Guarding Pompeii

I heard someone describe something they had seen at Pompeii, I don't know if it is true or not, (I haven't been able to find any info about it from a second source) but the illustration still holds whether it is true or not.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Pompeii, there was a famous eruption of Mt Vesuvius in Italy sometime in the first couple of centuries AD. The city was so close to the volcano, and the eruption happened so quickly, that much of the city was buried in ash and volcanic material before the residents had any time to flee.

The city was completely buried and eventually lost to the rest of the world until some 1400 or 1500 years later. It was eventually discovered that the ash had preserved the burial places of the people and animals of the city. As the city was excavated they would fill with plaster any cavities that they found (cavities left behind after the bodies decomposed in the newly formed rock), and then continue the excavation to reveal a plaster cast of the person exactly as they looked at the time of their death.

There are dogs in anguish, people fleeing or huddled into corners, or even still sleeping!

The story goes, however, that there is one plaster cast in particular worth mentioning.

A roman guard standing at his post. Unmoving, and unflinching as the clouds of super-heated ash, and the eruption of rock and earth come hurtling toward him...



Life Has Changed

"For thousands of years people have experienced both the pain and pleasure of working with their hands. People could measure and visibly see the impact of their work. No one could deny that a carpenter had put the finishing touches on a house or that a farmer had produced a crop in his field.

The modern workforce is different. It is hard to measure the transmission of data. It is hard to feel like you have accomplished anything when the fruit of your work is lost somewhere in cyberspace. Life has changed."



Which One?

'Oh yes, I've read that book!"

(Click the title link if you want the whole thing)

You see, the flow of human events around academics proves that they too are sinners. They too are ready to give in to the pulls and pushes of the social context. Another little piece by Lewis called "The Inner Ring" is one of the most important things for any Christian academic to read. It is a story about how we hunger all of our life to be included. And that is one of the main reasons why reason has to be redeemed. I often jokingly say, but not so jokingly, that the lie most commonly told in my context is "Oh yes, I’ve read that book." Now why do we say that? Because we want to be included, we don’t want to be left out. We want to be "in." The whole word "party" is an interesting word; it means "to be a part of." We like to be included; we like to be brought in. Only the strength of a greater community that is provided by Jesus Christ can stand against that. And that’s why Paul refers to the church as "the pillar and ground of truth" (I Tim. 3:15).

It is only the person in a redeemed relationship to God that can stand for truth. Truth is too hard. You often hear the verse quoted to the effect that "The truth will make you free." The truth will not make you free! That verse doesn’t say that! Read the whole thing! It’s about discipleship: "If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-33) But today we no longer have to know the truth. On the elevator in the Humanities building at USC it just says "…The truth will make you free." Truth will not make you free - it’s probably better said "the truth will make you flee." Truth is hard to live with. And that is one reason why there has to be a community of redemption that comes down to earth and provides a context in which people can truly walk free, in the truth, because they are supported by their spiritual redemption before God in relationship to Him. They’re living in what I call "a conversational relationship with God."

Dallas Willard


I Can't!

I recently heard a friend of mine preaching (I believe it was his first sermon).

The great thing about this is not the sermon (although I really appreciated it! ...the insights into what Church should be, and his passion to give Jesus all that He is worth!), but rather the man who delivered it!

Several years ago, this man wrote me a letter. We had asked him to assist someone else in leading one of the Discipleship Groups at the Church. He responded by writing that he couldn't possibly be the one to help lead because he was so messed up himself. He felt like he had no business leading anyone...

The funny thing is, he is now helping to oversee all of the groups at the church!

It is a true saying, "God doesn't call the equipped, rather, He equips the called."


Do you want to get well?

Have you ever felt hurt, snubbed, or slighted?

Have you ever felt like someone had injured you emotionally?

Here is a thought; the reason you feel that way has at least as much to do with your perceptions as with their actions or intentions...

That is (at least to me) a troubling thought.

...at least to the selfish part of me!


Think about it, someone can step on your toes and you can burn with resentment, or brush it off with a laugh. It has a lot to do with your perceptions of whether what they did was intentional or not, or other such factors...

This means we have a lot more control over our alienation, anger, and indignation than we might otherwise think...

...and so it means we have a lot less legitimacy to our claims for revenge!

