Monday, March 30, 2009

Investing In Real Things

James Rogers gives an interview for the U.K.'s Channel 4, and the poor interviewer can't believe what he is hearing, as Rogers presents to him the reality of the economy and what it will take to avoid a depression. One of the most important things, other than giving a basic economics lesson, that comes out of this interview is the importance of investing in real things, farming, mining, etc... So, time to expand your gardens folks, and learn a necessary skill. This is what will last and be of worth in the coming years. Enough of the efforts to create desire for extras, if what Rogers, Austin Fitz, Roubini and Celente are saying is true, the yeoman will be the one prospering.

This reminds me of my public school education. Many times I remember the history texts, in a deriding way, taught of how Thomas Jefferson wanted the U.S. to be the food supplier to the world, with farming being the main occupation of our population. Somehow, that doesn't seem so absurd now.

Here's the Rogers interview.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scripture of the Week- John 12: 24-26

24 Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.

Jesus spoke these words as the hour of his death, the hour of his "glorification" was approaching. These words are so clear and yet so deeply mysterious and paradoxical. It seems that our God, who's thoughts are not our thoughts and who's ways are not our ways, can best communicate His infinite depth to our finite minds through paradox and mystery. Yet there is a piercing clarity and truth couched in the midst of these beautiful words.... And this is God's bottom line for us, if we want to live we must die.

This truth flies in the face of every human instinct and inclination. Surely God created us with desires that He intended to fulfill in this life... Surely, as our provider, He will give us health, food, shelter, clothing, money, a loving spouse and the love of family.... Didn't he promise each of His children "an abundant life", after all?

And yet here, His will clashes with all of our intentions at the very deepest level possible. We want to live and to be comfortable and happy. We want lives full of realized dreams, material blessings, and significant relationships. Modern psychology tells us that this is our birthright--- self actualization, the deepest purpose of human life. But God demands the impossible, that we willingly abandon our desires and deepest human inclinations in order to embrace death.... Death.... How empty Jesus must have been, empty of all of His hopes, dreams and intentions... And our Father said that He was "perfect" in His obedience and asks us to be perfect in the same way. We are invited to share in Jesus's sufferings that we might also share in His glory. We are told that we must hate our life in this world and that, then, we will have eternal life. And our dear, precious Lord Himself speaks these words that are almost to impossible to contemplate--- that if we love Him and desire to serve Him, we must follow Him. Yet all things are possible with God.

Truly this is the ultimate choice of every human being who has ever lived. Do we follow Adam and Eve as they determine good and evil for themselves and disobey God in the pursuit of their own desires, or, do we follow Jesus who emptied Himself of His own desires and became perfect in His obedience to the Father as He embraced incomprehensible agony and death on our behalf?

Personally, I return to this question over and over again. This is a war of epic proportions within me and I vacillate between these 2 polarities, knowing all the while that God does more than frown on those who are double minded. I often wonder why God has not given me the things that I believe that I need in order to survive and thrive in this world. I want to be happy and love my life. Again and again though, God keeps bringing me to the realization that I hate my life in this world and that the only thing worth having is Him. Yes, there are tremendous blessings, comforts and consolations-- dear friendships and material provisions-- Perhaps this is God's deepest provision for me though, that He does not let me have the things that would cause me to love this life dearly. In so doing, He keeps me willing to follow Him and keeps me willing to continue to die to myself.

I always remind myself that this life is only a vapor. Yes Lord, please keep me willing, all of the days of my life, to follow you and to embrace the cross.


Friday, March 27, 2009

More Fun

I don't watch Letterman, so I missed this when it first aired. It's good fun!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scripture of the Week- John 3:14-21

14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."

