Well, it's official. My trusty lawn mower of nine years has been declared dead. I took it too the shop (finally) today. It had a bent shaft and the estimate to repair it was as much, or very near, the cost to replace it. After thinking it over, and consulting with my love, we decided to just replace it. It was a very good lawn mower and even after all of these years it started right up on the first pull - even after it had been sitting all winter. Well, this is just another expense that I am concerned about this year. Bith of our cars are having issues. Mine has a "check engine" light that comes on. I've had the codes checked and I keep getting cylinder miss fires. I've replaced the plugs and now the air filter. I've checked other things. If it comes on once more I will have to take it to a service department and I know that will run me a couple of hundred dollars. On our minivan the temp gauge shows periodic spikes in heat. I've had this worked on last year and it's already cost me a few hundred dollars. My next step here is to finally replace the thermostat - which I wanted replaced last year but the mechanic would not listen to me - and get the radiator flushed. All of this just as I am on the fence about finally retiring from the National Guard. I already have concerns about my budget and if I am to retire from the Guard I will lose over $300 a month. I already have heard, and already know, that it is God to whom I look for the finances. I have been praying and praying about what to do and for the most part it feels that God has been silent. For now I will keep praying and seeking, but until I know for sure I will have to do what I feel best for the family and my role as Husband, Father, priest, and providor. Verse for today: Psalm 111, esv Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
I finally met someone I know (in person) who actually reads my blog! It was cool, and disconcerting all at the same time. Almost immediately I found myself thinking back wondering about the things I've written about. :) In the end, I think it's pretty cool. And he was very encouraging. :) Yesterday was a long day. I had a mandatory drill day yesterday. Although it's inconvienient, in the end it is sort of an honor to be able to do this to celebrate our countries veterans. In my opinion it's not just for the military either. It is for all those who set aside their personal intrests in order to serve the country as a whole. Firemen, policemen, forest service, Coast Guard, merchant marines, etc. I think celebrating such service in for the good of others is a good thing. For our part we had about a dozen and half guys and three howitzers. It was only a couple of miles (3 at most) and end the end of the parade route we pulled into the local cemetery and performed a 21 gun salute. It went off spelndidly. Every five seconds - BOOM! I was a little self consious during the parade though. All along the route there were people clapping and saying thank you. Now I know people tell me that what I've done is a good thing, but I don't feel that I've done all that much. I did say thank you back though. :) After the parade and the salute was over we received a call from a small group of guys that we send to a VFW about 30 miles down the road every year. For some reason the FDC section gets this mission every year. No walking, and they get a free meal and a bonus case at thend end. In any event they didn't send any 13B's with them (cannon crewmen). The howitzer was not firing properly and I was sent to get them a spare firing pin. When I got there the firing pin looked fine, but upon inspection the breech seemed to be malfunctioning. Well they hadn't brought any tools with them so it was an intersting endeavor to get this very heavy block of metal pulled out, and the breech repaired. In the end it all worked out well. Once all of that was done I was able to get home by 3:30. I wanted to take a nap pretty bad because of having to get up early and then doing the parade and fixing the howitzer in the sun and heat. I did get a nap, but it was one of those that even though you've been out for 20 - 30 minutes you'd swear that you had just closed your eyes. But it was time to get to a friend's house where we had been invited to come over for a BBQ. They had planned a get together for their care group and they invited us to come along as well. We've known them for over 13 years, and God recently brought them back to the area. Their oldest son has also been diagnosed with a 'high functioning' form of autism. They are in the process of learning about the disorder, and those kinds of things. In the years to come I think it will be good to work with each other as we both navigate the school system and society in general. :) Well, I need to wrap this up for now. I hope you all had a great, grace filled, and peacful Memorial Day weekend. Verse for today: Romans 1:8-17, esv First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers,  that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,  both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,  as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 
He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:10-13, esv) How often have I struggled with some decision? I'm not talking about what shirt to buy, or if I need to fill up the car before the weekend. Decisions that affect my life, and possibly those around me. How do we ever truly know what we are hearing is of the Lord? For me there are times I feel a definete impression if you will. I need to do this or that. But often, there are times when I pray I feel (or hear) nothing, nada, zilch. I am 'left' to make a decision based on what I already know about the situation and God's Word. Many, many years ago I was infatuated with a young lady. I was a Christian, she was a Christian, we seemed to enjoy the same things. I prayed and prayed, and took long walks about what to do. Well, in hindsight, I realize now that I never really heard from the Lord on what to do. So one morning after we had participated in setting up for the service I approached her to tell her of my feelings - only to have her tell me that she was not in the same place. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. But this led to more prayer, and more long walks. But it helped me grow. Eventually the Lord brought me to the woman whom I was going to marry. Five years ago I was a t a crossroads with the Guard. I was due to get out, but I had already put in fifteen years. And what about providing for my family? Yet another decision making time where it was very, very hard to make a decision and hear the will of the Lord. One last example, in 1999 my family was floundering in teh church we were going to. We were seeing things that we did not feel comfortable bringing our children up around. We ended up moving while all of our friends stayed at the church we left. In each of these example I had to get alone with the Lord. Remove myself from the daily grind of day to day living. I'd like to say that in each of these examples God shone His face upon me. That His directions was clear and absolute. But the truth is, in examples one and two I heard very little. It was more of a time to spend with my Heavenly Father. Oh, He spoke to me about somethings, but it took time. Our God is not some distant God who sits in His temple afar and cares not for the creation of man. Our God is a God of relationships. He initiates, He speaks, He bends the knee to look His children in the face, he stoops to hold and protect. We speak of climbing into the Savior's lap - but the reality of it all is that He bends down and lifts up into His arms. The world is a loud, chaotic, and violent place. But His Word shows us that if we are to hear what He has for us. We have to listen for His voice in the stillness of our hearts. Not that He cannot be loud (read Exodus) and heard when He desires to be. But He is powerful enough to be heard when He buts whisper, and if we learn to tune our ears, we can hear His powerful whisper above the din of the world. Because to be honest, we could not bear to hear his full throated voice. We would crumble like dust before Him. Rejoice in His mercy for not revealing Himself fully, and enjoy the quietness of His whispers as you spend time with Him. Verse for today: Mark 1:35-39, esv And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. & Luke 9:18-20, esv Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
Well, today I am finally getting off my duff and getting checked out for Lyme Disease. Over the weekend I spoke to a guy who got it pretty bad a couple of years ago. It pretty much took him out of work (or so I'm told). Without telling him I aksed him what some of the syptoms where that he experienced. Mood swings (he even mentioned that they coincided with his wife's cycle), cronic neck pain, muscle twitches/spasms, fatigue (from minor to barely able to stay awake), muscle cramps. Since last summer/fall I've had most of them pretty much in some degree all the time. Lately they've been getting worse. I've researched Lyme disease and to be honest I am not 100% sure, but then I know I am not faking these things. So as a piece of mind I'm heading out to my doctor to get the tests done. Sorry that today's blog is so brief. I am praying for God to provide insight and wisdowm for the doctors, and that whatever they decide to test for He would show what is really there. Verse for today: Psalm 121, esv I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more.
