To Whom Goes the Credit?

This past week, Leah and I went to our first birthing class. It was the first one about what to do until the classes start on a weekly basis. One thing that struck me throughout the class was the absence of any reference to God. There were so many times where I thought the obvious comment would be that this was always perfectly designed by God. The lady talked through the birthing process and about how the body knows exactly what to do. She kept being amazed at how the body does the right thing at the right time without you telling it to do it.

I was just sitting there being amazed at how someone could look at all of this and think that it is just a product of time and chance. The human body is so intricate and detailed that it demands the question of who the designer is. God’s eternal power and divine nature is made manifest even in our own bodies.

Incredible Power of God’s Creation

Saw this picture online. amazing power. here are a few comments that were left under the pic:

“I love wildlife but cant watch this programme its so bloodthirsty and sad. Why do they concentrate on the unpleasant aspects of nature?”

“Well I for one have got fed up with wildlife programmes, however long it takes to film them. They always end up with something eating something else.”

“People who are offended by nature have to understand that this is how the animal world is. Something is ALWAYS eating something else, and the animal world is an unpleasant place. Period. The law of the jungle dictates that everything gets eaten at some point.”

The Temporary and Lasting Joys of Life

Today I took my two little brother in-laws to a couple places I used to play and live. First, I took them to the house I grew up in and moved from when I was in the 3rd grade. I hadn’t been there since we moved and it was just a crazy experience seeing these things again. No one was home, so we got out of the car and walked behind the house and checked out the grounds. The backyard was completely grown over, fences were gone, and the place was pretty dumpy. I showed them where my swing set used to be, where my sandbox was, how we would jump out of the loft of the barn we built, where my bedroom window was, the hill we would sled on (which is a lot less steep than I recall), where my sister and I would play, and whatever else came to my memory. But everything was aging. They were growing over and it seemed like the bright colors of youth had grown dull over the years. It seemed like the sun shined brighter and the trees were bigger then.

Then we walked down the street and stopped by a tree that has a little door on it. We used to place acorns in the door to feed the elves that lived in the tree. So we told David, 4, to find an acorn and he hid it in there. On the way back he was getting another one and I took the old acorn out and showed him that the elves had taken it. It was fun to keep those things going.

The last thing we did was walk down the street and check out the old bridge I used to throw sticks off of. But when we got there, the bridge had been swept away. My guess is that when everything got flooded last year, it was washed away. It was sitting there crashed up against some trees, rotting.

This all reminded me of how temporary and fleeting this life really is. The things that seems to be large and grandiose are actually fading away. This could be such a horrible thought. The fact that everything in life is passing away and is just dust in the wind could push someone to depression.

But the Qohelet says in Ecclesiastes that it is only through God that we are able to have any joy that is lasting. We are to be content with what God has granted to us, to whatever our lot is. God has given us a certain portion in our lives, and because of the joy that is found in God, we are able to enjoy life as God intended.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

“18. Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil- this is the gift of God. 20. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”

Add This To Your Christmas List

I don’t know how many of you have sat at home and thought, “Man, I wish I could get more of Joel Osteen and “Your Best Life Now”! I mean, I have the book, the calendar, the cd, the book in Spanish, the daily readings book, ‘YBLN Mom’s Guide’, study guide, devotional, and journal. But now, fresh off the conveyors in the factories…. drum roll please…. (fill in your own special sound effects here)….

That’s right folks! You can have “Your Best Life Now…The Game!” Go to to find out how to play!

A Ministry Update

Before I get into this I’d like to give a shout out to Bonny. Heard you frequent my blog, proving you never know who’s reading!

Let’s starting by backing up to last Sunday. It was truly a highlite of my mininstry as I had the chance to baptize five high schoolers. I’d like to take the time to tell you about each one.

The first was Sean Fenderson. Sean is a freshman who was in my small group when he was in Jr High. Sean has a great spirit and has always been able to make everyone laugh with his random humor. He also has a great heart for friends who do not know God.

The second young man was Aaron Kappe. I had the opportunity to live in Aaron’s backyard for about two years between college and getting married. He is also a giant. It was a good opportunity for everyone to laugh at the fact that I had to baptize someone who was so much taller than me. We practiced the dunk backstage to make sure he could bend his knees enough.

The third one was Matt Dorado. Matt has had a special place in my heart since he came up in 7th grade. He had a tough year last year that saw him walk away from where he should be. But this summer God miraculously worked in his heart and it has been such an encouragement to see his growth and his desire to praise God.