The light of God, Jesus Himself….. Uncreated God, uncreated light…. He existed with the Father and the Spirit, in radiant splendor, before the foundations of the cosmos. Scripture promises that, when the Sun is long dead and extinct, God’s children will walk in the New Jerusalem which will be illuminated by God Himself. What an extraordinary thought! How beautiful that light will be, beautiful beyond our ability to imagine….. But then we will be His pure and spotless bride, without sin. How awesome it will be, when we are holy, like Jesus, formed perfectly into His image. Now to say that we are simply blemished is an extreme understatement. We are consumed by sin, body, mind and soul…. We are comprised of darkness and shadows. It is on our skin, in our eyes, in our bones…. It is enmeshed in our souls… Our hearts are desperately wicked and hideously deformed. The fall has shattered the image of God within us. We are not as God intended for us to be.

How very painful it is to walk into the light of Christ in this condition…. Even God’s children keep to the bushes, like Adam & Eve, desperately trying to hide from the light that reveals our darkness and shame. Yet the light draws us out and beckons to us, just as the voice of the Father called to Adam & Eve in the garden. We were created to walk in that beautiful light that reveals just how infused with death and decay we are.

There was only one possible cure for our desperate circumstances, only one chance to walk once again with the Living God… The light of the world, Jesus Christ, descended into our darkness. In another garden, thousands of years after Adam and Eve, our beautiful light surrendered with His whole heart and soul to the darkness of the world. He emptied Himself and surrendered to wicked men and the demonic forces empowering them. He became darkness on the cross as He took all of our sins upon Himself, so hideous and deformed and black with death that the Father turned His face away. No human being has ever endured darkness so black and such desperate despair. Even in the thickest darkness of the world, there is always some light of God, yet Jesus entered into a perfect darkness on our behalf. And then, the sun’s light failed and Jesus died. He was so empty of Himself, devoid of the light, that satan thought that he had won.

And we can only imagine the deeper darkness that Jesus descended to, after the sun’s light failed and He died on the cross, for He journeyed into hell. God’s love and light even pierced that profound and impenetrable darkness. And there, just like in the world, those who belonged to the light recognized Him and were set free from the darkness as they rushed into His embrace.

And this is the judgment, the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. This is truly the point of judgment and eternal decision for every human being. Do we love the light and allow ourselves to be drawn to it, like a moth to the flame, knowing that we will burn in its brightness and die a thousand deaths, or, do we turn from the light and embrace the darkness and our sin?

On Easter morning, the Son of Man was lifted up in radiant brightness and light. He was restored fully to His divine position in the Godhead. Brighter than the sun, He blazed a victorious trail for every human being to follow in His footsteps from deepest darkness into eternal light. And people still love the darkness rather than the light. The agony that He suffered as He opened Himself fully to the darkness of the world and hell must be a small pain compared to the agony that He continues to suffer in watching those that He bought with so dear a price walk away from Him for all eternity. How He must grieve, even in the perfect light and fellowship of the trinity, as He watches people turn away from Him and immerse themselves in eternal darkness.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Too Funny

Apparently, someone with a great sense of humor has personified President Obama's teleprompter, communicating through a blog and a twitter account.
Check it out for some lighthearted and sometimes pointed humor.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How To Bore A Church

Over at Quiddity, Andrew Kern writes,

"How to bore a child: Try to entertain him.".

I would say the same applies to the church.

How to bore a congregation with God's word: Try to entertain them.

From my childhood I've heard many sermons, from Sunday mornings and evenings, to special speakers brought into the church for special evangelistic efforts. I've also spent most of my years attending Sunday School. What I've invariably found is that those who try to be funny throughout the sermon, or to make Sunday School "fun", end up being remembered as being entertaining, but not for the message from God's word they are trying to convey. Humor can be a tool to convey a point or put an audience at ease, but a constant stream of cleverness often just puts the focus on the speaker or teacher rather than on God.

Really, the Bible is truly fascinating enough if its message is clear and not clouded. Preached in love, intelligence, good will and good humor it will result in something real to hold onto - and a congregation engaged in real, exciting thought and action.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Morally Unserious

Do you remember when candidate Obama was asked by Rick Warren when life begins? His answer was that it was "above his pay grade". That was indeed a morally unserious answer and a foreshadowing of what was to follow. Charles Krauthammer writes about his continued unseriousness in today's Washington Post article.

