I want to travel to Memphis just to see this monkey.
According to an article by Ken Klukowski, posted on Breitbart.com, the Pentagon was looking at implementing a policy that would make it illegal for military personnel to share their faith. And doing so could result in a court martial and potential imprisonment.
The article stated,
"The Pentagon has released a statement confirming that soldiers could be prosecuted for promoting their faith: "Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense...Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis...”.
This is in fact true. It is against military code for a person to proselytize. In other words, a person can't use their rank and position to influence someone to make a decision. This kind of action does result in a court martial and should for that matter. No one should be coerced into making a religious decision. But the problem is the way the statement is used in the article. It doesn't define proselytization and leads us, the reader, to believe this is something new when in fact it's not at all. This seems to be a picture of the right-wing propaganda machine at work. Yep, I fell victim to it as well. Right-wing conservatives have no trouble believing that there is a left-wing propaganda machine, but what conservatives sometimes fail to see and believe is that the right-wing has one as well. And they know how to play on conservatives emotions and get reactions as effectively as the left.
Klukowski's article at this point has been shared on Facebook over 1,000,000 times. It has also garnered a mere 8,000+ comments. Seems the article struck a nerve. The problem is the article is misleading.
So President Barack Obama’s civilian appointees who lead the Pentagon are confirming that the military will make it a crime--possibly resulting in imprisonment--for those in uniform to share their faith. This would include chaplains—military officers who are ordained clergymen of their faith (mostly Christian pastors or priests, or Jewish rabbis)--whose duty since the founding of the U.S. military under George Washington is to teach their faith and minister to the spiritual needs of troops who come to them for counsel, instruction, or comfort.
This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military, as it would not allow chaplains (or any service members, for that matter), to say anything about their faith that others say led them to think they were being encouraged to make faith part of their life. It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion.
When we, as followers of Christ that care deeply about our freedom of religion, read statements like these we react strongly because we believe liberties that we have cherished are being stripped away. But retired USAF chaplain and current Endorsing Agent for The Convocation of Anglicans in North America and The Anglican Church in North America and member of the Executive Committee for the Chaplain Alliance, Bishop Derek Jones said we shouldn't react too much to this kind of news. Here's why, the main source for the statement appears to be anti-Christian extremist, Mikey Weinstein, who Klukowski describes as:
The head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, [Weinstein] says Christians--including chaplains--sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military are guilty of “treason,” and of committing an act of “spiritual rape” as serious a crime as “sexual assault.” He also asserted that Christians sharing their faith in the military are “enemies of the Constitution.”
In response to Mr. Weinstein and his recent words, Bishop Jones said that Weinstein is known for using deceptive practices like these to draw attention to his organization and raise money. Reacting to the news, the Army's Chief of Chaplains released a letter saying this is not a Department of Defense initiative. So in the end this all seems to be a gross exaggeration of the facts. Klukowski's article does in fact contain truth, but it appears to be truth that has been twisted a bit to fit a particular agenda.
To clarify the Pentagon's thoughts on the matter, their spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said:
... all service members are free to exercise their constitutional right to practice their religion in a manner that is respectful of other individuals’ rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission.
That is good news. I only wish the statement had been made yesterday to help clarify and stop the feeding frenzy.
So what do we learn from all of this? Clearly, that many still deeply care about the religious liberty that we currently possess and that we will react quickly to any hint of it being taken away. We should also learn (me included) not to respond so quickly to news of this type without careful consideration and investigation. Regardless of your political persuasion, don't fall victim to believing everything that your "side" is reporting. They have an agenda and often times we are the pawns they use to accomplish it.
We do no honor to Christ nor His Kingdom when we respond without wisdom, patience, and truth.
Over the years my taste in music has grown quite a bit. As a young teenager I loved the hair bands of the 80's. I think I wore out my cassette tape of Def Leppards's Pyromania. If you're too young to know what a cassette tape is odds are you don't have a clue who Def Leppard is either. This, my friend, is sad. Sad indeed. Occasionally, when we're on a road trip I have my own version of the School of Rock. Thanks to Spotify I'm able to quickly access some of the greats and rock out with Hope and the kids. Actually, I'm rocking out with the kids and Hope is enduring me and my endless questioning, "do you know this song?" Her answer is usually no and I find myself in utter disbelief. How could you not no such awesomeness.
