Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who is "We"?

While in Turkey, President Barack Obama said:
We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.
Do you know the Preamble for your state?...

Alabama 1901, Preamble
We the people of the State of Alabama , invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution...

Alaska 1956, Preamble
We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land...

Arizona 1911, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble
We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom...

Colorado 1876, Preamble
We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe..

Connecticut 1818, Preamble.
The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy...

Delaware 1897, Preamble
Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences...

Florida 1885, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Florida , grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution...

Georgia 1777, Preamble
We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble
We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance ... Establish this Constitution...

Idaho 1889, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings...

Illinois 1870, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil , political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.....

Indiana 1851, Preamble
We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government...

Iowa 1857, Preamble
We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution...

Kansas 1859, Preamble
We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution...

Kentucky 1891, Preamble..
We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...

Louisiana 1921, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy..

Maine 1820, Preamble
We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity .. And imploring His aid and direction...

Maryland 1776, Preamble
We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble
We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction...

Michigan 1908, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, establish this Constitution...

Minnesota 1857, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings:

Mississippi 1890, Preamble
We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work...

Missouri 1845, Preamble
We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness. Establish this Constitution...

Montana 1889, Preamble.
We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty establish this Constitution...

Nebraska 1875, Preamble
We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom. Establish this Constitution...

Nevada 1864, Preamble
We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution...

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec.. V
Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience...

New Jersey 1844, Preamble
We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors...

New Mexico 1911, Preamble
We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty...

New York 1846, Preamble
We, the people of the State of New York , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings...

North Carolina 1868, Preamble
We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those...

North Dakota 1889, Preamble
We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble
We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common...

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble
Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this...

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2.
All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences...

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble
We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance...

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble.
We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...

South Carolina 1778, Preamble
We, the people of he State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

South Dakota 1889, Preamble
We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ...

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI..III.
That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...

Texas 1845, Preamble
We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God...

Utah 1896,
Preamble Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution...

Vermont 1777, Preamble
Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man...

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI
Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other...

Washington 1889, Preamble
We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

West Virginia 1872, Preamble
Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble
We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility...

Wyoming 1890, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution...

After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the realization that either President Obama was dead wrong in his statement about America not being a Christian nation or he was absolutely correct and America is no longer a Chrisian nation...

Not What I Ought to Be - Words For Wednesday

"I am not what I ought to be — ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be — I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be — soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, "By the grace of God I am what I am." John Newton as quoted in The Christian Pioneer (1856) edited by Joseph Foulkes Winks, p. 84

This is often paraphrased as "I am not the man I ought to be, I am not the man I wish to be, and I am not the man I hope to be, but by the grace of God, I am not the man I used to be."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Looking Past the Exterior

On Saturday, Lisa, Lydia and I hopped in the car and drove a little over an hour to spend the day at her grandparents' house to celebrate her grandmother's 80th birthday. This celebration wasn't just about the number of years her Grandma Ruth has been alive, even though each year is reason enough to celebrate. This was a celebration of the eighty years of a life lived in service to God and family. We had a great time spending the day watching Lydia bring smiles to everyone in attendance and enjoyed the conversation with family that we love.

Thinking about my short history with her Grandmother, I reflect back on the day I was driving to meet them for the first time. When I first met Grandma Ruth 6 years ago, I was rocking the full ZZ Top beard and long hair look and was a bit hesitant to meet Lisa's grandparents. I wasn't worried about what they would think of me after they had some time to get to know me, because my parents spent a lot of time and effort to raise me in such a way as to be respectful of my elders and to always treat women with the honor that they deserve. I'm thankful for that.

No, my trepidation was due to my fear that they might not be able to get past the exterior presentation to get to know the person I was on the inside. Thankfully, Lisa's grandparents (on both sides) accepted me immediately with open arms and welcomed me into their lives. It was a refreshing moment to realize that I was accepted as I was and not rejected because of what they could see.

I see a ton of parallels between my insecurity in that moment and the insecurity I have sometimes when I approach God for forgiveness. I feel as if what I have done is all that God can see and He won't be able to look beyond that ugly mess and connect with me as a person longing for His acceptance and love. I think it is hard for Christians to truly believe that what He has stated in Psalm 103 is actually true and trustworthy:
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. Psalm 103:10-13
If I believe that God has not only forgiven me of my sin, but He has removed it from being able to be remembered, then why do I sometimes live as if God is waiting for me to reach a certain quota of sins and then He is going to remind me of all the times before I have failed in the same way? Could it be that I don't trust Him to fulfill this promise and Satan uses this unbelief as a foothold to bring doubt, distrust, unfaithfulness and sin into my life?

