Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Music

Nothing can send me into a blind rage as quickly as Christmas music in October, but since Thanksgiving is over, now would be an agreeable time to talk about my preferences.

There is a serious lack of good Christmas music. For the most part I respect the musical choices people make. But when holiday season rolls around, any standards that are adhered to for 320 days out of the year suddenly go out the window.

This does not need to happen. Here are three suggestions to begin the holiday season while maintaning standards.

  1. Bing Crosby: My wife has a nice collection of Christmas songs performed by Bing. Very classy and representative of a person with uncompromised Christmas music standards.
  2. Vince Guaraldi: He wrote the music featured in A Charlie Brown Christmas, the best Christmas production of all time. Christmas trees and smooth jazz were made for each other.
  3. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas tunes with face-melting guitar licks. What more could you ask for?
Please, please, please don't listen to that lame, non-stop Christmas music radio station any more. You wouldn't listen to a non-stop stupid music radio station in July, so why now?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Battle Despondency Like Jesus

Taken from Future Grace by John Piper.

  1. Choose some close friends to be with you (Matthew 26:37).
  2. Open you soul to your friends (v. 38).
  3. Ask for your friends to intercede and partner with you in battle (v. 39).
  4. Pour out your heart to God in prayer (v. 39).
  5. Rest your soul in the sovereign wisdom of God (v. 39).
  6. Fix your eyes on all that God has in store for you (Hebrews 12:2).
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
     and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
     the night is bright as the day,
     for darkness is as light with you.

Tree of the Week (11.25.08)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Resolution 12

Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

Satisfaction in self can never be the end for a Christian. Nothing can possibly be as delightful as the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obama and a Three-Legged Dog

Let's hope this photo is not a manifestation of the stability of the impending Obama administration.

Read more about the photo at Animals & Politics.

Take That, Papists!

"Who does not love wine, women, and song, remains a fool his whole life long."
-Martin Luther

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Importance of Scripture As Shown by President-Elect Obama

In a 2004 interview with Cathleen Falsani, now President Elect, Barack Obama, was asked who Jesus was to him. Here is how he responded:

Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.

And he's also a wonderful teacher. I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

A couple of other interesting quotes were generated in the interview.

I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.


There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.

That's just not part of my religious makeup.

When asked about the consequences of sin in his own life, Obama answered:

[I]f I'm true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I'm not true to it, it's its own punishment.

The interview is interesting to me not because of his beliefs; they would seem to be in step with a lot of Christians in the United States. It is the reason why he thinks this way that fascinates me. When asked if he has read the Bible, he answered: "Absolutely. I read it not as regularly as I would like. These days I don't have much time for reading or reflection, period."

Christians should take heed of that. An absence of Scripture leads to a world-view shaped and molded by culture, as is the case here with President-Elect Obama. The Word of God needs to be the lens through which we view all things. Senate and Presidential campaigns are not more important than a Biblical world-view for Christians.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter is Coming to Fargo

Here are five tell-tale signs that winter is on Fargo's doorstep:

  1. The sun was shining and it was snowing at the same time today. Indiscriminate snowing is always a sign of winter. Go figure.
  2. It is finally cold enough outside for the drunk guys in our apartment complex to go shirtless. Any warmer and it just would not be manly. Or smart.
  3. The line to rent a movie takes no less than twenty minutes. There is nothing better to do in Fargo once the temperature dips below tolerable.
  4. My lips are chapped.
  5. I have listened to "Somewhere In My Memory" from Home Alone approximately 16,000 times.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Than Sanctification

During the weeks leading up to it, I thought a lot about marriage as a means of sanctification. God uses a spouse to shape, grow, and refine in His truth. And while your spouse is probably the person who has the most significant impact on sanctification, the impact can be attributed also to interactions with other Christians.

But it doesn't stop there. Our interactions with our brothers and sisters are not simply to sanctify us, but also to save us. It's an easy concept, but one that carries a whole lot of weight.

But "The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord" (Psalm 37:39), right? How can our interactions with humans save us?

It all boils down to is this: God uses means to accomplish ends. For example, when Israel wallowed in idolatry the Lord was upset and gave them up. He did not perform any supernatural outright act, but rather He allowed them to be conquered and taken into captivity (2 Kings 17:7-23). Or when Philip came upon the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch had no idea what he was reading until Philip came along and explained. The eunuch was converted and baptized right there (Acts 8:26-40). The Lord used Philip to explain the Scripture, rather than granting the eunuch immediate understanding.

So, God uses human means to accomplish His purposes here on Earth which is a means to the end of His glory.

That is an agreeable statement when thinking about conversion. Why else would God call us to evangelism? But do we agree with that statement concerning perseverance?

We should. Paul says, "the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). The key there is "being saved." What does that phrase mean? Our salvation is not immediate, but ongoing; perseverance is entirely as important as conversion. This heightens the importance of proper interactions with other believers.

Perseverance is hard for depraved humans. God knows that. And often His answer is human means.