He says:

President Bush had restricted federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to cells derived from embryos that had already been destroyed (as of his speech of Aug. 9, 2001). While I favor moving that moral line to additionally permit the use of spare fertility clinic embryos, President Obama replaced it with no line at all. He pointedly left open the creation of cloned -- and noncloned sperm-and-egg-derived -- human embryos solely for the purpose of dismemberment and use for parts.


Moreover, given the protean power of embryonic manipulation, the temptation it presents to science and the well-recorded human propensity for evil even in the pursuit of good, lines must be drawn. I suggested the bright line prohibiting the deliberate creation of human embryos solely for the instrumental purpose of research -- a clear violation of the categorical imperative not to make a human life (even if only a potential human life) a means rather than an end.

On this, Obama has nothing to say. He leaves it entirely to the scientists. This is more than moral abdication. It is acquiescence to the mystique of "science" and its inherent moral benevolence. How anyone as sophisticated as Obama can believe this within living memory of Mengele and Tuskegee and the fake (and coercive) South Korean stem cell research is hard to fathom.


Obama's address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discourses always are, with a forest of straw men. Such as his admonition that we must resist the "false choice between sound science and moral values." Yet, exactly 2 minutes and 12 seconds later he went on to declare that he would never open the door to the "use of cloning for human reproduction."

Does he not think that a cloned human would be of extraordinary scientific interest? And yet he banned it.

Is he so obtuse as not to see that he had just made a choice of ethics over science? Yet, unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others not.

This is not just intellectual laziness. It is the moral arrogance of a man who continuously dismisses his critics as ideological while he is guided exclusively by pragmatism (in economics, social policy, foreign policy) and science in medical ethics.

Pragmatism is a dangerous philosophy. With it we move from general principles of truth to only what we can experience. So, it's okay to create human embryos only to destroy them, because it may one day cure this disease or solve this problem. We won't really be bothered with the question of the sanctity of human life, when it deserves protection, or does it have a soul. That just wouldn't be practical.

The good is often impractical and requires sacrifice - otherwise more people would do it. Right now we need leadership that is humble, good and grounded in reason.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Should McCotter Do Standup?

Really great and funny interview with Congressman McCotter.

H/T Andrew Breitbart

An Explanation of the Current Economy

Randall Hoven has as concise an explanation for what has and is happening to the economy as I have seen, over at The American Thinker. He stays away from conspiracy theories and he stays away from the question of the run on the markets in September, but over all he puts the information on the surface together pretty well. See what you think.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fragmented Evangelicalism

Alan Jacobs in First Things illustrates how fragmented Evangelicalism is in his article, Do-It-Yourself Tradition. He focuses on how one branch finds doctrine not to be enough, (Remember Thomas Howard's, Evangelicalism Is Not Enough?), and refers mainly to four authors, Halter, Smay, McLaren and Wilson-Hartgrove. What he finds is a desire to pick and choose traditions and disciplines. He even has a little fun with McLaren and Wilson-Hartgrove in their affinity for a sort of monastic life with out the authority of the Catholic Church. These authors are very different from others who have embraced tradition while embracing Catholic authority, such as Kreeft, Howard, Hahn, and more recently, Francis Beckwith, in this way.

I find it interesting that there are other traditional churches, Anglo-Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran, yet these are not embraced by the authors Jacob points out. Perhaps it is part of our post-modern world that we want to pick and choose. I would think this would make it more difficult to live in community, which these authors desire, rather than easier.

Back to Jacobs, he ends by agreeing that we must change and proposing two models. The first is Kierkegaard's Knight of Faith, whose life is so devoted to Christ that what those around him can detect is that he becomes more solid. He adds that this is much harder than it appears because of having to live it out in the world and then points to the monastic life for those who are too weak to be devoted to Christ in the world. Finally, he calls us to truly look to the ancients to give us guidance for the times we are facing.

