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.

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)

Who Cares if its Not Real, It’s Still a Cool Quote!

I ran across this quote yesterday by a guy named Alexander Tytler.  I looked it up online to find the context and discovered that its validity is questioned.  Here’s the quote, and after I’ll explain the doubts:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage.
It totally makes sense and here is the history.  Apparently it came to popularity after the 2000 election and is attributed to Alexander Tytler, who lived in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s.  From Wikipedia:
This passage actually comprises two quotations. The first paragraph being one and the second paragraph and list, commonly known as the “Tytler cycle”, or more anonymously as the “Fatal Sequence”, being the other. Both can be traced back to the 1950’s, and they began to appear together in the 1970’s. No original author can reliably be determined for either quotation.
Oh well, I thought it was a neat quote anyways, and it makes sense.  Either way, I think you can see where we would be on this scale…

When Was the Last Time You Wept for Your Nation?

Lately, we’ve been going through the book of Lamentations in our high school group for Wednesday nights.  I know this isn’t a common choice, but it was voiced by the kids, and I thought it would be a good month or so.  For those of you who are familiar with the book of Lamentations, let me take a moment to set the scene.

The prophet Jeremiah was called to preach to the Southern Kingdom of Judah in a time where their hearts and allegiance was removed from the Lord.  The Norther Kingdom had already been hauled off by Assyria, who then grew more and more incapable of enforcing their empire.  Babylon comes up on the scene, and overtakes Assyria to become the big bully on the block.  They grow in power and seek to conquer the world.  Nebuchadnezzar leads a charge through the land of Israel, and they cry ‘uncle’ and are made a vassal state.  When Nebuchadnezzar finds more opposition than he was expecting in Egypt, he returns home for a year to reload.  During this time, Israel makes the tragic mistake of yielding allegiance to Egypt, which didn’t make Babylon happy.  Nebuchadnezzar comes back, sieges Jerusalem, eventually captures it, destroys the Temple, walls and gates, and hauls King Zedekiah off to Babylon.

During this time, Jeremiah is called to preach a call to repentance to his nation, but is told at the beginning that they won’t listen and he’ll find opposition everywhere.  God promises to deliver him, but its a pretty grim picture.  Jeremiah preaches his message and finds somewhat of an audience with Josiah before he is killed in battle, but nothing after that.  He was turned on by his people and false prophets decried him.  He was mocked, beaten, thrown in jail, left for dead, and accused of treason for telling Zedekiah to surrender to Babylon because God had raised them up to punish His people, Israel.

One would expect Jeremiah to react like Jonah.  To walk out of the city and wait for the wrath of God to consume it.  But that isn’t what happens.  There is a reason why Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet.  Listen to how deeply affected Jeremiah was by his people’s sin:

“My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city.” Lamentations 2:11

“My eyes will flow without ceasing without respite, until the Lord from Heaven looks down and sees; my eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the daughters of my city.”  Lamentations 3:49-51

“Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.”  Jeremiah 9:1

Jeremiah was personally afflicted by his people’s rejection of God’s words.  When he preached, it was not with the primary of condemnation, but with correction and restoration.  I pained Jeremiah to see his people move so far from arms of their covenant God.  It is also interesting to see how often he lumps himself in with Israel, not content to just take pot shots from a distance, but to share in the misery.

As I was preparing to preach through chapter 3, I realized a large shortcoming in my own heart.  I could use a lot of Jeremiah in me.  I have found that it is really easy to sit back, see the moral decay in our country, and say, “Wait until you see what’s comin’ at you.”  It’s been easy for me to watch the news and see people who promote wickedness like its admirable and think, “Wait until they come face to face with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.”  I realized that my heart isn’t broken over the moral depravity of my country.

And I don’t think I’m alone.  When Prop 8 passed here in California (Gay Marriage Ban), I was afraid for what the evangelical response would be.  I imagined Christians seeking to rub the victory in the face of a crushed segment of society.  I foresaw evangelicals coming off as snobs and elitists, being more proud over their temporary political victory, thinking they have dealt a blow to the “gay agenda”.  The problem with that thinking is that the victory is more preserving the institution of marriage than being ‘anti-gay’, and it ends up alienating and severely offending people in need of God’s grace and redemption.

