A World at War, Good Friday, and Frodo

wwiOn April 6, 97 years ago, America formally declared war on Germany, entering World War I.

It is Good Friday, the day Christ invaded our enemies and our sins.

Both were major events. Both would see devastating setbacks (so it would seem), but Americans and Christ came out victorious in the end.

I’ve heard it asked, “Why is it called Good Friday?”

If you’re not familiar with the whole passion_of_the_christChristian picture, it may seem rather odd that we celebrate the day our Saviour was beaten and crucified.

But like many wars, it was necessary for Christ to enter into battle in order to declare victory in the end.

You can’t be an official opponent if you don’t enter into a war. You can’t claim victory over that war unless you enter into battle, on the winning side. And you can’t fight the battle effectively unless you believe in the cause you’re fighting for.

Jesus knew the cause of His fight, He entered into the battle, and eventually declared victory three days later by stepping out of that tomb. Though our culture downplays it, there are many things worth fighting for, and Jesus seemed to think that your very soul was worth the fight.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you better believe that when He took those punches to the nose, He was thinking of you.

When the soldiers shoved the crown of thorns on His head, He endured it for you.

When the Father looked down on His Son savagely being nailed to the cross, He knew full well that in the end, you would be able to declare victory next to His Son and stand innocent before Him on the day of Judgement.

It is Good Friday because it is a prelude to the real celebration that is to take place this coming Sunday.

frodo_cryingLike every normal person, my wife and I absolutely love the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although we marvel at the brilliant filmmaking, we don’t necessarily enjoy all the hurt and anguish Frodo is put through.

But we know it’s part of the story. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we really only love the movies because of the last half hour of the last movie which is saturated in victory and redemption.

But those final scenes mean nothing without the 9+ hours of war and anguish preceeding them.

In the same way, you can’t appreciate the miracle of Easter unless you understand the goodness of Christ’s crucifixion.

One step further: You can’t fully celebrate the miracle of Easter unless you recognize the goodness of you yourself being crucified with Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Have a very Good Friday and declare war on your sins.

The Ultimate Man’s Man

I don’t know where they originated from or who had the idea to start them, but I love those Chuck Norris jokes. Here’s a few of my favorites for your enjoyment:chuck 1

Chuck Norris threw a grenade and killed 50 people, then it exploded.

When Chuck Norris crosses the steet the cars have to look both ways.

Chuck Norris has a diary. It’s called the Guinness Book of World Records.

When Chuck Norris was born he drove his mom home from the hospital.

Chuck Norris was once on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and was the first to spin. The next 29 minutes of the show consisted of everyone standing around awkwardly, waiting for the wheel to stop.

We all have a different idea of what the ultimate man’s man is like, or should be like. Some equate it with Chuck Norris, and some link modern manhood to Homer Simpson, doing away with the Spartacus persona altogether.

Leadership, fatherhood and husbandry ought to be as simple and straightforward  as it’s laid out in the second part of the creation account in Genesis 2. This is the world God intended history to build itself upon. A world where God is worshiped as Lord over all, and His children exercise sinless dominion over the earth and submit to the prospective roles God has given them as men and women, husbands and wives.

I’ve heard it said that Adam and Eve were more prone to sin because they didn’t have life lessons to learn from. What is left out of that assumption is that Adam had direct and intimate communication with the Father of heavenly lights. One has to assume that a conversation with the Lord, without the existence of sin, had to result in the deepest form of spiritual, physical, and emotional satisfaction that could possibly be attained. True, Adam didn’t have support groups to meet with once a week, but he took nightly and daily strolls with the keeper of all wisdom and truth. The Word (whether in flesh or in spirit) picked berries with Adam and lead him beside streams of flowing water, and no doubt taught him about life and all that the earth had to offer him. No careful reader of the Genesis account can come to the conclusion that Adam’s sin (and Eve’s for that matter) was committed as a result of pure naivety. Even in the brief second chapter of Genesis, Moses makes very clear to us that God lays the example of true manhood for Adam in plain sight. As is stated in A Guide to Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas, manhood is summarized as such: Leadership, provision, protection.

The Lord, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge of what His beloved creatures needed most, lead Adam to the garden (v. 15a), employed him there (v.15b), thus providing for his basic needs, and protected him from death by instructing him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (v.17). These are just a few examples among many where God lead by example.

But God knew that even in his sinless state, Adam wasn’t able to follow perfectly in His steps, so He created a helper, Eve, suitable to propel him to exhaust his leadership over the garden. This is why we are to heed the advise of our wives as long as it is based off of Scripture, because we cannot follow God alone, so unreachable are His ways. Still, we are to look to Him as our sole example. We can and should look to others who are further along in bringing God glory through spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness, but we must not let those people replace the One we are to strive to be like. That is why God came down in the form of a man so that there would be a tangible, living, breathing example of how we could go about striving to be like God.

