Monday, April 30, 2007

Delta Farce

Has anyone seen the trailer for this new movie, Delta Farce? I saw it last night channel surfing and I found it quite troubling. I'm not comfortable with Larry the Cable Guy in a military uniform, not that I have regard for him anyway, but it seems Hollywood can sink their talons into any story or topic now, no matter how poorly they treat it. This smacks of poor taste and even poorer judgment, just like two other movies I refuse to see, Flight 93 and World Trade Center.

One of the bits they showed in the trailer was a sergeant badgering the soldiers about taking them to paradise. When they arrive in Iraq, he equivocates and says "Oh, I meant Fallujah."

I shudder to think how this film will portray the Iraqis if they do at all, but I am tired of everything being for sale, even the war in Iraq. Maybe I am a bit more sensitive since my brother is in the army. However, I cannot see turning Iraq into a B-grade parody positive.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm Not Making This Up

My family and I were going to Bedford today for a little fun when we passed by this church sign. I want to provide a caption, or an explanation, but I just cannot. I guess, at least they are honest.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Giuliani-A Candidate with No Hope...but Falwell

Rudy Giuliani has officially sold himself out to the religious right. Having changed his stance on same sex unions, Jerry Falwell is now calling the shots. As his National Liberty Journal records, "Giuliani is the candidate we wish we could love." Falwell uses a mass email list and the most recent one said,
“Mayor Giuliani believes marriage is between one man and one woman,” the Giuliani campaign said, responding to a New York Sun query. “Domestic partnerships are the appropriate way to ensure that people are treated fairly. In this specific case the law states same sex civil unions are the equivalent of marriage and recognizes same sex unions from outside states. This goes too far and Mayor Giuliani does not support it.”
Never mind that the resurrected mayor has vacillated on this point too many times to count, but the rhetoric of Falwell is not surprising either.

But as America has come to a social and political crossroads in terms of the same-sex marriage debate, I am more concerned than ever that our leaders understand that traditional marriage is a foundational component of civilization, not an issue in which we can bounce around new ideas and pounce on the ones that are the most politically expedient.


So while Mr. Giuliani’s abrupt rebuke of the New Hampshire Senate’s bill is welcomed, we are still hopeful for more encouraging evidence of his commitment to social conservatism.
Here is how I see it: Rudy can no longer appeal to the left of center republicans because of his vacillation on certain issues and has nowhere else to turn except the far right. However, Dr. Falwell has ratcheted up the pressure and has essentially upped the ante on Rudy; my question is, will he deliver?

Giuliani is now beholden to Falwell and his cronies and it would behoove him to toe the party line--or else he will deny himself any opportunity in 2008.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Milestones and Maturity

Having four kids and expecting a fifth, I am pretty familiar with milestones. Milestones are those understood markers that as a child grows, she ought to reach that particular milestone at an approximate age.

For instance, a child develops language patterns early. My oldest daughter said her first word by the time she was nine months and was speaking in complete sentences by a year. My other children followed that pattern, but not as closely.

Typically a child will vocalize beyond crying at about six months. They will make noises often just to hear themselves, preparing their little voices for the formation of sounds. Between nine months and a year, they should be babbling; ma ma ma, da da da, and so on.

At about a year to fourteen months a child should be saying simple one syllable words and by eighteen months to two years they should be saying two syllable words as well as making two to three word sentences. Beyond two years old, her vocabulary should be increasing exponentially and she should be making conversation.

Some friends have a child who had not reached any milestones beyond vocalizing by the time their son was eighteen months. He was combative, frequently upset, and out of sorts most of the time. The fact that he had not reached any milestones was of grave concern to them and so they made an appointment to see a doctor. Something was abnormal and it was of utmost necessity to have him looked at by a physician.

They discovered that their son had hearing troubles as well as a mild case of autism, easily treatable through therapy. In cases of unreached physical milestones, drastic steps are often taken to ensure those milestones are reached or at least to diagnose the problem. When it is discovered that something is wrong, the source of the problem is then treated.

What happens however, when it is discovered that spiritual milestones have not been reached? What happens if a member of the body of Christ has not reached those milestones?

Typically, nothing.

More thoughts later.

You're Rich and Didn't Even Know It...

