Dennis Hopper – RIP
May 31, 2010
May 29, 2010
God calls us to be witnesses of what he’s done in our lives. In February this year, I had the privilege of sharing my testimony with the staff at Answers in Genesis. What a fantastic group of people. Of course my testimony is rather lengthy (I am a lawyer), but this rendition covers the major points of my salvation story and the beginnings of my journey to becoming a young Earth creationist: Tony’s testimony at AiG
May 28, 2010
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you rise. Dt. 6:4-7
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Eph. 6:4
The pathologies of Godless living are undeniable and undeniably negative. Humanism, post-modern thought, and institutionalized secularism produce wrecked lives, broken families, and crushed hearts. Lifelong relationships are increasingly rare. The post-modern culture seems inherently hostile to whatever is good and lasting. Relationships with the living God of creation seem increasingly rare and certainly not appropriate for public discourse in “well educated” circles. God is now deemed personal and subjective, and better done in isolation. We’re a mobile, fractured society. We’re easily fractured from each other and ever increasingly fractured from our creator and sustainer God. People from “less developed” areas of the world comment on how we retreat into our closed garages and live inside, isolated from our neighbors and rarely in contact with our families. The body of Christ is thriving and growing most outside “developed” nations.
As people increasingly accept the post-modern paradigm that truth is a subjective experience, the institution of the church suffers. Churches that try to stay “relevant” to the culture and liberalize their theology become irrelevant and die or simply become moral social action clubs. The intellectual elites increasingly view the Bible with hostility. The church in Western Europe approaches extinction.
The family also suffers. Divorce is now accepted as normal. Increasingly, young people decide against marrying and opt instead for co-habitation and increasing numbers of children are born out of wedlock and increasing percentages of children are raised without fathers in the home. Earlier terms had pejorative terms for what we now accept as normal. Reproduction rates across most of Western Europe have fallen below replacement levels. The same was recently reported for the native US population. Within our hermetically sealed suburban homes, family connections are also suffering as we spend more time each year plugged into the latest electronic stimulation and less time each year plugged into each other.
There is an ever increasing body of evidence that these pathologies, particularly the breakdown of the family, have very negative effects on our children, and as a result, on society. Another recent commission of experts has drawn the same conclusion. Of note, this analysis also demonstrated the critical importance of a father’s involvement in the lives of his children.
LARGE AND GROWING numbers of U.S. children and young people are suffering from depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders, thoughts of suicide, and other serious mental and behavioral problems. Why? What can be done to reverse this trend? In this pioneering report, the Commission on Children at Risk, a panel of 33 leading children’s doctors, neuroscientists, research scholars and youth service professionals, draw upon a large body of recent research showing that children are biologically primed (“hardwired”) for enduring connections to others and for moral and spiritual meaning.
Children with involved Fathers are more confident, better able to deal with frustration, better able to gain independence and their own identity, more likely to mature into compassionate adults, more likely to have a high self esteem, more sociable, more secure as infants, less likely to show signs of depression, less likely to commit suicide, more empathetic, boys have been shown to be less aggressive and adolescent girls are less likely to engage in sex. (more…)
I recently had a talk with someone who was reading a book to scientifically explain Genesis and how the first days of creation were not literal days. One of the arguments was that the sun wasn’t created until the fourth day so there really couldn’t be morning and night. Later as I tried to find useful information to send him, I found that the commentary in my Bible wasn’t exactly good either. If I remember right, the commentary said that of course there had to be a sun for there to be morning and night, but it was too hazy to really see much light. Hmmmmmm. That still didn’t sit well with me. What kept coming to my mind were all the references of Light (capital “L”). God is Light – both spiritually and physically. No one could look upon His face because of the sheer brightness. But what really hit me was in studying Revelation 22:5, “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them, and they will reign forever and ever.” Don’t you think that the God who can create life from nothing can also create light without a sun?
May 23, 2010
I have a confession to make…in an ever-growing culture of sound bites and video clips, I find that my life reveals “clips” that show a side of me I prefer not be known. In my role as pastor and missionary, I want people to see nothing but a courageous, faith-filled follower of Christ. My hope is that no one can see my occasionally faltering faith. Perhaps I have done a good job so far… or have I? So whether those clips have been observed or not, I have a confession I must reveal.
