Friday, December 23, 2011

My Own Personal Top Ten

As the year draws to an end, I share my personal favorite Facebook posts for 2011. And when I say they are my personal favorites, I mean my favorites of my posts.  I share these now since the major media outlets will likely ignore my contributions to the entertainment of dozens.

Drum roll please.....

10. Shared December 21 with the comment "can't stop laughing at this one."

9. Shared December 23 with the comment, "Some days you just have to watch this."

8. Shared December 6 with the comment, "for those of you looking for a heart warming story for the holidays.",0,4752706.story

7. From November 29, "OK important thing to note. Never ask your dog if she want to go out while the weather report is on TV. She just kinda looks at you like, "umm, are you seeing what I'm seeing??"

6. From November 17, "I see the Cubs have a new manager. It's always exciting when the Titanic changes Captains."

5. From November 11, "so 900 years ago today, it was 11/11/1111. I wonder how big a deal they made of THAT on TV that day."

4. From July 17, "Fixed the toilet this afternoon. When finished told the wife "we're good to go!" Still chuckling at that one lol"

3. From November 9, "If you don't have time to teach a young person about Johnny Cash, someone with more time will teach them about Barry Manilow."

2. Shared November 30 with the comment, "for those of you who long for old days.."

And my #1 favorite Facebook post, shared October 25....

“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine”
- Abraham Lincoln

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Google and a Gift from God

Funny how God cares even for the little things.

My weekly "to do" list tells me that I must blog on Fridays.  OK, maybe a little anal, but it works to instill some discipline into my writing.

Problem.  I don't know what to write about.

Correction.  I didn't know what to write about.

I thought maybe I would write something in which I could refer to the below video, mostly because I am still laughing at it.  But as I tried to figure out what to write, nothing came.

Then I tried to sign in.  And God gave me a topic.

Passwords.  Need I say more?

No doubt the Google black helicopters will double their patrols over my house (why do you think street view exists?), but I hate the problems I have signing into my Google account.

As I tried to sign in today to write the piece that I hadn't figured out how to write yet, the password stored on my computer wouldn't work.  Then I remembered; last week I wanted to comment on a friend's blog, Google demanded that I sign in (even though I was already signed in), gave me some nonsensical error message, and made me change my password.  And since my feeble mind can't remember the hundreds of passwords that the Sheldon's of the world demand, I had to reset it yet again.

Problem.  Google is very picky about how you choose a password.

I tried changing my password to my current password that I use for just about everything else.  Nope, can't use a password I've used previously.

I tried something else that would be easy to remember.  Nope, I've used that one too.

In frustration I try changing my password to "ihategoogle."  Nope, this one is rejected because it's too easy.  OK, that made me laugh.  I'm guessing that it's easy because that's everyone's default reaction to the process.

Finally I am allowed by the Google gods to change my password to..... (betcha thought I was gonna finish that sentence, didn't you)?

Seriously, I never thought I'd have to put more thought into choosing a password to write a blog than into the blog itself!

Thank you for reading,
signed keilw71100!!kshn3

p.s. here's the funny video I made reference to above.  Though I am generally not disposed to favoring a playoff for college football, this video's producer makes an interesting case.  Now if I could just understand why the English have a role in this....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tim Tebow, Lady Gaga, and a Sign of the End Times

Q: If people use the term "Tebowing" to refer to Tim Tebow, why don't they use the term "gagging" to refer to Lady Gaga??

Q2: How many of you, when you woke up this morning, thought of these two in the same sentence??

The idea for this blog popped into my head a few days ago, when I saw that the Gagster (as I shall henceforth refer to her) visited the White House.  Now I don't for a moment minimize the cause that brought her there.  The more I work with young people, the more sense I get that bullying in 2011 is not at all like bullying was in 1985.  While painful then, the addition of text messaging, Facebook, and other media amplify the opportunities to be hurtful in ways that could not be imagined then.

What did strike me as interesting (and by "interesting" I mean "huh???") is how such a visit legitimizes her as a role model.  Her choice to engage in offensive and sinful behavior, whether in public or private, has become a cause to celebrate rather than lament, giving validity to the idea of being "born this way."

Once again for the record, I am not endorsing bullying, no matter what the reason might be.

What I am saying, or rather asking, is when exactly did it start making sense to celebrate Lady Gaga and denigrate Tim Tebow, who by all accounts is a sincere young man who is honorable in the life he lives and loves his God the way God has instructed us all to in His word?

Then it hits me.  It actually hits me twice.

"...scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires." 2 Peter 3:3


"...the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." John 3:19

Lady Gaga is a hero and Tim Tebow is a villain because mankind loves darkness more than light, and does so increasingly as we approach the end.  Just as some people will eat themselves to death because the pleasure of food blinds them to the consequences, some people will embrace sin and sinful behavior because its pleasure blinds them to its consequences.

But Matt, to each their own.  I mean, if it doesn't affect me, why should I care?

