ramblings from the noisedoctor

August 17, 2009

and what do you do the rest of the year???

Filed under: Bible study, Christianity — noisedoctor @ 4:47 pm

I was traveling this past Sunday and was unable to get to our church. As I was driving, I was listening to a local Christian station (a really good one) and they had a church service on. I had never heard this church before (there is one on that station that we often listen to on the way to church which is really good). One thing caught my attention. I may not quote it precisely, but I think this is what the pastor said:

Today we’re going to continue with our summer series to get into the Word of God.

um… You’re the pastor of a church and you need a special series to get into the Word of God? So the rest of the year, you get into… what exactly?

I know there are a lot of churches that don’t really focus on “The Word” in their services. I grew up in one (they’d read 3 short passages and then the pastor would speak about some topic that maybe related to the verses). I guess I was really surprised to hear it on the radio. But, I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised–just disappointed. I am so thankful that I found a church that goes verse-by-verse through the scriptures.

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August 14, 2009

now that’s great church stewardship… not!

Filed under: Christianity, people unlike us, soapbox, unclear on the concept — noisedoctor @ 1:56 pm

This news story on the heels of me pondering my church and stewardship.

HASLETT, Mich. – Divine intervention? Or just plain luck? No matter what the circumstances, a Michigan church is $70,000 richer courtesy of the Michigan Lottery. The Covenant Life Worship Center and its 25 members in Haslett, Mich. had one of the second-prize tickets in the Lucky 7s raffle held May 4.

The $10 ticket was purchased at a convenience store in Haslett, five miles northeast of downtown Lansing. The lottery Web site says the odds of a single ticket winning $70,000 in Lucky 7s are one in 55,556. Michigan Lottery officials say the church will receive the full amount of the prize because it is a tax-exempt group.

Pastor Marilyn Parmelee tells the Lansing State Journal that the prize money will go toward the church building fund, setting up a missionary fund and supporting local community service projects.

I was concerned about my church not taking “free” government money for a geothermal heat system. Here’s a church that takes its money and buys lottery tickets. Wow. That’s great stewardship. I just can’t quite put words together to describe my feelings. I guess I can’t wrap my head around their thought process.

July 31, 2009

wise ethics or unwise stewardship?

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — noisedoctor @ 2:50 pm

I just got off the phone with someone from my church who is helping oversee an upcoming building project. Given that I’ve been very pleased with my home geothermal heat/AC system, I wanted to make sure that our church is at least investigating geothermal as an option for the new addition. I told this guy that with the government tax credits, it makes a new geothermal system no more expensive than a traditional system (effectively paying for the wells required).

His response was that they had not yet done so and would consider it, however, “we won’t accept any government rebates of any kinds.” He further added “that money often comes with strings attached.” He explained further, and my paraphrase of that is that our church had no desire to come under any sort of control of the government for taking their money.

Now, my initial reaction is mixed:

  • wise ethical approach: a good idea to avoid any type of government entanglement
  • concern: but if this money is (not saying it is, but if it’s a pure tax credit, that seems to be to me) “free” (no strings), then is it really wise stewardship of God’s money?

I don’t know what I really think of this. I guess I’m leaning towards the latter initially. It’s something I’m going to think about.

Also, regardless of what my conclusion is, that conclusion ends with me. I will wholly submit to their authority–I’m not going to share that with anyone at the church. If I decide that it’s unwise and if God, just by some chance, agrees with me, then it’s going to be His job to convict the men of our church that they should consider taking that kind of money.

February 12, 2009

am i that transparent to God?

Filed under: Christianity, family, prayer — noisedoctor @ 11:52 am

I had this thought last week.

My son (just turned 1 year old) was walking (yeah, he started that at 9 months, just like his Daddy) around the kitchen. I could see him admiring something on the counter. He then nonchalantly walked over to me with his arms open wide as if to hug me. But what he was really doing was hoping I’d pick him up. So, I did. He of course reached for the object on the counter with a sort of expression, “wow, look at this, I had no idea it was here.”

Now, perhaps I’m reading way more into my son there. But, it made me think about myself. How many times do I see something I want and then run to God with my arms wide open–pretending to seek Him but deep-down longing to be filled by that “thing” I seek, rather than longing to be filled by Him.

Yeah, I think I’m that transparent to God. Father, forgive me. Please help me purge my desire for this world.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If you love the world, love for the Father [b] is not in you. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful people, the lust of their eyes and their boasting about what they have and do—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

January 25, 2009

i consider myself in good company

Filed under: Christianity, prayer — noisedoctor @ 11:53 am

Recently, John Piper (a man I deeply respect) posted one of his Ask Pastor John audio clips. It related to something I posted a good while back: who do you pray to? (and in whose name?). While Piper is far more eloquent than I, he seems to agree with what I was saying.

