Thursday, September 28, 2006

How Christians Should Respond

How Christians Should Respond to Muslim Outrage.

click here

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

End of the Spear

Read Guy Muses book/movie review of "End of the Spear" at the M Blog .

Listen to Steve Saints message "Sovereignty, Suffering, and the Work of Missions" at the 2005 Desiring God conference (you will need to scroll down near the bottom of the page).

God's Glory

Glory is the replendeant radiance of His power and His personality. Glory is all of God that makes God God, and shows Him to be worthy of our praise and our boasting and our trust and our hope and our confidence and our joy.

Glory is external elegance of the internal excellencies of God .. Glory is what you see and experience and feel when God goes public with His beauty!...

God's own glory is what He aims for in all He does. That is why God's glory must be what we aim for in all the we do.

From the book One Thing by Sam Storms

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Our Attitude

"The sad part is that illegals often come here wanting to provide for their families back home—but the reality is that their absence often deteriorates the family more than if they’d never left.”

For some reason I was not able to link to the article "One Question" at The WeB Magazine Of the Presbyterian Church in America, so I copied and pasted it below.

One Question

ByFaith asked four pastors and missionaries, all of them with years of experience with Hispanic immigrants this question: How should the fact that illegal immigrants have knowing broken the law affect our attitudes toward them. One pastor in Florida told us: “I don’t ask the immigrants we help whether they are here legally or not. It’s incumbent upon us to love our neighbors and to help meet their needs.

But I take a different stance about those south of the border. Those who want to come here illegally shouldn’t do it. But we can’t close our doors to those who are already here. We’re still called upon to love mercy and act justly toward them.

The sad part is that illegals often come here wanting to provide for their families back home—but the reality is that their absence often deteriorates the family more than if they’d never left.”

Here are three other replies.

Question: How should the fact that immigrants knowingly broke the law affect our attitudes toward them?

In many cases, we don’t know why people are breaking the law (whether it’s for a family member in need, for example). So my attitude should be to try to understand why they’ve come to the U.S., what their needs are, and their reality here.

But I disagree with those who put water bottles in the desert for illegals crossing the border. I think it’s better to discourage that behavior.

An illegal Mexican immigrant visited the church I pastored in Houston and asked for advice on what he should do. We talked and prayed about it, and it didn’t seem to me that he had a good reason to be here. I counseled him, “For your own good and for the good of your family, I think you should go back.” And he did.

Another illegal couple had become Christians after they moved to the U.S. They were concerned about the lies they had told, and I counseled them to tell the truth to the authorities. They had the mindset that they would be at peace either way: whether they were deported back to Mexico and would help plant a church there, or whether they would stay in our church community in Houston. The authorities let them stay, and that man is a deacon in the church today. It’s a great story of Christians having a big view of God.

Alex Villasana, a Mexican national (both he and his wife have green cards, their two children are U.S. citizens) is planting a PCA church in Norcross, Ga.

Question: How should the fact that immigrants knowingly broke the law affect our attitudes toward them?

We must show hospitality to the alien among us. The state and the kingdom of God do not have the same interests, so we shouldn’t get caught up in the tenor of national politics on this issue.

Violating immigration law is not the same thing as committing murder, though some have equated the two. Our missionaries overseas violate immigration laws all the time. So the question to me is, why do we treat illegal immigrants differently than we treat congregants who speed in traffic or lie on their taxes?

We’re trying to enfold our Hispanic community members into our church. Instead of establishing another church, we’re trying to welcome them into our existing family. It’s hard, but it’s what the gospel is all about.

Travis Hutchinson is pastor of Highlands Presbyterian Church in LaFayette, Ga. The church offers blended services (English and Spanish together) in an increasingly Hispanic community.

Question: How should the fact that immigrants knowingly broke the law affect our attitudes toward them?

Christians are not thinking gospel-centered when it comes to this issue. They reveal a confusion of sword with cross, and the state with the gospel.

Jesus did not do any background checks, and He didn’t question the reason for anyone's sins or oppression, but instead ministered respectfully and gracefully to all. Therefore, the gospel of Jesus Christ embedded in our attitude is the only rule of conduct for ministering to sinners, even illegal immigrants. Are we servants of the gospel or enforcers of the state?

However, I believe that Christian illegals, if they can't get legal papers to stay, should go back to their countries out of their relationship to the lordship of Christ.

Al Guerra is a Cuban-born pastor to Hispanics in Chicago, who is getting his doctorate of ministry degree through Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Saved by grace through faith

It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.

