Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

They are wacko, nut-jobs. Just because they quote the Bible, that does not make them Christian!

I heard a snatch of this on the news, while I was doing something else, so I didn't get it all, then a colleague sent me this link about the Hutaree. A so called "Christian" militia group in the Midwest. The members of this group are arming for a battle that they claim is predicted in scripture. According to the article linked above, the Hutaree
planned to "levy war" against the U.S. government. To incite such a war, the group planned to murder law enforcement officials and then follow up their initial attacks with a separate attack on the fallen officers' funeral(s), where a large number of law enforcement personnel would no doubt be gathered.

When I looked at the Hutaree website I didn't see that plan, but I can't say.

A couple things concern me--maybe alarm me:

First, these folk appear to be serious nut-jobs. We can't totally ignore the websites and rhetoric of groups like this.

Second,the story about a member fleeing from the FBI, crawling through a creek and then traveling by car, checking in on the Internet at WIFI spots, reminded me of some friends from my youth who were caught up in a similar cultic organization. The sad thing is the communist takeover that my friends felt was sure to come and that caused them to run and hide, never did come. Sadly, their life has decimated by other problems. Could these real problems have been avoided or dealt with had my friends not used up so much time and effort fighting--or preparing to fight--a menace that never materialized?

Third, some elements of the media seem to be implying that this is normal behavior for Christians, or at least those dreaded right-wing evangelicals. The article referenced above contains this:
With other news of vandalism and harassment from right-wing activists angry about the passage of health care reform, some commentators are already depicting the arrests as a further sign of how conservative activists are promoting violence in their ranks.

Fourth: When we as Bible believing Christians use language that is needlessly inflammatory, and when we fail to condemn groups like Hutaree we give credence to the view that puts Millions of Americans who will worship the Lord this Easter morning on the same plain the camo-wearing, gun-toting radicals who were just arrested.

The Huteree has an unbiblical eschatology, they hold to the idea that if God says He is going to do something that He needs people to help Him along, and they completely miss what the Bible says about being a good citizen (Romans 13, for instance).
I don't know who they are, but I know what the Huteree is not--Christian.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pictures from my 60th:

Click Here:

Our Ethical Health is What Really Needs Reform:

I've been thinking about the recently passed health-care bill, and the "process" that led to its passage. I'm amazed at how many people I run into who are angry, sad, afraid, or in other ways very upset about what happened in Washington. Comments contain words like, trickery, liars, flim-flam artists, devious, weak, sold-out, just-in-it-for-what-they-can-get. To say the least a great many people are upset.
There are thinkers and doers more capable than me who are encouraging political action. I'm listening, and I hope you are, as well. Rather than add my voice to the political conversation, what I want to do is seize on this teachable moment to point out how this monumental legislative/political struggle has shown that our culture is no longer standing on a foundation of truth and an ethic of right and wrong. Congress, and way to many of those of us who vote for congress-persons have taken our ethical motto from a popular advertising campaign and comedy routine, "Git-er-done!" I would add one word. "Just git-er-done!" Whatever it takes, whatever corners must be cut, however deeply the truth must be trampled into the mud, no matter if people less powerful than we must be hurt, just make sure at the end of the day that the task at hand is done.

Herewith I offer my top ten (maybe with a bonus or two) ways you know your ethics are slipping (or are already gone):

10 When you have start most of your statements with, "What I really meant was . . ."
The Bible puts forth this simple ethic, "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no." (James 5:12)
9) When the question that precedes any promise made is what, "What will you give me if . . . ?"
In describing the man of sterling character, the Psalmist describes him as someone "Swears to his own hurt and does not change." (Psalm 15:4, NASB) He keeps his word even when it costs him. From beginning to end, many of those who have populated the news have offered their oath to the highest bidder.
8) When your attitude about rules is, "If they will help me accomplish my goal, I support them, but if they are in my way I'm prepared to ignore, distort, or change them in a suspect way.
7) When those who are weak are looked at not as someone to be protected, but someone who can be used, ignored, or run-over to accomplish my goal."
6) When the ethical positions of others are instantly labeled as prejudices, thus making it easier for me seek to buy, beat, or ignore them.
5) When I am prepared to introduce totally unrelated incentives to accomplish my goal.
"If you won't tell mom, I'll give you my ice cream." can easily become, "If you don't tell the boss about me padding me my expense account I'll take your weekend on-call shift." which is just a short distance from, "If you'll vote for this bridge in my district, I'll give my vote on this legislation that affects an entire nation for decades."
4) When you are willing to listen to, and act favorably on the kind of approach in #5.
>3) When self-interest, like keeping my job, not getting caught, being reelected, or ending up with more at the end of the day, trumps all other concerns.
Look at Habakkuk 1:16. The ancient Chaldeans were so dedicated to the God of "WHAT WORKS" that offered sacrifices to the tools of their trade.
2) When you outsource matters of conscience to others.
I.E. Students who figure it is the teacher's job to keep them from cheating, workers who only work when they have to, drivers who only obey the law if they think there is a cop watching, or congressmen who say, "'If you don't tie our hands, we'll keep stealing." Character is what you are when no one is watching. Only a culture that has no respect for character continues to honor those who demonstrate that they have none.
1) When the prime question ceases to be, "What should I do?" and becomes a combination of, "What do I want?" and, "What can I get by with?"

