.

This quote is also increasing my anticipation for Tim Keller's new book on this topic, Counterfeit Gods, due out in October 2009.

Never to Come to Mind

Found a beautiful thought and meditation on Isaiah 65 today from Kevin DeYoung :

The first place in the Bible where the new heavens and new earth are mentioned is in the book of Isaiah, chapter 65. It gives a sweetly glorious picture of what is to come.

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. The ways of this world, with its sin and suffering, will be forgotten. You will never think of the affair you had, the abortion you had, the pornography you saw, the gossip you spread, the drugs you took, the pain you caused. You won’t think of it. The pain of your divorce, the crushing disappointment that your marriage was marred with disease, the unbearable agony of waiting each month wanting to be pregnant, the feeling of non-stop aching in your joints because of arthritis, the unspeakable sadness you felt when you lost a child or watched him walk away from the Lord, the nights you couldn’t sleep because of anxiety, the dark days that seemed to never end–you won’t remember any of it. It won’t come to your mind.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

C.S. Lewis on Hell

Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others . . . but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God 'sending us' to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.

- C.S. Lewis
Hat Tip: The Jesus Paradigm

The Kingdom is in the Presence of Our Enemies

"The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would have ever been spared?"
-- Martin Luther
Hat Tip: The Gospel-Driven Church

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thankful for Little Things

I'm thankful tonight for some little things:
  • The sound of rain drops on my roof.
  • The feel of a puppy's tongue on my hand.
  • The taste of ketchup on a hot dog.
  • The joy of rediscovered music I haven't heard in over 20 years.
  • A little Internet silliness.
It's good to be thankful for the little things; it helps build the habit of thankfulness- the attitude of gratitude- so that I can be more appreciative of the big things also.

Thank you, Lord, for it all!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Omnipotent Moral Busybodies

Here's a C.S. Lewis quote that is extremely relevant in the social and political environment of America in 2009:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

—C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock, p. 292.
Hat Tip: Between Two Worlds

Your Legacy - and the Gospel

David Wayne, aka the JOLLYBLOGGER, has written a provocative post on the question What if you only had one month to live?

Most discussions on that topic focus on what we would do differently in order to make a difference or leave a legacy. David, a pastor, makes the point that such approaches are leaving out the Gospel.
But the bottom line is this - if I am to face my own death with no regrets, the only way I can do so is if my sins are atoned for, and sins are only atoned for by the work of Christ. From what I can tell, most of these "what if you only had a short time to live" discussions revolve around things you must do to cleanse the slate and clear your conscience. Again, good stuff to do, but only in a secondary sense. If I knew I was going to die soon I would spend far more time reading, studying, meditating on and reflecting on all that Christ has done for me than anything else. That's the only sure way to approach your own death with no regrets.
David knows what he is talking about. He was diagnosed with cancer last year, and is currently undergoing treatment. While considering this question for yourself, please pray for David Wayne, his family, and his church.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Good Gospel vs. Law Rant

The "IMonk," Michael Spencer, has gone on a Law/Gospel rant today, and I think I can agree with him 100%. This is some good stuff, and some stuff that needs to be said- frequently. Here are some brief excerpts:
I’m using the simple Lutheran “law/Gospel” division here: all of scripture is either what God commands/demands under penalty or what he promises/provides freely by grace. This is law and Gospel. “Do” or “Done.” Moses or Jesus. God the accountant older brother or God the Father of the Prodigal. Advice or announcement. Sinai or the cross. Threat or comfort. Blessing or curse. You do it or else. God did and praise.

If you get this, Luther said, you are a theologian even without the degree...

...There’s a lot to discuss with this topic, because I believe genuine discipleship, which has aspects of law to it, grows out of and lives in the Gospel, not the law. (Think of Gospel as soil and law as fence. How does your garden grow?) The Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the King has a moral law. So I’m not simplistic. I sometimes hear people that I really respect do things with the Law-Gospel distinction that makes my skin crawl and that sounds like weird dispensationalism

Law preaching is powerful. It feels powerful. Even when it’s done poorly and just amounts to nagging, it makes the preacher feel like he/she is doing something. That’s one reason it’s so popular- you’re telling them what to do. You’re like Moses hitting the rock. Look what I did, you bunch of stubborn yokels. And joined with invitationalism and revivalism, it works. It fills the altar with crying students. I brings people down to get baptized for the 5th time and really mean it this time.

