Friday, September 30, 2005

News coverage

I spent a fair amount of time in airports and airplanes yesterday, so there was a constant drum of CNN and newspapers and newsmagazines. The depth of coverage of stories on the TV news was incredibly shallow -- I timed one story labelled as "in-depth" at 4 minutes 10 seconds.

Our kids played soccer when they were very young. Watching 4 and 5 year old kids play soccer is pretty entertaining. They all cluster around the bal trying to kick it. Eventually it pops out and they whole group runs over to swarm the ball in its new location. The goalie, bored, wanders off to look at an interesting bug or leaf.

I think that's a pretty good picture of the news coverage today -- sensationalized, no strategic insights and shallow thinking, no one putting two and two together over time and geography.

But then I remember: this news format is a product of what people want, and Satan is delighted to help out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Storms Do Come

Doug Giles has some excellent advice in this column, "Riding the Storm Out."
Government Failure to Eradicate Poverty

Hmmm... three facts from the US Federal Government:

1. 37 million Americans live in poverty.
2. There are 82 poverty-related programs at the Federal level.
3. In 2005, those 82 programs had a combined budget of $500 billion.

Applying 3rd grade math skills (even at the worst public schools), that works out to $13,500 per person.

We clearly need a different approach, and people who say that the federal government is ignoring the plight of the poor need to be still.

Again, spending "other people's money" does not create lasting solutions.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Open Questions

What does a "100 minute Bible" us about the understanding that God's Word is for us, to help us understand the Lord, and as a vehicle for Him to interact with us -- the most wonderful relationship we can ever experience?

Next open question -- will anyone even be surprised by this, let alone appalled?

I just can't imagine the fabulous scene in Nehemiah 8 with a "100 minute Bible."

From the BBC story:

"100-minute Bible designed for time-starved Christians

An 'abridged' version of the Bible is being released in Britain today.
Publishers say the 100-minute Bible is ideal for those who do not have time to read the original.
In the beginning there was the Bible and to read it chapter and verse would take months.
Now it has been turned into a slimmed down page turner in an effort to get more people to read it.
The 100-minute Bible contains just 20,000 words and it is aimed at those who do not have the time to go through the whole book.
The abridged version picks out stories of the life of Jesus Christ and records the growth of Christianity.
It was written by a retired head teacher and minister and supported by some influential church leaders. "
Encouragement for Tired Dads

"So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us--who was raised to life for us!-is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing--nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable--absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." -- Romans 8:31-39, The Message

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bloated, Unconstitutional Federal Spending

As a political conservative, I'm alarmed about the federal spending pattern on education, "health and human services," and disaster bailouts. None of these are consitutional. I recommend we spend more on the military, which is clearly constitutional.

This didn't start with the current Bush administration, but it seems every administration since FDR just presses harder on the accelerator.
  • The debt run-up is unconscionable. My children's grandchildren may die paying off a rebuilding of New Orleans. And now we're creating a precedent that the federal government is obliged to pay for the recovery after any and every natural disaster.
  • The fine-sounding idea that the federal government can wisely spend money is not supported by historical data. Locals spending local dollars are usually pretty smart. The intelligence level drops off quickly when you think that you're spending "someone else's" money.
  • The whole strategy of federalizing solutions simply undercuts personal, family, and community responsiblity.
  • Creating ever-larger scope of the federal level is unconstitutional and dangerous. Gerald Ford wisely said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have."
  • This environment does nothing to help our political leaders make difficult decisions. We're rapidly approaching a system where it is practically impossible for someone to remain in political leadership while arguing for spending less or returning to a Consitutional view.

What we sow, we reap. Let us pray for mercy, because we dare not pray for justice.

Get Some Passion!

Perry Noble, writing about a health scare with his wife, gives this charge to pastors:

"Pastors--one question for you before I go...I really felt led to ask all of you this, if you had just one more message to preach to your knew that the following Monday God was going to call you home...and so you had one shot left...what would you say? What would you tell the people that you have the privilege to serve every weekend? Why don't you prepare that message--and say it! Preach like you have nothing to lose...go for it...pedal to the floor! I did on July 31...and it is one of the most freeing feelings in the world. Your people need to see fire and urgency...not political correctness or a wimp who is afraid of losing his paycheck!!! "

How are we doing as dads and husbands? What would you do and say differently today if you knew that God was going to call you home tomorrow?
Get Adobe Reader

Not the usual stuff for this blog, but a recommendation: get the latest version of Adobe Reader software (free) at

It's nice software, and corrects the known vulnerabilities in versions 5 and 6 that most people are using now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Striking a blow for personal righteousness

Dennis Prager nails it with this column. Excerpt: "...leftist ideologies are so preoccupied with "social justice" that they generally ignore personal character development.
Judeo-Christian values believe the road to a just society is paved by individual character development; the Left believes it is paved with action on a macro level."