No man ever believes with a true and saving faith unless God inclines his heart; and no man when God does incline his heart can refrain from believing.- Blaise Pascal

Dr James Dobson to Ted Bundy-"There is tremendous cynicism about you on the outside, I suppose, for good reason. I’m not sure there’s anything you could say that people would believe, yet you told me (and I have heard this through our mutual friend, John Tanner) that you have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and are a follower and believer in Him."

Ephesians 2
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Gods Goal X

Part X of Gods Goal in redemptive history from the book "Desiring God"

Deliverance in the Time of the Kings

After the death of Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel was divided into the Northern and the Southern Kingdoms. One example of God's continued grace during this time and his continued purpose to be glorified and maintain the honor of his name is evident in the way he intervened when Hezekiah was king of Judah in the late 700s B.C.

The Assyrians, led by Sennacherib, were coming against the people of Judah. So Hezekiah prayed to the Lord for deliverance. Isaiah the prophet brought God's answer, stated in 2 Kings 19:34, "For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David." He says the same

Thursday, September 21, 2006

C.S. Lewis

A man can no more dininish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word darkness on the walls of his cell.-
C.S. Lewis


I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty
uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The
phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde
Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the
ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit
pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?...

Thta is, ins’t the way taht God mdae us amzanig?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Concerning Evil

Between two evils, I always like to take the one I've never tried before. --Mae West

Of two evils choose neither.--C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, September 18, 2006

Gods Goal IX

Gods Goal IX
The Temple of God

The books of 1 and 2 Kings tell the story of Israel's history from David's son Solomon, who built God's temple, down to the Babylonian captivity. This was a period of about four hundred years ending in 587 B.C. In 1 Kings 8 we read Solomon's dedicatory prayer after the building of the temple, including these words:

Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of thy people Israel, comes from a far country for thy name's sake (for they shall hear of thy great name, and thy mighty hand, and of thy outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to thee; in order that all the peoples of the earth may know thy name and fear thee, as do thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.

If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way thou shalt send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen and the house which I have built for thy name, then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. (1 Kings 8:41-45)

This prayer shows that Solomon's purpose for building the temple-in accord with God's own purpose: "My name shall be there!" (verse 29)-was that God's name should be exalted and all the nations should know and fear God.

Hammer Time

Brian, Chris and especially Tim, this picture is for you.
Love you brothers!

The Long Walk

Please note that I am in no way trying to make light of what happened to the Navajo people in the early 1860's by the use of this title. I actually have more of an idea and feel much more compassion toward what the Navajo went through after my visit to the South Rim two days ago.

The Big Bend is an amazing place. Yes it’s a desert, but beautiful. The Chisos Mountains are almost in the center of the park. On the East side of the Chisos Mountains, the desert plant life is sparse. On the West side of the Chisos, though it is still a desert, the plant life is considerably more. Then as you ascend the mountains you get into a forest of pines and other trees. The scenery is breath taking. If you have never been there before I recommend that you go see it before you die.

Speaking of dying my friend and I decided to take a day hike to the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains. If you ever go, do not let the name "day hike” fool you. It should have been named “3 day hike” or the “are you a man or mouse hike?”

I was worried about this day hike before we left. I didn’t go over board and let my friend know that I was worried so I went and asked a ranger about this hike when my friend was not looking. The ranger that was working in the visitor center was a lady around 55 years or so. She convinced me that I could hike the trail in at least 10 hours. She said that when she walks it, it takes her between 6-8 hours. I looked at my watch and it was 10 a.m. and thought if this lady who is easily 17 years my senior can do this in 6-8 hours, a 38 year old MAN can do it in at least that amount of time Arrr.

Just in case it took longer than she suggested, I packed matches, an extra set of clothes, extra food and rain ponchos (there was a 50% chance of rain in the mountains) etc… I then asked her if they had Fat Boy Helicopter Rescue Units in the area and she just smiled and said “No, but we have donkeys”. That clinched my decision to go…donkeys to the rescue.

We started on our journey. We walked about 50 yards or so down hill and realized that I hadn’t packed a flash light. Around we turned and headed back up hill. My legs started screaming at me. I should have listened when my legs said, "Mike even though that lady is 17 years your senior and could concievably be your mother AND to top it off, a lady, you probably should not go.” Of course me worrying about my manhood it wouldn’t allow me to listen to my legs.
About an hour and a half into the hike I make my second mistake by not listening to my legs. Thinking that we had traveled some distance we stop so that I could look at the map (even thought the real objective was to catch my breath). When I looked at the map expecting to be somewhere close to the halfway point, it looked like we had hardly left camp.

