"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Your OTHER right!"
Proverbs 16:25 KJV There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
            That any Scripture verse should ever become cliché is a shame. That a Scripture verse containing such a dire warning should become cliché is a tragedy.
            Long, long ago in a city far, far away, an ambitious young fellow and his brother built a Heathkit color TV. When they finished the project and plugged it in, nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. So they switched into expert troubleshooting mode and checked the internal fuse. While it seemed okay, they even tried replacing it, exhausting their troubleshooting expertise.
            Thirty-odd bucks(a fortune in the '60s) and twenty-odd repaired and redirected connections later, we picked up our perfectly functioning Heathkit color television. Turns out, while Michael and I thought we were following the detailed instructions ... we hadn't. Our lesson? "The complexity of a project is inversely proportional to its likelihood of success."
            What could be more complex than a human being? To work correctly, all its uncountable parts must operate in perfect harmony. What's more, its body, mind and spirit must also function harmoniously. Together, all those variables make a color TV seem as complex as a wooden block. Yet, we come into this life with less direction than an ant crawling across the floor. Our earliest priorities? Stomach, bottom, and love, in that order.
            Typically, our priorities don't change much as we mature into childhood, adolescence and adulthood. We've all witnessed the behavior of childish and adolescent-behaving "adults," fixated on their stomachs(gluttony), their bottoms(toilet humor), and finding love(promiscuity). So, what went wrong with God's "very good" (Genesis 1:31) creation?
            Such misdirection is hardly our Creator's fault. He saw to our correct assembly—ten fingers, ten toes, etc. He even made us in His own image, with a body, a mind, and a spirit—each subject to the control of our unique, personal volition. And since we were able to make choices, He provided a guide to our complete personhood in His word, our Bible.
            So, if it's not God's fault, whose fault is it? Answering that question is like explaining why a meteorite flamed through our atmosphere and landed on a certain person's home.
            We find the short answer in one word: "Sin." The S word plagues all creation, even the innocents. Unfair? Yes. Wrong? No, because no one who is old enough to disobey is truly innocent.
            Experts* have long disputed the exact nature of our first parents; were they Adam and Eve, or an evolved species of bipedal primates? Did Eve, in fact, take a bite of the forbidden fruit, or was the first sin some more generic form of disobedience?
            Despite the controversy surrounding our origins, unbiased observers must admit to a fundamental glitch plaguing humanity's character. We don't know exactly how long Man walked his world before yielding to temptation, but God had given him just one prohibition, one rule, one "commandment," and presto-change-o, we became a race of liars, and worse.
            Anyone who remains unconvinced of mankind's fundamental sin-nature need only observe the small child, fist locked around a forbidden cookie, emphatically denying his disobedience. Is that so different from Eve biting into the forbidden fruit?
            Indeed, our human situation seems unfair, and would be, if the Eternal, Self-existent God had not given us a way to escape our just deserts. That divinely provided way is not a process, method, philosophy, or religion. It is, in fact, a person; John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (Another essential Bible passage that we have reduced to trivia)
            To rely on our innate sense of rightness for direction in life invites all kinds of corruption and abuse, as exemplified by the hurtful behavior of religious and political zealots. Our "other" right is God's way; the one standard that never changes, to please and glorify the one God that never changes. Therein lies our true fulfillment and our destiny.

* Alternatively: ex-spurt. Definition: A has-been drip under pressure.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


            God's word mentions two distinctly different swords, both of which are small but extremely heavy. So heavy are they, that no Christ-follower can carry both. In fact, all true disciples of Christ carry the same one, described in the following Scripture passage.
2Timothy 3:16-17(ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17)that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
            That's right; we're talking about "The Sword of the Spirit(Ephesians 6:17). There is another sword, however, that all of us have at our disposal, whether or not we use it.
Proverbs 12:18(ESV) There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
            So, what happens when you wield your sword of choice? Does it bring healing, or grievance? Does it build people up, or tear them down? In case you haven't noticed, "sword" and "words" are interchangeable. Do you use kind words for those you want to impress, and biting words for those who are unimportant or disagreeable to you?
            Another passage of Scripture compares the tongue(symbolic of the words we utter) to the bit in a horse's mouth, a boat's rudder, and a small flame.
James 3:3-10(ESV) If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. (4)Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. (5)So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! (6)And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (7)For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, (8)but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (9)With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. (10)From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
            The imagery presents two functions for the tongue, or words: First, as a steering device. Second, as an instrument of destruction. But even something as positive as a steering device can, when mishandled, direct us to shipwreck on the rocks. And something as dangerous as a flame can be used to produce power or purify a substance.
            We often hear that we can be sure of our eternal destiny by "the witness of the Spirit." While the Bible indeed says that, interpreting the "witness" as the warm, comfortable feeling we get at church is exactly wrong. The hundred-percent accurate way of knowing where we are ultimately headed is simple, and far more objective than feelings; we must open our ears to the words we wield, and open our eyes to the effect we have on others.
            So please, watch what sword you wield. Your eternal life depends on it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A dog's earnest prayer