This is why we must foster correct fellowship within our churches and Christian circles. Our conversation cannot be limited to the weather and the football game. It must be Gospel-saturated. Keeping the Gospel central will ensure that our brothers and sisters are persevering. "The word of the cross" is the "power of God" for those of "us who are being saved." Often times we back-burner the Gospel and need a brother or sister to put it back in front of our face. Those are the human means contributing to our ongoing salvation.

God has these means planned out and in place to accomplish His purposes to the end of His glory, but we must strive to persevere. We must strive to keep the Gospel central in our dealings with other Christians. I would contend that our interactions with brothers and sisters in Christ are equally as important to our interactions with unbelievers.

Now, I am not saying that salvation can be lost. If God so desires us to persevere, He will provide the means. And if a so-called Christian does not persevere, He was a false convert to begin with.

The emphasis rests on the fact that perseverance is not governed by some magical formula that carries us to the end once we are converted, but rather on the centrality of the Gospel in our lives which is often spurred by our interactions with our Christian brothers and sisters. We must be attentive to the Spirit and do what He prompts us to by reading Scripture and seeking the Lord in prayer. Then we must pass it on to those around us.

Therefore, in conclusion, strive to persevere in your own life and strive to help others persevere in their lives. God has given us weighty tasks. We need His strength and guidance to perform them. And we will give Him the glory.


Since a few of my recent posts have focused on abortion, here is an excellent resource in the fight against the biggest injustice in the United States: Abort73.

Also check out Randy Alcorn's blog, which I quoted in an earlier post, Eternal Perspectives.

Monday, November 10, 2008

California Propositions

California had some interesting propositions on their ballot this election season. Prop 2 was concerned with the treatment of farm animals. Prop 4 required a waiting period and parental notification prior to the termination of the pregnancy of a minor. Prop 8 limited marriage to a man and a woman.

Prop 2 passed. Congratulations farm animals. You can turn around in your cage.

Prop 8 passed. Partially because religious groups poured millions of dollars into making sure that it did, including many Christian groups like this one:

This has been hailed as a great victory by the religious community. Opponents of Prop 8 have shown their outrage. With Prop 2 in mind, I read a political cartoon that showed an animal in a large cage and then two gay men in smaller cages. The caption read "what California will do with all the unused cages."

But Prop 4 failed. $35.8 million was poured into ensuring a "yes" vote on Prop 8. $2.6 million was scraped in for a "yes" vote on Prop 4.

While I am an advocate for traditional, biblical marriage, I will not be excited about a Prop 8 success considering a Prop 4 failure.

Resident Thorns poet and frequent dinner guest, Jordan, explains exactly why:

Prop 2 creates a new state statute that prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.

Prop 4 would prohibit abortion for unemancipated minors until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent, legal guardian or, if parental abuse has been reported, an alternative adult family member.

Prop 2 passed and prop 4 failed. Go figure.

I understand that there are details to each proposition that I'm overlooking. But consider with me the principle. Compassion for animals is championed while technicalities are questioned over the murdering of humans. Has anyone realized that aborted children are killed before even getting a chance to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs?

Or are we to count limbs fully extended when they go limp?

This is incredible. It's horrific, I know, and I can't stand it anymore.

Gay marriage never killed anyone. The failure of Prop 4 will.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tree of the Week (11.4.08)

Election Day, One Final Consideration

I have cast my ballot and made my decisions; however, I can't ignore one of the comments left on my last post.

The comment referred to an argument against the Republican party and their views on abortion. The cited article, from the Fargo Forum, entitled "Republicans Pro-birth, Not Pro-life," makes the case that, while the Republican party is viciously pro-life, once birth happens life is very much taken for granted. The author puts it this way:

Looking at the abortion issue through the actions of Republican lawmakers, one must change the term “pro-life” to “pro-birth.” They want to make sure a fetus makes it from the womb to the delivery room, but beyond that, they generally walk away.

If you believe life begins at conception, you must believe it does not cease at birth. Nor does a child cease to exist at age 3, 10 or 17. All too frequently, a child born into poverty – an almost certain circumstance for single mothers – is ignored, vilified, even despised by those who sought that baby’s full-term birth.

Indeed this is an issue. Personally I do not necessarily feel that it is the role of the government to make sure life is always cherished, but I do think it is a direct result of a failure within conservative Christianity, which--as much as I hate to admit it--is represented imperfectly by the Republican party.

There is a theological argument that needs to be explored here. Jesus says a lot about the rich and the poor. Jesus also did not look to government to fix that problem. As Christians we need to be following that example and acting on behalf of the unborn and on the behalf of the poverty stricken.

While I do not entirely agree that this is the reason we should not vote in favor of the Republican party, I do think the argument could be used to support a third party vote.

