Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why We Don't Celebrate Lent

Someone asked me today about lenten celebrations and Ash Wednesay.

We certainly see the benefit of fasting whether that be meat of Fridays or total fasts as efforts to draw close to Jesus. Often when people set apart certain days and seasons as “special or holy”- other days are profaned. For instance, yesterday was Fat Tuesday- the last day of Mardi Gras. The reason for the extreme partying and over indulging and debauchery is because Ash Wednesday begins Lent. The idea that is promoted is Lent is holy but we can sin with impunity on the other days. That of course is unbiblical, there are no days that it is 'okay to sin'. So we see little benefit in setting apart the 40 days before the crucifixion as special as a church. I do, however, spend time drawing close to the Lord with prayer and fasting during these days preceeding good Friday as an individual. And I think there is benefit in thinking on the cross all year round.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with a pepper and egg sandwich on Fridays (smile!). But the decision should be individual's. As the calendar moves toward Good Friday it is good to speak with your children about the last week of Jesus’ life. I think that the Roman Catholic Church devised the tradition of giving up something for Lent as a way of identifying with the sufferings of Christ. While at first blush that sounds noble, the scriptural understanding of identifying with Christ has more to do with living a life of righteousness than giving up Bubble Gum, or ice Cream. For instance, Paul writes in Philippians 3.10 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Clearly, Paul's concern is not dietary in that he emphasizes our becomeing totally submissive to God the father (the way Jesus was at the cross). That kind of spiritual growth is year round and not limited to lent.

Dietary surrenders and the like can lead to a dangerous pseudo-spirituality (see Col 2.20-3.11)We might even think that we have "done something good" when in reality we have found a 'religious' way around being obedient to God and becoming more like Jesus. (Eph 5.1-2)

So we don’t have a special service for Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Daley's Failed Gun Policy

Only a ideological moron like Chicago's Mayor Daley would fail to recognize the abject failure of his gun policy. It has been illegal to have any kind of gun in Chicago for an awfully long time. Those of us without ideological blinders on can't help but notice the gun violence in our streets everyday. The Mayor, protected by his contingent of armed security, can stand before microphones and spout his rhetorical objections against the idea of guns on the streets of the city. Unfortunately, illegal guns fill the streets. The only ones without protection in our homes are the law abiding citizens who are left to defend themselves with kitchen knives when the gang bangers and thieves come to call on us.

Perhaps it is time for Americans to arm themselves if they feel it necesary and let the criminals guess whether they will take a .40 caliber round in their chest for breaking into this home or not. But as late as yesterday Daley continued his insanity of desiring to clamp down on the gun laws (could they be any stricter?- you can't even have a bb gun shipped to a Chicago address!). Blaming America's "love affair with guns"- he was unable to see that, as the violence continues, his policy of blaming the gun rather than the shooter has back fired on the people of Chicago.

So maybe the City of Chicago will wise up and dump this guy for a new mayor who will go after the real problem... criminals.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snow again...

urggghhhh! I am sick of it already. The wind is really howling outside and snow is blowing all over the place. A great day to sit down next to the fireplace, read the paper, and blog.

I am especially grateful these days for what God is doing in my kids. All are serving the Lord Jesus in one capacity or another. I am really proud that they work hard, prioritize education, and serve others. They are great kids!

I keep telling myself I am going to slow down. It doesn't seem that is happening. I really need to... the pace is starting to affect my attitude. (One lady was horrified to see me working on three computers at the same time - a trick that not many can do!- That is what made me think of slowing down) Not exactly sure how to do that. Maybe a Tuesday off every couple weeks or so to do some fishing or to work the beehives. (when I get them going this spring I'll post a video!)I dream of walking the woods, getting the boat out on the lake, shooting my bow, etc when the weather breaks.

Although I hate the snow, I can appreciate the mandatory slowdown of my pace. I guess that maybe the dormancy of this season that we see in the trees and shrubs is there to remind us that we can affford a little dormancy ourselves. Like the Word says... Come unto me and I will give you rest for your souls.... I think I'll go take a nap!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When your Children Lie

Frustrated because your child continues to lie to you in spite of your disciplinary efforts? Dr. Phil has advice.

Understand that lying behavior occurs in both extremes of the parenting continuum.
If you're in a highly permissive environment, kids lie. If you're in a highly rigid and strict environment, kids lie. Parents may wonder, "Why would a child lie in a permissive environment if you give him everything and let him do anything he wants to do?" Children sometimes lie because they have been given too much freedom.

Lying may continue to cover up past lies.If a child has been given too much freedom, he may have had to make choices that he wasn't equipped to make and done things that he now knows were wrong. Lying may continue in an effort to hide those things.

Know that lying is a learned but changeable behavior.
People do what works. If lying has gotten your child what he wants while escaping accountability from you, the payoff is a luring incentive to continue. It's a parent's responsibility not to let it continue by creating consequences.

Don't label your child a liar.People live to their labels. When you label your child a liar, you run the risk of that label becoming an identification and mode of behavior for your child.

Stop believing the lies.
If you have caught your child lying, and in retrospect realize that you were naïve in believing far-fetched stories and excuses, acknowledge your accountability in that and stop being so gullible. You may still desperately want to believe that your child isn't lying to you, but chances are, if his lips are moving, he's lying.

Create consequences your child can predict.
Your child needs to know that if he chooses the lying behavior, he also chooses the consequences. Also, your child needs to be able to predict with 100 percent accuracy what the consequences will be if he lies — not just in words, but in deeds.

Enforce your own rules.
If you don't want to be lied to, enforce the punishment for lying. Many parents think they are giving out punishment when in fact, they aren't. As a parent, you have to be willing to choose the punishment and then police it. For example, if you say there will be no phone privileges for lying, there truly need to be no phone privileges, even if you have to take the phone out of the house.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Why I Admire Ted Haggard

A couple years ago when Ted Haggards hypocrisy and sin was exposed I was shocked, angry and outraged. Like most evangelical Christians I saw his problems as personal hypocrisy. I watched some of his appearance on Oprah the other day and applauded as the queen of day time TV's attempts to demonize the church were turned back and rebuffed by Ted's insistence that he had "greatly sinned". Oprah seemed to want to blame the church for taking a stand against his sinful behavior- even disfellowshipping him. Ted said it was his doing and for the "protection of the church".

Now I will be the first to admit that I don't understand how someones sexuality gets that confused (though he confessed that he had been molested as a child). Neither can I excuse obviously premeditated pursuit of a homosexual sex and drugs. But I can and do admit that I admire Haggard for owning his sin. When he was first exposed he lied to cover his trail of sinful behavior, but he is finding freedom these days in not blaming others for his sin but, instead, owning his "perversion".

I have watched men and women of God fall into sinful behavior over the years. A few have owned their sin and found healing. But many have blamed the pastor or the church or the deacons or the lack of mentoring or the lack of 'real' friendship for their own sin. Those folks never find freedom in Christ- they become bitter whiners and complainers who blame others for their own behavior. Ironically, in their weird psychological need to blame others for their sin they doom themselves to be ever trapped in the memory of events that were their own fault. The cycle of sin and blame another never stops without confession of sin and owning our dysfunction. When someone sins it is because they are "drawn away by their own lusts". Period.

When we disown our sin, we "make God out to be a liar" and our efforts to vindicate our selves prove to the watching world that we are not even as righteous as Ted is. I pray that Ted will find freedom from the sins temptations and thoughts that haunt him. I applaud his desire to face squarely his sin and to recognize that he has forfeited a right to work in ministry. But I also pray that ministers in the church, and Christians in general, will learn to confess their sin when they fail and find healing for their souls.