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My Top 10 books From 2012

End of year lists seem a popular thing to make. Movies, music, books, video games, sports moments, news stories, nothing seems left untouched by such lists. After reading a few of these, I decided it might be kind of fun to go over my top 10 reads from 2012. Keep in mind, these sort of lists are ridiculously subjective, but isn't that what makes it fun? Bear in mind, unlike many such lists, mine is not of books published in 2012, but of books I personally read this past year. 1. The Man Who Was Thursday - G.K. Chesterton This book tops my list for one reason-it was simply the most enjoyable read I have ever enjoyed enjoying; and I don't care if that's redundant. I was glued to the pages, which is an affect fiction generally does not have on me. Good story, a gripping style of writing. 2. Radical - David Platt I had put off reading this book. Not for any reason other than it was very popular, and I am rather leery of the popular. I have never highlighted and underlined

Broken hearts and black rifles

First things first. Before I make any remotely political statements I want to first say that my heart breaks for those families in Connecticut. As should that of anyone with a pulse. The fact that people on both sides of the isle started screaming about gun control before the day was out on Friday is profoundly disturbing to me. You don't blame murders on tools. You also don't question the sincerity of a father (who happens to hold our highest elected office) who is moved to tears by such a tragedy. This is part of why I hate the 24 hour news cycle. This is, first and foremost, a tragedy. It is not a news story. And yet all day Friday all we heard were reports (often conflicting) of this "breaking news." The only thing that ought to have broken that day was our hearts. I digress. The issue at hand is that of gun control. I intend to be rather brief. Many are calling for a reinstatement of the so called "assault weapons ban" of 1994-2004. While I am all for

A little note on fiscal foolishness

A poem dedicated to our dear government and our foolish spending habits. Little man up on the moon We shall all meet you soon Yes we will see your face As we invade your happy place Cause NASA'a flying everywhere Using our funds to get up there Our governement finds it wise Fiscal discretion to despise So we shall soar on up to you With wallets feeling rather blue Our debts shall climb up ever on And soon our money will be gone Note: I love the idea of exploring space. I don't believe anyone lives on the moon. Or anywhere else in space. I realize we've already been to the moon. My point is this-our government is spending money on a lot of things that, while good, are not the proper function of government. And it will be the end of our nation, perhaps sooner rather than later. So is space exploration good? Sure. Is feeding the poor and needy good, nay, vital? Absolutely. Do we want the economy to do well and businesses to succeed? Of course. However, is it

A Dangerous Chase

A young man went out into the world It was greatness that he hoped to find But as life’s pressures ‘round him swirled Those dreams crumbled in his mind Dejected by the “hand life dealt” Our friend’s thoughts did begin to waver And because great failure he had felt He hoped that drugs would be his savior “Just numb it all” he told himself As the needle slipped inside his vein He felt he fought the world itself For all that remained was pain He had lost both family and health Whilst success had been his chief endeavor But loss of job meant loss of wealth And he was without all earthly treasure He passed out one night beside the road And did not awake again on earth Could anyone have his end foretold? What would that warning have been worth? The tragic end of this man’s life Should cause each man to pause What do I value in my life? What has been my greatest cause? Will I come to the end and find That all I’ve lived for is but naught? To what h

Joy birthed of Pain

O come, O come, Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death's dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. These are two of the verses to the familiar Christmas Hymn "O come, O come, Emmanuel." It is my favorite Christmas song, for a rather simple reason. In this song there is an incredible tension between an anxious, almost dejected, sense of waiting on the one hand; and a confident hope on the other.   On Sunday Andie and I started working through Desiring God's advent devotional, "Good News of Great Joy" (available free to download at http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/good-news-of-great-joy-free-advent-ebook ). And I have been struck by how little joy there is surrounding Ch

Vision

What I am about to say applies in large part to women as well, but I want to address men. Most men have a vision for their life that is far too small. Perhaps you are among them. Many of you may have no vision for your life at all. I want to get at what lies behind that. There obviously can be many reasons for not having a driving vision for your life, but what I want to propose is that many of you simply need to wake up to the reality that you think far too little of God, and consequently, you expect far too little of what He can do in you and through you. Perhaps you hope to be a nice person. Perhaps you hope to raise a nice family. Perhaps you hope to be a good worker. Perhaps you hope to go to heaven when you die. These are all nice things. But it that is all you expect out of life, something is missing. In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter seven, Solomon says this: "A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is bette

Crappy Offerings and the Pointlessness of Thanksgiving.