The Gospel, on the other hand, takes the power out of your hands. It’s the announcement of what God has done. You aren’t powerful at all. You’re one loser telling a bunch of other losers that they are going to be treated like winners. Bread for the thieves. Pardon for the unquestionably guilty. Love for rebels. You’re announcing that everyone gets paid the same. You’re issuing banquet seats to people who have no right to a ticket because they are dirty and sinful. You’re telling sinners that the lamb of God has paid the bill and it’s not going to appear on their charge anywhere.

You are telling people it is too good to be true, but it is too good and completely true, and it changes everything....
Read it! He talks a lot about Southern Baptists, but the problem is certainly not limited to them. In the words of the great philosopher Pogo the Possum - "we have met the enemy and he is us."

I certainly can't say it any better than this.

The In-Between Times

“So we who live between the two comings of Jesus live in the ‘in-between’ times, when the kingdom is ‘now but not yet.’ It’s here in some ways, but the kingdom will only fully be here when Jesus returns in glory. The resurrection has begun in the sense that the first one has already happened in the person of Jesus. Yet the rest of the resurrection will happen only at the end when Jesus returns and the trumpet blows. The Holy Spirit has already been given to us, not as a full payment of the kingdom but as a down payment and promise to ‘pay off the balance’ when the kingdom arrives in its fullness at Jesus’ return.”

- Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi, Kingdom Come (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2003), 65-66.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Sounds like another good "kingdom book" for me to read! So many books - so little time!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

We're Back!

Just got back from a wonderful and relaxing 9 day trip. Got to visit my wife's family, and saw some of our old "haunts," including the place we honeymooned 29 years ago. Best of all, we got to see some old and dear friends we have not seen in almost 2 decades. God was (and is ) good!

Will be back to regular blogging soon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gospel Fuel for Christians

I love (and agree) with this quote from Tullian Tchividjian:
... I once assumed (along with the vast majority of professing Christians) that the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I’ve come to realize that “the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths, but more like the hub in a wheel of truth.” As Tim Keller explains it, the gospel isn’t simply the ABCs of Christianity, but the A-through-Z. The gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life; it’s the fuel that keeps Christians going every day. Once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it. After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel—and since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day. Since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave the gospel.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step

Forty years ago today, on July 20, 1969, my family arrived in California after travelling across the country from Maryland via Mississippi. We were scheduled to fly to Hawaii on the 24th.

I remember listening to the radio as we set up our camp site and announcing to my parents that "we did it- they are on the moon." For some reason they were not as excited about it as I was! Having no access to television, I missed the great national experience of watching the first step live on TV. I spent that time curled up in the front seat of our old Buick, trying to hear what was going on through the radio static. Only got to see those grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin a week or so later via TV repeats. Who would've thought it could be- Live TV from the surface of the moon! Less than two years later we were getting clear color TV images from Apollo 15, 16, and 17, but by then no one (but me!) seemed to care anymore.

The next day we were at Disneyland when Armstrong and Aldrin successfully lifted off from the surface of the moon to rejoin Michael Collins in orbit. I was probably more excited about that than about Disneyland. By the time they splashed down, we were in Hawaii, watching the coverage of their arrival via air craft carrier to Pearl Harbor.

We need to do it again. We need to continue with the new national goal established by President bush and get back to the Moon by 2020 - or sooner. I'm excited about the Constellation program, the new successor to Apollo. Let's do it!

Note: There has always been a controversy about Armstrong's first words after stepping on the ladder onto the surface of the Moon: "One small step for (a) man: One giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong has always said that he thought he said, and intended to say, "a man" although the "a" cannot be heard on the recordings. However, the sentence only makes good sense with the "a" so I say leave it in, and just assume he slurred the word in the excitement of the moment.

For informative fun, read about NASA's new Constellation Program to return to the moon, and next generation moon car. Also, check out We Choose the Moon (a space nerd's paradise) for a recreation of the Apolo 11 mission.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vacation Time

We are leaving on vacation today and will return home on Sunday, July 26. Looking forward to visiting my in-laws and some old friends in Virginia and Maryland.

I will have limited (if any) Internet access during this week so blogging, other then a few preset posts, will be light.

See you in a week!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Defining Death & Life

This is a pro-life argument that I have never though of before. He makes good sense - but Washington does not pay any attention to good sense!

