Monday, February 6, 2012

Irish music

Love Irish music. The pub variety. Guinness in pints and smoke in the back room of the place. Guitar, mandolin, fiddle, tin whistle.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I wish I had a dime...

I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard some pastor say: "The Christian life is not about religion, it's about relationship." In the pastor's mind these are two polar opposites, mutually exclusive, oil and water. "Religion" is spoken of with contempt. "Religion" is bad, evil, hypocritical, Pharisaical, outward, pretentious, deplorable, detestable and abominable to God. "Relationship" is spoken of in glowing terms as wonderful, happy, pleasing to God, genuine, real, unhypocritical, authentic and good. And that of course is what this ministry, pastor, church is all about. "We're not into religion, we're into relationship." Sounds very good and spiritual. But is it true? This "truism" has always sounded a bit odd to me, and the other day I figured out why. It's simply not true. It's a falsism.

Religion and relationship are not mutually exclusive. To say that they are is to make a false dichotomy. It is both/and- and not either/or. In the Apostle Paul's first letter to Timothy he says: "We know that the law is good if a man uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for good men but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious..."

Here Paul is saying that to not be religious, God-seeking, holy, upright, devout, religious, Christ-honoring, God-pleasing, blameless, religious, humble, kind, gracious,etc.- is bad, not good, not pleasing to God, ungodly, sinful, fill in the blank. In other words, in God's words, it is good to be religious. To be irreligious is to be without relgion, and to be instead impious, undevout, wicked, sinful, evil.

And James the half-brother of our Lord says this: "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." So true religion according to James means control your yapper, help the helpless and keep your nose clean.

Religion is inescapable. Everyone is religious. Everyone worships someone or something. Either the Creator God, or His creation or creatures. Which is why idolatry is so often addressed in both testaments. So the issue is not whether one is religious or not. The issue is whether one is practicing a self-deceptive and worthless religion, or living out a religion that pleases God. And if your religion is of the God-pleasing variety, you'll be walking (by faith) in good "relationship" with your Lord, and with His people. True religion is relationship.

Wish List

Here's my wish list for the month of August, the rest of 2009, and on into the future...

1. Employment at a Christian high school for 2009-'10 year teaching Literature and Doctrine

2. Progress, dominion, strength, endurance, diligence, focus, purpose, industry

3. Clarity of thought and unmuddled decision-making, direction, guidance, grace, perseverance, persistence, prudence

4. Redemption of my time, life, minutes, hours, days, months, years and decades- which at 47 years of age, I've probably only got three or four left (decades that is)

5. Wisdom, love, service, silence, prayer, blessing, obedience, faithfulness, faith

6. Discernment, discretion, sound judgment, self-control, self-denial, self-discipline, understanding, insight, a tight rein on my tongue, restraint

7. To be extremely productive and very fruitful for the kingdom of God in Christ Jesus. To seek ever-increasing knowledge, love, service, giving, wisdom and truth.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Been almost three months since I last posted anything. Too busy living life I guess. Peace.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wedding Homily for Luke & Vicky Ryan

Well, here we are on the same beach where Charlton Heston saw what was left of the Statue of Liberty at the end of the movie The Planet of the Apes. And Tony Stark's house where he developed 'Iron Man' technology to go out and save the world, it was right up there on the top of those cliffs. But those were pretend and make believe- this is real.

Today this beach which has been a favorite movie location for many films is now the location for a much grander and amazing occasion- your wedding, and the beginning of your life together. Many actors have stood here to film their scenes. But now God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and all of us, even the dolphins, pelicans, sea lions and whales, stand here with you at this scenic place to witness the start of something real -a new family and household- Luke and Vicky Ryan

Here are seven practical thoughts for the reality of your marriage:

  1. Place each other like seals over your hearts. An indelible stamp like a tattoo, on your souls. Promise together to honor Jesus by serving and blessing each other. Feelings will ebb and flow over time. Remember the loving God who loved you first. Remember also that God promises that two are better than one, and choose to love each other through the ups and downs of life. Growth in marital grace will continue until the day one of you departs and you are separated by death. So appreciate, treasure, forgive, and bless each other for as long as you have each other.

  1. This wedding is almost over! You’re nearly married! Which means you don't yet have any experience of what it's really like to be married. Go slow. It's going to take some time to learn to live together. Be patient. Cut each other some slack. Don't demand perfection. Don't expect your spouse to read your mind. Use words. Talk and then listen attentively. Don't finish each other's sentences- it's rude. Ask each other about needs, desires, wants, expectations, hopes, dreams, goals and visions for the present, and also the future. Take time to regularly sync up your schedules and talk about the upcoming week, month, and year. Make some plans and set some goals, believe God's Word, and step out in faith and courage. Ask God to make you very fruitful and extremely productive for His kingdom and glory.

