Just in from the AP “Muslim who converted to Christianity sues church for publishing baptism news“.

OK, so you’re Muslim, you convert to Christianity but you don’t want it shouted from the rooftops. I can understand this. In fact it’s not all to uncommon in much of the world today. If the underground church in many nations surfaced and shouted from the rooftops one might argue, “Who will carry on the work?”

This is kind of a mixed bag. As believer’s we should tell the world – but even the early church as recorded in the New Testament used wisdom and discretion. We do not see accounts of believers en masse shouting from the rooftops. They were courageous and shared their faith – sometimes publicly, sometimes privately but I can’t think of a single instance where it was done secretly or the other extreme “in your face”.

We in the “free” world have a difficult time grasping what much of the world goes through when accepting Jesus Christ as savior and denouncing the former ways.

Additionally, I do not expect a new convert to understand the instruction given in 1 Corinthians 6 regarding taking our lawsuits before the world. However, not knowing any background details it seems to me that there was:

  1. an inadequate relationship breech by one or both parties so that his man had no one to talk to about the harm the church needlessly caused him
  2. or this man felt the response of the church was wholly insensitive
  3. or he is simply seizing the opportunities of a litigious society

So where is all this headed, you ask? Discipleship 101. Maybe, just maybe, this could have been avoided if someone built bridges and took this man under their wings, nurtured, mentored and even advocated (albeit after the fact) with church leadership and this man to reconcile.

Close friendships have the best chance of avoiding the pitfalls of 1, 2, and 3 above. THAT’S what the Christian faith is about.

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

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Today I read an article by a (former) mega-church pastor who voluntarily stepped down from leading the church he founded to follow God’s call.

That sentence alone gives him credibility in my eyes.  I have watched many of his videos, seen him at conference and led a group through one of his books just this last year.  His teaching is consistent with his life.  His teaching is consistent with the Bible.

Recently he spoke to a group of pastors and said, “I’m seeing a lot of ritual, a lot of faithfulness over the years but I’m concerned that there’s not this desperate like cry like ‘God, I feel like walk into service and I feel it’s so dead. God I got to have your power, I got to have your presence and maybe I substituted that for just going through the service order another weekend‘”

He questioned “How many times do we have services and events where we quote Him, will say things about Him, but is He really behind it? Is He the one really moving through a person and saying these things or are we just standing up here representing Him and we’re harmless, we’ll quote Him, we’ll say good things but is He the power behind it?”

“We are content to hear from another speaker, or podcast another guy or read another book when the scriptures teaches I can literally walk up that mountain, I can come in the presence of Him, I actually see His glory but we’re just content taking selfies with Moses and writing about it.”

If only more could grasp the message.  It’s not about social reform, it’s not how big we could grow, it’s not about comfort, it’s about the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.  Without Him my next breath will not happen.  Without Him I have no assurance that after this short life ends there’s a lot more, a lot more and forever…

Thank you Francis for spreading the Good News!

(more…)

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I am not what anyone would say is a cutting edge adopter of new technology and software, certainly not at the bleeding edge.

The year is 2014.  This year I have been privledged to witness Microsoft telling me my Windows XP was beyond support and I am still embracing this O/S at my place of employment Although this is not self-imposed, I am OK with the technological lag.  My preference for the last year would be for Windows 7.  But its not my call and I do not feel like a dinosaur on XP, therefore I am content to wait until my IT depoartment upgrades me from the 8+ year old Dell laptop I have had to

Thats the point of this post.  New laptops are being shipped with Windows 8.  This operating system makes me less than happy.

Let me back up 3 months.

As happens at regular intervals, the sun makes an entire revolution around the sun and its said Dave is a little older.  Not since the days of my x268 based laptop have I had a laptop that was purchased for personal use.  (For some of my readers that was several presidents ago and it was prior to the widespread use of Windows as an operating system.)  Said laptop has, among other bells and whistles, Windows 8.  I think after 3 months of regular usage I can say it is a stinking dinosaur thats dead and doesnt even know it.  What were you thinking MS?  How convoluted can you make an operating system?  It is apparent you desire to expand your market share into the burgeoning tablet market, but come on why do we PC users have to suffer through your failed attempt?  Yes, failure is already a foregone conclusion because youve got to be innovative to survive against your tablet competition.

Now heres the kicker.  Due to circumstances beyond my control I was required (hurray!) to upgrade from Office 2003 to Office 2010 by my IT department.  Hey its 2014 and I am finally moving up to Office 2010 (vs. 2013) but thats huge for me!  I am a fairly heavy Word, Excel & Outlook user and guess what?  I am loving the upgrade and saying where were you all my life?

