Monday, January 31, 2005

Sosa Leaves the Cubs

Over the weekend came the news Cubs fans had been waiting to hear: Sammy Sosa has been traded. He'll go to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for second baseman Jerry Hairston, Jr.

Actually, what the Cubs get in return is not as important as the fact that Sosa is gone. Although he had been an potent offensive force with his home run hitting throughout his stay in Chicago, his declining production along with his other antics were starting to wear thin on the Northsiders. His first inning walkout during last season's finale was the final straw.

As a Cubs fan, I'm glad to see he's gone. I wish him well in Baltimore. Although he had been an integral part of the Cubs success over the last few years it is clear that it was time for him to go. I don't know that I have ever seen a team so anxious to get rid of a player as the Cubs have been this winter. I believe they'll be a much better team without him.

The Cub Reporter has more thoughts from other pundits on the trade.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iraqi Elections A Success

From The White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Today the people of Iraq have spoken to the world, and the world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East.

In great numbers, and under great risk, Iraqis have shown their commitment to democracy. By participating in free elections, the Iraqi people have firmly rejected the anti-democratic ideology of the terrorists. They have refused to be intimidated by thugs and assassins. And they have demonstrated the kind of courage that is always the foundation of self-government.

Some Iraqis were killed while exercising their rights as citizens. We also mourn the American and British military personnel who lost their lives today. Their sacrifices were made in a vital cause of freedom, peace in a troubled region, and a more secure future for us all.

The Iraqi people, themselves, made this election a resounding success. Brave patriots stepped forward as candidates. Many citizens volunteered as poll workers. More than 100,000 Iraqi security force personnel guarded polling places and conducted operations against terrorist groups. One news account told of a voter who had lost a leg in a terror attack last year, and went to the polls today, despite threats of violence. He said, "I would have crawled here if I had to. I don't want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me. Today I am voting for peace."

Across Iraq today, men and women have taken rightful control of their country's destiny, and they have chosen a future of freedom and peace. In this process, Iraqis have had many friends at their side. The European Union and the United Nations gave important assistance in the election process. The American military and our diplomats, working with our coalition partners, have been skilled and relentless, and their sacrifices have helped to bring Iraqis to this day. The people of the United States have been patient and resolute, even in difficult days.
The commitment to a free Iraq now goes forward. This historic election begins the process of drafting and ratifying a new constitution, which will be the basis of a fully democratic Iraqi government. Terrorists and insurgents will continue to wage their war against democracy, and we will support the Iraqi people in their fight against them. We will continue training Iraqi security forces so this rising democracy can eventually take responsibility for its own security.

There's more distance to travel on the road to democracy. Yet Iraqis are proving they're equal to the challenge. On behalf of the American people, I congratulate the people of Iraq on this great and historic achievement.

Thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Scrappleface skewers the MSM over their election coverage.

And Kevin McCullough has a great photo montage of Iraqi voting. (Hat tip: Captain's Quarters)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

So Now We're "Theocons"

At least that is the message in this article from The Sunday Times of London documenting the ongoing effort to have Intelligent Design taught alongside evolution in public schools. (Hat tip: Free Republic)

I suppose it's better to be called a theocon than a crackpot.

Dr. Dobson Sets the Record Straight on Spongebob

Dr. James Dobson, who has been the focus of criticism because of his remarks about a pro-tolerance video that is being produced for children that includes SpongeBob Squarepants along with a number of other cartoon characters. He sets the record straight on the controversy in this newsletter.

As Dr. Dobson clearly explains, his issue with the video is not the message of the video itself or any of the specific cartoon characters invovled but rather the agenda of the group producing the video. Of course, the media has distored the story to try to portray Dr. Dobson and other conservative christians as intolerant.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

What's up with the Godblogs?

At least that's the question being posed by Proverbial Wife who has some thoughts on what's been happening in the evangelical corner of the blogosphere. I'm looking forward to seeing what she has to offer on once she has it up and running.

Hat tip: Evangelical Outpost

1st Annual Evangelical Blog Awards

Evangelical Underground is sponsoring the 1st Annual Evangelical Blog Awards. Nominations are being accepted in a number of categories through February 14th. Stop by and nominate your favorite blog. (Hat tip: LaShawn Barber)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Vox Blogoli 2005

The first Vox Blogoli of 2005 hosted by Hugh Hewitt deals with the following comment in this column by Jonathan Rauch in The New Atlantic (subscription required):

“On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.”