11) When the word "principle" is almost always preceded by some version of "compromise" or followed by "but."

12) When people are expendible but getting what I want is not.
Read the rest of Psalm 15 and note the restraint of the man of integrity. The Archangel Michael showed Satan more respect than many of the addressed as "The Honorable" show one another.

Monday, March 22, 2010

When I got up this morning my health was not significantly different than it was last night when I went to bed. My knees are still a little stiff--not bad, though, for an old guy who wrestled, jogged, skied, and in other ways used them fairly hard. Though I haven't checked, I assume that my cholesterol still tends high. I took my meds. My gutter still needed fixing, and last night's storm caused some water to leak in my basement. I don't want to diminish the importance of last night's "historic," "precedent setting," and "breaking" legislation.
But more important than my knees, and blood-stream and anything that happened in any capital last night, God is still on the throne. The Lord Who gave comfort to the Jews in Exile in Assyria and Babylon, Who encouraged the Maccabees as they fought the Greeks--elephants and all--Who kept the early Christians calm as they faced lions in the arena, and gave courage to Wycliffe, Luther, Huss, and thousands of modern Christians who stand firm in hard-times, is still on the throne.

Yes, write your congressman, vote to "throw the rascals out," or keep the less rascally in, but don't forget the source of our real security.

I've been thinking about hope--Easter is coming. There is hope on this side of the cross, no matter what congress does or doesn't do.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sausage, Laws, A Dead-Horse, and US:

One of my Father-in-law's favorite jokes had to do with a man who decided to market rabbit-meat by grinding the little critters up into sausage. It turned out, though, that it takes a lot of bunnies to make a batch of sausage so the entrepreneur came up with a solution. He'd simply mix in a little non-rabbit meat. He had no trouble getting horse-meat in large quantities so he began a little. No one seemed to notice, so he added a little more, and so on.
One day a suspicious consumer asked him about the mix. He assured the consumer that his sausage was 90% rabbit--Nine rabbits to one horse.
Lately the news has been full of references to sausage-making. The references, or course, are to law-making,
not meat-packing. A lot of us smell some equine in our hare.
Instead of just griping about the "mess in Washington," perhaps it would be profitable to do some self-examination. Is my speech marked by integrity, or am I trying to hide a dead horse?

It's STTA.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two worthwhile pieces by other guys:

I read stuff on Front Porch Republic fairly often. I find Mark Mitchell to be thoughtful, and kind, even when he is taking on issues with which he very much disagrees. Here is an article he wrote about Ms. Coach. I've been teaching a group of Junior Hi kids in Sunday School about gender-role models, etc., so I found the article quite interesting.
(I need to say that there are some articles on FPR with which I disagree. In fact I find some of them needlessly insulting. It is not a Christian site, but if you know how to eat fish, you may find some stuff worth thinking about there.

Then there is an aritcle that encourages me greatly. My son, Chad, has been on a major Christian-growth curve for the past couple of years. Here is an article that gives some of his thoughts on a rich Old-Testament passage. Not bad for a guy who manages chickens.
He's still working on it, but it is worth thinking about.

Micah 7:16-20

16 All the nations of the world will stand amazed
at what the LORD will do for you.
They will be embarrassed
at their feeble power.
They will cover their mouths in silent awe,
deaf to everything around them.
17 Like snakes crawling from their holes,
they will come out to meet the LORD our God.
They will fear him greatly,
trembling in terror at his presence.
18 Where is another God like you,
who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
because you delight in showing unfailing love.
19 Once again you will have compassion on us.
You will trample our sins under your feet
and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
20 You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love
as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.