Monday, September 19, 2005

Astute Observations on Politics

"Politics is evil. Ten years ago I thought politics was misguided. But the events of the past decade—indeed, of the past 10 or a dozen decades—have proven me wrong. The sum and substance of politics was expressed in the 1860s by Nicholas Chernyshevskii, a prescient Russian radical: 'Man is god to man.' And politics violates the other nine commandments as well. Politics could hardly function without bearing false witness. Likewise, without taking the Lord's name in vain. This is especially true given that, in politics, the Lord who is so loosely sworn by is Mankind. In the modern era politics has taken the place of mere tyranny. The result has been more killing in one century than in all the preceding centuries combined. Covetousness and stealing define redistributive politics. Without redistribution politics would have no political support. Graven image is as good a name as any for the fiat money by which politics operates. Politics' insistence upon involvement in every human activity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is more anti-Sabbatarian than golf. The Social Security system is no way to honor thy father and thy mother. And as for adultery, there was, and there may be still, Bill Clinton... Observe our national politics. Observe politics around the world. Observe politics through the ages. Does it look like God's handiwork? When it comes to having a role in politics, that would be the Other Fellow." —P.J. O'Rourke

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Does God Hate New Orleans and Biloxi?

Doug Giles, as usual, has some wit and wisdom in his latest column recommending people be careful about attributing Katrina to God's payback for sin.

"So, why did New Orleans and Biloxi get socked? I’m not going to jump out there and speak for God (principally, because He hasn’t spoken to me since I went to that Celion Dion concert in Vegas four years ago), but here’s my best guess: if you build a big city below sea level in the middle of hurricane highway then the chances are you’re eventually going to take a hit. It doesn’t mean God hates you. It just means there is a cost to living on the coast. Now, if New Orleans, Biloxi or Miami gets hit six more times between September and October and continues to get hit several times each year over the next eight summers, then I would say God’s probably annoyed with them. "

Read the whole thing, it's good.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

For Anyone You Know Facing Off Cancer

Check out Tony Snow's terrific column, "Fear Is A Waste Of Time."

"Still, the last few months -- my time of surgery and chemo -- have been the happiest and most thrilling of my life. They have confirmed lessons that seem at once too good to be true, and too important and vital not to be.

Here is a short inventory:
Faith matters. Prayers heal. Love overcomes.
People want to do good for others; they just need excuses.
Fear is a waste of time. The worst that can happen is that we'll die -- which happens to everybody, anyway. Until the Grim Reaper comes knocking, we're alive.
We can count our hardships, but not our blessings.
Life does not revolve around us. It envelops us.
There is no condition that someone else has not already overcome."
Happy Constitution Day!

It's the 218th anniversary of one of the most incredible documents ever written by men.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. "

If you haven't read it lately, do so. You may be surprised at how far the US has deviated from what's in there!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Scary Facts

Focus On The Family recently did a survey, asking young people who they would go to if they had a difficult problem to work out and needed advice. Where is Dad listed? #40.

Here's another sobering fact for the United States: 90% of the boys in church today will not regularly attend church at age 20.
Quote of the Month

"If men become men, the world will change." -- Larry Crabb, from The Silence of Adam
What would be different if we had responded "perfectly" to Katrina?

What if every level of government -- from local politicos in New Orleans to FEMA to Congress and the President – had responded perfectly to Katrina?

Perhaps fewer people would have died.
There might be less devastation, at least less flooding in New Orleans.
The economic impact might be slightly less.

And what would be the same?

People would have died.
The physical damage would still be enormous and take years to clean up and rebuild.
500,000 citizens would still be displaced from their homes.
The living conditions in these areas would be precarious at best for months.
Gas supplies would still have been disrupted.
The port of New Orleans would still have sustained enough damage to keep it closed for weeks.
The impact would be greatest on the self-employed, the poor with little or no insurance, the physically weak, and anyone without extended family to help them.
Americans would have responded to meet the needs of fellow Americans with passion and sacrifice.
It’s Not About Race

There is one factor in the New Orleans disaster that isn’t getting much media play. It partially explains why the same storm didn’t result in riots, looting, and murder in Mississippi and Alabama. It’s not race, but marriage.

Over 80% of the families who did not leave New Orleans are unmarried mothers and their children. Without good and present male role models, children (boys especially) move towards their basic selfish, lazy, sinful instincts.
Your Home Should Not Reflect the Cultural Sewer

Rebecca Hagelin recommends an Internet filter, parental controls on cable TV channels, and using quality movie review sites. (I suggest you skip the cable TV altogether – what are you missing, really?) We use Plugged In Online and recommend it.
Equality, But Not Sameness

Dennis Prager has some useful comments about the feminization of Western culture. Equality – which Judeo-Christian ethics emphasizes – is not sameness. There are serious concerns about the feminization of our institutions.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Changing a Community Takes Two Generations

It's possible to complete change a community of people in two generations -- for better or worse. But let's not kid ourselves about the level of commitment required. Historic evidence abounds that only the people of God are willing to pour out love and faithful service to a dying community for the length of time needed.