In my latter teenage years and very early twenties I listened to country music all the time. As I progressed into my twenties and early thirties my taste in music really began to change. I can't remember a time when I've appreciated good music as much as I do now. I love songs that are lyrically rich and telling a story.
That being the case some of my favorite albums I love to listen to right now are (these are in no particular order):
- The Gray Havens
- The Lumineers
- The Lone Bellow
- Robbie Seay Band
- Soma Music- The Story Volume 1
- Soma Music: The Story Volume 2
What are your favorite albums?
If you pay attention while you're driving or walking around the streets of your city you'll see people holding up signs asking for money, help, food, or even a job. Over the past year the homeless population in my city seems to be growing or perhaps I'm just taking more notice than before. Sometimes our first inclination is to pass judgement, forgetting that the homeless person we see is really no different than we are. They are homeless but no less human. Homeless people, rich people, and everyone in between are created in the image of God. How differently do you think you would treat and respond to a homeless person if you saw them as an image-bearer of God rather than a bum. May God will break our hearts for those down and out that we pass by each day.Take four minutes and watch this video about a homeless man on the streets of Chicago.
Below are two songs from one of my favorite artists, Aaron Spiro. I pray they help you worship King Jesus and think more deeply on the significance of His death for us.
"Paul was saying that in all of his teaching, in all of his preaching, in all of his missionary activity, the central point of importance was the cross. In effect, this teacher was saying to his students, "You might forget other things that I teach you, but don't ever forget the cross, because it was on the cross, through the cross, and by the cross that our Savior performed His work of redemption and gathered His people for eternity."
From R.C. Sproul's The Truth of the Cross. Available for free today through the Ligonier.
Comic courtesy of Radio Free Babylon "This is the most important election of our lifetime." I've heard that statement countless times since I've been old enough and cared enough to pay attention to politics. It is voiced by both conservatives and liberals. I don't question that the upcoming election is an incredibly pivotal one and perhaps is the most important one that I've seen in my lifetime. But the problem as the comic points out is that we both use and hear the same overhyped and overused rhetoric election after election. It's quite obvious we don't take seriously how we choose and use our words. Remember the story of the boy that cried wolf.
Instead of getting caught up in the hype and emotion that politics seems to bring and repeating the same things that are said every election cycle, let's try talking intelligently and graciously with one another. It doesn't serve our nation and it's fellow citizens well to throw talking points at each other. Imagine what might happen if we sat down with others that don't hold to the same political views we do and have an open and honest conversation, free of the need to prove that we are right and they are wrong. It might be shocking what we learn and even more shocking what we could do together. I'm certain that I'm not the only one tired of overused rhetoric.
So if you're a conservative find a liberal to hug and have a cup of coffee with. If you're a liberal find a conservative to hug and have a cup of coffee with. And remember on Wednesday the sun will come up and Jesus will still be on His throne.
Halloween...Love it, hate it, ignore it, or confused by it? It's the one holiday that you find Christians drawing lines in the sand while others fully embrace it. Perhaps what we need is to approach Halloween not as something evil and to avoid but as an opportunity to connect with new people with gospel intentionality. Last year, Jeff Vanderstelt, one of the founders and pastors with Soma Communities wrote about approaching Halloween with a missional mindset. I benefited greatly from his words. The post was no longer available online so I got his permission to post it here. I hope it will be helpful to you as you seek to advance the gospel in your neighborhood this Halloween. The following was originally posted by Jeff Vanderstelt on October 27, 2011.
Halloween offers a great opportunity for many to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of what you think of the holiday and it’s roots, the culture we have been sent by Jesus to reach is going to celebrate Halloween this Monday. We all have in front of us a wide open door for missionary engagement in our neighborhoods. I want to encourage you not to miss out on the opportunity.