This comment reflects the prevalent attitude towards Christians among the Left. Rauch's characterization of religious conservatives as the equivalent of terrorists is disgusting. It amazes me that a comparison such as this is allowed a free pass by the media or that a responsible, self-respecting media outlet would allow such outrageous statements to be published. Certainly if a conservative writer would to publish an equally egregious remark about the Left the mainstream media wouldn't hesitate to call for the writer's head on a platter.

The Left would do well to follow Habit #5 of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits for Highly Successful People: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. The Left does not understand religious conservatives. They do not understand why anyone would oppose things such as abortion on demand, gay marriage, tolerance education, or any of the other positions the Left holds dear. Rather than seeking to understand conservatives and particularly Christians, they prefer to mock them and attempt to marginalize them by characterizing them as crackpots.

UPDATE: Hugh has posted a response from Rauch regarding this paragraph as well as the entire article. Rauch's quick response confirms Hugh's thesis in today's Weekly Standard column on how the blogosphere is changing the flow of information.

I give Rauch credit for being to willing to admit his mistake in how he wrote the article. I'm still a little baffled as to how it got past his editors. Perhaps this says something about The Atlantic's own biases?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Goodnight, Johnny

There have been many wonderful tributes written the last couple of days to Johnny Carson who passed away this weekend at age 79. He was by far one of the funniest and classiest comedians who ever lived.

Raymond Siller, who was a writer for The Tonight Show for 15 years, offers wonderful insights on working with Johnny Carson in this article on

Larry Miller offers some amusing reflections on his experiences on The Tonight Show in this article for The Weekly Standard. Johnny Carson will be remembered as giving many a comedian their big break which makes Miller's insights all the more special. (Hat tip: Free Republic)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Be Fools for Christ

U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was in Baton Rouge, LA over the weekend and offered some great advice at a Knights of Columbus gathering: be fools for Christ. Justice Scalia's comments regarding the contempt shown of late towards Christians seem to be particularly timely:

"To believe in traditional Christianity is something else," Scalia said. "For the son of God to be born of a virgin? I mean, really. To believe that he rose from the dead and bodily ascended into heaven? How utterly ridiculous. To believe in miracles? Or that those who obey God will rise from the dead and those who do not will burn in hell?

"God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools ... and he has not been disappointed."

His advice to Christians:

"If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world."

A Blogger Asking for Your Feedback

The Truth Peddler at Spreading Understanding is testing a new blog template and would like feedback. Check out his new site at Freedom Of.....

For what it's worth, I think the new site looks terrific. I wish I could make my site look that good.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Weekend Musings

A few items from some late night blogsurfing:

Hugh Hewitt has some advice for Godbloggers. Needless to say, it's worth reading. Be sure to check out the new 10 Christian Blogs aggregator. I also wish I had read advice like this from Wittenberg Gate before I started blogging three months ago.


This weekend marks the 32nd anniversary of the U. S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade which made abortion legal. I had hoped to write an eloquent post on this subject but Adrian Warnock's post on this subject is much better than anything I could have ever written. LaShawn Barber adds her own thoughts and provides a roundup of other bloggers posting on this issue.

On a personal note, I am adamantly pro-life. I was before I became a father and even more so since I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters. I cannot understand how anyone can believe abortion is a matter of "rights" or "choice".


Tony over at A Red Mind in A Blue State suggests we should repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution that limits a President to two terms in office. I agree the amendment should be repealed, but I disagree that we should allow former presidents to run again. Would we really want Bill Clinton to be elected again?


This has to be the best inauguration photo caption I have seen anywhere.


Here's yet another example of why Christians cannot expect to be represented fairly by the mainstream media (Hat tip: Free Republic).


Finally, a little personal reflection. We spent a good part of the weekend with our daughters watching episodes of the first season of The Andy Griffith Show on DVD. A couple of months ago we disconnected the satellite because we were tired of the garbage that was coming into our house through the TV. Anyway, we had been fortunate enough to receive the Andy Griffith DVD as a Christmas present and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The shows are clean, very funny, and provide great morals. I can't think of a better program for repeated family viewing. It's so refreshing to have something that we can all enjoy as a family.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Friday Quick Takes

Adrian Warnock continues the discussion started by Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost (which I referenced in this post) on building a Christian Blogging Community.


