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Category Archives: My faith

What’s on my mind tonight

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything…and I apologize. Usually I like to make a plan about posts, but this one is being written straight from my cellphone…so we’ll see where this goes.

Tonight we went to our church for Saturday evening services. We’ve found that going to church Saturday night instead of Sunday morning is better for Elijah…and anything that helps him ultimately helps US too! Our church theme stems from Psalm 11:3…which says: “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” or putting it another way, “if the foundations aren’t destroyed, what can the wicked do?” With these thoughts, our pastor has put together 6 foundation subjects and has called us to attend when these messages are preached, calling them 100% attendance weekends.

This weekend, the foundation subject was about Jesus. Isn’t it interesting how you can read a section of scripture one time and something sticks out, then read it again sometime later and something else sticks out? Well, tonight it happened to me.

Before I let you know what stood out, let me just say that I sometimes feel like I have ADHD or maybe a “controlled” ADHD. Reading books was so hard for me when I was younger because I could never read a full page without my mind wandering (sometimes about what was on the page, sometimes about something completely different). Well…my mind wanders during sermons too. Sometimes it’s to recall something a different pastor said about the current subject matter. Sometimes it’s focusing on an error that was said. Other times it’s hoping that the preacher goes in a particular direction with the sermon (it typically does not).

Tonight my mind started to wander when we talked about how Barabbas was the first in a long line of people who Jesus was a substitute for. The whole prison scene really got me thinking (here comes the wandering…as well as the thought that this is where the sermon should go). One could say that sin has put us ALL in dark prison…with a death sentence. Jesus has the “get out of jail free” card and all we have to do is accept it. Sure, that’s simplifying things…but in a world of complexity, isn’t it nice to hear something simple for a change?

It does make you (or maybe just me) wonder about those that choose not to accept Jesus. Using my analogy above, these are people in prison, told that they can get out for free and choose to stay in prison…knowing (or maybe not) that their coming execution is coming. It’s hard to imagine someone not wanting to get out of prison…until you read 2 Corinthians 4:3-4: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

See…the problem isn’t that people don’t want to get out of prison necessarily. It’s that they don’t see that they’re living in a prison because the “god of this world” (Satan) has blinded them to the truth. As my pastor has said multiple times, “you wouldn’t slap a blind person for not seeing something, right?”

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Posted by on January 31, 2016 in My faith

 

Something that was on my heart today

Have you ever found yourself asking the question, “Is (fill-in-the-blank) wrong?”. I think many times we focus in on this question and cause ourselves un-needed stress as we war over what truly is “wrong”. For example, is smoking wrong? Is investing in a 401k wrong (it involves risk, which can be viewed as gambling)? Is watching a certain TV show wrong? I could go on with the questions, but I think you get the point. These questions don’t have direct answers from Scripture, so the battle rages within the Christian…what are we to do?

In my opinion, I believe we’re asking the wrong question. We shouldn’t be asking if something is wrong, but rather, is it right? Is this action God-honoring? Further, is what’s troubling us going to cause tension between us and our Saviour? Would the world, who doesn’t know Christ, not see the difference between us and the world due to the matter? Would my action detour one from knowing Jesus?

When viewed from this perspective, I think many once troubling questions have relatively easy answers. God calls us to a higher standard of living…so live it for Him and to the fullest.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Day-to-Day, My faith

 

Decision time

Tuesday, March 20th is Illinois’ turn in the saga known as Election Day. I’ve been told that it’s been a really long time in which the results of the election would actually decide anything in national races such as the current GOP race for President. However, 50+ delegates are up-for-grabs on Tuesday, so every vote counts!!

I’ve made my decision but it took a process…a process that took some time to develop. More or less, it’s a process of elimination. Let me go down the list of reasons some people use to decide that I didn’t lean on to make my choice.

1) Race. This should be a no brainer, but ever since our current President was running for office and eventually won it’s been an issue (don’t believe me? How many times did you hear after the election that he was the 1st African-American elected President instead of the 44th President of the United States?). For some, because Barack Obama is African-American, that was all the information they needed to vote one way or the other (yes, for OR against him). I imagine many heard about how other caucasian voters voted AGAINST him based on that reason alone, but I’m sure they didn’t hear that it was the main reason some people voted FOR him. Apparently, other African-Americans voted for Barack Obama as though they shared a unique bond with him…similar to how Americans unify with one another and cheer on other Americans during the Olympics. Rather than looking at the inside of the man, they saw the outside and deemed him worthy to be our President.