Well, my lawn mower died last night. Well, I'm not sure if it's off to the morgue for it just yet. My first cut of the season I managed to hit a water company pipe cap that I had forgotten was there. I had thought the mower had won that encounter since it started back up, and the iron cap was in about 6 pieces. Last night I was cutting around the back, and I hit something unseen. A rock probably. I never did find out what I had hit. But shortly thereafter it started to sound like it was running out of gas, and it eventually just stopped working. Oh, it will start now, but will not remain running. *sigh* The image that is coming to my mind right now is a bent valve. Not sure why really. I've never worked on small engines, or even larger ones other than to perform a 'tune up' (ah remember the days of cap and rotors). Well, I made a few phone calls, ok a lot of phone calls, last night and managed to find only 2 places still open at 5:45. One of them did not service my brand of lawn mower, and the other was closed for the evening and would be closed all day today. I know the grass cutting season is in full swing, but what ever happened to working during hours when your customer need you! Ok, I'm over reacting here. Especially since the world does not revolve around me. :) I will just have to find a way to drop off the mower tomorrow. I have no ide what to expect. I just hope that it will be less than the cost to replace the old thing. It's seven years old, but up until last night it still started on the first pull every time. Well, that is what you get at 'samurai's dojo' folks. Thoughts of God one day, and the death of a lawn mower the next. :D May God's grace be felt by all who wonder to this page. :) Verse for today: Matthew 6:19-24, esv Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust  destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 
Ever feel like everything is going great, and then - usually - soon after it all goes to ground? Like you feel like very little is going right and that at any moment the ground is going to give way and swallow you up like those who oposed God and Moses. It is important that you know God is the God of valleys as well as the God of mountain tops. As His word proclaims He will never leave you, not forsake you. While you are in those valleys hold on to His robes as He guides you. His staff will light the way, the merest touch of His garments brings healing. Although the storm brings rain and wind, listen for the whisper of His voice to guide you through. When you are in doubt you can ask Him to prove that He is 'I am', and not the enemy of your soul. But when He tells you to 'get out of the boat' do not look to the wind and the waves. Keep your eyes locked upon your Savior and you will not sink beneath the waves. Rest assured that when the enemy of your soul seeks to 'sift you' he is limited by your God. "You may go this far and no farther" our Heavenly Father will say to him. And if the end of the valley leads to death upon this soil, the gate beyond leads to the One who will welcome you to your real home. And He will do it with open arms and the best clothes, upon the highest of mountain tops. And when we are on the mountain top take a moment to enjoy the view. Gaze upon the majesty of His creation. Wonder at what He is showing you. But do not turn away from the One who brought you to such a magnificent place. Drop to your knees in praise and give glory to Him. The mountain top is usually a place of rest from such a journey as I eluded to above. A respit from danger and trouble. Enjoy the rest and the peace. Enjoy the chance to be with your God in such a place, for it is but an appitizer to the joys you will partake of for millinium upon millinium. Shout, dance, give praise and glory. This journey upon the Earth is but a blink in light of eternity, and yet it feels like it is such a long road. Never take your eyes off of the Savior and before you know it, you will be in His arms enjoying His perfect fellowship forever and ever. Verse for today: Matthew 25:14-30, esv “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants  and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents,  to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I was kind of stuck on what to title today's blog. Well as a default I just put in what I did. My reserve weekend was pretty uneventful, but the days were long. Friday began at 4:30 AM, and went until 9:30 PM - a fairly early evening by comparison of what I am used to. Saturday went from 4:45 AM until 11:30 PM - more like what I am used to. And Sunday went from 5:00 AM until 10:30 last night. I am feeling a bit run down today. The weekend was for the howitzer sections to be certified as a section. That is, does each member of the section know how to perform their resepective jobs with an emphasis on safety. It was also my first weekend as an evaluator and not an evaluatee. I gained a new perspective on just how fortunate I was to have the section I had. I evaluated three different sections and none of them passed the entire certification process - although one did on their retest with another evaluator. They each worked hard, and well together, but it was the little things that added up. Forgetting to write something down here, not getting all of the forms down, not performing the actions in the correct sequence (and it does matter on some things), or not performing the actions correctly. I don't think I was overly critical. I know I allowed something minor slip with just a minor comment - if it was not a safety issue. But I never received feedback from the sections that I worked with. And I know I was not the toughest evaluator out there. "The Man" in the battalion (that is all I will refer to him as here) is incredibly nit picky - and he does not miss much. He was my evaluator 2 out of the 3 years I had to certify as a chief. After seeing how it is done from the other side I have a new appreciation (and I told my former section members