Just how biased is the media? Arthur Chrenkoff tries to answer this question in the context of coverage of the war in Iraq. The statistics are pretty shocking. (Hat tip: Mudville Gazette)


Speaking of media bias, I attempted to watch the Inauguration coverage yesterday on the "Big Three" networks. Boy, do I miss having Fox News. I can only imagine how much worse it would have been to watch if John Kerry had won the election.


Hugh Hewitt offered an Open Memo to Les Moonves in his column for the Weekly Standard. Although it's great advice, I doubt seriously that anyone at CBS is going to listen.


Rusty at New Covenant has an intriguing post entitled "Evangelical Capitalism: How the “bottom-line” determines our action…". He makes some good points on how we measure the "success" of a church. As a church leader, I can confess to falling into the trap of worrying about growing the number of people coming to our church as opposed to deeping their relationship with Christ.

The results of this week's Christian Carnival are up at Sidesspot. There's a great variety of responses that are well worth reading.


Tod Bolsinger has been blogging this week on how the church can do a better job of reaching non-believers. In his post entitled "More Caught Than Taught", Tod suggests that "the best way for someone to become both a belonger and a believer is by first belonging to a community of believers. (Spiritually committed believers.)" I can honestly say that much of my growth as a Christian has come as a result of what I have seen in other committed believers. As a parent, I see the importance of this principle in how I instruct my daughters. It's important that I not only tell them what's right but show it to them as well. They'll learn much more from me from what they "catch" rather than what I "teach". That doesn't mean I don't teach them also, but that I make sure that my actions reflect the values that I am trying to teach them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Breaking Out of the Ghetto

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost has started a conversation on Breaking Out of the Ghetto. The main question he asks is how evangelical blogs can come together to be a greater influence on the blogosphere and by extension, the world at large. He's already taken a good first step by developing "The Church Directory" (the list of evangelical blogs on the right) as a master blogroll of evangelical bloggers.

Razorskiss took this discussion further with a series of posts on networking and traffic management. The latest installment is here.

The point of this whole discussion is to develop ideas about how Christian bloggers can work together to use the new and exciting medium of blogging to spread the Gospel.

Also, on a related note, Tod Bolsinger encourages pastors to start blogging.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Posts Worth Reading

Some interesting stuff from surfing the blogroll this morning:

Lorie Bryd poses an interesting question: Why the Silence? The one group of people that has benefited the most from the liberation efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have arguably been women. Why haven't womens rights groups such as NOW been applauding our efforts in these countries?

James Jewell has an interesting piece on this week's inauguration. As always, his blog is worth reading.

One of the newest additions to my blogroll has been Wittingshire which is run by Jonathan and Amanda Witt. Jonathan is a Senior Fellow and Writer in Residence at the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture. He frequently posts on evolution and Intelligent Design among other subjects. On Sunday, the Albuquerque Journal ran this op-ed that Jonathan wrote about a local PBS affiliate's refusal to run a documentary skeptical of Darwin's theory of evolution.

Tim Challies has another giveaway at his blog. Click here to find out more. When you enter, be sure to use referral ID 21085.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Was God Present When the Tsunami Struck?

That's the question posed by Amanda and Johnathan Witt in this post on their blog Wittingshire:

"It is true that we who are Christ's body bring divine succor to a wounded world.

But we mustn't forget that in bringing healing to the world's wounds, we are somehow tending the wounds of Christ himself--for whatever we do for the least among us, we do for him (Matthew 25:34-46). Mother Teresa of Calcutta took this quite literally. Christ participates in the suffering of the world.

Was God present when the tsunami struck? Yes. He was stricken by it. That is the great mystery of the Incarnation: Our Lord makes himself vulnerable to his creatures and his creation."

Friday, January 14, 2005

Homespun Bloggers Radio and Christian Carnvial

The newest installment of Homespun Bloggers Radio is up and available at this link. To find out more about Homespun Bloggers Radio, you can click on this post to see the description of this week's program. If you would like to find out more about Homespun Bloggers just go to their home page or click on the Homespun Blogger icon in the blogroll to the right.

Also, Mark Sides over at Sidesspot is hosting the next installment of the Christian Carnival. Click here to find out more details about submitting a post for the Carnival.