I add the link not to boast. I am humbly appreciative that Pastor John backs up a conviction of mine. I’m glad to see other people seeking him out on the topic as well.

October 31, 2008

don’t waste your life on your iphone

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — noisedoctor @ 12:20 pm

I saw this link a few days ago in my RSS reader from desiringgod.org. Don’t Waste Your Life on Your iPhone. I clicked it. I don’t have an iPhone, but I thought it was going to be something either funny or practical about the iPhone and wasting time on it. Nope. Wrong.

The full text of Don’t Waste Your Life is now available online for free in a format optimized for the iPhone.

Silly me.

April 21, 2008

what if i don’t want to be happy?

Filed under: Bible study, Christianity, infertility — noisedoctor @ 8:41 am

I’ve been trying to get caught up on some of the recent teachings by John Piper from the book of Romans. He’s been talking about Romans 13:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…” He mentioned a quote by Jeremy Taylor:

God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy.

That really piqued my interest. I wanted to research that a little bit, so I found a reference on Piper’s site to a verse that Taylor was referring:

Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity… Deuteronomy 28:47 (NIV)

I know that verse continues on into a specific list of repercussions for Israel’s disobedience. Yet I think that there are lessons for me to learn in there. My gut reaction is that God is saying something between, “I gave you all of this, and you won’t be happy?” and “what is it going to take to make you people happy?”

Though I have plenty of room left to grow, I think that’s an area of my life where I have grown a great deal over the past few years. I think this was particularly evident in the 18 months where my wife and I were unsuccessfully trying to conceive a child. Yes, there were times I was bummed and frustrated, but overall I made conscious choices to be happy and joyful.

I learned to appreciate other things in my life more: my three nephews, my wife, the wonderful house and property I have, etc. Yes, I didn’t have what I was hoping for the most at that time, but how infinite the other blessings I had. Why should I sit and mope until I get that one desire?

Now that we do have the child that we so hoped and prayed for, I think that I am even more joyful and happy. I think that I notice, appreciate, and praise God for little things that would have never caught my attention before.

I don’t recall the exact situation, but I was talking to someone recently about my son. I mentioned how good he was, how well he was sleeping, and things like that. This person asked if he got fussy. I said that all babies get fussy, and he was no exception. I forget exactly what this person said, but it was something to the effect of, “I bet there are times you wish you could trade him in,” (or “send him back” or something similar). I didn’t even have to think before I replied, “never, not once.” I think that’s because I’ve started to learn to live happy by choosing to be happy. I’m not waiting to “feel” happy. I’m looking for the positives, the blessings in my life and just being happy.

I have a long way to go, many more blessings to recognize and praise God for, and many, many other areas in which to grow, but I hope I never hear the Lord say to me, “Because you did not serve Me joyfully and gladly in your time of prosperity…”

January 30, 2008

turning down help

Filed under: Bible study, Christianity — noisedoctor @ 10:06 am

When you’re doing almost any kind of work/project and someone offers to help, it’s very natural to accept. Of course, there are exceptions there–most notably when small children are involved. But when the project is something important, particularly something you are doing for God, it’s not wise to accept help without careful consideration.

In my experience, I’ve seen problems arise time and again when help has been offered by people:

  • who aren’t really skilled in that area
  • who aren’t really dedicated to the “cause”
  • who are big on getting their way
  • etc.

Today I was reading Ezra 4, which brought this all to mind. The Jews were ordered to go and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The Samaritans were opposed to this, and tried to get in on the project so they could sabotage it.

Ezra 4:1-2 (NIV)
When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”

This made me think. If I were out there with this mammoth task of rebuilding the temple and folks came and offered to help, saying they were seeking God, how would I have reacted? My initial thought probably would have been “Wow. Great. More help, that’s wonderful.” I hope that I would have taken up that matter to God in some heavy-duty prayer before responding, though. I usually do in big matters like that. But, how tempting just to accept without talking it over with God?

Yet, it’s interesting that the heads of Israel didn’t even need to pray about this matter. They simply turned down the offer:

Ezra 4:3 (NIV)
But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”

To me that shows that they understood their mission and knew it was their job to do it. We can speculate whether that was out of faith in God or a strict adherence to the command of King Cyrus. Either way, they were firm in their commitment to building the temple and weren’t easily swayed by an offer of help simply to lighten their work load.

