Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I recently finished reading C.J. Mahaney's Humility: True Greatness. One of the first things that really caught my attention in the book was this quote from Mark Dever:
"C.J. Mahaney is not humble. At least, that's what he'll tell you. And that's one reason he's so well qualified to write this book. I've read it. I've seen humility in his life--and in the lives of those he's taught. If you're fighting pride--like I am--you should read it, too. And if you're not fighting pride, you really need to read it!"

As with his other books, Mahaney packs a lot of insight into a small volume. I could go on and on about the book, but instead I'll just share a few definitions he puts forth, and then some of the suggestions, or "strategies" he gives for weakening pride and cultivating humility.

His definitions:
"Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God's holiness and our sinfulness."

"Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him."

"... true greatness as biblically defined: Serving others for the glory of God."

Some strategies intended to "weaken pride and cultivate humility":
  • Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ. (p. 65)
  • Begin your day by acknowledging your dependence upon God and your need for God. (p. 69)
  • Begin your day expressing gratefulness to God. (p. 70)
  • Practice the spiritual disciplines - prayer, study of God's Word, worship. (p. 72)
  • Memorize and meditate on Scripture. (p. 73)
  • Cast your cares upon Him. (p. 74)
  • Study the attributes of God. (p. 87)
  • Study the doctrines of grace. (p. 90)
  • Study the doctine of sin. (p. 92)
  • Laugh often, and laugh often at yourself. (p. 94)
  • Identify evidences of grace in others. (p. 98)
  • Encourage others each and every day. (p. 111)
  • Invite and pursue correction. (p. 123)
  • Respond humbly to trials. (p. 137)

Mahaney also has some good advice for parents to help their children "become truly great in the eyes of God":
  • Be an example of greatness for them. (p. 158)
  • Clearly define true greatness for them. (p. 159)
  • Teach them to discern and admire true greatness. (p. 160)
  • Teach them to serve - and serve with them. (p. 165)

I've always been a fan of quotes, even though I know that they have limited value. I guess I've had so many throughout the years help me to understand things that I was maybe on the verge of understanding, or putting things in a perspective that I hadn't thought of before. Anyway, one line of Mahaney's in particular stuck out to me and gave me goosebumps:
"Here's an essential truth: To learn true humility, we need more than a redefinition of greatness; we need even more than Jesus' personal example of humble service. What we need is His death."

May our search for humility lead us always to the foot of the cross of Christ.
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. " Philippians 2:5-11 (NASB)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Another Role Model

Looks like Tim Ellsworth is the guy to point me to some role models in professional sports. After pointing me to a story about Trent Dilfer on Friday, today I came across a link to this interview with the Houston Astros' Lance Berkman about faith and baseball. The last two questions just made Berkman one of my favorite people in professional sports. If only he played for the Braves.

Q. What role does faith play in your life?

A. It's most important. Most people want to compartmentalize their job, family and religion. But when you're a Christian, it permeates every aspect of your life. It's who I am, and it comes out in every arena.

Faith also helps me not get caught up in the hype of being a local celebrity. Some get a feeling of elevated importance. In 200 years, no one will know I played. I try to keep an eternal perspective.

Q. How are faith and baseball intertwined? And do you ever pray for hits?

A. I'm not here to say I'm an authority on how God operates, but as for praying for hits, I'm not into that.

I think God cares about me - he cares about our struggles - but I don't believe that if I pray for a hit, he'll get me a hit.

If I'm in a slump, I'll bring that burden to him. You grow through trials. You learn from difficult times. God didn't spare his own son, and he doesn't spare us. Two teams pray for a win. God doesn't care about a baseball game or the World Series. He cares about individuals.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Last week my friend Michael shared the following question and link:
Is Poker a sport? The Baltimore Sun's Rick Maese says no and explains why here.
Now the Sports Guy Bill Simmons give us his 2 cents:
See, everyone thinks they know how to play now. Before Mike McD broke onto the scene, Hold'em was an underground game, the forbidden door most gamblers were afraid to open. But repeated cable showings of "Rounders" inspired a new breed of casual players like myself to give the game a try. ESPN popularized the pocket cam and made the game easier to understand.