2) Religion. This is a tougher reason to justify a political decision, as one of the GOP candidates is very public that he’s a Mormon. As I’ve stated in a previous post, Mormonism is not the same as Christianity. Many have heard that said of Mitt Romney and have tuned out anything he has to say after that. Please hear me, while I would prefer that the leader of our nation bows his knee to Jesus Christ and makes his tough decisions based on the perfect Word of God, it shouldn’t be the determining factor in the decision making process.

3) Record. Sometimes I wonder about the political ads that are on TV & radio. I HATE…repeat…HATE negative ads. Why? Because they have 30 seconds to force-feed you some truth (or someone else’s version of the truth) down your throat and fail to mention something: people are different. Whoa…shocking, right? It’s because of this that we have two very different political parties that rarely see eye-to-eye on issues. So what happens when a bill goes through congress?? Compromise. I have yet to hear about a bill that’s been passed through Congress that deals with one…and only one topic. In order to pay for a homeless shelter, you may have to also fund Planned Parenthood to appease those on the other side of the aisle. Unfortunately, by doing so (if you’re a Republican), you’re seen as helping fund Planned Parenthood (a no-no if you’re running on a pro-life platform) by voting FOR the bill or seen as heartless for voting AGAINST funding a homeless shelter. It happens all the time and I wish people would be wise to it and the tricks that are played in these ads.

4) Promises. When you think of a corrupt person, what line of work comes to mind? A used car salesman…sure. A lawyer…ok. A politician…um, yeah!!! Tons of promises are made during the campaign and hardly any actually get done. As an example, check out all the promises that President Obama made that he hasn’t lived up to. Politicians promise the world and somehow we’re shocked that they don’t deliver on that promise!! And we fall for it: hook, line and sinker…every time. When will we wise up?

So what types of things do I factor in to the decision making process? I think that if people looked at the office of the Presidency as one would for hiring an empty position at their workplace, we might be able to weed out the potentials quicker…possibly easier too. The Constitution has a list of prerequisites that a candidate must have and (up until the last Presidential election) there wasn’t even a question that the candidates met these requirements. So besides these, what do I look for?

1) Experience. Yes, I know that the office of the President has a maximum of two term limits, so I don’t mean experience as President of the United States. What I do mean is experience in the decision-making process. Fact is, the President doesn’t have to be the smartest guy in the room…but he’d be wise to surround himself with some of the smartest people and be able to make a decision based off the wise counsel of others. Governors of individual states typically have this experience (on a much smaller scale than that of the President however).

1a) Military experience. One of the titles of the President of the United States is “Commander-in-chief of the armed forces”. Although not essential, I believe that our President should have some experience in the military…if not from some time already served, then in some form of boot camp training after he/she’s elected President, so that they can fully grasp what chain-of-command truly means, as well as to put a face to the troops that he/she can send to defend our & our allies’ nation.

2) Leadership. The fact of the matter is that the office of the Presidency is a draining task. I’ve seen before/after photos of previous Presidents and let me tell you…it ain’t pretty. These guys have aged, at seemingly twice the pace that normal people do. I’m sure that there are multiple reasons for this, but I believe that one of the reasons why they appear to have aged so much is that they didn’t know how to lead a nation, government and ultimately the world (at least economically)…to the point where stress was maxed out everyday.

3) Integrity/Morals/Character. Ultimately, don’t you want to respect our President? To be proud that he’s the guy in charge? That you wished he was there longer than the maximum of two terms? To be the guy that the next generation looks to and says that our next President should be like him? I think that we all desire that…and that comes when we get the person that registers high in the integrity/morals/character area. Let me be clear here though…besides Christ, there is no else that is perfect. So please, stop looking for the “perfect candidate” because none exits. And please…stop getting surprised when so-and-so elected official is “caught” doing something wrong. Guess what…they’re human.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 ESV

I saw a video the other day that I want to share. Don’t get me wrong, just because Santorum mentions character in this interview doesn’t mean that it’s the reason I want to cast my ballot in favor of him. Any of the candidates could’ve said this but I applaud him for saying it.