this in person) of what exactly they did, and how well they did it . Especially last year where we scored and 858 out of a possible 883 points. Other than the tedium of certifying, retraining, etc. it was an overall nice weekend. A long drive (150 miles), gorgeous weather, low intensity, good pace of artillery fires (once the sections passed they emplaced and fired rounds), and I got to pull the lanyard on a couple of fire missions on what could possibly be my last field weekend. And the highlight (for me) was meeting another Christian in the battery. He is a new kid, assigned to us from the local college R.O.T.C. program. I did not get to know him much, but being the only Christian in the unit can get kind of lonely. Well I am going to wrap up for today, but I did want to let you all know that my son with Asbergers will be able to go to a school that can better provide for him next year. God moved mightly and quickly in this case. I fully expected this 'fight' to last, maybe even into (or through) the next school year. Not much else to report. Thank you to each of you who pray for me. I don't know what I would do with out them. Please continue. :) Matthew 15:21-28, esv And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. 
Well, I have just allowed myself to get too busy and I have not refreshed my self and reviewed Chapter 5 of C.J. Mahaney's book The Cross Centered Life in time for my final blog entry for this week. I really wanted to keep up with this faithfully, and I have not been faithful in this task. I appologize to those that were looking for this week's entry. It has been a such a crazy week, both at work and at home, that my mind is just swimming. Add to the fact that I've recently changed my diet a little and I know it has been affecting me. As a result my mind feels foggy, and I am feeling a tad run down. One thing I would like to post about before I log off from my blog today is the whole whirlwind surrounding the book and movie by the title "The Da Vinci Code". This is another example of people taking things at face value and absorbing it, and taking it as truth, when they have not done the footwork on their own to research it. I implore everyone to read and study the basis of such claims before taking them for face value. The sad thing is, is that the book claims to have basis in truth - but when it is searched out, the pillars of the entire thesis are built upon sand. Assumptions, and conclusions that are not supported. One organization that has really inspired me to do such things has been "The Christian Research Institute". I love to listen to their radio program "The Bible Answer Man", and although I sometimes find the host to come across as arrogant - and a lot of times it feels like they are just trying to sell something - the materials they have are fantastic. Side note: The church I was saved into is a wonderful teaching church. I believe I have rang this bell before, but one thing that bothered me about the people of that church also displayed an air of arrogance. I will not go into details here, but visitors were often met with the impression that if they were not attending that church they were somehow missing out on the best. And perhaps it is true, but we need to safe guard against such impressions. If anything no church is perfect. The more we learn of God, the more we must realize how much inferior we actually are. Humilty should be a dominant trait of a Christian IMO. Shameless plug: I have a new story posted over at my Yarns page. Verse for today: Matthew 7:12-28, esv So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy  that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
I have a 3 day drill this weekend. Meaning I will report @ 06:30 Friday morning and get released about 17:00 Sunday afternoon. We will be doing section certifications and a live fire all in the same weekend. The goal is actually to put rounds down range Friday afternoon. A tad ambitious IMO, but in reality should be achievable. I know the men of Alpha Battery are up for the task, even if their own confidence is not there. We've been hit pretty hard in the strength department. With the reorg of the battalion, a partial deployment, and the regular turmoil of people getting out and new bodies coming in. We are only fielding two sections for certification this year. And they are a patchwork of the other sections. I know I should not be this way, but I am really not looking forward to this weekend. My church is having a recreation day that is an absolute blast. Canoeing, swimming, slide for life, horeshoes, volley ball, etc. and I am going to miss it. Five out of the next eight weekends I will be in uniform at least one of the days. As I get closer to my 20th anniversary of being a soldier I am getting more and more anxious to submit the retirement letter. And I know it's a bit premature. The military is notoriously slow and I can see not getting the 20yr letter until this fall. But I cannot help but think about all the things I've missed in my almost 14 years of marriage. Not to mention all of the church related activites... *sigh* I am longing to be done. I am proud of my service, and I know I will miss it when it is all said and done... but it is my time. Verse for today: Proverbs 13:12-24, esv Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. Good sense wins favor,but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.  In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly. A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful envoy brings healing. Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored. A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools. Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Disaster  pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous. The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice. Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.  The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,but the belly of the wicked suffers want.