So when Office is clearly an improvement in simplicity and sophistication at the same time, why has Windows gone back to the dark ages?  Riddle me this lumbering giant in Redmond.

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Popular parenting mantra has taught for more than a generation that if mommy and daddy want little Michael or sweet Hannah to obey it is best to explain to them why a clean room will give them a good work ethic for the future, that taking a bath is healthy, or that simply running into the street can cause pain and suffering greater than they can imagine.

The psychology is that a “willing” heart will perform their task better, even when mommy or daddy are not present.  After all a heart that understands “why” will rationalize and see the merit.

As the pendulum swings, the equal and opposite reaction is “Do it because I said so!  Now!

If we were to dissect the merits of each we’d find that both have merit.

–       In a crisis when I say “Duck”, I don’t want little Emily turning around and asking why as the ball flies toward her head.

–       When I ask my Jacob to eat his vegetables I want him to understand that it will give him balanced nutrition.

Each has its unique set of disadvantages.

–       Matthew could decide to rebel against a parenting style that does not give him value.

–       Sarah decide her parents rationalization against a 13 year old having sex does not have merit in her situation.

If we were dissect the pro’s and con’s of these two, the lists would get longer and longer.  A diligent job of weighing on the scales to see which way it tips could be an overwhelming job which leaves one stifled.

I propose this task is unnecessary because we are putting if-I-do-this, they’ll-do-that’s on the scales.  Although human nature has some predictability it is not a science, especially when taken to the level of the individual.  “Because I said” parents have raised the most well-adjusted kids I’ve seen AND “Because if you do” parents have raised the most well-adjusted kids I have seen. 

In my experience the converse has also held true.  I have seen as a product the most selfish, poorly adjusted human beings from each group of parenting styles.  The variables are the parent, the child and the circumstances.  It is a complex mix and in my opinion for any “parenting guide” to steer in one direction or the other is stereotyping.  Only with an analysis of the unique situation should a recommendation be made.  Some parents should steer clear of one method due to their own weaknesses, some the other.  Some children respond differently than others.  And situations can demand form of obedience over another.

So here we are back on that fence again.  How does one determine which way the scales are tipping?

What if we were to look at the offspring of the offspring of a specific style?  What if you took a sample of those entering the workplace their attitudes, things they find acceptable and compare to previous generations?  Is what we find in the societal workplace, politics, or at home an improvement that moves the society forward, or is it one more step toward the degeneration of mankind?

I don’t think I have the answer but there’s an awful lot of food for thought as I look around.

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Next week we celebrate our saviors birth!!!

What a glorious announcement God made through Micah more than 700 years BEFORE Jesus’ birth!! Through Micah, God prophesied exactly where our Savior would be born. Mary and Joseph were both of the line of David, yet Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth as Mary was about to deliver! Was Micah’s prophesy in danger?

Oh how we so easily forget that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE for God.

Taxes. We all hate taxes, income tax, sales tax, excise tax, luxury tax and most of all the uncompassionate, squeezing-every-penny-out-of-us tax man who cares nothing about us and whether we can feed our children – only that “he gets every penny he feels is due”.

God used taxes to bring about one more fulfillment of His glorious promises of a savior to redeem mankind. Caesar wants his taxes. A decree of Caesar causes Joseph to take his wife in her 9th month of pregnancy on a trip of approximately 70 miles. This is not something most husbands would do in a time before autos, trains and public transportation. But the tax man left him no options. So he and Mary are forced to trek to Josephs ancestral home (since he’s a descendant of David, who was born in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem). Just as they arrive (remember they are still looking for a place to stay) Mary says to Joseph, “It’s time”.

But wait, just in case someone thinks it’s all coincidence when the prophet Micah said:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2 NIV

Did you know there were TWO Bethlehem’s in Israel during Jesus time? One was near Jerusalem, the other in Galilee. Of course, Joseph could not register for the tax in the Galilean Bethlehem since he was of the tribe of Judah, the line of David. It would have made life easier. God used the prophet Micah to specify that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah. Ephrathah means “fruitful” but more than that it distinguishes which Bethlehem the prophet spoke of.

God is a God of precision.
God is a God who validates His word so there is no doubt it is His word.

These details show us a few things:
1. God is the one who orchestrates history for His purposes
2. Nothing is impossible for God
3. ..and more than that – God trumps the tax man

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Recently, in order to break out of the rut, my wife and I scooped up the dog and went for a drive.  The last such drive sent us to Timbuktu.  Our destination would be a little town with a big history.  Rough and Ready, California.