If you enter a major chess tournament, no matter how much you'd practiced, you'd get wiped out. Same for the Golden Gloves, a PGA tournament, PBA, you name it. But everyone has a chance in the WSOP [World Series of Poker]. On the bright side, anyone can win. On the flip side, you can say the same about keno.

After detailing his departure from he WSOP, Simmons has this to say:
It's one thing to get outplayed. It's another to lose to a reckless idiot. But that's poker in the 21st century: You need to be lucky. Period. I know Mike McD disagrees, but only because he's trapped in a suddenly dated movie.

Anybody up for a game of keno?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Who Needs Katie?

I don't watch a lot of news, mostly because 24-hour news drives me nuts, but I do actually enjoy Bob Schieffer, who's been serving as interim anchor for the CBS Evening News until Katie Couric takes over in September. This video of Schieffer coming on the heels of a report about the possibility of "new" planets has become one of my favorite national news clips of all time. To borrow a phrase from the Sports Guy, there's comedy, there's high comedy, and then there's Bob Schieffer cracking up over a British Astronomer's monocle:

Common Sense Legislation

President Bush signed the Pension Protection Act of 2006 yesterday, overhauling pension and savings rules intended to make employers stick to actually paying out the pensions that they offer their employees.
"Americans who spent a lifetime working hard should be confident that their pensions will be there when they retire," Bush said.

He added a stern instruction to corporate America.

"You should keep the promises you make to your workers," the president said. "If you offer a private pension plan to your employees, you have a duty to set aside enough money now so your workers will get what they've been promised when they retire."
How can anybody argue with that? Well, here's an attempt:

The law is not without its critics, some of whom say it does nothing to encourage employers to offer pension benefits and the reliable income they give retirees.

Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said lawmakers may look back at the law as the "Trojan horse that brought the end of the defined benefit pension system."

"Erosion of the defined benefit pension system represents a dangerous shift from a 'we' society to a 'me' society, where every worker is on his or her own," he said.

I don't think there's a need to "encourage" or force employers to offer pension plans. That's not the point - it's about those companies that do offer pensions making good and actually paying out on them as promised. And if this leads to no companies offering pensions, so be it. I think most people would much rather have their company say, "We don't offer a pension plan" than to say "We offer an exceptional pension" and then not actually pay it out when they retire.

A Legitimate Role Model

I've grown tired of the myriad of stories involving the moral ineptitude of professional athletes lately. I don't want to focus on recent stories about Maurice Clarett, Ron Artest, Koren Robinson, or Lonny Baxter.

So here's a good story for you, brought to my attention today by Tim Ellsworth. This story details the faith of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer. Consider the quotes Dilfer had in relation to the following:

On the loss of 5-year-old son Trevin in 2003, who died after battling a heart ailment:
"God has become so much bigger through these times. His grace has abounded beyond anything I ever thought I could experience. ... I've never stopped to ask why. We just ask what He wants us to learn from this and how He wants to use this. He has been faithful times a million."

On quarterbacking the Baltimore Ravens to their win in Super Bowl XXXV:
"Winning the Super Bowl was great and it was fun and I enjoyed every moment of it, but it's a small moment in time compared to the gift of eternal life and what we have in Christ," said Dilfer, who saw countless teammates left unfulfilled in the wake of Super Bowl success. "Nothing fills the void except Christ. People hear that all the time, but it's true."

On being a journeyman, backup quarterback, even since winning the Super Bowl:
"I have really struggled with pride throughout my life, and if football would have come easy for me I would not have followed Him and trusted Him the way I needed to. And He, by His love, has allowed me to go through some hard times so I would be dependent on Him completely."

Sports, ... no, not sports, the world, needs more people like Trent Dilfer.

