Archive for March, 2010

March 28, 2010

Crazy Week

Never has the world experienced a week comparable to the week of Calvary. The man who impacted history more than any other rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Satire couldn’t come up with a more seemingly comical scene than the invisible God who spoke the universe into existence as one who rode into Jerusalem on a dusty and rocky road on the back of an ass while people hailed “Hosanna! Hosanna!” while throwing palm leaves and coats upon the ground to mark his royal entry.  Striking is this is the closest his creation comes to praising him, honoring him and giving him his due. The rest of the week has its tumultuous turns offering emotional highs and lows – the trashing of the money changers, the establishment of the observance of the new covenant as the ultimate completion of the passover Seder, all his disciples abandoning him, Peter denying him, Judas betraying him, the sweating of blood under the yoke of the cross placed before him, the illegal arrest and criminally unjust trial, torture, whipping, beating, spitting, gambling, general disregard, carrying the immense weight of the cross, handing his mother over to John for care, experiencing the penalty of wrath as an innocent, his Father forsaking him and many other things. It strains my conceptual abilities to consider the anxiety of the knowledge of the heavy pain of sin placed upon his righteous shoulders while experiencing the immense relief to be able to say simultaneously “It is finished.” The plan that was formed and followed through before the foundation of the world was finished – at the perfect time completed. There he sweats, bleeds and breathes his last while hanging on a deplorable splinter-fest of an icon that rightly becomes an image reminding all of the evils people can imagine. But this icon becomes a symbol of hope as Passion Week ends with an empty tomb and the Prince of glory resurrected from the dead.  So what week can compare to this week which we begin to celebrate? The week that includes the day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Savior and God – both the living and the dead. While I was not in Jerusalem some two thousand years ago I look longing toward the one I will be at in the future as I celebrate the new covenant – a covenant I can never break because it is bound in Jesus’ blood and righteousness from faith through grace in Jesus to all those who would believe.

March 25, 2010

Sweet Sixteen Baby!

Love Football! Love Playoffs! I even enjoy the Championship Bowl Series in college football, but there is no other sporting event like College Basketball’s March Madness. Take a look at this year’s Sweet Sixteen and see if you can see the obvious as to why this tournament is so great.

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March 23, 2010

Thinking of Leaving Church?

The discussion concerning when to leave a church is an interesting one. Typically when asked by people on how to determine criteria for picking a church (which also means leaving another one)  I generally give two basic criteria. The first is that the church needs to be a church that correctly handles God’s Word, meaning they preach and teach the Gospel as presented in Scripture. They need to be practitioners of the Gospel and then propagators of the Gospel. Get the emphasis – Gospel, Gospel, Gospel!!! The second is the criteria of compulsion – has God given you compulsion that this is a church you MUST do ministry through?

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March 22, 2010

Great Exegetical Tool

At church we are finishing a section on how to do Bible Study. As we come to a close I am reminded of the tools I value most in my hopes of the Holy Spirit illuminating Scripture to me.  The top of my list looks like this:

1. The Holy Spirit
2. Prayer
3. Greek New Testament or Hebrew Old Testament
4. Wallace’s Greek Grammer Beyond the Basics or Waltke’s Biblical Hebrew Syntax – both syntax books.
5. Propositional diagrams to understand relationships between propositional statements.
6. Sentence diagramming.

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March 20, 2010

The Tooth Fairy

Charis asked me what the tooth fairy looked like after losing her first tooth. I decided to draw her a picture. For some reason Rachelle has banned my picture from public viewing in my own house. I’m deeply hurt. Apparently there is no room for creative interpretation in my house for what the tooth fairy looks like. Well, here is my rendition for your viewing pleasure.

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March 17, 2010

A Toast to Friends

I originally posted this blog on December 21, 2009 in my tradition series. Join in this sweet  tradition which  celebrates a father’s life .

ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY, DRINK A TOAST TO ALL: FRIENDSHIPS GOOD AND GREAT

Originally published on Sunday March 14, 1999 in the St. Louis Post Dispatch

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March 16, 2010

A Good Reminder to Daddies

A blog post from Miscellanies a few days ago consider an interview with Michael Card and Marvin Olansky of World Magazine.

