Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The WSJ on Giving...

A very interesting commentary appears in The Wall Street Journal Online in regards to giving tendencies. It seems that there are significant differences in the giving habits of Americans. Let me share just a few eye-opening quotes from the WSJ commentary.

"Americans who weekly attend a house of worship are 25 percentage points more likely to give than people who go to church rarely or never. These religious folks also give nearly four times more dollars per year than secularists, on average, and volunteer more than twice as frequently."

Comparing those who support bigger government vs smaller government, the WSJ points out that, "People who oppose government income redistribution donate four times as much mney each year as do redistribuiton supporters."

"People who opine that government is 'spending too little money on welfare' are less likely to give food or money to a homeless person that people who oppose greater welfare spending."

"Couples are more likely to give to charity, and the simple act of raising children appears to stimulate giving as well. Data show that people who see their parents behave charitably are far likelier to be charitable themselves as adults."

"People who fail to donate money to charities are only a third as likely as donors to give money to friends and strangers. Non-donors are half as likely as donors to give blood. They even are less honest: Non-donors are much less likely than donors to return change mistakenly given to them by a cashier."

"America's working poor give away at least as large a percentage of their incomes as the rich, and a lot more than the middle class."

"Today's conservatives outperform liberals on most measures of private giving."

You can read the entire article here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Women Talk 3 Times as Much as Men

It's long been suspected and now has been demonstrated to be true--women talk a lot more than men! They also talk faster and use more brain power in their communication. A study has even demonstrated that women get a heroin-type high from listening to their own voice. You can read all about it here.

The Need for Tears...

I don't cry much. It concerns me at times because I'm pretty sure that we're supposed to cry. That's how God made us. There is even a whole book of the Bible entitled, "Crying" or "Lamentations". The 9th message that I'm bringing from Amos deals with crying and leads me to believe that "getting in touch with our emotions" is one of the ways that we will survive prosperity.

Amos 5:8-17 reveals four reasons to weep:

  1. We will weep when we are exposed to the awesome power of God (v8-9).
  2. We will weep when we begin to see the "least of these" as God sees them (v10-13).
  3. We will weep when we desire holiness like God desires it for us (v14-15).
  4. We will weep when we are in the presence of God (v16-17).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black Friday...

My youngest son has been saving up his money for well over a year with his eyes on a brand new laptop computer. The plan for savings started simply enough--I challenged both of my sons to start putting some of their income (odd jobs, birthday cash, etc) into a savings account. To motivate them, I agreed to add an additional 10% to whatever they had in their account at the end of each month. A little more than a year later--my youngest son's account balance: $347.29! He's been talking about a laptop for quite sometime and has been "shopping around" for the past month or so. And so it was agreed that we would get up at 2am on "Black Friday" and head to the electronics store and wait for the 5am opening. I set my alarm for 2 hoping that I would actually get up. "Beep....Beep....Beep..." I reach for the snooze as I hear, "Good morning dad....Let's go!" I pry open an eye and there he is, standing beside the bed, fully dressed, coat on, ready to go! After a quick shower and a fifteen minute drive down empty streets we arrive at the electronics store. To our shock...a line has already formed halfway around the building. A brief survey reveals more than enough line-standers to deplete the limited suppy of bargain laptops available. We journey home empty-handed yet optimistically planning our return for the "Day after Christmas" sale.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Fellowship...

Windsor is a unique town in many ways, not the least of which, is the way in which the pastors and ministers of our community seek to serve each other and work together whenever possible. There is a great friendship among our pastors in Windsor. We have coffee together in local coffee shop, we gather for lunch once a month, and we communicate with each other how we are living our lives both at church and at home. It is not unusual for us to sit in each others offices sharing our burdens and seeking council.

Tonight, our churches will gather together for a Thanksgiving Eve Community Service. I'm going for no other reason than to see my friends--my brothers and sisters who serve in Windsor with me. We are meeting tonight at Father James' church--Our Lady of the Valley, which happens to be Catholic. I'll be there along with as many as I can drag from Cornerstone. In addition, I expect that I'll see friends from the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Episcopal Church, The Church of the Brethren, the Christian Church, and the United Church of Christ. I'm sure that the Ancient Path will be there (Baptist General Conference) as will the new Presbyterian church plant. And there are most likely others that I have overlooked. No one will be compromising their doctrinal distinctives tonight--just loving the diverse Body of Christ and giving thanks to Savior whom we all serve. It begins tonight at 7pm.

Oh yeah...we're eating pie together following the service.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Nostalgic Faith...