After-Term Abortion

WorldNetDaily carries a story about a woman who went to an abortion clinic in Florida, but an "abortionist" wasn't immediately available. While she was waiting, she gave birth to her child. Then a clinic worker came, took the baby, and put it in a biohazard bag, disposing of it as if it had been aborted.

Words fail me with this story. I just want to vomit.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

President Tom

If anybody out there ever listens to or watches Glenn Beck, you probably know how much trouble he has pronouncing the name of the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, opting to call him "President Tom." Well, one of Glenn's listeners contributed the following picture, which I found at GlennBeck.com with the caption, "You watched him dance around questions on 60 Minutes, now watch Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dance the night away Tuesdays this fall on ABC!"

I don't know about you, but my blood has been boiling at President Tom lately, especially in regards to his interview with 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace, and his comments after the cease fire in the Middle East. I'm not sure why Wallace or 60 Minutes would even want to interview this nutjob. Okay, I can think of two reasons - 1) ratings & 2) dislike of President Bush.

Here's a quote from the 60 Minutes piece:

"Very clearly, I will tell you that I fully oppose the behavior of the British and the Americans," Ahmadinejad tells Wallace. "They are providing state-of-the-art military hardware to the Zionists. And they are throwing their full support behind Israel. We believe that this threatens the future of all peoples, including the American and European peoples. So we are asking why the American government is blindly supporting this murderous regime."

Hello, kettle? It's pot. I just wanted to let you know that you're black. And another quote, this after the cease fire:

"On one side, it's corrupt powers of the criminal U.S. and Britain and the Zionists .... with modern bombs and planes. And on the other side is a group of pious youth relying on God."

If there's one thing President Tom is good at, it's playing the media. I just can't believe anybody is actually buying it. Here's a guy who has repeatedly stated that Israel should be wiped off the map, and that the Holocaust is an "overblown fairytale." And he claims to want peace? If he wanted peace, he wouldn't need to try to build a nuke or to arm terror groups like Hezbollah.

As President Tom himself said, "...
the killing of innocents is reprehensible." You mean like the bombing of the Paris Marks & Spencer shop in 1980 by Hezbollah, killing 1 and injuring 18? Or maybe the Christmas 1986 hijacking of Iraqi Airways Flight 163, resulting in the death of 63 passengers, an act carried out by a group known as "Islamic Jihad," another name for Hezbollah? Or the July 18, 1994 bombing of a Jewish Center in Argentina, killing 86 and wounding 300? Now who was responsible for that one? Oh yeah, Hezbollah, most likely acting on Iran's behalf. Or the June 25, 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, killing 19 U.S. servicemen and 1 Saudi? This one was carried out by "Saudi Hizballah" with Iranian support. Or how about the more recent attempt, March 3 of this year, by Iranian-born Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar? He "confessed to intentionally hitting people with a car on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to 'avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide' and to 'punish' the United States government." Although he ultimately failed to kill anyone, he did injure 9 people.

I do sense a theme there. (I found those incidents among this list.) And generally speaking, I don't think there are too many Americans strapping themselves with explosives and going into a Starbucks and killing "infidels."

My words of advice to President Tom: If you want peace, STOP KILLING PEOPLE!!! I'm guessing that if he/Iran/Hezbollah/other terrorist organizations were to stop killing people, then they probably wouldn't have people trying to kill them. But what do I know. I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Tim Ellsworth shares a list of 9 books, each under specific categories. I'm a sucker for lists, so I'll share mine, and hope some of you will share yours. I'll throw in a 10th category, as well (#7).

1. One book that changed your life: besides the Bible, I'd have to say "Desiring God" by John Piper.

2. One book that you have read more than once: "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey

3. One book that you would want on a desert island: I can't even pretend to choose anything other than the Bible.

4. One book that made you laugh: "The Big Show: A Tribute to ESPN's SportsCenter" by Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick.

5. One book that made you cry: "End of the Spear" by Steve Saint.

6. One book that you wish would have been written: "Dynasty: The Atlanta Braves 14 Consecutive World Series Championships."

