Hypothetically …

WASHINGTON D.C. – In a surprise announcement today, the President used a prime time press conference to reveal that Osama Bin Laden had in fact been captured 2 years ago in Pakistan and has been held in the D.C. area since at least early 2005. In fact, the president has been meeting with Bin Laden personally for the past several months.
“We’ve been having lunch two or three times a week. He’s a big fan of my grilled brats, as long as we’re not out of relish.” the President said.
He’s been giving Mr. Bin Laden history lessons, educating him on the ideals and priorities of the American way – freedom and opportunity.
“He was completely misinformed as to what we stood for. He’s been an eager learner. He now has a much better appreciation for the USA and what we are about.”
It’s a controversial and risky policy, reaching out to our enemy – one who is responsible for so many American deaths – and attempting to connect with him. And this is no simple political stunt, the President believes in Bin Laden’s potential.
“I think this man has potential to foster great change in the world. He could really make a difference and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure he has that chance. I know his past, but I refuse to hold that against him any longer. To that end, I have forgiven him and the American people should as well. As of this moment I have given Osama Bin Laden a full Presidential pardon for any and all crimes against the United States. I fully expect that this will cost me my job and frankly make me target for ridicule, hatred and even assassination. But this man’s life is worth it.
“Before I am forced from office, however, I intend to put Mr. Bin Laden in a position that will allow him the opportunity to do as much good as possible. I plan to nominate Osama Bin Laden to be the next Ambassador to the UN and do everything in my power to see that he makes it into that post. I hope that the American people will get behind this new nominee.”

Yes, it’s extraordinarily unlikely fiction. Not only unlikely, but ill advised, no, stupid. Who in their right mind would do such a thing?

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

Colossians 1:21-22

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Congrats, Dad

Today was Dad’s last day of work. He will be officially retired after today, although he will likely work part time for a bit.
I can’t imaging Dad not working. It seems strange to think of him without a job. The funny thing is that I can’t imagine my grandpa, his Dad, working. Of course I know he did, he owned his own successful business, but he retired a little early and I have no memory of him working at all. He may have actually retired before I was born.
I bet my kids will have the same thoughts about their Dad and Grandpa. It’s interesting to think about how my girls see me the way I saw Dad when I was young and see Dad the way I saw Grandpa.
Anyway, congrats Dad. You’ve earned this freedom. You put in your years of service to provide for and raise a family and you (and Mom!) did well. I hope you can look at what my family and my sister’s has become and be proud. We are what we are in no small part because of the life you lived. Steadfast, strong, committed, reliable. A rock. Jesus told us that it is wise to seek and build our lives upon the foundation that is solid. It’s a true blessing when that solid, stable foundation is provided for you to build upon.
Thanks Dad, and enjoy yourself.

.”Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

[QT’s with Jessica] – John 4:1-26

My Summer time Bible Readings with 11 year old Jessica.
Have you heard this story before?
J – I remeber Jesus being by a well with someone.
What does he mean by living water (John 4:10)?
J – I don’t know, water from God probably?
He did say that it was God’s gift. Why does he call call it ‘living’ water?
J – Because it’s from God and if you’re with God you’ll never die?
But what is it, is it really water?
J – No, I don’t think so.
Then what is it?
J – I think it’s the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is from God. God’s spirit & the Holy Spirit will give eternal live
I think that’s a possibility, but Jesus uses an example or a symbol here with the water and he doesn’t say exactly what he’s taklking about so it could be the Holy Spirit, that makes sense.
J – Looking at the text that’s what I thought.
“Looking at the text”?
J – That’s what we did in school last year with Mr Ward.
Since he didn’t say, it could mean other things too, right? What else do you think it might mean?
J – Thats really my only guess.
I think might mean his teachings or his way of life as well as the Holy Spirit. In other words he could teach her a new way to live and a new way to look at life and everything.
J -Why did he use water as an example?
Water is very important to life. Without water, we will die. Also, that woman was asking about getting water. And water was important to Jesus’ ministry, because he baptised. In fact, Jesus might have been talking about baptism too. He just came back from baptising and later, after Jesus dies on the cross, we learn that baptism is for our forgiveness of sins – the way we make things right with God – and when we recieve the Holy Spirit.
J – Did the woman know that Jesus wasn’t really talking about water?
Not at first, look at what she asks him in John4:11:

“Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

and then again in John4:15:

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water. Then I will never be thirsty. And I won’t have to keep coming here to get water.”