            I watched a video, the link to which my sister sent in an e-mail, showing a dog that had been trained to assume a posture of prayer on command before snarfing its meal.
            While it was cute beyond measure, it suggest to me the sincerity, or lack thereof, displayed by the average pew-sitter (including myself at times). That begs the question: If prayer changes things--mostly human hearts--what sort of thoughts pass through people's minds when they pretend to pray, yet continue with their lives unchanged. I know that sounds cynical, even judgmental, but I've been walking with the Lord long enough to well know my own insincerity at times of rebellion, fatigue and depression; the moments when I most need to touch God's heart are when I find it hardest to reach out to Him.
            The ever living God is more polite than one would imagine for an omnipotent super-being. Oh, yes, He can pour out His wrath then those who claim to belong to Him behave unfaithfully or deny Him by their actions. Yet, He is more than willing to forgive such behavior when the transgressor sincerely repents. Praise the eternal, living God for His infinite grace.
            While the praying dog may not know why his master wants him to sit in such a strange position before eating, no one can deny his canine sincerity when performing for a meal. Yes, we can learn a lot from a praying dog.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Immanuel's Veins
Thomas Nelson (September 7, 2010)

Ted Dekker

On pain of acute disappointment, do not miss this story. Dekker is a good bet any time for an entertaining, exciting read. Just a short disclaimer: Start this book with plenty of time to finish it. I guarantee you won't want to lay it down.

Yes, this review is terribly general. It's intended to be. Anything close to a spoiler would be a grave affront to both reader and author, as allowing Immanuel's Veins to naturally build within the reader's mind and heart is just the way it works. But I can say, without spoiling the story in the least, this story, as is life, is all about sacrificial love. God's word says He is love. Not pleasure. Not sensuality. Certainly not lust. Godly love is, by nature, sacrificial

Beg, borrow, or ... well ... buy this book, but get it.


Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty novels. He is best known for stories which could be broadly described as suspense thrillers with major twists and unforgettable characters, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans.

Early in his career he wrote a number of spiritual thrillers and his novels were lumped in with ‘Christian Fiction’ a surprisingly large category. His later novels are a mix of mainstream novels such as Adam, Thr3e, Skin, Obsessed and BoneMan’s Daughters, and fantasy thrillers that metaphorically explore faith. Best known among these is his Circle Series: Green, Black, Red, White and The Paradise Books: Showdown, Saint, and Sinner.

Dekker was born to missionaries who lived among the headhunter tribes of Indonesia. Because his parents’ work often included extended periods of time away from their children, Dekker describes his early life in a culture to which he was a stranger as both fascinating and lonely. It is this unique upbringing that forced him to rely on his own imagination to create a world in which he belonged.

After leaving Indonesia, Dekker graduated from a multi-cultural high school and took up permanent residence in the United States to study philosophy and religion. Upon earning his Bachelor’s Degree, he entered the corporate world and proceeded to climb the proverbial ladder. But his personal drive left him restless and, after many successful years, he traded corporate life for wide range of entrepreneurial pursuits that included buying and selling businesses, healthcare services, and marketing.

In the early nineties while visiting a friend who had just written a book, Dekker decided to pursue a long held desire to be a novelist. Over the course of two years he wrote two full length novels before starting from scratch and rewriting both. Now fully enamored by the the process and the stories, he realized that storytelling was in his blood and a new obsession to explore truth through story gripped him anew.

He sold his business, moved his family to the mountains of Western Colorado and began writing full-time on his third novel. Two years and three novels later his first novel, Heaven’s Wager, was published.

Now, Dekker’s novels had sold over 3.4 million copies worldwide. Two of his novels, Thr3e and House, have been made into movies with more in production. Dekker resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Lee Ann and two of their daughters.


This story is for everyone--but not everyone is for this story.

It is a dangerous tale of times past. A torrid love story full of deep seduction. A story of terrible longing and bold sacrifice.