Before I make my transparent admission, let me tell you about the last 24 hours. Here’s the gist – I have been pursued by a loving God to face a weakness in my walk with Him. Yesterday, after a 40-day ordeal with our aging mini-van, the car broke down again. (What’s sad is that I merely drove it away from the auto shop that just finished repairing the problem. Just 10 miles down the road…viola! ) Trust God is all things? At that moment to any observer the “clip” of my life would reveal anything but a man of faith. I’m amazed to realize how God gets most of the blame for a car not running. Been there and definitely done that!
Then it happened…a long time friend drove up, offered help. However, I politely dismissed his help due to the tow truck on its way (and partly out of embarrassment). He drove away and I sat back down in the van waiting for the tow truck. (I think the driver and I are on first name basis now!) After a few minutes I decided to text the would-be Good Samaritan to thank him for stopping and offering help. But at that moment, he drove up again, jumped out of his car and declared he was not going to leave me stranded. There in the pouring rain, he assessed the problem and sought to make the minor repair to get me back on the road.
After some elbow grease and finding the right tools, the van’s engine purred back to its rustic self. My friend had accomplished what he set out to do. He even followed back me to the auto shop to drop off the car. (I felt this was my only option since the gun shop was closed!) And then he offered me a ride home. Later that night I reflected on the fact that while I was playing the blame game with God, He Himself was already in motion to show His power and care for me. My friend embodied Christ’s love in the flesh for which I am very grateful.
This morning I listened to another long time friend teach from Matthew 6:25-34 about trusting God in all matters rather than worry. This was a timely encounter with God on the subject. As I reflected on this truth I discovered that the last 24 hours revealed a great weakness in my walk with Christ.
So I have a confession (actually two):
First – there are times in my walk with Christ that I act like a Practicing Atheist. Yes, really! I view God as if He does not have control of anything in this world. He might as well be powerless to work on my behalf. Then He sends a Good Samaritan by to prove His power. But that’s not all…
Second – there are times in my Christian experience that I become a Brooding Agnostic. I see God as if He doesn’t care about my circumstances. “Hey, Lord, we’re having a crisis here, jump in anytime you desire…preferably now!” Have I dropped down on His list of priorities? Was I ever on it? Then He sends a Good Samaritan by to show how deeply He cares for me.
There – I confessed it. Now what? Train my heart to trust God: trust Him more, trust Him deeply. In Matthew 6:26 we read the words of Christ “Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” (The Message)
Today, I’m just learning to be a trusting follower of Christ and be “careless in the care of God.” How about you?
May 21, 2010
Top things I hate about running
- Speed work in the severe cold
- Tempo runs in the sweltering heat
- Hitting the wall miles from home
- The pain of minor injuries
- The fear of major injuries
- Running out of water
- Pushing too hard and paying for it
- Answering detractors (No, it won’t kill me!)
Top ten things I love about running
- The solitude of a solo run
- Deep talks on a run with family or a patient friend
- Being faster than my brothers
- Trying to keep up with my sisters
- The adventures of long runs
- The goodies given out at races
- Eating what I want, as much as I want
- Being in shape and having more energy
- Accomplishing goals; finding my limits
- The support of my family
May 20, 2010
My youngest brother just graduated from high school, and like his brothers, he plans on serving his country in the US Army, which awarded him a scholarship to study engineering in college while training to be an officer.
I admire and support his decision to commit to officer’s training; I don’t though envy him though. It’s not because the US is in a land war in Asia; it’s because the future looks so uncertain for purposes of planning a career … we may hardly comprehend or even imagine today what our economy and technologies will look like in 40 years.
The rate of change only continues to increase. The world in 2000 AD looked nothing like the world of 1900. I’m afraid 2100 will be even more dramatically removed from what life in 2000 was like. The founder of www.howstuffworks.com, Marshall Brain, hasa thoughtful essay on this topic titled Robotic Nation here.
