Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Humor

Perhaps it's time for a little humor.

Much has been said about the aging of the President of the United States during their terms in office. Below are just a few examples (Pictures on the left were taken their first year in office. Pictures on the right were taken during their last year in office):

Ronald Reagan

Bill Clinton
George W. Bush

And now with state of the art computer imaging software, we can look into the future and see what our next potential president will look like after his term in office:

and even his wife.....Michelle

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hit Counts and Success as a Blogger

Maybe I'll just say something brief. Sometimes I feel so darn tired and in my tiredness, I don't post and in my not posting, I watch my hit count drop again.

Perhaps I shouldn't keep returning to this subject, yet it seems to be the easiest subject to write about off the top of my head without an enormous amount of thought and effort.

The thing is that when I'm not posting to my own blog, it is because I'm distracted by conversations on other blogs and if I was to ask myself the honest question about how much exposure I'm getting, is it really my own personal hit count that contains the accurate answer to that question?

If when I do not post to my own blog, it is because I am visiting and posting elsewhere, than the actual answer to the question of how much exposure I am getting has more to do with the number of hits to the blogs that I am currently conversing on. After all, isn't it possible that when ever I am not posting to my own blog, but instead posting to another blog that has more hits, than in this case, I am getting more actual exposure when my hit numbers are low because I'm conversing elsewhere. Since the people who visit other blogs are often different than the ones who visit my blog and since the people on one blog that I visit are different than on another blog that I visit, perhaps when I visit is when I get more exposure, not when I post on my own blog.

This is a very interesting thought and it brings me back to something that I keep saying, which is that the hit counts on ones blog are not an accurate record of any given person's actual exposure on the web, nor is it an accurate record of what kind of an impact that person is having on the world.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A New Direction - Jesus' Anger, etc.

Well, I was headed down the rather peaceful path of telling you some lessons I've learned lately from our dog and from dogs in general, but this morning I woke up feeling a small sense of unrest. Since I have just finished telling all of you how important it is to not only come to God, but also to listen to Him, I guess I better practice what I preach and respond to the still small voice inside of me when I hear it. I guess this is a good opportunity for me to tell you what following God's direction is like. So often when I set out to do a certain thing and set goals for myself, I am interrupted by a strong urging to do something else. Sometimes I ignore it and continue with my own plans and sometimes I give in and change direction.

My feeling of unrest this morning was in relation to Righteous Anger and Passion and the whole question of when our Anger and Passion is self-directed and when it is God-directed. I sense very strongly that one of my primary purposes for being in the Blogasphere with the rest of you is for the sake of trying to urge you all the remain as God focused as possible.

Now, there is such a thing as Righteous Anger and it simply isn't true that Jesus was never angry. Let's take a look at the one time in which the Bible mentions His anger.

"12) And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13) And said unto them, 'It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.'" (Matthew 21:12-13, KJV)

"15) On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16) and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17) And as he taught them, he said, 'Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations' ? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.''" (Mark 11:15-17, NIV)

"45) And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; 46) Saying unto them, 'It is written, 'My house is the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.''" (Luke 19:45-46, KJV)

What exactly is the message here? Was He just upset that they were doing financial business in the Temple, which was supposed to be a place set aside for prayer, or was it because they were charging too much for the merchandise being sold? Generally when someone who is selling something is called a "thief", it is referring to high prices and the gouging of the public, in which case, the one record in the Bible of Jesus' anger had to do with protecting the poor, not protecting the rich.

It seems a little odd that I keep finding myself writing on the poverty side of the issue even though I'm a Republican. Another obvious question that comes to mind is whether Jesus is delivering a message to individual business men to stop gouging the public, or is it a message to Governments, giving them permission to step in and put a price freeze on things when such gouging takes place. I honestly don't know the answer. Biblically speaking, it is unclear.

I've been racking my brain lately for Bible references that relate to how a Government should be run. One thing that came to mind was how the Lord directed Joseph when he was in a high place of authority in Egypt, just under the King. The Lord revealed to him that there would be 7 years of plenty, followed by 7 years of famine, and instructed him to set aside extra grain during the years of plenty. Interestingly, the grain was not later given away, but sold and the result was the Children of Israel ended up selling themselves into slavery in Egypt. Why did God allow this to take place?

Since God did not do anything to stop this, it would seem that He was in support of Free Enterprise, yet later he sent a deliverer, Moses, who demanded that the Pharaoh "Let My People Go!". What's with that? If the slavery resulted from Free Enterprise, than why should the Pharaoh later give the people back their freedom?

So what sort of direction in the Bible has God given to Kings? A lot of times they were directed to go to war. I guess I've leave that one alone for now except to say that the Israelites always sought God's blessing before going to war and if it was not given, they did not go to war.

I think of King Solomon and his Wisdom and the story that comes to mind is the one in which King Solomon settled a dispute between two women over a Child that they both claimed to be theirs. The story is interesting.

"16) Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. 17) And the one woman said, 'O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. 18) And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. 19) And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it. 20) And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21) And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.' 22) And the other woman said, 'Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son.' And this said, 'No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son.' Thus they spake before the king. 23) Then said the king, 'The one saith, 'This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead.' and the other saith, 'Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.' 24) And the king said, 'Bring me a sword.' And they brought a sword before the king. 25) And the king said, 'Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.' 26) Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, 'O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it.' But the other said, 'Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.' 27) Then the king answered and said, 'Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.'" (1 Kings 3:16-27, KJV)

I guess the real point of this story was that Solomon was a wise King, yet what's interesting in relation to Government was that in this setting the King took on the role of a Judge. It is difficult, though, to find any direct instruction as to how Governments should be run. I just pulled out an example from the Scriptures of the role of one particular King, yet this probably has more to do with the culture of the day than with any specific instruction from God. Fortunately, Solomon was a wise King, which is quite a lot more than I can say about the Supreme Court Judges in our country that currently have far too much power.

