Sunday, April 27, 2008

Off to Atlanta

I have been busy the last few days. I am sorry that I have not posted, I have a few things that I want/need to post.

However, that will have to wait for about 5 days. I am flying to Atlanta in an hour or so and will not be back till Thursday. This will be a very important week (in my opinion) for the church and me; thus I covet your prayers.

Have a great week and I will have a lot to blog about when I get back.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Little Wonders

Message Through Song

let it go,
let it roll right off your shoulder
don't you know
the hardest part is over
let it in,
let your clarity define you
in the end
we will only just remember how it feels

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

let it slide,
let your troubles fall behind you
let it shine
until you feel it all around you
and i don't mind
if it's me you need to turn to
we'll get by,
it's the heart that really matters in the end

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

all of my regret
will wash away some how
but i can not forget
the way i feel right now

in these small hours
these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away but these small hours
these small hours, still remain,
still remain
these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away
but these small hours
these little wonders still remain


This song was in my mind today. Maybe somebody needed to hear the words, see the images or relect on the lyrics.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Help Trev Win $ 21,000

One of my pals is trying to sell his house. He is listing through Century 21 and they are doing a contest for youtube videos. Here is his video. Watch it, shake your head and then go vote and help him win $ 21,000. It will help has they male a 1,000+ mile move.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Apostle Creed

Presented to you by some youth of America:

Dinner Time

Dinner time is over and the kids are outside enjoying the great weather. When I picked the kids up from school, I told them that we were attempting a new meal for dinner. I then told them; if it is a total flop; let me know and we will go and grab something to eat (I got my health check today).

Dinner was a success (for the most part) and I do not have to go out and spend any money. I had to come up with an 'official' name for the meal. When they sat down, they said, "so what are we having?" My answer was the following:

Asian Lion Loin and Garden Ranch Medley

Bethany repeated it with questioning tone .... we sat down and almost all of the meal was gone. Thus, I will chalk up the adventure as "thumbs up".

I am outside for awhile and then going to attempt to clean the kitchen up a little or I should say, pick it up a little.

Practicing Greatness

This is a book that I read this past week. The book is a fairly easy read and it is a good book. I would not call it great and I would not list it in a Top 10 list of leadership book but the book also does not belong in the trash.

When it first came out Leadership Now did a review on the book and it gives a fairly positive spin on the book. Their review can be found here.

I enjoyed his other book much better. This book is geared for Christian leaders, however much of the book can be applied across the board. I am sure that you are wanting to know about the principles.

The official title of the book: Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders The book is broken down into seven chapters (one discipline per chapter). Here they are:

The Discipline of Self-Awareness

the single most important body of information a leader possesses

The Discipline of Self-Management

handling difficult emotions, expectations, temptations, mental vibrancy, and physical well-being

The Discipline of Self-Development

a life-long commitment to learning and growing and building on one's strengths

The Discipline of Mission

enjoying the permission pf maintaining the sense of God's purpose for your life and leadership

The Discipline of Decision-Making

knowing the elements of good decisions and learning from failure

The Discipline of Belonging

the determination to nurture relationships and to live in community with others, including family, followers, mentors and friends

The Discipline of Aloneness

the intentional practice of soul-making solitude and contemplation

For me, the toughest one is the discipline of belonging. I am going to blog on a few of the topics in this book and how they play out in my life and my ministry concept.

If you are looking for a top-notch leadership book, this may not be it. But, it may be a great book for you if you are wanting some self-evaluation.

News from the Chiropractor

My time there is almost up. Thus, they retook the xrays and we redid the agility and strength test. The results are pretty amazing.

I have a lot more motion on my left side; we are talking as much as 30 degrees more motion and my stenth (pi) is up 15 pounds+ and more great things all around.

We are 4 months into 2008 and there is a world of difference in my health, my fitness and my moveability and the lack of pain. It truly is astonishig.

There are still a few things that I need to work on and improve in and we will get there. But with my weight loss and my chiropractor work; I know that I will be on the way to accomplish the rest.

One thing that I do need to do is get in and get a full-service-checkup. I have not done that in a long time and I need to have all my numbers checked. All that is for later entries; today is to announce the miracle works that have occurred for me over at the chiropractor the last 2+ months.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clinton ......

I have to tell you, during timeouts in the basketball game, I turned to the talking heads and was listening to their views on Obama vs. Clinton. One of the things that I hear from Clinton campaign is that they win the big states and thus, this is why she would be the best nominee. Many scoff at that statement and then they debate how ludicrous that is BECAUSE how many more states Obama has won and how much more votes he has. So, let's take a look at this. This is my 5 minute search, so please forgive a little error.

Obama has won 28 states to Clinton 15 states.

Obama has about 600,000 more in the vote count.

However, as we know from not such a distant pass, popular vote does not mean JACK. If the democrat party used the primaries as they do in the national vote - you win the state, you get all the electoral votes ...... let's see what the reults are:

Clinton - 240

Obama - 202

Clinton is ahead and it is a fight to the end with the other states just around the corner. Very interesting. I have no clue what is going to happen over the next 3 months.

Aleight, back to basketball.

A Long Day ....

It has been a long day. However, if I was honest, I think that it was a longer day in the eyes of Bethany. Let me tell you about our day.

For those of you who do not know, Stacey is on a well deserved vacation this week. She is at her moms and dad this week doing ........ Thus, I am at the house with the three kids and trying to manage our lives as much as possible without too much tradjedy.

We woke up and got the kids ready. We went with the very simple breakfast today, cereal. They (boys) got dressed and got all the items ready for school. Bethany did her preppin' for gymnastics. I attempted to do her hair and had it pulled back in a pny tail, but there was still some hair in the face. So, we went to plan B on the hair; we shaved her bald (only kidding).

We took the boys to school and then we went off to gymnastics. After gymnastics, we went to the church office and Bethany hubng out in my office while I attended staff meeting (about 90 minutes). After staff meeting, we packed Bethany a bag for her next venture.

After the bag was packed, we stopped by the house for lunch and then off to the free medical clinic. As I volunteered at the clinic for 2 hours, Bethany drew, colored and talked to the nurses. She also took candy, so she could walk around and pass it out.

Following the clinic, we went back to the office and she roamed the halls while I did some emails and did some prep work on my confirmation proposal. I have no clue how this is going to play out ..... I think that it might end with them stoning me.

After working my way through that, we went over to the school tp pick up the boys. After we picked them up, we came home and Jacob and Bethany got on their swimming gear and Isaiah got on his soccer gear.