If you are looking to be more intentionally engaged this year, I want to present you with a few ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries.
BE HOSPITABLE…Don’t just give out candy
- Give out the best Candy. Please, don’t give out tracks or toothbrushes or pennies…kids are looking for the master loot of candy. Put yourself in their shoes.
- Think of the Parents. Consider having some Hot Apple Cider and pumpkin bread or muffins out for the parents who are bringing their little kiddos around the block. Make your entry-way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible.
- Be Present. Don’t hide out all night. Come out to the door or hang out on the porch and if they stop to have some cider, get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.
- Be Encouraging. Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. Practice building others up with words.
- Party. If you’re really into it, you may want to throw a pre-Trick or Treating party. Provide dinner and drinks. Then, send the dads out trick or treating with the kids while the moms continue hanging with some hot apple cider, coffee or tea. Then reconvene with the parents and kids together to examine all of the loot (kids love to show their parents and other kids the loot).
- Learn the Stories. If you are out T or Ting with the kiddos or staying back with the other parents, ask questions…get to know their stories. Pay attention to their hearts and their felt needs. Look for opportunities to serve them later. This is how I first got to know Clay (while Jayne was hanging with Kristi and the other moms). I learned his story while we were with the kids and Jayne got to know hers. This led to both of them eventually coming to faith in Jesus.
GO TO THEIR PLACE…Join what is happening elsewhere
- Attend the Party. If others are throwing parties, you may want to join them. If so, bring drinks, food or whatever is needed. Then, serve by helping to clean up.
- Join the Community. If your community has key events, join them and invite some neighbors to go with you (then get to know their stories along the way). Our area has a trick or treating event on a main street where all the businesses give out candy, the firemen give tours of the fire engines, etc… We go with a group of friends to this each year and consistently meet more people to reach out to.
- Head to the “Watering Holes”. If you do not have kids or are not going to engage in the Trick or Treating activities or events, consider going to the local pubs, restaurants or clubs near you for their events and get to know the people there. Make it your goal to learn the story of at least one person who needs Jesus and walk away with some next steps on how to serve them. You will want to do this with others so that you don’t go it alone.
BE PRAYERFUL…Ask for the Spirit to led, guide and work
- Pay Attention. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes and ears to the real needs around you.
- Stay Dependent. Ask the Spirit to help you listen, care and serve those around you.
- Open Doors. Ask the Spirit for open doors for new relationships and gospel conversations
For further reading about Halloween check out this post by Winfield Bevins - What to Do with Halloween
How great would it be if to fix our nations problems we only had to elect the right political candidates. Many believe this to be the case, that if they could just get their candidate in office it would the nation will begin turning the direction they believe is best. But there's a big problem with that kind of thinking. As Tullian Tchividjian points out in a blog post today that "politics are reflective, not directive."
It’s important for us to understand that politics are reflective, not directive. That is, the political arena is the place where policies are made which reflect the values of our culture—the habits of heart and mind—that are being shaped by these other, more strategic arenas. As the Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher said, “Let me write the songs of a nation; I don’t care who writes its laws.” - Tullian Tchividjian
If we don't like what we see in our local, state, or federal government then we need to take a long hard look in the mirror. It is a picture of the culture. So by believing that politics and candidates are the answer we fail to see that the true problem lies within our hearts. We will never change the direction of a nation by placing a particular person in office. We will, however, change a nation when we begin to live daily with gospel intentionality. God desires to work through more than just politics. He desires to work through the everyday rhythms of our life.
You can read Tullian's post here.
