Someone says something

There has been some crazy stuff in the news about ACORN and videos where young 20 somethings pretend to be a pimp and hooker and receive a lot of tax help. Ironically the network news stations have not reported about the corrupt organization that will receive billions is stimulus dollars. But my favorite video regarding ACORN this week, which is a little rough, is by

( WARNING!!! If your kids are in the room, there is some language in this video you do not want them to hear!!!!!!!!!)
Jon Stewart. I am not always a fan of Jon Stewart but he is honest about the situation when his peers(political and professional) are not.


Nerd Alert........

I have been thinking about about God and numbers. I know that sounds nerdy("I wonder how much the median wedding costs") but it shows a difference in perspective between me and God. When I pray about doing things for God my pride always brings numbers into it, a measuring stick. But God does not seem to need numbers, it is the other way around. In Matthew 18 Jesus compares the Father to the Shepherd, who leaves the other 99 sheep to find the one that has wandered off. The Father will do anything for his children, even just one. This is because God is relational, finding joy in knowing us individually instead of groups. That is why the shephard leaves to find the one sheep. But too often I reflect our christian culture and not my God. Obsessed about church growth instead of church health. Keeping myself busy with things of this world and others distant where as Jesus went to others and was always invested in eternal matters.
P.S. Congratulations Courtney!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Walking away from God......

Perhaps some of our worst theology and doctrine comes from phrases we use that have no biblical basis. The title of this blog is one that I have heard before and is I daresay, a catch phrase in contemporary christian culture. My dad heard a man comment at a bible study on how hard is was for him to come back to God because he had walked so far away. My dad thought about bringing it up, but it wasn't the focal point of the conversation and he didn't want to hijack it. We discussed it later and I have thought about it and felt like this was the type of place to discuss it, so here I go......

I do not believe we walk away from God. This statement implies a distance between us that does not exist. It is not a theological statement but an emotional one. Another phrase we hear often is being close to God. I think that is also an emotional statement instead of a theological one. Therefore whether we think someone is close to God or far away from God they are really equal. So what is the difference? It is not about our distance from God but our face to him.

To say one has walked away from God is really saying someone has turned their back on Him. When I turn my back from God I have taken my focus off of Him. At this point my eyes are no longer on Him but on other things. When we turn our back on God we are showing we are not interested in listening to Him or talking to him. You never see people having a conversation with their backs to each other. They face each other and engage in dialogue, listening and speaking to one another. To turn our back on God is to stop focusing on, listening to, or speaking to God. Now the opposite is true when we are close to God. We have our eyes fixed on him and are engaging him in dialogue, taking the time to both speak with Him as well as listen to what He has to say for us.

I believe this perspective is important when understanding repentance. In the Greek the word means to do a U-turn, to turn 180 degrees and go the other direction. When we repent we are recognizing that for a moment we have taken our back on God and are turning back towards Him. It just occured to me that perhaps when I feel far from God it is not horizontal but vertical. I am not miles away from God, I just realize the depths of my sin. I also realize that when I feel far from God, it is just me realizing my need for repentance.

Luke 15 gives the parable of the prodigal son. He squandered what his father gave him and pursued a life focused on himself. Upon realizing that it was better to be his father's servant than his own master he went home to talk to his father. He found a compassionate father who forgave him for running away and immediately restored him. The father did not hesitate to restore him, feeding him and clothing him better then the son expected or deserved! The focus of the parable is not on the son's distance from home or his long journey. It is about the immediate willingness of the father to forgive his son and rejoice in his homecoming. The father never asks the son where he went or why he left, or even what happened to the money. He just forgives him. The Father is all about forgiveness.


Congressional Prom King struggling as President

It is one thing to say that the Republicans are frustrated with Obama. No kidding. But it seems like the the most bipartisan thing in Washington may now be that frustration. Many Democrats are now frustrated and don't feel like they have a handle on who Obama is. The most interesting article on this I found here where a Democrat feels like Obama has betrayed him. The ironic thing is that this should not have been a surprise.......

A former classmate once described how Obama could win any debate at Harvard because he could make both sides believe he agreed with them. Basically, he told them what they wanted to hear. Those are the skills that win Presidential elections....but they don't make you a leader. The problem is many people didn't vote for a President, they voted for Congressional Prom King instead. When you elect a President you are looking at their record and what you think that shows about how they will lead. When you elect Prom King it is more about how popular you are, how good you look with your shirt off, or how cute and well dressed your girlfriend is!

