Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Selah-think on this

Psalm 32
Of David. A maskil.
1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Notice the exuberance in the Joy of Forgiveness)
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Imputation given in the aura of salvation)
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night (Convicted in verse 3-4) your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you (Confession and relief verse 5) and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. (There is a haven and a great amount of protection 6-7)
7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; (Intelligent instruction in God’s relationship 8-9) I will counsel you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked, (Satisfaction in deliverance 10-11) but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!
Let the conversation begin!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Knowlege - Or Something Like It

I was recently speaking to a group about the change in understanding & knowledge between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, the church was the source of all ultimate truth. By the end of the Renaissance (or at least by the Enlightenment) science was thought to have taken the church's place; people had come to believe that if it wasn't quantifiable, visible, measurable (aka physical and tangible), then it wasn't truth.

I was reminded of this today when I came across the bold claims that by 2023 "it will only take a $1,000 computer to exceed the capabilities of the human brain." and "that by 2049" a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the human race." I don't doubt the ability of a computer to make superior computations. But that's very different from the ability to think, reason, make moral judgments, etc. (Go rent the 1983 movie War Games for a story about how well computers can make life & death decisions - G.I.G.O. ;~)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Show me the money!"

The stock market is unpredictable. Home foreclosures are steadily on the rise. Just the other day, I saw a news headline claiming that the US economy hasn't been this bad since the 1930's. Being one of the many misinformed that bought a house with an ARM and a promise of refinancing, I can definitely understand that these days, its difficult not to think about money all the time. I would hardly describe myself as a materialistic person, but when you're foregoing the air conditioning and line-drying clothes, its hard to not get a little envious. Speaking of envious...

The other day at a family function, a more...advantaged member of our family was showing off his new car. I'm not a car gal, but I was droolin. Leather interior, GPS, and key-less ignition. We lovingly call my hubby's car "The Beast." The Beast is a 1992 Ford Tempo with blood-red interior and it does not have those features. The entire family was standing outside, oohing and aahhing over this car, and then it occurred to me- this particular member of the family is an atheist. What are the Christians in our family saying to this person by essentially praising the act of spending what it would take to feed a small country on an automobile? Maybe I'm taking this a bit too far, but I really wonder how often we as Christians encourage indulgence and materialism, not necessarily by living those kinds of lifestyles, but by admiring them. Is it inherently wrong for me, a follower of Christ with very humble means to want new clothes, or for my husband to want the latest piece of hand-held technology? I don't think so. I'm not really talking about covetousness here so much as answering the question "Is the supreme desire of my heart to glorify Christ and make him (not me) look beautiful?" Can I want a new car? Sure. Can I let someone with a nice car know that I like it? Certainly. The problem would be if I acted in such a way that made a new car seem ultimately satisfying. I am reminded of Matthew 6:24:
"No one can serve two masters, for either will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Matthew probably new better than most about what its like to serve money. He was literally sitting at the tax collecting table when Jesus called him to follow. What an amazing witness he must have been to his tax collector buddies.

I pray that to the world, my life will look a little like Matthew's. I pray that my life and my actions always will give the most attention to the all-satisfying love of Christ, no matter how fancy the car.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Youth Pastors' Seminar

Just a reminder: I will be speaking at the upcoming Youth Pastors' Seminar sponsored by our friends at KPXQ radio.

Please pass the word to anyone and everyone you know who works with youth! It's September 19 on the campus of Southwestern College.

Get the rest of the details and register online at http://www.kpxq1360.com/ContentPages/229/

My topic will be Today's Youth Culture vs. a Biblical Worldview. (Sound intriguing enough?)

Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Smellin' Roses

Please accept my apology for posting so late in the evening. I've been drowning in a wave of responsibilities this week and I'm sorry to say that blogging had to take a backseat to class, homework, phone calls, work, laundry...you get the idea.

Speaking of priorities...

I'm a really goal-oriented person. I've had a 10-year plan since elementary school. In spite of the fact that my plans have never really worked out exactly as I intended, the pot-of-gold mindset never left. I usually know exactly what I want and am ruthless until I find out how to get it (just ask the poor financial aid department at ASU). I like to think of myself as passionate, driven, and motivated. However, God in his grace has revealed to me (many times lately) that in all this rushing around, I have been obtuse and selfish.

