Bailout Possibilities

So news came out today that President Obama’s new stimulus bailout plan could total $900 billion.  Obviously, this number is hard for the average American to process.  And this would be in addition to the $700 billion bailout that the Bush administration put through.  The frustrating thing is that a lot of these business and corporations are having money thrown at them and often times they come back to the table asking for more.  And of course we know that no one can truly keep them accountable for how they spend their money.

We remember the automakers coming from Detroit, feigning frugality by driving in their Hybrids after being scolded for coming in private jets.  Then there was the corporation that spoiled their employees with a weekend at an expensive spa here in Southern California.

It all leaves one frustrated at how money (that doesn’t even really exist in the first place) is just being thrown around like candy at a 4 year old’s birthday party.  So what else could they do with this ‘play’ money?  There are about 138 million taxpayers in the US.  If you divided up the $700 billion and the potential $900 billion between them evenly, each taxpayer would receive about $11,594.   Imagine how the economy could be surged by each person getting that kind of money?  I think its a better plan than throwing it into a money pit even Tom Hanks would run from.

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Ted Haggard Repents and is Restored…?

I can hardly believe its been two years since the revelations of Ted Haggard were brought to the public.  For those of you who do not remember, Haggard was exposed for having a secret homosexual affair with a male escort when the escort came forward with the tales of their meetings.  He also said that he supplied Haggard with Methamphetamine.   Haggard, who was the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, lost his ministry and reputation, and dropped off the map for awhile, and rightly so.

Now he is coming forward with his progress with the release of a new documentary, “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” airing on HBO.  The Washington Post has a long write up on Haggard, including an interview on what he has been doing and how he has made it back.  Let me say, first of all, that I believe in restoration and believe that God can use situations like these.  I am not saying that Haggard isn’t qualified to do anything ministry the rest of his life, but after reading this article, I struggle with the point that Haggard has come to.  I’ll just list some quotes from the article and you can draw your own conclusions:

“My spiritual life was wonderfully empowering for me in the midst of the struggle. But it wasn’t the solution,” he says  “I needed a therapist.”

“I thought, ‘I don’t need to go to a therapist!’ I mean I didn’t even understand therapy. ‘Jesus is the solution to everything!’ ” he says. “And I personally believe now that this process has occurred so that I would get the therapy I needed. I believe my therapy is the answer to 30 years of prayer about this subject. And so I am very grateful for the decision of the overseers and the restorers and I’m so thrilled about the way my life is now. I’m the man now that — no, no, no, that’s not true. I am becoming the man now that everybody thought I was then.”

………..

“Up until the book ‘The Speed of Trust,’ I so deeply wanted to be a man that thoroughly reflected Scripture, I just buried the struggle in my heart,” Haggard says, referring to the self-help book on building relationships. “And it was ‘The Speed of Trust’ that set me free in that.”

………..

“And I call it my sin,” he says. “That’s my sin. I’m not saying everybody is a sinner that does it. I’m just saying with my standards and my values, it was a sin against me and God. For me.”

……….

“Prior to this scandal, I felt as though the definition of marriage was an important issue to be reflected in law,” Haggard said. “I now believe that the Gospel is so wonderful, that the New Testament is so wonderful, the grace of God is so wonderful that that word might not be so significant that it should define publicly evangelicalism.”  (not sure why he limits the Word of God being wonderful to the New Testament…)

………

The following is from an interview with USA Today:

When I started in counseling, I thought I was a spiritual disaster and a complete idiot for what I’d done. And the counselor started out by saying “You’re spiritually OK.” He asked, “Have you repented?” Yes. “Have you memorized scripture?” Yes. “Have you been through inner healing?” Yes. He said, “According to the Bible, you are in fine relationship with the Lord Jesus.” And I said I think I am. I love Him. I’ve never rebelled against him willingly. This has been a wrestling in my life, never an acceptance thing.

And then he said, “You are rationale—have you read books on the subject?” Yes. And he said “Ted, if you could pray about this and be OK, you would have done it. If you could think about this and rationalize your own life, you would have done it. This is not spiritual nor reasonable. It is physiological.” And he started to teach me how the brain works. And in that process, over two years, I’ve grown in eliminating the incongruities in my life. I’ve learned physiologically how the brain works and how that related to sexuality.

(HT: Challies and Justin Taylor)

Thoughts on Praying for Our Leaders

Over the last couple of weeks we have heard a lot about praying for our leaders in light of the inauguration of a new president.  Obviously, this call has been heightened by the reality that most evangelicals didn’t vote for the president, and he stands for a few things that evangelicals stand strongly against.  So, appropriately, there has been a strong reminder for believers to pray for the President, regardless of whether we voted for him.

