Monday, October 31, 2005

How I'm doing, and what I need to do

As we move into November, did you remember to "fall back" an hour on your clock? Too bad there aren't more 25 hour days. But as the saying goes, work expands to fill the allotted time. So maybe I'll need to stop hoping and take advantage of what time I do actually have.

It's so (too) easy for me to have a plan for things I want to do during the month that will lead me closer to the mission and vision I believe God has for my family and me, but not take the actions necessary. Or, at times I find myself doing the easier things but postponing the more difficult things just one more day, and then when that day comes just one more day. So by the time I get to the end of the month I have still not gotten to certain things I planned to do in the beginning of that month.

For example, I kept planning to call or e-mail the men in our couples fellowship group, which my wife and I lead. Thankfully I did have a chance to spend some time with them at an outing we went to earlier in the month, and then at our group meeting. But I need to take the steps necessary to further our relationships. I have read books and magazine articles on improving relationships, but I need to take better practical actions. This month I did do well in reaching out to my brother and son to seek time with them.

OK, I'll do a quick rundown by major role of the positives and negatives, and how I can best improve. Please know that I don't want to make this look like I'm works-minded. For me (and I believe this is in line with biblical thinking), it's not about crossing off items on my to-do list, but doing the necessary things, from the heart and in honor of God, that will lead me and my family to the place God would have us be.

Faith: At times God comes across too small to me because I don't spend adequate time in worship to behold Him as He truly is. I don't continually "practice (and enjoy and adore) his presence" like Brother Lawrence might say. And I don't spend enough times of deep prayer, petitioning the Lord for the needs of others, thanking God for all He gives, and confessing and repenting of those sins I have allowed to lead me astray. So my sense of the world becomes distorted in its importance. Zig Ziglar once said that how we start our day will set the tone. If I'm going to start by listening to news on the radio (so much of which is negative), I'll more likely have a negative mindset. I need to focus more on God, so that when I do find out all the bad things in the world for that day, I'll be more ready to see them in proper perspective to God's might and love. On the other side of the coin, I have spent some good time in prayer with my wife, and I have listened to my Bible on tape several days each week. And I think I have gotten better at spending time in the mornings focusing on Him.

Fitness: I've only exercised a couple of times this month (though if you add those times I did some physical work as "exercise," that ups the amount somewhat--does that count? Please?). Again, as noted above, this was one of those things I kept pushing back to endless tomorrows. How guilty I feel whenever my wife talks about her workout! I say how proud of her I am, and am thankful she isn't on my case for my endless "commitment" to get started. Emotionally, I feel a need to write how I'm doing in a journal more regularly. So often I can see in hindsight how my busyness is my unconscious(?) way of avoiding those troubling feelings. I do feel I'm doing better with anger, not allowing my temper to erupt as much, and catching it more quickly when it does. I also feel I'm eating somewhat better. For example, my body reacts quite severely to caffeine. If I go without for even a day, I get headaches and upset stomach. Not that I have a lot of caffeine, but even the little I have is enough to cause me to feel miserable if I go without. So I'm slowly weaning myself from it.

Family: I think I did quite well with this, though there is room for improvement. I feel so much closer to my wife than ever, and I'm slowly but surely growing closer to my stepson. He's so good at bringing me into his conversations; I so often stumble when trying to relate to him. I'm thrilled when I do find a way to spend time with him, and I appreciate so much when he confides in me. I think I do fairly well keeping in touch with my mother and sister, who are out of state, but not so well with my father, who is only about an hour away. As mentioned above, I'm doing OK with my brother. As for the adoption, we made significant progress this week. God willing we'll have the bulk of the paperwork finished by year's end. I also should spend more time reading about China, since that's where she's from.