“We now record fetal heartbeats at 14 days post-conception. We record fetal brainwaves at 39 days post-conception. And I don’t expect you to answer this, but I do expect you to pay attention to it as you contemplate these big issues. We have this schizophrenic rule of the law where we have defined death as the absence of those, but we refuse to define life as the presence of those.”—

– Sen.Tom Coburn, speaking to Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor at confirmation hearing, July 15, 2009.

Hat Tip: The Anchoress — A First Things Blog

Related news: The Washington Times reports Fetuses Found to Have Memories and Mark Hemingway at The Corner says I Wonder Why NARAL Has No Comment

Thursday, July 16, 2009

40 Years Ago Today

I know exactly where I was 40 years ago this morning.

My family was travailing across the country to my Dad's new assignment with the Air Force - Hawaii. We were preparing to "suffer" for the country in Hawaii for three years. I was 12 years old.

The week of July 16 we were camping in our Apache pop-up camper at Grand Canyon National Park. We had a great time and even hiked about a mile down into the canyon and back. But on this day, 40 years ago, I asked my Dad for a brief break from "roughing it." He graciously took me to the Grand Canyon Lodge where we would have access to a television set. I had to see it!

That morning three men rode a huge Saturn V rocket up from the earth, and they were going to THE MOON! A few hours later they fired the third stage rocket again and left earth orbit for a three day journey to the moon.

As I have commented here before, I was a space nut. I knew the names of all the astronauts, what missions they had flown, and what they had done. I wanted to be an astronaut some day. I was so excited and thrilled to be able to watch something so historic as it happened.

Sometimes I miss that young fellow and his boundless dreams for the future. Although the dreams may have changed somewhat, I think he is still there deep inside. I am determined to find him and let him loose!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Inspiration Sells, but Jesus Transforms

Fantastic post today by Jared Wilson at The Gospel-Driven Church on "Jesuslessness" He is discussing his perception (and I think he is right) that so much preaching in Evangelical churches today leaves Jesus out of the picture.
1. We speak in vague spiritual generalities. Love. Hope. Peace. Joy. Harmony. Blessings. All disembodied from the specific atoning work of the incarnate Jesus and exalted Lord. It all sounds nice. It's all very inspirational. And it's rubbish. He himself is our peace. He himself is love. He himself is life. He does not make life better. He is life. Any pastor who talks about the virtues of faith, hope, and love, with Jesus as some implied tangential source, is not feeding his flock well.

2. We speak Christ as moral exemplar. We tell people to be nice because Jesus was nice. We tell them to be sweet because Jesus was sweet, good because Jesus was good, hard-working because Jesus was hard-working, loving because Jesus was loving. This is all well and good, but you could substitute "Mother Theresa" or even "Oprah" for "Jesus" and essentially have the same message.

3. We avoid the real problem -- sin -- and therefore either ignore the real solution -- the cross -- or confuse its meaning. In many churches, not only is sin never mentioned -- Joel Osteen, for instance, flat out says he doesn't like to talk about it basically because it hurts people's feelings -- the cross is rarely mentioned. And when the cross is mentioned, because we don't want to talk about sin, it becomes instead the great affirmation of our special-ness, rather than the great punishment for our
unholiness. The cross becomes not the intersection of God's justice and mercy but the symbol of God's positive feelings about our undeniable lovability.

In all of these instances, and others, people are inspired and enthused, but they are moved about God's recognition of their own awesomeness, not about the glories of Christ. The capacity is enlarged with our growing self-esteem.

Even angels long to gaze into the life-giving riches of the gospel of grace. We prefer to drink deeply from the well into which we're gazing -- our navels.

Pastors, inspiration sells. But only Jesus transforms.

Can't improve on that!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Always Yes

The ten prayers God always says “yes” to are:

1) God, Show me that you exist
2) God, Make me an instrument
3) God, Outdo me in generosity
4) God, Get me through this suffering
5) God, Forgive me
6) God, Give me peace
7) God, Give me courage
8) God, Give me wisdom
9) God, Bring good out of this bad situation
10) God, lead me to my destiny

From: Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, by Anthony DeStefano published by Doubleday

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. (2 Cor. 1:20 ESV)

Blogosphere Spirituality

Here's a thought provoking meditation by Michael Spencer at on spirituality in the Blogosphere. The conclusion is not pretty, but makes for interesting reading.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Focus on Jesus

“The holiest Christians are not those most concerned about holiness as such, but whose minds and hearts and goals and purposes and love and hope are most fully focused on our Lord Jesus Christ.”