There are not many topics that seem to bring out the passion in people quite like politics. During and after the last presidential debate I posted some comments on Facebook that drew quite a bit of discussion amongst my "friends." Since my posts were spread out and the discussion varied I wanted to pull together my thoughts into one place. Some have thought my posts have been a bit harsh. I knew the statements were strong, but my intentions were certainly not to be harsh. I realize that that expressing political ideas almost always evokes emotion. Regardless of what our political persuasion may be we all care deeply about our ideas and the direction we want the country to go. It has been said often that this is the most important election in the history of our nation. That's not the first time that we've heard that. It is a statement passed around often when there's a presidential election. And we are guilty at times of using that statement as reasoning to swing other voters to see things our way. We say things like, "if you don't vote for Obama or Romney then your vote is wasted." Really!? How so? Is not a vote casted worth something. The right to vote for any person we desire is a gift given to us as American citizens. Granted, we have two predominant political parties in this nation; but that doesn't mean that we are locked into voting for only those candidates. And when the suggestion is made to vote for someone other than the two or writing in a candidate, people say that we can't afford to do that during this election. There's too much at stake. Let's elect someone who can help get us out of this mess and then we can nominate a better candidate next time. I've heard that for sometime and yet each election we keep finding ourselves in the same situation. If we don't learn from history it has a strange way of repeating itself. What happened to encouraging people to vote their conscience? Making changes are never convenient and we will always face the temptation to put them off rather than do what is necessary.
What has been so striking and disturbing to me in this election is the number of Christians that equate voting for Romney with voting for Biblical values. For clarity, I don't think Christians voting for Romney is problematic. I may very well cast my ballot for him on election day. But I couldn't agree more with what author and pastor Jared Wilson said, "For those of you urging us to 'vote for biblical values' please be careful how you phrase. Mainstreaming heresy is not a biblical value." Romney's religious views and his track record as a governor unsettle me. I realize we aren't electing the pastor of the United States but the president of the United States, but we should still weigh very carefully what a person believes in and their track record before voting them into office. Do I believe that Romney will help foster a better moral environment than President Obama? Absolutely. The question still remains for me as to whether that along with his views on the economy and foreign policy are enough for me to vote for him. It is a decision that I will weigh with much prayer and thought.
I'm still learning and growing as the gospel works itself out in my life and how that effects my voting and my political involvment. I know that there will never be a perfect candidate. I know that much in this life is choosing the lesser of evils. We live in a fallen creation so that is often times part of the process, but while we are here we are to be about reconciliation as our Savior was and is. So may God use those of us that belong to Him as agents of reconciliation in a broken world, in a broken system, with broken people. And what gives me the greatest hope is that God is sovereign over all these things and the true King is coming once again to make all the sad things come untrue.
Here is a list of links to articles and videos that have been helpful to me through the upcoming election:
In a day when the media loves to highlight the mistakes of our military men and women it is incredibly refreshing to hear the story of a man that served not just his country but his family and all those he encountered through life selflessly. Fearless is the life story of Navy Seal Adam Brown. He was a member of the now famous and elite, Seal Team 6 that killed Osama Bin Laden. After listening to the audiobook, I think Blehm could have titled the book Selfless and Fearless. Adam Brown's story however isn't without a dark history. I think that is what makes his story so real and appealing. Contributing to that is Brown's likeability and his insane tolerance for pain and continuing to push on the most adverse circumstances.
Brown gave his life in service to his country on March 17, 2010, during a raid in the mountains of Afghanistan to apprehend a high level Taliban leader. Fearless takes us from Brown's earliest days in small town Arkansas, through drug addiction, joining the Navy, training to become a Seal, becoming a father, and finally deployments in South America and Afghanistan.
We read about his struggles with drugs and the addiction that haunted him even years after recovery. We see Brown come to faith in Christ and how that faith shaped and drove him. We see him as a kind, fun-loving, compassionate husband and father. We observe him taking out terrorists, handing out shoes to children in the Afghan Mountains, and teaching preschoolers at the church Brown and his family were members.
Of course, there's the story of brokenness, repentance, and redemption. Everything changed in Brown's life when he encountered Christ. He realized something now possessed Him that was greater than addictions and chains of drugs. Through this process of coming to know Christ and following after Him, we see Brown be transformed from a man living in selfishness to a man living selflessly for others.
Fearless is an intriguing and moving book; one that I highly recommend to you. By the way, this isn't just a book for men. It is one that women will enjoy as well. I do caution you that it has some language. It is, of course, about a man in the Navy.