I have titled the series of messages that I have preaching from Amos, “How to Survive Prosperity”. It seems especially difficult for Christians to survive the blessing of God—just as it was for Israel in Amos’ day. We seem to turn God’s blessing into curses pretty easily by walking away from Him when times are good. I hope to get outlines from each of the messages up on the blog eventually, but at the very least, I’ll get the current message posted. The instructions to survive prosperity have progressed as follows:

#1—Receive God’s Message (Amos 1:1-2)
#2—Obey God’s Directions (Amos 1:3-2:5)
#3—Practice God’s Justice (Amos 2:6-8)
#4—Live Under God’s Protection (Amos 2:9-16)
#5—Speak God’s Message (Amos 3:1-8)
#6—Battle God’s “Near-by Enemy” (Amos 3:9-15)
#7—Walk in God’s High Places (Amos 4:1-13)
#8—Seek God’s Present Activity (Amos 5:1-7)

The passage in Amos five begins with a funeral song to mourn fallen Israel. The virgin (unfulfilled/youthful nation) has fallen in battle alone with no one to assist her. She is defeated—1000 go out to battle but only 100 return! We can easily apply this to our contemporary American church that is on the decline while churches in India, Korea, and China to name of few are flourishing.

Verses 4-6 contain the heart of the message: Seek God’s present activity and stop living in the past! Twice, we are told to, “Seek God in order to live”. Sandwiched between the two declarations are three commands: “Don’t go to Bethel”, “Don’t go to Gilgal”, and “Don’t go to Beersheba”. The importance of these three cities is emphasized by Bethel being mentioned three times, Gilgal twice, and Beersheba once. All three of these cities were centers of religious worship with Bethel begin perhaps the most frequented and Beersheba the least. These are well-known places where people would travel to worship. The religious significance of these cities is crucial to understand and apply this passage. Beersheba is where Abraham traveled to and lived following his attempt to sacrifice Isaac to God (Genesis 22). Gilgal is where Joshua and those who would participate in the conquest of the promised land first camped after having miraculously crossed the Jordan river (Joshua 5). Bethel is where Jacob set up a stone as a pillar after having had a dream where he saw the angels of God ascending and descending upon a ladder. He declared the the place to be “The House of God” (Bethel) (Genesis 28). The Israelites celebrated God’s past activity in these places while denying Him the opportunity to act in the present. They worshipped a dead God! We too, often worship God as if He were dead. We don’t expect Him to act as He has throughout the pages of scripture. We don’t expect miracles! We don’t expect “real” communication! We don’t expect healing and true spiritual transformation! Don’t live in the past! Don’t go to Bethel! Seek God today! He has yet to perform His greatest works!

Blogging again...

I received a "site report" this morning from "blogger" and was reminded that I have a blog. Since I have become so haphazard in posting I imagined that absolutely no one was taking a look. However, I was wrong. So...with gritted teeth and a firm jaw I will once again set out to become a faithful blogger. I'll get started just as soon as I finish my first cup of coffee, take my boys to school, have my prayertime, work on my sermon, respond to Sunday's guests, have staff meeting...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chuck Norris on "Chuck Norris"

Chuck Norris, believe it or not, has a column in which he addresses many of the "Chuck Norris Facts" that are being circulated. My friend in Virginia, Nathan Solomon, knows them all. If you don't know what I'm talking's an example: "There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live". Anyway, check out his column here. Here's a brief exerpt of what you will find:

"Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: "Chuck Norris' tears can cure cancer. Too bad he
never cries. Ever." There was a man whose tears could cure cancer or any
other disease, including the real cause of all diseases – sin. His blood did.
His name was Jesus, not Chuck Norris. If your soul needs healing, the
prescription you need is not Chuck Norris' tears, it's Jesus' blood. Again,
I'm flattered and amazed by the way I've become a fascinating public figure for
a whole new generation of young people around the world. But I am not the
characters I play. And even the toughest characters I have played could never
measure up to the real power in this universe. "

Who did I vote for?

I treasure my right as an American to vote! It's an incredible opportunity that our freedom allows that is denied in many parts of the world. Throughout history, it has been a minority of states that has allowed this important right. With that said, I think that everyone who is able should make the effort to vote. In fact, I think that everyone who can vote should take the effort to investigate the issues and the candidates in order to cast an educated vote. I also understand that it is sometimes helpful to know how those that we respect have voted so that we can add that to the mix. As I share with you the candidates that I have voted for, I would strongly encourage to make your own decisions based on your values. Don't just copy me! Vote your conscience!
  • Representative to the 110th US Congress - District 4 - Marilyn Musgrave
  • Governor - Bob Beauprez
  • Secretary of State - Mike Coffman
  • State Treasurer - Mark Hillmn
  • Attorney General - John Suthers
  • State Board of Education - Bob Schaeffer
  • Regent of the University of Colorado - Brian Davidson
  • State Senate - Scott Renfroe
  • State Representative - Kevin Lundberg
  • Weld County Commissioner - Bill Garcia