Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Two Questions

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?"

"Who may live on Your holy mountain?"

Friday, February 23, 2007

Rough Week

It has been a rough week. I have acquired the same affliction as Spurgeon and Franklin. Gout. My doctor believes it was triggered due to a certain element in my blood pressure meds. All I know is that I don't want to ever get it again! Unfortunately, once you have it, gout can recur again. That has been the reason why I haven't written much this week.

I did pick up a few books. I just got Ironsides commentary on Isaiah and I just ordered G. Campbell Morgan's commentary on Psalms. I ordered two books of sermons by Alexander MacLaren last week, but they have not arrived yet. I will be starting a series of sermons on selected Psalms. Since I am not pastoring a church, this is more of an exercise or practice for me. My pastor agreed to look at them for me and give me some pointers.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Washington's Farewell Address

Here is an excerpt from Washington's farewell address. Follow the link to read the whole speech. Presidential wannabees need to read this.

Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these states, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Lincoln's Favorite Poem


William Knox

Job, iii. Ecclesiastes, i.

Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passes from life to his rest in the grave.

The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
Be scattered around, and together be laid;
And the young and the old, the low and the high,
Shall molder to dust, and together shall lie.

The infant a mother attended and loved;
The mother that infant’s affection who proved;
The husband, that mother and infant who blessed;
Each, all, are away to their dwelling of rest.

The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye,
Shone beauty and pleasure—her triumphs are by;
And the memory of those who loved her and praised,
Are alike from the minds of the living erased.

The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne,
The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn,
The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave,
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.

The peasant, whose lot was to sow and to reap,
The herdsman, who climbed with his goats up the steep,
The beggar, who wandered in search of his bread,
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.

The saint, who enjoyed the communion of Heaven,
The sinner, who dared to remain unforgiven,
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.

So the multitude goes—like the flower or the weed
That withers away to let others succeed;
So the multitude comes—even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.

For we are the same that our fathers have been;
We see the same sights that our fathers have seen;
We drink the same stream, we feel the same sun,
And run the same course that our fathers have run.

The thoughts we are thinking, our fathers would think;
From the death we are shrinking, our fathers would shrink;
To the life we are clinging, they also would cling—
But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing.

They loved—but the story we cannot unfold;
They scorned—but the heart of the haughty is cold;
They grieved—but no wail from their slumber will come;
They joyed—but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.

They died—aye, they died—we things that are now,
That walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
And make in their dwellings a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.

Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
Are mingled together in sunshine and rain;
And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.

’Tis the wink of an eye—’tis the draught of a breath—
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?

Online text © 1998-2007 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From The Lonely Hearth, the Songs of Israel, Harp of Sion, and Other Poems | 1847

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! My Captain!

Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Online text © 1998-2007 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From Leaves of Grass | 1868

Friday, February 09, 2007

Local Fox Affiliate Debuts Terror-Alert Van

Touting itself as "the only channel with a terror-alert system designed to meet the specific needs of central Tennessee," Fox News affiliate WMFB-TV Channel 11 debuted its terror-alert van Monday. "The team you trust to keep you informed is working to keep the greater Murfreesboro area—and your family—safe from Muslim extremists," said station manager Carl Bogert, unveiling the TerrorFirst! van at a press conference held in the "Terrorist No Zone" in the back parking lot. "When terrorism threatens the people of central Tennessee, Fox 11 is there first. Watch Channel 11 for up-to-the-minute coverage of where, when, and how the enemies of freedom are coming to get you."

"Terrorists better think twice before targeting the good citizens of the greater Murfreesboro area," Bogert said. "Terrorists, if you're watching, I have one thing to say to you: If you attack, the Fox 11 News team will be on the scene just minutes later."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Steelers' Hartings retires

The most stable position, other than coach, in the Steelers' organization is the center position. Only 4 players have played that position since the mid-60's. What a great guy Jeff Hartings is and on top of all that, he is a believer. His next assignment? A church. I'll be praying for you Jeff. May God bless your ministry.

Opening Your Cultural Eyes

I teach a training class for people preparing to go on a short-term mission trip. Part of the training deals with cross-cultural encounters. Basically, the whole trip is a cross-cultural encounter. This is limited to an international trip, but can be encountered when going to another part of the US or even another part of the state.

As I am preparing for the next two sessions, I am reading two books: Serving With Eyes Wide Open by David Livermore and Revolutions in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan. These books help to explain why North Americans going on mission are too ethnocentric. We need to realize that the world does not revolve around us. You have to view a culture at face value, not through the filter of a North American.

Take for example a Croatian pastor. If you eat dinner with him, he will offer you wine. Most North American evangelicals (I am not comfortable with that term) would question the pastor's salvation. In Ireland, many Christians smoke and will go to the pub for a pint. Again, their salvation would be questioned. Just because a culture acts differently than us does not make it wrong.

Instead of looking at culture through our closed view, we need to look at how the people are hurting within their culture. We can't place our values on their culture, but we can discern where they are hurting and their needs within their cultures context. For example, two years ago I was in a certain area of Brazil. It was very poor, is it is in most of Brazil compared to our standards. The biggest need was a father figure for all the kids. We were in an area where there were a lot of single mothers. These kids latched on to the 6 younger team members (mainly between 25-50). Their need, culturally, was a male presence in their life. That became the focus of our time there. The reason to be there was building a church, but the ministry was to these kids. They needed us to share our lives. Through that, they were open to hearing of Christ's love.

Itching Ears

God is leading me into full-time gospel ministry, leading the church in missions and missions training. I am very excited and humbled by this and pray that I follow God's leading every step of the way. The one thing I want to avoid is comforting itching ears. I don't want to preach what people want to hear to make them feel good. Warm fuzzies is not what ministry is all about. My aim is 2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction."

This is my biggest complaint regarding the emerging church. My fear is this new movement has itching ears and only wants to hear something good and positive. Scripture is not held high and pastors, men called by God to preach, are not respected. I have searched dozens, probably hundreds of websites and blogs and those two concepts are prevalent in most of them. I fear 2 Timothy 4:3-4 is their creed, "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the Truth and turn aside to myths."

I pray that I am never one of those teachers that are surrounded by people who want their egos stroked, people who want to feel good after a rough week, people who aren't doing any ministry for the Kingdom except to warm a pew. You know, that doesn't make you popular. I am sure Joel Osteen and others wouldn't be where they are today without scratching a lot of ears. Paul continued his advice to Timothy in the next verse, "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."

Maybe a good sermon title would be, "No ear scratching here."