The part of the interview that Tony Reinke from Miscellanies highlights goes thus:

Q: You mentioned somewhere that as a small boy you saw very little of your father. He came home from practice, closed himself in his study, and you would push drawings and other things under his door to try to get his attention. Did it work? No, it didn’t, actually. I wrote a song called “Underneath the Door.” I grew up eating supper at 8 o’clock because my mom would wait for my dad. In those days when the father would come home the kids would come to the door and greet him. My kids don’t do that with me; they just sort of look up from their video games and say, “Oh, you’re home.”

Q: You were the designated dad-bringer. My family would always send me to go get my dad, and I had to get his attention somehow, because he was locked away in his study. But he was a phenomenal person, my father. The older I get the more I appreciate him. He was a good man.

Q: That sounds frustrating. It was frustrating. One of my major themes is that you are not your gift, and my father thought he was his gift. He thought that medicine was all he was, so when he was forced to retire he died a few months later. He could not imagine living without being a doctor.

When reading this my mind immediately went to another song, not Card’s but by Harry Chapin, which is one of the saddest songs I know in its depiction of dysfunctional family life.

Now consider these statistics I read in an article entitled “Father Hunger” – Why Children Need a Dad from Kairos Journal Daddies:

  • In 1995, only 35 percent of children lived with their father. Furthermore, somewhere between one quarter and one half of all children never (or almost never) see their biological fathers. [See Paul R. Amato and Julie M. Sobolewski, “The Effects of Divorce on Fathers and Children: Nonresidential Fathers and Stepfathers,” in The Role of the Father in Child Development, ed. Michael E. Lamb (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2004), 341, 342, 348. Judith Trowell, “Setting the Scene,” in The Importance of Fathers: A Psychoanalytic Re-evaluation, eds. Judith Trowell and Alicia Etchegoyen (New York: Taylor & Francis, Inc., 2002), 17. and David Popenoe, Life without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), 5].
  • The presence of a biological father, married to a mother, dramatically improves the well-being of children and society. [Sara McLanahan, “Growing Up without a Father,” in Lost Fathers: The Politics of Fatherlessness in America, ed. Cynthia R. Daniels (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), 91]
  • Fathers protect their children; reports of child abuse—physical and sexual—have increased with the rise in fatherlessness. [Popenoe, Ibid., 66-73]
  • Fathers stem violence: “Sixty percent of America’s rapists, 72 percent of adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates come from fatherless homes.” [Ibid., 63, 146,  148-149.]
  • Fathers contribute to their children’s academic success; fatherless kids are twice as likely to drop out of high school. [McLanahan, “Growing Up without a Father,” 86]
  • Fathers deter teenage pregnancy; girls are 2.5 times more likely to become pregnant if they lack a father’s daily contribution. [Ibid.]
  • Additional research bolsters the claim that little boys and girls need Dad. [Popenoe, Ibid., 144, 146]

Remember guys that you can be emotionally and mentally absent. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your physical presence is enough.  I think I might go kite flying today with the ladies!

March 15, 2010

To the Hypocrites in My Life

Two things I love: to play with my girls and to cuddle with them. Sometimes the two mix and we start out cuddling and end up playing. This happened the other day when Rebekah was cuddling with me. She then decided she was going to be my kitty cat named Garla (don’t ask, I don’t know where she got that name).

Rebekah is not the only one who likes to play kitty cat. My oldest, Charis, loves this game too. Or puppy dog. Either one is fine with her. But they play it different ways. When Charis plays, she runs off and finds a “tail” and then runs around the house on her hands and knees barking or meowing for a pleasant patient filled day of noise. Rebekah, on the other hand, doesn’t do anything of the sort. She will look in the mirror on our headboard and meow while looking at her reflection. No tail. No crawling on all fours. She seems averse to any notion that she should be taking her role any other way than in the way in which she plays.

I was stunned by a thought I had while watching little Garla meow in the mirror. She’s a hypocrite. I mean she really is a hypocrite, not just what is typically meant when the word is used. You know the typical way in which it is used, “I don’t go to church because it is full of hypocrites.” Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. An abuse of the word is occurring here.

Not to say there aren’t hypocrites in the church, because there most certainly are, but not for the guilt typically assigned to them. Get down to what most people mean by “the church being full of hypocrites” and you come up with the idea that the church is full of sinners. Well, yeah, of course the church is full of sinners. Not all sin is the sin of hypocrisy. Seems a little self redundant to say “The church is full of people who are sinners.” If the church you’re thinking of doesn’t acknowledge they are sinners well they fit into the category of hypocrite.

