Saturday, November 14, 2009

Faith Based In Fact

Just got back from an all night moving pizza and activities party. Bowling, swimming, Hockey Game and Ice Skating. None of those in the same place. The event was sponsored by Word Of Life Ministries.
We took the usual youth group, most of the kids are already saved but we usually get one or two who are not. Well there was a new kid and he was one of the "nots" The evening starts with about a thousand kids at a farm team hockey game where we all cheer for the fights and ignore the game. That's followed by prizes being thrown to the kids and then an evangelist. It's a bit odd to have the evangelist on ice at the arena where we were just yelling for the fights to continue. I guess it's kind of like the Roman coliseum. That's scary...
Tonight the evangelist took the aspect of salvation related to your eternal home, heaven or hell. It was a good basic message based on the wages of my sin being death and that being paid for by God through Christ. He gave an alter call and then a few more, a little bit of a hard sell on getting out of your seat. It was not overdone, some kids just need time and encouragement to quit worrying about what everyone else thinks and just go do it. Well "New Kid" ,here to fore know as NK, didn't get up and go do it, and that's perfectly fine.

I was listening to him in the car on the way to the event and I knew he was a thinker and was interested in world events. He seemed like a pretty good kid. On the ride to the next venue the saved kid who brought him asked him about the altar call. He has already let on that he was nervous about the whole thing and felt like he was the only one in the arena who didn't believe in God. Well because of the subject of the speaker's message the conversation was about getting to heaven. NK didn't see much value in getting oneself to heaven, he kept saying, "I just want to help people and that should be good enough." I was driving and my mind was racing through all the things I'd like to engage him on. I didn't want to team up on him though and was praying for time later to speak to him. As it turned out, I didn't have to team up on him, the other kids took care of that. I finally had to step in just before we got to our stop and let the pressure off. NK, you don't have to make a decision tonight. It's ok. You are a thinker and you don't see the logic in this act of placing faith in an unseen God. I can tell you that if you really follow the logic you will be left with only one true conclusion. There is one God who is Loving ,Compassionate and Just and has taken it upon Himself to do something about our sin problem. The fact is that He is the only one who could do something about it. All other beliefs have a god who is either angry at us or disinterested and must be made aware of our plight and appeased if he is to become involved.
This the the result of the human condition of sin, we know we have sinned and fallen short of perfection and yet we have an inner desire to be "perfect" Try explaining that Mr. Darwin. the bible explains it that God has put His law in each of our hearts. No human has ever conceived on his own of a God who is actively and personally engaged in the daily lives of His creation. Who would even think of that? That's why no other religion has that God. Judeo Christianity is unique because it is God breathed, not man condeived.

I later explained to NK why we teamed up on him:
The most exciting and fulfilling thing for a Christian is to see someone else come to the understanding that we have and know the peace we know. That is why we do what we do and what these type of events are all about.

Andy A.K.A Any D. Yo Yo Yo!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What You Think, Aint Always What Is

I have noticed a trend among our youth that bothers me.

Whenever they encounter something they dislike or like strongly they don't say I like that or I dislike that. It is most often stated as "They stink." or "That is the worst music I have ever heard." It's not so bad when it is stated in the positive but the problem still exists.

Here's what I mean.

The statement is made as though they are the arbiter of what is good or evil. As though what they have said is true in spite of what can be proved objectively. My son has said that a particular band is the "Worst band ever!" and he wasn' t talking about Meat Loaf. I pointed out to him that this particular band is a very popular group and makes a lot of money doing what they do. I don't think he understood my point, which is precisely the problem.

Our culture is losing the ability to discern their enviroment from a point of view outside their own experience. Most adults 35 plus grew up in a culture where we understood that there is a wide world beyond our sphere of influence. Furthermore there is a Supreme and Holy God who is apart from our universe because He created it. Though He is intimately involved in our daily existence. When we have this broader understanding of the universe at large we understand the limitations of our influence over it.
This has two primary effects:
1. We realize more readily our need for God because it is after all HIS universe, we are just using it for a while.
2. We more readily understand the limits of our opinions. The universe is just too big for our opinion to matter that much. It is pretty much just for us and our immediate surroundings.