What we need is less true believers sitting back, waiting for God to consume Sodom and Gomorrah, and more believers weeping for the people’s rejection of their Creator.  I realized I need more Jeremiah in my perspective and less Jonah.

Miscelaneous of Life

I know I’ve been horrible about updating this thing, so I thought I would put some random things up that don’t exactly make a whole post, but are interesting nonetheless.

Rush Hour

For those of you who don’t know, our Wednesday night program is called Rush Hour.  This past Wednesday we started our time in Lamentations and were working through the first chapter when we were greeted with quite the surprise.  About 15 minutes into the message, I noticed a man walk into the back of the Youth Center.  My first thought was that it was the father of one of the kids and they would just sit in back and listen.  It certainly isn’t rare for this to happen.  But then he started walking up front and I realize he wasn’t a parent.

This man was clearly a homeless person.  He wasn’t in rags, but his clothes were well worn.  Its also not uncommon for homeless people to come around looking for handouts.  So this man comes up and takes a seat on the edge of the rows up front and the kids, one-by-one, begin to realize he is there.  Now I’m trying to think of what to do.  We had no other staff there, as a couple were at the Dodger game, and a couple more were out for various reasons, and the one who was there was actually playing the game with the Jr Highers.  Thankfully, we had one of our college students there sitting near the back, but I didn’t want to have her have to handle this.  I was also thinking that if the guy is going to just sit there, I can let him be and deal with him when I’m done.

But then he started waving his arms around and making gruffing noises when I mentioned prostitutes (I was preaching through Lamentations 1).  I actually had to tone down what I was saying because I didn’t want to say something that would make this guy go nuts.  I’m now thinking of how in the world I can alert someone to come deal with this without stopping the message and causing a scene.  I’m thinking I’m not talented enough to text and preach at the same time, so that wasn’t a possibility.  At this point, I’m just begging for someone to walk in that can take care of this.

Then the guy gets up and walks out the side door to the rest of the campus.  I took a time out, turned to the college student, Meredith, and said, “Get Matt and get him to deal with this guy.”  She pops into my office and he isn’t in there.  So she has to deal with it herself.  So as I’m still preaching, I’m keeping an eye on what is going on and see the guy make his way towards the back and on out the doors.  Never a dull moment!

Warning About “Incognito

This is a warning for parents out there about new browser options that allow a computer to not trace where you have been.  They say that it is for public computer use when you are looking at personal information, but it is becoming known for surfing porn without leaving fingerprints.  Here’s a link that talks about it.  I advise parents to check it out and take the necessary steps to protect your children.  It’s not enough to just check the history, but it is an absolute MUST in my mind to have your family computer in a public room with lots of traffic.  DO NOT allow your child to have their computer in their room.  Temptation abounds and it is a recipe for spiritual disaster.

Speaking of pornography, here is a helpful article by David Powlison about dealing with it from a biblical perspective.

The Pointlessness of Politics

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this is the season that I abhor politics.  I have grown tired of both options and wish we had an option where we could tell them to disappear and find two better options.  I feel used as a Republican leaning person and helf hostage over the issue of abortion.  It seems that some politicians know that they can get your vote as long as they vote pro-life when the opportunity arises.  I grow frustrated with a government that can’t spend responsibly and waste my hard earned money.  It kills me that in order to pass the bail out bill, they had to attach billions of dollars of pork to serve their own interests.  It frustrates me that no candidate can be truthful and approach his job with integrity.  They both lie.  They both twist the truth.  They both present a picture that isn’t representative of reality.  It frustrates me that good candidates are ‘unelectable’ because of perceived flaws and their penchant to tell it like it is.  All of this, amongst other things, has pushed my heart to yearn the ruling of Christ.

No matter how much any candidate promotes hope, it will not be found in political reform.  Jeremiah says in Lamentations 3:24, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in him.  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”  Our only hope is found in God.  Not in politicians, not in elections.  So next time you feel frustrated, remind yourself of the day when Christ will rule on earth in righteousness.

Am I Now a Satisfied Boston Fan?