What exactly is a hypocrite? The cultural context of the Greek term used  comes from Greek drama. There an actor would fill multiple roles in even one play. To carry out this “deception” the actor would hold different masks in front of his face for each part. He could play a woman, an old man and a young man all in the same play by using these masks. Think of the iconography typically assigned to the theatre today and you will get the image – the smiling and frowning masks depicting comedy and tragedy.

Within the context of the Bible then a hypocrite is one who claims they do something they don’t do.  That is why we get Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew when he says

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn’t have taken part with them in shedding the prophets’ blood.” You therefore testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” (Matthew 23:27-31)

Ravi Zacharias points to this understanding when he told a room full of evangelists in Amsterdam in 2000: “Why is it that a community that talks so much about supernatural transformation shows so little of that transformation? We will have to be men and women who embody the message that we are preaching, whose lives are faithful to the claims we are making.”

Back to my girls pretending to be kitty cats – one was actually doing it and the other just wanted to watch herself as she pretended to do it. It is really an easy question to ask, “Does my life match the claims I make about who I am, what I believe and what I say I do?”

Perhaps now it is easy to see how everyone can fall into the trap of hypocrisy from time to time. The Pharisees where guilty because they claimed to be more righteous than they actually were. Only one has lived up to a standard of righteousness acceptable to God – Jesus the Savior. He lived perfectly what he claimed – and still does. Through the grace and love of Jesus, letting his poured blood from the atrocity of the beautiful cross cover you so that you can be forgiven of rebellion– including the sin of hypocrisy – will free you to start shedding those reptilian masks off your skin as you seek to become a new creation in God.

March 13, 2010

Love of a Daddy

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Love of a Daddy “, posted with vodpod

March 12, 2010

Son of Hamas

I know Masab Hassan Yousef as well as you do. Perhaps you remember the blip on your news radar screen a few years ago when the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef came to America after converting to Christianity from Islam. He is back. He has a new book out this week entitled Son of Hamas.

I have to admit that I have never endorsed a book prior to reading it before…and I am not doing that now (gotcha). However, after reading a sit-down interview with Yousef  in the Wall Street Journal, I am definitively going to get his book and am compelled to have you perhaps consider his story as well.

Yousef’s story is no simple conversion experience, but includes a person who was present at meetings when Hamas was first formed, dealings with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, working as a double agent for the Shin Bet (part of the Israeli Intelligence Network) – confirmed by by the Israeli Security Agency, exposing assassination and suicide bomber plots that reached to the highest levels in Palestinian-Israeli relationships, prison experiences and a taxi driver who invited him to a bible study.

The most compelling part of his interview was his perspective of Christianity and Jesus in his life. In his interview he said,

I converted to Christianity because I was convinced by Jesus Christ as a character, as a personality. I loved him, his wisdom, his love, his unconditional love. I didn’t leave [the Islamic] religion to put myself in another box of religion. At the same time it’s a beautiful thing to see my God exist in my life and see the change in my life. I see that when he does exist in other Middle Easterners there will be a change.

I’m not trying to convert the entire nation of Israel and the entire nation of Palestine to Christianity. But at least if you can educate them about the ideology of love, the ideology of forgiveness, the ideology of grace. Those principles are great regardless, but we can’t deny they came from Christianity as well.

Without reading the book YET and not knowing all of his thoughts on what it means to be a Christian a couple of things jump out at me.

  1. Jesus comes to save people from every people group. Christianity’s mission is not to make other cultures like Western Culture. We are about making disciples of all people and giving the great news to people that we can be saved from our owned rebellion against God.  Yousef commented that “when he [Jesus] does exist in other Middle Easterners there will be a change.” I agree with him on the necessary solution. Jesus is the answer. I would go farther than him and say I am trying to convert both Israel and Palestine. I do not think all will convert nor am I arguing for a sort of forced conversion, just that true peace can only come when Jesus becomes Lord.
  2. Yousef touches up on something that is really big when he says, “I didn’t leave [the Islamic] religion to put myself in another box of religion.” It is not an issue of how good we are – it is an issue of grace. To live in grace means to live in the relationship of Jesus Christ. Not try to prove your worth to God. Yousef’s desire to know Jesus more than the day before is a dynamic relationship that is born out of grace, not out of self-righteous piety. The difference is the theological separation from Christianity and every other religion in the world.
  3. The concept of grace, forgiveness and agape love are concepts that are Christian. He is right to make the connection.