- Mike Ayers, Counting the Cost (sermon)
At first Jesus looked like a failed hero. Many people believed that he was “The Chosen One”, the Christ, who would be Israel’s hero and savior. He rode into Jerusalem, and received not just a king’s welcome, but a welcome worthy only of Israel’s savior. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” the people cried. What they meant was, “Save us, Messiah that we have waited for!” They had been waiting for centuries for someone to come and rescue them from poverty, persecution and enslavement to a foreign pagan power. Could this really be the one who will lead them in victory over their enemies and restore Israel to its former glory?
Less than a week later, Jesus is crucified, just like the many failed messiah’s before him. Jesus wasn’t the first (or the last) to claim that he was the one that we’ve been waiting for. Try to imagine their sadness and disappointment when Jesus was executed as a common rebel.
But Jesus was not a failed hero. The cross was not an accident. It was not even a tragically beautiful ending to a man who came to teach peace and love, as many have portrayed him. It was exactly the end he planned on. Like many of us, people wanted to be rescued from excessive taxes, injustice and the immorality of government. But those aren't our real problems.
Think about it. Imagine the perfect politician and the perfect Government. Every law you think should be on the books is there exactly as you think it ought to be. Every Government agency is run properly. Every politician is honest. And your political ideology reigns in every policy, foreign and domestic. Every politician does what they are supposed to do...
In such a world, you still suffer the consequences of sin. People still get sick. People still commit crimes. People still sin. You still sin. And you still die. In fact, the reason the above political scenario is impossible is because of sin and its consequences.
Do you see the brilliance of what Jesus did? By dying and rising from the dead, Jesus took care of the real enemies first. The death of the only truly innocent man defeated sin. And the resurrection of that same man defeated death.
Sin and death are the biggest enemies. And because he did what he said he would do, we can believe him when he says he’ll take care of the smaller enemies too. It's like this, if I see a guy juggle six flaming swords, he doesn't need to prove that he can juggle three silk scarves. Jesus took care of the giants. Everything else is like squashing bugs.
There's another reason why what he did was so brilliant. What if Jesus had come and ruled and set up his kingship? Would the people have been satisfied? Probably. I think they would have been like some of the rabbits in Richard Adams' brilliant book "Watership Down." Our heroes, rabbits looking for a safe home, find a warren full of fat and happy rabbits. The place is paradise. Then it turns out that the reason food shows up every day, and there are no predators, is because the farmer feeds them and protects them, so that every few days, he can have fresh rabbit for dinner. The rabbits who live there don't talk about it. Because all their creature comforts are met, they choose to live with death.
Would we be the same way if we got everything we thought we wanted?
Jesus defeated your real enemies already. Because he did that, he'll take care of the rest like an elephant stomping on lego men.
"’Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son’” (Revelation 21:3-4, 6-7).
Live-blogging of tonight's episode will commence soon. Last week's episode was fabulous - here's hoping the Mo keeps rolling.
Plus, from what I've read, this is a Sun and Jin episode!
***** Major Spoilers Below the Fold *****
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I have been going through the Harry Potter series in order. I finally finished Book 5 - Order of the Phoenix.
The idea here is to discuss that book only, and not any future books. Please no spoilers. (I have already started Book 6, and I'm about half way.) Here are my previous posts, if you want to go back and talk about any previous book.
2-Chamber of Secrets
3-Prisoner of Azkaban
4-Goblet of Fire
The real discussion of "Order of the Phoenix" will be below the break and under comments... Please tell me what you thought!
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Tick, tick, tick … and done.This is probably just as well.
After eight seasons, Fox’s “24” is coming to an end.
The groundbreaking action drama will air its final real-time episode in May, the victim of a confluence of circumstances: a swelling budget, declining ratings and creative fatigue.
Yet for fans of Jack Bauer, there remains hope. Studio 20th TV is developing a theatrical film that takes Bauer to Europe, and showrunner and executive producer Howard Gordon says other possibilities are being explored as well.