7. One book that you would like to write: "WDJD: How 'the Christian life' is about what Jesus did do rather than what He would do."

8. One book that you wish would have never been written: "Mein Kampf"? I don't know.

9. One book that you are currently reading: "Humility: True Greatness" by C.J. Mahaney.

10. One book you’ve been meaning to read: "The Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan.

Woe Is Me

Last time I shared lyrics, it was from a song based on a hymn that was written over 130 years ago. Well, this time I'm featuring a song based on words written around 2700 years ago. I've shared my appreciation for Todd Agnew and his music in the past. I'll let Todd introduce the lyrics of "Isaiah 6," one of the songs on his CD "Reflection of Something:"
"My church was doing a teaching series on worship and I was studying to help us prepare for that. I've always felt that we worship more profoundly when we use God's own words. I'm never going to write a song that compares [to] the Psalms. So I was studying scripture passages where we find amazing worship events. And of course, Isaiah 6 is one of my favorites. As I was studyng that night, I was moved by the song lifted up in the chapter, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory." I was thinking about just putting that to music so we could use it in a worship experience at church, and as I was working on it, God just completed the song with the rest of the passage."

I saw the Lord, seated on a throne, high and exalted
And the train of His robe filled the temple
Above Him were angels, with six mighty wings
With two they’d cover their faces
With two they’d cover their feet
And with two, they’d fly
With two, they’d fly… and sing

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
And the whole earth is full of His glory
He’s glorious

And I said, “Woe to me, I am ruined
For I am unclean, and so are all my kind
But my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord Almighty
The Lord Almighty"

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
And the whole earth is full of His glory
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
And the whole earth is full of His glory
He’s glorious

And an angel flew to me and he had fire in His hands
He put it to my lips and God took away my sin
He took away my sin

So we sing: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
And the whole earth is full of His glory
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
And the whole earth is full of His glory
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
And the whole earth is full of His glory
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
And the whole earth is full of His glory
He’s glorious
He’s glorious
You’re glorious
Get a taste of the song here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Role Model

In a 1993 Nike TV commercial, Charles Barkley told us, "I am not a role model. . . parents should be role models." For some absurd reason, people ripped on Barkley because of the ad. They thought Barkley was trying to excuse himself & other professional athletes from any personal responsibility. What I think he meant was that we don't know these athletes - they are real people that we are entertained by. While we can admire their athletic ability and want to play like them, we shouldn't look to them to teach us how to live just because they have a lot of money and are on TV.

Anybody with common sense knows the absurdity of choosing a role model just because someone is famous or entertains us - see Kurt Cobain, Dennis Rodman, Jose Canseco, etc. Now we have another chapter in the sad story of an athlete who could have used a role model of his own. ESPN reports that former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett was arrested early this morning after leading police on a chase. Officers used a stun gun, and then mace to finally apprehend Clarett, and a search of his SUV yielded 4 loaded guns - including a 9mm under the driver's seat and an assault rifle on the passenger seat - and a half-full bottle of vodka.

As you may know, this is not Clarett's first run-in with law enforcement, as explained in the article:
The 22-year-old Clarett is currently awaiting trial on two counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of robbery and one count of carrying a concealed weapon in a separate case. He appeared at a 4 p.m. ET hearing Wednesday that was scheduled previously in relation to the January robbery case. A motion was made to revoke Clarett's bond in the case. Instead, bond has been raised to $1.1 million. If Clarett can post it, he must stay in Franklin County (the county Columbus is in), provide an address and adhere to a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Authorities said he was identified by witnesses as the person who flashed a gun and robbed two people of a cell phone in an alley behind the Opium Lounge in Columbus in the early hours of Jan. 1.

Makin' It Better

The Sports Guy shares his list of 33 ways to make sports better for everyone, including:
5) The Knicks extend Isiah's deal through 2015 by explaining, "This had nothing to do with winning or losing. We had to do it for comedy's sake."