My mind is a total blank on what to blog about today... so ramblings it is... Later this afternoon I will be going with my wife and son to his doctor's appointment for his autism. We continue to struggle with the school that he is going to. Yesterday my beloved met with my son's teacher and the school's supposed autistim specialist. Both told my wife and the state autism specialist that my son makes wilfull choices. That he is choosing to be bad. The state woman than said, "yes, that's exactly it. He does make those choices because it is how is can control 'his world' - BUT, he is not processing his thoughts like you or I do." That was such a blessing for my wife to hear. There were a few more things that went on, but that was the biggest releaf. I am going to the doctor's office to express my concerns. My son takes his meds, and it has helped, but at night while he is home is a pinball in contant motion. And I am not exagerating here. Unless I tell him to sit still (which only lasts for a few minutes) he is in perpetual motion. I have heard of one type of med that causes this, and has the potential of doing some harm long term. I am not sure this is the one or not... but I am concerned. I have to trust in God - that He is giving the doctor sufficient wisdom and insight. On another note... my church had their monthly 'biblical community' (BC) leadership meeting. Maybe this is indicative of most churches across America, but we cannot even get all of the BC leaders to attend these meetings, let alone a sizeable percentage of the church to attend a BC. We are of sufficent size that these small groups are the only decent way of ensuring that those whom God has brought into the congregation will ever really get ministered to. It's just not possible for the Pastor to meet with everyone whom goes into the hospital, every marriage that is struggling, ever person who is struggling with sin, or is 'just' experiencing a small crisis. Even the Biblical model shows deligation of the individual members to small group leaders (who in turn are appointed by, and responsible to, elders/sub-leaders). I have heard of a small movement for small home based churches. I am seeing the need for this in that I feel the church as a whole (and this is a total generalization here) is not taking care of the sheep within their flocks. I used to attend a church that had a membership in excess of 3500. They had from their inception (early '80's) supported and encouraged small groups. I am a supporter of the local church and those in turn being connected to a 'governing' body, but somewhere along the line of history we Christians have really conveluted the whole deal. Just like in politics I am not sure we will ever reconsolidate until the Lord unifies us when He returns. I believe that a local church can be of any size when it is properly led and cared for. From a score to over 10k people if that is how God is feeding his people in that congregation. but I am seeing that my role and responsibilities as a small group leader include maintaining contact and being a part of the people in my groups lives. This is an area that I have not been very faithful about. Let's see, what else. Oh yes... one thing that came to my mind last night. I am praying for insight and diligence in regards to something that may be an idol in my life. I am a huge fan of The Marriage Bed on-line ministry and community. Paul and Lori have been very instrumental in bringing what I feel to be a Biblical view point of what Christian sexuality is to be like. For those that are married, or are engaged to be married soon (IMO < 6 months), I believe it can be a place of healing; learning; growing, and uniting. I know for me it has been. But what I am concerned about, and it is strictly within my own life, is that the area of initmacy in my marriage can become an idol in my life. By this I mean - if it is consuming my thoughts, and my moods are based off of how close I have been with my wife - instead of my relationship with God, I am on dangerous ground IMO. Such closeness is a gift from God. But if I my relationship with my Savior is impacted by my relationship with my wife, then I am placing her before Him - and that is me essentially placing an idol before God. Now, by God's grace, this has not become a huge issue. God has been doing many wonderful things within my marriage (and TMB has been the predominant source). I have seen such a huge change between my beloved and myself - and our relationship with Christ - in just the last 14 months or so. I believe God is preparing us (my wife and I) for some sort of marriage ministry - but only time will tell. In the meantime I get to enjoy a tighter knitting of the three strands that make up my marriage - husband, wife, and Christ. Well, I have rambled on long enough. May the Lord's hand of grace and peace be upon each of you this beautiful day. :) Verse for today: Hebrews 10:19-31, esv Therefore, brothers,  since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
1st I would like to wish any Mother's that happen to stumble upon this humble blog a belated Happy Mother's Day! As a husband and father I have seen 1st hand what it takes to be a mother. While I was growing up I saw what it took for a single mother as well. God has indeed bestowed upon women in general, and mothers in particular, an extra portion of grace and skill sets. I do not say that to try and "push off" any responsibilities or to provide an excuse for laziness. I am just consistantly amazed at all that mothers do. May God grant each of you continued peace and grace as you continue your in your role as mother to those whom He has entrusted you. May each little one bring you a special joy and may they grow up calling you blessed. Yesterday, as expected, my church had a special Mother's Day service. One part included a reference to the book I Will Love You Forever. (I hate this book because it makes me cry.) Well, the reference brought back several memories of the things my mother did for me. She fought to get custody after the divorce. She would put my brother and I on a bus from the local church every Sunday so we could attend Sunday school. She sought out a "nanny" if you will to take care of us during the week (we would go to stay with them) while she worked two or three jobs to make ends meet. She always tried to make sure we had the clothes that we needed. She made sure I had my glasses updates almost every year. She would buy us things like a computer when they became somewhat affordable (A Commodore 64 in my case). She flew down for my graduation from basic training. One year when she was having a hard time finding a place to live she had us stay with some cousins in Athens, WV where we spent the summer. My childhood was no picnic, but I saw evidences of how much my mother loved and tried her best to care for me. She was no saint, nor a very good mother (IMO), but she did try, and she did love me "more than tongue can tell". But I would not trade it for anything. God used my mother to bring people into her life, into my life, that were believers and had an influence upon me. From the "nanny" mentioned above, her putting me on that bus to go to Sunday school, getting us involved in a youth outreach from a local baptist church, familes of men she would date that took their Christianity seriously, to my cousins in WV. Each in their own way was used by God - both intentionally by my mother, and unintentionally as God would interviene. In the end I believe she found the Savior, but I will not know for sure this side of the "pearly gates". She too had a hard life, and as I said she may have not done the best job. But she was my mother, and she still exhibited the God given evidences of grace that are shown through being a mother. I miss her deeply, and wish I could call her to wish her a happy Mother's Day. Verse for today: Proverbs 31:26-31, esv She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Well, I am taking tomorrow off so that I may spend the day with my beloved - with no children! I love my childredn dearly, but there are times I just need one-on-one time with the wife my Lord has blessed me with. So in light of that I am posting my ramblings on Chapter 4 of The Cross Centered Life today instead of tomorrow. :) In this chapter C.J. addresses the "luggage" of condemnation. How many of us have carried the weight of some things (un)said or (not) done? How about missing a quiet time once, or twice (or a week)? What about the homeless man you passed on the way to work today without giving anything. Or how about this one, a sin issue that you've been struggling with rears its ugly head and you give in to the temptation yet again? Some helpful questions posed by C.J. are (1):
* Do you relate to God as if were on a kind of permanent probation, suspecting that at any moment He may haul you back into the jail cell of His disfavor?