So it was fortuitous when our time in our High School sunday school class brought us to the first part of I Timothy 2.  I had read a lot of people building on the command to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions”, but not a lot else exegetically about the passage.  So when I spent some time studying, reading, and meditating on it, I came to some conclusions that I believe help us better understand not on the command to pray, but also how and why.  Here are some thoughts in no particular order.

Obviously, we all know that context is king when understanding a passage, so its helpful to notice the context of this passage.  It directly follows Paul reflecting on the Gospel’s effect in his own life.  He recognizes that formerly he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.  But Paul, the foremost of sinners, received mercy through Christ.  This causes him to spontaneously break out in praise in verse 17, proclaiming that God is the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, and deserves all the honor and glory forever and ever.

Once we approach the passage of 2:1-7 itself, we notice that it’s actually about the Gospel also.  In verse 4 we are reminded of God’s desire for all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  (I told the kids that Conor would be providing a discourse fully explaining this and other difficult passages concerning God’s will in two weeks.)  Paul says that there is one way to God, one mediator between man and God, that being Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for many.

I don’t think we can separate the Gospel from the command to pray for leaders.  This means, I believe that the primary concern and topic of our prayers should be the salvation of our leaders.   This fits in with the reality that we can’t transform our nation through political reform, but through the transforming work of the Gospel.  Of course we are to pray for wisdom and guidance for our leaders, but I don’t think our prayers should stop there.

That leads me to the statement in verse 2.  Paul says we are to prayer for our leaders “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  When I read this, I could see a health and wealther taking this verse and preaching that our lives would be easy and comfortable if we just follow this command.  Unfortunately, we know that this won’t be our physical reality on this side of eternity. I don’t think this is talking about a physical state of our lives.

Rather, I think that when he speaks of a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified, I think he speaking of an emotional and spiritual perspective prayer brings us.  Prayer aligns our priorities and perspectives with God.  Prayer is not just making our thoughts known to God, but uniting our hearts and minds with His.  So when we make a practice of praying for our leaders, we are reminding ourselves of God’s sovereignty over the leaders of our nations, states, and towns.  Truly this was to bring comfort to believers living under the tyranny of Nero, as was the case in this context. If they can draw comfort and peace from prayer in that situation, surely it can be a comfort to us no matter who our leader is.

There is Hope for the Dawn Treader

About a month ago I heard the news that Disney was bailing on the Narnia movies, which made zero sense to me.  It was a gold mine series that had made $1.2 billion world wide with the first two movies alone.  Obviously, the first one did better, but do you just drop the gold mine when you messed up on one shaft?  No!  You learn from it and mine the next one better.  I was most disappointed because the Dawn Treader was probably the one I was looking forward to the most.  I love the character of Eustace and the adventures in the Dawn Treader were practically written to but on the silver screen.

Well, today I saw this article, and it explains why Disney let it go.  I had already become less and less of a Disney fan with the direction they’ve been taking (raising prices, forcing bad music down everyone’s throat: Jonas Bros, Hannah Montana, Camp Rock), and this Narnia series was an opportunity for them to make emends.  But they messed up and dropped the ball.  They got gready and tried to make Prince Caspian a teen movie, which was evident by themes they included that I didn’t remember in the book.  I’m sorry, but the whole Caspian/Susan thing just made me sick.

Then they decided because they could get more teens for the movie, that they would move the release to May, rather than Christmas where it would thrive with families.  Well, mixed in a blockbuster summer with Ironman and Indiana Jones, it didn’t have any time to build traction.  And because they handled it so poorly, it failed and they dumped it.  The good news is that Walden Media is going on with the production of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with a new director and much of the same cast from the last movie.  They are just waiting on a big studio to get behind it, and it appears Fox may be that studio.  Lets hope they don’t make the same mistakes Disney did!

FaceDown Behind the Music

This morning I was on my way into our staff meeting when someone told me they saw my video’s online.  When I gave them a confused look, they realized I didn’t know what they were talking about.  She explained that it was some type of video of FaceDown for a CORE Week in the past.  Then I realized that someone put up the Behind the Music episodes I made during my first summer out here.  So I watched the first one and I was taken back.  I had a ton of fun making them and should give a shout out to Dan Currier and Alex Wen who did a lot of the edit work on them.  I’ll throw up the videos on here, but for now, here’s the first episode!