Some Questions About Blogging

LaShawn Barber is asking for help from her fellow bloggers with a research project she is working on. In her latest post, she asks the following questions. Here are my answers to her questions:

1) How long have you been blogging?
I've been blogging on my own blog for about 3 months. I was contributing to my wife's blog for a month before deciding to start my own.

2) Do you believe you’re addicted to blogging?
There's no doubt it's addictive. I'm still trying to set boundaries on my blogging so that it doesn't interfere with family, work, and other important things.

3) Have you ever taken a hiatus? If so, for what reason and how long?
I did take a brief hiatus around Christmas so that I could spend time with my family and with relatives coming into town.

4) Have you ever thought of giving up your blog? Why or why not?
Every time I run into writer's block (which is fairly often) I consider giving it up. But I'm enjoying it and realize that there may simply be times where there's nothing I need to say.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Anger Management

In the movie Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius one of the obstacles that Bobby Jones must overcome in order to be successful on the golf course is his anger.

When we are first introduced to Bobby Jones as a child he is seen practicing golf shots in his front yard, cussing and throwing clubs after every errant shot. A few minutes later into the movie we discover that he has learned this behavior most notably from his father as well as others that his father plays golf with. Because no one has shown him that his behavior is inappropriate he grows up believing this is the healthy way to deal with frustration in his golf game.

Sometime later he is playing in an exhibition match and out of frustration throws a club over the heads of the gallery. His playing partner gently rebukes him for his behavior but he rationalizes the situation by saying that no one got hurt.

Everyone around him can see that he has a problem with his anger. Yet no one is willing to confront him.

At a U. S. Amateur championship he once again loses his temper and throws a club. However, this time he hits a spectator in the leg. Although the spectator is not seriously hurt, Jones begins to realize that his anger (and his failure to properly deal with it) can have some serious consequences. But it's not until his father finally confronts him (because the USGA threatens to ban him from further competition until he can control his anger) and Jones' career is in jeopardy does he finally face up to his anger problem once and for all and get it under control.

Jones had a problem with anger. He was surrounded by people who cared about him (but it seems about his career more than him as an individual) who were not willing to confront him over his obvious sin. As a result, his friends and family were not helping him. If it hadn't been for his father's intervention, he would have never been able to continue play competitive golf. But if someone, anyone who could see what was happening had intervened earlier then how much more successful could he have been? If only they had followed this simple command:

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Tsunami and God - Part 5

If there is anything good that has come out of the tragedy in Southeast Asia, it is that people are seeking God. I've received a number of hits from people putting "tsunami and God" in their search engines.

It also appears that this will be a topic of conversation (certainly in the blogosphere) for some time to come. I will continue to compile links to other blogs as I come across them. If you have a link that you would like me to post please feel free to e-mail me.

Patrick O'Hannigan at The Paragraph Farmer has an interesting post entitled Reconsidering the Problem of Evil.

NPR took a more ecumenical approach to the problem in this report. However, it's worth listening to since John Piper was asked to give the evangelical point of view. (Hat tip: Between Two Worlds)

Darn Floor has further reflections on the book of Job that provide some keen insight.

Update: The God Blog argues (correctly) that natural disasters are the result of sin. Personal Trainer has some insights from Job. (Hat tip: Intolerant Elle.Com via A Physicist's Perspective)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Book Giveaway

Tim Challies over at is sponsoring a book giveaway. Each month, he will give away two signed copies of a book by a different author. This month he's giving away Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth. To enter this month's giveaway, click here and enter referral ID number 20243. (Hat tip: Evangelical Outpost)

Is Americanism the Successor of Puritanism?

Joe Carter at The Evangelical Outpost has started a symposium asking the question in the title of this post. He specifically refers to this article that appears in Commentary magazine that was written by David Gelernter. The response from bloggers has been amazing and their posts can be found here.

Gelernter's thesis is that while Puritanism was a driving force in the birth of our country and the values that it was founded upon it has over time given way to Americanism which he defines this way:

"By Americanism I do not mean American tastes or style, or American culture—that convenient target of America-haters everywhere. Nor do I mean mere patriotic devotion; many nations command patriotic devotion from their citizens (or used to). By Americanism I mean the set of beliefs that are thought to constitute America’s essence and to set it apart; the beliefs that make Americans positive that their nation is superior to all others—morally superior, closer to God."

He bases this observation on the recent rise in Anti-Americanism which is characterized by the hatred for President George W. Bush, the policies of the American government, and the other "evils" that America embodies.