In what other ways do you see God demonstrating the role of biblical manhood throughout the Scriptures? (And, list your favorite Chuck Norris quotes.)

What Christians Fear Most

monsters

Sometimes I feel like a monster.

Not when I lose my temper. When that happens, I’m just being a typical fallen human – my old fleshly self.

But sometimes I feel like a monster from Monstropolis. You know, the ones from Monsters Inc. who are afraid of children.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it?

But we’re not much brighter. We fear man.

We clamor for man’s approval and stop at nothing to gain the respect of the masses.

And if we’re honest with ourselves, on our worst days, we’d rather be judged by God than by our bosses.

This is the wrong way of living. Jesus is very clear in Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.”

We’re so anxious to please others and remain certain not to offend ignorant people with the Gospel, but we’d much rather offend the One who commanded us to do just that!

Think about it. There are plenty of reasons why we don’t witness the way we ought. Laziness and carelessness may be at the top of the list, but fear is most certainly right up there.

Why won’t you witness to your boss? Because you’re afraid of getting fired.

Why won’t you witness to your neighbor? Because you’re afraid of making future front yard conversations terse and awkward.

Remember. These people who do not know the Gospel are as harmless as a child in Monstropolis. You have the Holy Spirit fighting with you, and enabling you to carry on the task.

Easter’s coming up. Invite someone to church. Just a simple, harmless invitation.

After all, who doesn’t like an invitation somewhere, right?

And don’t loose sight of who the real enemy is: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Don’t be like the monsters who are scared of little children. Know who your real enemy is and realize the potential – through Christ – they’re keeping you from.

A Call to Resurgence

1037I find many contemporary Christian books lacking in either sound theology or cunning intrigue. When it comes to Christian books I tend to stick with the classics like R.C. Sproul and C.S. Lewis.

A friend of mine suggested I read Mark Driscoll’s new book, A Call to Resurgence, and he asks the question: “Will Christianity have a funeral or a future?”

I’m not going to lie. I like Driscoll. I agree with about 97% of his teachings about the Chruch, the Bible, God, and the people of God. And I believe he’s got a good handle on what’s in store for Christianity in the very near future.

As citizens of the 21st century are drowning in the rapid currents of the new “tolerance” movement, Driscoll makes the point that we Christians need to know where we stand on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and basic theological truths that many of us may have forgotten.

I loved this book. Not only because I agree with most of his statements and predictions, but because he explains this “brave new world” we’re living in crystal clear, and reminds Christians that we can no longer sit on our butts and watch the world spiral out of control.

We’ve got to join in the chaos, because, really, it’s not chaos at all. The world is heading in the direction God has planned – bad as it may seem now.

We just have to know how to live in it and stand strong.

My Secret Obsession

cereal3

I have a secret that I think, after two years of blogging, I’m ready to share.

It’s an unusual secret. A personal one, that really only my wife and a few family members know about. And yes, I get teased about it a lot.

My coworkers don’t know about it, and my friends have no clue.

But now I’m about to share it with 10,000+ readers.

It’s sort of an addiction I face every morning.

Let me set the stage for you so you can appreciate the magnitude of this.

My wife is an amazing cook. She makes the best pasta, the best salads, the best everything I’ve ever had. Including the best eggs.

And each morning I have the option to have her make me gooey, cheesy, scrambled eggs or… a box of cereal.

And each morning I choose a box of cereal.

Not the whole-grain crap or bland granola that you can get in the health-food aisles. I’m talking, if it doesn’t have a cartoon character on the front of the box, I won’t eat it.

If Michael Scott ever opens up Mike’s Cereal Shack, I’ll hop on the first flight to Colorado and go there.

Is it any wonder that my favorite movie studio has a full-fledged cereal bar in their kitchen?

Growing up, I always loved that song “Breakfast” by Newsboys.

If my daughter were to be shrunken by my incredible shrinking machine and she fell into my cereal bowl, I’m not sure I wouldn’t mistake her as a cute little marshmallow and gobble her up. (Props to Rick Moranis for eating a colorless cereal, by the way.)

If I were to be a criminal, I’d be a serial… No – that’s too obvious. I’ll spare you that one.

Earlier this year, being 30, I decided to quit cereal all together and eat toast and eggs like a normal grown-up.

That lasted for about two weeks.

But can you blame me? Wendell the Baker came out with Peanut Butter Toast Crunch! And being a cereal connoisseur, I absolutely had to try it.

Then the Captain came out with Cinnamon Roll Crunch.

Tried it. Loved it.

Then good ol’ Tony hit me with Chocolate Frosted Flakes and Bam-Bam hammered out Poppin’ Pebbles.

It seemed the grocery store was out to see me fail. And yes, I succumbed, and continue to succumb, to all the new flavors and even revert back to old ones, because I figure, hey, I’m off the wagon, might as well frolic in the grass while it’s still fresh.

Sigh.

It’s Ash Wednesday, and some of you will be giving up something for Lent.