...compared to everyone else in the world, that is. It is our tendency in American culture to place a heavy emphasis on wealth and our rabid consumerism fosters a desire for more, no matter the cost. Even the lowest rung on the ladder in America is wealthier than third world countries.

H/T to Henry Cate for pointing us to this site that helps to put things in perspective. I have always said that I am rich, I just don't have a lot of money. Maybe I need to stop using that trite statement because according to this rich list, I am in the top 3.81%.

Go see for yourself, and stop griping.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Can you Eat on $42 a Month?

Oregon Governor Theodore Kulongoski and his wife Mary are. My family and I did it in seminary, and I don't care to relive it, but this is an incredible testimony of living where the people whom you serve are.
Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski and his wife, Mary Oberst, are used to eating the best their state has to offer: salmon, huckleberries and mushrooms foraged from the Cascade mountains.

The coming week will be different. They will spend just $3 a day each on their meals, $42 in all, to match the amount spent by the average food stamp recipient in Oregon.

Mr. Kulongoski, a Democrat, and Ms. Oberst are the most prominent people yet to take part in a “food stamp challenge,” a trend sponsored by religious groups, community activists and food pantries across the country.

Those who have done the challenge say shopping on such a tight budget requires plenty of planning, a reliance on inexpensive staples like legumes, beans, rice and peanut butter and a lack of more expensive protein and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Meeting friends for a slice of pizza or a cup of coffee becomes a nearly unaffordable luxury.

This is an example pastors, and not just politicians, could stand to emulate. Get in the folks' shoes, walk around in them and see how they live for a while. You might find out they are a lot different than you are. Then you really will be equipped for service and ministry.

In a Fix...

I ducked out the door to the cries of "Daddy, you gotta help Noonie!" That is one of our nicknames for their youngest sister, who is two. And don't ask how nicknames evolve in our house, the explanation is too detailed. I went outside to discover this predicament.

Notice also that she obviously had been in there a while before one of her loving sisters came to get me to get her out; her sandals are right there beside her. Perhaps you can provide a clever caption. Mine...maybe they don't multiply like rabbits...

You will note, though, that the door is latched shut.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

All Things New...

The tragedy last Monday has occupied a lot of my thoughts and prayers over the past week. I will continue to pray and seek God's face to help me process everything, particularly the content of the last post. However, I was gladdened to come across this story ran in the state Baptist rag. It represents in a way the next step needed to cope with the Tech tragedy.
Some carrying lunch pails, and all bundled against the cold, Amish children walked to their new school in Lancaster County on Monday [April 2, 2007], six months to the day after a gun-toting neighbor walked into their old schoolhouse and shot 10 students, killing five.


The Amish community demolished the old schoolhouse to erase a reminder of the horror experienced there. Four of the five girls who were shot Oct. 2 have returned to the new school, called New Hope Amish School.
Yes indeed, He makes all things new. I think the name of the new school is very appropriate and communicates much to the world about their faith in God and His ability to redeem any situation for His purposes and for good. May the victims' families of this past Monday's tragedy find the same hope, the same healing, as these dear people have. May the Virginia Tech community also be able to move past this tragedy and embrace hope, the hope that is only found in Jesus Christ.

But we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces
perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.
Now hope does not disappoint...
Romans 5:3-5

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Can I Scream Now?

Currently there is a lot of right-wing entertainment of ridiculous what-ifs and theatricality in print over the tragedy of this past Monday at Virginia Tech. This article from The Conservative Voice is a farce, absolutely inappropriate and frankly, disturbing.
If five or ten unarmed students had rushed the shooter and mobbed him and beat him to a pulp, some would undoubtedly have been wounded or killed, but the rest of the students would have been saved. Charge! Throw textbooks, staplers, anything handy. Pick up pens, pencils. Jump the shooter, tackle him, pile on, crush him to the floor with massed bodies, stab him in the eyes or neck with pencils or pens. (Click the ballpoints out first--makes a better stabbing instrument that way.)
To run this article with the title "The Virginia Tech Massacre's Lessons" totally overlooks that those were people killed, a deranged young man, desperately seeking something (albeit clueless as to what that was), who, incidentally, also has a family who is utterly humiliated over their son's actions, and that there are families who need love and care right now; not macho posturing.