J – But that’s not true.
She will still need real water, won’t she? Do you think she understood at the end?
j – Yes I think so.
It’s hard to say for sure, but I think so too.

National Weather Service

If you haven’t checked out the National Weather Service’s web page, you should. It’s got some of the expected government quirkiness, but mostly it’s just real useful. Just go enter your zip code or city and state in the box at the top left of their main page and get complete forecast for your city.
On that page, you can tweak the forecast by clicking your exact location on the map shown. I learned that it’s going to be 2 degrees warmer at work tomorrow than at home.
The jewel of the site is the radar imagery. Click the small radar image on the forecast page and get taken to the radar page which is chock full of nifty features:

  • Navigate to adjacent radars with the arrows at the upper left
  • Links for two types of radar, wind velocity, rainfall totals, long range as well as looped maps on the left.
  • The map itself has toggle controls for topography, radar, counties, rivers, highways, cities and warnings.
  • Under the map there’s a ‘Reset’ button that allows you to set a ‘zero’ position by clicking the map. Then, rolling the mouse over the map gives you the distance from that zero point so you can tell how far away that nasty looking cell is.
  • In loop mode, you can set the animation speed, zoom in and out and even set it to automatically update as new images become available. No need to refresh.

It’s very cool, go check it out.

Tipping

In this post at the Thinklings, Jared points to an article detailing reports of poor tipping during the recent Southern Baptist Convention. My wife and I both did our time in the service industry, she as a waitress, me as a pizza guy, valet and doorman. We both have talked about how Christians are known as poor tippers.
Frankly, that’s pathetic. Didn’t Jesus say we would be known by our love? Didn’t Paul call us to give generously? Didn’t Jesus say (paraphrasing) if someone asks for 15%, give him 20%? Didn’t the early church sell their things to give to others? So why can’t we tip well?
Jen, one of the commenters said perhaps Christians are confused about what being frugal is and instead are just being cheap. Even if it is frugality, it’s misplaced. Here’s my reply:

On frugality: Christians need to understand what frugal is. Frugal is clipping coupons, buying on sale, shopping for better prices, buying cheaper brands – all good things. In all those cases, the seller has offered you a better deal, either better than his normal deal or the other guys deal.
Frugal is not cutting someone else’s pay to balance your budget. When you skimp on the tip, you are deciding that the food is on sale today, not them. Frugal means I get by with less, not that I make someone else get by with less.
You want to be frugal? Skip the drink and give the $1.25 to the waiter. Eat at Steak N Shake instead of Applebee’s and give the difference to the waiter. Order a burger instead of an entrée and give the difference to the waiter. Or do any of those things and keep the difference, just tip well regardless. Skimp on yourself not them.

If you’re a Christian, show them Jesus by tipping well. Particularly on a Sunday lunch, when the church crowd goes out to eat. If you need to skimp, skimp on yourself.

[QT’s with Jessica] – John 3

My Summer time Bible Readings with 11 year old Jessica.
John 3:1-20
Dou you have any questions?
J -Why did Nicodemus go at night?
He was a Pharisee, which was like a leader in the Jewish ‘church’. Do you remember what the Jewish leaders thought about Jesus?
J – I don’t think they liked him.
Right, so Nicodemus went at might because he did want the other Pharisees to know he was curious about Jesus.
What does Jesus say at the end (John 3:19-20) about things done at night?
J – I understand 19 more than 20.
What does 19 mean?
J- Jesus came to help people believe in God, but people love to do what Satan want them to do.
It says, not that they loved to do evil, but that they loved the dark because they did evil. That way no one would see what they did.
J- At church my class talked about light and dark. We talked about the light being God and dark being Satan.
A lot of times in the Bible that’s true, light=good, dark=evil.
So if we’re dong bad things do you think it always means actual darkness (John 3:20)?
J – No
What does it mean if its not just darkness
J – I don’t know maybe jealousy or something like that?
When you play hide and seek do you always hide in dark places?
J – Usually not, unless its dark out.
This talks about people hiding so others can’t see them.
J – Basically hiding their sin so no one else can see.
Right. Are you tempted to hide your sin, to do what your not supposed to do when we or you teachers are not looking?
J – Yes.
But God can see, God always knows. You can’t hide from God. Jesus says that people who follow God won’t hide what they do, because they are trying to do the right thing. Not only that, but when they are in a place that’s hidden, they won’t want to do bad things. When you are not around Mom and Dad or teachers, what kind of things do you do or want to do? What words do you say? The things you do when there’s no one watching says a lot about the kind of person you are.
John 3:21-36
Question
J -Why did John talk about a bride and groom?
It’s an example. Remember why John said he came? He came to prepare the way for Jesus. So he means that it’s not about him any more, Jesus is here. Just like when there’s a wedding people don’t look at the friends once the bride and groom arrive, the people shouldn’t be concerned about John now that Jesus is here.
J – I have another question. What’s a witness?
Witness means to see. You see something, you witness it. ‘To witness’ also means to tell about what you what you know or have seen.
J – Like I witness you typing right now?
Yep.