- J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 134.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Two Christs: We've Got It Backwards

We need to preach the resurrected, triumphant, and reigning Christ, and then live like the humble, incarnate, serving Christ. Ministry should be done with a towel and wash basin.

Too many Christian ministries today seem to preach Christ as servant (Jesus my butler, who serves me and meets my needs) while the preachers live like kings. Ministry should not be done from mansions and private jets.

I think we've got it backwards.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blogger Worry

Think Before You Blog

Hat Tip:

The Begger's Prayer

“Imagine that your prayer is a poorly dressed beggar reeking of alcohol and body odor, stumbling toward the palace of the great king. You have become your prayer. As you shuffle toward the barred gate, the guards stiffen. Your smell has preceded you. You stammer out a message for the great king: ‘I want to see the king.’

Your words are barely intelligible, but you whisper one final word, ‘Jesus, I come in the name of Jesus.’ At the name of Jesus, as if by magic, the palace comes alive. The guards snap to attention, bowing low in front of you. Lights come on, and the door flies open. You are ushered into the palace and down a long hallway into the throne room of the great king, who comes running to you and wraps you in his arms.

The name of Jesus gives my prayers royal access. They get through. Jesus isn’t just the Savior of my soul. He’s also the Savior of my prayers. My prayers come before the throne of God as the prayers of Jesus. ‘Asking in Jesus’ name’ isn’t another thing I have to get right so my prayers are perfect. Is it one more gift of God because my prayers are so imperfect.”

—Paul Miller, A Praying Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2009), 135
Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday John Calvin

Here's wishing a Happy 500th birthday to John Calvin, Theologian, Reformer, Author and Pastor: Born 10 July 1509.
Picture from World Magazine.
Update: Read Kevin DeYoung on how to be relevant 500 years from now, like Calvin.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and “The Populations That We Don’t Want"

Saw this link at Redstate to an article at The New Ledger, where a Justice of the Supreme Court inadvertently reveals an ugly truth about Roe v. Wade and abortion in America.
Sometimes, when it comes to an issue like abortion, people slip up and say what they mean. It’s seldom a point deemed appropriate for public discussion, but on occasion someone will point out that a hugely disproportionate number of abortions are executed upon black and Hispanic children. Occasionally, a pro-life person will even go so far as to wonder whether, for many supporters of legalized abortions, this fact is a feature of the system, not a bug. Supporters of legalized abortion at this point, offended by the idea, will typically recoil in horror at the suggestion, insisting that no responsible supporter of legalized abortion feels that way. Most abortion proponents will then insist that the disproportionate numbers of minority abortions is an unintended (and surely undesirable!) consequence of this nonetheless important social policy.

Thankfully, we have people like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg around to remind us what an insidious lie this is, as she does in this weekend’s New York Times.
Now, here is the actual quote from Justice Ginsburg.
JUSTICE GINSBURG: .....Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.
So who are the "populations that we don’t want to have too many of"? Is she referring to poor people, or to the minorities who are represented in abortion statistics far in excess of their population ratios.

I wonder if anyone in the press would actually ask her what she meant? Nah, I don't wonder; I know she'll never be asked. The Freudian slip will be swept back under the rug.

But I'll remember.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Episcopal Bishop Calls Individual Salvation ‘Heresy’ and ‘Idolatry’

Once a denomination starts down the path to unbelief and rejection of the authority of Scripture, apparently there is no bottom. Get this - Episcopal Bishop Calls Individual Salvation ‘Heresy’ and ‘Idolatry’

ANAHEIM, CAEpiscopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says it’s "heresy" to teach that an individual can be saved through a sinner’s prayer of repentance. Here are some comments that Bishop Schori made at the opening of the Episcopal General Conference on Wednesday:

"the great Western heresy: that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God."

"…caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus."

"That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy."

So, I guess salvation is now found in social work and liberal causes? No wonder so many believing Anglicans are jumping from that sinking ship (The Episcopal Church) and boarding the ark of the new North American Anglican group. God save us!

Update: IMonk comments

Love As A Demon

If Affection is made the ultimate sovereign of a human life the seeds will germinate. Love, having become a god, becomes a demon.

(C.S. Lewis, Four Loves, p.56)
Hat Tip:

To paraphrase Mark Driscoll, if you take a good thing, and make it a God thing, it becomes a bad thing.

Do You Know Jesus Jr.?

Here's an interesting question: Are you a follower of Jesus - or of "Jesus, Jr."