But what I find even more horrific is the comparison to the Flight 93 heroes of 9/11.
I am reminded of Flight 93: Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick, and all the other passengers who were brave enough to charge the hijackers and prevent that plane's crash into the Capitol Building or the White House.
In my mind, there is no comparison. Regardless of what the Flight 93 heroes did, inaction would have guaranteed death; but the alternative also meant death. These were kids with a thread of hope that they might live, not men doomed to die whether they were successful in their plan of attack on the terrorists or not. At Virginia Tech, there was a potential way out; on Flight 93 there was no way out.

Equally horrific is the writer's comparison to the war in Iraq.
I am reminded of our soldiers who have charged the terrorists, taking the fight to them overseas, rather than sitting passively at our desks waiting to be shot or bombed or gassed or nuked here in the USA.
No comparison. At all. Period.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Ministry of Presence

I had considered entitling a post "Please Don't Blog About This," to plea with fellow bloggers to delay offering dry, theological sentiment in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, but I know the voice will not be heeded. Blog friend Streak has already addressed the ridiculousness of the media in covering mass tragedies and blathering on and on about, well, nothing.

But Pastor Chris, the Evangelism Coach, expressed my sentiment about this better than I could.
Questions about the sovereignty of God will come. Questions about the character of God will be asked. Question about evil and questions about human responsibility will be examined.

But now is not the time for theological discourse.

We have theolgoical answers. Scripture informs us, teaches us, and guides us. But it's not the time for logical and dry explanations.

People hurt.

It’s time for compassion and a ministry of presence.
Thanks, Chris.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Note on the Sovereignty of God

I have been preaching revival at a small church this week. My profile says that the church I pastor is on the backside of nowhere. This little church, that averages about forty, is on the backside of the backside of nowhere.

Tonight after the service I had the opportunity to talk to a young man in the army, about my age, who will be deploying back to Iraq for a second tour in about a month. He has already spent eight months and will spend about that long again. I told him that my brother was doing advanced training and would soon be at Fort Hood in Texas (he is on leave for two weeks and at home right now). This sergeant said, "Really?"

I responded, "Yes sir."

"Get me all his information. When he deploys, which is highly likely, he will be in my division. I'll look out for him."

From his tone, the way he was holding his sleeping son, the way he gripped his wife's hand, told me that he was as serious as a heart attack. He wasn't just saying it to make conversation and then told me the best way to contact him. I nearly broke down and wept. I am about to now. Imagine that; I'm a little country preacher preaching a revival at a little insignificant church that no one on earth knows about but this little handful of saints. And my brother will be deployed in the same division as this man. Only God works out things like this.

And the even more amazing thing about it is he promised it after he heard me preach! ;)

VA Tech Tragedy--Update

Please remember to pray for the families of the ones who died yesterday in the tragic deaths of 33 students at Virginia Tech. The convocation today has been moved from the originally scheduled 12:00 to 2:00 this afternoon.

Many remain in area hospitals in critical condition and Tech administration is in the process of contacting next of kin.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:25-26

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shootings Update

From WaPo:

Thirty-two people reportedly were killed and more than two dozen injured during a shooting rampage this morning at Virginia Tech, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, law enforcement sources said this afternoon.

The unidentified shooter was among the dead, according to officials, at West Ambler Johnston, a dormitory, and Norris Hall, which houses the College of Engineering. Authorities said the first shooting was reported shortly after 7 a.m. at the dorm and the second about two hours later at Norris Hall. Law enforcement sources said a single shooter was responsible for both incidents.

Several area hospitals are caring for the injured and some are in surgery. A convocation is scheduled at noon tomorrow so the campus can begin healing. Continue to pray...

Virginia Tech Shootings

Some things strike too close to home. Please keep this situation in your thoughts and prayers. Think of the families affected and that God might redeem this for His glory. From CNN:
A lone gunman is dead after police said he killed at least 21 people Monday during twin shootings on the Virginia Tech campus -- the worst school shooting incident in U.S. history.

"Some victims were shot in a classroom," university police Chief Wendell Flinchum said during a news conference in Blacksburg.

Police believe there was only one gunman, Flinchum said.

"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," said university President Charles Steger. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."