* When you come to worship do you maintain a "respectful distance from God, as if He were a fascinating but ill-tempered celebrity known for lashing out at His fans?
* When you read Scripture does it reveal the boundless love of the Savior or merely intensify your condemnation?
* Are you more aware of your sin than you are of God's grace, given you through the cross?For me the last two questions are the ones that hit closest to home. C.J. points out, and I whole heartedly agree, that "some of us have been carrying so much, for so long, that we think it's normal to go through life weighted down."(2) This book has been so helpful in pointing out that this is not necessary, nor is it helpful to live in such a condition! C.J. uses the example of the woman who came and washed Jesus' feet with her tears and hair (Luke 7:35-50) to help illustrate his point. Now my initial reaction was that this was a reinforcing example of using condemntation in our worship of Jesus. But as I continued to read I saw what he was trying to show. This woman was not living in condemnation of her sins. She was there to rejoice and worship her Savior. These were not tears of frustration and guilt but of joy and reverance. The freedom she was experiencing from her sin had moved her to action, to draw near to the Savior - she was not pulling away in shame, but drawning near. We all sin, 1 John reminds us, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." & "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." The fact is that to some degree sin is a daily occurance. And the enemy of our souls is so good at his craft of accusation. So good that we will believe and start to replicat his efforts on our own. It is when we do this we spiral down and feel far from God. I want to insert here another useful saying I've heard from C.J. - "we need to get much better at talking to ourselves, than listening to ourselves." We MUST remember that the cross is objective our minds are subjective. Recently I heard a "special report" on Joel Osteen and his church - Lakewood Church in Houston texas. is philosphy (from what limited exposure I have actually had to it) is that we should not beat people down with condemnation. Our message as Christians is one of hope and joy. Now, I want to say here that I feel this man is a man of God and that God is blessing his ministry abundantly - that souls are being saved, and lives are being changed. There are many charismatic leaders of mega-churches that are leading people astray of the gospel, but I have not seen any indication that this occuring at his church. My only point in using him as a comparison is this - if we are to experience the depth of joy and gratefulness for what Christ has accomplished on the cross is to feel the depth of our depravity. The Bible is quiet clear that we are sinners. That, apart from Christ, we could never approach God. Weaping and nashing of teeth is what is described when we are apart from God. Once we realize this it gives us fresh appreciation of our true position once we have accepted Christ. There is un-expressable joy and freedom. I could never add to Luke 7:47, "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (esv). "Here's how to beat condemnation. Confess your sins to God. Then believe in Him. Exercise the gift of faith God has given you to believe that Jesus died for the very sins you're being condemned for. The punishment He received was for you. His resurection is proff that God accepted Jesus' sacrifice. The sins of your past and the sin you just commited were all attoned for; you need not carry the weight no more. You can't do it. That's why Jesus did it for you." (3) Let us rejoice with Paul and say with him "I was shown mercy si that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who believe in him and receive eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:16) (1) C.J. Mahanney, (Multinomah 2002: The Cross Centered Life), pg. 39 (2) C.J. Mahanney, (Multinomah 2002: The Cross Centered Life), pg. 38 (3) C.J. Mahanney, (Multinomah 2002: The Cross Centered Life), pg. 43
This morning I was reflecting on the region where I've grown up. I was born in Washington D.C. and for the majority of my years I have really lived in and around that city. However, my heart really lies north of that city. For the past 20+ years I've predominately lived in what is termed "western Maryland" - but that is really a mis-representation. I will not go into that, but essentially if you are not from around Baltimore, or the shore, than you are from "western Maryland". Don't get me started... :D Anyway, one day when I was flying back from a National Guard AT (2 week training), the C-130 we were flying in landed in Frederick, MD. My unit was 'nestled' in the mountain range near Ft. Ritchie (a now closed army post) in a very dilapitated 'compound' (6 of 8 buldings were condemned, and the remaining 2 were considered 'essential, so...). Anyway, I digress. The bus headed north out of Frederick and I was just struck by how much this region felt like home. Not just the Frederick area, but Braddock Mountain, South Mountain, the Cumberland Gap, the Shanendoah Valley... it is like God has wrapped His arms around me through this region. I have enjoyed studying the history (predominantly the Civil War history), and I have learned that the paternal part of my family tree can trace it's migratory routes initiating from Jamestown, VA throughout Virginia (including a lot of what is now West Virginia), down into Kentucky and Tennessee, but even closer to my bloodline on up through what is the eastern panhandle of WV, Cumberland, on into Ohio. I have had the pleasure of some travel (usually through the Guard), but this region is where God has helped me feel like I am at home - at least until I am called to my permenant home. How my mind drifted to this point this morning was that I was thinking and praying about a church plant that is about to take place in Frederick, MD. I had lived in that city for six years, and I distinctly remember feeling called to that city to help plant a church there. There are a lot of churches already there, but I felt that God really wanted to bring a Sovereign Grace church to that area. S.G. ministries really has a heart for sharing the gospel, extolling Biblicval principles, and developing local churches. Well, two years ago I was still struglling to get more deeply involved with my church. My family was just too far away (at the time we were driving to Gaithersburg, MD - a 35 min. drive each way - for corporate meetings) and I wanted my children to be involved with me. I could not afford moving closer to the church - as anyone who lives in Montgomery County knows, housing is expensive. So I prayed about it and one thing led to another and I moved my family to where we are today. We no longer attend a Sovereign Grace church, but I know God is using