Ezekiel 9 tells an interesting story.  Ezekiel the prophet has a vision from the Lord, in which he is instructed to send for the executioners and one other man, a mysterious man in linen who carries a writing case.  This man then goes throughout the city marking all who mourn over the sin they see (verse 4).  And in an interesting twist, the executioners do not only slaughter the sinners, but those without the marks, i.e. those who do NOT mourn over sin.

That's why I care.  Because sin is not ok. While our nature may be to sin, our choice to sin is just that, a choice.  Because being "born that way" is no more true of sexual preference than it is for any other sin.  Because sin is neither personal nor innocent.

I confess that I really did intend to write a happier piece today.  But what started in my mind as a funny comparison quickly became a source for deep concern and regret.  

See, the tolerance, nay the endorsement of sin has brought down nation upon nation in the history of the world.  And yet we want to think that somehow we'll slip by?

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap." Galatians 6:7

But let's be clear.  In this Christmas season we read that the angel instructed Joseph to name the baby "Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).  Christ came not to stay as a sweet baby in a manger, but to die as a bloody man on a cross.  And he did so to save us from the very sins we embrace, if we will accept His gift of grace and love in a spirit of humility and repentance.

Among all the gifts of the season, may God grant us all a spirit of repentance this year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lazy Pastors

DISCLAIMER: When we read something or hear something said, we are always tempted to think that the object of the article or discussion is someone immediately close to the writer/speaker, kind of like when we hear someone talk about "a friend of mine" we always believe that person to be the speaker him or herself.  Trust me that this is not the case with the below.  The pastors I describe, though sadly not fictional, are not anyone I have ever worked with, whether in the present or in the past.  Phew!

No doubt the title of today's ramblings piqued your interest, at least until the above disclaimer took your interest, shot it in the head, and buried it in a shallow grave somewhere.  Perhaps some of you even think you know where I'm going with this.

You probably don't.

For some of you, a "lazy" pastor is the man (and yes, I said man) who doesn't make as many house visits as you'd like.  Or he's the one who let you sit two whole days before visiting you in the hospital.  Or he lets someone else teach that bible study you're in.  Or he expects you to do the work of ministry too.

Some of those pastors may indeed be lazy.  In truth, they are probably overworked and can't get to everything they'd like to do.

When I write of the lazy pastor, I refer to the pastor who believes he can omit the Old Testament from his preaching and teaching, self-righteously determining that it no longer matters.

If you are reading this and have never heard of such a thing, in the spirit of the season let me just say "Hallelujah!"

Today's blog springs from a Facebook post by a friend of mine who writes of a friend of his (and I believe that this "friend" is truly a different person :) ) who was taught that the OT no longer applies, and thus we should only be taught from the NT.  When challenged, apparently friend #2 "de-friended" friend #1, which of course pales only to the dreaded triple-dog dare in seriousness.

Note to Jesus: the Old Testament no longer matters.  Please stop referring to it.

Note to Paul: the Old Testament no longer matters.  Please stop referring to it.

Note to Peter, James, Luke... well, you get the picture.

I could be kind and chalk up such thought to poor teaching of the teacher, but despite the holiday mandate, I shall not be so charitable.  The Old Testament is hard work.  Much of it is narrative, so discovering God's "point" takes thought and sometimes research.  The prophetic books are mysterious and often scary, and besides that always refer to some "ite" or another who no longer exists.  Proverbs reads like theological bumper stickers.  The Psalms are poetry, and who ever learned anything from poetry??

The apostle Paul, a man well acquainted with the Law and the OT, told the Ephesians, "I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:26-27, emphasis added) and elsewhere added, "whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction" (Romans 15:4).  And lest you declare Paul a heretic for teaching such foolishness, Jesus (yes, that Jesus) said, "until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Matthew 5:18).  Interesting to note is the ESV words I quoted- iota and dot- are derived from the Greek letter iota, (the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet), and dot (which comes from the Hebrew letter yod; the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet).  Might it be that Jesus thought that even the smallest portions of the Law must continue??

The Old Testament is important, but no one ever said it was easy.  In my first preaching class in seminary, our sermons had to come from the NT epistles, because the author's points are generally laid out clearly.  Yes, research is required to do the text justice, but application from an epistle is generally easier than trying to determine application from Amos.  And because of the relative ease of crafting a sermon from the NT, too many preachers take the easy route and skip the OT altogether.

In truth, many of these pastors likely have the hands full with other valid tasks, such as managing their church or caring for its members.  Labeling such pastors as "lazy" would be an overstatement that is totally unwarranted.  To those pastors who are so busy ministering that their preaching suffers, I applaud you and apologize for any disrespect you may have felt reading this.

For any pastors who have allowed themselves to believe that they can skip the OT, I challenge you to challenge yourself and ask yourself how you came to that conclusion.  Was it because something in the bible led you to that conclusion (good luck!) or is it because it's just easier to skip the first 2/3 of Scripture.

For those of you who are not pastors and are reading this, should you attend a church where the pastor faithfully proclaims "the whole counsel of God," tell him thanks.  Trust me, he will appreciate the encouragement.  You have no idea how important hearing all of God's word is!

In closing, don't risk the day when you meet Zephaniah in heaven and hear him ask, "so, how did you like my book?"