6) Julio Franco isn't allowed to retire. He has to keep playing until we all agree he can stop. Let's see how far this can go.

8) Sideline reporters -- gone. We survived the World Cup without them, right?

11) We all agree that A) there will never be another MJ, and B) we're not allowed to compare anyone to him.

18) In the NBA, you can't call a timeout immediately after another timeout, you can't call time in midair and you can't call time trailing by more than six with less than 20 seconds to play.

22) Whenever there's a replay challenge or serious injury in the NFL, they have to immediately go to a commercial, bang out as many ads as possible, then come back and tell us what happened. We could wipe out 10 minutes of TV timeouts per game.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Big Win for Roto Geeks

A federal judge ruled a big win for fantasy baseball managers on Tuesday. The judge ruled against Major League Baseball's claim that "intellectual property laws and so-called "right of publicity" make it illegal for fantasy leagues to make money off the identities and stats of professional players." The judge ruled that the First Amendment overruled MLB's claim, because fantasy leagues are "disseminating the same statistical information found in newspapers every day."

For any fantasy baseball (or football or basketball for that matter) geeks out there, read the whole story here.

Stay Classy, San Diego

I'll start off by accepting any & all criticism for ripping on a 16-year-old girl, but here goes. ESPN is reporting, courtesy Ron Sirak of GolfDigest.com, that Michelle Wie fired her caddy, Greg Johnston. Why? Perhaps Michelle (& her family?) was upset at her 26th place finish at the Women's British Open this past weekend. It was the first time in 8 LPGA events with Johnston (who previously caddied for Juli Inkster on her way to 4 major championships) on her bag that Wie did not finish in the top 5. So how did Wie break the news to Johnston? Through her agent ... who called Johnston at Manchester airport Monday. Said a befuddled Johnston, "I was extremely disappointed that no one named Wie gave me the news."

If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed

Here is a reminder of how thankful we should be to live in a country where we experience religious freedom, but also a sad example of what the "separation of church and state" or, more accurately, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was meant to avoid.

The story tells of the Chinese government destroying a nearly-finished Christian church and imprisoning Christians without filing charges of any kind. One woman is in the hospital with "broken chest bones after being beaten by riot police." Several people are still unaccounted for. China Aid Association says, "Some are young students that can not be found in either the detention or custody centers. According to reliable sources, some may have been beaten to death."

In his novel, Safely Home, Randy Alcorn writes about the persecution of the Church by the Chinese government. Alcorn tells the following story through the dialog between one of the main characters of the book, Ben Fielding, and a Chinese Christian named Li Yue.
While they sang another song, Li Yue put his lips to Ben's ear and whispered. "Many years ago Ni Tuosheng--Watchman Nee--was asked to speak at a gathering. He knew in the crowd there were many authorities wanting to arrest him as soon as he spoke about Yesu [Jesus] or church. When he stood, there was a glass of water by him. Suddenly he threw it down, then crushed it with his heel. But the more violently he crushed it, the more the glass spread. Everywhere he put his foot down, glass spread farther. Then he sat down. The unbelievers thought he had gone mad. But the believers understood it. It was a sermon without words. They did not arrest him--how can you arrest a man for preaching when he has said nothing?"
"But what did it mean?" [asked Ben.]
"In attempting to destroy the church, the government has spread it. Instead of holding the church safely in its hand, the state has lost control of it, for the church multiplies under Communism even as Israel multiplied under Pharaoh's tyranny. China's government is desperate to regain control over the church. But the more they stalk and stomp, the more they spread the church with their own heels. They lock men in prisons, and they take the gospel there. They send women to correction farms in the country, and they take the gospel there. The glass will not be controlled. It spreads everywhere. The same state that persecutes the church is an instrument in God's hands to make the church grow."
Stories like these magnify the tension between physical realities and spiritual realities. While the acts of the Chinese government are despicable, the result has been the spread of the gospel. Pray for the believers in China - that they would be able to persevere through any persecution, and that any such treatment would ultimately serve to spread the gospel and magnify the Glory of God through Jesus Christ and His death & resurrection.