What if?

I just listened to a good friend give a sermon, he asked the questions:

What if I really believed Jesus is Lord?

What if I really lived my life like it were true?

What would happen? What would my life look like?

For some reason, I can never tire of hearing that question, perhaps I need to hear it every day? I am a living sacrifice, daily I crawl off the altar, and daily I must crawl back on it...



A friend of mine wrote:

"There is power when we uncover sin!" -Bean

Wow, there is a bold statement! But scripture is clear, if we will confess our sins, He is faithful to both forgive us and to purify us. Yet, we all have the tendency to hide from God, from each other, or even from ourselves; we inherited this from our spiritual parents. Adam and Eve made their fig-leaf clothes and hid in the garden; we continue to hide to this day.

So the question falls to us, and to our sin...

Do we keep it covered up?


Don't we want it dealt with?

It is time to "pull the fig leaf..."


The Disloyal Saint

The Old Testament Saint, Ruth, abandons her culture, her people, her country, her heritage, and her god...

She is a model for us who must do the same. When it becomes apparent that our loyalty to this world is simply just a chain around our necks binding us to a sinking ship, we must show the same disloyalty she showed.

When it becomes obvious that our culture, our people, our country, our heritage, and our gods, are simply different faces on a sick and depraved system; it is then that we must reject them all for what is true and good.

The only hope of rescue and salvation.


God is With You!

Every Sunday morning we go to a local nursing home and serve food and drinks and then sing songs to Jesus. It is a blessing to the residents and the staff...

This morning, I was the one to get the blessing.

An old woman, named Juanita (with all of two and a half teeth), always claps incessantly whenever the music starts. I have had a few terse conversations with her since we have been there, and I would have assessed her as 'not all there,' but not 'totally gone.' She usually has something to say that has something to do with Jesus.

'Praise Jesus,'

'Thank God for Jesus.'

This morning I went over near her and a couple of other older ladies and began to play my guitar and sing. Then I began to talk to Juanita, or rather, she began to talk to me. Prophecy over me is more like it!

God is with you! He loves you!

You know what you want, why don't you just go get it! He is with you. He is with you!

Thank God for Jesus!

Praise Him!

You just take it easy, He is with you. God is with you! He loves you!

You just take it easy!

He is with you, so just go and get it...

I wasn't sure how to respond, so I cried, and said, 'Amen!'


I hope when I am old and crazy, there is nothing left in me but Jesus. When I open my mouth, if it doesn't make sense or if it does, at least it is about Jesus.


Tom's Idea

How many of you have heard the saying, "God first, family second, ministry third."

I remember once, long ago, saying that to my Pastor's wife. She responded by disagreeing, and saying, "no, it is all God! If you just make Him your everything, He will put everything else in it's proper place."

I really liked that, it made a lot of sense to me, because, often times, the whole 'family before ministry' is really a way to make family before God; it is a cop out.


So a woman asked that exact question in our Discipleship Group this past week. "Who am I supposed to love more, God or family?"

...and so, I explained to her what my pastor's wife had once explained to me...

Unfortunately I wasn't doing such a good job explaining, because our friend didn't understand what I was getting at and she asked, "Am I not supposed to love my family at all? I am only supposed to love God?"

Then Tom chimed in:

"God is the lens through which we see our family... and everything else!"


It isn't that God doesn't want us to love family, or to prioritize other good things in our lives, but rather He wants us to prioritize our lives around Him and His agenda. Saying "God, family, ministry, in that order," makes God one priority among many, even if He is the first priority. God should be the one who sets our priorities for us! He is above all of our other priorities...

God is not the biggest planet in orbit; rather He is the sun, the gravitational center around which the planets orbit.



No Longer a Joke

A long time ago I heard the following one liner:

'You spend the first year of your kids lives teaching them to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives yelling at them to sit down and be quiet!"

It really made me laugh when I heard that!


Three kids later, it doesn't really make me laugh; it's just too accurate a depiction of my daily reality to be a joke.

Good Stuff Eljeffe


Financial Blessings aren't a Blessing?

Budget shortages force us to reconsider our priorities; a shortfall gives us a great excuse to kill unnecessary programs and other initiatives.


Am I?

...not easily angered?

I have been unusually self-focused lately...

Getting the Most Important things Right...