It was early dinner time. It is Tuesday and Stacey is out of town, so I took them to Ci Ci's. For thiose of you who are unfamiliar with Ci Ci's, it is a pizza buffet joint. The great thing (for my pocket book) is that on Tuesday's, the kids eat for 99cents. You really can't beat that and let me tell you Isaiah can eat the pizza.

Then it was headed to swimming from 5:00 - 6:00. Then it was soccer from 6:00 to 7:00. After soccer, we went over to the grocery store and picked up a few items and then we headed to the youth room. On Tuesday's night, we invite any youth over to watch AI. We did it just to give a student (students) an opportunity to come and relax and for us to chat about life while the show is on.

We quickly cleaned up, came home and the kids went to bed very quickly. I read a few thoughts on the Dem Primary and Pennsylvania and the mess that situation will be in. I am making this post and then I am going to go watch the Suns / Spurs game.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Reformation Polka

For 4 minutes of shake your head humor ....

A Fight: On the Tomb of Jesus

From Yahoo News:

An Israeli police officer, left, tries to break up a fight between Greek and Armenian clergymen during Palm Sunday processions for Orthodox Holy Week, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed by many to be the site of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Sunday April 20, 2008. Greek and Armenian priests scuffled at Christianity's holiest site on Palm Sunday over who'll get to spend more time at the traditional tomb of Jesus. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is jointly administrated by different Christian denominations. Fights often erupt during religious ceremonies over shared space or time.

Isn't religion great, sometimes? This reminds me a little of the discussions that occurred last night in student ministries. Our class was on apologetics and how to answer and talk to "new athiest".

Yes, even "us emergents" have conversations on how to share with those who do not believe or have different beliefs.

Identity: Who Are You ?

For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. You need not look at that only in a negative way. You wanted to give your heart to others, and you did so quickly and easily. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you. You must stop being a pleaser and reclaim your identity as a free self.

I think that this might be one of the toughest things to do in life and my heart and prayers go out to individuals that want to please and depend on others for their identity. Can you allow yourself to be free ?

When we examine ourselves and our lives though, we see that we have pains and we have hurt. We feel the need that we need to turn to someone. Our hopes and prayers is that this person will help us in our journey. But often, we are perplexed on who to ask, on who to seek out. If we are honest, we will come to this conclusion:

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

So, what do we do when we look into our life and we see that our life is filled with anger, pain, regreats and more ? Maybe, just maybe, we can hang our hat on the following:

When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope

Hope, now that is something that we can cling to. We do not have to find an escape to the pain and the suffering. Instead, we can take what is eatin us up and transform it into a purpose. Our identity, our cure to who we are and why we are here.

Let the pain, suffering and confussion transform your life into purpose.

Thanks to Nouwen for the quotes. His words are so rich.

The Chair: Who's Table Are You At ?

Recently, I was reminded of a story. Each one of us has a table. At the table there are numerous chairs. The chairs are filled with individualsthat have touch, impacted or changed our lives. Some of us have a few people at the table and some of us have numerous folks at the table.

Why don't you take a few moments. Draw a table. Place chairs aroud the table. In those chairs, write the names of the individuals that have touched or impacted your life. Think deeply on why you chose that person and the significance of that person being at your table.

Now, let's shift the focus. Whose table are you at ? I think that it is very important that our life is touching people's lives that our interactions are making a difference.

We can make an impact and when we make an impact, we have pulled up a chair into someones table. Let us make an impact in individuals lives.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Preservice Training

Yesterday, I traveled to Columbiana County (Lisbon to be exact) for Preservice Training. For those of you who do not know and this would be most of you, we are considering adopting.

There are a few weeks that I am going to be gone from our training in Wayne County, so I am needing to go and make up classes in other counties. There are two weekends that I am going to be gone: a wedding and Big Stuf.

So, yesterday was a make up day for me. I went and took classes 4 and 5. You do not have to take them in order. Classes 4 and 5 were my first classes.

Class 4: Attachment, Seperation, and Placement
Class 5: Discipline

The instructor was very good and the classes were very informative. I am not sure how much I will blog about the classes. We will see about that. Anything that relates to training classes and the process we are going through will be labeled under adoption.

A few people that have heard about our journey, they have asked what is the final destination. To be honest, I do not know. I am not sure if it is going to be to open our home for foster care, adopt a child, adopt a sibling group or ......

If I was honest, I would say that I would love for us to find the resources to obtain a larger home and either foster many kids or adopt a big sibling group and increase our kids from 3 to ..... 6, 7 or yes, I know that some would think that I am crazy but to 11 ????? The reason for that is that there is a sibling group of 8 in Ohio that needs to be adopted. There are a zillion and one obstacles for all that to occur.

For those out there who are religious, I asked you to lift up words of prayer as we begin this journey and that we will be able to go through this process and help some children who are hurting.

We could use a big home, a bus or van or ...... When we get through the preservice training and begin the homestudy, we will have more details. A few weeks ago, I did go look at a 6/7 BR house that would fit the bill but we need $$

Alright, that is enough for now ...

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Long Game ...

To 'lighten' my blog up a little, I decided to post on a rare sports occurrence that happened last night.

The scoreboard tells the story at PETCO Park where the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies played 22 innings in their baseball game Thursday April 17, 2008 in San Diego. The Rockies won the game 2-1 and the game was the longest by innings in Padres' history and was one minute short of the longest by time.

The Rockies finally won 2-1, with Troy Tulowitzki’s two-out RBI double bringing in Willy Taveras with an unearned run in nearly empty Petco Park. A game that lasted 6 hours, 16 minutes was decided by an unearned run.

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy threw the game’s first pitch at 7:05 p.m. The game didn’t end until 1:21 a.m., when Padres pitcher Glendon Rusch took a called third strike. Colorado’s Yorvit Torrealba, who caught all 22 innings, wearily pumped a fist in celebration.

Valid Argument OR Senseless Controversy

Last night on the way to swimming, my wife was wondering if the "fighting" on a few different blog sites were really worth it and thought that I needed to step back because our views are so polar opposite.

So, the question becomes, are the 'discussions' valid arguments OR are they senseless controvers ? Now, I know that some of you think this might be a "set up" BUT, I promise it is not. I was uploading the Daily Devotion for the youth today. Here is the devotional and the question.

2 Timothy 2:23-25
Amplified Bible (AMP)

23 But refuse (shut your mind against, have nothing to do with) trifling (ill-informed, unedifying, stupid) controversies over ignorant questionings, for you know that they foster strife and breed quarrels.

24 And the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome (fighting and contending). Instead, he must be kindly to everyone and mild-tempered [preserving the bond of peace]; he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong.

25 He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness, in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it],

Question to Ponder

When does a valid argument about faith become a senseless controversy that we should avoid?

Feel free to answer the question in my comment box. I would love to see and read your thoughts on the subject.