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to

a Prayer

I wrote this quite a while back. It was a Saturday Morning in Missoula. I woke up and tried to pray before I started reading my Bible. Prayer can be a real labor for me, and this morning was worse than usual, so I decided to write it down. As I went back over it a while later, I thought it might be worth sharing, and so I sent it into the eZine I write for, Genuine Motivation . I think a lot of what I wrote down comes from desires most Christians have. We want to love God more, and we want to be used by Him. We want our lives to matter. We don't want a wasted existence. Realizing that my readership there is quite different than who reads GenMo, I thought it worthwhile to post here as well. Father God, Thank You for who You are. I thank You for being so enormous and majestic that even the rocks will cry out if we fail to. I praise You and thank You for the fact that You made creation in such a way that it really does speak so plainly that it is not only a statement of Your e

Reppin' it Old School

Let me begin with a clarification of terms. By Reppin', I mean Repetition. And by Old Schhol, I mean way Old School. Think Calvin. Heidelberg. Westminster. We're talking Catechisms. For those unfamiliar with what a catechism is, here is the basic idea. A set of propositional truths are put forth in a question-and-answer format to teach doctrine, and guard against both error and wrong teaching. If you're like me, in that you grew up either in an evangelical church or unchurched, this concept is likely somewhat foreign to you. While it is still in use in some Catholic and a very few mainline Protestant churches, catechims have gone somewhat the way of the dodo. The reasoning for this is more than I could cover here, but if I might be allowed some over-simplification, here is how I would put it: People don't want to hear propositional truth, they'd rather have their ears scratched in a discussion or lecture format, and have no use for participatory learning of deep,

And why abortion isn't about "traditional values," either.

I feel like the last few posts I've been ragging on traditional values. Allow me to make a clarifying statement. I am all for both traditions, and values. They are not, in and of themselves, bad things, and can be quite good. But when we take an issue of massive import, and lower it to the importance level of tradition, we do our culture, our country, and our fellow man a great disservice. That is my point. And so I want to take some of that logic and apply it to the abortion topic. The prevailing stance on abortion on the "right hand" side of the isle seems to be that abortion is bad, unless the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest, or if the mother's life is at stake.  I want to explain why this position is completely illogical and indefensible. What is the basis for opposing abortion at all?  Opposition to abortion rests on two premises 1)that an unborn fetus is a person 2)that the unprovoked killing of any person, something commonly known as murder, is wro

Love Your Wife

Love your own wife As Christ loved the church Paul's word's here are brief But I admit that they hurt Will I chase for myself This life's fleeting pleasures? Or will I give to my wife Make her good my endeavor? Paul said that Christ Was our chiefest example One who laid down His life Whose love was shown ample Will I rise to this challenge By trusting His power? Or will I shrink back In the darkest of hours? Oh God I cry out for the faith To trust You every day And pursue my dear wife Lord, for Your help I do pray

Questions, Comments, and Answers on Same-Sex Marriage

I want to use this post to address three points, all brought up in comments to the last one. First, I want to address the comment made by an Anonymous individual whose main thrust in argument was that prohibiting homosexual marriage a)prevents no one from sinning, and b)is a violation of religious freedom. On point "a", of course I agree with that. I can never do anything to stop another person from rebelling against God, because ultimately that is a heart issue, and I cannot see their heart, let alone change it. That being said, laws exist not because their existence precludes the possibility of evil, but because sinful human beings need both encouragement towards right behavior, and punishment for wrong behavior. Simply put, laws exist for the good of society (see Romans 13-or the entire Pentateuch). If a person believes, as I do, that the basic human relationship that society is built upon is the relationship of husband and wife in marriage, then encouraging and fig

Why Christians don't understand the same-sex marriage debate-and thus are losing it.