The new generation is in a paradox. They live in a world which is shrinking because of the ease of communications across the planet. They assume that since they can communicate with the whole globe that the globe somehow cares what they have to say. Therefore they state their opinions in the public forum and believe they are being understood and accepted by millions.
It seems at first that this makes their understanding broader than the old generation because it is global. Notice however that I made the point that the Older Generation has a Universal point of view. The new generation has only a global point of view. Universes are much larger than globes. The Global point of view doesn't necessarily include God. Since, after all, their opinions have global impact, who needs God anyhow? They have fame and thousands of "friends" everyone hangs on my every word, don't they?

Don't think for a second that the irony of my writing my opinions out in this blog has escaped me. I know that I am only writing to 3 to 5 people. I am here for my own peace of mind. Read my earliest blogs to see what my purpose is.

I have pointed out a problem but I don't have a solution. I will continue to try to explain my point of view to my own kids while I still can. I hope they understand. I guess it's just something to keep in mind when dealing with the Younger Generations.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The end of the world as I know it.
I haven't written for a while, it's been a strange summer. I have been tempted to write a few times but I was too politically charged up. I don't want to become a raving political hack here. I want this place to be about life and values.

Politics, government and business are all a part of our daily life We take for granted that certain institutions will always be there. Our lives are affected by business cycles and actions of government but usually in an indirect sort of way. Things always seem like they are going to affect our neighbors or the community but nothing drastic really ever happens. A company goes out of business but another one replaces it, jobs are lost and regained, sometimes in another city, but in all for most of us in America the world is pretty stable. However when those institutions start to fail and Government is actively taking over where other private enterprises used to move in. And laws are being written and voted on without being read or seriously debated, I am afraid life and values are going to suffer greatly.

I usually try to find the motivation behind actions. It helps me understand the actor and what to expect next. It's easy to understand the motivation of the elected officials. They are self serving in their search for more power. They can be expected to vote for what benefits them personally and to carefully explain to their constituency how it is all going to benefit them in the end. We are going to get more jobs and more sunshine and more lollipops because of the heroic action of our wonderful representative. Senator Carnahan of Missouri was recently laughed out of a town hall meeting for trying to explain to his constituents that this Health Care bill will result in the saving of billions of dollars. The people will only stand still for so much bovine excrement.

Therefore the question is what motivates the people to allow this sort of bad government to continue? Part of the answer lies in the fact that in an orderly society we give the benefit of the doubt until we hear all the facts. I think Government has taken advantage of this fact for a long time now. When someone takes office they get all the nasty stuff through first and then during the second half of their term they work on making nice with everyone. We tend to forget by the time we can take action to vote them out.

I think the other part of the answer is that we just don't believe that an elected official would do anything to harm America. During the campaigns I had liberal friends who couldn't wait for Obama to be elected. All kinds of good stuff was going to happen.
Several of those friends work in health care. They presumed that all the problems they dealt with every day would be finally dealt with once the industry was nationalized. The problem is that candidate Obama said nothing specific about how he was going to change the system. I can only assume these friends just thought he was going to do what they knew needed to be done.
One friend who thinks the war in Iraq was the worst travesty in American history lamented that even though Obama said he would end the war, he wasn't really going to do it.
Then why vote for him? It is turning out that the things Obama is accomplishing are things he mentioned only rarely on the campaign trail. they were things that didn't seem to fit the broad generalizations he made so often. He didn't keep saying them so we sort of just let those things go. Changes to Military Defense systems and "Spreading the wealth" code word for government will take your money and give it to soemone else. And energy, he said only one time that his proposals for a green economy would "necessarily cause electricity rates to skyrocket"

I don't have time here to go into all the details. I strongly advise visiting Glenn Beck's website to get more details. I think Glenn is the most believable of all the radio guys in Pittsburgh. Mostly because he comes to it from a more personal "Daily Experience" focused point of view. PLUS: I think he's the funniest of the top three.

