Big Week For Baby A

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So last week our foster daughter and Sarabeth went to Florida to visit her family. According to Sarabeth, our little girl did wonderful on the airplane, so if you’re stuck on a plane with a crying baby and an overwhelmed mother, you can bet it’s not my wife or daughter.

Well, Baby A did two things this week which I’m thankful she didn’t do in Florida while I was at home here in Kentucky.

Two days ago, Sarabeth was holding Baby A and the dachshunds began licking her feet and Baby A just laughed, and laughed. Part of me thinks she began laughing so hard because she figured out that she could laugh! Probably one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard.

And this morning, just moments ago, Baby A rolled over. First onto her belly then onto her back.

Needless to say, Sarabeth and I are very proud. In fact, after I write this post, I’m going to probably start drafting up her college resume.

Baby A, proficient at giggling and rolling over. My aspirations include being an attentive audience member at local comedy clubs and teaching fire drills (“stop, drop, and rooollllll”).

On the grand scheme of things, I’m sure these aren’t really big happenings. I’m sure back in colonial times it was like, “Look Pa, Junior just took his first step.”

“‘Bout dog-gone time. Hand him that there pile of wood and he can take it out back and chop it for the fire.”

But then, is it such a big deal when we do the things we do? Like, get a job, or pass an important exam, or earn one of those Fortune 500 Company jackets? To us, those are pretty significant deals.

But I wonder what God thinks. After all, have you ever created an entire cosmos? Have you ever begotten a living creature (or made one out of the dust)? Have you ever walked on water unassisted, or calmed a storm, or healed a blind man with mud?

Yet, God is pleased with us. Just like Sarabeth and I are pleased with our daughter for the littlest of things (but mostly for going to sleep!) – things that we’ve been doing ourselves for 30-plus years. Things that human beings all over the globe, all across the span of time have been mastering since the Garden.

All of Heaven rejoices when we enter into adoption by God as His child. A great cloud of witnesses hangs over the mist to marvel at our spiritual accomplishments and cheer us on to further endeavors, challenges those ghosts have likely bested while they were like us.

So, yeah. I’m pretty proud of my little girl. But then again, I’d be just as proud if she never rolled over.

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.

Lukewarm

Lukewarm

The turntable in our microwave is broken.

Whenever we put something in there to heat up for a few seconds, the motor tries to turn the glass disc to rotate our food, but it’s too weak to actually accomplish its objective.

So when I want to heat up my leftover ravioli, the microwave makes this loud, obnoxious, Orc-like “RRRRRRRRRRRR” noise, which rattles the glass disc against the metal base.

Luckily there’s a “Turntable Off” button, which silences it, but the bigger problem still remains. 

Our food doesn’t rotate.

So our refried beans get burnt on the edges. Or it takes extra long to cook things that should just take a minute or two.

And sometimes I forget this. So when I scoop a bite of seemingly steamy mashed potatoes into my mouth, I immediate spit them back out on the plate because it’s still cold in the middle.

It’s like drinking water when you think it’s Sprite.

It’s instinctive, spitting lukewarm food out of my mouth.

I don’t spit my cold ice cream out, because I know it’s going to be cold, and it’s supposed to be.

I don’t spit my sizzling steak out, that had just spent the last hour-and-a-half in a 450-degree oven. It’s hot, the way it’s supposed to be.

But those mashed potatoes – when they give off the illusion of being warm and toasty, with steam billowing off of their sides – I expect them to be warm.

And when I bite down and realize it’s all been a lie, and that the middle is still icy-cold, I don’t want to swallow – I want to spit.

And spit I do. It’s not by choice. It’s not because I’m mean. It’s not because I just love to cast judgment upon my food.

Spitting my deceptive food back out onto my plate doesn’t make me an unfair, evil culinary dictator.

It’s just a reactive impulse.

After all, I gave my mashed potatoes more than enough time to heat up. But they didn’t. They could have not sizzled and smelled so good when I opened the microwave. They could have just remained cold and I would have given them more time.

They didn’t have to lie to me and give off the appearance that they were done.

But the hidden ice-chunks buried underneath a lukewarm exterior are enough to make me spit them out, because it’s not what I expected. And it’s not what I asked for.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.'”

-Jesus, Revelation

Smudgefutt Letters Part III

C.S. Lewis’ unmatched masterpiece, Screwtape Letters inspired me to write my own imagined, yet likely, letter from a demon mentor to his apprentice. Click here for Part I, and here for Part II.

Dear Pigmud,

I see that you’re concerned that your patient isn’t as headstrong about a certain issue he shouldn’t be giving a second thought to at all. Let me assure you, he is right where you ought to want him. You say he has a friend who is with child and she wants to abort it. Good for her! (Not like we have a shortage of spirits to taunt the world’s population, but that just leaves more of us to gang up on more influential people.) 