Ray Ortland, Jr. answers the question at Christ is deeper still: Jesus Jr.
Our local deity is not Jesus. He goes by the name Jesus. But in reality, our local deity is Jesus Jr.

Our little Jesus is popular because he is useful. He makes us feel better while conveniently fitting into the margins of our busy lives. But he is not terrifying or compelling or thrilling. When we hear the gospel of Jesus Jr., our casual response is “Yeah, that’s what I believe.” Jesus Jr. does not confront us, surprise us, stun us. He looks down on us with a benign, all-approving grin. He tells us how wonderful we really are, how entitled we really are, how wounded we really are, and it feels good.

Jesus Jr. appeals to the flesh. He does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. He is not able to understand them, much less impart them, because Jesus Jr. is the magnification of Self, the idealization of Self, the absolutization of Self turning around and validating Self, flattering Self, reinforcing Self. Jesus Jr. does not change us, because he is a projection of us.

It is time to tear down Jesus Jr. It is time to rediscover the real Jesus. Still today, even to us, his invitation stands: “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Reversal of Fortune

Good post on Tuesday at The Blazing Center on "The Great Reversal". Excerpts below - I recommend reading the whole thing.
If you read the Old Testament you’ll notice that the unclean always infects the clean. Not the other way around.

If a clean person touches a carcass or eats an unclean animal, they’re unclean. If they touch an unclean person, they’re unclean. If they commit adultery, they’re unclean.

If they worship false Gods, they’re unclean.......

The unclean always infects the clean.

Which is a massive problem, because all of us are unclean. Filthy thoughts and desires swirl in our hearts. Bitter words drip from our lips. Is there any way for us to be clean?

But when Jesus gets involved, things are different.

Jesus touches a leper, and the leper becomes clean. He touches the dead body of a little girl, and the little girl is raised. And he touches sinners, and they are forgiven. Unfaithful adulterers, greedy tax collectors, tanked drunkards. All forgiven. The unclean made clean. Christ is full of such purity and power that he can cleanse the unclean.

Jesus still makes sinners clean today. Like me and you. Aren’t you grateful?
My pastor has always said a similar thing - In the Old Testament sin was contagious, but in the New Testament Christ's life is contagious. I want to stay close enough to catch the good germs!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Provocative Point Well Made

Here's a provocative title for a blog post - 14 Reasons to Stop Evangelizing Your Friends

If you read it however, you might find that you agree with it!

(I did)

Sarah Palin - What's Next?

So what’s up with Gov. Sarah Palin? Why did she decide to not only skip running for reelection as Alaska's governor but to also resign now? I do not know the answer, despite the speculation I am about to engage in. Her press conference announcing the decision was low on specifics, perhaps deliberately so. I expect more details to come out after she is actually a private citizen again.

And most certainly, the pundits and critics, many of whom have critiqued her mercilessly and wrongly since last September, do not know either. The political insiders, both Democrats and Republicans, do not understand her precisely because she is not one of them: she is one of us. She symbolizes and represents middle America, the “fly-over country,” the outside the beltway reality that denizens of the fantasy world of New York and DC do not comprehend and look down on.

So why did she do this? I can think of some possible reasons.

1. Perhaps she has decided to run for president in 2012, but to not cheat the taxpayers of Alaska by taking a gubernatorial salary while devoting most of her time to campaigning for higher office. Every four years, senators and governors run for president while neglecting the present duties for which they are supposedly being paid. Barack Obama started running for president full time after only serving two years of his senatorial term, and spent most of the next two years doing so all the while drawing his senatorial pay check. John McCain did the same thing. Kerry did it in 2004 and Bush did it in 2000 while he was governor of Texas. Maybe Sarah Palin so values the citizens and taxpayers of Alaska that she refuses to play that game. If so, good for her!

2. Maybe she has decided that the principles she believes in are more important than her own ego need for high office. Maybe she has decided to spend the next few years campaigning for conservative ideas and helping candidates who agree with those ideas. Maybe she thinks the country needs her ideas, even if she is not the one getting the credit. If so, how refreshing to see someone put principle ahead of their own career.

3. Maybe she just wants to fight back. Maybe she want to be able to defend her beliefs and her family without the restraints of public office. After what has been done to her and her family, I could certainly understand that desire. Her lawyer has already said that any media outlets publishing slander against her family can expect to face legal actions. David Letterman, are you listening?