OH MY GOSH! MIKE, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? Just tell Mark that you aren’t a MAN after all. Tell the truth. Tell him that sitting behind a desk for the last 7 years coupled with a serious lack of exercise has turned you into a mouse. Tell him that it is in my best interest and possibly his, that we turn around and head back to camp hoping that Lady Ranger wouldn’t see us.

A mixture of pride and a lack of memory nearly called for an embarrassing day because I didn’t tell him those things. You see when I was younger, I was in excellent shape. Though I was thin (6”6” and 170-175 pounds), I was relatively strong. I was able to bench press 210 lbs. and could almost get my elbow on the rim. I could run the mile in a very easy 5-6 minutes. I possibly could have ran it in a low 5 or less if I had enjoyed running and strove for that goal. My memory failed to tell me that it was 20 years ago that I was able to do those things.

Two hours after checking the map, with the top of the mountain still looming overhead, I started thinking, “Im going to be in next months Readers Digest edition!”. About that time we meet 4 young men in their mid 20’s coming down the trail laughing and having a good time. I figure that the rest of the hike must not be that hard since they were not in any obvious pain or discomfort.
An hour or so later we come upon 2 men and 2 women who were retirement age who were bird watchers. They had been watching birds a little further up the path and were headed down.
They didn’t seem like they were in need of rescuing so I decided to trek ahead.

About a mile further up the mountain we ran into two more young men about 25 or so and they said that the mountain top (South Rim) was about 2 more miles.
Of course I said “Thank you” in a very polite manner and continued on toward the top wondering if i would not only have a story written about me in the Readers Digest but if my face would make the cover of next months edition. Deciding that I might grace the cover, I asked Mark to take my picture so that I could at least look like I was having a good time before tragedy struck. He did.

Right after he takes my picture it starts raining lightly and the temperature drops so that it feels like it is in the low 50’s. I start thinking, “I am going to be lucky if I grace the cover of Readers Digest. With the temperature drop and the rain, I’m going to die of hypothermia and will instead grace the cover of the National Parks Ranger Quarterly, titled stupid civilians.

Luckily I remembered that we had packed rain ponchos. I started feeling better.
When we got to the top of the mountain we visited briefly with a man and lady who were there enjoying the spectacular view with the lady’s two sons. But it was time to head down. The sun would set in 3 and a half hours and we needed to leave then if we would make it back to camp before sun set (we only brought one flashlight).

My calves, my GM, and my dogs were screaming at me. Mark asked if my knees were hurting two or three times. Each time I told him no. I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my life. I have NEVER had a single problem with my knees. Until literally 2-3 minutes after Mark asked about my knees, my right knee began to ache.

“Oh no! I am going to die” I thought. “My knee is going to swell to where I cant bend it and there fore have to find an over hang that would protect me from the rain that was steadily increasing and sit out the night waiting to be rescued by the Lady Ranger on a donkey (how embarrassing)... Hopefully she would be able to find me before the mountain lions or the black bear, if I didnt die from hypothermia first.

I decided that I would likely not only make the cover of the National Parks Ranger Quarterly but I would also enable The Lady Ranger to win some kind of promotion or reward for rescuing me from the clutches of death.

Not wanting to be humiliated, I proceeded down the mountain. An hour later the sun was close to setting and camp was in sight. YEA GOD!!!

By Gods grace we, or umm I, made it back with time to spare. Mark was just a little winded. Must be the African water. God was good to me. God is good to me. GOD IS GOOD! Praise God. I sure did a lot of praying.

What a great trip we had. We are already planning another when the Phillips family comes home on their next furlough.
Guess where?
That’s right. The Chisos Mountains…and then on to Copper Canyon. Hopefully I will be wiser and stay at the camp with our little girls if everybody decides to go on that day hike...hmm I sure hope the girls will not want to go...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Road Trip

At 7:00 a.m. sharp, tomorrow morning, September the 14th, I will be heading westward with a good friend. Big Bend National Park will be in our sites. We will be spending 3 nights hiking, camping, reading, thinking, talking and maybe we will be able to do a little of this since it has been raining that direction.