Consider this example of the Irish community turnaround in New York City, as described by Larry Elder:
Consider the mid-1800s, and the plight of New York City's Irish underclass.
According to William J. Stern, writing in The Wall Street Journal, "One hundred
fifty years ago, Manhattan's tens of thousands of Irish seemed mired in poverty
and ignorance, destroying themselves through drink, idleness, violence crime and
illegitimacy. . . . An estimated 50,000 Irish prostitutes worked the city in
1850. . . . Illegitimacy soared, tens of thousands of abandoned Irish kids
roamed the city's streets. Violent Irish gangs fought each other . . . but
primarily they robbed houses and small businesses. More than half the people
arrested in New York in the 1840s and 1850s were Irish. . . .
Disgusted by government "charity," Bishop John Joseph Hughes led
movements to form non-government-aided Catholic schools and numerous self-help
programs. He promoted abstinence and the belief that sex outside of marriage was
a sin. His diocese's nuns served as an employment agency for Irish domestics and
encouraged women to run boarding houses. What happened? Within two generations,
"the Irish proportion of arrests for violent crime had dropped to less than 10
percent from 60 percent. Irish children were entering . . . the professions,
politics, show business and commerce. In 1890, some 30 percent of the city's
teachers were Irish women, and the Irish literacy rate exceeded 90 percent."

Hope, Faith, and Love, men.
Home-Grown World Christians

Noel Piper shares some useful ideas about helping our children become believers concerned about the whole world, not just our provincial area.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

How's your mid-life spiritual checkup?

I appreciated Philip Yancey's Believer's To-Be List. Good stuff!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Opportunity and Privilege

Here's a prayer adventure: ask the Lord to give you someone who needs to be encouraged today. Watch for that opportunity to come up, and when it does...lavish love on that person the way Jesus does.

Daily privilege and calling -- lavish love on your wife!
Great Quote

"I am challenged. I am not satisfied to be in the race, I want to run to win. (Please see 1 Cor 9:24-27!) I want to be the best I can be and reach as many people as I can for Christ. My passion is HOT...and I can't wait for Sunday!" -- Perry Noble

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

And a 6-Six Year Old Shall Lead Them...

Check out this remarkable story of Deamonte Love. What grace of God! You have to wonder about the back story of the parents of these children. What happened to them?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Marching Orders

This is Deuteronomy 6:4-7 from the Amplified Bible.

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord].
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might.
And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then]
You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

God's Word for Grown-up Men Today

"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ--that's where the action is. See things from his perspective." -- Colossians 3:1-2, The Message

You've been serve!
You're in Christ...actively hunt out the good things where Christ reigns!
You're a man...walk boldly!
You're God's alert to where your Commander in Chief is at work!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina and Intelligent Design

John Piper has an excellent short reponse to Daniel Schorr's demand that the "Bush's intelligent designer answer for Katrina." Read this. Let's strengthen our understanding of the sovereignty of God, of sin, of grace and mercy.
Another question for family discussion

Why is there looting, rape, and murder in New Orleans and not Biloxi? Why were there not reports of these sins after hurricane Ivan in Florida?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Learning Lessons from Katrina

The dreadful situation in New Orleans is bringing out the best and worst in people. I suspect the media is magnifying the evil behavior, but they aren't making it up. People are looting stores. People are shooting at rescue helicopters and police.

Many more are quietly, unselfishly helping one another and remaining orderly.

So dad, is there an opportunity here to talk with your family about spiritual realities? You bet.

This is a great story on the nature of sin in people's hearts. Lawlessness becomes evident when the restraints are lifted. Does anyone have an excuse to be lawless?

Where is the providence and mercy of God? [You might consider that Katrina dropped from category 5 to category 3 just as it reached land. The destruction and loss of life could have been far, far worse. And with our satellite technology, hurricanes take no one by surprise. People have opportunity to prepare, to choose, to escape.]

Is there a difference between getting food, water, diapers, and medicines from ruined stores, and stealing TV sets? Train your boys to think through this -- what would you do to take care of your family, or the weak? How would you make it right with the store owner later?

How do you share with others about the love of Christ in this environment?

Rich stuff!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Satan's Strategy

Paraphrasing Gary Rosberg from his talk at CrossTrainers yesterday: "We know that Satan's main ploy with men is to isolate them. If he can get you alone, it's easier to lead you into doing something stupid."

Men need others, too. Let's help each other celebrate life, and finish well.