The Sox find themselves facing another 3-1 defecit, with game 5 tonight.  Their pitching is in shambles, their hitters are confused.  And I’m fine if they lose tonight.  I realized this the other day.  Normally, I would feel a sense of devestation and frustration, but now I know that, “Well, it wasn’t our year.”  I’ve seen more wins in the last few years than at any time in my life.  My two favorite teams have 3 championships in the last 4 years, and both are threatening to do it again.  I never thought I would get to this point, but I’d be fine if they lost tonight, and I wouldn’t be very disappointed.  Now I turn to the Celtics and Cowboys for two more teams making a championship push.  I’m so spoiled now.

Just because I thought this was funny

Random Thoughts Before I Depart for Hume

Hume Lake

Today finds me on the eve of another summer camp, but this one is fairly relaxing. We’re taking 53 people up to Hume Lake for our High School summer camp. We’ll be joining almost 1,000 other high schoolers there for a fun and relaxing week. The days are made up of eating with the kids, sitting in chapels with the kids, playing card games and Apple to Apples with the kids, playing frisbee golf with the kids, and other things, generally with the kids. It’s relaxing because I don’t have to organize the kids while I’m there, just shuffle them from event to event. We have about 4 hours of free time every afternoon and the kids love roaming the camp with each other. And I don’t even have to stay in the cabin with them, as the family has a hotel type room up there. Good times all around!

Olympics

Last evening we watched the opening ceremonies to the Olympics and I was frankly blown away. I’ve never been a fan of them, as they are usually way too vague to understand, full of post-modern symbols that supposedly communicate unity and good will. Even I appreciated the artistic direction and the unity of the performers moving as one unit. But the thing I can’t get past is the fact that the IOC is allowing China to push forward a picture of their country that just isn’t accurate. Their human rights stance is well known throughout the world, as well as their involvement in Sudan. It’s also amazing how much lack of freedom the people are allowed.

At one point in the ceremony, the narrator said that something was symbolizing the two great walls China had. I automatically thought, “The Great Wall and the Firewall the government has set up to keep information and ideas out of the country.” What’s even more amazing is that this firewall that keeps info out of the country has been extended to the Olympic Village.

They also had a part where they were giving recognition to three religions in their country- Confucius, Buddhism, and something else. What was ironic is that they are completely intolerant of any other kinds of religion. Interesting side note, if anyone has seen that pastor guy who locked himself in hotel room in
China and is doing demonstrations over youtube.com. Well, I think I may have a connection. This past Sunday someone in my church pulled me aside and said that a friend of theirs who was a pastor was going to go to China and do something to raise awareness of the persecution of the Church in China. Turns out the guy in the hotel room is from this area. So I think its the same guy. Not sure what he’s really accomplishing…
Earthquake!

As most of you have heard, we had a little shaker here a couple weeks ago. It was my second somewhat momentous earthquake since I’ve been out here. I haven’t felt the others, but this one couldn’t be avoided. I was working at the time and there is nothing like the uncertainty of a earthquake to shake your core. Your first thought is, ‘Here we go!’, quickly followed by the thought, “Is this the big one?!” It started off as a slow wave, then a few big jerks. Its a wonderful reminder that nothing is for sure outside of God, not even the ground you stand upon. Reminds me of Psalm 20 and placing our faith in God alone.
Manny Follows Nomar

Another interesting development in the last few weeks was Manny Ramirez getting traded out here. You would have thought that the Dodgers had be guaranteed a World Series appearance by Manny being traded here. Granted, they didn’t really give anything up, but they only have him for the rest of the season, and he can’t pitch, which is something they will be lacking. It’s funny how everyone out here teased me for Manny being on my team. Only seems just that he now plays for them. When he came in he said that he wanted to play here the rest of his life. Today, the news came out that he wants to play for the Yankees to get back at the Red Sox. Well, that lasted a week, huh? He also said that he was going to cut his hair, and I told people not to hold their breath. I’m saying he doesn’t. A week has passed, and its still there.

A Prayer Request

Yesterday, the door bell rang and Leah found our neighbor at the door asking for anointing oil or holy water. Confused, Leah said we didn’t really do that. Apparently, his pregnant sister-in-law is in the hospital, and she’s leaking water. And one of the nurses had the nerve to tell her that she had a curse inside of her and needed it taken care of. What kind of nurse says that?! Well, they are Asian, and the hospital is largely Asian, so there may be a lot of cultural things happening there. We appreciate your prayers for her. The family above us, we believe, are Christians, but we aren’t really sure where they are at. They are confused and scared through this process.