I think that this last point is one of the harder points to distinguish between candidates. But I do think that it’s displayed by the type of campaign that they ultimately run. Are you running a smear campaign where your objective is to make the opponent look so bad that they’ll vote for you instead? Or are you running a campaign that lists your accomplishments and your plan for the future of this country if elected. I personally think that the latter is the moral high ground…one that would earn you respect…and my vote. The last week or so, my house has been bombarded with negative telephone robo-calls…all of the national ones have been attacking Santorum, yet claiming to support Romney (without promoting any of his accomplishments/plans for the future). It’s gotten to the point where Romney appears to be a bully, and not a Presidential candidate. Nobody like a bully Mitt.

When this race started, I was pulling for Herman Cain. He had the leadership qualities that I thought this country could really use, especially economically. Since he is out of the race however, my vote is for Rick Santorum for President of the United States. If he’s ultimately not the Republican nominee, then my vote will be AGAINST Barack Obama.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Day-to-Day, My faith, Politics

 

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Enraged

Do you ever have the experience of going through the motions of every day life and then, out of nowhere (seemingly) something triggers you to react almost opposite to your own nature? It’s like a stick of dynamite that is suddenly lit…an explosion is imminent. Initially you may think that I’m explaining something that was negative. But what happened to me the other day…well…I guess you can call it righteous anger. What bothers me is that, except for this blog and talking about it to others, there’s nothing I can really do about it…something that every guy is hardwired to try and “fix”.

Here’s what happened:
I was listening to the radio on my way home from work. My radio stations are pretty set…I’m either listening to KLOVE, the news or a conservative talk station. That night, I was listening to the conservative talk station talking about the current GOP candidates (since I know that people can read this post years after the fact, the field of candidates being talked about was Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum & Ron Paul). The candidate they were focusing on at the time was Mitt Romney. Now, let me start out by saying that Mitt Romney is not my favorite candidate…for a bunch of reasons. As many people know, Mitt Romney is a Mormon…a fact that has caused uneasiness in the conservative community. My guess is that uneasiness stems from not really knowing what Mormonism is and the differences between it and others religions. That guess was solidified when I heard one of the talk show hosts (technically, the one that said this line was a guest co-host) say that Mormonism was the same as Christianity.

Dynamite lit.

What?!?! How in the world could this guy say that? Saying the Mormonism is the same as Christianity is like saying that milk is the same as apple juice…there is only 1 characteristic that’s the same (in the milk/juice scenario it’s that they’re liquids. In the Mormonism/Christianity scenario, it’s that they are both religions). Though I was driving in my car, I wanted to pull over, call the station and tell them that they’re different…but then it hit me: to the world (that doesn’t know better because they aren’t actively attending church, reading their Bibles, engaging in theological conversation such as the Elephant Room, etc.) there is no difference. See, because I hold the Bible in the highest regards, as the Word of God, I can point out several differences between the two faiths…to the point that it’s CLEARLY obvious that they are no where near the same. However, if  you (or in this case, the guest co-host) don’t have that firm foundation, it won’t make any sense to you.

So many of you might be wondering why I’m making a big deal about this. I mean, “Mormons believe that Jesus is God and that should suffice…can’t we all just get along?” In a word, no. Not about this. Mormonism is not a denomination of Christianity!! Paul preached about unity in the church, but he also preached about certain areas that are foundational to get fired up about…areas that Mormons and Christians differ on. In Ephesians 4, Paul gives us the list:

There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:4-6, ESV

You might be wondering (as a lot of people are), “Where exactly to Mormons and Christians differ?” I know I wondered. I mean, I knew enough to know that they were different…enough to get angry. But at the time, I didn’t know in what specific areas they’re different. After all, the majority of my life I’ve focused on learning/accepting/following the teachings of Christ, found in the Word of God…not what other faiths teach or where they’re taught from. So I looked it up online and came across this comparison where the two faiths differ theologically. Later (as I was writing this blog post) I came upon a blog post from Justin Taylor, one of my wife’s co-workers, who gave a similar comparison. As you can see, there are (through worldly eyes) similarities…but also some major differences. Different enough to be a cult? Well…I won’t get into that discussion at this point, but I will say that it’s definitely NOT the same as Christianity.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Day-to-Day, My faith, Politics

 

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Why I don’t listen to secular music

Some find it quite shocking that I don’t listen to mainstream music, as though I’m an alien or outsider for choosing not to do so. Don’t believe me? Try telling a total stranger at your next get together that you don’t listen to secular music and watch their face. The general public thinks its a foreign concept…or that I live on an island because I wouldn’t willingly listen to mainstream music.