I love the fact that the content of verse 11 was written before the promise in verse 12. We are reminded of the fact that God's lovingkindness towards His children is greater than the distance between the heavens and the earth. It is out of this unrelenting love for us that God is able to cast our sin away and never recall it.

So, knowing what I know of God, and knowing that He cannot lie about His own character for He is Truth, there is nothing more for me to do than approach Him with humility, respect, honor and praise for not only forgiving me but for removing the memory of that sin altogether. Living in the knowledge that I am forgiven and that Jesus' blood covered all my sins, I should be able to approach God without hesitation or reluctance. When I find myself pausing before praying to God or feeling guilty for past sins that I have sought forgiveness of, I need to turn back to the Cross of Jesus Christ and recapture the wonder and glory of the fact that when I feel like I need to ask forgiveness again for the same sin and feel the need to pray for reconciliation with God, Jesus conquered those insecurities by stating "It is finished."

Hallelujah!

What Else Can I Do? (A Capella) - Tuesday Tunes


For Christ's Sake A Capella singing "What Else Can I Do?"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Review - The Hole In Our Gospel

It was with a great amount of anticipation that I finally was able to sit down and read through "The Hole In Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns. After reading the introduction and first two chapters of this book, I turned to my wife and said "I think that this book is pretty much going to mess me up as I read it over the next few weeks." It was at that point that I realized I couldn't simply just sit down and read it for long stretches. I found it to be too thought provoking and challenging and I didn't want to gloss over or miss anything.

I realized prior to reading the book that, due to the author being the President of World Vision, there would inevitably be a focus on international issues such as poverty, famine and unhealthy living conditions. My expectations were duly met, but I found myself noticing the effort the author took to focus on the situations and circumstances and to promote possible effective solutions without continuously plugging his humanitarian organization. It was a pleasant surprise.

The focus of this book is to challenge Western thinking when it comes to possessions, finances and helping those less fortunate and in desperate need. While there is an unashamed Biblically-based aspect of this book, the author does a great job of presenting the arguments against ignorance, apathy and inaction in such a way as to make this book a worthwhile read for even the most staunch atheist. While there is Scripture throughout the book and the author does not hesitate to proclaim his faith in God as the core basis for his book, the book provides enough statistical and anecdotal evidence to warrant scrutiny by those who hold different religious views.

After finishing the 279 pages of this book, I can tell you that my statement to my wife stands correct and I find myself still pondering portions of the book. More importantly, I find myself attempting to figure out how I can take part in bringing about significant and lasting change to those who are in desperate need. I'm pretty sure that is what Mr. Stearns was writing to encourage and I know that this book will succeed in accomplishing that goal for many people.

Here are my previous posts that contain certain portions of the book that I found quite compelling:
It Needs To Become Personal
To Whom Much Is Given
The Poor You Will Have With You Always
More At Risk Than The Lives of People
Change Agents For God
Defacing God's Image
Faithfully Moving Mountains

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thankful Thursday 18JUN09

Lately I have been prompted by God to dwell on how amazing He is by watching my daughter, Lydia, grow and learn. It's amazing to think that a year ago she was being formed by God in the womb and now, at 7 months old, she is jabbering and smiling and jumping. She recognizes me when I come home from work and has begun giving hugs to me at random times of the day.

I am thankful for the time that I get to share with Lydia that many fathers aren't blessed to enjoy. I feel as if I am more connected to her than I might be of I never had the opportunity to care for her on my own on the days Lisa has to work her 12 hour shifts. I think that this has allowed me a better understanding of what Lisa does for our daughter while I am at work and, hopefully, it makes me more appreciative of those efforts.

There is great truth in Psalm 127:3-5.

My prayer and praise for today:
Thank you Lord for blessing me with an absolutely wonderful wife and an amazing little daughter. I pray that I might be a living example to them of Your mercy, grace, provision, shelter and love. Thank you for granting me forgiveness for the many times I have failed to live up to the standards that You have called me to as a man, husband and father. Thank you for loving me and blessing me with these precious gifts. I pray that I would recognize them as such and that I would continually lift them both up to you in prayer. Thank you for what you are doing in my family, my church and my heart. Your Love endures forever!


Lydia Has Figured Out the Jumper Seat from Jeremy Walker on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Three Wonders In Heaven - Words For Wednesday

John Newton said "When I get to Heaven I shall see three wonders there. The first wonder will be too many people there whom I did not expect to see. The second wonder will be to miss many people whom I did expect to see and the third greatest wonder of all will be to find myself there."