Certainly an Anti-American sentiment has existed for some time but it is not as widespread as Gelernter would have us believe. In fact, I believe the scope of Anti-Americanism has been blown out of proportion by our mainstream media which has used Anti-Americanism (particularly in Western Europe) as a way to undermine the just cause of the War on Terror.

Gelernter's attempt to show that Anti-Americanism is somehow a backlash against the influence of Puritanism seems to fall short. If anything, liberalism has risen as a response to Puritanism. Indeed, many of the tenets of modern liberalism are in direct opposition to the tenets of Puritanism.

The current tide of Anti-Americanism is more political in nature than it is religious. In some quarters, it is motivated by an offense at the arrogance of America and the way she conducts her affairs in the world. There are some who see us as a big bully that needs to be restrained. Others hate us because they are jealous of the blessings that we enjoy as Americans.

Go read the article as well as the symposium submissions and then judge for yourself.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Hyper-partisanship and the Road to Irrelevance

Mark Daniels made the following comment in response to my post on the Democratic Meltdown earlier this week:

Unfortunately, there are some in the Democratic Party who belong to what might be called the "Oliver Stone-like, don't-confuse-me-with-the-facts Brigade." For them, it is simply an article of faith that there was voter fraud in the last election and nothing can convince them otherwise, not even the nominee of their party in the 2004 election.

Republicans have similarly misguided persons. They so automatically assume the worst about Democrats that they simply cannot discern whether sometimes, to their astonishment, they can also sometimes make sense.

Hyper-partisanship inhibits the capacity of our political process to work and, as Senator Boxer and others demonstrated, sometimes makes its most devoted practitioners look silly.

Mark has hit on exactly what's wrong with our political process today. Both parties spend so much time trying to use their opponents' mistakes for political gain that they end up looking ridiculous. What passes for political debate these days is no more than a glorified shouting match where the only winners are the cable news networks who get big ratings from televising these battles.

A wise pastor once told me to choose carefully the hill you wish to die on. In other words, carefully select your battles. Both Republicans and Democrats would be well served to heed that advice.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Democratic Meltdown

Mommypundit has weighed in on Senator Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) breakdown yesterday on the Senate floor. The full story can be found here.

Just how ridiculous was this whole charade? Consider this quote from Brave Sir Robin (so dubbed by Captain Ed):

"It's not often that I find myself rising in disagreement with (Boxer), but I must today emphatically disagree," said Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn.

"I believe that those involved in this, citizens from around the country with all their good intentions, are seriously misguided and leading us all into a very unfortunate precedent," he said.

Memo to Senator Boxer: When you can't get the support of your own party, especially the leadership, perhaps it's time to rethink your position.

A Stroke of Genius

Recently we had the chance to see the movie "Bobby Jones, Storke of Genius" which has just been released on DVD. The movie features Jim Caviezel as Bobby Jones, who was one of the best golfers that has ever lived. Caviezel's performance as Jones is wonderful both for his golf ability (he had to learn how to play for this role) and his ability to show the side of Jones that is less well known: his struggles with a painful neurological disorder, stomach ailments, and family struggles that would eventually lead to his retirement from competitive golf. It's also the first movie to be allowed to film at the home of golf, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews, Scotland. It also closes with some beautiful photography of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. Even if you don't care about the story, it's worth watching for the cinematography.

The film is at least in part about Jones' achievements on the golf course, which are many. He developed a love for the game from his father who started him playing at a very young age. By age 14 he won his first amateur tournament, the Georgia State Amateur, and became the youngest player to every qualify for the U. S. Amateur tournament. He was the only amateur to win both the U. S. and British Amateur tournaments in the same year (1926). He won 13 of 21 major tournaments he played in between 1923 and 1930. What's more remarkable is that the only competitive golf he played was in major tournaments. And of course, his most famous feat was winning the "Grand Slam" of golf: The U. S. Amateur, British Amateur, U. S. Open, and British Open in 1930. (Source:

But the film is also about Jones' character. For one thing, he never traded in on his fame. He remained an amateur throughout his career. He played golf because he loved the game, not for the money (quite refreshing in light of today's overpaid, pampered professional athletes). After completing the Grand Slam when it would have been to his greatest benefit to turn pro, he instead puts his family (and his own health) first and walks away from competitive golf at age 28.