So the question comes…”Why?”. First I wonder what the asker is really asking. Are they asking that question to really understand my reasoning, as though I hold some greater meaning to life than they do? Are they asking to see what, in their eyes, is wrong with me? Are they asking to be polite? All of these are possibilities and typically my response is geared toward what I personally know of the person. For example, I won’t go into a deep spiritual reasoning to a person that is obviously asking just to be polite (such as at a party with people I don’t know). They are more than likely only half paying attention anyway, so my reasoning won’t be as detailed as, say, this posting.

The polite answer is that I really don’t care for it. Generally speaking, secular/mainstream music tends to be focused on what’s wrong with the artist’s life or a focus on love toward an individual. Sometimes, very harsh lyrics are used (so bad that they have to be bleeped on the radio in keeping with FCC regulations.). This last part has me up in arms because I don’t think foul language should ever be on anyone’s lips, Christian or not.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Let’s be honest: music is addicting. Once you get a song in your head, it’s tough to forget it.

Cover of

The Ron Clark Story

In the movie, The Ron Clark Story, Matthew Perry’s character used music to help teach his students the Presidents of the United States. It’s a great idea for learning good things. I remember that as a kid my Mom would play these cassettes (for those that aren’t aware, before there were MP3s, there were CD’s and before there were CD’s, there were cassettes) of G.T. and the Halo Express which would put scripture verses to music so that children could more easily memorize scripture. It worked…I still remember a bunch of these songs. Unfortunately music can also be used for bad as well. If a song is verbally abusive, how long will it take before the words in the song become your own?

Lyrics are, by far, the main reason that I choose not to listen to secular/mainstream music. The genres of music that is played rarely offends me (except opera and country) as my personal preferences typically depend on other things that have happened to me on that particular day. For example, rock songs can energize me during long runs, while mellow songs can sooth my worries away duing a root canal.

A few weeks ago, a man came and preached at our church. We’ve heard him preach before, but the topics he’s chosen haven’t really peaked my interest. This time around, his sermon did…and while he wasn’t preaching about secular music, I believe we can apply what was talked about to this subject matter (as well as other topics that aren’t specifically commanded not to do…such as smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.). I know it’s hard, but try to move past the accent…and listen to this message:

Scripturaly, I can’t justify the giving of my time to something that is so different from God’s ideal. While not specifically outlawed (murder, lie, etc), I believe we can pull this from principles laid out in verses like 1 John 1:5-7: (ESV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and rthe blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Or Psalm 1:1-2: (ESV)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

The verses above also help answer the question “What about crossover artists?” or “What about artists that don’t have Jesus in the forefront, but subtly hint at a relationship with him (such as (I’ve heard) U2, Owl City & Lifehouse)?”. Crossover artists, or (as I define them) those that are Christian artists that have such a popular song that the secular radio market has no choice but to air it, are, in my opinion, similar to missionaries: bringing a message of hope to the lost. The 2nd question gets an answer that is tougher to swallow by those that enjoy these artists. I avoid these artists as though they are secular artists. Why? The verses above clearly state that

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

What place do you think God wants in our lives? 1st? 2nd? 3rd? As an artist, if your songs are written for other reasons than to honor & glorify God, what priority are you making Him? Better still, if you’re an artist that claims to have a relationship with Jesus Christ & has a secular label running the show for a tour, can you really tell me that the other artist’s music doesn’t disturb you? Does it create a heavy burden for those Christians that came out to the concert and have to sit through filth? Here’s the thing: knowing Jesus isn’t a switch that you can turn on and off whenever it’s convenient for you.

Lastly, and I believe most importantly, I don’t listen to secular music because of my focus on the future. What do I mean exactly? I mean that I don’t believe that secular music will be sung in Heaven because God won’t allow anything but Himself to be praised & worshipped. This is clearly portrayed in Revelation 19:10 as well as a few more times in Revelation if I remember correctly. John was in so much awe that he fell down to worship and the angel that was showing him what was to come told him to worship God, not him. Remember, God is a jealous God (Exodus 20)…He doesn’t like it when praise that is due to him is directed towards something or someone other than Him. For this reason, it’s tough to justify the singing of secular songs in the presence of God. Do they give Him praise? Do they lift up the name of Jesus? Would God be jealous of you listening to a song that draws you away from Him & His presence?