For me, I am leaning twards the senseless controversy that I should avoid. It is tough for me though because I think that we ned to extend grace and do it with courtesy and gentleness. I do not see that occurring with some Christians. I am concerned that there are many Christians who live/preach in such a way that they are going to turn people away from God and the teachings of Jesus.

However, I know that they will not enter into a dialogue. Also, when they have moderators on and block my conversation; they only show the comments they want people to see. They also do not answer the question and use tons of scripture, looking 'biblical' but they use the Scripture out of context.

Yes, it is senseless and I am close to walking away buy not just quite yet. It is getting close. Maybe, I will cling to vs. 25 ..... of course, they think that I am the one that is wrong and needs to repent and find the TRUTH.

God, thanks for your grace and may we continue to be in a state of repentance as we continue to try to follow you and the example that you gave us to live. I pray that we truly will live out the fruits of the spirit which are:

love (agape)
joy (chara)
peace (eirene)
patience (makrothumia)
kindness (chrestotes)
goodness (agathosune)
faithfulness (pistis)
gentleness (prautes)
self-control (enkrateia)

Also, I recently read a piece by S Lewis Johnson that I think "hits" home why I think Grace BEFORE Law is the appropriate way to go and why it "doesn't diminish the law"

S Lewis Johnson writes the following summation of Galatians 5:22-23, which he classifies as the evidence of the leading of the Spirit (Gal 5:24)...

The evidence of the leading of the Spirit lies in a cluster of nine virtues that make up "the fruit of the Spirit." This fruit is the product of the life of the Spirit in the believer. It is characterized by several interesting features.

First of all, in the fruit of the Spirit there is unity. We notice that the word, "fruit," is in the singular number. There is only one fruit of the Spirit, but it contains nine virtues. If one of the virtues is missing, then we do not have the fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit's product is like a watermelon with nine flavors! Many commentators have suggested that the nine virtues illustrate the full-orbed, symmetrical character of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His life that the Spirit produces in the believer.

Second, the fruit of the Spirit possesses a notable' harmony, the first triad of virtues being inward in nature, the second, outward, and the third upward.

Third, there is a necessity that believers have the fruit of the Spirit. The lack of the virtues indicates sin against the Holy Spirit who is engaged in producing the virtues in the lives of the saints.

Finally, in the concluding words of Galatians 5:23 there is an important point made by Paul. The Law of Moses finds no flaw in the fruit of the Spirit. The flesh may imitate, or counterfeit, certain of the virtues, but it can never produce them. The Spirit alone can do that, and the result satisfies all the demands of the moral law in the believer's life. It is sometimes forgotten that life by the Spirit is not a lower standard than life by the moral law, or the Ten Commandments. It is, if anything a higher standard. Arthur Way has caught that in his rendering of Galatians 5:18 "But if you definitely surrender yourselves to the Spirit's guidance, you are then not under the law, but ON A HIGHER PLANE."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The New Tat

As mentioned, it is on the back right shoulder. When it is light and we do not have to use the flash, I will get a better one. Also, when it heals and I take off some of the "ape hair", I will show how it looks with my whole back and the other tat.

Ready and Reverent

1 Peter 3:13-16
The Message

If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

Questions to Discuss

1. When, if ever, have you seen Christians defend their faith in un-Christlike ways?

2. when have you seen Christians respond to a challenge (in word and deed) with genleness and reverence?

A Message For Dads

A spoken Word Message for dads and work, the choice is yours.

Hit to Adam, thanks.

Today is the Day

Well, it is here ...

No more countdowns for you to endure ..

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

God's Plan For All

In reading some thoughts and questions that have come up on universalism and what it means to be a universalist, I decided to do some research and try to find someone or an organization that defended that position.

Here is a read for you on why they believe that eventually, all will be reconciled. No, they do not think everyone gets a free pass from the get go. Read, take a look at the scripture, look at their greek exegesis and see what you think.

Feel free to rip it apart or praise it. Share your thoughts and insights on where they got it right and where they got it wrong. This was going to be a Monday Theological Musing, but with Roland's blog, I wanted to put it up.

God's Plan For All is to universally reconcile all things to Himself through Jesus Christ. The whole purpose of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is for God to reconcile without exception, all things in heaven and all things on earth to Himself. God’s plan is clearly, wonderfully and powerfully given in Colossians 1:15-20. These scriptural verses definitely and unambiguously include the reconciliation of ALL fallen angels through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Colossians 1:15-20
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities (arche) or powers (exousia). All things were created through Him and for Him.

And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

These are the key scriptural verses of our book 'God's Plan For All' and we would therefore like to repeat as a reminder, our comments on them as given in Chapter 4 'Universal Reconciliation Scriptures'. The construct of these verses is such that it leaves absolutely no room for any doubt whatsoever that the word ALL can only mean ALL without exception. The Holy Spirit, who inspired Apostle Paul to write these verses, repeats the word ALL seven times before coming to the key verse, verse 20, where it says that God will reconcile all things to Himself through Jesus Christ. If you believe verse 16 that Jesus Christ created all things in heaven and on earth, all things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, then you have no option but to also believe verse 20, which says that Jesus Christ will reconcile the same all things that He created.

‘Thrones or dominions or principalities or powers’ as given in verse 16, definitely include Satan and the fallen angels. The truth that God will even reconcile Satan and the fallen angels exalts God’s power, wisdom, love, mercy, forgiveness and His justice to the full. God tells us to overcome evil with good, (Romans 12:17-21) and God will ultimately overcome all evil with good, so that the purpose of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the universal reconciliation of all things is absolutely and fully achieved.

Let us see clearly from the Bible that the expression, ‘thrones or dominions or principalities or powers’ as given in verse 16 above include Satan and the fallen angels. God through Jesus Christ created angels before He created the physical universe. A third of these angels rebelled against God under the leadership of Lucifer who became Satan. These fallen angels are referred to in the Bible as principalities and powers. A Christian fights spiritual battles against principalities, powers and rulers of the darkness of this age.

Ephesians 6:11-12
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities (arche), against powers (exousia), against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The Greek words arche and exousia used for principalities and powers in verse above are the same Greek words used in Colossians 1:16. All things that Jesus Christ created; visible and invisible, principalities and powers, most definitely include all fallen angels. Let us believe the Bible that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is all-sufficient to reconcile to God not only all fallen men but also all fallen angels. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world, which includes the sins of fallen angels. (1 John 2:2)

Nowhere in the Bible, does it say that God punishes an unbeliever or a fallen angel forever. As previously explained in this book, there are four words in the Bible, two Greek words aion and aionios, and two Hebrew words owlam and ad, which have often been misinterpreted and mistranslated in most but not all bible versions to mean forever, everlasting or eternal. All of these four words are age-related, referring to an age of a definite time duration having a beginning and an end. Mistranslation or misinterpretation of these four age-related words in most versions of the Bible are the main reasons why Christians have failed to understand God’s Plan of the Ages to reconcile all things through Jesus Christ. For a full explanation of this important subject, please refer back to Chapter 6 'The Seven Ages in God’s Plan'.