the church where we are at now to develop us into the image of His Son. I rejoiced when I learned that S.G. ministries would be planting a local church in Frederick, MD. C.J. Mahaney, Robin Boisvert, John Loftness, Joe Lee, Kenneth Maresco, Gary Riccuci, Grant Laymen, Bob Kauflin, and Chris Silard have been men that have had a deep impact upon my life. As a brand new Christian I remember being introduced to C.J. and I felt kind of ackward (he was at lunch with his family, sorry C.J. for the interuption), but he was very kind. Grant and Kenneth were men who discipled me early on. Gary was the one who baptised me (what an awesome day that was!). I was just getting to know Joe and Chris when I moved away. Bob's worship and preaching moved me in many ways, and not just emotionally. It did not matter which man preached on any given Sunday - there was always word for me. I doubt many of these men would know my name if I were to walk up to them out of the blue. Though I am sure I would be surprised that more than I would have expected would know my name - but it is not because of me, it was because they each took their job as a pastor seriously and were geniuenly intrested in those that God had brought to them. If any of these men were to read this I would want them to know how deeply greatful I am to them for what God has done through them in my life. I am the man, husband, father, and small group leader because of their faithfulness in being men of God and godly examples. I doubt they will ever read this humble little blog, but thank you very much - words cannot fully express my greatfulness. I believe God is well pleased in what they have done, are doing, and will be about in the future. Verse for today: Psalm 139:1-12, esv O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
Well, I have been wondering what to post about today - nothing new, eh? Anyway my oldest has been trying to get ready for our visit to his cousins in Texas next month. Last year his cousins gave him their cast off "Yu Gi Oh" cards and since then he has drawn his younger brother into the fray. They've spent some of their money (birthday, allowance, etc.) on more cards. Even once asking me to order some for them on-line, etc. Well they are both pretty intrested in having me play games with them. I've just never gotten into the game. So one day my oldest asks me, "well what card game would you like to play"? I told him I'd look around and see. Well I cam e upon a now out of print game called "Netrunner". Now for me, a geek, Netrunner is an ideal game. :) Since then I've sought out some cards here and there and now we play about once a week. It's a pretty fun game and I know that the latest and greatest cards are not just waiting to be bought, and the company is not going to be releasing any new suppliments any time soon so I am safe there. The overview is essentially each player takes up the role of either a corporation trying to move forward 'agendas', or a 'runner' that is trying to 'liberate' (i.e. steal) them. There is a trend among games like this. Collectable card games (Yu Gi Oh, Pokemon, etc.), and even collectable miniature games (Mech Warrior, a Baseball one, etc.) where companies create games that are not too expensive to get into - maybe $10-$30 will get the 'basic' set - but they will also sell "booster" sets. These are usually about 25-50% of the basic set. The catch is these booster will always have more powerful cards or whatever. And if you and your friends have even one of these the competitive juices will always want to get the latest and greatest. And oh course the game companies will continually release new items and make the older ones obsolete. An endless cycle. It's sort of like why I stopped playing another table top wargame once upon a time. Warhammer 40,000. This game is a sci-fi table top miniatures game. Well, I used to really enjoy this game, but once they released the 3rd edition of the rules, and obsoleting yet another set of miniatures, I decided to not play anymore. I don't really have a point in all of this. But these 'hobbies' had become money pits. I enjoy wargaming (essentially complicated versions of chess), I like the miniatures, I like painting and 'customizing' them. But as I've gotten older I am less intrested in spending money on them to get the biggest or best. I just want to enjoy them for what they are supposed to be. A temporary diversion. Verse for today: Psalm 44:4-8, esv You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob! Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah
I am not really sure what to post about today. Work is crazy busy today. A major region of the network I work on decided to up and change their IP addressing scheme and insert a new firewall over the weekend. Needless to say the phones have been very busy today - and I am the tier 3 support! :) Yesterday afternoon we received a phone call from the autistic specialist at my son's school basically telling us there was to be a meeting this morning with her and the school's vice-principle (turned out to be the principle). It was basically a miscommunication thing between the state and the school's autisim specialists. It stemmed from my wife's frustrations with trying to reach the school specialist and their apparent attempts to remove my son from the main stream (by their actions of late, and more than a couple of comments) - which is not what is best for him. He has to learn how to cope and be a member of his peer group, and by them sending him home and moving his desk so he is no longer with the other kids only removes him and prevents him from learning. My wife and I do try and work with him, but we are not with him at school. This is not a case of parental indifference. We have suspected there was things that needed to be addressed with my son from a young age. He would have problems with too much external stimulation (loud/confusing noises, etc.). And the time he got into a fight with one of our pastor's sons in pre-school at church! It has really afffected my beloved. She is struggling with how he will grow up. If he will ever get married. Will he be able to support himself. Things like that. For me, I am concerned with these things as well. But maybe I am more short sighted. I am just concerned with getting him things that he needs today - today. Well, that is all I have for today. It was a crazy weekend for me, but it ended well - by the grace, and to the glory of, God. I hope you all had a great and grace filled weekend as well. Verse for today: Matthew 6:25-34, esv “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Note: This is sort of an on-going personal review of the book, The Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney. For example the title of my post today is taken from chapter 3 in his book. I will be quoting from his book, and I hope to be thorough in my noting of such. This review is primarily for my own on going sanctification and understanding of God's grace in my life, of His work on my behalf. I share this here for the benefit of whom God bring to this little blog. I invite people to share their thoughts and questions. In doing so we can all grow in our understanding of THE most important event in all of history. On to the task at hand... :) An item near the top of the list of things to fall into as a Christian has got to be legalism. It seems that human nature just moves us towards feeling like we need to perform some action in order to achieve everything - including our salvation. A very concise, and helpful, definition of legalism that C.J. has shared has been (1):
Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and acceptance by God through obedience to God.Legalism is also a hinderence to our witness as Christians. How many times have we heard about too many rules. That Christianity is a religion od "thou shall not". When in reality what the cross accomplishes is actually the exact opposite. I think the warning by Thomas Schreiner, as quoted by CJ is also helpful, and a little sobering (2):
"legalism has in its origin in self-worship. If people are justified through their obedience to the law, then they merit praise, honor, and glory. Legalism, in other words, means that the glory goes to people rather than God."What more dangerous ground can there be when we are looking to ourselves to accomplish only what God can, and in doing so essentially claim that the death of Christ on the cross was either unnecessary or insufficent. (3) C.J. then goes on to give the example of spinning plates. As we work on 'perfecting' our walk we will begin 'spinning plates'. (4) Study the scriptures, check. Quiet times every day, check. Memorize verses, check. Visit the prison/elderly, check. Witness to family/friends, check. And the list could go on and on. Each task becomes yet another 'spinning plate'. The problem is the plates don't sustain themselves. Innevitably a plate will 'plate' will start to wabble, maybe even fall crashing to the ground. The result, when we look to these things to fulfill what only Christ can (our acceptance before God) we will then start to base our relationship with Him based on our success or failures. When we accomplish these things we easily begin to feel that we are more acceptable to Him. It is easier to come in prayer and worship before the Throne of Heaven - but when we fail, woe is me. We are more like the man in Luke 18:13 than those pictured around the throne in Revelations. I myself tend to fall more to the side of 'license' than to legalism, but that can be a serious slope in and of itself. We as Christians really need to find that "narrow road", but realize Who has placed our feet on that path. That our works are a result of His accomplished work, and not a means to accomplish what only God can (and has). Two terms that C.J. seeks to expound upon and to make us more familiar with are justification (pg. 30) and sanctification (pg. 31). Once we have accepted Christ we are justified. "It is finished" was our Savior's cry (Jn 19:30). C.J. quotes William Plumer (5):
"Justification is an act. It is not a work, or a series of acts. It is not progressive. The weakest believer and the strongest saint are alike equally justified. Justification admits no degrees. A man is either wholly justified or wholly condemned in the sight of God."Sanctification is the process by which God transforms our lives, our minds. For me Romans 8:28-30 demonstrates this, but there are many other verses. Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians are all excellent books to see these two things in perspectives towards the other. C.J. also uses some side by side comparrisons that are very helpful (6):
* Justification is being declared righteous. Sanctification is being made righteous - being conformed to the image of Christ. * Justification is our position before God. Sanctification is our practice. You don't practice justification! It happens once for all, upon conversion. * Justification is obective - Christ's work for us. Sanctification is subjective - Christ's work within us. * Justification is immediate and complete upon conversion. You will never be more justified than you are the first moment you trust in the Person and finished work of Christ. sanctification is a process. You will be more sanctified as you continue in grace-motivated obedience."Understanding the differences between justification and sanctification is vital to defeating legalism." (7) C.J. reminded me that no one can add to what Christ accomplished. To say that anyone can is to say that what He accomplished on our behalf was incomplete. As C.J. puts it, "Our work is motivated by the grace God has poured out in our lives."(8) I will wrap this post up by quoting a prayer that C.J. placed in his book as an example (9):
"Lord, I ask for Your grace and strength as I seek to serve You today, I thank You that all Your blessings flow to me from you Son's work on my behalf. I am justified by Your grace alone. None of my efforts to obey You and grow in sanctification add to Your finished work at the cross."Let us boast in nothing but the cross of Christ, as we set about the works that the Lord has laid before us since before the creation of universe. (1) pg. 25 from his book The Cross Centered Life (2) pg. 25 ; originally - Thomas R. Schreiner, The Law & Its Fulfilment: A Pauline Theology of Law (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1993), 15. (3) pg.25 (4) pg. 26-30 (5) pg. 33; orginally - William S. Plumer, The Grace of Christ (Keyser: Odem Publications, 1853), 195. (6) pg. 32-33 (7) pg. 32, C.J. Mahaney (8) pg. 34 (9) pg. 35 Verse for today: Galatians 6:12-15, esv It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which  the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