Ultimately, this is a personal choice…but it’s one that you’ll be judged on.

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.  Romans 14:12 ESV

I’m not perfect and I’m sorry if it comes across as though I think I am. This is just a strong conviction I have…similar to the strong conviction I have about abstaining from alcohol. Whether it becomes as strong a conviction for you is for you to decide. If you’d like another person’s perspective on this topic, I came across this blog post a while back. I don’t know this author personally, but I do like what she has to say.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2011 in blog, Music, My faith, Soapbox Saturday

 

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Time to be honest

about a few things. Recently, our pastor has challenged our church to get healthy…and not just physically. Based on Mark 12:30, which says:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

we’ve been challenged to get healthy in our emotions, will, mentality and physical aspects of our lives. As a part of doing so, he’s posted a weekly update to areas that he wants to improve upon. So, I’ve challenged myself to do the same is these areas: weight loss & scripture reading. To explain, I’ll attempt to make a weekly post and include my weight and how many days of the past week I’ve read a portion of scripture. Reading is something that I tend not to do much because I get easily distracted…but it’s something I must do. So, that’s what I’ll be attempting to do. You can track my daily exercise here.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2011 in blog, Medical, My faith, workout

 

No, not THAT Ted Williams

I was introduced to Ted Williams (not the Cubs’ great) on Tuesday evening via someone posting a link on Facebook to a Columbus Dispatch article. Just like everyone else, I saw the video below and hoped-upon-hope that this kind homeless man would find & keep a stable job, as well as a home.

Soon, this video went viral…and FAST. Thanks to the media, as well as social media (Facebook is where I saw it most often), millions watched this video (the owner of where I’m linking the video from explains that this isn’t the original, as that was pulled, apparently, for copyright reasons).

Quickly, things moved for this man. He was given interview after interview and received numerous job offers (short and long term). He was even offered a job (and I believe a house) from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before I got to see an actual interview (besides the very 1st video that introduced him to us), I heard about this man’s troubled past. While I was disturbed that he had broken the law a handful of times, I didn’t condemn him for doing so.

When I was growing up, my dad created an organization in Cook County called PADS, which stood for Public Action to Deliver Shelter. Basically, he organized churches to house and feed the homeless in Cook County. You’d think that getting churches to open their doors to the homeless would be an easy task, but it was not. Several obstacles stood in the way, but they were overcome. While serving, volunteers are welcome to talk to the guests. They all have a story…some are eager to share while others are not. However, desperate times call for desperate measures sometimes…so I can understand why Ted Williams did some of the things he did. I’m not condoning it…just saying that I understand. I will not, however, condemn him or wish ill-will on him as some of those that left comments in the above linked story. As Jesus said  in John 8: 1-11

Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone… [John 8:1-11, ESV]

I’m actually surprised at the number of people ‘throwing him under the bus’ with nasty comments. Yes, he had a job in radio. Yes, he threw his life away. Yes, he broke the law. And finally, yes, he’s been given a 2nd chance. Who are we to cast judgment as to who is worthy to get a 2nd chance and who shouldn’t? “But what if this is all an elaborate scheme and he’s just tricking us?” This sounds like the same reasoning people give when they come across a homeless person begging for money: “He’ll just spend it on liquor and drugs, so don’t give him anything.” How does this ‘reasoning’ show the love of Christ? Didn’t Christ say that we’ll know one another (i.e. other Christians) by our love?

The last video link I’ll share is the last video I’ve seen of Ted Williams…and that was his interview on the Today show on Thursday. That’s right…homeless Tuesday to being interviewed in New York on the Today show on Thursday. That’s how fast this came about. If you allow yourself to, you can’t help but feel good that this guy was given a 2nd chance in life. I love that he’s acknowledging God as the reason he’s come as far as he has. As Ted points out, God could’ve taken his voice (i.e. his money-maker) from him, but chose not to. Arent you thankful we serve a God who grants 2nd chances?

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2011 in Day-to-Day, My faith

 

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