There are three so called 'proof texts' normally used by those who believe that Satan and the fallen angels will not be reconciled. These are Hebrews 2:14-18, 2 Peter 2:4 and Revelation 20:10. Let us examine these texts in detail.

Hebrews 2:14-18
In as much then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Jesus Christ through His work on the cross destroyed Satan, who is the devil, who had the power of death. Not only did He destroy Satan by His work on the cross, but He also destroyed death itself, which is called the last enemy.(1 Corinthians 15:25-26)

From God’s perspective both Satan and death no longer exist, because it is only a matter of time, at the creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth, that the work of the cross will be fully realised when everything on earth and in heaven will be reconciled to God Himself because of the finished work of the cross.

When death is destroyed, the only thing that can burst forth is life. Similarly when Satan is destroyed or disempowered, then Satan must revert back to his original created being as a holy ministering angel. It is God’s nature to overcome evil with good, and ultimately God will overcome all evil with good. (Romans 12:21) The false doctrine of hell teaches that God overcomes evil with more evil, which is completely against the nature of God.

In this present age, it is not God’s purpose to deal with Satan or the fallen angels, and He is not ‘giving aid to’ or trying to reconcile them. In this age, God is only calling and choosing His Elect, Christ’s Brethren, and preparing them for a special salvation. (1 Timothy 4:10) God has allowed Satan and the fallen angels as well as the majority of human beings to remain in spiritual darkness until the final Lake of Fire Judgement.

2 Peter 2:4
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartaroo) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.

In this verse, the Greek word tartaroo is mistranslated as hell. Tartaroo is used only once in the Bible and the context in which it appears reveals the meaning of the word as a prison of spiritual darkness.

Satan and the fallen angels were cast back down to earth when they first sinned during the Pre-Adamic Age and they remain confined to this earth in spiritual darkness, reserved for their final judgement in the Lake of Fire. The Bible says that true believers, God's Elect who are the Bride of Christ will rule and reign with Jesus Christ and they will have the privilege of judging fallen angels. (1 Corinthians 6:3)

Revelation 20:10

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (theion) where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented (basanizo) day and night forever (aion) and ever (aion).

In this verse, the Greek word aion meaning an age has been mistranslated to mean forever. The Lake of Fire judgement of Satan and the fallen angels including the beast and the false prophet will last for a further two ages i.e., for the final two ages of the seven Ages in God’s Plan of the Ages, and not forever and ever.

Please note in the verse above, that the Greek word for brimstone is theion. According to Strong's number G2303, the meaning of theion is “divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease.”

Also the Greek word for torment in the verse above is basanizo. According to Strong’s number G928, the primary meaning of basanizo is “to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal”

All of these three Greek words:

aion for an age with a definite duration having both a beginning and an end,

theion for brimstone indicating divine purifying power,

basanizo for its characteristic of testing purity,

clearly proves that the purpose of the Lake of Fire is to purify and refine Satan and the fallen angels rather than to endlessly torture them. Angels were created to be ministering spirits to God and men, and not to be kept in a prison of spiritual darkness forever. (Hebrews 1:14)

God’s power, His love, and His justice will ensure that Satan and the fallen angels will repent and be transformed back to their original holy state, which they enjoyed when they were first created. They will willingly, humbly, joyfully and thankfully minister forever like the other two-thirds of the holy angels in God’s Eternal Kingdom of the New Heaven and the New Earth.

The Eternal Kingdom of God of the New Heaven and the New Earth, where there will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain and no more curse, will not be established on this earth until God has reconciled all things in heaven and all things on earth through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. This includes the reconciliation of Satan and the fallen angels as the key scripture Colossians 1:15-20 clearly and powerfully states.

When To Show Grace ?

This is a subject that has been close to my heart over the last few months. I think that this is a subject that we need to grasp. Now, I am not sure if we can completely grasp the subject but I think that we need to understand it better than we do.

There have been many people who say that you need to show and preach the LAW before you can show and extend GRACE. The reason for this is that they (individual you are reaching) can not see the need for GRACE if they are not confronted with the LAW. When they are confronted with the LAW, they will see the need.

Here is my question: Is this BIBLICAL ? I would LOVE to have people from both sides of the perspective speak up. I will allow difference of opinions on my site. I think that we can learn from each other and be challenged together.

On Pastor Brian's site, he asked individuals to comment about the comments that were in his post. During the comment sections Rhea mentioned the following:

As far as regarding the women at the well, Jesus pointed out her sin ("Go and tell your husband...."). He didn't simply give her a "warm & fuzzy" measure. Sometimes I'm not even sure how "worth it" it is to try to argue/discuss things with ppl like that :-)

Couple of things, my comments were never rude. Also, I was challenging (originally) that the story of the woman at the well is MUCH MORE than what they were using it for. It shows us that the message is for everyone. Jesus broke many barriers, laws and customs to talk to her. Also there is a point that RHEA brought out that I want to share to really get the conversation going or at least out there. Here is her portion highlighted (bold).

As far as regarding the women at the well, Jesus pointed out her sin ("Go and tell your husband...."). He didn't simply give her a "warm & fuzzy" measure.

Now, I know that you and a lot of your friends hold dearly to LAW and LAW MUST be preached first. But when you read the story, do you really see that ?? Take a look at the story. I know that I just did the story but here it is again for this conversation:

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

Jesus left Judea and started for Galilee again. This time he had to go through Samaria, 5and on his way he came to the town of Sychar. It was near the field that Jacob had long ago given to his son Joseph. The well that Jacob had dug was still there, and Jesus sat down beside it because he was tired from traveling. It was noon, and after Jesus' disciples had gone into town to buy some food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well.

Jesus asked her, "Would you please give me a drink of water?"

"You are a Jew," she replied, "and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink of water when Jews and Samaritans won't have anything to do with each other?"

Jesus answered, "You don't know what God wants to give you, and you don't know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life."

"Sir," the woman said, "you don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?"

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life."

The woman replied, "Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won't get thirsty and have to come to this well again."

Jesus told her, "Go and bring your husband."

The woman answered, "I don't have a husband."

"That's right," Jesus replied, "you're telling the truth. You don't have a husband. You have already been married five times, and the man you are now living with isn't your husband."