Friends: As mentioned above, I have had mixed success in reaching out to our fellowship group. Likewise, with some other friends (who I mostly talk with over the phone or by e-mail), I haven't invested as fully in those relationships as I could. Which is to my loss, since these people have been such a blessing to me. I have done some reading on relationships, but need to take steps to truly develop them

Favor (charitable giving and ministry): I think I'm doing pretty well here. I'm involved in a few different ministries, and feel I'm making an impact. My wife is such a wonderful partner in our leadership of the fellowship group. No way I could carry it off without her. I try to come up with a good lesson plan, but she takes ownership of so many other aspects, such as icebreakers, keeping track of who's bringing what food, reminding the members of the next meeting, setting up the dates for the meetings, and coordinating special outings. She also prepares wonderful meals each time we go to the group meetings. If I was unable to attend, I have no doubt the meeting would go quite well. If all that was up to me, chaos would likely ensue! In my lesson preparations for the group, as well as for when I speak to the youth at a detention center I visit, I should spend more time going over my questions and comments (but I don't want to rehearse too much to the point it becomes stilted). And I think I'm doing a tiny bit better operating the camera at church.

Finances: I finally cleaned my car. OK, so it's gotten a bit messy since then, but not too bad. As for organizing some of my personal files, I did make some progress, but that's one area I definitely struggle. I have also gotten a little better grasp of our financial situation. My wife does so well with that, since she doesn't go to the office every day, but I need to at least get a better overview of what's going on. She does keep me informed, but it helps me to see it in front of me.

Firm (career and education): I finally got off my duff and spent some time organizing key points in my resume, which I hadn't done much of in ages. I also did some reading on getting an effective resume together (which I can now see that mine definitely needed some improvement). Since we are planning to move to Texas some time next year once we get our little girl, I feel quite nervous about how to best approach potential employers in our new location, but know that if I just do my best, the Lord will be there to lead us where we need to go.

This month was perhaps the closest I've looked at and evaluated my schedule in a while. Though quite time consuming, it feels good to have a grasp on how I'm really doing. Of course I need God's help to get a truly sound understanding of where I am and what I need to do from here on, and I do seek that. I also have realized that I put too much on my "plate" this month; that's been my pattern, I guess the result of trying to move ahead more quickly than I'm able. I need to face that I am where I am, and trying to do too much will only lead to frustration.

As always, your prayers and encouragement are welcome and needed. And if you are struggling in moving your life forward, please write and I'll gladly pray for and encourage you. Remember, success is not perfection, but progress. It's doing the best we can with what we've got, and when we do fail at times, getting up and learning from our mistakes. May the Lord give us wisdom as we move into November.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Unquenchable Songs and Endless Praise

Great song at the top of the page.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A duty to protect and cherish

Albert Mohler's commentary of October 18 is stunning and sickening. Imagine:
Medical researchers estimate that 80 percent or more of babies now
prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. (They estimate that since
1989, 70 percent of Down syndrome fetuses have been aborted.) A high percentage
of fetuses with cystic fibrosis are aborted, as evident in Kaiser Permanente's
admission to The New York Times that 95 percent of its patients in Northern
California choose abortion after they find out through prenatal screening that
their fetus will have the disease.

writes George Neumayr. George Will, father of a Down syndrome child, Jon, seems to concur. Says Patricia E. Bauer, mother of Margaret, who also has Down syndrome:
To them, Margaret falls into the category of avoidable human suffering. At best,
a tragic mistake. At worst, a living embodiment of the pro-life movement. Less
than human. A drain on society. That someone I love is regarded this way is
unspeakably painful to me
(emphasis mine).

And she adds this chilling postscript:
Margaret's old pediatrician tells me that years ago he used to have a steady
stream of patients with Down syndrome. Not anymore. Where did they go, I
wonder. On the west side of L.A., they aren't being born anymore, he says.

Jesus spoke about those we now consider expendable. In Matthew 25:44-45, He says,
Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?'
Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it
to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'

This has always been Gods heart. Proverbs 14:31 says,
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is
generous to the needy honors him.

And don't forget who bears the ultimate pain:
And he [Paul] said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are
persecuting. (Acts 9:5)

May the Lord have mercy on us for this shameful slaughter of these precious children.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

All great achievements take time

I think this post complements my "history" post. And, of course, it stands on its own as a reminder that not everything fits with our microwave, instant-on mindset.

A hero thanked

Blogger Joe B. from God Even Loves Idiots Like Me has a heartwarming story about a heroic rescue and a beautiful thank you. May you be blessed by it.