Obama didn't have much of a public record. He had served as a congressman for 4 years with his name on one bill(and two profitable memoirs.) But to me the oddest thing about him was his voting record. When you vote on a bill it's normally yea or nay based on whether you agree or disagree, but not Obama. Many times he voted "Present" instead of a normal vote. His unwillingness to take an opinion or a stand on an issue shows a lack of conviction that he is showing now. We all know he can give great speeches and many pictured him as some sort of William Wallace, a common man with great intelligence and cunning who would lead the normal citizens in their fight versus the establishment ruling over them. So what is the difference between William Wallace and Barack Obama? When Wallace finished talking to his supporters on the battlefield, he immediately turned around and led them into battle. Obama finishes reading the remarks off the teleprompter, then gets on Air Force One and retreats back to the White House. And sometimes he lets Pharmaceutical Representatives come into the Oval Office and breaks campaign promises he made, even Billy Tauzin who he mentioned in a national TV ad.

Now what does this mean for Republicans? I think politically no one saw this coming. Most people thought he would have better tact and push through a liberal agenda which the Republicans would hate and that is to be expected. But he has dropped the ball and his dreams for health care will not be realized. There are some who think that renaming the currently debated health care bill after Ted Kennedy will change national opinion but no one had a problem with the name of the bill. The problem lies with what is in it! A lot of people don't trust him which will help during the congressional elections. His coattails will not be very long and people won't be as impressed when Obama shows up to talk about how trustworthy Harry Reid is. But could the same thing ever happen to the Republicans? My immediate thought is Sarah Palin....someone great on the campaign trail who will draw large crowds but is weak on actual policy. In this way Palin and Obama have a lot in common. I know some people don't agree with me about that but I am not pulling for her in 2012!


The Summer of Death

Farrah Fawcett, Micheal Jackson, Steve Mcnair,and now Ted Kennedy. Much has been written about the death of Kennedy(most of which makes me spew) but the best I have read so far was in The World Herald Op-Ed page here. It is a short article but you should read it before moving on. Watching the public mourn all these deaths I have had a number of thoughts.......

1. We overvalue celebrities.

The death of the three men this summer show that. All three had personal lives in shambles while considered heroes and icons in their professions.

-MJ(will not bother to comment)

-Mcnair fathered 4 children with 3 women and was killed by his mistress who then shot herself. Upon his death he was remembered as a leader in the community and one of the few black men to lead a team to the Super Bowl. These things are true but how much went unsaid. On of the biggest problems in the black community is the number of kids who grow up without the father in the home. Mcnair was not an example in this area and his off the field legacy looms large.

-The above article will you much about Kennedy. He grew up in privilege and no matter his irresponsibility his family name was always enough come press time and election day.

We live in a time with more news and pictures than any other but ironically this has produced fewer icons and more celebrities. I explain this by pointing out if I say a certain name from history we all focus on one picture(probably from Life Magazine). Marilyn Monroe(holding the dress down over the duct) or Lou Gehrig(the microphone) but not anymore. Now there are 1000 pictures of anyone famous out there to see on the web. Every politician,athlete,musician, or actor is seen so often they don't register that one image anymore. There are probably more pictures taken of Paris Hilton than anyone in America who isn't named Obama. We cheapen those who are famous so that they blend in with those who are infamous. I think of a book I read,The Beckham Experiment, where they discuss the family came to America seeking iconic status. His wife Victoria did a few TV things that bombed but she will guest host American Idol! This vanity comes from the belief that our identity is defined by who others perceive us to be. A christian response would be that our value is realized in God's image and saved by his grace. But even many non-christians teach their children that they should not live to be defined by others.

2. We don't expect or appreciate character.

The coverage of these deaths this summer showed this clearly. These men has huge issues and press seemed to separate the professional from the personal as if each man was two separate men. This is becoming common now and I think it is wrong. I find that nearly every funeral I go to the discussion is about the personal life of the mourned, not their job accomplishments. Because we don't value character anymore we don't report the absence of it.

3. I am not interested in any autographs.

I find there is no one in the world whose autograph I want. Why does a piece of paper become more value based on a signature? But as a culture we obsess in ways unimaginable. American standards for celebrities are at an all time low. On a related note so is the character of our nation.