[QT’s with Jessica] – John 1:35-John 2

My Summer time Bible Readings with 11 year old Jessica.
John 1:35-42
J – Why did he call Simon Cephas?
Later He said “on this rock I will build my Chucho” and Peter helped start the first Church of Christians.
John 1:43-51
What do you think Jesus is doing with all these people?
J – I don’t know
Do you think it sounds like he’s getting ready to do something important?
J – Yes.
He’s getting ready to start his ministry of teaching people about God, so he needs helpers. Why do you think he needs helpers?
J – Maybe so they can become disciples and they will go to heaven when they die and be with him.
But that’s not why he would need a helper.
J – Oh, but that’s what was on my mind. Maybe because there are a lot of people and then he can have more than one to preach at different places.
OK, that’s a possibility. I think it’s so when he went back to heaven they could keep on teaching and teach others to do it too. The story of Jesus has been told my men for about 2000 years since he died on the cross.
John 2:1-11
This is one of my favorite miracle stories. What do you think of it?
J – I don’t know what I think
Do you know how much a gallon is?
J – Like a milk jug
Yes, 20-30 of these.
J – We don’t have room in our ‘fridge for that!
Do you want to know why I like this story?
J – Yes.
Jesus said to his mom that it wasn’t his time, do you know why?
J – No.
I think he means it wasn’t time from him to start his ministry & start doing miracles to show people who he was. But his Mom sort of makes get involved, right?
J – Yes
What does Jesus do?
J – He turns the water into wine.
So Jesus, who was God and ruler over everything, changed his plans and obeyed his mom. He was a son on earth so he had to do what a son would do.
You should remember that. 🙂
John 2:12-24
J – What does is mean in John 2:17 when it says “My great love for your house will destroy me.”?
It’s kinda like saying his love for God’s temple will drive him crazy. It’s a way of saying how much he cares for gods house.
J – So there were sheep and cattle in it?
Yes
J – I don’t think we’d put sheep and cattle in the school [we have Church in a middle school].
But we do bring things to church that distract us from God sometimes, and not just toys and stuff. Sometimes we bring distractions in our mind that keep us from understanding what is taught at church.
What if we knocked the school down (John 2:19), could we put it up in 3 days?
J – Nope and I don’t think they’d like it if we knocked it down.
The Jews didn’t like the sound of it either and wondered Jesus was up to.

What Does Total Commitment Look Like?

The idea of total commitment is not new, and it goes back farther than those infamous 30 ‘would be’ back in 1979. Right after delivering the 10 commandments to Israel (Deuteronomy 5), Moses said this to the people:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