National Review comments in their May 3 edition:
We have been hearing for some time — about a century — that we shall soon have robots to take over low-level manual tasks, leaving the human population free to write sonnets, compose symphonies, or paint in oils. Perhaps there is something to it: Researchers at the University of California – Berkeley, have just demonstrated a robot that can fold towels. There’s some way to go yet, though, before all drudgery is purged from our lives: The mechanical marvel takes an average of 25 minutes to fold one towel.
May 19, 2010
Not only are we piling up lots of debt — trillions and trillions — for our children to pay off, apparently, we’re birthing fewer and fewer children to pay it in the future. Fittingly, during the year where we’ve cast off constitutional constraints and moved deliberately to the European social welfare state model, we are now also adopting for the first time their birthing practices, ie our birthing rate has fallen below the replacement level. See here. The social welfare state with a declining population base is economically unsustainable absent massive immigration, which creates its own set of problems and instabilities.
May 17, 2010
I’m not at all against technology; it makes life more predictable and safe and often more interesting. It can, however, also detract from the pleasures of life. For example, the PDA is great technology, but it can take away from family time and family communications. Technology can also take away from what it means to be human. Here’s an instance where technology may do both. The UK’s Daily Mail reports that “scientists” opine: Sex will not be used to have babies in just 10 years, as couples turn to IVF
Maybe the Luddites were on to something?
Grand River Old grey mists fleeting past We were summer’s children With warm grandparents in winter We were together only yesterday Forests and playfields gone 28 empty theatres Quiet houses, lonely streets They were real only yesterday New faces and buildings My children now laughing Grandparents hugging smiles Time flowing on like yesterday.
May 14, 2010
May 13, 2010
21. God whispers
22. Fresh pineapples from Hawaii
23. Cheeseburgers fresh off the grill and hot, buttery, salty corn on the cob, and seconds on those cheeseburgers
24. God’s incredible creativity
25. We live in a land where we are free to worship and praise God
26. God hears our worship, praise and prayers
27. How incredibly made is the human body
28. Faith in eternity
29. A loving, faithful wife
30. the Gettys
From the Investigative Project on Terrorism: Government Pays Mosque it Considers Radical
My political outrage meter is so worn from the past year that this hardly registers … but it should.
We are entering a unique time in American history. We have entered a time where we have redefined the definition of what it means to have “rights.” “My rights” has become code language for “freedom from law.”
I stand amazed at what is happening in Arizona and the surrounding dialogue. It is symptomatic of our national psyche as a whole. Political correctness has Balkanized our country to such a degree that judicious laws that seek to protect the citizenry, and the sovereignty of our nation, are viewed as the real threats.
At the same time, those Hispanic groups that oppose immigration laws seem to demand that by virtue of their status as minorities they are no longer obligated to obey the laws of the land. The word racist, which they are so quick to use, has come to mean “your laws have no jurisdiction over me.” Hence, instead of being a country defined by the motto E Pluribus Unum, out of many one (or as someone has said, ‘we’re all in this together’), we have become a land where the phrase, ‘every man for his own group’ has become more accurate.
Of course, in a democratic society the citizenry has the “right” to oppose ideas they do not agree with. The significance of this latest debate, however, lies in the willingness of certain Hispanic groups to oppose the laws of the land while defining their opposition by their ethnicity, not by reasoned arguments of jurisprudence which upholds the rule of law. Groups of Hispanics are marching in Arizona, opposing American law while carrying Mexican flags. These same groups are attempting to take away the American flag from white protestors on American soil!
This is no longer about Americans debating Americans. This has become a debate about who has the right to the land. The opposition groups are essentially declaring American law synonymous with white oppression. They demand nothing less that a free open borders where Mexicans (or any Hispanic from the Central Americas) are free to pour onto American soil without consequence. Americans (now a code word for race) must relinquish control of the boarder and recognize they have no right to its protection. If not, they can expect future belligerence and further polarization.
Such is the fruit of liberalism and its hand maiden political correctness. In order for this phase of our country to pass without shattering the integrity of the Union, Americans – of every stripe – must evaluate the historic achievement thus far in our history: that of successfully forging a peculiar culture where the many disparate groups have learned to live in peace as a single body politic. This means more than being proud of our heritage as Americans; it means showcasing the exceptionalism that is America.