I feel like I have lost my point somewhere. Here it is: We are the last truly free nation of the face of the globe. We have given up a lot of our freedoms already, bit by bit. Now there is a Globalist agenda residing in Washington that is seeking to change our great nation fundamentally and permanently. We have the responsibility of not letting that happen. We have the power to stop it but it requires diligence and ACTION. I am asking all of you, or maybe both of you. Get informed and get involved in the process.

I have now become a political hack. I am sorry, but I think he had to be done.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

This line from the old Monty Python's Flying Circus reminds me to always expect the unexpected. In my daily search for wisdom I often find my complacency blocking my path. God has a way of shining a bright light on my lack of vigilance. Today the light comes in the form of my daughter Lindsey being in the hospital. She had a headache last Sunday and almost stayed home from church. She went to church with us and practiced to sing but didn't feel well enough to sing for worship and went to the restroom because she was ill. We went looking for her about a half hour later and she was on the floor in the restroom passed out. It is now one week later and she is still in the hospital. Viral Encephalitis is the diagnosis and we will be dealing with the effects of this for at least the next six months. Lindsey's summer missionary plans have been put on hold and her school work will be averaged and she won't have to take finals. It does not appear at this point that she has any lasting brain damage but that still remains to be seen.

The old adage, "Man plans his steps but God directs his path." comes to mind. The outlook for the summer changed dramatically last Sunday. I am tempted to ask God why. She had plans to serve Him as a summer missionary, why would He allow this to happen? I know that the answer is that I will probably never know all of the ramifications of this episode. God knows them and it's good to have opportunity to let God be God. Let Him direct our path and not get in the way. Roman's 8:28-30 reminds me that ALL things are for good to those who love God and are called to His purposes. Lindsey is called and she loves Him, now we just have to see the working out part

No one expects the downhill sides of the mountaintop. I know it is a necessary part of the mountain to have hills on either side. One day in the New Jerusalem we will be on the mountaintop to stay. For now we need the perspective that the sides give to the mountain. This could have been much worse. She may have chosen to stay home and would have been there without care for another hour or two. We may have chosen to not take her to the hospital because we didn't realize she had experienced a seizure. The doctors may have misdiagnosed the symptoms and delayed the correct treatment and more of the brain may have been involved. God is good and merciful. There are many facets to this current condition. It looks dark now but maybe that's just because the light is being re-focused elsewhere.

Right now, I am going for the Comfy Chair torture, maybe a pillow with all the stuffing up in the one end... Cardinal Fang doesn't scare me.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Have I Been Missing?

Throughout my christian life I have been living under a wrong assumption. I've had the idea that by not sinning I have missed out on something. The truth is that I have been missing out on something God had for me because I was sinning.

I believe I am not alone in this assumption.

I can easily envision the cause and effect of my sins of gluttony and verbal abuse through sarcasm and imagine what I would be like if I weren’t so.
I could put Barnabas to shame if I just thought of good things to say instead of sarcastic things to say. This is going to require massive re-training.

The basic question of all of these thoughts is this. What have I missed by sinning? Man's heart is desperately wicked and who can know it? My first choice in most of the forks in life's road is usually sinful. Unless I stop to take every thought captive and really consider my motivations I will take the easy road to sin. In taking the first option or the easy way all the time I have consistently chosen curtain number one and never looked at what was behind curtain number two, God’s curtain. What has He had in store for me if I had gone there?

In training up our youth I feel like I have to entice them to do good because evil tastes so sweet. We tend to try to sweeten the good with pizza and candy and it only defiles it. I need to show the good as good as it is, really. Even now I am suspicious of myself, what does goodness have to offer? Has anything good come out of Galilee?