I’m not Catholic, so I won’t be giving something up, and it certainly wouldn’t be cereal (I’m not strong enough) or ice cream (don’t even get me started on that).

But whatever you do give up, whether for Lent or at any point throughout your life that you want to abstain from, just know that the world, the devil, your flesh, will all act as your mega grocery store.

And when that happens, and your tempted to go back, pray for the strength to resist. Like, really, really pray. Hard. Pray like you know God will get you through the temptation (notice I didn’t say He’ll take you out of it, but rather get you through it).

And for goodness sakes, stay out of the cereal aisle.

Rescue Me

captain-phillips-movie-624x346Sarabeth and I just watched Captain Phillips last weekend.

I’m telling you, I haven’t been that on edge in a movie since Mission: Impossible III. 

At the end of it, as I was trying to catch my breath, Sarabeth made a very astute observation. She said, 

“It’s amazing how far we’ll go just to save one American.”

She’s absolutely right. While other countries couldn’t give a rip about their citizens, our military will go to the ends of the earth to bring back our own.

I needed to see this movie, because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt proud to be an American.

It’s crazy though, because God is the same way with His children, and we can say the same thing about Him.

It’s amazing how far He’ll go just to save one of His children.

Aside from His Son dying for us and breaking free from the grave for His glory and on our behalf, He doesn’t just stop there.

He keeps a careful eye on us. When we stray, He searches us out.

I’d say that He’ll go to hell and back to save us, except hell wouldn’t be hell if He went there.

But He’ll go wherever you are. 

You may not be held captive by Somali pirates, but you might be held captive by your sin, or your addictions.

If so, and you’re God’s child, and you’re pleading for help, take heart, because He’s coming for you.

In Captain Phillips the SEAL Team tells Captain Phillips to stay where he is, to not move from the very seat he’s sitting in.

That’s what we’re to do. We’re to be still and know that He is God.

Don’t try to save yourself. It won’t work.

Just sit still, and pray.

God is coming after you, wherever you are.

It may be that you don’t want Him to. It may be that you’re happy in your sins. That’s all well and fine, and if you’re not a Christian, He’ll let you have at it, turning you over to your desires. (Not such a controlling, dictating God, is He?)

But if you’re His child, He’s coming after you wether you like it or not. No father will leave the mall without his child (hopefully).

And God won’t leave you enslaved to your sins if you ask Him for help, over and over and over again. Who knows, a rescue mission may already be under way.

Just stay still and wait.

And pray.

 

The Bark Collar

DSCN0297

So our oldest dog, Pixie, has had this barking problem for almost as long as we’ve had her. 

It’s possible we didn’t socialize her enough or something.

Or it’s just the fact that she’s a dachshund and they’re prone to excessive barking.

But our youngest dachshund, Primrose, who’s almost a year old, doesn’t have this DSCN0295problem. In fact, she gets right up in people’s faces and just starts sniffing them – excessively.

She doesn’t lick them or bark at them. She just sniffs them.

I seriously think her nose carries all five of her  senses.

But seeing that not all dachshunds are prone to excessive barking, we decided that we could try to help Pixie overcome this little problem.

It especially needed to be fixed if our foster daughter’s social worker will be coming over every week. We can’t be having serious conversations with Pixie yapping up a storm in our open loft.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. We’ve tried many different ways to control her barking.

Saying “No barking,” clearly translates to, “Bark like crazy as though the zombies are after us,” in Dogesse.

Spanking her must tickle, because she just goes from barking to yapping.

Locking her up in her cage makes her think that we can’t hear her so she just barks louder.

So after much thought and discussion, we gave in to the last resort.

We bought her a bark collar.

No, not one that fries her, but one that sprays citronella in her face whenever she tries to bark.

I’m a really bad person, because I kind of think it’s funny when she’s about to bark, but then there’s this “Ffftth” that cuts her off and sends her jumping back about three feet.

Like those cat videos on Youtube where something jumps out and scares them. scared_cat-300x281

Sarabeth hates the collar and pities our pup. She refuses to ever be the one to put it on her.

But the thing is, it’s working.

We had a friend over the other day and Pixie, left without the option to bark, was able to drop all her defenses and run and jump and play with him.

It was pretty awesome.

It kind of makes me wish God would hand out Sin Collars.

But one that actually electrocutes you.

You know, like if you’re about to curse - Zap!

If you’re about to tell a lie - Zaap!

If you get frustrated at the baby for crying at 2 AM - Zaaap!

If you’re looking at a girl inappropriately - Zaaaaaaaap! Ffffppphhh! Zaaaap!!!

Yeah, I guess that’d be pretty great if God could give those out.

But then, there wouldn’t be much use for faith at that point. Or prayer.

So they’d really just defeat the whole purpose of what God wants from His people.

Anyway. That was just a thought I had.

Oh, and my daughter just told me that if I don’t get more likes on Facebook for my book, she’s going to give you a sin collar. So don’t hurt her feelings.

Read her impromptu post here.

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