My final thought is that abortion, unfortunate as it is, has become a government issue. It must be fought on a legislative or judicial level; a level on which our individual vote matters. Poverty needs to be fought on a community level, with our churches leading the way; a level on which our individual action matters. That thought is why I would not let this particular argument, valid as it is, sway my vote.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why I Would Not Vote Third Party

It is the night before the election and I still have not entirely decided which way I will cast my vote in the morning. I am still considering third party, but there is a looming issue that is keeping me from diving head first into that plan.


I hate the idea that I may be voting for a single issue; however, I hate murder all the more. For this point I simply turn to Randy Alcorn's blog Eternal Perspectives. Here is a snippet from his post "Why I'm Voting for 98% Pro-life John McCain rather than 100% Pro-legal-abortion Barack Obama."

One of the commenters on my last blog said, “God didn't call us to win. He called us to do what is right.” Well, to me this has never been about us winning. I don’t even know who us is. To me, it’s certainly not about Republicans winning, or John McCain winning. My concern is whether unborn babies will be protected. Sure, I want to be able to sleep at night because I did the right thing. But I also want millions of babies to sleep (or cry) at night, because my vote actually helped them live. That, I believe, is the right thing for me to do—not to vote for an ideal unelectable candidate, but to do what I can to help children live even if I have to vote for a flawed candidate to do so.
I don't see casting a vote on the level of unqualified absolute endorsement… All of us become pragmatic (choosing one imperfect candidate over a more imperfect one) at some point or we never vote at all, which some of my prolife friends never do. I give them consistency, but I wonder if they ever choose a less than perfect pastor, insurance program, or loaf of bread.

In my opinion, that is a good reason to forgo my third party argument. Maybe I will...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Consider Voting Third Party

There are several reasons why I am considering voting third party. People have told me not to waste my vote, but I feel like a third party vote might be a good choice for me.

First I will address the wasted vote argument.

  • In my opinion, a conscience vote is not a wasted vote. When I have brought up the fact that I am considering voting third party, most people tell me not to waste my vote. How am I wasting my vote if I am casting it for the person who I feel is most in step with my ideals? If anything I feel that I am actually making my vote count.
  • In the primaries I voted for Mike Huckabee. I voted my conscience. I felt that he would be the best candidate for the Republican Party, which is the party within which I typically vote. North Dakota went to Mitt Romney. The Republican endorsement went to John McCain. Did I waste my vote? I don't think so.
  • Since a third party candidate is such a long shot, it is said that I would be better suited simply to vote along party lines and make sure that the other party doesn't assume office. But, as this video points out, "The greatest power the people have is their vote and in supporting the lesser of two evils each election voters ensure eternal evil." To me, both of the main party candidates represent incorrect policy. Why would I not vote for the policy that I agree with?
  • Voting third party is ideal; however, voting in this country was not conceived by realists, but by idealists. A realistic vote is a safe vote; an idealistic vote is not willing to settle for "good enough" or the "lesser of two evils."
So why do I think that voting third party would be a good choice for me?
  • I am not a proponent of big government. Government is not the answer for most of the issues that we face in this country. The main party candidates do not understand this. Small government has been a staple of the Republican Party for a long, long time. When did the party lose that concept? John McCain definitely does not seem to want to reduce government. For example, his idea of fixing a mortgage crisis is having the government buy up mortgages. Barack Obama seemed to be heading the right direction when he claimed that he supported the expansion of faith-based organizations as a means to fight poverty. But now it would seem that his "spread the wealth around" concept has overtaken that idea. Those are both big government solutions. Voting third party would not promote big government.
  • The Constitution is a good document. In fact it is the document. Why have the main parties abandoned it? They don't seem to care what it says or why it's important. Voting third party would ensure that the document written as guidelines for this country would at least be attempted to be adhered to.
  • Voting third party would allow me to choose more issues that I agree with: abortion, government spending, taxation, gun control, health care, immigration, and the list goes on. Why would I be willing to settle for "close enough" with a main party candidate when I can say "right on" with a third party candidate?
  • Third party candidates are serious about their platform. A flippant platform waivers to get votes. A serious platform is unwavering despite how many votes it will receive. That's conviction I can respect.
So, which third party candidate would I vote for? After weighing the options I would cast myvote for Chuck Baldwin. Of course I have not entirely made up my mind yet even if I am going to vote third party, but if I do, it will be Baldwin. I agree with him on almost everything except foreign policy which I only partially disagree with him on. He was endorsed by Ron Paul, who, if it weren't for Mike Huckabee, I probably would have voted for in the primaries.

Like I said, I don't know what I am going to do yet. But I am considering voting third party. And I think that third party candidates deserve more consideration.

Joe the Photographer

Joe Wigfall has an interesting way of doing photography. Take a look at this video and his Flickr Photostream.

It's Saturday at 7am

So, it's Saturday at 7am. I am sitting here at my computer listening to WNYC and reading a Ron Paul supporter blog, the Daily Paul.

How come six days of the week, when I have to be somewhere in the morning, I can' t drag myself out of bed, but on Saturday morning by 6:45am I feel like I am wasting my time if I haven't gotten up yet?