Then as now, evil begins its courtship cloaked in light. And the heart embraces what it should flee. Forgetting it once had a truer lover.

With a kiss, evil will ravage body, soul, and mind. Yet there remains hope, because the heart knows no bounds.

Love will prove greater than lust. Sacrifice will overcome seduction. And blood will flow.

Because the battle for the heart is always violently opposed. For those desperate to drink deep from this fountain of life, enter.

But remember, not everyone is for this story.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Immanuel's Veins, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Here's a Real Eye-Opener
            My sister and brother-in-law sent me this link, which everyone outside the Muslim world should view.

            I must confess, I was partially deceived by the conciliatory rhetoric of American Muslims, thinking they were but a different faction of Islam, when the truth is any faithful Muslim speaking to non-Muslim infidels(ALL non-Muslims are infidels) is either lying or ignorant of al-Qur'an. Those Red, White, and Blue Muslim Americans we see on the Network News aren't necessarily Muslims embracing the American Dream. In fact, American converts to Islam are necessarily militant, as their conversion means they have studied al-Qur'an exhaustively.
            Don't believe me? Think I've caved in to the far right's propaganda? Watch the presentation if you haven't already.
            While Islam is by its very nature a unity, Christendom encourages factions, due to the pluralistic nature of God's word. Those who want Biblical grounds for their off-the-wall agenda simply have to search out a passage that seems to support it, and ignore the rest. The Bible is God's inerrant word ONLY when it is taken in its entirety, from the most reliable, original language manuscripts. Excerpts can support specific doctrines, but neither those excerpts, nor the doctrines they support, are inerrant when taken out of the entire Bible's context.
            That is not to say God cannot use modern Bible translations, paraphrases, and even translations by cultists. God can use the daily news as an instrument of personal redemption if He so chooses, but it is certainly not inerrant.
            One thing I've learned about God is He cannot be bound by human conceptions of Him, regardless how pervasive they are. That's why I don't pretend to be The Authority on all things godly. Many people, most of whom far brighter than I, have different takes on theology, and while I must necessarily stand by my own beliefs, I must also remain open to the correction of truth. 'Tis a delicate balance I, and anyone attempting to follow the way of Christ, is walking.
            Regardless, that way, walked as honestly as possible, is the only way to the Father. One of my life's Bible passages is Galatians 6:7,8
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
            God will not play our silly, religious games, be they Muslim, agnostic, or Christian. Praise God for His grace, through which He views our inner thoughts and motives, and without which we have no hope of redemption.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Convictions Of Convenience
              I listened to a very funny speaker named Jeanne Robertson recounting an ill advised trip down the Colorado River. She finished with the tale of a group of Baptist tea-totalers who, when the stress of the trip finally got to them, imbibed in some wine the guide offered.
              Seems like some stray thought always attacks my fun. When Jeanne said, "What happens on the river stays on the river," I thought, "Conviction of Convenience."
              Moral people stand on their standards until something bigger and more pressing overtakes them ... like a nice fat grudge or some wonderful person who understands them more than their insensitive spouse. Whenever I'm tempted to stand in judgment over someone whose behavior or lifestyle isn't up to my standard, I cling to a wise statement I once heard from a godly man, "But for the grace of God, there go I."
              I have no immunity to temptation, even though the Bible says I'm "dead to sin." Somewhere below the surface, I have a murderer, or an adulterer, or a homosexual, or a thief, or a liar, or a drunk ready to reach his decayed hand out of the grave and grasp my throat in a death grip. So I try to take nothing for granted.
              Now, don't get the wrong idea; I believe the Bible. But God's word isn't limited to a few "life-verses" or doctrinal proofs. God's inspired word cannot be abridged, and remain God's inspired word. That's what gives rise to "Christian" denominations and cults.
              The Bible indeed says we are dead to sin, but in the same chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, he warns us to "let not sin reign in our mortal bodies." If the promise applied universally he would not have had to include the warning that follows the promise.
              Think about it. Adam had no "Original Sin" before he tried lying to God. He couldn't blame his sin on his "Adamic nature." So he blamed his wife, "whom You gave to be with me," who blamed the serpent. Bottom line? Man blamed God for the evil that came into his life. And a lot of good that did him.
              According to OneLook.com, one definition of conviction is, "an unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence." Unshakable is the operative term, which limits our true convictions to an exceedingly narrow range. Few even begin to suspect the power convictions can wield over human affairs. In fact, convictions are never convenient.