Monday, March 30, 2009

A few quick thoughts on the Red River flood

I spent a few days in Fargo this weekend helping out with the flood. Some observations:

1) Both frisbee golf courses are under probably 15 feet of water.
2) Rivers that flow north are less than ideal.
3) I got several free meals for helping in the sandbagging effort. I will do almost anything for a free meal.
4) It's crazy to see how much life is interrupted for a city during an event such as this.
5) I believe that we people of the upper Midwest stack up against anyone when it comes to pulling together when things need to get done.
6) A few thousand people in the Fargodome with ample supplies can make a lot of sandbags really quick.
7) God is sovereign.
8) The last two times I've been up to Fargo: Blizzard and -25 degrees, and biggest flood in history. I need a new vacation spot.

For more on the flood, check out Caleb's blog.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

So this is depravity

I've been thinking a lot lately about what Satan says in Job 2. We all know the context of the passage: in chapter 1, Satan is allowed to take all of Job's possessions and his children, yet Job's reaction is "'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." (1:21-22)

This brings us to chapter 2. God points out Job's response to Satan, and Satan responds. "Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face."

This is coming from Satan, so it shouldn't be a surprise, but this has to be one of the most wicked statements in Scripture. I agree that it is better to lose possessions and retain your health, but Job had lost many servants, and all of his children. What a wicked thing to imply, that a man will sacrifice anything for his own life, even the lives of others. Even the lives of his children.

And God help us, it's true. Better him than me. Most of us wouldn't go so far as to say it, but haven't we all felt it? I have. To my shame, I have. Cancer. Better them than me. Loss of job. Better them than me. Embarrassment, pain, brokenness, failure, poverty. Better them than me.

I should clarify. When something bad happens to someone else, we can be thankful for the blessings we have. Going to a funeral should cause you to give thanks for the people you love. Visiting a friend in the hospital should cause you to value your own health.

I'm talking about the voice that says "If it had to be someone, I'm sure glad it wasn't me."

So this is depravity.

It shouldn't surprise us that this is Satan's point of view. Or that it is the inclination of our hearts.

Rom. 11:33 "Oh, the depths of the riches and widsom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!"

Rom. 5:6-8 "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Skin for skin. Christ's perfect, righteous, holy body for our dirty, worthless, undeserving corpses.

Freed from the curse of self-preservation.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Today I'm thankful...

For Psalm 34:19.

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all."

Major or minor, internal or external.

a) knows about our afflictions
b) is not surprised by them
c) delivers us from them.

I could say more, but I think the verse speaks for itself.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Yesterday at church, the sermon text was 1 John 1:5-2:2. The pastor focused on 2:1 "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

The pastor made the observation that Christians often fall into two categories regarding their sin: some take their sin far too lightly, not acknowledging God's holiness and abhorrence of all sin. Others are consumed by their sin, racked by guilt, and unable to accept God's forgiveness through Christ.

1 John 2:1 deals with both sets of believers. The God-inspired words given to John in this epistle are "so that you may not sin." When we encounter the truth of God's word, we are given no room to harbor our sin. And when we do sin, "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Christ's death on the cross for our sin removes all doubt whether we can be forgiven.

So how should we treat sin in our lives? We must take the attitude of Paul, who both acknowledged the gravity of his sin, and the surpassing power of Christ to cleanse us from our iniquity:

Romans 7:24-25 "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

That's fair

I wouldn't describe myself as a person who's overly concerned with his appearance. I own four grey Melrose Pyrotechnics shirts, and I'm wearing one right now for at least the third day in a row.

That being said, I secretly harbor my share of vanity. A few weeks ago it manifested itself. I was getting ready for church, and I looked in the mirror and thought "Hm. Not bad. I just got a haircut, trimmed the beard, this is a stylish sweater. I'm pretty easy on the eyes." I was quite satisfied with myself.

I get to church, find Guy, Cassie, and Kyle, and we find our seats. A few minutes in, Guy leans over and whispers "You've got toothpaste on your face."

Thanks Lord. Humility is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It is what it is

I promised pictures, and I'm a man of my word. Except for those times when I'm not.

Picture 1: "Honestly officer, I only had two beers..."

Picture 2: "That's what they all say. Turn around and put your hands on the car. You have the right to remain silent..."

*Editor's note: Mustache has since been removed, and is now wandering around somewhere with my self-respect.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

February is no more, March just came in like a lamb. Time to see how I did and to start anew.

February goals:

1. begin memorizing Ephesians
Haven't started this one yet. I'm having trouble getting up the nerve.

2. stay on track with fighter verses (so far so good)
So far so good. Hopefully as I get more used to this I can start up Ephesians.

3. clean my room (seriously, it's time)
Half done with this, thus half bold. Bought a shelf, had some help rearranging it, got the computer hooked up (but no internet yet, my tech support/landlord/Andy has run into some difficulties.), and now just need to finish organizing everything. Should be done in a few days.

4. look into opening another savings account
Hasn't happened yet. Maybe with my next pay check.

5. position myself to be 100% ready for mustache march
100% success. Pictures to come.

6. blog 10 times (including this one)
Only got to 8, and two were pretty much throw aways. I overreached a bit there.

7. find out whether I have been accepted at Bethlehem (this one won't take work on my part, but nevertheless)
Found out all right. See previous post.

8. finish reading Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn and at least one other book
Read it, loved it, plan to blog about it. Also read several other books. This went well.

9. continue going to Tuesday morning prayer at Bethlehem
This has gone well also. One of the highlights of my week.

So there you have it. 5 1/2 out of 9. Not terrible, but I can do better.

Goals for March:

1. Keep up with fighter verses (I figure if I succeed with this for one more month, I won't have to explicitly make it a goal again, it will have become habitual enough.)

2. Blog 9 times. The month's a few days longer, I have no reason not to hit that mark.

3. Look into the possibilities of joining a summer softball league, ideally with Bethlehem. (It's been a dream of mine for a number of years, and since I'm not at Camp this summer, it feels like the fullness of time.)

4. Look into joining a disc golf club.

5. Open that savings account, dang it.

6. Hang out with Charles and Sarah and the babies.

7. Read at least 5 nonfiction books (I have them picked out, and they aren't that long, so it's doable.)

8. Read at least 5 chapters of Grudem's Systematic Theology, and come up with a plan to read the rest of it.

9. Make a plan to start paying off student loans.

10. Get my sweatpants back. Guy is the biggest dummy I know.

11. Read 3 books for fun from the library. (Yeah, I have a library card. And a mustache, what do you expect?)

I think that's enough. Thanks for indulging me.