But in your last message to me you wrote that you yourself were struggling with the beauty of abortion. ‘Smudgefutt,’ you wrote, ‘if the unborn or partially-born babies go to Heaven (may It never be completed), then why would we want to encourage their premature deaths?’ I swear to our Father Below, sometimes you are such an idiot! 

It’s clear to me that you have your focus backward. The whole point of what we’re doing isn’t to keep people out of Heaven. It’s to keep people away from the Enemy. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t Heaven where the Enemy is and His presence fully available?” Let me explain. 

We’re not in Heaven, and we never will be, so why should we care what goes on there and who goes? Once they’ve gone, they’re gone, and good riddance! 

But while the people are still alive, we want to encourage them and lure them as far away from the Enemy as possible in order to either A) Keep them from joining His ranks, or if they already have, B) Keep them from enjoying His blasted gifts. Because when they join Him or enjoy Him, in essence they are worshiping and glorifying Him.  But when they’re not enjoying Him, or even thinking about Him, then they’re dishonoring Him. 

But we want to bring people so far away from honoring Him; we want them to disobey Him. And what better way to disobey Him than to tempt them and convince them to kill one another? And since we don’t know who could grow up to be the next Luther or Moon or John or Paul, we might as well kill them while they’re young. 

Now back to your patient. You say he’s okay with his friend aborting her child. You say he will be supportive of whatever she chooses to do. But he doesn’t necessarily call himself “pro-choice.” I say, fine! He’s fooling himself into thinking he is for saving that child’s life as long as he doesn’t force her to abort. But what you must keep from him is that anyone who doesn’t stand up and defend that baby’s life is just as bad as the lovely doctors who cut the babies into pieces or vacuums out their brain tissue, and discard those worthless bodies like worthless rags in the trash. 

Do not let your patient realize that by not advocating against baby killing, that he is just as bad as the people who kill them. When it comes to voting for officials who support baby killing and spread the lie that a woman’s body is her own (for men don’t own their bodies either, as every human essentially belongs to the Enemy), make baby killing a non-issue. And when his friend is struggling with whether to abort or not, remind him that the way to be her “best friend” is to let her make her own choice. 

I love how weak the men have become – so weak that they’re more concerned about their worthless image than defending the life of a baby – and how increasingly stupid people can be. But be warned, the stupidity comes in waves. Do not let the Enemy have a foothold on this issue or they’ll smart up. One of the last things we want on women’s faces are dry eyes. 

Yours Truly, Smudgefutt

P.S. I have sent our comrade Cutpus in advance to your patient’s friend because he is very good at convincing people that their actions outweigh the Enemy’s offered forgiveness. 

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Behind Curtain Number 2

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I’m sitting in the waiting room of Toyota’s repair/service section and the flatscreen TV is showing “Let’s Make a Deal.” And I’ve got to tell you, that’s an addicting show! This is why I never turn the TV on during the day when I’m at home.

You all know how the show works. It didn’t take long for me to realize two patterns:

1) The chosen contestants are required to act as loud and obnoxious as possible, and

2) The audience will always suggest opening the Big Box.

Even if the contestant is holding a $4,700 check in his hand, and he’s faced with the decision to keep the money or see what’s in the Big Box, the audience will go nuts pestering him to look in the Box.

I think that’s because they have nothing on the line and really, they’re just curious.

We’re all curious, aren’t we? The good thing about the Bible is that it lays it all out on the line. There are few secrets in the Bible.

But Satan keeps most of the world’s pleasures in the Big Box. And when we choose to see what’s in the Big Box, we’re forfeiting the truth of the Bible every time.

Today, you will be faced with many temptations and decisions. You will be given the choice of following God’s Word, or experience the promised sensation of keeping money that doesn’t belong to you, feel the so-called power of dominating your wife or kids, lie to a friend, or cheat on a test.

You should see the looks on these people’s faces when they exchange a $1,000 check with what’s in the Big Box and it turns out to be a platter of cheese. Or a giant stuffed green dinosaur.

Sure, the Big Box holds some great things sometimes, like an all-expense paid trip to Canada, or an entertainment set, complete with surround sound. But honestly, when I’m already holding a $1,000 check, I can spend it on anything I want. I might not need an entertainment set, or I might rather go to Spain than Canada (not to be picky).

So when you’re confronted with making a worldly choice, and you’re equipped with the priceless Word of God, it always comes down to foolishness when we disarm ourselves and choose what’s in the Big Box, no matter how glamorous or pleasurable it may be.

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