Out of the mouth of babes

29 08 2008

*Warning!* It’s about to get political!

I was sitting at the dinner table with my family tonight and was feeling kind of silly.  When I’m feeling silly, I sometimes confuse my kids by asking them questions I know they probably won’t understand.  It’s fun to see your kids look at you like you’re an alien when you ask them: “So Jonathan… have you researched any prospectuses so you can use your investment capital more wisely?”

So I turned to Daniel, my genius four year old (he can read at a 3rd grade level), and asked him: “this sure has been an exciting election cycle… who do you think we should vote for?”

He yelled out “Barack Obama!”

After getting over the amused shock that he even knew what I was talking about (and that he’s probably watching too much tv), I then had the following dialogue:

Daddy: Barack Obama, huh?  Why do you think we should vote for him?

Daniel: Well, I think maybe he’s a nice guy and we should vote for nice guys!

Daddy: Oh… and do you know who the other guy is?

Daniel: Yeah, John McCain (with much less enthusiasm)

Daddy: And you don’t think we should vote for him?

Daniel: No.

Daddy: Why not?

Daniel: Well, maybe because he’s a bad guy or maybe he does bad things.  Maybe.

Daddy: Like what kind of bad things?

Daniel: I don’t know.  Maybe he didn’t.

Daddy: Oh, ok.  Well Daniel, did you know that Barack Obama thinks it’s ok to hurt babies?

Daniel: What?! (with a look of shock and confusion) Read the rest of this entry »





Bob Kauflin: The Partnership in Corporate Worship

27 08 2008

I am reading through Kauflin’s wonderful book, Worship Matters, and I’m greatly encouraged by this brother’s understanding of an issue many people are confused about or fighting over.  His high view of God and of His Word really reflect a “worship leader” who is properly prepared to lead people in corporate worship.  Also, this right view helps him properly approach potentially divisive issues like, “Who gets more time Sunday morning, the musicians or the preacher?”  Check out how he understands the partnership between the two.





The Week that Was…

25 08 2008

Sorry I haven’t posted for over a week, but the last 7 days have been…um… taxing, to say the least.

A few months ago my mom’s blood sugar started going crazy (she was at work one day with a blood sugar level over 500).  As the doctors began trying to figure out what was going on, they discovered a tumor in her pancreas.  Last Monday, my two sister and I accompanied my mom to the University of Washington medical center where she underwent a 10 hour surgery to remove the tumor.

Halfway through the surgery, the doctors came out to talk with the three of us and explained that the tumor ran through the entire length of pancreas.  Since they couldn’t wake my mom up and ask her, they were asking our permission to take out her whole pancreas.  As we learned, you can live without your pancreas.  No pancreas just means welcome to diabetes… and insulin dependence.  The doctor explained that he believed the tumor was a carcinoma and, if it was left in, we would be leaving in a “ticking time bomb.”  When faced with the decision of diabetes vs. pancreatic cancer, the decision wasn’t too difficult.

By the time the surgery was completed, not only had they taken the entire pancreas, but they also removed her spleen, part of her stomach, and part of her small intestine.  Like I said, the entire process took over 10 hours.  My sisters and I outlasted everyone else in the waiting room and were still there when the janitors arrived.  That was last Monday.

Tuesday through Friday was spent in three worlds.

First, I wanted to be there for my mom (who spent two days following the surgery in the ICU) and my sisters.  This meant daily trips to Seattle and the UW.  It is a drive I feel I have now mastered and understand that much of it will be spent sitting and waiting on the freeway.  This world was a new one, but God gave me gracious blessings in it- being able to spend time with my mom and sisters and have some wonderful conversations about our life together and our life with the Lord.

The second world I walked through this last week was one that I’m much more familiar with and, thankfully, was portable.  Our Senior Pastor is away on vacation, so I have the responsibilities of our church ministries to care for.  With the invention of the cell phone and the laptop, I was able to have a portable office and work on my sermon, on email, and help people work through ministry issues.  Honestly, it wasn’t easy to get my brain into this world, but (again) God was gracious and so the church is still standing and a sermon was preached last Sunday.

The third world is that of my wife and daughters.  This was the world that I gave little to this week, but in return it gave so much to me.  My wife was so supportive and such an encouragement.  During a week like this, you really see and understand why God said “It is not good for man to be alone.”  The blessing of a gracious and support spouse is one I was praising God for over and over again this week.  In addition to Amy’s love, it was such a blessing to come home after a long day in worlds one and two, and see two smiling little girls and hold them in my arms.  It is amazing how hugging your children can make so many of life’s cares and concerns melt away.

Then came Saturday… Read the rest of this entry »





The glory due His name…

21 08 2008

I lead music from time to time in our church.  In preparation for one such evening, I endeavored to lead my church body in a string of worship songs directly related to scripture that spoke about worship.  I used 1 Chronicles 16:29 along with some appropriate hymns.  Below is basically what I went through with them; I hope it challenges your idea of worship.  And if you want to use this for your own ministry, have at it!

