Monday, August 29, 2005

A Dry Season

It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted anything on my blog. There are a couple of reasons for this: 1) I've been very busy with ministry, and 2) In my busyness, my enthusiasm for opining on things Christian, theological, and political on my blog disipated. I'm sick of being opinionated. I just want to know Christ and honor him with my life.
Admittedly, living a Christ-exalting life does require one to think, and to hold to what one believes is true, and to seek to lead others to the truth. It does not require one to be a pundit. This is what I've grown weary of - Christian punditry. I want my new blogplan to be more Christ-centered, more aimed at edifying the reader and building up his or her faith and love for our great God.
To that end, I'll share this: I have seen God's provision in my life in wonderful ways the last couple of weeks. He has given me lessons and devotions to share that I could not have come up with one my own. Simple lessons, but God-honoring and a blessing to the hearers. He has also given me extra energy to keep an extra-busy schedule. His grace has been abundant and I thank him for it and pray for more. Consider these lyrics from Abraham Piper's song "I Am One of Jesus' Sheep":

I am one of Jesus’ sheep—
Cared for kindly in his keep.
Constantly I am provided
By his gentle hand. And guided
Safe along his streams of rest,
Down his paths of righteousness.

Often Jesus sees me stray
Far from him and disobey.
Even then he never leaves me—
Follows, finds, and gently heaves me
On his back—with heaven’s hold,
Carries me back to his fold.

Jesus—shepherd, Jesus—friend
Tends me to the very end.
Jesus’ steadfast love ensures me,
Though I sin, he still endures me—
Follows, finds me, and forgives—
Bears me where his family lives.

Friday, August 12, 2005

New Version of Windows to Debut Late Next Year

Maybe this isn't exactly a scoop to you, but it was news to me: Microsoft will release a new version of Windows, called Windows Vista, late next year. Vista sounds weird, and it's already kind of used by Disney (Buena Vista). Why the unorthodox new name? Microsoft (apparently in anticipation of this question) answers:

According to Microsoft, the new moniker, which sounds like a car model your uncle would drive, is inspired by the system's shimmering graphics and its ability to serve Microsoft's vast and diverse customer base, as well as a nod to the basic concept of what a window is. "We really tried to bring clarity to the world so you can focus on what matters to you," says group product manager Greg Sullivan.

Vista will operate in much the same way its Windows predecessors have, but will also include many nifty new features, designed to make Windows even more user-friendly:

Vista's history has been troubled; Microsoft was unable to implement what was once touted as its defining virtue, a revolutionary new way to handle files. It does have powerful search functions, cool features like icons that are thumbnail representations of the documents themselves and support of hot Net technologies like RSS. But the big selling point will be reliability and security. Features that identify bogus phishing sites, fend off spyware, bolster firewalls and encrypt information are designed to create, Sullivan says, "a new level of confidence" in your computer. "If we did just that, this would be a worthwhile release," he adds.

To read the whole article, click HERE.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Yes, Lord, Yes.

As I've mentioned before in this space, I follow the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan from NavPress. My [ESV] Bible reading last night had a single thread running through each of the passages I was scheduled to read. They conspired against me:

The words of Jesus in Mark 16:10-13:

"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little, is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

The words of Paul in 1 Timothy 6:17-18:

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."

The words of Solomon in Proverbs 10:2-4:

"Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Clearly, the Lord is sending me a message: I need to re-evaluate how I think of money, and how I use it. I admit to him that I have not been a faithful steward of the resources he's blessed me with, I "have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth." I need to change. May his grace be upon me. May he fulfill this resolve for good (2 Thess. 1:11). I have not hoped in him alone, but have relied on God plus other things to bring happiness and contentment, which really means I have not relied on him at all. I have sinned against him. He is the single most valuable treasure in the universe, and I trade him away for a few measely posessions and meals and vacations! So, by his own grace, I say: 'Yes, Lord, Yes. You're right."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mark 5:1-20

I spoke at a chapel service at a nursing home last night, and tonight I lead a Bible study for teens. I'll use the same text this evening that I used last evening: Mark 5:1-20, which goes like this:

1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" 8 For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!"

9 Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man-and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
(from New International Version)

I offer two simple meditations from this passage:

1) How much the Lord has done for us! Today alone he has given us life, food, clothing, strength, truth from his word, forgiveness of sins, grace to navigate through the day's challenges, family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, a prayer service to attend, a voice to praise him with, hands to serve him with, the desire to know him better...the list could go on forever.

