Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Lon Sutton

March 11, 2010

Today I went to the funeral of a man I thought I barely knew. That may seem like an odd statement, but I assure you it is true. I was asked to be a pallbearer, and I accepted, but I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it, or what I should feel about it. I met Lon maybe five times while he was alive. I remember him as being kind and happy. But, since I only met him those few times, it would be safe to say that I barely knew him, at least that’s what I thought.

As I sat and thought about what I could say to his widow, it came to me that in one sense I meet him every day. My father-in-law would be one of the first to tell you that when he was 16 he was a little wild. So wild in fact, that he ended up in jail. His uncle Lon was the one that came and bailed him out. At that time he also became my father-in-laws legal guardian, took him into his home and raised him.

The effect and influence that Lon had on him set my father-in-law on a better path than the one he was headed down. That in turn influenced the man that my father-in-law is. So in my father-in-law I see a bit of who Lon Sutton was. It doesn’t stop there though. The man that my father-in-law is, also influenced the father that he is to my wife and how he raised her. The woman that she is today, how she interacts with me and our children is, in part, a reflection of the influence that Lon had on her dad.

So I get to see a little bit of who Lon Sutton was everyday in the people around me. I wish that I could have known him better in life, but I am thankful for the influence that he was on my family. It is an honor to me to be a part of laying him to his final rest.

Rest in peace, Lon Sutton.


What translation do you use and why?

January 25, 2010

I got a new Bible today. I think I need to give away a few of my old Bibles as I don’t use them very often anymore. With my iPhone always at hand, I have used online/downloaded copies of my favorite translations and not needing to lug a Bible along with me. Although it looks like I may start carrying m Bible with me again.

I started out with very little preference in Bible translations. I typically just used whatever was at hand. At Bible school, I began examining what versions made which claims as far as integrity and how close they were to “original” manuscripts. As a result, I began to favor the NASB (New American Standard Bible) version of the Bible. Lately though, I began to have a particular issue with even that translation. The issue was that the name of God is never used in it. Instead, they have replaced His name with one of His titles, “The Lord”. I asked one of my teachers from Bible School, who helped to start me down this path of inquiry, which translation of the Bible he recommended. He pointed me towards one I had never heard of. “The Scriptures” version of the Bible is written and printed by the Institute for Scripture Research, based in South Africa. They strive to come as close as possible to the Hebrew version of the scriptures, both old and new testament, to the point of leaving the name of God and the name of His Son in the original Hebrew lettering. So instead of “The Lord” and “Jesus”, they use  יהוה (Yahweh) and  יהושע (Yehoshua, which is sometimes shortened to Yeshua). It is going to take some getting used to, to read the Hebrew letters in among the english. In addition to this, they also use transliterations of the Hebrew names of most/all other places and people. So instead of Joshua they have Yehoshua and instead of Moses they have Mosheh, Isaiah becomes Yeshayahu and Deuteronomy is Debarim and the land of Canaan is the land of Kena’an. Some names I will just have to memorize what Anglicized name they go with as they bear little resemblance to the transliterated Hebrew.

So why the switch? Well, many men and deities are given the title Lord and a lot of deities are called god or God, but there is only one who is Yahweh and that is the God of Abraham. I want it clear, to myself and others, that the one I serve is not Allah or some other deity, but the one true God, Yahweh, and His Son, Yehoshua.

So what translation of the Bible do you use? And why do you use it?

To save a life

January 23, 2010

I just went to see “To Save A Life”. I went expecting the quality of “Facing the Giants”. To be honest, I’m not sure what movie to compare it to. It was, in all aspects, equal to any decent Hollywood movie that you would go to see in the theaters. Acting, plot, directing, editing, camera work, music, sound effects – it was all on par, everything you would expect from a good feature film.

Is it a religous movie? I don’t think so. Is it a Christian movie? Not in the view of many I would guess. But it is most certainly a movie about the truths of the God of Abraham and His son Jesus. I kept expecting to have the movie present a heavily watered down theology. . . It never happened. They took off the rose colored glasses that the makers of “Facing the Giants” were wearing. It’s real and blunt, not afraid to face the short comings of the church or the reality that people get mad at God. They take a good look at what it means to follow God and what it looks like to walk that out.

“The Book of Eli” challenged me most about my relationship with God, this movie challenged me more with how that relationship should/could/would/is/did affect, or not, my relationship with my fellow man. To be honest, I cried through much of the movie, both from regret and hope.

I highly recommend that you go see this movie.

The Book of Eli

January 19, 2010

Today I saw “The Book of Eli.” I will try my best to communicate my impressions of the movie without giving away too much or including any spoilers. It’s a movie worth seeing and best seen without too many preconceptions, so if you haven’t seen it I would read this after you have seen it. If you don’t care or have already seen it, the by all means read on.

I’ve always heard in Christian circles the old cliché, “what if people destroyed every Bible, how much of it could we bring back from memory?”, but I’ve never had quite as vivid a picture as this movie paints. I’ve always been told that I need to read my Bible more and honor and appreciate the word of God, but I’ve never seen what that looks like portrayed in so powerful a way. I’ve always known that God always preserves a remnant, but I never thought I would see that truth depicted in a secular film. The scriptures declare that God will not permit one letter of His Word to pass away and this movie focuses on that point.

At times the movie treats the Bible as just another great piece of religious human literature, but as a whole, I felt that it treats it as something more. There are characters who see it as a tool or weapon, the opiate to control the masses. Others see it as a great work of civilization that needs preservation. But the tone of the movie is that this book is something more, a beacon of hope and truth that is supernaturally preserved. Not an idea that I would have thought to see coming out of Hollywood.

