July 29, 2010
July 27, 2010
“Pornography is the drug of the millennium and more addictive than crack cocaine.” … And while most people may think of men when they picture purveyors of pornography, women are joining their ranks in droves. A big part of the problem – for both men and women – is the easy accessibility of porn. Thanks to the Internet, it’s not even necessary to leave your house. Anonymity feeds temptation.
A survey conducted in 2003 by Today’s Christian Woman found that one out of every six women, including Christians, admits struggling with an addiction to pornography.
Full story here.
The increase in female porn consumption is based on the increasing percentage of woman who were children during our Internet porn culture. That culture continues. The acceptance and consumption of porn is a trend that will likely strengthen unless and until large numbers of people openly speak out against it. The effort begins at home. Our culture ever increasingly emphasizes and encourages the sexualization of youth. It’s not uncommon to see grade school girls wearing skin-tight clothes and overtly sexually suggestive branding, e.g. Victoria’s Secret short shorts with JUICY in block print across the buns. It common for teenage girls to dress in skin-tight and/or low-cut clothes. It’s practically accepted as normal for young females to leave little to the imagination. What only two generations ago was considered virtue is now deemed a social liability by many.
Reforming our culture starts with reforming our relationships at home. A girl should not learn that she is loved and valued by how much “skin she has in the game.” Daughters learn much of their worth and sense of self from their father. Are we raising daughters of Eve, princesses of the living God, or are we aiming to raise “cool” and popular girls in a porn saturated culture? God grant us the wisdom to love and guide our daughters in our small, daily decisions. Are we raising sons who value and look for Godliness in girls, or do they see their father ogling the short shorts? Do they know from our computer caches and histories the internet pages being visited in supposed secrecy? The sin of the fathers visits itself on the next generation. Rot and disease spreads and infests. Our struggles are not just our own. God give us the strength to raise a better generation.
July 26, 2010
One of the marks of a Christian is their desire to keep God’s word. The Bible says, “He who says, ‘I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” But the text goes on to say, “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:5).
Keeping God’s word is not always easy. We all fail in many ways. However, it is important to know that the Bible is not teaching legalistic perfectionism. The Apostle John is, instead, describing the heart’s desire of a follower of Jesus.
Notice he says, “The love of God is perfected in Him.” The Greek word translated “perfected” means to complete a goal. As such it refers to those whose hearts have matured in their love for God. Because they love God, they desire to keep God’s word.
The word “keep” in this verse is a derivative of a word that sailors once used to refer to their practice of steering their course by “keeping” the stars. This did not mean, of course, that a sailor would not be blown off course or that he might not over-steer. It didn’t mean that he might not nod-off at the wheel, or somehow be distracted, or fail to keep a perfect chart. But the goal, the aim, the desire, and the controlling principle in his life were those stars. He knew that with them he could find direction to his destination.
In the same way, John says God’s commandments are to be the standard by which you and I chart the course of our life. Such a person, we are told, has the love of God perfected in him.
I believe we would all admit that there have been times in our life where we have fallen-asleep at the wheel, or have allowed ourselves to be distracted from God’s word, or allowed the circumstances of life to blow us off course. However, because of our love for God, we woke up, or decided to pay attention to where we were going, and adjusted accordingly by looking up and getting a correct bearing on life.
Maybe as you read this, you realize you have been blown of course for a while, or have been distracted, or maybe you just dosed off. Fear not. God loves you. Look to His word. He’ll help you get back on course.
July 24, 2010
A loyal servant to the North Korean government, until NK police beat his wife and forced abortion in her 8th month of pregnancy because she had the audacity to complain about the policies of Kim Jong-il. They fled to China. She died shortly thereafter of cancer. Through the loving witness of a missionary, Son Jong Nam put his faith in Christ.