History remembered; history to be

Nearly 50 years ago, on December 1, 1955, civil rights icon Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat near the front of a bus. That courageous action was a defining moment in the civil rights movement, and galvanized such men as Martin Luther King to inspire major changes in how our nation treats African Americans. Sadly, Mrs. Parks died yesterday in her sleep. She was 92.

She taught us all that little people can accomplish big things, if only we have the courage to step forth and take on the status quo. Whether it's standing in front of an abortion clinic protesting peacefully, or refusing to go along with friends to a strip club, we can all change history--even if only for a few people around us. Our focus shouldn't necessarily be on changing the world. Let's just do whatever we should when we should, and it will add up. Of course, if we have a chance to get the message out to a larger audience, fine. But how we live each moment will change more hearts than waiting for the "perfect" opportunity.

Some say that the bus event had been planned, while others believe it was spontaneous. Either way, she did something forbidden by law but honorable, I believe, in God's eyes, and was arrested as a result. It would be years, however, before blacks were able to gain equal rights, a key piece of legislation being the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And like many other "wars," the war against racism got worse before it got better, as seen in the violently racist Bull Connor, who as Public Safety Commissioner of Birmingham in the 1960s became infamous for using fire hoses and police dogs against non-violent protesters.

Which leads me to the second part of my post. The Iraqi constitution has been approved by nearly 80% of the voters. This is a mere 2.5 years after our allies joined our heroic military forces in ousting the Saddam Hussein regime. Let us not forget that the US revolution against the British tyranny started in 1775, and the Constitution wasn't approved until 1787, 12 years later. If our efforts had been slowed then amid cries of "quagmire," or if the Civil Rights movement had stopped because people thought it was just taking too long, where would we be? I can't be sure what will come in the future for Iraq. Our nation's future was uncertain for many years, so I think we need to wait before we pass judgment on the success or failure of this venture in the Middle East.

History. It's made by people who, for better or worse, take action. We will remember the infamous like Saddam Hussein and Bull Connor every bit as much as we remember the heroes like Rosa Parks and the Iraqi voters. We are each a part of history. May we do our part to make it worth remembering rather than just being swept along by the tide of events around us.

(Picture of Rosa Parks from Picture of Iraqi voter from AP)

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Who is more successful?

It seems Anne Rice, whose name became synonymous with vampire novels over the years, has become a Christian. According to this MSNBC story, she intends to write only for the Lord. I see Technorati is tracking well over 100 blog posts on this, and I'm sure without even looking that opinions on her conversion will range from "it's not true" to "yes it is"; from "oh no, she was my favorite writer" to "thank the Lord, now I can feel good about reading her books." This is her new book. I haven't read it, and I don't know enough about Anne Rice's conversion to be sure of its authenticity, so don't think I'm plugging anything just yet. I do wish to say that God certainly could change Anne's heart, as he has changed anybody else's.
(Photo from

Meanwhile, young teen singers Lamb and Lynx Gaede, of the group Prussian Blue, have been duped into believing the white race is supreme. Their father employs the Nazi swastika on his belt buckle and the side of his truck, and one of their songs, "Sacrifice," praises Nazi Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy Fuhrer, as a man of peace. In one picture, the girls can be seen wearing t-shirts with caricatures of a smiling Adolf Hitler.
(not sure of the source of this photo)

I don't know the level of Prussian Blue's success. I do know that Anne Rice was very successful as a novelist of the vampire genre. As Anne says in the above story:
"For the last six months," she says, "people have been sending e-mails saying,
'What are you doing next?' And I've told them, 'You may not want what I'm doing

Is Anne risking her sales for a greater profit--Christ? And are Lamb and Lynx risking their souls for the profit of money and the support of racists? From the quick scans I've done of news and blogs on these ladies, I'd say Anne Rice will be far more successful in God's eyes. But the young Gaede girls can still turn to the One, Jesus, who created all of us in His image and for His glory.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Battle for points or hearts?

So far I have been totally unsuccessful at Battle of the Blogs on Blog Explosion. (For those not familiar to the game, blogs go against each other, and whichever is voted the best after 15 votes cast is considered the winner). I'm currently ranked 1876 out of 1944, and have not won any of my 16 battles. So far the most losses without a win is 31, and the worst record is 142 and 582--for a score of -297.