When I was considering the idea of whether or not the Bible has anything to say about Government, the other Scripture that came to mind was Jesus' words in the Gospel of Mark...

"13) Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch Him in his words. 14) They came to Him and said, 'Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15) Should we pay or shouldn't we?' But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. 'Why are you trying to trap Me?' He asked. 'Bring Me a denarius and let Me look at it.' 16) They brought the coin, and He asked them, 'Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?' 'Caesar's,' they replied. 17) Then Jesus said to them, 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.' And they were amazed at him." (Mark 12:13-17, NIV)

The point being made is that the coin was made in Caesar's image, but that people are made in God's image, so as far as Jesus is concerned, it would be of no Eternal Consequence if all of the money were given to Caesar and the hearts of the people were given to God, or another way of putting that is that our money is not what is important. What's important is the condition of our heart towards God, so if the Government wants the money, so be it. What is important is our heart condition towards God.

Perhaps I should return to the bottom line again and it is this.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV)

I quoted this in a previous post entitled "Blogging Fatigue/Sometimes God has Different Plans". Before I close, I'd like to quote one more verse.

"1) A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. 2) In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves." (Psalm 127:1-2, NIV)

So why don't I just close with this point... All the Political Passion in the world is not going to make one bit of difference unless God's people get on their knees and seek God for direction. This message must be important, because God keeps asking me to repeat it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lessons During Worship

In a way, I feel as if I've allowed my heart and mind to fall into a little bit of a back log in relation to things that I want to share on my blog. I sat down just a few minutes prior to writing this post and began to write down a few titles relating to things that I could share with you and in doing so, came up with 4 titles, or actually it ended up being 5. Three of them have to do with lessons I've learned from our Samoyed Dog, Shasta. One other one has to do with what I remember from a book entitled "Lessons from a Sheep Dog" and than there is this one, which is just some things that the Lord was speaking to me about during worship this Sunday. I considered submitting all of these all at once so that you can read them in the order in which I wrote them, whether than in the reverse order as the computer likes to stack them, but than as I've been reading through some of what I've already written, I've decided that maybe the order in which they are read doesn't matter so much. Perhaps I'll just submit one a day for awhile. That will be different for me.

As to the subject of this post, the Lord was speaking to me in relation to two of the songs that we sang this Sunday. The first was "Come, Now is the Time to Worship". The words of this song go like this...

Come, Now is the time to Worship.
Come, Now is the time to Give your Heart.
Come, Just as you are to Worship.
Come, Just as you are before your God. Come.

One day every tongue will confess you are God.
One day every knee will bow.
Still the greatest treasure remains for those,
who gladly choose You now.

During rehearsal, I was so greatly touched by the song, that I actually requested from my singing partner the chance to share something. What I shared was in relation to our dog, Shasta. Since he is a Samoyed, he struggles a little with the command to "Come". As his owner, I so desire him to want to come to me and basically what I shared at Church on Sunday, just prior to singing this song, is that this is how God feels about us. He wants so badly for us to "Come" to Him.

I also explained what that coming means. God wants us to come and sit at His feet. Not only does He want us to "Come" and Worship Him, as the song suggests, but He also wants us to come and spend time with Him in the form of Private Devotional Time, involving the Reading of Scripture and also Prayer. To truly "Come", we also need to be willing to listen to what He has to say.

When we "Come" to Him in Prayer, if we come only with requests, than this is more like asking Him to come to us and to do it on our terms, yet if we "Come" in order to also listen to Him, this is a form of truly "Coming" and being willing to do so on His terms, whether than on ours. Instead of just telling Him what we want, we need to "Come" and listen to what He wants and be respectful of what He desires from us in our lives.

This, by itself, probably could have been enough of a post, yet God spoke to me again during worship in relation to another one of the songs. This time it was in relation to the song entitled "More Love, More Power". This one goes like this...

More Love; More Power; More of You in my Life.
More Love; More Power; More of You in my Life.

And I will Worship You, with all of my Heart.
And I will Worship You, with all of my Mind.
And I will Worship You, with all of my Strength.
You are my Lord. You are my Lord.

And I will Seek Your face, with all of my Heart.
And I will Seek Your face, with all of my Mind.
And I will Seek Your face, with all of my Strength.
You are my Lord. You are my Lord.

What the Lord spoke to me about during this song was that if we want "More Love" and "More Power", than we need to do our part by "Worshiping", "Seeking His Face" and also "Coming" to Him in all the ways that I mentioned earlier.

Too often our Relationship with God is a one sided Relationship, in which we just want God to do for us, but we are not willing to also do for Him. No Relationship should be so one sided and especially not our Relationship with God.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Please Don't Let Obama Win!!!

I've been wanting so badly to post about things related to the election, but have been so distracted by our new puppy, that I haven't had much of a chance to think as straight as I'd like to and as a result have only posted 5 posts last month, the month before the election. This is less than any other month and none of the posts I did were directly related to the Election. Consequently, I've been feeling a little annoyed both with our puppy and with God. I posted a little about this in my Post Entitled "Blogging Fatigue/Sometimes God has Different Plans".

Well, God finally gave me a break and I'm so glad that I checked our Email today because one of the Emails was exactly the sort of thing that I needed in order to post something relating to the Election. In this Email, a friend of ours sent the following link.

The Rise of the United Socialist States of America USSA

This is just the sort of thing that really scares me about Obama.