Happy Birthday Universe

What's the best present to get someone when you miss their birthday? What if you miss two or three? What about 2 billion? Evidently we've all missed out on an estimated 2.1 billion years. This story tells of a recent discovery, by which some scientists now believe the universe is 15% older and 15% larger than they previously thought.

Here's my favorite line from the article:
Distance measurements across the vastness of space are difficult and imprecise.
No kidding? I thought maybe we just needed a bigger slide rule.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mel Gibson

I'm with The Onion on this one - this would have been big news involving Mel.

I'm sick of how obsessed we are with celebrities in this country. Yeah, Mel got drunk, drove, and let the foolish talk fly. None of that is cool. But does it really deserve the press it's been getting? Does what he did really hurt anybody other than himself?

When we have a Muslim American opening fire at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, killing one woman and injuring 5 others (story here), and that little Israeli-Hezbollah squabble going on, should our "Anti-Semitism" meter really go off the charts for what a drunk celebrity says?

Friday, August 04, 2006

New Stuff

You may have noticed a couple of new things in my sidebar over on the left. I just added the "What I'm currently reading" item, and a couple more blogs in my list - Together for the Gospel, and Tim Ellsworth.

I just happened upon Ellsworth's blog. From the little I've read, he seems like a good guy with similar interests. His major flaw, at this point, is that he's an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. But he redeems himself with his sarcastic wit: "He would sooner cheer for al-Qaida than root for the Chicago Cubs."

His blog is "a hodgepodge of things that interest Tim Ellsworth — sports, news, humor, Christianity, television, parenting and anything else he feels like posting." He also writes a weekly "faith-and-values-based" sports column. This week's column is about "boring guy" Aaron Fultz, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Contemporary Tradition

I've heard and read many debates & discussions about styles of worship music. Some favor more "traditional" music - which stereotypically includes hymns and a piano and/or organ. Others favor more "contemporary" music - with a faster beat, accompanied by guitars and drums. I really can hardly believe that this debate even exists. Yes, we all have musical preferences, but shouldn't the lyrics and the attitude of our heart mean more than whether we "enjoy" the music? Last month, Justin Taylor interviewed Christian rapper Voice, whose recent release Progression could be called "Reformation Rap" with lyrics contemplating God's Sovereignty and struggles of the Christian life.

Anyway, I bring this up only to introduce this next set of lyrics. I love hearing the stories behind songs. And with the traditional/contemporary debate in mind, I had to laugh when I heard the story behind Aaron Shust's song, My Savior My God. He was reading through a "One Year Book of Hymns" and came across some lyrics that "blew [him] away." Little did Dorothy Greenwell know that when she wrote the lyrics to I Am Not Skilled To Understand in 1873, that it would be a "Contemporary Christan Music" hit more than 130 years later. (Althought that may be because radio had either not been invented yet, or was in its infancy, depending on who you ask.)

Without further ado, here are the lyrics to Aaron Shust's hit, My Savior My God, over one hundred years in the making:
I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands One who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me; this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior’s always there for me
My God: He was, my God; He is
My God is always gonna be

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring;
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior
UPDATE: I completely forgot to give a link to this song. You can actually listen to the entire song, along with two others, here.

Toxic Parents

The Blazing Fire is burning white hot today. Check out this story about parents. I would say it's unbelievable, but I'm getting tired of using that word - and it's not entirely accurate in this day and age. Maybe I should say it's sickeningly believeable.

First, a heartwarming story:
Silvia Johnson, the suburban Colorado mom who entertained high school kids at weekly parties with Jack Daniels, Bacardi rum and peppermint schnapps. Johnson provided the liquor, did shots with the 15- and 16-year-olds, supplied the methamphetamines and joined the kids in taking them. And she sexually serviced at least five of the boys, right there at her parties. She did this, she told police, to be the "cool mom."
Ah, the "cool mom." When will the "cool mom" realize that her kids and her kids' friends don't think she's "cool," but that she's just a joke, a pushover.

