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tower-of-babel
I really need to start updating this page at least once a month… maybe once a week. So, that’s a resolution to quit being so lazy.
Anyways, here is a great quote from NT Wright I found written in my little blue notebook from a couple of years ago to start your Monday-

“It is not enough to say one’s prayers in private, maintain high personal morality and then go to work to rebuild the Tower of Babel on Monday”

Genesis 11:4 says “Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves…” I’m not sure what you job is or what your motivations are for work, career, etc but I think it’s safe to say that most of America (and even the world) are on a “tower building” mission that will ultimately fail. I think a lot of churches are on tower building missions too. That’s a lot of wasted effort.

Two really good thoughts on prayer and asking God for certain things- one by Tozer and the other by Sproul.

The word wish in its modern sense has little or no place in the Christian’s vocabulary. The word occurs rarely in the Bible, and when it does it seldom means more than to will or desire. It is hard to conceive of anything more completely futile than wishing. It is significant that wishing is done mostly by children and superstitious people. However sweet and innocent it may appear to see a child going through his little ritual of wishing, it can become something far from harmless when carried over into adult life. And even the child should be taught very early that wishing gets him nowhere. The evil of the empty wish lies in the fact that the wisher is not adjusted to the will of God. He allows his desires to play over things that are entirely out of God’s will for him and dreams of possessing what he well knows he should not have. Five minutes of this futile dreaming and he has lost the fine edge off his spiritual life. Should the act ripen into a habit, his Christian life may be seriously injured. The man soon comes to substitute mere longing for hard work, and unless he corrects his fault sharply, he will degenerate into a spineless dreamer of empty dreams. Every desire should be brought to the test of God’s will. If the desire is out of the will of God, it should be instantly dismissed as unworthy of us. To continue to long for something that is plainly out of the will of God for us is to prove how unreal our consecration actually is. Tozer

Sometimes we all feel as if our prayers lack the power to penetrate our ceilings. It seems as though our petitions fall on deaf ears and God remains unmoved or unconcerned about our passionate pleading. Why do these feelings haunt us?
There are several reasons why we are sometimes frustrated in prayer. One is that our expectations are unrealistic. This, perhaps more than any other factor, leads to a frustration in prayer. We make the common mistake of taking statements of Jesus in isolation from other biblical aspects of teaching in prayer, and we blow these few statements out of proportion.
We hear Jesus say that if two Christians agree on anything and ask, it shall be given to them. Jesus made that statement to men who had been deeply trained in the art of prayer, men who already knew the qualifications of this generalization. Yet in a simplistic way we interpret the statement absolutely. We assume the promise covers every conceivable petition without reservation or qualification. Think of it. Would it be difficult to find two Christians who would agree that to end all wars and human conflict would be a good idea? Obviously not. Yet if two Christians agreed to pray for the cessation of war and conflict, would God grant their petition? Not unless He planned to revise the New Testament and its teaching about the future of human conflict.
Prayer is not magic. God is not a celestial bellhop at our beck and call to satisfy our every whim. In some cases, our prayers must involve the travail of the soul and agony of heart, such as Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane. Sometimes young Christians have been bitterly disappointed in “unanswered” prayers, not because God failed to keep His promises, but because well-meaning Christians made promises “for” God that God never authorized.

Do you have unrealistic expectations that account for seemingly unanswered prayers? Are you treating God like a celestial bellhop? Sproul

earth
I was talking to a friend today about how all of nature and creation should open our eyes to the reality of God (Romans 1:19-20) but that in many people it leads them in the opposite direction and they deny God’s existence. Yet even these people, when they see something amazing in nature express a sense of wonder and even, yes, an attitude of worship. Whether it is an astrophysicist looking at a galaxy on the edge of the known universe or someone standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, we humans feel the need to share our experiences with others. Our joy and wonder is not fully realized until we tell someone else about what we have just experienced. This is just about universal and is seen especially in children who really need to tell you about “things”. In C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Lucy comes back from her first trip into Narnia and can’t keep herself from telling her brothers and sisters about the magical place she has been. They of course don’t believe that she has been in a magical place- they think she has a very active imagination and it upsets her greatly.