The Great Republic of Rough and Ready
(excerpted from http://www.roughandreadychamber.com)

By the late 1840s, the population of the town of Rough and Ready had exploded to over 3,000.  The town suffered the effects of general lawlessness and a growing resentment for the government having imposed a Mining Tax on all claims.  On April 7th, 1850, a mass meeting of the townfolks was called to propose seceding from the Union.  The town  reacted by shaking its collective fist at the government with all its taxes and non-existent law and order.  The Great Republic of Rough and Ready was formed that day as a free and independent republic.  In the heat of the rebellion, they elected Col. E.F. Brundage as President. The new President issued Brundage’s Manifesto, which read in part: “We…deem it necessary and prudent to withdraw from said Territory (of California) and from the United States of America to form, peacefully if we can, forcibly if we must, the Great Republic of Rough and Ready.” Along with his Secretary of State, Justice of the Peace Hans Q. Roberts, they signed a constitution similar to that of the United States.

The Great Republic of Rough and Ready lasted only three months as one of the world’s smallest nations.  On July 4th, swept by a patriotic fervor, maybe feeling a little guilty (and possibly, according to some accounts, reacting to the refusal of Nevada City and Grass Valley saloons to sell liquor to the “foreigners” from Rough and Ready) another meeting was held.  The town gave resounding consent to immediately rejoin the Union.  Old Glory went up the flagpole and the whole episode slipped into history.

Today, the town boasts 963 souls (2010 census) and a highly skilled fire department as well as California Historical Landmark #294.  In addition to this there is wonderful re-creation of what I presume are highlights of the town in it’s glory days.

Wonderful, just what the doctor ordered for those cabin fever blues.  We’ll stop for a little photo op and just enjoy what this once sovereign nation has to offer.  This is where the unusual begins… right out of the Twilight Zone.

I see no obvious place to park, but then we’re on the highway through town.  I quickly slow down proceed down the drive on the left.  Immediately upon turning into this drive I spy that foreboding sign which says, “Private Property – No Trespassing”.  I look DOWN to the re-creation and it is indeed DOWN – there are no roads leading in and none leading out.  This photo was taken (not by me) at ground level.  It is at least 12 feet DOWN over the rock embankment to even enter this area by foot.

Being the conscientious tourist, I made my 5 point turn to get out of the private driveway.  Fully expecting we did not pass the parking area, we drive further down the highway.  About ¼ mile further we are obviously out of town and it is time to make a u-turn on California Route 20.  Traffic is virtually non-existent so I drive through town ever so slowly looking for the designated parking.  There is a huge (for this town) parking lot at the local fire station – but again, clearly posted is “no parking”.

About ¼ mile up the road, in the town center, is the post office and general store.  OK, so there is parking in this town.  We stop in the store for a quick snack to double what is likely the entire tourist income for that day.  I decide we’ll walk down the highway and check it out.  A little odd, thinks me, but hey it’s their town they can do things the way they want.

Now, for what seems like half of this distance the fog line (the solid white line on the right shoulder) is less than 1 inch from the edge of pavement and a several foot drop off.  At this point I have to say to myself – I wonder if there are paramedics in the fire department.  They must have at least one pedestrian-vs.-vehicle-traveling-at-high-velocity accidents a month.

Without testing my paramedic puzzling’s, we arrive at the re-creation, which the above photo does no justice.  There is a staircase leading into the depression which contains our goal.  A large sign on the staircase says, “KEEP OUT”.  Due to the position of this structure we can’t even get a great photo.  In fact the best photo op is smack in the middle of Route 20.

Best I can figure one needs to stop the car in the middle of the highway, take your photos and mosey on.  It might work in a horse-drawn covered wagon but that logging truck barreling up the road might not be exactly slam on those breaks.

Rough and Ready is a unique place indeed. This is a first.  A beautiful re-creation which is only intended to be seen from the peripheral vision while driving by too fast to notice there is no parking, there is no vista point, there is no point to the entire display.

In my opinion the ghosts have a very clear message in this town.  Don’t stop.

See my other forays into adventure.

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I can’t have a blog which purports to deal with relationships without diving into the focal point of this short video.  Let me just say they nailed it when they created this gem.

I won’t stop and consider whether there is truth in this video – if that is not obvious then there’s not much I can say until you gain a little life experience.

I will say the video is not complete.  What each of us are  oblivious to is so very obvious to others.  Each of us falls into this trap unless we are willing to consistently solicit feedback from others’ observations.

Watch this clip and tell me how you think this should be handled.

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