The the shootings mark the deadliest school shooting incident in U.S. history, topping an incident at Columbine High School in 1999 and an incident at the University of Texas in 1966.

The Associated Press quoted officials saying more than 20 were wounded. A hospital spokeswoman told AP that 17 Virginia Tech students were being treated for gunshot wounds and other injuries.

Having just checked in with the local news, the number dead is up to 22. There were also shootings in dormitories as well as other classrooms.

What is this world coming to?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tooling Around the Web...

...and found some of these articles; hope you find them as interesting as I did. I have a few posts swirling around in my head and will get those out fairly soon. Until then, hope these will satiate the appetite.

Chuck Baldwin knocks one into the cheap seats with this commentary on Duped Christians.
By simply claiming to be "Christians," today's politicians are making dupes out of multitudes of believers. They are trusted and revered in much the same way a faithful and beloved pastor would be trusted and revered. No! They are trusted and revered MORE than are their pastors.

Pastors would not be able to get by with the lying, deceit, and dishonesty that politicians routinely get by with. Many believers give politicians much more honor than they give to their pastors. How foolish!

By nature, most politicians are self-serving opportunists who cannot see past the next election. In fact, many (if not most) of them are downright dishonest. After all, only a dishonest man could raise his hand and take an oath to support and defend the Constitution and then proceed to ignore and violate it without so much as an afterthought.
In this case I see Chuck as absolutely correct. Somehow, right wing politicians, using God-speak and hymn snippets have deceitfully won the hearts of many conservatives but are simply broadening their power bases. (HT: Dave Black)


Once again, Dan Edelen jars us from our materialistic slumber to bring to our attention 21st century indentured servants via, of all things, kids' meal toys and how they come into being. How ought the church to respond to this horrid social injustice?
At one time, middle-class Americans made those toys. Now they’re made by very young adults (and in most cases, children, as some estimates say up to 250 million children between five and fourteen-years-old slave away) in factories in countries many Americans can’t find on a map. The factory owners house them in barracks where they sleep head to toe. They work twelve to sixteen hour days, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and even on their limited breaks are typically not allowed to venture off the factory property without supervision. In truth, they have nowhere else to go. Worst of all, if we found the kind of coinage lying on the street that those workers make as their hourly rate, we’d think it not worth the risk to bend over.
Dan reminds us that our excess costs something. It may not be something we can see or even touch, but it costs--and it may be costing a little life that has no hope of a future. Ever. All for a happy meal toy that will bunker our landfills within minutes after purchase.


And this from SBC 2nd VP Wiley Drake is just plain troubling. He has written a letter to Don Imus, after the uproar over his racist remarks, ready to offer absolution to the shock jock.

I certainly do not approve of what you said, and in retrospect it appears that neither do you.

Even though I am not your pastor I would be glad to meet with you and pray with you and witness your confession to God, and help you claim forgiveness, that indeed will be forgotten by God.

2nd VP Drake then cordially invites Mr. Imus to be on his radio show. Somehow this smacks of Jerry Falwell gushing over Newt Gingrich's "confession." Mr. Gingrich admitted to the affair in a two-part interview with Dr. James Dobson, during a “Focus on the Family” broadcast. Falwell said:

I was pleased to hear Mr. Gingrich state: “I’ve gotten on my knees and sought God’s forgiveness.”

He has admitted his moral shortcomings to me, as well, in private conversations. And he has also told me that he has, in recent years, come to grips with his personal failures and sought God’s forgiveness.

I have been very impressed with the spiritual maturity of this man and am convinced that he has been honest and forthright in clarifying his past failings and his quest, as a Christian, for God’s forgiveness.

It is just as Mr. Baldwin stated above...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm Back!

A partial blog fast is exactly what the Great Physician ordered. I had been needing one for some time, having seriously lost my perspective in blogging and particularly commenting. My desire is to edify my Lord in this enterprise and not my ego, so with your help, readers, I will do that.

My blog fast concluded yesterday with a wonderful meeting with an old friend--at least an old friend by blogging standards. One of the first bloggers I met out here was Steve Sensenig. Steve actually proposed the meeting, and honestly I felt kind of like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail.