Here's another encouraging quote. Good advice for parents.
"Sometimes, it's easier to let them do it," Sausville says. "You're sick of arguing about it. You say, 'Oh, all right.' It's easier to just give them the car or let them go to the party than to have them hate you."
That quote actually came from a woman whose step-daughter died after drinking and driving at the age of 16. But that's not a completely representative quote. She has made the circuit, speaking at schools and parent meetings about being more aggressive than she was in raising children. She goes on to make a good point:
Still, she says, a parent cannot be there every minute. Should not be. "Look, we're all defensive of our kids and our parenting. But there's no book that comes with them. Lauren chose to drink. Lauren chose to drive." Parents who think they've found the formula -- parents who look right through Sausville -- make it harder for everyone else, she says. "Anybody who thinks they've got it down, their kid is snowing them."
Yes, parenting is hard. There's no textbook. There are no formulas. There are people and relationships and responsibilities. It's not about having a little friend, or being the "cool" parent. Just because you parent a certain way doesn't mean your kid won't have problems. That's a part of life - nobody can really control another person. But that's not an excuse to give up and take the easy way out.

Mom & Dad, thank you for not being "cool" parents. Thanks for not being my best friend while I was growing up. It's because of that that I have great respect for you today. Even though we do have a different kind of relationship now, more along the lines of "friendship," you'll always be my parents. I will always look up to you and respect you. And most of all, I will always love you.

Sense & Sensibility

This article about the "morning-after pill" in the Des Moines Register makes me proud to call the Des Moines area home. Okay, so it's actually an opinion piece, and it makes me sick. Does anybody else find it strange that there is no name attached to this "piece" (I'll let you decide the substance of it)?

My favorite part:
What everyone should be wondering is why the government would want to restrict access to a drug that can prevent teen pregnancies. Teens are the exact group that shouldn't be having babies. The sensible goal would be to make it easier for them to purchase morning-after pills.
Now, I know I'm a bit of a hate-monger, but is it really too much to expect kids to not have sex? Or to accept consequences for their actions?

I hate the idea that just because we can do something, we should do it. The whole piece is about "the science." Can anybody tell me just when science replaced such things as morality, integrity, responsibility, and even common sense?

(HT: The Blazing Fire)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Test the Spirits

1 John 2:18 (NIV) -
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.

1 John 4:1-3 (NIV) -
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
I have joked with my wife (and I admit this probably isn't something to joke about) that if the antichrist was alive today, and it was a person I knew of, I would guess that it was Oprah. Well, the following video may just show that she is affected by the spirit of the antichrist.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke record the following story, taken from Matthew's account:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
The question remains for us today - Who do we say he is? Do we accept Jesus's own testimony about himself?
John 14:6 (NIV) -
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

(HT: Noah Braymen)

Seek Martyrdom?

You may have heard in the past week or so that the "#2 leader" of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, called on Muslims "to rise up and seek martyrdom and attack and inflict harm on crusaders." Any doubts as to whether or not the war on terror is a holy war should be placed to rest by this quote from al-Zawahri:
"The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires ... . It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq. We will attack everywhere."
Towards the end of this article in the Houston Chronicle, al-Zawahri urged his fellow Muslims once more, saying, "Rely on God and fight your enemies ... make yourselves martyrs."

But as I look at Merriam-Webster's definitions for "martyr," I find the following:
1 : a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion
2 : a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle
So that brings questions - What "religion" is al-Zawahri witnessing to? What "principle" is he seeking to sacrifice himself (& others) for? I guess I always assumed that martyrdom was not something that was to be sought, but something that happened. Would the apostle Paul have been considered a martyr if he had killed himself? He would have been voluntarily suffering death, and he repeatedly witnessed to and refused to renounce the gospel of Jesus Christ.