4. Another possibility is a plan to follow the Reagan model. "Ronaldus Magnus" used his time between his governorship and election as president to study and develop his ideas and policy prescriptions. He wrote articles and books, did a radio commentary, building both his readiness and credibility. The elites always wrote him off as dumb and ignorant too. They were wrong then, and I think they are wrong now.

5. Maybe she is just tired of the attacks and pain her family has been through, and just wants to escape. Based on her past track record as a political fighter, and what she did say at her press conference, I do not think this is likely. However, it would certainly be understandable.

I do no know what her plans are, and neither do you. The truth may be some combination of the above options, or something else entirely. But I do know that she has been a voice for things I believe in, and has suffered greatly for standing firm for those convictions. I also know that she is a believer, and therefore my sister. I intend to pray for her to receive wisdom and guidance to do the right thing, and look forward to discovering what that right thing is. We have not seen the last of Sarah Palin.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Czar of Czars

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, the US government now has 31 Czars, more than the entire Romanov Dynasty of Russia had over hundreds of years.

So, what do you call the head of a government composed of 31 Czars? "President of the United States" seems so understated for such a lofty figure. Czar of Czars?

I understand that the title "King of Kings" is already taken.

Hat Tip: - The Corner on National Review Online

Sunday, July 5, 2009


“The perfection we do not have, Jesus provided. The judgment we do not want, Jesus bore.”

- John Piper, Finally Alive (Scotland, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2009), 74.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Declaration of Independence

The complete text of The Declaration of Independence is posted at RedState

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Happy Independence Day, everybody. God Bless America!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Charismatic Movement: Death and Resurrection

J. Lee Grady at Charisma Magazine has concluded that The Charismatic Movement is Dead. I agree with him.
"I am not a coroner. But I do believe the historic period we call the American charismatic movement ended a while ago. By making that pronouncement I was NOT saying that (1) the Holy Spirit isn't moving today; (2) the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit aren't available to us any more; or (3) people who are associated with this movement are all washed up.

On the contrary, we could be on the cusp of one of the most dynamic spiritual awakenings in history, and it will most certainly be accompanied by the supernatural work of the Spirit. Yet if we want to shift with Him into the next season we must lay aside old mindsets and worn-out religious paradigms that we picked up during the past 40 years. When God comes to do "a new thing," as Isaiah promised He would (Isa. 43:19, NASB), we must embrace new priorities, recalibrate our spiritual values and set aside the baggage of the past.

New wine requires new wineskins. New growth only comes after pruning. Change is often painful."

The Holy Spirit is always active. The gifts of the Spirit continue; God's Kingdom is breaking through all over the place. However, the ministry models and styles of the movement of the 60's and 70's are passe and DEAD. No more "one man ministry," big hair, white suits. No theme parks, limousines and private jets. No more worship of mammon. No more exaltation of ministers above the people. No more "don't touch God's anointed" immunization from criticism or correction. No more misuse of prophetic ministry or chasing after more exciting prophecies. And no more exalting gifting over character.

What we need today are true openness to the Spirit balanced by sound scholarship - both/and not either/or. What we need is decentralized supernatural ministry models where leaders equip all believers to pray for the sick and hurting. We need ministers who serve rather than seek to be served. We need leaders who follow Jesus with towels and wash basins rather than acting like dukes or kings. We need ministries that serve the poor and renounce materialism rather than fleece the flock for big offerings.

The Charismatic Movement must die- had to die - in order that the Spirit movement can be resurrected. Death and resurrection is God's way, not triumphalism and splendor.

That is what I believe God is doing. That is what I believe God is creating. And I am grateful and hopeful.

Update: Comments at Charismatica comparing the Charismatic Movement to the Reformation - worth reading.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More on "Casts" and Spiritual Formation

Last week I wrote about spiritual disciplines acting like a cast on our souls, for broken souls to heal properly. Been thinking more about that, and asking myself some questions.

Creeds: Can reciting, memorizing and meditating on the ecumenical creeds ( Apostles and Nicene creeds, accepted by just about all Christians) act like a cast on our beliefs? The words of the creed act as a scaffold, forming our thinking: and right theology leads to right worship and living.

Psalms: Does reading, singing and praying through the Psalms act like a cast on our devotions, forming us to worship and communicate with God rightly? Is it any coincidence that the Psalms have been so used for 2,000 years?

Corporate Worship: Can doing the disciplines, the creeds and the psalms together form a community in right Godly worship? Might this be an antidote to the rampant individualism in American Christianity?

Just asking? What do you think?