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him;
Worship the Lord in holy array;”
1 Chronicles 16:29

After David was made King of Israel, one of his first actions was to retrieve the ark from Kiriath-jearim and place it in the new capital city of Jerusalem.  This set the tone that the new government under David would be centralized around God and not man.

After setting up the ark in it’s new tent, they offered burnt and peace offerings and David (as he was known to do) broke out in a song of praise to God.  It is in this song we find the verse in question, whose parts we will observe in reverse order:

“Worship the Lord in holy array”
An alternate translation of “holy array” is “the splendor of holiness”.  While it is easy to read over quickly, we need to notice that we are the ones in holy array.  This is talking about being clean when we come before God to worship Him (Micah 6:6-8).  To reflect this truth, we sang “Take Time to Be Holy”.

“Bring an offering, and come before Him”
Many people come to a worship service to get something.  To get encouragement, to get good fellowship, to get some good music, etc…  The point of worship is to honor God!  We should be bringing something for Him.  This should first and foremost be our hearts and our lives, but it is also shown in gifts and offerings.  With this in mind we sang “We Give Thee but Thine Own” (our hymnal actually only has the first two verses of what is shown on cyberhymnal).

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name”
Think about that statement for a second.  How in the world can we ascribe to God the glory He is due?  We can’t even understand the glory that God is owed for crying out loud!  Nevertheless, we are charged to do our best to meditate on the immensity of our Lord, and the more we do that, the more naturally we will, like David, break out into song.  We then closed with “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” (our hymnal only shows the 1st, 2nd, and 4th verse of what is on cyberhymnal)





Father and Son: A Glimpse of God’s Love

17 08 2008

One day, a son asked his father, “Dad, will you race with me in a 5-mile run?” Touched by his son’s heart-felt request, the father, despite having a heart condition, lovingly said “Yes”. So, together they raced. They didn’t win (they weren’t even close) but the joy of their togetherness was worth far more than finishing first. With smiles on both of their faces they finished together.

Soon after, the son asked his father once more. “Dad, can we run a marathon together?” Again, the father smiled and nodded his head. “Yes, of course we can” was the reply. So, once again the two of them raced for 26 miles and smiled all the way to the finish line – together.

This same Father and son went on to join other marathons (over 900 races to date) the father always saying ‘Yes’ to his son’s request of going through the race together.

One day, the son asked his father, “Dad, let’s join the Ironman together.” To which, his father said “Yes”.

For those who don’t know, the Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever. 
The race encompasses three endurance events:

  • 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) ocean swim followed by
  • a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike ride and ending with
  • a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Father and son went on to complete the Ironman together.

With this in mind, please view the video clips below of the duo, but be prepared to cry. It is a beautiful example of God’s relationship with us. I only hope I can be as good a father as this man.





The Importance of the Mind in the Battle against Sin

15 08 2008

The following quote comes from the excellent book, The Enemy Within, by Kris Lundgaard. This explanation of the connection between the mind, the affections, and the will has really helped me to understand temptation better and to put a greater value on Gospel meditation (because of the crucial role of the mind and how what it dwells on guides the affections). It is a great book and I really encourage you to get a copy.

The mind is the watchman of the soul.  Its duty is to discern and judge what words, actions, desires, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions will please the Lord.  The affections, when they are working as they should, long for and cling to what the mind says is pleasing to God, and are repulsed by what angers Him.  When you “harbor wicked thoughts” (Jeremiah 4:14) the imagination becomes a pyromaniac dumping buckets of gasoline on the fire of your affections. They burn hotter and hotter, till the will melts like butter before them.





The Theology of “The Dark Knight”

13 08 2008

I just saw “The Dark Knight” and was very impressed.  I was a fan of Christopher Nolan before he signed on to direct “Batman Begins”, and have only become more enamored with his work since.  This incarnation of the Batman brought excellent direction and vision as well as wonderful acting.  The recent surge of comic book movie adaptations has been well served by a desire to stay true to the underlying human element working out in the storyline.  This has made them more relatable and relevant, both of which makes for great movies.

What I really liked about “The Dark Knight” is that it focuses so much on the psychology or rationale behind what drives the characters.  This ultimately makes the roles more compelling, but more importantly places different philosophies of life in a spotlight to consider.

In short, the movie makes you think.

If you find yourself talking about this movie with a friend, it could be a great springboard into talking about the spiritual implications of the philosophies put forth in the movie.  Let me break it down for you:

Batman
Batman is all about justice.  He believes that there is right and wrong.  He believe justice can be administered and enjoyed by society, but only if pursued within the confines of a set of rules and morality.  Now neither the comics or the movie ever discuss the standard for these rules or morality, but for the christian, it should be obvious that to us it is God’s word (Ex 20:1-17).  Batman also believes in the ideal of sacrificial serving.  He is willing to give up his wants or his livelihood for the greater good (John 15:13).  While the movie will never be confused with an evangelistic tract, it does espouse very broad biblical truths.

The Joker
The Joker believes there is no morality. Read the rest of this entry »