Instead of rejecting God and the land of his birth and his countrymen, he embraced Christ and devoted his life to giving words of hope to his suppressed countrymen. Returning to North Korea to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, Son Jong Nam was repeatedly imprisoned and abused. Now reported tortured to death by the communist regime of Kim Jong-il. Full story here.
Martyred at age 50 for spreading the gospel. He enters his reward.
July 22, 2010
I mentioned in a comment to a post below how I work with a number of ministries and regularly review third-party internet postings about/to particular Christian ministries. There is one consistent theme – the more a ministry adheres publicly to fundamental, Biblical teaching, the more vitriolic and spiteful and numerous are the online postings. They are often vulgar, grotesque, and insulting. It’s not enough to disagree with our Christian beliefs or even enough to do so in a vulgar and insulting manner. No, as often as not, they misrepresent or twist basic beliefs or actions. Certainly some of such misstatements are the product of ignorance, but the pattern is so consistent and prevalent that I suspect much if not most of it is deliberate and malicious.
I want to argue. Indeed, at times I would like to grab the scoffers and mockers by the throat and give a good squeeze, but that would be denying the fundamental virtue of a life lived in Christ. At times like that, I find it difficult to willfully follow the teachings of my Lord Jesus Christ. The insults and arguments don’t bother me too much, however, it’s how I’m supposed to respond that bothers me. We are called to love and to pray for the scoffers and mockers. It was for the lost and depraved that Christ died. It is to the lost that Christ sends us. In their anger and hatred of Christianity they are to be pitied for not only do they ignore Christ’s warnings to the peril of their eternity, they live now with their face turned away from their Creator, the God of all the heavens and Earth who loves them. They’re missing out on living a life buoyed by the Holy Spirit, supported by the love of Christ, and living with a hope for eternity.
God give me the strength to love and pray for those who mock and scoff at the faith I’ve put in your Word.
July 21, 2010
July 16, 2010
Northern vs. Southern Triathlon
I was able to compete in two separate triathlon in June: Kerr Lake (NC, Southern) on June 6 and North Country (NY, Northern) on June 26. Both races were roughly the same distance, but were vastly different in both latitude and geography. While in no way a complete sampling, this is my comparison of the two:
Southern race was sunny and very hot (high 90′s). High humidity.
Northern race was overcast and cool (60′s – 70′s). Low humidity.
Assessment: Much much better in the northern weather — especially the run!
Major advantage to the northern race.
Southern race was small, rolling hills.
Northern race had a hilly run course, and a huge mountain on the bike course.
Assessment: The hills and the scenery were part of the draw of the northern race.
Still, the northern race was much more difficult, and there is little chance of a PR on this course.
Advantage to the southern race.
Obviously, the organization of the race is not at all related to its location in the country. The southern race was larger with much more organization. However, the northern race had a lot more food and giveaways.
Southern race was faster and warmer. Water temperature was not wetsuit legal. Steep hill to T1.
Northern race was colder and rougher. Water temperature was about 69 degrees, making it wetsuit legal (I didn’t use one). Breathtaking scenery and crystal-clear water.
Assessment: This swim course was my reason for doing the northern race. It wasn’t my fastest swim but one of my strongest and my favorites.
Advantage to the northern race.
Southern race had low rolling hills. Despite the hot weather, it was my fastest bike course.
Northern race had bigger hills with a huge mountain in the middle. I had to push my bike up some of the steepest grades. Crazy downhill speeds.
Assessment: Northern bike was an adventure, but it was almost suicidal.
Advantage to the southern race.
Southern race had small hills, but the heat was unbearable.
Northern race was more hilly, but with much lower temperatures. An added benefit for me was that a friend ran the 10K run course with me. I ended up with a PR for the run course.
Assessment: I’ll take the northern hills for the lower temperatures on the run course.
Advantage to the northern race.
Southern race was close to my home, accessible by an early morning drive on race day.
Northern race was available only as part of our vacation travels.
The northern race was much more scenic with better temperatures. However, the southern races have faster times and, most importantly, are closer to home. I will try the scenic challenges when I can, but will look first for races nearby.