I want to make a few brief comments on marriage, and the debate over whether or not homosexual marriage should be created by our government. I use the word "created" very intentionally. Note: none of my thoughts or ideas here are original, and most are being expressed by some in this ongoing national debate. However, they are certainly the minority, and so I have decided to add my small voice to the choir. It seems to me that, while not universally, the general slogan of those opposed to same-sex marriage (from here on "SSM") is that they "support traditional marriage and traditional values." Less frequently I hear of a support for "Judeo-Christian" values. Here is my rub with both of these terms, especially the former-they utterly miss the root of this entire issue. The question is not whether marriage should conform to what is traditional. If it were, of course marriage could change into whatever we would like it to. This is because traditi

A faith like Grandma's

Life is well...well, it's life. Beautiful, terrible, wonderful, painful. This poem came to me as I spent some time with my "Grammy" yesterday and talked life. I know I speak for not only myself, but many who know her. A faith like my grandma is what I long to gain Her trust it never wavers regardless of life's pain She is strong and sure her God does never fail Even when life's storm darkens she trusts Him to prevail I have studied many hours learning deep theology But my truest times of learning were at my "Grammies" knee Without the fancy wording of a deep and heavy book She taught me simple trust "He is Sovereign" says her look So when I face my own trails I will know that from His hand Flows a sweet and bitter providence and His plan is beyond grand This faith is what God asks and indeed, what He requires And so I thank my Grandma for this kind of faith, she inspires.

The Unpardonable Sin

Mark 3:22-30 ESV And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "by the prince of demons he casts out the demons." And he called them to him and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" — for they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit."  Hebrews 10:26-31 ESV For if we go on sinning

God, murders, and justice

As a preface: I had started this post on Friday. I halted it for a couple of reasons. I won't go into all of them, although the most important one I will. I believe of cycle of 24 hour news, with all the latest information available immediately on the internet is wonderful for gossip, and absolutely terrible for meaningful reflection on anything, but most especially tragedy. I woul venture to guess that most of you reading this felt shock, horror, outrage, or some other emotion of a particularily violent force when you turned on your TV/computer/radio Friday morning. I would also think it safe to assme that as coverage has slowly waned, so has emotion. To some extent this cannot be helped, things that are fresh in our minds are always going to be what bring forth the deepest emotions and reactions. But I fear the we are so overwhelmed with information that when something truly of weight like this happens, we are quick to forget, turn the page, and go do something different. And so

Grace and misplaced trust.

Just a quick thought on grace. Reading in Matthew 26 in my devos today and Jesus tells them the will all fall away, and of course as we know, Peter says "not me! I'll die before I leave you!" Of course he's wrong. Peter's confidence is misplaced. Jesus reinterates that Peter will not only fall away, but more than the other disciples, will verbally deny Jesus three times before morning. imagine being Peter right now. You are Jesus' closest earthly friend. And you're told that you will fall away. You reassure him that you are faithful. And then you're told you're falling will be worse than the rest. Isn't that us? Does it not seem that every time we become more determined to be "good  Christians" that these are the moments we fall the hardest? Of course they are. That used to terribly frustrate me. Reading that today though showed me something beautiful. Those failures are the grace of God. If through grit and Will-power(pardon the pun

Solid Rock or Sinking Sand?

Preface: This is the manuscript for a sermon I preached at Plummer Bible Church on 7/1/12. We had several people not at church that day who requested I get them CD's...and well, I haven't done that. Until that can happen, here is the manuscript. Faith in the Rock or faith in the sand? 7/1/12 Plummer Bible Church Prayer: Father God, I pray for this sermon. I pray that as Your word is opened that your Holy Spirit would open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and soften our hearts to respond. I pray that we would seek to know you, Father. That we would long for the reconciliation you offer through Jesus, and the transformation done by the Holy Spirit. I pray that you would do these things in us for the praise of Your glorious grace. We pray in the holy name of Jesus. Amen. Intro: *Matthew 7:13-29 (ESV) “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and