The young, who protest as Mexicans on American soil, are a negative demonstration of that exceptinoalism; as such however, they are not able to grasp the historic significance of such an action – only in America! Lost is the memory of Tiananmen Square. Had these young people grown up in China and protested as citizens of Taiwan, they would be fertilizer by now! But until they, and all such like them, learn that America means Freedom and not race, they will only erode the foundation that gave them their right to protest in the first place.
Our boarders will become truly secure only when the people of this nation recognize the significance and privilege of what it means to be called an American. May it happen before that great name passes into history!
May 12, 2010
The attached is a sermon I delivered on Genesis three which speaks about the source of sin and misery we now experience in our lives and the world.
May 11, 2010
The attached is a sermon from Genesis two, that I delivered a couple of weeks ago on the meaning of marriage.
Remembering those halcyon days, when t-shirts used to simply be fun. Could this lead to the next arms race?
May 10, 2010
“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
I remember a time I was in a gym lifting weights. I was in Ft. Lewis, Washington, and enjoying my time in the army. At the time, I had not been lifting weights very long; as such I was struggling with a few measly pounds on the bench press. However, next to me were two other soldiers who were also benching. To my utter astonishment, they were lifting over five-hundred pounds! The bar seemed to bend under that weight, and the men gave a low guttural grunt as they slowly pushed the weight up from their chest.
I was thinking that if I had that weight on my chest I too would have been groaning – but it would have been the sound of my last breath coming out of my broken body! At the same time I was also encouraged. I realized that those two men didn’t get to that level overnight. They definitely spent years working up to that point. They were strong because of constant practice.
The writer of Hebrews is essentially making the same point about Christian maturity. Growing in Christ is something that takes intentional effort. Just as a person gains strength from constant use of their muscles, so too a Christian grows spiritually by constant use of their spiritual capabilities. Spiritual strength requires spiritual exercise.
The verse above says that “solid food” is for the mature. Solid food is the meat of Christianity but can only be obtained through “constant practice.” It is like the heavy weights of spirituality. One does not get to that level overnight, and certainly not by accident.
Rather, the ability to become a spiritually strong person who knows good from evil, and who can live a life of faith without compromising with the world, is developed over time with intentionality.
The reality is that God desires, and even demands that we grow in Christ. He wants you to be filled with the Spirit. He wants you to be living your life according to the Bible. He wants you to experience His power in your life. He wants you to trust Him with all things.
The truth is that, as Christians, we are going in one of two directions. We are either growing in Christ, or being drawn away from Christ (Luke 8:11-15). There is no neutral ground where we can be comfortable. The authentic Christian life is a constant uphill struggle against the world, the flesh, and the evil one. The moment we stop exercising our spiritual muscles is the moment one of the three forces of worldliness begins to take advantage of us.
I still go to the gym. I haven’t reached the five-hundred pound mark on the bench, and most likely never will; but I have come a long way since that day in Ft. Lewis. As a Christian I too have grown much over the last sixteen years. I have not arrived, to be sure, but I seek daily to exercise my spiritual muscles so that I can continue to grow in the things of God. If you know that your spiritual muscles are getting a little flabby, join me at the gym. I will most likely need a spotter the next time I’m on the bench.
May 9, 2010
The apostle Paul encourages us to focus on those things that are good and pure. Mother’s day is a day devoted to just that – celebrating and rejoicing in one of the purest and best aspects of humanity. The bond of mother and child is one of our strongest and most intimate forces. Praise God for the love of and for our mothers.
I thank God for the woman who gave me birth and raised me and for the woman who has given selflessly of herself to birth and raise our children. My wife’s love for our children is as certain and steady and warming as the sunrise. I thank God also for my grandmothers who loved my parents into existence, and then me, my siblings, and my cousins.
We really shouldn’t need a particular day to celebrate mothers. The birthday of each child should be a celebration of the birth, i.e. a celebration of what God has accomplished through the mother’s labor. The child should bring gifts to the mother. That is not, however, the nature of parenting, particularly of motherhood.
There’s an old Hebrew proverb, God could not be everywhere, so he made mothers. While I disagree with that theology, I agree with its sentiment. Motherly love is perhaps the closest our fallen race gets to godliness. Self-sacrificing love is the essence of motherhood. Thank you Moms!