All this is interesting to me for a number of reasons. Mainly because I find tradition almost irresistible. There have been times when I so wished I could honestly embrace the doctrines of the Roman Catholic or the Orthodox Church. Alas, I'd have to set aside my true beliefs and understanding which I could not do with integrity. So, I understand the appeal of picking and choosing that McLaren and others advocate, but I see a real danger in this, and that is wanting to have everything ones own way.

What Will the Holy Spirit Do Next?

The end of evangelicalism.... Intriguing, but unlikely...

Perhaps the author of this prediction is correct and evangelicalism is on it's last legs in the United States. That thought grieves me deeply. However, it also causes me to wonder what the Holy Spirit will do next-- and where.

With St. Patrick's Day coming up, my thoughts have been drifting to Ireland. The ancient faith of St. Patrick and St. Brigid and how the Lord overcame a violently pagan and cultic culture with love, light and truth has always captured my imagination.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is like a wind and that He blows where He will according to the will of the Father. Only Our Father has the perspective to understand the movements of the Spirit.

When the wind dies down in one place, we can rely upon the fact that it will turn up elsewhere. We can trust that the wind will not die down completely until the end of days.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Death or Change?

Michael Spencer has an article in the Christian Science Monitor, The Coming Evangelical Collapse. He says:

We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

Part of the reason this will happen is because there is no longer a strict definition of what evangelicalism means. Some of that is because it has been caricatured in the media, (not always without reason), but also because the barriers between denominations are breaking down. This started many years ago after Vatican II, (Remember Charismatic Catholic churches?), and is continuing to blossom. We see this displayed in a return to traditionalism or a rejection of almost any tradition i.e. seeker services.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Has this not been occurring for a while? Whether it be the absurd Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution's rejection of a state sponsored church, the taxpayer funding of abortions and now funding for embryonic stem cell research? Or how about how Christians are portrayed in television and movies and the latest anti-theist screeds published in the last few years. Public policy and popular culture have been hostile to Christianity for a while.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

I will largely abbreviate why he thinks this will happen. Do go read the whole article when you have time.

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. ....massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

2. Evangelicals have spent more time entertaining youth than teaching an orthodox form of faith that will take root and survive the secular onslaught they will face.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to "do good" is rapidly approaching.

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

7. The money will dry up.

Spencer goes on from there to explain what will be left and the good and the bad of that. It is well worth a longer look.

The one thing I always have trouble with in these types of prognostications is that they take God completely out of the mix. If it were up to the church alone to survive, it would have been over a long time ago. As it is, God is with us. He has sent the Paraklete to guide, convict and protect.

If we take his predictions as a warning and a well intentioned chastisement, then I think we would do well. I hope we do not take it with a sense of doom, because Christ is our hope.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cramer vs. ?

Here is an a good article by Jim Cramer. Interesting in how he explains his normally liberal leanings when it comes to taxes and regulation and how they will not work right now. Even more interesting is the difference between how the the Bush and Obama administrations and defenders react to his criticisms. Check it out.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Titans of Finance

Where were the brilliant titans of finance who've destroyed our economy educated? Mostly at Harvard, but that's not the only school that has failed to teach basic economics. Deborah Barrow has the larger list here.

If either of my daughters ever decide to go into business, I will strongly encourage them to begin a small business and apprentice under someone who's ethical and successful in business. I certainly won't discourage a college education, but it's one thing to study theory, (it has it's place), but if someone wants to learn anything, they must do. This applies to business, cooking, art, music, driving, prayer....anything.

I'm Hip!

Well, according to Brett McCracken, I am. That is, I'm hip except for the smoking, goth part. Can one be hip at age 42?

Are you hip?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Olivia

Today is Olivia's 8th birthday.

Olivia loves nature, especially animals. For her birthday party on Saturday, she and her guests enjoyed pony rides and she was in her element. She is now requesting riding lessons, of course! Her disposition is to be happy with what everyone else likes to do, so we're very happy when she voices a preference.

Happy birthday, sweet one.

Irony Predicted

Go here to see the weather forecast for this day - predicted on 18 December 2008.