2) We should tell how much the Lord has done for us! If the list above is true, how can we keep it to ourselves? We are to live for the praise of his glory (Eph. 1). One way to do that is to tell of his great and merciful work in our own lives. When we tell our Christian brothers and sisters, it affirms to us that our God is very great, and very good. When we tell our friends who do not know Christ, the Spirit can convince them of God's greatness and goodness and draw them to Christ.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Bush 44?

In a piece posted today on, Brendan Miniter predicts that Jeb Bush may yet have a chance to be president:

Before stepping out onto the national stage, this Bush generation's ideas of incrementally smaller government proved popular with voters in two large states. George W. Bush defeated Democratic incumbent Ann Richards in 1994 to become governor of Texas and was re-elected in 1998. The Lone Star State is clearly among the most conservative in the country, but Gov. Bush helped turn what was once a reliably Democratic state into one where Republicans now dominate. Jeb, meanwhile, lost a hard-fought race for governor in Florida in 1994. But he came back four years later and was re-elected in 2002, despite the residual bitterness from the 2000 presidential election and the Democrats' decision to make his defeat a priority.

With a strong string of electoral victories, why would Republicans now turn their backs on the Bushes? It certainly wouldn't be because of Jeb's record in Florida. He's been steadily amassing an antitax, bedrock conservative record over the past seven years. There's not much there that the party's base is going to hate. Indeed, before he lost in 1994, the scuttlebutt on Jeb was that he was "the conservative Bush."

Miniter denies that Jeb's last name could be a political liability:

Let's first dispense with the idea that Jeb's biggest liability would be his last name. Since when does name recognition hurt in politics? It's true that many of this brother's political adversaries would simply cross out "George" in their campaign literature and ink in "Jeb" above it. and other Democratic interest groups would find plenty of willing donors. George Soros would likely make another multimillion-dollar pledge to drive the Bushes from Washington. But then again, they did all that last time, and we aren't discussing who will challenge President Kerry.
But there's something about Jeb that Miniter doesn't mention: He's Catholic. Now, I personally wouldn't have a problem voting for a tried-and-true conservative who is also Catholic. But I think many on the religious right would have reservations. At least it would be an issue, something Jeb would have to address that his competitors wouldn't.

What do you think?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Bush to Appoint Bolton Today

News reports this morning and over the weekend indicate that President Bush will appoint John Bolton U.S. Embassador to the UN. Bolton was first nominated last spring, but Senate confirmation has stalled over a variety of objections raised by Democrats and moderates who find Bolton too ideological. Consider the following AP report:

"He's damaged goods. This is a person who lacks credibility," Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday." Bush, he said, should think again before using a recess appointment to place Bolton at the United Nations while the Senate is on its traditional August break.

But Republicans appearing on Sunday's news shows said Bolton is the man the White House wants and he's the right person to represent the United States at the world body.

Bolton's appointment ends a five-month impasse between the administration and Senate Democrats.

The battle grabbed headlines last spring amid accusations that Bolton abused subordinates and twisted intelligence to shape his conservative ideology, and as White House and GOP leadership efforts to ram the nomination through the Senate fell short.

In recent weeks, it faded into the background as the Senate prepared to begin a nomination battle over John Roberts, the federal appeals judge that Bush chose to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the Supreme Court.

At Bolton's April confirmation hearing, Democrats raised additional questions about his demeanor and attitude toward lower-level government officials. Those questions came to dominate Bolton's confirmation battle, growing into numerous allegations that he had abused underlings or tried to browbeat intelligence analysts whose views differed from his own.

Despite lengthy investigations, it was never clear that Bolton did anything improper. Witnesses told the committee that Bolton lost his temper, tried to engineer the ouster of at least two intelligence analysts and otherwise threw his weight around. But Democrats were never able to establish that his actions crossed the line to out-and-out harassment or improper intimidation.

Read the complete story HERE.

Bolton's AP bio from

NAME - John R. Bolton.

AGE - 56; born Nov. 20, 1948, in Baltimore.

EDUCATION - B.A., Yale University, 1970; J.D., Yale Law School, 1974.

EXPERIENCE - Undersecretary of state for arms control and international security since May 11, 2001; senior vice president, American Enterprise Institute, 1997-2001; adjunct professor, George Mason University Law School, 1994-2001; partner in the law firm of Lerner, Reed, Bolton & McManus, Washington, 1993-99; assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, 1989-93; assistant attorney general, Justice Department, 1985-89; partner at the law firm of Covington & Burling, Washington, 1983-85; assistant administrator for program and policy coordination, U.S. Agency for International Development, 1982-83; general counsel, AID, 1981-82; associate at Covington & Burling, 1974-81.

FAMILY - Married to the former Gretchen Brainerd; one daughter.

QUOTE - "American leadership is critical to the success of the U.N., an effective U.N., one that is true to the original intent of its charter's framers."