Now I must admit I would prefer to win, at least once in a while. But despite my record, I don't intend to stop. Apparently others feel the same way. So why continue? Is failing a good thing?

Well, each time I battle, I know I'll get 15 people to look at my blog (though for probably no more than several seconds at a time, since the game doesn't allow for long perusals). Does that mean that popularity is big on my list? I won't lie; I like to be liked. But what's more important to me is that the messages I believe God is giving me are being read and are touching people.

Is that a cop out? You can see it anyway you like. Yes, I wish I had better blogging skills. I wish I could write better, understand html codes (or whatever they're called) better, get more comments, and so on. I know that there are plenty of people who are much better in many ways than me. And I believe that God would have me keep growing in my ability to serve him. I think I'm doing that. I have learned a lot about websites (this is my first, and it started this past July) and blogging since I started.

I'll continue to grow in knowledge and ability. But I don't think that God would have me wait on the sidelines until I'm one of the top bloggers before I tell what's on my heart. Think of it. How many of us in some form of ministry don't directly impact the number of people that our pastors do? And should a pastor of a small church stop preaching because he doesn't reach tens of thousands of people each week?

In some nations, Christians are outnumbered big time by those who hate and persecute Christians. But they keep plugging away, touching and, by God's grace, changing hearts wherever they can. Maybe it's one or two at a time. Maybe they are babies in Christ, and can't present the salvation message with the same expertise as a more mature believer. But if they know God, they know that He can multiply what we have based on our heart, not merely our ability. Likewise, those of us who lack in ability will have our influence multiplied by God's grace, if honoring and glorifying Him is truly our motive.

In a recent message I gave to some youth in a detention center, I discussed biblical success. I told them that success that comes from a heart devoted to God and His ways is, in God's eys, more truly successful than "success" that comes from a heart opposed to God and His ways. So, I believe that blogs and websites and books and songs that glorify evil and that have thousands and millions of readers and listeners are not as truly successful as those same media that only reach a small percentage of that amount of people but that do glorify God.

So please, if you are like me--doing your best to glorify and honor the Lord but not gaining the readership and popularity you desire, don't fret. Keep your heart in the right place. Yes, keep growing in your abilities, but don't let that take the place of growing in spiritual maturity. And for those of you that have gained large numbers of followers but who are promoting (whether explicitly or implicitly) messages that would offend God, I pray that God helps you see what true success is.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Who will alter our minds?

It seems some Chinese authorities are giving mind-altering drugs to Christian leaders so that the leaders are led to betray fellow believers. Of course the authorities deny this is taking place.

Time will tell. But sadly, Christian minds have be altered negatively without drugs. How? Largely by drinking in the hours of public education, television, and advertisements spewed out by our culture.

The Amplified Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:16, "For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart."

Our minds will be altered, whether by negative or positive influences. I'm not trying to say that all TV, public schools, etc., are bad, but we need to beware of what we're taking in. It's so easy to just sit in front of the TV and veg, or listen to music we might not even know the words to. Our minds are incredible; they take in and process far more than we realize. Rather than being passive, let us learn from the words of Proverbs 15:14: "The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on folly" (NASB; cf Proverbs 18:15). Yes, we need to seek out truth, or else we'll be fed, and digest, whatever we happen to come across. That will bring life, but seeking to please our flesh will bring death (see Romans 8:6).

Just as we "must be born again" (John 3:7), our minds must be renewed (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23) by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), whom receive through salvation in Christ (Titus 3:6). We must "put on the new self" which is in God's likeness (Eph. 4:24). Let us ask God to test our minds and hearts (Psalm 26:2), and may we not be found wanting (Daniel 5:27). Only by loving the Lord with all our being (Mark 12:30), including our minds, can we hope to see the worldly influences fade into smallness.

Amplified Bible (AMP)
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Best news?

Question of the Day has good questions for today (October 19): What is the best news you've ever received? How about the best news you've ever given someone? Take some time to reflect on your answer, then go and answer. Doing so may brighten your day.