When I read that, I do not see much condemnation. I do not see him preaching the Law at her. From Rhea's comment about "go tell your husband" ..... this comes AFTER he offers her living water. Then not to "nit pick" because I think that repentance and forgiveness is very important, but I do not see that in the conversation.

So, my questions are the following:

- do you have to preach the law?
- does the law have to be shown before grace is offered?
- can a person receive grace then show repentance?
- where are biblical examples of grace first?
- where are examples of law first?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

2 More Days ....

for those of you who are missing the countdown, we are down to two; no turning back.

Bono: Grace vs. Karma

One of my favorite blogs to read is Assembling of the Church. It is a link under the Make Me Think section. He is a great writer and does many series that are phenominal. If he so chooses, he will be one who has many books published.

He does a great post that you need to read. Click Here The article is on Grace and Karma and his take. Some of you will applaud Bono and some of you will want to throw stones at him.

Please, take 5 mins, browse over to Alan and have a great read. A special call out to the "castaways", I think that you will like it.

Go and Make Disciples

I have always been intrigued by the Great Commission. I remember when I was over in England in 1990 and heard the theme: Committed to God, Commissioned by God. I thought that was a great banner to live by and be patterned by. It is a phrase that I believe needs to etched into our lives. We need to remain committed to God and remember that we are commissioned by him.

Recently, it seems that in many different circles, I have seen the great commission front and center. All of them dealt with the scripture in Matthew (Matt. 28:19,20).

All four gospels and Acts deal with the "great commission" in some way. I have not swayed and still think that it is very vital for us to listen to the message. In a recent book that I was re-reading and need to do a book review on, I came across his thoughts about the great commission and it struck me a little.

Here are the four passages that deals with Jesus sending His disciples into the world:

Matthew 28:19-20
New American Standard Bible

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Mark 16:15
New American Standard Bible

15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Luke 24:49
New American Standard Bible

49 "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."

Acts 1:4-8
New American Standard Bible

4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me;

5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"

7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

John 20:20-22
New American Standard Bible

20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, " Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."

22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

Is it okay to integrate these stories ?

If so, could it read something like this:

You can't keep the secret of the kingdom to yourselves. I am now sending you, as the Father sent me, to communicate the good news of the kingdom of God. Those who receive your message, you should form into learning communities of practing disciples so they learn to live according to my secret message, just as you are learning. You should not do this in your own power, but you must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. And you shouldn't stop at the borders of your own culture, language, or religion, but you must cross every border and boundary to share with all people everywhere the secret you've learned from me - the way, the truth, the life you've experienced walking with me.

What do you think ?
Does that work ?
Is that heretic speech ?

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday's Theological Musings

For awhile, I am going to put up a theological view and want to encourage discussion. These views and thoughts may not be ones that I particularly agree with but they will be thought-provoking and may generate discussion:

I ridiculed those who suggested God didn't want to save every person, but I never recognized that my pride in choosing God was equally ridiculous. I suggested god wanted to save every person but couldn't. God wasn't hostile or apathetic toward the lost. God was simply powerless. I raised the banners of divine holiness and justice to excuse God's failure, but my true passion was for human freedom. I insisted we were free to reject God's grace. It never occurred to me that God might be free to reject our rejection.

The choice of this paragraph comes from the thoughts that Nator is throwing around recently on his blog. This was not on his blog but I was reminded of these statements after reading the blog and comments.

I Feel A Laugh Coming

I Feel a Laugh Coming by Brian Culver is a recent book that I just finished reading. Below is listed a few of the statements from the book and my thoughts concerning his writings.

In the opening chapter, he begins with a GREAT STATEMENT:

Sometimes, we need to open our horizon a little bit and get the stuffiness out. God has a sense of humor. You don't possibly think that God is always having a frown on his face. We should never forget that God is love.

Absolutely, we need to open up our horizon and we need to get the "stuffiness" out of our life. Too often, we take things too seriously.

Later in the chapter, the chapter is on laughter, he gives the following statement:

As a pastor, God has given me the ability to make people smile and laugh. I want everyone to know that I am there for him or her. I also do not want them to leave this world without one last smile.

Now that, made me smile and laugh on the inside.

In chapter 6, he has a message that I think is very important for individuals to hear and understand. Here is the message:

One of the places that we hurt us through email letters. Someone might be trying to convey a message only to have it misunderstood by the person receiving it. I have sent emails to some very dear friends of mine and when you speak you change the tone of your voice when you are saying something. Sometimes the difference in how you change your voice changes the meaning of what you are saying. I have had times where I was saying something that was good only yo have it misunderstood by the other person. Communication is vital to any relationship. The internet can be a great and valuable part of our lives but it should never replace a true relationship with those we love. When we feel like our friends are attacking us it can really hurt.

Very interesting and maybe even a little paradoxical.

Law vs. Grace Take ?

In chapter 7, he shares another family story. His family stories are much better than the preacher illustrations one that he uses. But, he gives a message of "grace". There is less law in this story. Here it is (pg 48):

When Jesus died up there on the cross, He paid the final bill. All of your sins were wiped away with his precious blood. Every bad word you spoken. Jesus took care of it. Every lie, Jesus took care of it. You have been saved by the grace of God. It is not what you have done, it is what He has done for you. But now that he has paid the price we should remember that a repentant heart is essential. We must change the way we behave and turn to Jesus.

This is a very different take from the current view and this is a view that I believe a lot of people could/would grasp a hold of.

On Family

He once again has excellent words when he says, "Take time out of your busy schedule for your family. They will be gone before you know it. Love them and never be afraid to bring laughter into their lives. They will remember it for the rest of their lives."

Use Humor Not Lightbulbs

From page 71, "Use some humor if you are scared to start a conversation with someone when you are wanting to share the Good News of Christ with them."

I apologize for the "inside" humor.

Priorities ??

On page 81, he shares that it is time for us to get our priorities in line. Here are his priorities:

1. God
2. Family
3. Neighbors
4. Humor
5. Smile & Laugh

So, he gave his; what are yours ?

Humility for Grace

When you are able to totally humble yourself before God, you will be able to experience the full bounty of His grace (pg. 91)

Overall, the book was enjoyable. I rolled my eyes numerous times as his humor is lacking a little. I think the lacking is on intentional though as the stories are to make you roll the eyes and go, oohhhhh my.

He is right, we need to laugh.
We need to open ourselves up.
We need to humble ourselves to God's wonderful grace.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saved By Grace

Today, I want to share with you a scripture and poem. May you soak yourself in his love and grace today.

Ephesians 2
He Tore Down the Wall

It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

- - - - - -

Poem by Bob

Sometimes we wish to undo things:
Perhaps words we have said.
If we could just change foolish words
For wiser ones instead.