3. There's a lot of busy-ness to the task of keeping a home together. Errands, budgeting, laundry, banking, cooking, shopping, taxes, working, paying bills, figuring out insurance, changing the oil in the car, and on and on in a never ending list. Embrace the repetitiveness of life together, prioritize the 'to do' list together, and share the work. If you divide tasks, be sure you both know the basic details and both have input in any decisions. Vicky- if the two of you can't come to an agreement- God has given Luke the fearful responsibility of making the final choice. Support him! And both of you- agree on a saving, giving and spending plan and stick to it!

4. Serve God together. Maybe volunteer for a position at your church, or offer your home as a meeting place, or work for an event or an organization you believe is doing good things that honor God. You will bless and greatly encourage many people, yourselves included. Invite people into your home and love them with a listening ear, good counsel, food, fellowship and hospitality. Include the less fortunate: the disabled or handicapped, the immigrant or foreign student, and the single mother or widow. Be compassionate, tender-hearted and kind.

5. Remind each other of your heavenly citizenship. Walk in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Keep the joy of the LORD your strength. Meditate together in God's eternal Word. Walk with the wise and grow wise, and depart the company of fools who bring harm and destruction in their path. Lay aside pride, conceit and haughtiness, and be humble, teachable & gracious. Remember that you are beloved children of the great and good King of heaven. Seek first His kingdom and righteousness. Lay aside the sin that so easily entangles and run your race with endurance so as to finish well. Don't let the world, the flesh or the devil get you down, but stay prayerful and walk in the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

6. Don't worry and fret about the future over which you have no control anyway. God the Father is in sovereign control of everything -including the all the details. Present your requests to Him with a thankful heart, and He'll give you His peace that surpasses all comprehension. Then together make plans, and ask, seek and knock. Look for opportunities, knowing that 'man makes his plans, but God directs his steps'.

7. Remember that you're not alone. You have friends and family that are praying for you. Jesus Himself is praying for you at the right hand of God the Father. But we're here for you too. Take a moment right now to look around- and see who is here with you today. We are here to help you in difficulties and rejoice with you in prosperity. We love you. Even better – God loves you and nothing can separate you from His love. It is the most valuable thing in the universe- more valuable than all the gold or silver that has ever existed. His love burns like a forest fire that cannot be put out by oceans of water. And it is stronger than death- at the end of your lives God’s love will take you past the valley of darkness and up into that better country where every tear will be wiped away by Jesus Himself.

May God bless you and keep you, lift up the light of His countenance upon you, and give you His peace. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crisis Intervention

"The hour has come!" said the Badger at last with great solemnity.
"What hour?" asked the Rat uneasily, glancing at the clock on the mantelpiece.
"Whose hour, you should rather say," replied the Badger. "Why, Toad's hour! The hour of Toad! I said I would take him in hand as soon as the winter was well over, and I'm going to take him in hand to-day!"
"Toad's hour, of course!" cried the Mole delightedly. "Hooray! I remember now! We'll teach him to be a sensible Toad!" ...

"Now, then!" he [Badger] said to the Toad, when the four of them stood together in the hall, "first of all, take those ridiculous things off!"
"Shan't!" replied Toad, with great spirit. "What is the meaning of this gross outrage? I demand an instant explanation."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Busy People

Realized the other day that good theology shows up everywhere. For instance-Richard Scarry's Busy People books and videos for children that I used to read and watch with my nieces Marina and Evangeline when they were younger. The reformational theology of the priesthood of believers, that everyone, no matter what their vocation, could glorify God by doing their work diligently and masterfully. One didn't need to hole up in a monastary and pray all day long to please God. But ordinary people who loved Jesus, could be salt and light in the world by working hard at their various jobs, provide for their families and be a rich blessing to their communities and world. Delivering mail, putting out fires, baking bread, milking cows, teaching and instructing, cleaning and ironing, prepping and cooking, consulting, programming: anything one did that wasn't obviously in conflict with God's law, where one worked hard, stayed busy, and made oneself useful and productive- pleased and honored the Creator. Work and dominion is what we as people, (or talking critters by Richard Scarry) were made for. And we are to work hard and be diligent with a good attitude and cheerful obedience to God's commands and providences. In other words, have the attitude and demeanor of Pig Will, not Pig Won't. Be cheerful, optimistic, goal-oriented, focused, diligent, disciplined and faithful, not grumbly, lazy, complainy, fussy, whiny, scowling, murmuring, eye-rolling and angry. Pig Will is the wise man (pig) of proverbs and Pig Won't the foolish man (until he repents). Yes, be a Pig Will and the LORD with be with you and bless the work of your hands, world without end.