Monday, July 28, 2008

Finding Life in Death

This very powerful. It was written by a man who died last month. Copy and keep this one....

Tony Snow was a television commentator who eventually became President Bush's press secretary. He had several bouts with cancer and he recently lost his battle with the disease. Last October, during the midst of his illness, Tony Snow shared what spiritual lessons he had been learning through his ordeal. Here are Tony Snow's own words:

Blessings arrive in unexpected packages--in my case, cancer. Those of us with potentially fatal diseases--and there are millions in America today--find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence "What It All Means," Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the "why" questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But despite this--or because of it--God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims . You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family & friends. You fidget and get nowhere.

To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life--and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many non believing hearts--an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live fully, richly, and exuberantly--no matter how their days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease--smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see--but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance; and comprehension--and yet don't. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

'You Have Been Called'. Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. "It's cancer," the healer announces.

The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. "Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler." But another voice whispers: "You have been called." Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter--and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our "normal time."

There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived a n inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tiny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.

The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.

There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue--for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever cou ld give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.

Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.

We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us, that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us part way there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two peoples' worries and fears.

'Learning How to Live'. Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms, not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power & authority of love.

I sat by my best friend's bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was an humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. "I'm going to try to beat [this cancer]," he told me several months before he died. "But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side."

His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity--filled with life and love we cannot comprehend--and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.

Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we devote our remaining days to things that do?

When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up--to speak of us!

This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back & appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.

What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the hollow of God's hand.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The New Purity Tidal Wave

All over our nation, parents and their daughters are taking up the cross of personal purity. Reacting to a teen culture that is in the gutter regarding sexual purity, father-daughter purity balls are sweeping across our country.

Check out this great story and be encouraged!

The Latest Batman Flop...

I am not sure whether to laugh or cry about this movie...We are all familiar with the genre of the ongoing Batman saga. Unfortunately, today's movie writers tend to delve into the dark and sublime of the Batman character, portraying him as being just a touch above the criminals he pursues in Gotham City.

The latest installment surely fits this bill.

While some will tout its value as a morality play between good and evil, this is one you and your family need to skip.

Children need to see evil as evil and good as good. This is an adult movie where these differences get blurry.

While Batman retains a certain altruistic fascination by many, this one flops.

Philippians 1:10 tells us "to discern what is best in order to be pure and blameless until the day of Christ."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bad News for the Brits- More Babies Out of Wedlock

This might be a blip on the radar for most but its big news...British media is now reporting that the new D-Day in Britain has arrived- where more babies are born out of wedlock than in marriage.

While some will hail this as a breaktrhough to a whole new world, in reality its a tragedy that will eventually redefine Great Britain.

Americans need to be careful. This virus is already on our shores....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Righteous Will Live By Faith

“The righteous will live by faith.” Eight of the most important words for believers are found in the Old Testament book of Habakkuk (verse 2:4). This verse seems straight forward and pretty easy to do. But, the idea of trusting God when everything else is going wrong is often tough and counter-intuitive to how most of us think. If anything, our strongest urge may be to grab the wheel of life and start steering. Yet, that conversion of thought is an ongoing and compelling message of Christianity.

In Habakkuk’s era, the Jewish nation was coming to an end. Corruption and religious hypocrisy were at their zenith. God tells the prophet that He would not only bring swift judgment on Israel soon but it would be delivered by the hands of the Babylonians, the renowned cruel and barbaric warriors of that age. Habakkuk was stunned. From his perspective, his people deserved God’s judgment but not to the level that would be inflicted by the Babylonian army. Yet, somewhere within the fabric of his being, Habakkuk finds the answer to the imminent storm of destruction and judgment- “the righteous shall live by faith.”

Life is not storm-less. Most of us will not experience the brutal end of our nation or a terrifying end of the life we know each day. But, there are still major challenges that will come through our lives- illness and death, loss of a job, the rebellion of a child, a failed relationship, etc. Christians have never been immune from suffering, illness, poverty or any of the deprivations of life. For many believers, there seems to be an extra portion of these pestilences at times.

Noted Christian author Francis Schaffer posed the question that we must each answer- how then should we live?

Habakkuk got it right. Will you?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Unmarried Men A Growing Threat in China

Today's post comes from our good friend Chuck Colson and his Breakpoint commentary. Here is the link to the article....

In late June an angry crowd, estimated at 10,000 people, set fire to a government building and police cars in southwestern China. More than 150 people were injured, and it took 1,500 paramilitary and riot police to restore a semblance of order.

The crowd was protesting the “alleged cover-up of a teenage girl’s rape and murder” by three young men, including the “son of a local politician.”

While news agencies cited the incident as an example of unrest over corruption and injustices, there is another Chinese problem highlighted in this story: “China’s testosterone problem.”

That’s the term the New Republic used to characterize the social problems caused by the male-female imbalance in China. As writer Mara Hvistendahl tells us, China “has the largest gender imbalance in the world . . .” There are 37 million more men than women in China; and “almost 20 percent more newborn boys than girls nationwide.” In some parts of China, there are 60 percent more male children than female!

The imbalance is the product of China’s infamous “one-child policy,” in which the government told villagers, and I quote, “YOU CAN BEAT IT OUT! YOU CAN MAKE IT FALL OUT! YOU CAN ABORT IT! BUT YOU CANNOT GIVE BIRTH TO IT!”

Many villagers complied, but with a twist: They made sure that the “one child” would be a boy, who could earn more than girls could. As a result, a researcher at the Chinese Institute for Social Sciences estimates that 10 percent of Chinese men will be unable to find wives.

Of course, frustrated men will make their presence felt, as Beijing is learning. After the first generation of “one child” boys hit adolescence, China’s juvenile crime rate more than doubled. Chinese officials complained about young men committing crimes “without specific motives, often without forethought.”

Sound familiar? History teaches us that unattached, unmarriageable males are “disproportionately responsible for drug abuse, looting, vandalism, and violent crime.” This was true of “frontier towns,” “immigrant ghettos,” and our own inner-cities. There is no reason to think that China will be any different.

And the worst is yet to come as the imbalance grows larger. Government officials worry about the “hidden threat to social stability” posed by a cohort of “hopeless, volatile men.” Wars have often started, historically, when men tried to find wives elsewhere.

But the best the government can come up with are slogans like, “Boys and Girls are both treasures.” Meanwhile young Chinese men gather in bars where they pay $15 a minute to assault the waiters. Yes, you heard me correctly. Even more ominously, if the customer prefers, the waiter will dress in women’s clothing. No wonder ordinary Chinese are worried for the safety of their daughters!

It is hard to find a better example of the consequences that arise from defying the moral order that God has written into His creation. China thought it could create a harmonious society where every child was wanted; now unwanted men threaten its very stability.

China fears its own sons and worries about its daughters all because it followed a false worldview, ignoring God’s design.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Obama's on Homosexual Marriage

They're for it. At least they are today. Here's the link to Michelle Obama's speech to a Gay and Lesbian group...

If elected, Barack Obama and his legislative cronies and judges could overturn 3,000 years of human law and history on marriage. I am not trying to scare anyone, but marriage as a the human icon of relationships would be changed forever.

In a blog last week, I mentioned what a vote for Obama would mean. One of those prognostications would be the advent of (and your acceptance of)gay marriage nation wide. Michelle Obama's statements confirm this troubling notion.