I don't watch much TV (really!). I basically watch Lost and, until this season, 24. I started the year happily live-blogging the 24 episodes but got disillusioned by yet more ridiculous sub-plots, a completely unbelievable lack of background security checks at CTU, the magical physical self-healing powers of Jack Bauer, and the fact that they still rely on silliness like suited, fresh-faced and pesky Government bureaucrats who are unwilling to leave it for the next morning and must show up at CTU at 4:00 AM in the middle of a nuclear crisis in order to muck with things. It was all too much.
But I actually watched last week's episode, after having missed several, and was rewarded with the now VERY familiar and illogical introduction of another "mole" within CTU. In spite of this new silliness, I was entertained and, since this is the last season, I'll probably watch it through to the end. And I'll look forward to the 24 movie which I hope they are planning.
Hopefully Jack Bauer will end the season alive and with a chance at happiness.
Farewell 24, it was a great ride.
This pretty much sums up my entire political philosophy (regardless of political parties and specific issues. Less hubris and more truth in Governance, please):
"We did not fully envision the challenges that we would encounter" says Herbert Allison, assistant treasury secretary, explaining to Congress why the Obama administration's lavishly-funded mortgage-modification program has gone nowhere. I salute him for his honesty and propose that "We Did Not Fully Envision the Challenges That We Would Encounter" should be engraved on every marble ediface in Washington, D.C. Translate it into Latin and put it on our depreciating greenbacks.
That's what Bono said when the U2 show at Houston's Reliant Stadium commenced last year, and that's what the entire Baylor University community should be saying as the men's basketball program begins its title run in earnest at the same Reliant Stadium this weekend.
It's the Sweet 16 and the Bears are in! Even the Baylor ladies' team advanced to the Sweet 16!
It all starts tonight. Sic 'em, Bears!
Contra vs. Duck Hunt
There is so much awesomeness here, it may blow up your monitor.
OK, You heard it here first. Here's the interpretive key:
LILITH! Yep, Lilith. Stay with me now...
You see, I've been wrestling with MIB's (AKA Smoke Monster's) confession last week that his mother was crazy. And I've been thinking, OK, what lady going waaay back into Biblical story and mythology qualifies?
See I think Jacob and MIB have been there a long time. And the writers are obviously trying to draw on ancient mythology and like mixing the Biblical with the pagan. (Egyptian etc...)
So here's my theory:
MIB's mother is Lilith and Jacob's mother is Eve. They are half-brothers, because they both have Adam as a dad, and both have their own theories about original sin. And somehow they were both locked in "Eden" when Adam and Eve were banished.
For those of you unfamiliar with Lilith, she is a mythological figure with ties to OT mythology as well as the mythology of many different religions. She's an evil woman, and supposedly was Adam's first wife. There's lots of stories about her, but one version has her as the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.
I looked her up online last night during a commercial and discovered that her power is transferred...wait for it...
THROUGH MIRRORS! For More Info
You guys can use google as well or better than I can, so I'll let you look her up.
Tell me what you think!
Gearing up for a live-blog of tonight's Lost episode. I'm pretty excited, because this is a Richard episode, and he's one of my favorite characters.
***** Spoilers Below the Fold *****
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A few years ago we discovered that my son, Nathan, has Asperger Syndrome. I say "discovered" because we have never received a formal diagnosis, and we probably never will. (We're simply not sure that a diagnosis is something that is going to help him.) I think he was around five years old when we discovered his condition. My wife Brandi was a special education major in college, and she was trained in a specific type of therapy geared toward autistic children, so that certainly helped us pick up on certain clues in Nathan's behavior. As far as earlier detection, part of the problem for us was he was our first child and we simply expected him to be neurotypical. We didn't anticipate any roadblocks or challenges in his life.
