Thanksgiving, Family, and Snow

img_1823

img_1813 Here is my awesome dog Tucker after eating his Thanksgiving dinner.  I am thankful for him because he is the best dog in the world, and brings us great joy.

img_1816 I am thankful for such an amazing Thanksgiving dinner.  Everything we had was delicious and led me to eat more than I should have.  Most of all though I am thankful for my amazing wife who worked very hard to make such a great meal.  She is truly a beautiful woman who constantly encourages, supports, and loves me, even when I don’t deserve it.

img_1824 This was the tasty pumpkin cake with pomegranate seeds that Crystal and my mother in law made.  We were blessed and thankful to have Crystal’s parents with us as we celebrated Thanksgiving.  They are always so kind and loving toward us.  I am thankful for them and all the rest of my family that I could not be with, such as my mom and sisters in Rockford.

img_0196 Also God blessed us with our first major snowfall of the season.  Couple that with some Christmas music, hot chocolate and you have the recipe for fond memories.

Hope your Thanksgiving was as fun as mine.

ryan

Advertisements

Pursuit of Happyness

I watched Will Smith’s movie Pursuit of Happyness on TV again this weekend and I got teared up.  I don’t know why but I have seen the movie three times now and each time I get a little misty eyed.

Something about the struggle, desperation, and dedication that is soul stirring.  I put it right in line with Cinderella Man as a movie that goes against the grain of our culture’s massive wave of portraying men and fathers as apathetic, disengaged, and unwilling to fight for their families.

Both movies though ended with salvation being financial.  While I see how the financial achievements of both men in these movies alleviates the suffering of their lives and families; I am more moved by the men they are and the love they have for their families.  It sounds corny but the blessing is in the bond, and the journey which creates it.

I do not know if most of us will face such trying circumstances as these two movie characters in our lives, but I do know we will all make daily decisions in the pursuit of happyness.  And as the apostle Paul tells us in his wonderful letter to the Phillppi, our joy (and happiness to a certain degree) does not come from our circumstances but from love; love from our Heavenly Father, and love from our community.

ryan

Mark Driscoll’s Free Book on Pornography

I have long considered pornography to be the most taboo and pertinent subject in the Church today.  It does not get any more awkward than when the topic comes up in church gatherings or Christian conversations.  Mainly, because it is such a massive issue which is having devastating effects on the spiritual lives of millions of men (and some women).

I think the reason it is so hard to talk about is because for many women the issue is just so alien to them and they carry little empathy and lots of disdain for guys who struggle with it.  Driscoll hit the nail on the head though when he says that men are visual by construction and that for women this is just not something they can fully identify with.

So Mark Driscoll has written a book that is FREE, as a resource for all who are struggling with pornography to utilize.  You can download the whole thing and pass it along to friends.

ryan

Tim Keller, The Prodigal God Pt. 2

I know the economy is tough but if you have an extra 15 bucks go buy Keller’s new book, at least put it on your Christmas wish list.  Its a short little diddy and something you could easily read through and pass along to a friend.  Now if your still recalcitrant to ponying up 15 dollars at least listen to the sermon which Keller gave and based the book on.  Please!!!

Let me share with you another snippet that hit me hard as I have continued to study Luke 15 and the three parables (lost sheep, lost coin, prodigal brothers) found in there.

There is, though, one striking difference between the third parable and the first two.  In the first two someone “goes out” and searches diligently for that which is lost.  The searchers let nothing distract them or stand in their way.  By the time we get to the third story, and we hear about the plight of the lost son, we are fully prepared to expect that someone will set out to search for him.  No one does.  It is startling, and Jesus meant it to be so.  By placing the three parables so closely together, he is inviting thoughtful listeners to ask: Well, who should have gone out and searched for the lost son?”  Jesus knew the Bible thoroughly, and he knew that at its very beginning it tells another story of an elder and younger brother–Cain and Abel.  In that story, God tells the resentful and proud elder brother: You are your brother’s keeper.” (p.81)

Our elder brother, Jesus, did not grumble when sent out to search for his younger brothers.  Instead, he humbled himself and came to earth so that we might be reconciled to the Father.

ryan

Prodigal God

Could it be that some of us avoid sin so that we can avoid Jesus?

A wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.  This is a profound insight.  You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the right moral laws.  If you do that, then you have “rights.”  God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to heaven when you die” Tim Keller, Prodigal God, p. 37

Go ahead, I dare you, take a few minutes and think about what you think God owes you.  We all have our lists, and in fact many churches have taken to embrace this idea and tell us its okay to be “disappointed” or “mad” at God, but really these negative feelings are due to us thinking God has not paid his bill. We gave our service, moral behavior, tithe, and the invoice to God is a good life.  God wreck us of this, may we love you for you.

ryan

California’s Proposition 8 and Morality

Well outside of Obama’s historic election win, the biggest political story was probably the victory of Proposition 8 in California.  Basically Proposition 8 was an amendment to the California constitution to ban same sex marriage.  The proposition was spurred by the California Supreme Court nullifying a law that the voters had passed in 2006, that out-lawed gay marriage.  This was quintessential judicial activism.

Well LGBT and same sex marriage supporters have already begun their protests and proclaiming that “their rights” have been violated, and that this is a failure of separation of church and state.  They could not be more wrong.

All people, and I repeat ALL people have the right to marry, both heterosexual and gay, and both are restricted from marrying someone of the same sex. Just like both gay and straight are restricted from marrying a child, or two people at once.

This is because states sanction and give benefits for marriage, not because of religious convictions, but civic good.  The state has a vested interest in seeing marriages between men and women occur because it is the fundamental relationship in which children are conceived and raised.  That is really it.  So when the state sanctions and encourages marriage it does so because it is trying to foster the normative conditions for the production and rearing of the next generation.  And ontologically, heterosexual marriage is the only union which can naturally produce children.  This is not ideological discrimination, just biological and anatomy fact.  A good case study of all of this and what happens when the state does not intentionally encourage heterosexual marital unions that produce children is Russia.  Because traditional marriage and traditional sexual morals have deteriorated so extensively, Russia is facing a declining population and serious fears about its economic and military future in the next 30 years.

All of this to say the idea that the separation of church and state is being violated and morality is being forced on homosexuals is just plan ignorant.  Because all law is morality, you cannot legislate anything but morality.  All laws are proscriptions of things you must do, or must not do so that society will run well.  All political arguments are therefore whose morals and what morals will be legislated.  In addition, claiming that legislating morality is a breach of separation of church and state is a categorical error of not understanding that morality and church are not synonymous.

The real funny thing about all of this is that when those who are outraged about morality being imposed upon them, fail to be consistent when their morality is encoded into law and imposed upon others…not even a whimper.

UPDATE:  Protests have been raging since Tuesday and this Sunday gay activists gathered at Saddleback to protest proposition 8.  Sad all the way around as it is such a convoluted picture of how we would want the church to make news in our communities.  Sometimes I am hopeful that we can move beyond the culture wars, and others times not so much…

ryan