I can think of a couple spiritual parallels. One of course, should be our desire to tell others about who Jesus is and what He has done for us. The fact that some people won’t believe the amazing news that God loves them and has made a way for them to have a relationship with Him shouldn’t really surprise us that much. We should still tell them and be in awe that we have experienced something that amazing. Second, I can’t help but think what heaven must be like. A place where God’s will is done in every instance and detail and everyone worships Him in holiness. A tiny glimpse of this would change us forever. The prophets and apostles who did get a glimpse were profoundly changed and seemed to lack words to describe it. That’s why John’s description in revelation seems so bizarre. I think what he was saying was- “You need to see this!” I’m really looking forward to it.

I posted this back in 2008 and thought it was worth a re-post since he is making another Super Bowl appearance.

[youtube]YdcJSsRfL8s[/youtube]When Tom Brady was interviewed a couple of weeks ago on 60 Minutes, even the interviewer was surprised by what he said at the end. You may be a little surprised as well, but if you are honest with yourself, you feel the same way. I know I do. We just don’t talk about it- especially in Christian circles. But apparently Bono feels the same way because one of the most well known songs of the last 30 years is the classic U2 hit “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Everybody knows it and everybody sings along when they hear it.

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
But yes I’m still running
You broke the bonds
You loosened the chains
You carried the cross
And my shame
And my shame
You know I believed it
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for

It is what CS Lewis calls that “inconsolable secret” or longing that we all feel in life; that feeling that won’t go away- that there must be something more out there for us. In Mere Christianity he distills it down to this one thought provoking statement- “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

That in itself is enough to make you stop and think about that universal feeling of, for lack of a better word, “moreness”. We all have that inconsolable longing for “more” that we think will eventually be satisfied by doing more things or getting more stuff. Since I doubt that anyone reading this will ever reach the status of Tom Brady in terms of worldly accomplishment, fame, wealth and even power, we are likely to fall into the trap of thinking that if I just had a life like his or _______ (fill in the blank), I would be satisfied. But the testimony of Brady and countless others that “have it all” is that nothing in this world satisfies that desire for “more”.

As Americans, we are masters at doing and getting more. Our entire culture is built on this materialistic principle. But what if, as Lewis, says, we are indeed made for more, but the best we can do in this life is get little glimpses and feelings of it? In his amazing essay “The Weight of Glory”, Lewis explores this with a clarity and depth that is his trademark and genius. If you’ve never read it, put it on your short list and order it from Amazon or pick it up at Borders. You may have to read it several times to really get all that is there, but it is worth the time.

In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.

When Lewis wrote this, he was writing primarily of the longing that Christians still feel even though they know and are known by God in some measure. But there is a distinction to be made between what a believer feels and what an unbeliever feels. The unbeliever longs for a sense of meaning, purpose and significance that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can give. There is that desire to make the temporal nature of life eternally significant. The Christian feels this as well, but on a different level also longs for the consummation and perfection of his relationship with Christ.

It doesn’t matter whether you are Tom Brady or the Apostle Paul, God made you for Himself and all the experiences of life point to that fact- the desire for more that is never satisfied in this life- The Inconsolable Longing.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14

This is worth thinking about- the only way to avoid a depraved mind is to retain the knowledge of God. (Romans 1:28) By depraved, I don’t mean you are as bad and evil as you can possibly be, I mean that you won’t think and act rightly in your relationship with God and other people. The knowledge of man can only get you so far… and that is not far enough. Spend some time reading your Bible today and hear what God has to say to you.

From RC Sproul  at www.ligonier.org

God said to Isaiah: “Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (Isa. 6:910, NIV).

This type of judgment is articulated by Paul in Romans 1: “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (v. 28, NIV).

The worst punishment that can befall us is to be given over or abandoned to our sin by God. This anticipates God’s verdict at the final judgment: “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile” (Rev. 22:11, NIV).

Every time God’s Word is proclaimed it changes all of those within its hearing. No one ever remains unaffected by God’s Word. To those who hear it positively, there is growth in grace. To those who reject it or are indifferent to it, calluses are added to their souls and calcium to their hearts. The eye becomes dimmer and dimmer, the ear heavier and heavier, and the mystery of the kingdom more and more obscure. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

This is great-

Jesus did not come to a neutral world with the result that some people moved from neutrality to be anti-Jesus, and others moved from neutrality to be pro-Jesus. Nobody was neutral. And nobody is neutral. We have all sinned. We are all guilty. We are all perishing. Therefore, we are all under God’s righteous wrath. And we are already condemned.