God expected all of them. The things of God were to permeate their lives. This is the same passage that Jesus quoted in Matthew 22 saying everything else hinges on this command and the command to love each other.
God expects nothing less than everything we have. Total Commitment. One of the things the ICOC attempted to do was to legislate and regulate that commitment. We tried to define what total commitment looked like in terms of how much you read your Bible, how often you shared your faith, how much you prayed, how much money you gave, etc. We tried to do what God had, at least in the New Testament, not done – quantify commitment.
Few would argue that there’s a commitment problem in the broad expanse of mainstream Christianity. It only takes a cursory look at the lives of many who claim the name ‘Christian’ to see that the things of God are not the guiding force in their lives that Deuteronomy 6, Matthew 22 and other passages teach us that they should be. But there’s little we can do as individuals to change the whole of ‘Christianity’.
On the other end of that spectrum, in terms of one on one relationships, we can at times see in our close friends things in their lives that don’t reflect their professed commitment. In these close relationships there is much we can do to help each other along. We know each other well, we respect each other and we have the foundation for these kind of challenging conversations. Not only are they possible, they are necessary. If we fail to initiate them, we are not acting in love.
But in between, at the level of the individual church or small group within a church, how does this total commitment manifest itself? Churches have their own culture and personality. They can be healthy or not, they can be sinful or righteous, they can be committed or not. It’s the sum of the actions of individuals that creates this corporate personality, but that personality also influences the actions of the individual. It is truly a body of its own, made up of many individual parts, but with its own personality. The heart and actions of the individual and of the church are intertwined, each relies on and influences the other.
So how does a church or small group define what total commitment looks like in that context? In other words, what does a church that’s living the commitment Jesus called us to look like? We’ve all been to churches where we didn’t see the commitment. There are many signs that make us wonder and the more that are present the more we wonder. Low attendance, lack of zeal, struggling financially, lack of growth, little fellowship.
Before my recovering ICOC friends scramble for their heart medication and inhalers, I’m not going all old school on you. It’s a real question, though, how does a church practically live out and maintain the commitment to Christ that we are called to? What does growth, evangelism, zeal, giving, attendance, etc. look like within a group of the committed and, more importantly, what does a church leadership do if it feels that there’s a problem in one or more of these areas?
I am really interested in your thoughts on this. You might have guessed that this is something we are wrestling with here in Columbus. We do know what we should not do, that is go back to regularly checking every one’s calendars and checkbooks and making sure folks have evangelistic goals to make sure they are committed. Not that our calendars and checkbooks are off limits or evangelistic goals are never appropriate, however, it’s just that sort of constant monitoring for compliance is short sighted at best, producing temporary results while leaving the struggling behind. We want to take the long view. What does this family of God believe on such matters? Families have principles they stand and live by that define who they are, but they may be different for another family. In the same way, what are the Columbus Church of Christ principles that define us? Others may not follow them, but this is who we are and what we are about.
I think it can create a powerful sense of community and unity to have such things. But how does a church develop them without them going from principals that unify to rules that divide?
I welcome your thoughts.

[QT’s with Jessica] – John 1:1-34

My Summer time Bible Readings with 11 year old Jessica.
John 1:1-18
This passage can be confusing, do you have any questions?
J – I can’t remember.
It talks about Jesus, how he was around from before the begining and after the end.
J – Forever and always. There’s no begining to Jesus and there’s no end to jesus. I think his life is like a circle, it keeps going and going.
I like that.
Do you know about the apostle John and John the bpatist?
J – I know there is two, but not the difference.
This talks about John the Baptist, he came first, before Jesus, to announce that Jesus was coming. That’s what God said would happen.
J -Was Jesus with God before he was born?
Yes, it says that here in John 1:1-2 – Jesus is called the word & the light.
It talks about John and Jesus in another gospel, they were cousins like you and Tim. Just like Tim was born a few months before you, John was born a few months before Jesus.
This is says how Jesus who was God came to be a man and in Luke it tells how he was born in a barn, with the cows.
John 1:19-28
J – Why did they want to know who he was?
Remember it said John gave witness (John 1:15), so he was talking about Jesus in publlic. And the leaders, priests, levites, pharasees, wanted to know why he was preaching in public and what he was about. They thought he might be the savior, but he wasn’t. He told them he was the one to prepare the way for Jesus, to tell people to get ready, the savior is coming.
John 1:29-34
J -What happened to him being born?
That’s in Luke.
J – Is this after he rose from the dead?
No.
J – Was Jesus already on land?
He was. It was after he was born and grew up.
J – Now he’s going to baptize with the Holy Spirirt? That’s what it ssys, right?
Not yet, that happens later. We can read about that in Acts.

You Might Be a Redneck If …

On her way home from Toledo Sunday evening, Maria noticed in several places along the interstate (I-75) people along the side of the road in lawn chairs. Yes, in lawn chairs, in their pick up beds, along the interstate, just outside the fence, like they had come to a parade or something. She says there may have been 100 people along a 20 or so mile stretch from Findlay north.
She and my sister, who was with her, couldn’t figure out what was going on. They almost stopped to see what sort of sight was going to come down the freeway (they were all on the southbound side). She searched local news web pages, but came up with nothing. I think we’ve figured it out, though.
The weekend NASCAR race was at MIS in Michigan so all those NASCAR trucks would be headed south on Sunday to Charlotte, right down I-75.

“Hey Hon, grab a case o’ Bud and the keys to the Silverado, we’s goin’ to to see Jr.’s truck go by on I-75!”

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