Archive for February, 2009

Pro Choice or Pro Abortion?

February 28, 2009

Q. When is pro choice not pro choice? 

A.When it comes to the right of individuals not to perform medical procedures that go against their morals.

President Obama is considering overturning a regulation that was introduced during the Bush administration regarding the right of medical personnel to refuse to perform certain medical procedures (including abortion)  for personal ethical reasons.  This is good news to the people who support abortion, and bad news to their opponents.

I thought that a big part of the argument in favor of abortion was over a person’s right to choose?  What has happened to the right of medical personnel to refuse to participate in acts that violate their moral conscience?  Since when does the right for an individual to choose to have an abortion mean that someone else has to violate their personal choice to not perform abortions?  

That is inconsistant and it is wrong.  I sincerely hope that President Obama will be as considerate of the choice of people who want nothing to do with abortions as he is with the choice of those who want an abortion.

Is he pro choice?  Or is he just pro abortion?

I guess we will see.

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Truth by Popular Vote?

February 26, 2009

As a country we appreciate a good vote.  American Idol has captivated millions with the opportunity to elect the winner by our votes  The success of Survivor has been partially because we love to watch people live, work, and plot with, and against, each other for the all important vote at the end of each episode.  As a country we recently finished a two year campaign for our political vote, as we elected the people who would be our political leaders.

All of these votes are valid and important; but can a vote be applied to truth?  Some would suggest that it could, that truth itself is a relative concept, that each society decides for itself what is true and what is false. 

It may be true to some degree that each society decides what it accepts as true, or false, but that does not mean that society is able to establish an ultimate truth.  I believe that for many things there is an ultimate, eternal truth.  Our goal should be to search for that truth, not to attempt to create truth by popular vote.  If everyone believes a lie, it may govern their actions, but it is still a lie.  Sometimes lies can be very popular and the truth may be inconvenient, but the truth, ultimately, is worth searching for in our lives.  It may not make us popular, but it will make us right, and the search itself will add a dimension to our lives that would not exist if we simple flowed downstream with the crowd.

The Value of Testing

February 24, 2009

Today I am writing a new test for the logic class that I teach.  I believe that testing serves at least two valid purposes.  The first is that knowing that there will be a test will cause most, (not all) students to put forth effort in preparing for the test.  By putting more time into study, the student will learn more than if they did not study.  So the first purpose is that it will increase the students knowledge. (At least, for those students who do study. )

Secondly, it provides a measurable means of determining how much has been learned, and what needs to be reinforced.  This is particularly valuable, when the knowledge or skills being learned are necessary for being able to perform certain tasks.  For example, I appreciate that both  written and driving tests are given to people seeking a drivers license.  I want them to know what “yield” means, (I have seen some drivers who I question their understanding of that word!} and I want them to be able to parallel park without rearranging the bumper of my car!!

So please know, students, that tests are not meant to simply make you miserable.  They do serve a valid purpose.

God also uses tests in our lives in a similar fashion.  As we learn more about God and his word there will arise “tests” that will challenge us to expand the limits of our learning.  There are also tests that will demonstrate how far we have come; or what we may need to repeat.

New Schedule

February 23, 2009

For those of you who read my blog with any regularity, I am making a change.  I will normally be posting new articles on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.   I am doing this in an attempt to bring my life a little more into balance by reducing some of the things that I regularly do in my current schedule.

Until tomorrow.

True Joy

February 19, 2009

“True joy is not found in our external circumstances, but rather, in our internal relationship with Christ.”  I have often made this statement from the pulpit and I sincerely hope that it is something that my congregation fully grasps.

“In the presence of the Lord there is fullness of joy…”  (Psalms 16:11)

I believe that we are able to enter into the presence of God because of Jesus Christ.  That indeed, the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts through our faith in Jesus.  So we are able to enter into the presence of God at any time, and in his presence there is fullness of joy.

“the joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) 

I believe that we are refreshed and strengthened by the joy of the Lord which is available to us as we spend time in prayer and meditation in the presence of God.   

True joy is available, not in the things of the world, but in the presence of God.  The things of this world can be lost, or taken away, but no one is able to take God out of our lives.  He is with us always; but are we aware of his presence?

Showtime!

February 18, 2009

Many years ago a pastor told me that he felt that we basically were in sales.  I did not like the comparison then, and I still don’t like it now.  Jesus is not a product available for purchase. 

I have also known my share of pastors who have treated ministry as if it were a career in acting.  They were always careful to keep their “pastor’s image” bright and shiny and on display; at least in public.  I like this approach to ministry even less than the salesman approach.

I have been the pastor at my church now for eighteen years, and was involved in various other aspects of ministry for a few years before that, and yet I have blogged very little about ministry or being a pastor. 

I remember way back in January of 1991 when were were trying out at the church.  I stood and looked in the mirror before going to Sunday School.  I smiled at the reflection and thought “showtime”.  I thought that ironically, because I felt a little like I was being placed on display, perhaps even for “purchase”.  Ugh!!