The fourth guy was Parker Hall. Parker was a friend of Matt, Aaron’s, and a couple other guys in his class. He came to the christian school at my church, and through events and camps started coming to the church. He eventually got saved through the Jr High ministry and has been faithfully coming, though his family does not. Those kids are some of the biggest encouragements because you know they want to be there. He’s also very skinny.

The last guy was Ricky ‘Richard, Rico del Blanco’ White. Ricky was also in my small group in jr high and has been such a joy to watch grow in Christ. I was able to lead him to Christ at summer camp during his 7th grade year after talk about what made David a man after God’s own heart. That night a few of the guys wanted to stay up and talk and ask questions. That night is one of the greatest moments in my ministry.

Later that night we had our monthly Pray ‘n Praise. This is a time for everyone in Student Min. to come together and just worship. It has honestly been lacking lately, but this was one of the best in over a year. we started off with a block of singing, then broke into groups for prayer, but we only praised God through our prayers. we left our problems and issues aside and just worshipped God. Then we came back together for singing and then broke into groups for more worship. It was a great night and made us really look forward to next month’s.

Fastforward to this past weekend. Friday night we took the Jr Highers ice skating. It is always an adventure teaching 7th graders to skate. Before we left church we played everyone’s favorite game, Human Bingo! I made a bingo sheet with human talents, oddities or experiences and they have to find someone that matched the description in each box. What they didn’t know is that I was going to make them prove they could do the talent. It turns out we have quite a few kids who don’t mind stretching the truth. It was funny to see them get called out for what they said they could do and then fail attempting it. We went from there to the Pasadena Ice Skating center. At first I wasn’t going to lace them skates up, but then I was watching them and had to get out there. Good times!

The next day we had our high school Thanksgiving Dinner. We were at church all day prepping for it and it went off really well. We offered a free dinner to the families and were able to get a few of the families of the kids who don’t go to our church to come out. We had a puzzle at each tabel for them to work at as a table and after dinner played a scavenger hunt composed of anything that they had on them. That turned into a hysterical time watching what some families would do to win. The next day we heard some great things about the evening and how much everyone enjoyed it.

But now its back to classes and trying to get everything done for this week!

A Christian’s Reaction to Nancy Pelosi

I’m sure that most of you who are reading this post are a little shocked over Tuesday’s elections. I think most of us expected the republicans to lose the house, but what happened was far bigger than what I expected. We had to watch Cokie Roberts try to do everything she could to contain her excitement on the evening news last night, and watch the local political reporter, Ms Bebitch (that’s seriously her name), admit she was excited and thrilled. So much for unbiased reporting.

But after I recovered from the illness inducing reporting, I began to think about how this will affect the Christian community. One of the big downsides of making Republican = christian is that when our guys don’t get the office, we feel defeated and confused. One of the worst things that could happen is for Christian’s to walk around discouraged and depressed. Was our faith in our leaders? Psalm 20 says that we are not to place our trust in powers, but in the Lord our God.

the problem with Christian’s becoming so consumed with being politically active and trying to reform the country morally is that when it doesn’t happen (which it never will) they feel failure. The real purpose, to glorify God and proclaim his name, becomes secondary. And often the possibility for our real purpose is sacrificed because politics is so divisive. That’s why I’ll never put a campaign sticker on my car. that’s why i’ll never call myself a republican. I’m a Christian, and that’s how I’ll vote. That’s why I try to make a joke of it with my fake campaign shirt for Steve Bozell “Vote for me or I’ll sue you”. Politics have become so divisive that they create a wall before the Gospel is even presented.

So what should our reaction to this all be? I have often wondered if this big movement to pray for the government will continue when socialists or democrats take over. But last time I checked, I Timothy 2:1-4 applies to whoever is in charge. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Titus 3:1: “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,”

Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

I Peter 2:13-14 “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

And I don’t think I need to go into who these people’s rulers were. Abortion may not have been a huge issue then, but burning people alive on stakes was. So this morning I will be thankful for Ms Speaker Pelosi. And i will not be discouraged because my mission is to proclaim Christ and him crucified.

Why Haggard Should Be Thankful

What has happened to Ted Haggard is something that is probably the biggest fear out of anyone in ministry. My greatest fear in life is becoming disqualified. We are judged with a higher judgment and are called to be blameless and above reproach. Obviously, Haggard passed that point years ago, but it is still something that anyone in ministry needs to be continually aware of.

Derek Webb, on his CD “The House Show” says this in the intro to his song “I Repent”:
The best thing that could happen to anybody in this room is that your sin would be exposed to everyone on the 5 o’clock news. Your deepest, darkest most embarassing sin, the one you work the hardest to hide. Because I am so weary of hiding my sin from people and deceiving people. I wish there were huge screens that would tell you the truth about me so you would no who I really was and so I would have nothing but Jesus to hold on to. Take joy in the fact that our sin is real and our savior is real.