I think that I am finally, maybe, starting to understand God’s grace. I have been thinking about this passage for a long time. I used it as an example in a lesson I taught a few Sundays back, and realized that there was just so much more here, than I had originally seen. Verse by verse, we see so much of who God is, and what His grace is all about. We see a picture of who God truly is and what makes Him happy. He is powerful, sovereign, Holy, fully at rule. Yet unfailingly loving, faithful, compassionate, timeless.

We see a picture of the awesome power of the Lord. Nations will be embarrassed by their feeble power! Even crawling out of their holes like snakes to come and meet the Lord our God, in total awe! Sheepishly, scared, reverent, yet compelled to come. This is an amazing picture of a sovereign God, completely at rule. His rule can not be questioned! Even nations, powerful nations, are feeble in comparison. I picture leaders stricken silent, with the sudden knowledge that their words don’t measure up in HIS presence. Snakes crawling out of their holes, fearing Him but coming to meet Him. It is impossible to view a right picture of God, seeing Him for who He truly is (Holy, Sovereign) and not be in awe, not fear Him and tremble at our unworthiness to be in His presence. Our unworthiness in comparison to His Holiness demands consequence. There is no hiding, so we come out of our holes, trembling at the thought of what we deserve, knowing that He has all power, knowledge and authority to exact our deserved consequences on us.
As I read the verses again, I wonder, “Do I ever come to a place where I am in awe of the Father? Where the sounds of the world around me, all its distractions are inaudible due to my complete attention on Him?” Am I ever intentional about seeing Him for all He is? Then bowing in awe?
This is fast becoming one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Maybe the truest picture of God’s grace that I have ever read.
In verse 18, the author recognizes that ONLY God can pardon. The same God who causes nations to be embarrassed and feel feeble as they tremble, is the God who pardons! He hates my sin, but does not stay angry with me! And why? Because He DELIGHTS in showing me unfailing love. It makes Him happy to love me! The God who puts nations to trembling, DELIGHTS in showing me his unfailing love.
His Power is shown in v19, and His power stems out of compassion. Even in His power HE is showing me unfailing love. Out of compassion he exacts consequence upon my sin, and NOT upon me. Out of compassion he acts in great power, not toward me, but toward my sin. He sees me separate from my sin.
V19b, I love this part: He TRAMPLES my sins under His feet and he throws them into the depths of the ocean! He ALWAYS wins over evil. Sin has no place with Him, and puts it away from Him! Picture that, a rock being thrown into the ocean. How insignificant and forgotten that rock becomes in the expanse of an ocean! It barely makes a ripple, maybe a small splash and then, it is consumed, it disappears, it is gone. And not only is it under water, but the waves of the ocean and the currents of the water continually bury it further under. Even breaking it down further, until it is gone, unrecognizable, forgotten forever.
I can in my mind picture throwing enough rocks into a river or a small lake to be able to finally discern a pile of rocks, maybe even change the flow or landscape of the body of water, But an ocean? Dumptrucks of my sin (rocks) could be dumped into an ocean of grace and still they would be buried, and rendered insignificant under the waves. His grace is like the ocean! He throws my sin into an ocean of grace. He forgets my sin, but remembers me with unfailing love. That is what God’s grace looks like.
And finally, verse 20, He will show me His faithfulness and unfailing love just as He promised Abraham and Jacob. His promises are still true, and just as relevant as they were in the Old Testament. Our God is timeless, and His promises never expire. I can rest on the same promises as Abraham and Jacob. God is eternal. Eternally Good. Eternally powerful. Eternally Loving. Eternally Holy. Eternal Grace.
Thank you Father for your ocean of grace. For trampling sin underfoot. For loving me unfailingly. For Delighting in your love for me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just, Don't Bother Me. Radical Independence:

There has never been a time in the history of mankind when we have not resisted the obligations that come to us because of relationships. Cain plaintively, and probably angrily, asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
I see the question/objection being posed louder and more frequently, than ever.
Each of us are in a variety of relationships--family, work, church, teams, friendships, citizenship, etc. To one degree or another we all gain benefits from these circles of connection.
I'd appreciate your input on this matter, but it appears to me that there is a growing unwillingness in our culture to allow those various interconnections to meaningfully affect the life we live. It's as if we join the "Ford Drivers Club" so we can enjoy the good times, but then get terribly upset when one of our fellow "Fordies" questions our decision to buy a new Chevy.
It shouldn't surprise you, since my life is very tied up in the church, but I see it clearly in the way people regard their relationship to the community of faith. "Church should comfort and encourage me, never confront me."
My post on February 4, a review of the book Sex and the iWorld, speaks to this point, as well.
Like I say, I'd like to hear what you have to say.