According to Wikipedia, "Old-School" can refer to anything that is from an earlier era, anything that may be considered old-fashioned. In our fast paced, instant gratification age many are returning to things from a bygone era. Such is the case with shaving. A number of years ago I was plagued by razor burn, razor bumps, and ingrown hairs (part of the curse of having curly hair). In pursuit to bring relief to these problems I learned about methods and products that were used decades ago. These methods and products included using a shaving brush, pre-shave oil, all natural shaving cream that comes in a bowl not in a can, and an after-shave balm that didn't contain ingredients that read more like a list of ingredients found in a chemical solution. The one thing that I failed to change was my razor. I continued to use the replaceable multiple blade cartridge razor. While I did see much improvement over the years by putting into practice these old-school methods; the biggest change came when I started using a new type of razor.
And no, it wasn't the newest cartridge razor with 12 blades. It's a double edge safety razor like your grandfather would have used.
One of the main reasons the safety razors are superior to the cartridge razor is you are cutting the hair at the skin level, so ingrown hairs become a thing of the past. Cartridge razors pull the hair away from the face before cutting so the part that is left goes back beneath skin level leading to razor bumps or ingrown hairs. In addition each time the razor passes over your face it removes a layer of skin. The more blades on the cartridge the more layers removed. This increases your chance of razor burn. And for those of you that like a really close shave the cartridge razor doesn't compare to the safety razor's ability to give you that soft as a baby's bottom feel.
After much research and deliberation, I purchased the Edwin Jagger double edge safety razor. I realize that some of you may have sticker shock when you see the price, but consider how much you pay when you purchase replacement cartridges. The replacement razors for the Edwin Jagger cost a whopping $8 for 100 double edge blades. That's right 100 blades. You don't have to pull up the calculator app on your smartphone to figure out that you're saving a bunch of cash.
I won't lie. I had some apprehension about purchasing the razor, but it wasn't because of the price. It was fear that I wouldn't be able to use it properly and end up damaging my face. I didn't want my face to look like it was a victim of a prison knife fight. That in mind, I started scouring the world wide web for videos about transitioning to shaving with one of these pieces of art.
My search led me to the folks over at the sharpologist.com. Thanks to them for all of the helpful articles and videos. After watching a couple of instructional videos even a novice like me felt confident to give it a go. And I'm happy to report there were no nics, cuts, or blood involved in my first shave.
Here are links to other shaving products I use: shaving cream, after shave balm, alum block, shaving brush, safety razor. Keep in mind that these products while perhaps more expensive than what you would purchase at your local store they last much longer if used properly.
I'm grateful my morning shave is now old-school. I promise if you give it a try you will be too. Happy shaving!
I'm one of the lucky people that get to deal with back problems more often than I prefer. Couple that with all the sitting that comes with my role as lead pastor and you have an dreadful relationship. Spending money and time attempting to remedy my spinal ailments isn't my favorite pastime. Now that I've made a big investment getting my back in shape I want to keep it there. That demands I have to do something about all the sitting my position requires. I've read much over the past months about the dangers of sitting all day and I've come to learn the danger isn't isolated to just my back. It's dangerous to my overall health. In April 2011, The New York Times published an article titled, "Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?" The author writes:
Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. “Excessive sitting,” Dr. Levine says, “is a lethal activity.”
There is nothing I like about the word lethal being attached to any of my daily activities. Hence, I've made some adjustments to my office area at home. Here are some photos of the changes I've made to my desk.
I raised my desk with brick pavers that I purchased at a local home improvement store. In this case it's fortunate that I'm not tall. I only needed to adjust the height by eight inches. Initially, I was fearful that the desk would not be sturdy standing on stacked bricks but that's not the case at all. I've pushed, pulled, and shaken the desk and it's quite stable.
I'm not standing 100% of the time. I use a stool when my legs or feet begin to tire or ache.
I'm unsure how long before I will completely acclimate to these new settings but I'm already seeing and feeling the benefits.
I am giving my website a reboot so if you arrived here looking for a previous post all content has been removed.