He also had a tremendous temper that he had to learn to bring under control in order to win tournaments. He came by it honestly from his father. In fact, some of the most interesting moments are early in the film when a young Bobby Jones (about 7-8 years old) starts cussing like a sailor whenever he hits an errant shot. We quickly discover moments later that he picked it up from his father who also had a tendency to throw a little profanity around in frustration while on the golf course. It's a great example of how a father can be either a positive or negative role model for a child.

He was also tremendously honest. The film highlights this through an incident that occurred during the first round of the 1925 U. S. Open. Jones had hit an errant shot into the rough. While stepping up to address the ball for his second shot, he accidentally moved the ball. He immediately called over an official to tell them what happened. After polling several members of the gallery nearby, the official determined that no one saw the ball move. Jones insisted on calling the penalty on himself anyway. He lost the Open by one stroke in a playoff.

He studied hard (earning a degree in engineering from Georgia Tech, a Masters in Classics from Harvard and graduating law school), overcame physical ailments and emotional struggles to become the greatest golfer than ever lived. Though he struggled with the fame that followed him wherever he went, Jones understood the responsibilities to be a positive role model. This film is a great look at a remarkable person. And even those who aren't golf fans will enjoy it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Tsunami and God - Part 4

James Jewell over at The Rooftop Blog offers his thoughts on the tsunami and God in this post. An excerpt:

Where was God when the worst single-day natural disaster in history devastated the Indian Ocean rim, with horrific human consequences?

I believe the right answer is that God was on his throne, God was everywhere, God was available to the villager struggling for life, opening his arms to the dying child, and in the midst of the horror, God was in tears.

The questions are understandable because the power was so overwhelming only God could be seen in the waves. But where were the critics every day when the world was a beautiful place, when a child is born, when love is real, when life is good, when there is peace in the land? God is there, too, in the victories, the joys, and the everyday order of life. But our world often sees Him only in the fury.

Be sure to read the whole thing and follow his links to the other posts he mentions.

Getting Ahead of God

In a previous post, I included this valuable piece of advice from Tod Bolsinger:

"Don't just do something, stand there."

This statement got me thinking about how easy it is to get ahead of where God wants us to be. In other words, we are so busy pursuing our own agenda that we don't seek what God wants for us first. Recall Jesus' command in Matthew 6:33:

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Therefore, our first priority in everything is to seek God's desires. So often we fail to do that and often with devastating results.

Perhaps on of the most vivid examples I can recall of getting ahead of God in my own life was right after I graduated from college. All of my friends had gone their separate ways after graduation and I quickly lost contact with them. I was floundering in my career and was not doing much better in my walk with Christ, either. I was dating someone at the time and that did ease my loneliness to some degree. But it was not the type of relationship that God wanted for me. Of course, I didn't come to that conclusion on my own. One of my former housemates, Jeff Johnston had come into town and we talked at some length about this relationship I was involved in and the problems I had with it. He helped put my situation in perspective by telling me that I was "snacking on poundcake" and then proceeded to share the following illustration:

Imagine that a woman has invited you over to your apartment for dinner. When you arrive, there is a poundcake sitting on the coffee table. She is in the kitchen fixing dinner. You can smell the dinner and it smells good. You are hungry. You also see the poundcake and it looks good. You want the poundcake. If you eat the poundcake you will not have any appetite for the dinner. If you eat the poundcake you miss out on the blessing of the dinner.

I was getting ahead of God's plan for me. I was missing out on the "dinner" that God had in store for me. Just a few short months after Jeff challenged me with that illustration I was in a new city, in a new job, and met the wonderful woman who would become my wife and mother of my two beautiful children.

Sometimes getting ahead of God's plan doesn't just mean missing out on the "dinner". Sometimes our choices have dire consequences. One of the best examples of this that the Bible offers is Abraham. God promised to make a great nation from his offspring (Genesis 12:2-3), specifically promised his offspring land (Genesis 12:7) and that his offspring would be of greater number than the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5). There was just one small problem: his wife, Sarah, could not have children (Genesis 16:1-2). Rather than relying on God to fufill his promises, Abraham (with encouragement from Sarah) come up with another plan: Abraham would sleep with their maidservant, Hagar. Their plan worked. Hagar became pregnant (Genesis 16:3-4). Rather than being a blessing, the son that was born to Hagar, Ishmael was father of the tribes that eventually became known as the Arab nations that were and are still enemies of Israel.