Lost

For those of you who remembered, there was a Dharma ad in the last show and they had you enter your email address. They were doing ‘recruiting’ this past weekend in San Diego, which happened to be Comic Con, also. Here is a video that was shown:

The text in the email said this:

ATTENTION ALL RECRUITS
RE: SECURITY BREACH AT COMIC-CON 2008
As many of you may be aware there have been a number of security breaches in recent days related to the nature of the Dharma Initiative’s latest research.
Apart from the leak of a sensitive internal communication there was also the unauthorized release of confidential video documentation during a sponsored panel discussion with the makers of the TV show “LOST” at Comic-Con 2008 in San Diego. Consequently, the person responsible for this breach, a promising recruit by the name of Dan Bronson, has been expelled from the volunteer program and had his Dharma Initiative membership permanently revoked. Furthermore, the Dharma Initiative has withdrawn their sponsorship from “LOST”.
The Dharma Initiative must stress that the video material leaked at Comic-Con 2008 was viewed entirely out of context. Furthermore, the way in which the material was presented utterly distorted its significance and credibility as scientific data.
The Dharma Initiative is extremely disappointed with this outcome and has ordered a security audit of all departments. As part of this audit the DharmaWantsYou recruiting website will undergo a security upgrade in the next few days.
Upon completion of this upgrade a date will be announced for the official commencement of Volunteer Assessments.
All recruits are reminded that the unauthorized release of confidential information pertaining to the details of your activities within the Dharma Initiative will result in instant dismissal from the volunteer program

Namaste.
Hans Van Eeghen
Head of Recruiting
The Dharma Initiative

I honestly haven’t even read this, or watched the video, due to lack of time. But enjoy!

Where John Hagee (and others) Erred

I’ll be honest upfront.  I’m not a big Hagee fan.  I disagree with a lot the guy says, and wouldn’t necessarily line myself up next to him.  But there is a big difference between what Hagee has said and what Obama’s pastor, Rev. Wright.  What Rev. Wright said was not really based in the slightest on any particular passage, whereas Hagee has said these things while going through passages and teaching on the end times.  Here’s what he said that really got him in hot water.

First, Hagee said that Hitler sent by God to lead to the events that would bring the children of Israel back to the land of Israel when speaking of Jeremiah 16:15.  Anytime you bring up the name ‘Hitler’ and you don’t immediately condemn him, you’ll get in trouble.  Hagee said that God allowed it to happen.  That is true.  Can God use evil people to do his bidding?  He sure did in the Old Testament.  He brought Assyria and Babylon, who were known to be pretty bad bullies on the block, and used them to take Israel out of the land of Canaan.

But the problem is that in that situation, we know that God raised up the nation of Assyria to take the children of Israel out of the promised land.  In this situation, Hagee is speaking where the Word of God is not clear.  He is speaking on behalf of the world, instead of letting the Word of God speak.  God can allow this to happen, but he makes the error when he connects the dots, saying that God allowed Hitler to kill the Jews so that they would go back to the land.

He makes the same mistake when referring to the Catholic Church as the ‘Great Whore’ in Revelation.  Again, you can preach through that passage, but there is no way we can know who the ‘Great Whore’ is until we are in that time.  Hagee makes a practice of speaking where the Bible remains silent, and that is where he gets in trouble. He made the same mistake with saying that Hurricane Katrina came because of the disobedience of the people in the region.

Preachers can think that they are bearing the reproach of the people on account of taking a stand for the Gospel.  But there is a line between being persecuted for speaking truth, or for speaking your own mind.  I believe it is the latter that gets Hagee and others in trouble.  If we are going to face opposition, we better make sure it is the Gospel that is being objected, and not our own words or delivery.

(On a side note, McCain, in reaction to Hagee and another pastor who had the nerve to say that Islam is an inherently violent religion said this: “I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America.”  Speaking from a freedom of speech point of view, that’s one thing that’s supposed to be great about America.  That there is room for people to say crazy things without fearing retribution, as long as its not slander against a person.  I think McCain speaks big here, but not thinking about what he’s saying.  I believe this is protected by free speech.)