Whether we stay that way depends on how we respond to Jesus. He came not to make neutral people into pro-Jesus people, but to make guilty people non-guilty, condemned people not condemned, and to make dead people eternally alive. God does not owe anybody acquittal or life. That Jesus came to offer it, and that some accept it, is all undeserved grace.

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/this-is-the-judgment-light-has-come-into-the-world

2 old racers sitting on the porch

2 old racers sitting on the porch

My good friend Jerry Jacob died earlier this week after a long fight with cancer. I will miss him. Actually, I already do. It is hard to believe he is gone.  He was honest, trustworthy, caring and always willing to help whenever I called him or needed something. These are traits that defined him and that I wish I had more of. God brings people into our lives for many different reasons but certainly one of them is so that through that relationship, they can “rub off on you”.

I have 30 years of great memories of my friendship with him and his wife Debbie. He was the guy who got me hooked on motorcycles- something that would become my vocation. We did everything from riding dirt bikes in the swamps of Florida to racing at Daytona and restoring vintage bikes. In fact it is hard to find a picture of him without a bike of some sort in it. I have lots of wonderful memories from years of going to Daytona Bike Week with him and Debbie- and later their son David too. He was a good friend, father and husband. So here are a few pictures from over the years…

Riding the mud flats in WPB, FL

Riding the mud flats in WPB, FL

Racing at Daytona 1985

Racing at Daytona 1985

Daytona- in the pits

Daytona- in the pits

Jerry and family camping at Daytona

Jerry and family camping at Daytona

Jerry on the FJ... explaining something!

Jerry on the FJ... explaining something! circa 1999

last winter after we painted the 350 stuff

last winter after we painted the 350 stuff

AW Tozer writes this about “The Celestial Country” by Bernard of Cluny- a 12 century monk who wrote a remarkable poem/hymn:  “For loftiness of concept, for sheer triumph of the Christian spirit over mortality, for ability to rest the soul and raise the mind to rapturous worship its equal is hardly found anywhere in uninspired literature. I submit it as my respectful opinion that this single hymn may have ministered more healing virtue to distressed spirits than all the writings of secular poets and philosophers since the art of writing was invented.”

The little book is available for download free from Google since the copyright has long since expired.

On a similar note, today’s Slice of Infinity at RZIM is also “hopeful”…

A little bit of genius for the geniuses that believe that the universe could have come from nothing without God. As GK Chesterton said, “We have educated ourselves into imbecility”.

What is man in nature? A nothing compared to the infinite, a whole compared to the nothing, a middle point between all and nothing, infinitely remote from an understanding of the extremes . . . equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed. . .

Let us then realize our limitations. We are something and we are not everything. Such being as we have conceals from us the knowledge of first principles, which arise from nothingness, and the smallness of our being hides infinity from our sight.

Our intelligence occupies the same rank in the order of intellect as our body in the whole range of nature.

Limited in every respect, we find this intermediate state between two extremes reflected in all our faculties. Our senses can perceive nothing extreme; too much noise deafens us, too much light dazzles; when we are too far or too close we cannot see properly; an argument is obscured by being too long or too short; too much truth bewilders us.

—Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 61-63 (reposted from desiringgod.org blog)

from AW Tozer…

Personal experience must always be first in real life. The most important thing is that we experience reality by the shortest and most direct method. A child may eat nutritious food without knowing anything about chemistry or diatetics. A country boy may know the delights of pure love while never having heard of Sigmund Freud or Havelock Ellis. Knowledge by acquaintance is always better than mere knowledge by description, and the first does not presuppose the second nor require it.

In religion more than in any other field of human experience a sharp distinction must always be made between knowing about and knowing. The distinction is the same as between knowing about food and actually eating it. A man can die of starvation knowing all about bread, and a man can remain spiritually dead while knowing all the historic facts of Christianity. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” We have but to introduce one extra word into this verse to see how vast is the difference between knowing about and knowing. “This is life eternal, that they might know about thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” That one word makes all the difference between life and death, for it goes to the very root of the verse and changes its theology radically and vitally.