Having been blogging together now for quite some time, exchanging some high-spirited comments in the threads, we decided it was high time to talk face-to-face. And where do all good bloggers meet? Starbucks! The white chocolate mocha decaf was outstanding. After evaluating the streets and trips CD, we decided Greensboro was about half-way for both of us, and unlike Halifax County, which has NO Starbucks, :( Greensboro has three (so unfair), so then the real problem was deciding which one.

I found Steve to be just as he is in the threads; kind, generous, affable, and one of the most grace-seasoned men I have met. After having talked for over two hours, unfortunately I had to go. My wife had a homeschool moms' meeting to go to, so I had to be back. We probably would have talked until nightfall, or at least I would have, if Steve would have been willing to listen.

I am so thankful for all the friends I have met out here in the blogosphere, each one of you. Thank you for your reading and commenting here. Though Steve and I have some obvious points of disagreement, we agree more than we disagree. Well, that isn't an accurate statement. As he said, we are on the same team, partners in the glorious Gospel. Our passions are the same, that all people everywhere come to know the Lord and that the church come to her full maturity. That is more accurate. It is the risen Christ that unites us!

Well, two bloggers down, several more to go. Two weeks ago, I had the blessed privilege of meeting Les Puryear and I do hope that I get to meet some of you other bloggers and commenters this side of eternity.

Steve, thanks for taking the time to come out and for us to sit and chat. I was blessed by our interaction and look forward now more than ever to our interaction in blogging, now that I know not just you, but your heart.

God bless each one of you!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Partial Blog Fast...

Maybe some of you have noticed (or maybe you haven't, I don't know) that I have not participated as much in the blogosphere lately. My posting has been sparse and I have not commented on many of the blogs I regularly participate in. I found it necessary to drop out for a brief time to pray, regain perspective, and reevaluate. I should be back at it soon, but until then, when you think about the "rambling prophet," ask God to help me regain my sense of purpose in blogging and commenting.

Much love and prayers.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Revival with Dave Black

This week our church has been blessed to have Dr. David Black with us for revival services. Dave was my professor of New Testament Greek while in seminary and I am still deeply indebted to him for the impact he had on me my first two semesters (even though some of those quizzes were horrible). One of the things I appreciated about Brother Dave was his ability to close that professor-student gap. There is a presupposed distance between professor and student but Dave works really hard to bridge that gap so students feel more at ease with a difficult subject, which he teaches with ease. He has even preached this week from his Greek New Testament (yes, Dr. Black, if you're reading, I noticed!).

It has been very difficult, however, not to think that at the end of services this week I am going to be receiving a grade...

Nevertheless, we have had a blessed week of teaching and worship among the body of Christ at our little church on the backside of nowhere. Sunday night, Dave taught on Jesus' missionary method from Matthew 9:35. Though it was not his primary point and was not intended to be, I could not help but think of how we have made the missionary endeavor too difficult for those called of God to go.

The simplicity of Jesus' missionary method overwhelmed me. I do not discount the necessity of our missionary sending organizations, funding programs, or the hoops we make a lot of would-be missionaries jump through, but I wonder if they are counter-productive to kingdom growth.

Monday evening was an intensely evangelistic message based on the genealogy of Christ from Matthew 1:3-6; the Gospel According to Four Women. That pricked some ears! Jewish genealogies are by their nature patriarchal, so the inclusion of four women in the genealogy of Christ must be significant.

Tuesday evening we heard primarily from Becky Lynn Black, Brother Dave's, lovely wife. She shared about their missionary experiences in Ethiopia, which regular readers of Dave's website will know that that is where their hearts are. We have received a love offering each night and 100% of it goes to the Blacks' work there. If you are interested in supporting the Blacks' work halfway across the world, I would encourage you to visit their website.

Tonight will prove to be a heart-stopper, I'm sure. Dave will be sharing from his book, The Myth of Adolescence. The church as well as parents have abdicated their roles and responsibilities of raising up godly kids and Dave is going to help the church understand this terrible problem tonight. I plan on blogging more about that later.

Meanwhile, may God bless us as we seek to do his will.

P.S. If you follow the link to Dave's site and go to his blog, there is a picture of my family. The girls are beautiful, but I cannot vouch for the short, ugly fellow on the right.