Steve Chandler, in his book 101 Ways to Motivate Yourself, says that we should not merely watch the news, but we should make news. What can we do today that will be newsworthy (well, at least to those who really matter to us)? Too often we merely exist, rather than making a difference. Now I don't think we should do a noteworthy thing mainly to get noticed. The noteworthiness should be a by-product of our desire to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life" (Thoreau). If we haven't done something that really matters for quite a while, we're merely taking up space.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Vote for the lesser of two evils, or not at all?

In just a few weeks, many voters will go to the polls. For some of them, the choices will be frustrating. I tend toward conservative (social and economic), and in one race there seems to be little difference between the candidates. Both support abortion (perhaps one slightly more than the other). Both are not strong supporters of traditional marriage, and have said that they will support benefits for civil unions. I think the one is somewhat more conservative fiscally. But I'm much more concerned about moral issues.

I have vacillated between voting for the lesser of the two "evils," or not voting at all. If I do the former, I'll be criticized by those who say we Christians shouldn't sell out our values simply because there is no better option. And I can see that. If I (and others) do vote for that candidate, my party will continue to bring forth liberal candidates as viable options. If I (and others) don't vote for that candidate, and he loses big, maybe(?) the party will get the message.

But if I do the latter, and don't vote at all, I'll be criticized by those who say that by not voting, I'm in effect casting a vote for the other candidate (there is some truth to that, as in the Rush lyrics, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice"). And there is truth to that. Also, they'll say that by not voting, I've given up my right to complain.

The choices we make can impact our destiny and that of others. Not only because of the policies the candidates will set forth, but also because we'll have to live with the knowledge that we chose as we did for the reasons we did.

Right now I'm leaning toward not voting (OK, bring on the criticisms). But what say you? If you're torn, let me know what you think. And let's all pray for wisdom.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hero to the rescue

Teen Adam Silvas witnesses Peggy Jo Connor attempting to cut unborn baby from Valerie Oskin's womb, and does the right thing.
"When I first saw it, I knew it was foul play because it was just very
suspicious happening. The lady acted really weird," he said.
Conner told him
"everything was fine," he said. He said he was going into the woods to ride, and
she "smiled and waved at me."
"I didn't really say too much because I knew
something was wrong. I had seen somebody laying beside the car," he recalled.
Instead he said he raced -- heart pounding, a lump in his throat -- back
home to get his father, Andrew Silvas. The two rushed back to the site, unsure
what they would find.

The story continues:
When they arrived, he said, the woman who was standing had "an eerie calm about
her." He asked her what she was doing. "She said, 'Nothing, nothing.'"
told him she was planning to take the bloodied woman to the hospital.
come you didn't ask my son for help?" he said he asked. "She replied, 'I don't

How many people these days--especially one as young as Adam Silvas-- would have not only been able to discern the truth in this situation, but have the courage and compassion to take the proper action?
Adam Silvas said he doesn't want to be viewed as a hero, although he's extremely
happy that Oskin and her baby are doing well.
His father said, "I'm extremely
proud of him. He handled himself very well."

Humility, compassion, courage, wisdom. Perhaps Adam doesn't want to be considered a hero because he believes that doing the right thing should be the norm. Would that it were true, Adam, but you've set a fine example for others to follow.

By the way, here's a sickening contrast to Adam's character:

Both [Adam and his father] said Conner sat on the hood of a car and laughed
as they waited for authorities to arrive.

Finally, here's proof that not all sanity is lost in our justice system:
Conner is being held without bail.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

It's not all about me

The last couple of days have been rather disturbing. Yesterday, just because I let somebody merge in front of me (the traffic was barely moving), the person behind me apparently thought that slowed down his ride by a few seconds--which is simply unacceptable--and so he honked at me. Today, I saw a couple cars refuse to allow cars to merge, again in heavy traffic.

Did you read the story about the woman who faked her pregnancy, then kidnaped a woman in an attempt to cut the baby out of her womb? Indeed, this is an extreme form of the rudeness that is captivating our culture.

Here, Albert Mohler shows the extreme form of selfishness that is being taught at a major university. He discusses Peter Singer, who says our personhood is based on our level of cognizance, and extrapolates to say that therefore a severely retarded human may be less worthy of life than a dog or cat, and that infanticide should therefore be legal. Singer says:
If we compare a severely defective human infant with a nonhuman animal, a dog or
a pig, for example, we will often find the nonhuman to have superior capacities,
both actual and potential, for rationality, self-consciousness, communication,
and anything else that can plausibly be considered morally significant.