I am at a loss as to what to write about today... With gas running near $3.00 (US) a gallon I am so thankful that I bought a Toyota Echo back in 2000. Back then I was commuting in excess of 100 miles a day, but I am still very satisfied with the car now that I am doing less than 20 round trip. Where I live there is a general consensus that as Americans we should buy American cars. Well, for all of the conspiracy theroies out there I am surprised more people are not up in arms about the American auto industry. I acknowledge that they are power houses in the gross national product, but when I was looking for a minivan for my family I refused to buy an American automobile. I had not know one owner of a Ford, Chevy, or Chrysler minivan that had not replaced an engine, or a transmission, or at the very least had some form of blue smoke coming from the exhaust by 100,000 miles. Now I don't know about you all, but I need a car to last more than five or six years. Even when I buy it used. I have close to 80,000 miles on my little Echo and it is still going strong. I am averaging right around 40 mpg. And my Japanese minivan has close to 180,000 (we bought it used in '99 with just over 60,000) and it is running great. So I am very happy with my purchases. If others want to think me un-American let them. I need to be a faithful steward of what I have been entrusted - especially when we are currently a single income, family of 5. America needs to regain its pride in its products, but we also need to come to a happy level of cooperation between corporations and their employees, and the employees need to take a greater pride in their work. Get it in their minds that they do not need to be given things, but take pride in that they earned the things. Ok, off my tangent and rant... If you are still reading I have posted yet another entry on my short story blog site... Verse for today: Luke 12:13-21, esv Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Well, I'd like to pretend that this entry will be about some deep thing I have thought about, but it really refers to the notion that there really is not much going on up in the old brain this morning. It's kind of funny, but true. There are just times that a man's brain just 'idles' and he is running on essentially instinct. Scary, I know. ;) Funny story - on my last drill weekend I waited until the last minute to wash my uniform and so it was going to have to be ironed. Well, the load of laundry was not done in time and I didn't want to wait up on the night before. So I set the alarm for 4 AM (only 30 minutes early) so that I could iron it in the morning before I left. So I got up, took my shower, shaved, and ironed my uniform. I made sure I had all the accoutrements in place. Then I went up stairs and go tmy PT uniform for the APFT we were going to take as well as some Max Headroom DVD's to watch that night. I drive all the way into my unit (80 miles) and realize I had left my freshly washed and ironed uniform on the ironing board! Sometimes the empty brain syndrom is a bad thing! Oh, before I go I wanted to say that I was generally pleased with the Panthers draft this weekend. The picked up a running back, DeAngelo Williams in the first round. Now I am not a follower of college football so I know only what the so called experts report, but it seems like he is a solid player. Maybe more of a Barry Sanders type of runner (speed and manouver) than a John Riggins (bowl the defenders over and carry them five yards). The Carolina Panthers have not had too much of a track record with running backs. Stephen Davis was their biggest name RB, but Biakabatuka is the one that holds all of the career records - and he was not able to put a complete season due to injuries. For Mr. Williams I am praying for him to be healthy and that God would grant him a long career. I am concerned about DeShaun Foster, the current starter at this position. He too has had some injury problems so I am pretty sure DeAngelo will be starting at some point this year. You just can't pay someone that kind of money and not feel the preasure to start him. Geuax Panthers! Verse for today: Proverbs 3:1-10, esv My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success  in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh  and refreshment  to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Well, I was going to do a review of Chapter 3 in The Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney today, but for a variety of reasons I will be moving those to the last day of the week (usually a Friday for me) because too many things come up during the weekend! :) Saturday I went to an Army buddy's 30th surprise birthday party. He's a nice guy. Not a Christian, and I've only come close to being able to talk to him about my faith on a few occasions. He knows where I stand though. Anyway, I was able to see another Army buddy from my one activation - we were roommates. He's been doing well, but his daughters are almost all college age now. It's a shame I don't live closer to these guys (I had to drive 90+ minutes to get to the party). Sunday was my sister's wedding. The weather was very nice. The vows were - interesting (none of my immediate family share my views on Christ) - and I think they did a very good job keeping things moving along, but not so much so that they were overwhelmed. I think I could have done a better job on my hotel room though. I spent over $160 on a one night stay that was no better than a Holiday Inn. I'm still glad that I stayed though. The reception did not end until 10PM, and it would have been another 2 hours to drive home. Instead it was a nice mini-vacation with the kids - who behaved very well IMO. My daughter loves to dance with her daddy. :) One or two more random thoughts for today. I was able to get real quiet time on Saturday. I know I should make this more of a priority in my life but anyway... I awoke with Matthew 7:21-23 running through my mind. "“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (esv) This has actually been a reoccuring theme in my meditations of late. I have been working on knowing, and by God's mercy, I hope to be known by my Lord in my life. While reading and trying to remember where the above verse was I came upon the story of the rich young ruler that came to Jesus... "And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, looking at him with sadness, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! "" (Luke 18:18-24, esv) I came upon these verses (this encounter is also mentioned in Matthew 19 and Mark 10) while I was also contemplating Jesus' claims of being God (for another day perhaps). Anyway to make this shorter... I noticed that Jesus pretty much recites the commandments to this young man - except for the first 3 commandments. In rough outline those are not having any other gods before Him. The young man stated that he kept all of the others, and when Jesus says that he still lacked one thing he either could not, or would not, give it up. his money. His money had become another God. He worshiped it, he essentially bowed down to it and would not give it up! Even though Jesus clearly answers that he lacked one thing to attain eternal life! These two verses concern me as a Christian in America today. There are many, many people in America calling themselves Christians today. Going around doing good deeds in the name of Christ, but the idols so readily available in America prevents a real relationship with Christ. Personally I am concerned for my own soul first and foremost. What idols are in my life that I will not give up. I walk and talk a good witness for Christ, but I have a hard time actually taking even 15 minutes a day to get a lone and spend with my Savior! This is a serious thing IMO. Verse for today: Ephesians 2:1-10, esv And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.