The rewards of goodness are rarely immediately gratifying. Just like a meal from a crock pot or slow roasted meat has a depth of flavor. It takes time to develop the flavors of goodness. You can't experience the fruits of a long and happy life in a weekend! you can however suffer the consequences of unrighteous decisions only minutes after making them. In short, righteousness is it's own reward and it comes with a menu of complimentary sides that have lasting value.
Take the time to seek out the righteous options and goodness will follow.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Working out my faith.

I've been mulling over this whole issue of faith. I have always struggled personally with the question:
"At what point do I stop living in my own strength and start living in the strength of Christ? Do the two modes blend seamlessly or is there a point where I break from me and lean on Him? How do I know when I am acting in faith or in my own strength?"
The fact that I have this question probably indicates that I am not relying on His strength very much or it would either not matter or not have the question. But then if I weren't the type of guy that strains at gnats I probably wouldn't be writing this blog. But, that said, I am sure I am not the only one who has thought about this.

I said in my previous post "Peace! Peace!" that faith is like two sides of a coin, it must be focused on something worthy of faith to be effective. I have faith in Christ to save me and to work through me. The second part of the equation is where I am struggling. I again, can mentally aspire to belief that Christ can work through me but how do I know it is happening?

I have sensed a tension in the Church through history about the book of James. The staunch Calvinists would be happy to see it removed from the bible and the staunch Arminians like to set up camp there. James has a definite focus on works and actions of faith. I think I have a new respect for James since I have been working through this.
James 2:14-24 NIV
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"[e] and he was called God's friend.
24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

My strength ends and Christ's begins when I simply do what Jesus commands. As I walk through my daily routines and I see the desperate need of the world I must set aside my selfish motivations and DO what is needed, clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Ah that is wonderful and true but somehow I get lazy and when I don't see any naked, hungry or needy. I think there is nothing to do here and I go on my selfish way. When I am faced with no overt need I must be diligent to look inside myself and find areas where I have not surrendered to Christ. So my original question of when does my strength end and His begin is simple. Jesus' strength should be always on and ready in a moment.
James goes on to the next step of fighting the internal fight in Chapter 3. He points out the need for the taming of the tongue and living in humility.

3: 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

This is especially difficult at home, and therefore especially important. If I am one way at church and another at home I am the worst kind of hypocrite. It is difficult at home because I excuse myself and say, "I need a place where I can let my hair down and not have to fight the good fight, just relax." I am thinking now that I have put the cart before the horse. If I can't live out my faith in the toughest field of battle, at home where everyone knows my faults, how effective can I be outside. I am pierced and convicted! I have not been very good at applying my faith at home up to now. If anyone reads this please pray for me and ask me how I am doing. Thank you.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Peace! Peace!

In preparation for a recent study I got to thinking about peace. There are a lot of ways to look at peace and I am sure many people define it differently than I do. Being a Christian I generally look at issues from the World point of view and compare it to the Biblical point of view.

I believe the world looks at peace largely as the absence of war or conflict whether that is on individual or global scale. The biblical view of peace has more to do with being secure in whatever circumstances you find yourself. I haven't found a global view of peace in the bible other than the condition that exists in heaven or New Jerusalem. Other than that it is alomst entirely an individual experience.

On September 30 1938 Neville Chamberlain came out of the Munich Agreement and announced "Peace for our time." after he and others arranged to give Germany part of Czecoslovakia so that they could expand. The world, or at least many of the leaders, thought they had accomplished peace for the world. Within a year, Hitler invaded Poland and started his march to rule the world. As long as I have lived I have heard that there is a cease fire in the Mid-East and we are finally on the road to peace and on occasions too many to count the cease fire always ends in war. Clearly I can find no reason to believe that governments and world leaders are ever going to be able to accomplish peace. At best they appease which usually gives time to the aggressor to amass power and arms.