We will be traveling through a small canyon outside of
Ozonza on our way to Langtry, home of Judge Roy Bean. From there we will travel to Marfa and see the Lights that is if my friend wants to. Yes there are lights that dance on the horizon. What they are, I have no idea. I do know that they exist because I saw them in 2003 as we were passing through Marfa on our way back from a mission trip to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico.

From there we will travel south on FR169. The town that we will travel to next will be past the end of this road. Yes, that is right this town,
Casa Piedra, is beyond the end of FR169. According to my map it is the only town in Texas where the only way to access it is via a dirt road. According to the official road map of Texas there is supposedly a population of 21 people. I find that hard to believe. We will see...

My friend is a huge bird watcher (no he is not of retirement age) so I imagine that we will be looking for a few of these and these as well as hopefully one of these.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gods Goal VIII

Gods Goal VIII

The Beginnings of MonarchyAfter a period of judges (recorded in the book by that name) Israel asked for a king. Even though the motive for asking for a king was evil (Israel wanted to be like other nations), nevertheless God did not destroy his people. His motive in this gracious act of mercy is given in 1 Samuel 12:19-23.
And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king." And Samuel said to the people, "Fear not; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and do not turn aside after vain things which cannot profit or save, for they arc vain. For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and right way. Here the presentation of the people, despite their sin at the beginning of the monarchy, is due to God's purpose to preserve and display the honor of his name. This goal is supreme.Another way God showed mercy during the monarchy was to bring to the kingship a man after his own heart, a king whose goal was the same as God's. We can see this in how David prayed. In Psalm 25: 11 he says, "For Thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great." And in the most famous psalm of all, David says God's motive in leading his people is the glory of his name: "He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Ultimate Steelers Fan

Father may You ALWAYS be the Treasure of our lives.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Heart Dance

May God smile on you, your family and your congregation filling you with joy in Him.


11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lost Dog

Megan and the kids found a stray dog in our neighborhood. I have attached a photo of this dog in hopes that you might recognize him. We have reason to believe that his owner may be from .

The Lone Ranger

I took this picture just outside of Waco, Texas a few days ago. This billboard is an advertisement for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum. (Where my distant relative or something like that is inshrined.)

Unfortunatly the Lone Ranger mentality is a very common mindset in the Western Hemisphere. We believe that independence is important. We believe that we should "pick ourselves up from out boot straps" when we fall down. This line of thinking has bled into our Christian lives as well. There are also many who proclaim to be Christians who believe that they dont need to attend a local church body. They use the excuse to not be active members of a local church body because they think that they can worship God while they are fishing or while they at work in their flower garden on a Sunday morning, which is true they can but that is not the point.

R.C. Sproul expresses his sentiment concerning the Lone Ranger mentality very clearly. He states, "It is both foolish and wicked to suppose that we will make much progress in sanctification if we isolate ourselves from the visible church. It is common place to hear people declare that they dont need to unite with a church to be a Christian. They calim that their devotion is personal and private, not intitutional or corporate. This is not the testimony of the great saints of history: it is the confession of fools."

In the book "Why Small Groups", C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries, writes "There is a common yet false supposition among Christians that practicing the spiritual disciplines (prayer, memorizing and meditating on Scripture, fasting, confession of sin, etc.) is sufficient to maintain spiritual growth. But as vial as these practices are, they are not sufficient. Small groups provide the encouragemnet, correction and accountability that are necessary to keep us from drifting. We need others to help us in our pursuit of sanctification.When you have a passion for personal change-and every Chrisitan should- then you will be glad when others challenge you to grow. This should not be seen as a abnormal, or as the domain of those with an unusual level of maturity. It should be viewed as the normal process that follows new birth, expressed in a desire to conform to the image of Jesus Christ. We should be seriously and unapologetically committed to change.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Gods Goal VII

The Conquest of Canaan

The book of Joshua records how God gave the people of Israel vic tory over the nations in the land of Canaan. At the end of the book we find a clue to why God did this for his people.

And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you dwell therein; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards which you did not plant.

Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithful ness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. (Joshua 24: 12-14)

The words, "Now therefore fear the Lord" are an inference from God's grace in giving Israel the land. The logic shows that God's purpose in giving them the land of Canaan was that they might fear and honor him alone. In other words, in giving Israel the land of Canaan, God aimed to create a people who would recognize his glory and delight in it above all things. This purpose is confirmed in David's prayer recorded in 2 Samuel 7:23.

What other nation on earth is like Thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name, and doing for them great and terrible things, by driving out before his people a nation and Its gods?