Sometimes it may be more than words,
Things we can't undo
No matter how we wish we could;
They're there to follow you.

Our human flesh still bears the sin
That leads us to despair
But God's own promise He bestowed,
Shows that His love is there

His promise we are saved by grace
Through faith - a gift indeed!
A promise that may lift the soul
And fill its every need

No longer under management
Of sin that leads astray,
But part of God's own workmanship,
And growing day by day.

No longer objects of God's wrath,
No longer dead in sin:
By our renewing faith in Christ
New life God gives within.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Locked Doors of the American Church

Locked Doors of the American Church is a book written by Brian Culver. In the book, he attemts to address what he perceives as a real problem in American Churches.

For this review, I will be giving some highlights, items I agree with, places where I disagree and the "emphasis" points that he dwells on. After reading the book, you will definitely know that he has a passion about the 10 Commandments and making sure that people know the Commandments and know them in order. The reason for this can be linked to one of his key phrases: Without Law, we cannot know what sin is.

The opening of the book has numerous scriptures. These scriptures are the foundation and premise for what the book will be built upon. It is great to see a book that is based upon the Holy Word of God and placed front and center for the book's foundation.


One of his stated purposes (pg. 22) is the following: The book will go in depth to examine what we can do to improve our fulfilling of the Great Commission.

Over the next 55+ pages, he goes in-depth on the 10 Commandments and this is the basis for us to improve and fulfill the Great Commission. I believe that there can be argument and debate over wether this is the best way to improve and fulfil.

Before he launches into the 10 Commandments, there was a statement on page 28 that I think is a very important statement and one that I could not agree with more. It is the following: God is able to equip any person who has called on Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is not just enough to just say you are a Christian; there must be fruit to prove it to others.

We as a community of believers must do two things:

- we must eliminate the "pastor-only" approach. ALL PRIESTHOOD.
- we must bear good fruits (people will notice)

Ten Commandment Challenge

Still not sure how to use the Ten Commandments? Still haven't memorized them? You will have several opportunities to learn them throughout this book. Once you do learn them, then it is time to hit the streets running. It is time to start saving people by getting out of the church and out into the streets where the sinners are. (pg. 33)

Seminary Question

Ask the seminary students if they know the Ten Commandments. If no, it is possible that they are not truly saved. (pg. 91)

Salvation: Are/Were You Saved

These people who fall away from Christ, never had truly accepted Him as their Lord and Savior in the first place. They were never presented the Ten Commandments to show them just how sinful they were. (pg. 94)

Excitement in Church

Do you want to see excitement in your churches? Encourage your pastors and congregation to go out and do some open-air preaching (pg. 99)

Words to Applaud

This bok is titled, Locked Doors of the American Church. I do not feel we lock people out of the church but rather have presented a culture whereas we lock our faith inside the church. We do not take our faith out into the world. We act scared. Won't someone take the lead? Won't you? (pg. 101)

I fully agree. I agree in the sense that so many times, we as churches are just concerned about us and we keep ourselves busy in the church; this must stop.

Church Service

He spends a few pages making sure that we need to be preaching the Ten Commandments and sin leads us to HELL and stay away from sermon series and we need to make sure that we keep the donuts and coffee out of the worship space for reverence and connection to God in a holy way. There was one section on page 110/111 that confused me when he was comparing the Acts Church and Today's Church.

He finishes the book off by adreesing people and groups. He addresses bishops, then elders, church members, non-going church christians and non-christians. There are small nuggets of truth in each one of those.

My Cynical NitPick

Memorize the Ten Commandments and then Repent of your sins. Actually, once you learn the Commandments and are broken hearted over your sinfulness, repent and then memorize them! (pg. 127)

Memorize are the book ends :)

We will finish up with the Gospel as an acronym and his final message for us.


Law + Grace = Life

5 More Days

Paradox in this number .....

Friday, April 11, 2008

William Paul Young Interview

William Paul Young talks about the breakout success of his novel "The Shack," a book he originally wrote for his children (interview aired on The 700 Club).

A friend has been talking for this book a great deal. My wife has the book and I need to read it. However, I am allowing her to read it first. If she does not pick it up within the next few days, I will grab it and read it.

This book has "exploded" on the internet and the blog world. Each day, I come across a review of the book and people who are applauding it or people who are calling him a heretic. There are Christians that are lamblasting him for leading people down to a universalim view and other laughing at the notion.

The interview is below:

Mark Driscoll Slamming "The Shack"

Let us Discuss ...

What is going on ?

What are your thoughts on The Trinity ?

Greathouse & Porter Family

Over our vacation, we had the opportunity to meet and hang out with the Porter's. They are a great family and we had a wonderful time. Anytime you throw two families together for the first time, you are not sure what to expect. However, the visit was excellence. The adults had a great time chatting and the kids had a wonderful time playing.

6 Days To Go

tick ... tick ... tick ....

Am I driving you crazy yet ?

I apologize. Sometimes, I am just plain weird.

I'm Fine With God ...It's Christians I Can't Stand

The full title of the book is actually called:
I'm fine With God ... it's Christians I Can't Stand: Getting Past the Religious Garbage in the Search for Spiritual Truth.

This book was a very good read and it dealt with a number of subjects that ring very true in my mind. Here are some of the issues that he deals with. Can you nod in agreement with the statements, or do you disagree ?

I'm Fine With God ....

1. ... but I Can't Stand Christians who Impose their Morality on Others

2. ... but I Can't Stand Christians Who Are Paranoid

3. ... but I Can't stand Christians Who Think They Are Correctly Right and Everyone Else Is Wrong

4. ... but I Can't Stand Christians Who Think Science Is Their Enemy

5. ... but I Can't Stand Christians Who Are Convinced God Wants Them to Be

6. ... but I Can't Stand Christians Who Fixate on the End of the World

7. ... but I Can't Stand Christians who Make Lousy Movies

8. ... but I Can't Stand Christians Who Don't Know What They Believe

9. ... but I Can't Stand Christians Who Think They Have A Monopoly on Truth

10. ... but I Can't Stand Christians Who Give Christ a Bad Name

I think that the great thing about the book is that it tries to peel back all the layers that we have had put on Christianity and really look at what Jesus and what He meant. We go with more than the history of Christianity then what Christ originally set us out on.

Words From The Authors

So, to our Christian brothers and sisters, we say, let's learn to laugh at ourselves, and let us learn from what we're laughing at. To those outside our Christian family, we say, much of your criticism against us is well-deserved. But Don't blame God. He agrees with you.