Of course, as we all know roadblocks have a way of magically appearing, and there's no such thing as a smooth-sailing life of parenthood. During the past five years or so we've tried a handful of interventions, prayed for him like crazy, had the elders in our church pray for him, lamented his condition, and so on. He's now 10 years old and he's starting to mature, take on more responsibility, and figure out how to express his feelings and interact with other people (those things are often big challenges for Asperger kids). I'm not sure how much our interventions have helped, but I do know that he's made great strides in the way he relates to his younger brother and sisters, but the deficits are still apparent when he relates to people outside our family. I think most kids consider him strange, and most adults probably consider him quirky.
Building meaningful relationships is a challenge for Asperger kids, and autistic people in general (that's why one of the up-and-coming interventions is called Relationship Development Intervention). We've still got some challenges with Nathan in that area. He can sometimes not listen to what other people are saying, and he doesn't pick up on context clues (like rolling eyes or yawns) that might indicate that a person isn't interested in what he's vocalizing. And often times what he's saying sounds silly and meaningless (even though he typically knows what he means, even if we don't).
Of course, his silliness is what I so often love about him. Check out this email he sent me last week:
Subject: Outrangeous Bomb
I was thinking about making one that it is like this:
If it is a mile away from you,you will die.
If it is 25 miles away from you you will die.
If it is 50 miles away from you you will die.
If it is 75 miles away from you you usually will die.
If it is 100 miles away from you you usually won't die.
If it is 125 miles away from you you will feel some heat but not die.
If it is 150 miles away from you you will feel some heat.
If it is 175 miles away from you you usually will feel some heat.
If it is 200 miles away from you you usually won' feel some heat.
If it is 225 miles away from you,it will be fine.
That email is typical Nathan. He's preoccupied with bombs right now, and he's a fiend for numbers in any shape or form. (He first became obsessed with bombs when he saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. That opening scene where the bombs are dropping simply mesmerized him. He'd love to watch that scene over and over, ad nauseam.)
I've heard parents of Asperger/autistic children say that if they could wave a wand and make their kids neurotypical, they would not do it. Even Temple Grandin supposedly said that her autism is part of who she is, therefore she wouldn't change it. I'm torn between wanting a life for Nathan that's "typical," versus celebrating the fact that he's atypical and gifted in so many ways. Like many Asperger/autistic people, he's got an incredible mind -- a mind that can change the world. His mind wouldn't be that way if he were typical. Furthermore, he's probably the happiest person I've ever known; the kid is always happy and smiling. He loves everyone right down to his infant little sister, Evangeline. (I'll often times see Evangeline crying like crazy, screaming her head off, while Nathan is joyfully holding her in his lap, smiling like he can't even hear her earsplitting cries. It's very cool to witness him be that way, so happy and content with his little sister, despite her current mood.)
In the end I want him to understand JESUS' love for him. I want him truly, in the depths of his soul, as much as possible, to comprehend the breadth of God's love. The same God who holds Nathan in his lap, smiling the whole time. For my part I'll keep loving him, one day at a time.
He's easy to love.
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We are now in the ending "end-game" of the year-long healthcare debate and legislative brou-ha-ha. I think this time we really are getting near the end.
So, it's prediction time. Do you think that house will vote on the Senate version of healthcare reform this week? If so, will it pass? Finally do you think this will be a good or a bad thing?
Leave your predictions and opinions in the comments.
I'm on liveblog duty tonight. There'll be a slight delay as I watch my recorded version, but who are we kidding? You're not reading the post live as you watch anyway.
Stay tuned for the brilliance that is LOST and the obliviousness that is my recap . . .
Read the rest of this entry . . .
I'm not jealous of you or your church. Yes, I am one of the many little churches in your shadow, but that doesn't bother me. There are many good reasons that your church has grown to the size that it is. I'm glad that you are reaching people. I'm glad that so many people are worshiping there and that people are coming to know Jesus because of your ministry. There are many things you do right and that you do well, and I know there's a lot I could learn from you.
But there's one thing you may not know. You may not even be aware. Your people are coming to me for pastoral care. No, they are not leaving your church. They still attend your church; they are still members at your church; they still give their time, talents, money and loyalty to your church. (Some have even left my church for yours previously because of your superior ministries and programs.)