I was riding my bike home from class late one night this week (I refuse to pay the $300 parking fee), peddling like mad and dreading all the work I knew was waiting for me at home. I kept reminding myself that in a few semesters, the worst will be over and all my work will pay off. Lately, I've been thinking about how often people use long-term goals for motivation. We do this with exercise regimens, education, careers, saving money, etc. Of course, long term thinking isn't inherently wrong- as a matter of fact, it's Biblical. Even so, how often do we so intently focus on the future that we forget about the present? I realized that in all my planning and pressing on, I had forgotten to stop and thank God that I even have the opportunity to go to school. This got me thinking about all the things we take for granted on a daily basis: life, family, friends, resources, redemption, etc. Thank God that this week, by His grace, I remembered each day, with all it's joys and hardships, is a gift. My daily attitude should be one of gratitude and worship for every class, homework assignment, dirty dish, and yes, even every call to the financial aid department at ASU.

Josh McDowell Event THIS WEEKEND!

Sorry for the short notice, but I just found out myself!

This Saturday, September 6, noted apologist and author, Josh McDowell will be speaking at Grace Chapel, 8524 E Thomas Road, in Scottsdale. (That's about a mile and a half east of Scottsdale Road – or just west of the 101 on Thomas Rd.)

There’s still time if you hurry! Josh will be teaching four sessions, from 9 am to 4 pm, geared toward building intentional relationships that transfer values and beliefs.

If you've heard Josh McDowell speak before, you know that this event is well worth your time. If you haven't, this is a great opportunity to hear him! To register, visit www.az4squareyouth.org.

At the door price:
Only $49 per person, including lunch

Pre-register NOW for just $29, also includes lunch!
Seating is limited

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Terrorism is a dubious subject for entertainment.

I read a review of the new film, Traitor, starring Don Cheadle last week. Let me first say this: I haven't seen the film yet. What I'm writing here is based on my reading of just one review — a pretty risky endeavor. But nobody ever said I was the quiet, wait-and-see type; I'll dive in with both feet. Traitor is about a

conflicted Muslim who is either an undercover U.S. operative or a ruthless killer, or maybe both.. . Cheadle stars as former U.S. special operations officer Samir Horn, who has infiltrated the confusing and chaotic world of Islamic terrorism so well that the FBI is unaware that he is (probably) working for the United States. . .
The film's moral reasoning is all parenthetical: There are bad guys out there (but they're not all irredeemably bad), and while we must fight them, we shouldn't sink to their level (except when we have to). This doesn't add up to real nuance. It just encourages people to break the rules and feel bad about it. The film, which borrows a line from Samir as its subtitle ("The Truth Is Complicated"), would be stronger if it thought more simplistically: Terrorism is always wrong, as is breaking the laws of civilized behavior to fight it.

But who is to define "civilized behavior"? In theory, everybody knows that terrorism is wrong, or at the very least, uncivilized.

If they didn't know it, we'd have lots of "civilized terrorists" running around, right?

Cheadle's character apparently is one of the "good Muslims" we heard so much about in the days after September 11, 2001–the ones who are good neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Like the Americanized Muslims who have allowed the culture around them to influence their understanding of the faith, Cheadle's character is conflicted about shedding blood, about anything violent. Perhaps he needs to re-read his Koran.

(On a side note, I wonder how many American Christians will honestly recognize that in their own lives? That they have allowed the culture around them to influence their understanding of the faith? Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus was not a white, middle class suburbanite with an SUV and 2.4 children.)

The review closes with this:

Terrorism is a dubious subject for entertainment. The excesses of fear it inspires are corrosive to society. . .The things that are inherently exciting in a film about terrorism -- violence, torture and the ticking clock that portends doom -- are the very sort of things that short-circuit our ability to think rationally about the threats we face.

And there's no catharsis in it, no matter who wins in the end, because the terrorist, as cinematic actor, is never defeated. He's always lying in wait, ready for the next film, ready to reenact the old fears and prejudices. Even a film such as "Traitor," which tries to wring its hands a little along the way, brings us back to the same place: waiting stupidly for the next bomb to go off.

Now there's a jolly, cheery ending: the terrorist is never defeated, so the film leaves us tense, always looking over our collective shoulder, and unable to think rationally.

Pass the popcorn. . .and let the conversation continue.