The Christian view of peace is very attainable. Faith in God and humble reliance on Him provides a haven of peace in whatever situation. In Acts 7:55-8:2 Stephen was at peace as he was assailed by the sanhedrin with stones. As he died, "went to sleep" he saw God and Jesus welcoming him into heaven. Sweet! What a way to go. What could they do to hurt him? He was in the presence of God. His peace was the result of reliance upn God, not himself. If he were relying on himself, and he was about to die, he would not have had peace. If he had been relying on the church to save him, his confidence would have diminished with every moment they didn't come for him.
His being in the presence of God brings up another point. We often worry about our own lack of faith. Faith, like a coin has two sides. It does not exist n a vacuum. It must be focused on something. I believe we feel we lack enough faith for a task but what is acutally happening is that we have not spent enough time meditating upon who our faith rests.
Here's what I mean;
If I have faith that my neighbor could fly through the air like Superman, and I really believed it and trusted in him to do it. I might have a lot of faith for him to do that. But it doesn't matter how much faith anyone has in him. He can't fly like Superman.
If on the other hand I believe that God can save every person on an airliner that has both engines out. I may have only a little faith in that because most of the time when an airplane loses both engines everyone dies. But my little faith is in a really big God, He is able to do all things, and make it look easy. His potential is infinite, therefore my faith is only relevant in what I will ask Him to do. The power and potential is His and it's infinite. I have not because I ask not. I ask not because my faith is shriveled and weak and small.
If I meditate on God's attributes and really study Him, my faith will expand as I realize He is waiting for me, one who is made in His image and called by Him, to get involved in the world around me in His name.

How does this all come under the heading of peace? You may have missed it, but peace really winds up being freedom from fear. Stephen had no fear, he saw where he was going, Daniel in the lion's den quickly realized the angel had shut the mouths of the lions, they could not touch him, he was safe and at peace.
If I rely on the infinite holy God of the universe and I am doing His will I have no reason to fear, so I have peace. If I rely on this world's leaders to bring peace to this world, I have reason to fear indeed.
No Jesus, no peace: Know Jesus, know peace.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Help! Cecil Help!

I think I have noticed a shift in the way America solves problems. With the recent elections of 06 and 08 it seems like we are looking for a superman to solve out problems. President Obama came on the scene as a "blank slate" upon which Americans could write their hopes and dreams.
We are looking for a really smart person to save us from ourselves.
I hope we all know that no one of us or even a group of us is as smart as all of us. However the right person in the right place could make an error that could destroy all of us. This idea that a strong man/woman needs to save us leads straight to totalitarianism. This nation was based on self rule. Every original ammendment to the constitution is about limiting big government. The founders were really smart guys who were smart enough to not base the government on smart people. I think we should keep it that way.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Andy's Law Of Special Relativity

I have found a condition of special relativity regarding women and large retail areas such as malls and department stores. For some reason that I have not yet discovered, the space-time continuum becomes warped when women are shopping.

I have observed this on every occasion where I was at a retail outlet with a woman. It appears that as long as the woman is in sight the warping does not occur. As soon as she is out of sight she could be anywhere inside the complex at any time. In order for this to happen she must actually not be constrained by Space-Time as we understand it, thus the Special Relativity.

My theory is that as soon as the mall is entered the woman immediately fills the entire space with her presence. As long as eye contact is maintained it is as though you have a thread attached to the person. As soon as eye contact is broken, so is the thread, and she may have transported to any place within the structure.

This is new science and so I have not yet discovered how to control it. I suspect this phenomenon could be used in space travel but any destination planet must have a shopping outlet. I am also certain this can be used in the fight against global warming as the science for this theory is every bit as provable as the science of global warming. And I am sure I have consensus among all men.

In order for me to continue in my research I obviously need funding for shopping trips. Feel free to mail checks at any time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Truth... What is truth?

I've been stewing over the concept of truth lately and I can't seem to get my arms around it. Every time I get a part of it the sheer size of the subject makes me go wobbly. I have been listening to Flyleaf a lot in the car lately and there is a song named "Red Sam" that has as part of the chorus, "You are the Truth."