This is something I want to remind myself of next time I’m involved in some work for God. I think one thing I’ve noticed as a social trait in the churches/Christian groups I’ve been involved in is that we’re afraid to turn someone down: “oh, we don’t want to hurt their feelings” or “the more the merrier” or “maybe God can actually use this person in this situation.” Yes, we need to be careful not to hurt people’s feelings or be exclusive, etc. But, just welcoming the help without consideration and prayer–that’s just unwise.

In the case of the Israelites in Ezra 4, accepting this offer of help would have hurt their work. Obviously Satan was behind the deception there as he tried to oppose the work of rebuilding the temple. I’m not suggesting that Satan is behind every offer of help we get as we do our “Kingdom work” but, we should be careful. I know I want to be careful and take these situations to God.

January 26, 2008

God uses those who don’t even know Him

Filed under: Bible study — noisedoctor @ 8:50 am

I’m reading the book of Ezra. I know, not on everyone’s top 10 list from the Bible. Heck, not that long ago, I had the woefully misconceived notion that “Wasn’t Ezra a woman? It sounds like a woman’s name.” Having gotten my facts a little more in order, I thought I should read the book.

The first chapter begins thusly:

Ezra 1:1-4 (NIV)
1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:

2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Anyone of his people among you — may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'”

I found Matthew Henry’s commentary on these verses quite interesting (emphasis mine):

Whence this proclamation took its rise. The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. Note, The hearts of kings are in the hand of the Lord, and, like the rivulets of water, he turneth them which way soever he will. It is said of Cyrus that he knew not God, nor how to serve him; but God knew him, and how to serve himself by him, Isa 45:4. God governs the world by his influence on the spirits of men, and, whatever good is done at any time, it is God that stirs up the spirit to do it, puts thoughts into the mind, gives to the understanding to form a right judgment, and directs the will which way he pleases. Whatever good offices therefore are, at any time, done for the church of God, he must have the glory of them.
(from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

This, of course, prompted me to look up Isaiah 45:4 (emphasis mine):

Isa 45:1-6 (NIV)
1 This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: 2 I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places,so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. 4 For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, 6 so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.

God said he would work through Cyrus, even though Cyrus didn’t know Him. And, it wasn’t just for some random “hey, I’m God, and I can do whatever I want” thing–it was another instance where God decided to act to show that He is indeed God.

I’m sitting here thinking how awesome that is. But I’m also thinking: God, I don’t want to make it so You have to act in spite of me, I want You to act through my submission to you–but all for Your glory, not mine.

July 12, 2007

praying to free Eric Volz

Filed under: Christianity, soapbox — noisedoctor @ 7:15 am

I got this e-mail about Eric Volz. I hope you’ll join me in praying for this situation.

FREE ERIC VOLZ

What you can do now…

For the past almost eight months as people have heard
the story of Eric
Volz's arrest and unjust imprisonment, after the look
of disbelief, there
comes a question, "what can we do?"

We struggle to believe, still, that this situation is
as dire as it appears,
that the chance for Eric to be freed hangs by such
thin threads. After all, we understand justice to mean
that if mistakes are made they will be made right. We
wait together for this to become true.

There have been and are still available opportunities
to communicate with Eric and to contribute to the
costs of his defense. (go to www.freeericvolz.com)

But now as we wait, we have another timely and
important answer to the question, "what can we do?"

Between the dates of July 21st and 29th (the week that
marks the beginning of the 9th month since Eric's
arrest) the friends of Eric Volz are calling for all
concerned persons and groups to gather together in
whatever way you practice prayer.

We will join together during this week to garner the
powers of grace, mercy, forgiveness, justice and love.
We believe these powers to be stronger than any of the
systemic brokenness and evil that keeps innocent
persons imprisoned. This is a time for faithful
persons to lean toward the changing of processes and
persons who have the power to decide to protect Eric's
safety and to set him free.

If you are reading this and as a group or individual
wish to add your energy to hoping with many others
please let us know that you'll be setting aside time
as an individual or with a group for a hour, a day, or
spread out across this week of response.

Please email the name, email and physical address of
the person who will coordinate the effort for your
group to: skeenj@mail.belmont.edu. As is possible we
will provide materials electronically that can be
reproduced as you choose for use with your group. We
will also mail additional support materials to share
with those who participate. (Please include an
estimate of how many are needed in your response)

Thank you for your ongoing concern for Eric and his
family.

Melissa Campbell
www.friendsofericvolz.com

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