Haggard should be thankful that he has been forced to deal with his sin on this side of eternity, rather than die and face God without having dealt with that sin in his life. I’m not going to make a judgment on him whether he was saved or not. What he has realized is that he can no longer hide in his sin. The reality is that he could only hide his sin from those who could not see his heart. He could not hide his heart from God. But God has given him a special measure of grace in that He has allowed Ted to experience forgiveness and restoration while living rather than shame and condemnation after death.

This should strike a chord in our own hearts. We should take this event as a time to deal with our sin. To realize that we have been given a special opportunity through the fall of another pastor. We have been given the opportunity to deal with our sin on this side of eternity. As Christians, I fully believe that we face no condmenation, but I’d rather deal with my sin now, rather than it be exposed later.

I can’t help but be ashamed of my past sins and the current pride I find surfacing much too frequently. And I can’t help but think that when it is all over and I will look back over my life and just think, why couldn’t I have taken my sin more seriously? Why did I take that sin so lightly? Why was I content to let that sin have a part in my life? I can’t help but think that when its all done that I will feel some sense of shame over how I lived my life, or rather how I didn’t.

But what we have to do is to take the advice of Paul in Philippians: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We can get focused on past failures (or past successes for that matter, but that’s a different message) and become consumed with focusing on the past that we take our eyes of the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. As Christians we need to realize that our sin, if dealt with, is done and forgotten. Don’t remind God of what He has promised to forget about.

That’s the beautiful thing about forgiveness. It can take the vilest offender, and wipe the slate clean. The sinner no longer has to live in fear of punishment or condemnation. Job 14:17 says, “my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover my iniquity.” God has taken the sins of the forgiven, sealed them in a bag, and charges them, “Go, live for me.” Forget the past. Forget your failures. Forget your sin. Run with everything you have away from that life, and pray that you will never be tempted to turn your head to catch a glimpse at your sin. When Christ cried out ‘It is finished’ He was talking about the punishment for your sin. Now live like it.

Cousins Pics

This is the first of many cousins pictures where one of them is on ‘the outside’. Now I realize that the parent of this ‘runt’ is already talking smack about how he will be able to beat up our child, as if size has anything to do with it. What she doesn’t know is that our child will be raised watching a loop of Rocky V and will have the mentality of Rocky to Liam’s ‘Ivan Drago’. Where Micah lacks in size and brawn he will thrive in speed, focus, and wits. While he may not have the size, he will be crawling circles around a clumsy and stumbling Niam.

And as is already clearly evident, Micah is able to lure Niam in, let him relax and lower his guard. Micah will be like a sting ray that buries itself below a small amount of dirt, waiting for some unknowing prey to be lured in and then… BAM! he’ll strike and gain the upperhand. What Niam doesn’t realize is that Micah is doing this even now. And yes, he could reach out through the porthole that is the belly button and exact his dominance upon lesser prey, but alas it is not his time to reveal such skills and abilities for such domination.

It’s A Boy!

We had our ultrasound this morning, and our baby is very much a boy! Here are some videos of the ultrasound for your enjoyment. The tentative name is Micah Owen Costine.

Micah: Obviously the author of the book of Micah. Within his book he prophecies the coming of “One” in Bethlehem and Micah 6:8 tells us “What is it that the Lord requires: to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”

His name means “Who is like the Lord?” and relays a meaning of uniqueness.

Owen: After John Owen. I credit John Owen with opening me to the world of really good books. I read his “On Sin and the Mortification of Sin in Believers” and “On Temptation” and I was enthralled. They were really the first two old books that I read and I loved them. I like the idea of using a middle name to pay tribute to someone in history or family and relating the child to history. Its also where you can use a name that you like, but don’t want to use on a first name.

John Owen was by common consent the weightiest Puritan theologian, and many would bracket him with Jonathan Edwards as one of the greatest Reformed theologians of all time. Born in 1616, he entered Queen’s College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and secured his M.A. in 1635, when he was nineteen. In his early twenties, conviction of sin threw him into such turmoil that for three months he could scarcely utter a coherent word on anything; but slowly he learned to trust Christ, and so found peace. In 1637 he became a pastor; in the 1640s he was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and in 1651 he was made Dean of Christ Church, Oxford’s largest college. In 1652 he was given the additional post of Vice-Chancellor of the University, which he then reorganized with conspicuous success. After 1660 he led the Independents through the bitter years of persecution till his death in 1683.

Profile- Nose Picker!

Front view of his face

Kid’s Kickin’