And haven't we read so often about how "criminal" it is to take eggs from a nest, but it's "fine" to commit abortion? Singer would widen that divide.

But it goes beyond those who are retarded. Check this out:

The fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species
Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather,
characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a
difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot
be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings.

So if a woman gives birth, and then several days or even weeks after decides the baby cramps her style, so to speak, she should be able to kill him because he lacks the personhood that Singer deems necessary. The same with old people with dementia in nursing homes (and I wonder if it applies, or will one day, to the mentally astute but bedridden?).

The Bible decries selfishness, and praises those who give sacrificially. A person who takes a life simply to make their life easier, or doesn't allow traffic to merge, is not truly happy. We get more by giving than we do by getting, for the Lord blesses the selfless person abundantly.

(OK, I'm trying my hand at Technorati tags. I'm a bit befuddled, so forgive me if it doesn't work properly. If you have suggestions, please let me know. As you can also see, I have done more updating on my blogging tools.)

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Blog restoration has begun

OK, for those of you who saw my blog half-naked due to my mistake (see yesterday's post), I have started restoring some of the links. Hopefully in the next few days it will be back to it's lovely self.

Expandable trousers, or expend some energy?

The pants I'm wearing don't fit like they used to. For years I had not gained any weight; I mean for years. Then, at around 40, it started adding up. I'm now about 20 pounds heavier than I was. And it's not muscle. In fact, I think most of it is around my waist.

I'm coming to like expandable waistbands on my trousers (are there any expandable belts out there, especially when your belt is on its last hole?). When I wear these non-expandable pants, it reminds me how out of shape I am. As long as I'm comfortable, I tend to ignore or at least belittle exercise and healthy eating. For a while I've been telling my wife I'm going to get into better health habits. She has already taken significant steps in that direction. But there's always something I like to do more (isn't that always the case?).

Let's face it. I know that exercise is a good thing, but I want the rewards, not the discipline. I want to be able to tell other people what's best while not feeling obligated to do it myself. Zig Ziglar once said that a hypocrite is a person who complains about the sex and violence on his VCR. In the case of exercise, that seems to be me. In earlier posts I discussed key life areas (Faith, Fitness, Family, Friends, Favor, Finances, Firm, and Fun). Imagine a wheel with 8 spokes, each spoke representing a key life area. Based on how you're doing in each area (1 for poor, 10 for excellent), make a mark on the appropriate spoke--1 is closest to the center and 10 is near the rim. Now connect those dots. Are you able to create a circle with those dots? I know I can't. My physical fitness is near the center, while my fun is pretty high up there. I'm doing well with friends (that's improved in the past couple of years) and family, while firm (career) is dragging somewhat (largely because I'm intimidated by the whole resume and interview process; I do have a job, but there have been some close calls with downsizing). Finances: OK. Faith, greatly improved thanks in large part to the example and blessing of my wife.

So my wheel is quite wobbly. I will hit my fitness and firm much harder in the coming weeks, so they don't get even more "out of shape."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Don't let amateurs like me make major template changes!

Ooops! I decided to try a new template. They said that some changes I had made would be lost, but I didn't realize it would be all my links, my blog tools, etc. Thankfully I did manage to find my old template cached on Google, so I hope I can figure out how to enter the codes correctly so the information shows up as I'd like it to. I apologize to those of you whose sites I linked to. God willing you'll be back on my page real soon.

God sees the heart above all, and that's the tooth

A little girl, Briton Nordmeyer, sends her tooth to the Red Cross, hoping the tooth fairy will leave money there for the victims of Hurricane Katrina instead of under her pillow. In the natural world we say, "That's cute," and then under our breaths, "But that's all it is." Some people might even chide the news for carrying such a story. But I think it's an encouraging example of what a good-hearted person with little to offer financially can do. And somebody sent a $500 donation on her behalf (perhaps there were more donations related to her gift). Whatever the final financial results of her offering, God will bless her mightily.