"My point is that those thoughtfully living in Evangelical circles throughout the generations will very likely believe they do not quite measure up if they are missing out on any of these areas of activity."

Dallas Willard

McLaren on Homosexuality

More Lyrics From Another Life

you've sworn allegiance to your dreams but still it seems so hard
that tightrope that you walk why can't you put it down
drink your way through one more clouded chapter of your life
the hands reaching out to help you only seemed to push you further away

your time's up and away
you've made your choice now there's nothing left to say
your times up and away

mistreated and abused but they couldn't steal your heart
everyone was so confused but your friends all played their part
most likely to succeed still you threw it all away
now your dreams lie buried next to you they're gone forever

where's the spark in your eye i miss your smile
you're burning inside out did you want to?
everything they told you to make the bad things go away
everything that they kept from you everything i wanted to say


Moral Confusion

"The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional-health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity."

From the article linked above.


The world is confused about morality.

The quote above shows how this journalist views morality, namely, it is what you should do, whether or not it is actually good or bad for you to do. People use the word moral to indicate, not something that is good or the delineation of good from bad, but rather to indicate what the code or law says. There is of course, the implicit assumption that the code or law has no real world relationship to what is good or bad.

This is, however, a completely ignorant point of view.


To say that something is bad for you, or them, or society as a whole, is to say that it is immoral! To say that something is immoral is to say that it is bad for you!

Of course people are often confused about specific moral judgments, 'Why is this wrong, or that bad?' Why is this right, or that good?' There is a place for explanation, but this doesn't change the reality, if something is wrong, it is because it is bad for you!


Identity and Obedience: Homosexuality and Jesus pt II

A major stumbling block for homosexual people is the awareness that God is asking them to deny a piece of themselves; God is not accepting all of what they are. In fact, this is an assault on the core identity of some individuals. The very thing that has become the center of personhood, the core identifying trait, the seat of identity, is rejected by God.

If we are to come to terms with the issue, the Church must understand this reality!

To the heterosexual: what if God saw you this way? What if you were expected to admit the sin of being attracted to the opposite sex, leave your spouse, and live a celibate life? Would you follow such a demanding Jesus?


This, however, doesn't go nearly far enough, although it certainly goes farther than many heterosexual individuals are willing to go.

A homosexual person in many ways has a deeper understanding of the Christian life than many Christians. The death to self, and the relinquishing of identity required of those who chose Jesus is as readily understood by the average homosexual person as it is not readily understood by the average Christian.

The point of Christianity is neither heterosexuality, nor sexual purity, but rather life in Christ. The real issue for us as Christians is not sexual propriety, but rather an obedient life that emanates from an identification with, and identity in Christ. It is not just homosexual people who must endure the 'assault on their core identity,' but rather this assault is what repentance from evil and confidence in God is all about for all humans! God does, indeed, see YOU this way, the very core of your identity is rejected by God, and He wants to give you a new one!

As though God's primary goal for our lives is that we would be sexually stimulated by the right gender... the scope of His plan is so much more grand!!!!


Indeed for all people regardless of sexual orientation 'the very thing that has become the center of personhood, the core identifying trait, the seat of identity, is rejected by God.'

Homosexuality as an issue is a pertinent place to ask the question, 'Do I have my earplugs in?'

The Spirit is speaking, are you listening?


Identity and Obedience: Homosexuality and Jesus

I have happened across several conversations recently on the topic of homosexuality and the Church. While you may find yourself in a place on this issue where no depth of thought is forcing itself upon you, I would encourage you to engage more deeply on this topic as I see a wealth of understanding and life to be found at this precise place of trial. (As CS Lewis would say, 'you expect to find game hiding behind cover.') If the Church will actively engage culture motivated by the Spirit of Christ, informed by Scripture, then we will find Paul's childbirth metaphor to be true. This is a controversy that will bring much pain and discomfort, but if we will push through it and engage with it, we will find that they are birthing pains, new life is coming...

I recently had a conversation with a Christian who is in a long term monogamous homosexual relationship. This person asked me what I thought about homosexuality...

I must confess, my answer was fraught with uncomfortably long pauses, and much confusion about how to communicate what I believe...


According to the white house website, "the President believes we must all come together to help reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion."

My question is why?