But they come to me when they need a pastor. When they need a wedding, they call me, or more often they just drop by and ask in person.
When they need a funeral, they call me.
When they need a special service like a baby dedication, or a baptism, or even a quinceañera, they call me.
When their marriage is in crisis, when their children rebel, when they are depressed or just don't know where else to turn, they come see me.
There are two major reasons for this. (I know because I ask, "Why not go to your own pastor and your own church?")
1- Because I am available. They can just drop in and see me. And if I happen to not be available that particular day, they'll be able to see me within a day or two. I know that you may be available too, but at the very least, you are perceived as being unavailable. In most cases, they assume you are too busy and come see me first. Other times, they don't know you, so seeing me is no different than seeing you, since neither one of us knows them personally. Again, the difference, is that I'm available. I also know that you have many pastors on staff that could be available to them. But for whatever reason, your people don't go to them. (I think because the average layperson doesn't see them as "real pastors", though you and I know this is a misconception.) They come to me.
2- Your sanctuary is too big or too modern. They love your church. They attend your church every week and love the services and they love your preaching and they love the music and they love all the programs your church has to offer. But when they need a place for a funeral or a wedding, or a quinceañera, the 100 or less people they are going to have attend would be dwarfed in your sanctuary. They need a small church atmosphere for their service. And yes, rightly or wrongly, they want it to feel like a "church" for those services that are important milestones in their lives.
Pastor, will you please let me offer some suggestions:
1- Be available. I know you are busy. I also know that if you spent all your time doing counseling, weddings and funerals, you wouldn't be able to do all that God has called you to do. Therefore, you need to publish the times you are available. Let people know when they can see you. Say it from the pulpit. Make them feel like you care about them as individuals and then follow through, as much as you are able. (And if you aren't available for such things at all, it's not because your church is too big, it's because you're too big for your church. Grandpa would have said, "You're too big for your britches.")
2- Have a good pastoral staff. Make sure there is a pastor, an actual ordained minister, assigned to every member of the church. (One per every 100 members ought to do it.) That pastor should know who his people are, and they should know who he is. He should contact them regularly, so that when the crisis time comes and they need him, there is already a relationship. This pastor should be available for weddings, funerals, hospital visits and pastoral counseling. In short, he should actually do for them what an actual pastor does.
3- Build a chapel. You have a large building. Probably you have multiple buildings on a campus. On your next building project, include a small chapel that seats 150-200 people. Make it look like a chapel. Let people book it like crazy. Make its use available to your people.
Now, here's where I have to make sure I'm not being too fleshly in my letter to you: I'm tired of pastoring your people for you. Don't get me wrong. I love your people. I love pastoring them. And the pastor in me loves the opportunity. But you are not doing your job and I think its hurting your people. They need to be able to count on you and your church, or what are you doing? If you really have a pastor's heart, and I believe you do, I thought that you would want to know that a lot of your sheep are having to go elsewhere to have their needs met. One of my mentors in ministry, a very wise pastor who did nothing but pastor small, hurting churches that needed him for 40 years, said this, "If you are not there when they need you, they don't need you."
I want you to know that I try the best that I can. I try to redirect them back to you. Sometimes I'll even downright refuse to help them, because I'm not their pastor. But most of the time, I do that wedding or that funeral. Most of the time I do the crisis counseling when someone's spouse cheats, or when someone is in the hospital. I do it because even if they aren't my sheep, they are Jesus' sheep and they asked. I do it because I hope that you would do the same for my sheep if I were somehow unable.
But it's a widespread problem. I have someone come to me for help from your church at least once a month, and I have someone come to me from one of the other megachurches other than yours once a week. I know you are busy, but so am I. You would help me be more effective as a pastor to the sheep God has called me to, if you would be more effective as a pastor to the sheep God has called you to.
I'd send you this note personally via snailmail or email, but I'm pretty sure it would never make it past one of your staff members to your desk. I'll try anyway...
Here's my final request, from one pastor to another. Please pastor the people God has given you. And if you can't or won't, please send some of your sheep to my church. I'd love to have them.