From The Christian Pioneer, edited by Joseph Foulkes Winks

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Steve Massey - Tuesday Tunes


Steve Massey playing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"

The Battle Rages On

When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and
people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God,
who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. When you are approaching
the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. He shall say to
them, 'Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies
today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before
them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you
against your enemies, to save you.' - Deuteronomy 20:1-4
Who warned Israel of the coming battle?
The Lord.

Who was with Israel in the battle?
The Lord.

Who fought the battle for Israel?
The Lord.

Who fought to save Israel?
The Lord.

What was Israel commanded to do?
Remember what God had already done for them and not be fainthearted, afraid, panic or tremble before the enemy.

Who warns us, is with us, fights for us and saves us?
The Lord.
Immanuel.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Faithfully Moving Mountains - The Hole In Our Gospel

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20). I used to read that verse and think that it was just an exaggeration that Jesus was making in order to make a point about the power of faith. We can't literally move mountains... can we? But then I saw it in a different way. What of Jesus meant for millions of His followers to each put their faith into action by grabbing a shovel - and challenging the mountain one shoverful at a time? Any mountain can be moved - even the one called Poverty, or Hunger, or Injustice - if we have enough people shoveling.
And...
This was God's plan to change the world - He chose His followers to be the change - He chose you, and He chose me. We are the ones who will bring the good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, andstand up for justice in a fallend world. We are the revolution. We are God's Plan A... and He doesn't have a Plan B.
...
It starts with you. In the end, God simply calls you to be faithful to the things He has given you to do. He doesn't require you to be a superstar, just faitgful and obedient, by praying , loving, serving, giving, forgiving, healing, and caring - doing small things with great love.
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, pages 275 & 277.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Defacing God's Image - The Hole In Our Gospel

In our world today, God's image is still defaced. They are slandered by poverty,
by injustice, by corruption, by disease, and by human exploitation and
suffering. And God's name is defiled when His people willingly and apathetically
accept the status quo, lacking the vision to lift up God's holiness, goodness,
and justice in a crumbling world. God's heart was broken over the condition of
Jerusalem in Nehemiah's time, and His heart is broken today by the condition of
our world and our failure to challenge it.
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, page 255.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Change Agents For God - The Hole In Our Gospel

You and I are not meant to act like preresurrection disciples, racked with fear, doubt, and timidity. We are postresurrection disciples, and if we are to live like postresurrection disciples, everything in our lives must change. The question for us is whether we are willing to make that commitment - to live and act differently and to repair the hole in our own gospel. If we are, then God will use us as parts of His amazing plan to change the world. But becoming this kind of disciple, one who is determined to be the gospel to the world around him, involves an intentional decision. It doesn't just happen...

And it's not easy... We won't really become change agents for Christ just by going to church every Sunday. We will have to make some "on purpose" life choices and then change our priorities and behavior. Only then can God transform us and use us to change the world.
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, page 245.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More at Risk than the Lives of People - The Hole In Our Gospel

I believe that much more is at stake than global economics or world missions. More is at risk even than the lives of the poor and the orphaned. The heart and soul of the Church of Jesus Christ, the very integrity of our faith and relevance in the world, hang in the balance.
And...
How will the Church of Jesus Christ respond to the "lepers" in our midst - the poor, the sick, the oppressed, in our country and in our world? Are we, like Christ, willing to respond with compassion and urgency to those who suffer? Are we willing? Do we have the kind of faith, the moral courage, the depth of love, and the strength of will to rise up off of our padded pews to demonstrate the good news to the world?

One way or the other, this will be our defining moment.
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, pages 239 & 240.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Poor You Will Have With You Always - The Hole in Our Gospel

The poor are not lab rats on whom we can experiment with our pet theories; they
are human beings with rich cultural and personalstories of their own. They have
hopes, dreams, tragedies, triumphs in their lives. They need us to love them
first and listen to them. They need us to see their assets and their God-given
abilities. When we see them as God sees them, we will glimpse His image in their
faces - Christ in His most distressing disguise.
And...
... we must never see poverty or injustice as "issues" that need solutions;
rather we must see the human beings at the heart of those issues as people who need and deserve our love and respect.
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, pages 130, 162-163.

This book is hammering home the truth of the statement made by Jesus in Mark 14:7.

Monday, June 1, 2009

To Whom Much Is Given - The Hole In Our Gospel

- Today’s 1,125 billionaires hold more wealth than the wealth of half the world’s adult population. (The World's Billionaires: A New Count, A New Record)
- The wealthiest 7 people on earth control more wealth than the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 most heavily indebted (poor) nations (Poverty Facts & Stats)
- The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for just 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of the world’s income. (United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2007/2008, p25)
- The top 20 percent of the world’s population consumes 86 percent of the world’s goods. (United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2007/2008, p25)
- The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, page 122.