I am going to start this post out by being honest and saying something that may shock some of you....I'm not very self disciplined! Take a second and breathe deep. If this news has caused you to have a heart attack, then call 911 and I did not mean to surprise you like that. Those of you that know me got a good laugh there but is a struggle. I am not good at
-getting up early
-stopping when I'm full
-regular exercise
-setting a budget
-keeping a calendar(and updating it)
-keeping an address book updated(my sister Becky tried to help by buying one as a gift and filling it up from hers)
All these are struggles for me but I have improved quite a bit. But I find myself thinking about time. For a few weeks I have begun getting early for my work out and bible reading. I have been fascinated by the people who could get up early, I have long done a poor job. But it seems to me time management is such a sign of priorities. Dr. Rushing was a prof at Grace U and I spent time with him in and out of the classroom and he said one thing that has really stuck with me:"The best way to measure your heart is to look where you are spending your spare time and disposable income. You use those to invest in what is important to you" I confess that is not an exact quote but I know I got the gist of it right. Some interesting thoughts.....
-When Dawson Trotman(founder of Navigators) was traveling he would take a secretary that he would dictate to. He would also write down scripture to memorize and review. A great book called DAWS reveals how he used his time.
-I once heard that Dr. Eckman(Grace U Pres.) planned out his day in 15 minute increments. He is an amazing(and busy) man between writing,his radio show,providing campus leadership, and teaching Church History without notes.
-After being on facebook on for a while I have noticed a trend. My facebook friends who I respect the most for living purposeful,gospel-driven lives are never on facebook! Instead it is always the same people but I realize I am questioning if I am one of these people. Understand this is a general trend with many exceptions but I think it is true.

Generally when I post about something it is an issue I have been thinking about for a while. 9 days ago my pastor preached a sermon called no mulligans(a golf term for do-over). He talked about how he plays in a group that allows them and as a result his golf score is always much better. This has given a false idea of his ability and skill. When later playing in a group that did not allow mulligans his score ballooned and he was caught off guard by this. He thought he was a better golfer than his score indicated. Then he applied this to time. We don't get time back. He talked about how much he still want to teach his sons and in 6 years he will have an empty nest. When we evaluate time based on this concept of no mulligans it takes on an urgency that should push us to focus more on what is important in life. Most of us think we do a better job than we really do. I hate the fact the sermon was so much better than my recap but you get the idea.

The funny thing for me was my struggle the last few days is one I didn't see coming. I am up early,exercising,eating well(get behind me Satan/Garrett). The hours I waste are at night. Whether they are unproductive based on wasting time on facebook or just staying up and not sleeping. I actually think it it is harder to go to bed early than get up early. I want to read,sudoku,spider solitaire,and do many other noble things. I hope this post is a valuable use of your time. Feel free to post or comment your thoughts if you read this(or if you look at the site and don't read it)


Worship Woes

I hesitate to write about this but I have been thinking about this for weeks so here goes. It seems like when I am involved in coorporate worship(church) I do a horrible job of staying focused. This frustrates me greatly because for a long time coorporate worship was just pure joy and now it is not. I don't think this is a part of getting older. I have been intentional about this for weeks but I have seen little change. I love to worship in car or home but for some reason I have just really struggled coorporately.

I confess that my critical side wants to look for exterior reasons. I will say I feel the worship guy at my church is too much of a cheerleader and not worship leader. His commands are never to calm my heart and mind but to sing out and clap louder. He comes across really....happy. But to put any blame on him is a cop out. If my God is so big then how come one guy keeps me from seeing him? I realized a while ago it was because during worship I was too focused on the worship leader and not the worship object.

At my church we lead off with worship(probably yours too) but I wonder if there is a reason so. Has church just always been like this? Personally I feel like hearing the Word preached always increases my desire to worship. Is vice-versa true? Does worshipping God increase my desire or soften my heart for preaching of the Word? I guess I don't seem to notice as much. It seems like worship is much more active and participatory then shouldn't it wait for primetime? I know those are just my feelings though and surely some disagree. I know there are many practical reasons why church exists in the current order. People who are late just miss a song and not some of the sermon. You can have kids in for worship and release them afterwards for some sunday school.

If any of my readers have had similiar struggles please let me know. I would appreciate any input on the matter. I know at the core this is a heart issue and a frustrating one. But I know I am not alone in this and would appreciate feedback.

Closing Story: This summer I have had the chance to meet a number of people who just graduated high school and are headed to college. Spending time with some of them has been a great encouragement to me as well as enjoyable. But when talking to Paul I teased him about the "Freshman 15" and his response........"I cannot wait to put on 15 pounds! I've been trying to gain weight throughout high school and I cannot do it!" To be young again..........