The general buzz is that passing this healthcare overhaul will be politically disastrous. It is the worst career moves they could make.
But they're still plowing ahead, either oblivious or bullheaded.
And while I think it's bad policy, and while I don't share their politics in general anyway, I kinda have to admire them for sticking to what they think is the right thing to do, consequences be danged.
I wish more politicians, including the ones actually doing the right thing, had that kind of stubbornness of conscience.
The foundations of the man-made global warming "consensus" have cracked even more this week:
More bad news today for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as another of its extravagant ecopocalypse predictions, sourced from green campaigners, has been confirmed as bunk by scientists.
And that news comes on the heels of a report earlier in the week that nearly half of Americans now doubt man-made global warming.
What we appear to have is an inconvenient truth for man-made global warming believers. Yikes! It might not be real! Yikes! We can't force people to give up long-held liberties via the threat of "the day after tomorrow." Yikes! We can't silence the cow farting!
Listen to the original Jack:
Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to talk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ , because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means - the only complete realist.
WOW! What power, what strength, what sheer goodness to resist temptation for a lifetime, that like a snowball down a hill would have only increased in size and intensity. I'll never read the following verse the same way again:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)When I think of it that way, Jesus isn't just good. He isn't just better than us. He's waaay gooder than I ever realized.
Tragic ends to young "stars". Funny we call them that, perhaps we should call them all "falling stars" - shining bright for a moment, before burning up and burning out.
Corey Haim died today.
Corey Haim, the former teen idol who rose to fame in 1980s classics 'The Lost Boys,' 'Lucas' and 'License to Drive,' died Wednesday morning of an apparent accidental drug overdose in Burbank, Calif., the LAPD has confirmed to several media outlets. He was 38. Local news station KTLA is reporting that Haim was found in an Oakwood apartment believed to belong to his mother, who was at home at the time and called emergency responders. TMZ is reporting that four prescription drug bottles were found nearby, and that he had been gripped by flu-like symptoms in recent days.So sad. I always liked Corey. (His performance in "Lucas" was genius. In my opinion, his career path should have gone the way of DiCaprio's or even Jason Patric or Kiefer Sutherland.) But all that doesn't matter now in the face of eternity.
Coroner Lt. Cheryl MacWillie told reporters that Haim died at 2:15 a.m. at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending.
Andrew Koenig died last month. Here's Kirk Cameron's response.
“At a time like this, we are all reminded of the briefness of life and the importance of being ready for our eternal destination,” Cameron said in a statement. “My prayers will continue to be with Andrew’s family.”How many of these current and past "stars" are depressed, lost and hopeless, looking for solace in every empty thing the world has to offer?
The 41-year-old Koenig — most famous for playing the role of “Boner,” Cameron’s best friend on the ’80s sitcom — had been missing since mid-February. After an extensive search, the actor’s body was discovered Feb. 24 in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. His father, Walter Koenig (who played the original Chekov in multiple Star Trek projects) said his son, who had a history of depression, committed suicide.
What was will be again,
what happened will happen again.
There's nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it's the same old thing.
Does someone call out, "Hey, this is new"?
Don't get excited—it's the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody'll remember them either.
Don't count on being remembered.
Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 (The Message)
What do you think "the point" of this parable is? Biblical Scholars have various opinions.
Matthew 20 - The Parable of the Workers in the VineyardHere are my opinions:
1"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3"About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' 5So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'
7" 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. "He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'
8"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' 9"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
13"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
16"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
1. The Parable Is About Grace. If anything, it's showing that grace isn't "fair". What we get is undeserved. Grace is the value of the Kingdom.
2. The reaction of those hired first mirrors that of the Elder Brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. And I think that's an interpretive key. The Elder Brother is jealous of all the grace that gets poured out on his little brother. Do we get jealous of those who "receive more grace" than we do?
3. Question: Is it Biblically and theologically correct to say that some people receive (or require) more grace than others? If so, who would those people be?
What do you think?