Bruce Bickel
Stan Jantz

Entire Law of Christ

I believe that Love is the core message of the Bible. I also believe that Scripture needs to be "weighted". By this, I mean that there are certain scriptures that carry more weight then others.

Before you call me a heretic, I think that we see an example of this with Jesus. Jesus was asked about the law and commandments and he answered which ones were the most important.

He states the following with a "hanging footnote":

Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

in this response, I believe that he makes the shift to love. Thus, the entire law is summed up with a single command:

All that the Law says can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself. (Galatians 5:14 - CEV)

Here is the verse in context and in the New American Standard Version :

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."

But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Love my friends. Love.

Now, this is going to open up numerous discussion (or could) on the validity of Scriptures, which ones are important, which ones truly show the character of god. It could lead to great discussions, dialog and debate. Which I am happy to have.

What sayest you?

A Christianity Worth Believing

Doug Pagitt has a new book that is coming out and it is called: A Christianity Worth Believing. Doug has been "slammed" by quite a few people recently especially for him not taking "stances" on certain theological issues. This all started with the conversation on the radio with the WOTM.

I have had the opportunity to meet Doug on a few occasions and even have had dinner and a drink with him last year in Indy. One thing that I do know about him is that he has passion for people and he wants people to know God and His love. He has great hope and he wants people to come to God and for the church to be what Christ hoped, dreamed and proclaimed.

Do i agree with everything that he says and does he agree with everything I said, "not a chance". But that is what is great. We are still family (God's adopted children) even though we do not agree on every single issue.

When the book comes out, I will be purchasing it and discussing the book. The reason is that I am trying to get a better grasp of what is happening in the "emergent/emerging" circles. The one thing that you must understand though is that Doug is not the only voice. More on that later.

Doug is releasing a few of the chapters out. He is reading the chapters. This could be a great introduction to the book and discussion. I want to strongly encourage you to take time and listen to the videos and let us discuss it in the comments and through blog post. Yes, they may be a little long, but you can have them playing in the background while you search and do other work on the computer.

BY THE WAY, if you disagree with him and the book; feel free to comment and dialogue. Difference of opinions are allowed.

Chapter 1: Part 1

Chapter 1: Part 2

Thursday, April 10, 2008

7 Days to Go

A week from today is the day. No, I am not second-guessing the decision :)

Woman at the Well

John 4
The Woman at the Well

Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.

To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob's well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.

A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, "Would you give me a drink of water?" (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)

The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, "How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?" (Jews in those days wouldn't be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water."

The woman said, "Sir, you don't even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this 'living water'? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?"

Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life."

The woman said, "Sir, give me this water so I won't ever get thirsty, won't ever have to come back to this well again!"

He said, "Go call your husband and then come back."

"I have no husband," she said.

"That's nicely put: 'I have no husband.' You've had five husbands, and the man you're living with now isn't even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough."

"Oh, so you're a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?"

"Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God's way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

"It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."

The woman said, "I don't know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we'll get the whole story."

"I am he," said Jesus. "You don't have to wait any longer or look any further."

Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn't believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.

The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, "Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?" And they went out to see for themselves.

Red Letters: The Video

A few weeks ago, I made a post about "Red Letters". Today, I want to share a video for you that goes with the book. I have moved away from posting on the book for awhile but I will be picking up the focus. They are on the tag AIDS.

Last night, as I watched American Idol: Idol Gives Back, I was moved to tears each time that they spotlighted Africa and the turmoil that the continent is going through.

Find your place, find a way to help. Touch a life and impact the world. Live out the Red Letters. Live the way that Jesus did. Live the way that He spoke. our world and Christianity would be so much better, if we did.

Be Ready to Speak

I think that it is very important for us to be ready to speak and share our life story and how our life story is part of God's story. I am not one who believes that it is necessary to scream it from the mountaintop of bring judgment onto a person.

Now, some would argue that this type of thinking would go against The Great Commission. I disagree. We are not sitting on our hands waiting for people to come to us. This can be true for both our family (Greathouse) and the church family (Zion).

So, today, I open my Bible and find these verses that shed some light on the thinking. There are three Scriptures that I would like to share:

John 3:1-14

After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to speak with Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you." Jesus replied, "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God." "What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"

I love this scripture. For you see Nicodemus CAME TO JESUS. Jesus did not seek Nicodemus out. Now, previously, Nicodemus had witnessed the things that Jesus had done and then touched a spot in his heart and he wanted to know more. He wanted to be part of this. Thus, he came to Jesus. Now, also he came at dark, so no one else would see him (???). Jesus was still willing to share with him and he shared with him on his terms.

1 Peter 3:13-18

If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

Did you see that ?? I bolded the part for you. We need to be ready to tell them WHEN THEY ASK. Then, it also says this, do it with COURTESY. Thus, when you are living the life that God has called you to live, people will see it. They will notice a difference and they will ask you questions. When they ask questions, be ready to share.

James 1:26-27

Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

We reach out because the Scripture tells us that we need to reach out. We need to reach out to those who are hurting, the ones that are discarded by society.

Yes, we do share our faith. We are ready to tell our story. We are ready to share god's story, but we do not shove it down a persons throat who does not want to hear it. But, just something to think about, you may have the opportunity to share the message with the person that does not want to hear it when they see you doing something for them in God's love. The reason: they may ask you, "why are you ....."

You are now invited to share the story.

My friends, live the life that God has called you to live. Live passionately and be ready because when you do, people will be begging to hear the story of why and you can then give them the greatest story ever told.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Some Words To Chew On

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Romans 12

So, what does this verse mean to you ?
How should you live this out in your community ?

My thoughts on the subject after a few comments come in

Concentrate on God's Word

I got this warning. I thought that I would mention it and respond to it since the warning came out in the open for people to read:

Jeff, I am praying for you. I would suggest you stop reading so many books and concentrate just on God's Holy Word.

He then follows it up with this statement:

Reading a book written by two Quakers who are promoting universalisim is not healthy and it is completely contradictory to what the Bible teaches us.

He then nails his point home on the following statement (universalisimm):

When you hold to the belief that ALL people will go to heaven, then you have just trampled the blood of Jesus under your feet. You have also given permission to your youth that they can sin all they want because they are going to heaven anyway, regardless of whether they repent or not.

To my fellow brother in Christ whom I shall be breaking bread with some day in heaven, thanks for your words and your warning. However, let me address some of your concerns and your thoughts.

First, thanks for the prayers. I appreciate them. It is great when fellow believers lift each other up in their prayers. It is a very Biblal practice and we see Paul encouraging and lifting his brothers and sisters up in the letters that he wrote to churches in the 1st Century.

Second, I enjoy reading boos and I like stretching my thoughts, so I am not sure if I will give up my book reading. Many of the books that I read are very challenging to me and they pull and stretch me to be more Christ like.