Mark 10: 13-16:
13And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." 16And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (ESV)

I wonder if the disciples were thinking, We can't let those kids bother Jesus. He's got more important, adult, things to deal with. Seems Jesus not only disagreed with them; He was "indignant." Pretty strong word. How dare we begrudge children from giving anything simply because it doesn't add up to much financially. Jesus shows us that we can learn a lot from a child's innocent offering.

Briton truly believed her gift would make a big difference, and she gave for the right reasons. May God help people see His priorities through this story.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Not giving up

Amazing, huh? 78 hours (over 3 days) later, a boy is pulled from the rubble. Even more amazing, 80 hours after the earthquake, a 55-year-old woman and her 75-year-old mother are also pulled from the rubble.

I'll bet that most people who are able to hang on in such dire circumstances believe there is something worth living for. If a person has low self-esteem, and merely exists day to day, the thought of pressing through severe difficulties may not seem worth it.

Christians most of all should believe life is worth living. Yes, we can be torn between whether to stay here and continue ministering to others, or let the Lord take us to heaven. The Apostle Paul was torn thus. In Philippians 1:21-24, he says, "21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account" (ESV).

The deciding factor seems to be that Paul knew he wasn't done with the Lord's work. God had more plans for him. As for us, we should assume that as long as we have breath, we have more of the Lord's work to do.

One man of God (whose name I don't recall at this time) always had a full speaking schedule. Then, one day his calendar was open. This was a clue to him that his days were ending. He didn't choose retirement, and neither should we. God chose to retire him.

Lord, help us to cherish life on earth as long as you would give us the honor of ministering to your glory, and let us indeed "go gently into that good night" when you choose to take us home. In Jesus' name, Amen.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Monday, October 10, 2005

How to know what we're really made of

Looting has followed the earthquake along the India-Pakistan border, as surely as it followed the flooding in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and as surely as it has and will follow other disasters.

I'd like to think that in the midst of a disaster, I would behave honorably. I wouldn't steal (except maybe absolute necessities that couldn't be had any other way) , or shoot at rescuers. I'd like to think so.

I'd also like to think I would jump in front of a car to save somebody dear to me.

The question I must ask myself is, am I generally a selfless, courageous, and God-fearing man? Because only to the degree that I am in normal circumstances can I hope to be so in crises. If I have justified stealing little things here and there, for example, it's possible I might justify stealing bigger items after a crisis. "After all, everybody else is doing it. If I don't take it, somebody else will." Or if I place too much value on comfort and the avoidance of pain, I might very well be less likely to risk my life for another. I read not long ago about a ship sinking, and no longer did "women and children first" apply. Many women and children perished because scores of men took left the ship first. I couldn't see myself doing that, just as I couldn't see myself letting a loved one perish, and couldn't imagine stealing stereos and the like.

Lord, help me to be a man of honor and courage. Show me the heart that Jesus had when he so bravely and selflessly went to the cross on our behalf. Let me be the right kind of man each and every day so that when crises do come I'll continue to honor You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Digging out the pain

I was flossing my teeth recently when I hit upon a particularly sensitive area.

So I went at it with extra intensity. Did I want to? Of course not! I hate pain. But I knew that by ignoring the pain it would only become worse.

That area is doing just fine now.

Us men are particularly averse to digging out those painful emotions. We tend to suppress them or "medicate" them with drinking, sex, work, etc. But like sore gums, untreated emotions can lead to even greater pain. I think we often don't even realize we're avoiding the core problem. Sometimes I'll find myself going for the junk food or keeping busy, and only later upon looking back do I realize why I did so. Avoidance.

I need to realize that God isn't looking at my accomplishments. He's more concerned about my heart. My motives. Do I take time to think why I'm doing something? Is it really to do that very thing, or to avoid facing something else? And why do I keep waiting for that sore area to fester rather than hitting it head on? Do I really think it will end up any different if I ignore it?

When my wife and I have disagreements, we know that we can't just let them be. Either we talk it through, or we forgive and let it go. But it's not hanging out there, boiling up inside of us. I know that I have wanted to just walk away from it, but I've learned the hard way that it ends up so much worse if I do.

May the Lord grant me courage to face the painful areas in my life, and the wisdom to root them out properly.