There you stood Holding me Waiting for me to notice you But who are you You are the truth (you are the truth)Outscreaming these lies You are the truth (you are the truth)Saving my life

It occurred to me that Pilate's question, "What is truth" was asked in a very narrow, and soon ending, sliver of time when the Truth was a person in flesh. If he had ralized this would he have acted differently? I think our culture has so corrupted any solid concept of good and evil and right and wrong, just as Rome had, that we would not recognize the Truth if he stood before us.
I personally am so cynical that I don't trust truthfulness when I see it. My first thought when I am faced with genuine honesty is that there must be something wrong with this picture. I have to be convinced that it is truth. I don't think I ought to be this way. I am not saying I should be gullible. I am saying I would rather be gullible than to wrongly distrust truthfulness when I am faced with it.
I am still working on this thought but it is too late at night to give it it's proper treatment.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why I'm Doing This

My family is heavily into Facebook but for some reason I am not drawn there. I don't have pictures of myself to show, not that anyone would want to see them, and I didn't go to college long enough to have hordes of people I could keep in touch with.
So I decided to start a blog in order to have a place to put my thoughts out there. It's also helpful to be able to access this place from anywhere so no matter what computer I am in front of I can write out what I have been mulling over. I don't intend to post every day, just when I feel i have something to say.
This is a tow way street as well. Feel free to comment on anything I put out there. I am interested in hearing from you.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kharma over here

I read a bumper sticker that said, "My kharma ran over your dogma." Presumably this person has an eastern outlook on spirituality. In my experience this person also either has had a bad experience with Christianity or never really understood it.
The idea that their mass of good works has created a universal backwash of good tidings for themselves and has in turn overrun the dead teachings of the Church probably makes one feel a little better about themselves. What they don't realize is that the true Church isn't based in dogma but in doctrine.
Dogma is a littany of things you do and believe just because. It is a holy "Because I said so!" doctrine on the other hand is a beautifully crafted and perfectly functioning system of beliefs based in fact. It is the Bugatti Veyron on the highway of life. I can ony guess that kharma is a Toyota Prius, maybe a Kharmann Ghia. There, that makes me feel a a little better about myself.

See the Bugatti Veyron video here

January 8, 2008

Recently in a discussion with teens. Someone said "I don't think God expects us to worship him, just acknowledge that He is there."
It got me to thinking. What is the difference between God commanding and or expecting us to worship Him and another person expecting to be praised or worshipped. Why is it arrogant for a person but not for God? And, how do I explain this to a teenager who does not really spend a lot of time getting to know God.
I don't think it is difficult to explain to a teen that God is worthy of praise and other humans are not. The hard part was explaining why it wasn't arrogant for God to command us to worship Him. I know for me this means I have to be able to explain it in a simple metaphor or parable.
I played bible roulette and it opened to John 5:19. As I read on it struck me how much Jesus said I am only doing what the Father wants me to do. It was His purpose for His time here. Then I prayed and the answer came to me immediately as though He whispered it in my ear.
We were made to worship Him! It is our purpose.
If I were to create something, like say a rubber ball, and after creating it I tried to bounce it and it did not bounce, I would have every reason to destroy that ball. I created it out of bouncy material, I shaped it like a ball, and for some reason it refuses to bounce. It has some sort of free will that makes it choose not to be bouncy. I would not be arrogant at all to expect this thing to bounce. It is what it was made for.
On the other hand, if the ball did bounce and then expected me to be amazed at it, or give it some reward for bouncing it would be foolish. It is only doing what I created it to do. I would be satisfied with it bouncing and I would be happy with it but I wouldn't praise it for being bouncy... I did that part.
God created us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. (Westminster Shorter Catechism) It is our purpose. As I read my bible it is what we will be about in heaven. If that's not what I'm about, I won't like heaven, as a matter of fact it might be like hell to me.