Third, Ido read, concentrate and pray over and through the Holy Scripture. Just because I list the books that I am reading and give reviews, do not mean that I am ignoring God's Word. Also, I read for my "own" insiht and then I read the Scriptures that are associated with my teaching time and daily devotions.

Fourth, the boo that you are referring to is a very good book to wrestle with scripture. I do not have it in front of me but there are hundreds of Scriptures in that book. Thus, to say ading Scripture is unhealthy, I do not agree with. Now, you may think it is unhealthy with their conclusions on Scriptures. But, once again, I find it very helpful to understand how various people can read Scripture and come to a different understanding.

Fifth, I have never said that I fully support that position. I am sure that you can/will/would do a great job of cutting and pasting and ommitting things from our conversations to bring my views in the light that you want to see it.

HOWEVER, for those that hold to that view, they would say that is the farthest thing from the truth. It bings His death to greater relevance and reverence for what He was willing to do and did for a hurting and dying world.

To my readers, maybe my brother has shed some light on an area that I need to be covering in this blog. Maybe, I will also start sharing the Scriptures that I am reading, praying over and seeing how we (as a community) are living them out and making a difference in the world.

Church: Words of Wisdom

Cindy, has written some beautiful words today, they are listed below. They come from a discussion with a lay leader about their church and issues that they are dealing with. Let the words soak in.

I think the church-centered christian life (as opposed to a Christ centered christian life) that american protestantism has created in the last few generations is what is killing the church in america. and the new generations see it for what it is - empty activity that does little besides sustain itself for more empty activity. Not that nothing good happens in local churches; far from it. But the abiding culture of complacency we've allowed to take over so overshadows the true mission of God's people that we risk losing it all.

We need corporate worship, we need corporate teaching, we need fellowship. But, we also need to get the heck out of the church building and live lives that show we care about somebody in addition to the people we worship with. We must address this corporate addiction to church that we ourselves have created. call it a church intervention, maybe. And if we succeed, the withdrawals will be ugly, angry, and very messy. If we don't succeed, thousands of local churches just like ours will be gone in 20 years or less. I'm not even sure if that isn't what should happen.

She absolutely hits this one out of the ballpark. We, too often, become church focused instead of Jesus focused. We fill up the calendars to keep people busy. We are hurting Christianity. We need to get back to the true mission that God has fiven us.

Cindy, thanks for the words. I greatly appreciate them and every once in awhile, i am needed to be reminded of the community (town) and get out there and make sure that are "folks" are out there as well and not "tied up" in empty projects that produce a church club mentality.

Blue Like Jazz

This is a book that has been on my radar to read for a few years. When we were at Discovery, a group got together and read the book and discussed the chapters and stories. However, due to a schedule conflict, I could not participate.

The book however has been on my shelf for all this time. Donald Miller is the writer and I really enjoy his writing and I like to listen to him speak. Thus, it was time to pull it down from the bookshelf and read it.

I was prompted to bring this one down and read it after I was listening to Thousand Foot Krutch. The reason that I was reminded of this book is because as I was listening t their album, I remembered that Amy did an interview with them and they mentioned tat their album title came from the book. Here is a snipit from the interview:

Reaching across the divide isn’t always easy, but Thousand Foot Krutch seeks commonality, not division with others, which is evident in their latest album. The Flame In All of Us is a call for humanity to come together to discover the unifying threads that make us human.

The album title is pulled from the pages of Donald Miller’s popular book Blue Like Jazz according to McNevan who elaborates saying, “No matter what we believe, where we grew up, what our nationalities are—all those things that divide us—at some point in our lives well all have the questions—Who am I? Why am I here?”

It’s exactly those questions that Thousand Foot Krutch seeks to explore in the album’s title track, “The Flame In All of Us”, an upbeat melodic song. The album ranges in style from rock to alternative to the heavier sound for which the band is known. Perhaps the most poignant aspect of the album as a whole is McNevan’s ability to rail through struggles while always pointing to hope. “We don’t always have great days. We sometimes have really bad days,” he humbly admits. “To be this shiny, happy Christian all the time—that’s not me and that’s not a lot of people I know. I feel being realistic about it is more honest.”

This book was good. It was not great. He shares 20 chapters (stories) and they are "easy" reads. There were stories that resonated with me more than others. But the thing that I thoroughly enjoy about Donald is that he tells stories and through the stories, you are able to grab a hold of Christianity Spirituality.

My favorite story (I think) that he tells in the book (which I had heard before) was the confessional booth story. They set up a confessional booth in the midst of the biggest party at the college. They were in the booth confessing to the students for the "screw-ups" that Christianity has made over the years.

I think that David Allen from HM Magazine sums up this book greatly, when he says, "Donald Miller has achieved what every Christian writer toils and types for: spiritual relevancy. He has completely revealed himself in his latest effort. Laced with off-guard humor, biting insights, and to-the-point summaries, Blue like jazz is a thought provoking journey toward a God who's not only real but reachable."

Family Movie Nights

One of the things that we are doing here at Zion is family movie night. We gather downstairs in Room 100 and watch a movie on the Big Screen.

Stacey does a great job setting up the night with Sloppy Joe's and Hot Dogs and we have chips, drinks and popcorn. The children sit up on the floor and the adults sit around the tables.

Our next Movie Night is going to be Friday, May 2nd and we are going to watch Water Horse. If you are a local reader, I want to encourage you to come out and have a relaxing night. Enjoy some food and watch a movie. The trailer is below. We will start the movie at 6:30.

Our other movie nights have been the following movies: Game Pland and Enchanted. They have been wonderful nights of people coming together. It is a great mixture of church family and friends. The great thing (to me) is that all ages are represented.

8 Days To Go

While at the soccer field last night, I mentioned this to one of my wife's friends and she looked shocked. Thankfully, she did not fall to the ground and hurt herself.

I Won !!!

The Winner of the 2008 NCAA Basketball Bracket is ..... Jeff Greathouse.

Yes, that is right. I was predestined to win it all. I mean, i chose the name "Cutting Down The Nets". It looked shaky all the way. I did not pick them to well but I had Kansas winning it all and that is what put me here today.

Thanks Kansas for the win. Since, there was no prize, I needed to give me a ribbon :) And for those smart-ellecks, no I was not the only one in the bracket, there were 45 others playing.

And now for my thanks .....

I want to first off thank God. Without him giving me guidance in the picks, this would not be possible. I want to thank my dad for sitting me down in front of the tv to watch sports at an early age. I want to thank my wife for allowing me to spend countless hours on my butt watching games and finally, I want to thank everyone else who was in the "game" for not picking the right teams.