July 13, 2010
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7).
What a sobering reminder of the brevity of this world and the necessity to be earnestly seeking God. I believe it is easy to coast through life and never seriously consider the importance of eternal things. Yet, at the end of the day, those things are all that matter.
We are told that the “end of all things is at hand.” It’s hard for us to sympathize with that statement. After all, it was written two-thousand years ago. It seems a terribly long time; and from our perspective it seems that “the end of all things” was not at hand. So we live our lives. We focus on the priorities of today. The “end of all things” seems a long way off.
The statement however, was written from the divine perspective. From God’s point of view, the world is finished. It is but a moment to its end; and everything within the world will be swept away forever. So God encourages us to “be serious and watchful in our prayers.”
To be serious in our prayers is to allow them to have a place of distinction and permanence in our lives. If I am serious about something, I will be diligent in its pursuit and earnest in its achievement. To be watchful is to be alert and anxious for the accomplishment of what we are seeking. In this case, we are expected to be anxious for God’s kingdom and looking for the return of the coming King.
This verse offers a perspective on life that we are not altogether familiar with. Yet it is also an invitation to faith. God seeks to expand the horizon of our faith. He wants that horizon to reach beyond this world and expand into the next. When our faith grows to such a degree that we are able to peer, however feebly, into that vast horizon of eternal life, we will suddenly see with brilliant clarity the futility, frailty and vanity of present things. We will understand that the “end of all things is at hand.”
The result of such faith is a radicalization of one’s life. Such a person begins to live as though they are a citizen of a world not yet seen – yet embracing with zeal and joy the honor and dignity of that kingdom. They begin to worship an invisible God as though they were visibly looking upon His glorious majesty. They express an unyielding devotion and love to a Savior they have never gazed upon; and because of their love, they are willing to die for the honor of His name.
Such has been the faith of many who have gone before us (see Hebrews chapter 11), and such is the faith that God invites you to enter today.
Do you have such faith? If not, “be serious and watchful in your prayers;” believing that God will not disappoint, but rather will lift you up until the horizon of your faith extends into all things eternal.
July 4, 2010
Without God’s blessing, no effort, no person, and certainly no nation will prosper.
We continue to enjoy God’s grace. Though we systematically ignore God in our schools and in the vast majority of our public assemblies, indeed, it’s effectively illegal to corporately acknowledge God when our public institutions are in session, yet he continues to bless our nation. We practice our faith without interruption and largely without deterrence. The tax code incentivizes giving to our faith institutions. We evangelize without penalty or prosecution. The average American enjoys a standard of living unheard of in the history of mankind. Starvation is unheard of within our borders. Obesity is one of the leading if not the leading health risk. The books of the world are a click of a mouse away, and countless books are a short trip away to view for free in a library. The greatest music and best entertainment of the world are all immediately accessible. Access to education is universal. You can visit any portion of our continent with little preparation if you have the means to travel. We can visit most places of the globe and the biggest impediment in the vast majority of places are the requirements of the host country. Every community has healthcare, running water, and sanitation. We take entirely for granted those things that hundreds of millions of people world-wide only dream about having.
On July 4, 1776, the success of this democratic experiment was anything but certain. The most certain thing was that if they failed in their efforts against the then world superpower, each signatory to the Declaration of Independence would pay with his life and most likely his family’s wealth as well. Countless many have sacrificed their life so that this American effort can continue and prosper.
We are doing far too many things quite wrong now — our fundamental denial of our Creator and his relevance to how we govern and live, and from that denial pours forth a font of misfortune and evil. We threaten to unravel or squander what has been given to us. But today is not a day of mourning or lamentations, it is a day of celebration and for thanks for what our forefathers have sacrificed to create this land of liberty and abundance and for God’s blessings. By God’s grace, this nation will continue to prosper.
God bless America! Happy Fourth!