Then I believe that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “Show them Jesus.  Let them see Jesus in you.”

Showtime took on a different meaning.  It is my desire to show people Jesus.  It is my desire to show people the way to draw closer to him.  It is my desire to show people the difference that Christ makes in my life, and can make in theirs.  I am not perfect, and do not pretend to be.  My congregation sees the real me, which is not always pretty, but I hope and pray that they also see the light of Christ shining through this somewhat cracked, imperfect vessel.

It’s showtime, all the time.

Valentine’s Day

February 16, 2009

Well another Valentine’s Day has come and gone.  I wonder how many people enjoyed the day?  I sometimes wonder if we don’t create problems for ourselves by thinking that life should resemble a romance novel, or a romantic comedy.  I sometimes think that people evaluate their experiences by comparing them to what they watch on television or read in a book. 

Romance books are not real life.

Life is not a movie.

In order for a marriage to succeed we need to be committed.  We need to take seriously our wedding vows; “For better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.”

Some people seem to think that when the marriage, or relationship no longer resembles the ideal presented in fictional media, that it is time to bail.  Rather, that is when our integrity is tested.  Will we remain committed to each other?  Will we work through our problems?  Will we recognize that life is real, and people are not perfect?

I believe that a key component to a happy marriage is committment.  You need to work at improving your relationship.  You need to be committed to each other no matter what comes.  

If you want to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the roses, you need to watch out for the thorns.

In, not of, the World

February 12, 2009

Perhaps you have had someone scornfully ask you “What planet are you from?”. 

Hebrews 11:13 reads “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. ”

As Christians we recognize that we are passing through this life.  It is a pilgrimage, a journey; our true home is in heaven.  We are in this world, but not of this world.   

There are two dangers in this viewpoint.  The first danger is represented by the old saying “so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.”  We do live in this life, on this world, and it is important that we do the things that we are supposed to be doing.  We are not simply waiting for the bus to take us home, there is work to be done.  However, we are not to be so consumed with work, that we are out of balance.  Our lives in this world should be marked with a balance of work, recreation, rest, study, prayer, etc.

The second danger is that we may become so consumed with the affairs of this life that we forget our true home.  Our faith, although we may give it lip service, may be relegated to the very smallest corner of our lives, taken off of the shelf only in time of need, or on special occasions.

May God give us wisdom and strength to live in this world as we are supposed to live.  May our lives be lights that shine in the darkness, that people will see in our lives the difference that Christ makes in us.

What’s the Plan?

February 11, 2009

President Bush was severely criticized for not having an exit strategy for Iraq. 

What is the plan to pay back the debt that we are accumulating?  As our congress, pushed by our president, is about to pass legislation that will saddle us with yet another huge bill to pay, I want to know, what is the exit strategy?  How will we get our country out of debt?  Can we even pay the interest?  Before we sign for a loan, can we know the terms?  Where is this money coming from and how will we pay it back?  I don’t hear anything about those little details.

The current crisis in the banking industry has come about because banks made loans to people who couldn’t afford to pay them back.  The loans were bad for both parties. 

At what point are we as a country going to learn that we cannot borrow and spend our way out of our troubles?

At some point, families, businesses, and yes, even countries, must realize that they need to make changes.  They must make hard choices.  They must work on a budget.  They need to make more money than they spend. 

What is the cost?  We are going further into debt by astronomical numbers, lead by our president who proclaims that this is the way.  One thing about debts, they do not just go away.  Sooner or later you have to pay the bill.

Can a country declare bankruptcy?  What happens when the creditors demand payment and we don’t have the money?  Who are the creditors?  Isn’t one of them China?  Does anyone else think it is a bad idea to be deeply in debt to another country?  Especially a communist country? 

What is the exit strategy?

Goodbye

February 10, 2009

I have not posted anything for this past week because my father passed away early Tuesday morning, February 3rd.  I have been back home in Minnesota with family and have not been on-line at all for almost a week.

It is sad when someone dies, but my father has a pretty good story.  He was eighty-two years old, had been happily married for almost fifty-nine years, had four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandson.  He, and his wife,  had done well in operating a  business together.  They had retired to a log cabin on a quiet lake in the north woods.  He had a good life. 

In the spring of 2008, he was diagnosed with a return of lymphoma.  He had overcome this disease five years earlier, but this time the treatments were not enough.  They tried, and tried again, and tried some more, but his body eventually gave out.  He was able to be home and independent through most of the time.  There was hope for recovery, until a final devastating report with a long list of serious problems.  There was not much time left.  His wife and daughters were able to be with him in his final hours.   Mom and my sisters, sang hymns and read scriptures. It was a sacred time.  At the end, my father’s breathing ceased to be labored and he breathed quietly for the last few minutes.  My sisters and my mother gave him a final kiss goodbye as he passed peacefully from this life.

My father was a good Christian man.  His faith was expressed by his life, and I believe that our goodbye is only temporary.  We will see each other again in eternity.  My last, living, visual memory of my father is him looking me in the eye as he waved goodbye. 

Goodbye dad, until we meet again.