The challenge to "Don't just do something, stand there" is a difficult one. It requires a different mindset. The world teaches us to rely on our own wisdom, our own knowledge, and our own reasoning. We are to be self-reliant. But the apostle Paul reminds us:

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

Rather than reacting reflexively to whatever comes our way, we should follow the advice of Brother Lawrence:

"We ought to give ourselves up to God with regard both to things temporal and spiritual and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of His will."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Tsunami and God - Part 3

When we witness an event as devastating as the recent tsunami, it's natural to ask how a loving God can allow such a thing to occur. As The Top of The World Turns correctly directs us to the book of Job (specifically chapter 38) for guidance in answering this question. He suggests the following conclusion:

God seems to be saying that Job shouldn't ask the question we've been discussing, either because God is all-powerful and, therefore, how dare Job question him, or because from Job's inconsequential position in the universe, he can't possibly understand the ways of God.

I believe the latter is probably closer to the true answer to the question. On this side of heaven, in our fallen state, we cannot possibly understand why tragedies such as this occur.

This brought to mind a song from one of my favorite songwriters, Sara Groves, entitled "What I Thought I Wanted":

When I get to heaven I’m gonna go find Job
I want to ask a few hard questions, I want to know what he knows
About what it is he wanted and what he got instead
How to be broken and faithful

Meanwhile, Tod Bolsinger addresses another related issue: how and when to respond to tragedy:

What should be our response to genuine need and the genuine call of Christ?

Let me suggest that the first step should be of stillness, even solitude. "Don't just do something, stand there." Stand in the middle of pain and need and pause. Pause to listen and pause to feel. Pause to pray and take stock of yourself and your resources. Pause to consider what a genuine response and not reflexive reaction should be. Don't "Just do it." Instead, Do what really needs to be done. Do what you really need to do.

The need is not the call. But God's call will meet every need.

Update: Cal Thomas also shares his thoughts in this column.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Tsunami and God - Part 2

Here are some additional posts worth reading on the recent tsunami all written by guys who are far wiser than I am:

Mark Daniels

Tod Bolsinger


Mark D. Roberts

If they aren't on your blogroll already they should be.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A Couple of Things

Just a couple of random items before heading off to bed (another late night of blogging).

I've added a reciprocal lins for Punctilious. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I found this blog through Technorati. Thanks to Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost for the tip.

A special thanks also to Rick Brady at Stones Cry Out for including me in his list new bloggers of note. I'm flattered to be included.

And after much badgering from yours truly, Mommypundit has returned to blogging with this post on what she did while she was on Christmas vacation.

The Tsunami and God

The recent tsunami in Southeast Asia has raised some interesting theological questions about God's sovreignity and why He would allow such an event to occur. I don't have any clear answers on this question. However, several other bloggers have weighed in and their posts are worth reading. Hugh Hewitt has listed several of them in this post. Another excellent post is here on David Mobley's blog (hat tip: MuD & PhuD). Also, Mark D. Roberts has started a series of posts on this topic.

My Favorite Family Vacation

This week's Homespun Symposium Question:

What was your favorite family vacation (when you were a kid), and why? If you have children, have you taken your kids on that same vacation? If so, what did they think of it?

In 1971 (I was six years old at the time), my grandparents (on my mother's side) took our family as well as my aunt and uncle and their four children to Walt Disney World. This was a pretty big deal because the Magic Kingdom had just opened. It was especially magical because we were there together as a family. My parents took us back several years later.

When I took my wife and children to Disney for the first time, my parents were able to go with us. It was an especially memorable trip for my daughter as she got to celebrate her 5th birthday while we were there.

My kids seem to enjoy Disney. Every time I ask them where they want to go on vacation they say "Disney World"! The fact that they have been four times doesn't seem to diminish their enthusiasm for the parks.

I can't imagine a better place to take a family for a vacation.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Author blog

One of my favorite discoveries of 2004 was the writings of Stephen Mansfield. I thoroughly enjoyed "The Faith of George W. Bush" as it gave me a fascinating insight into the character of our President. I have Mansfield's other books on my growing list of books to read this year. As I was browsing for new books online, I discovered that he's currently working on a new book called "The Faith of the American Soldier: From Lexington to Iraq" that is due out in mid-April. Then when I went to his homepage, I discovered that he has a blog and he's been in Iraq embedded with the troops. Needless to say his blog will be one I will be checking frequently in the future.