One of my favorite genres is the whole post-apocalyptic story line and this movie does a great job with it. A little more violent and crude than I would typically go to see, but still good. The special effects were well done and not overused. The acting was superb. It had a real plot, with character development and everything. It moved along at a good pace and the twists kept you guessing. The sound track was stunningly done and perfectly suited to the mood and emotion of the film.

The movie challenged me on three levels. Firstly, how much of the scriptures do I know. Could I recite the entire book from memory? (I can’t do one chapter! I’m not even sure I’ve read every chapter!) Secondly, do I value it the way I should? Do I protect it and honor it? Do I read it every day? Finally, do I follow what it teaches?

Eli, in talking about the book to one of the other characters, states that he got so wrapped up in the mission that he forgot to do what the book taught. The main teaching that he focuses on is doing more for others than you would for yourself. It’s the second greatest commandment. The movie emphasizes in a couple scenes that the mission has become the defining aspect of his life and he focuses on it, excluding almost everything else, though he is not totally lost as he shows compassion in some scenes and struggles with not doing so in others. He does realize in the end that he should have done more for his fellow-man and repents of the evil that he has done along the way. I guess you could claim that he has obeyed the greatest commandment for the last thirty years by taking the book to where God told him to take it.

My prayer is that this movie stirs up believers to remember God’s Word and it’s importance in a way that moves them to actively begin reading it and living it out. God desires that we know Him and He has given us His Word to help us to do that, but so often we leave it on the shelf or the bed side table and never pick it up to read it and learn about Him. It is also my prayer that it would stir unbelievers to take a look, or a second look, or a deeper look at this Book that, to the character Eli, is worth thirty years of dedication and is a source of hope and truth. As they examine it I pray that they would begin to see the one who spoke it and that they would be drawn to the God who created them and loves them.

Make way for the king

January 4, 2010

There is a praise/worship song that we have been singing a fair bit at our church lately. The main line of the chorus is “make way for the King.” I was thinking about it as we were singing it this Sunday and the image that came to my mind was of someone (me) clearing a bunch of junk out of the way and pushing the rabble aside to make way for the King.

But it’s not that, it’s more than just clearing a path. It is setting up a parade. It’s not just moving everyone and everything out of the way. It is setting up the scene, putting it in order, and focusing it on him. There is purpose and preparation involved. There is no honor shown to the King in pushing aside the junk and the people in our lives. Yes, we need to get the junk cleared out, but do it in advance and make sure the good stuff is neat and in order. Don’t push the people away, direct their attention to the guest of honor, focus them on the King. How much more honor for the King if all those around you are prepared for His arrival and focused on Him? And how much more wonderful for those in your life if they are properly prepared and ready to present themselves when the King arrives? What a gift to give to them and yourself that all of you are together and prepared for the arrival of the King.

So don’t just clear a path for the King to squeeze through and be on His way, MAKE a WAY for the KING.

7 years

December 14, 2009

Today is the seventh anniversary of my wedding day. It’s hard to believe sometimes that it has been seven years. The time has gone by so quickly. Seems like just yesterday we were still bible school students falling in love.

Thank you Yahweh for the friend and helper you have given to me. She truly is the part that makes me whole. As a woman, wife, lover and mother she is everything that I could have asked for.

I love you Candace. Thank you for all that you do for myself and our children. Thank you for the times when you push me forward and encourage me. Thank you for believing in and supporting me. Thank you for seven years, I look forward to many more as we grow old together.

Because I Can

December 11, 2009

This post is unusual for me. I typically try to post non-trivial items on my blog. But this is cool enough that it merits a post. Getting on the plane to Las Vegas today the airline gave each of the passengers a free one day subscription to their inflight wifi. So I am writing and posting this from my iPhone while at an altitude of 36009 feet. You could be reading this before I even land. All this makes the geek in me want to jump with joy. So today, embrace your inner geek, or if you have an actual geek nearby give them a hug, because it’s people like them who make this coolness possible.

Conversation with a Muslim

December 7, 2009

Today I had a surprise. I found myself listening to my own thoughts and struggles echoed in the words of a Muslim. So many of my preconceptions were challenged all at once. How often do we see the stereo type rather than the person? How much are we really willing to learn before we judge? Do we miss the opportunity to learn and grow because we allow our prejudice to cloud our judgement and to close our heart?

One of the great struggles for me of late has been seeing the monster that organized religion is. This system of laws, rules, traditions and trappings of religion that leads us away from faith and truth and bind us up in works, judgement and self justification. So many who claim to be of the faith use religion to justify their own evil desires, their lust for power and their hate for others. They have done a lot of damage over the years, but that does not mean that they are representative of all believers. Today I found the same thoughts echoed by a Muslim. There are those within the Islamic faith who I believe are truly seeking God. They are not wrapped up in selfserving religion and hate.

In each of us is the desire to find God and connect with him on a deeper level. I think that every person reaches the place where they realize that there is something missing from their life and relationships. Not everyone finds what is truly missing, most find a substitute. That thing that is missing is a relationship with the Creator. Our journey begins when we begin to seek God and to desire to know Him and be in relationship with Him.

Today I heard this truth in the words of a Muslim.

I wrote most of the above a year ago. Looking back on it now, I don’t disagree with what I wrote, but for some reason I never posted it. With what I have learned since I know why. It was missing it’s conclusion.

At the time I was toying with the thought that maybe I had been wrong, maybe Allah and the God I served were the same. But God has a name and He told it to us. His name is Yahweh. It is written on the Dome of the Rock that Allah has no son. Yahweh has a son, Yeshua. I had become so concerned with legalism that I had forgotten about obedience. Not all works come out of legalism, some of them are fruit born out of faith and grace.

The conclusion that I must come to is that the God you have a relationship with matters. Although many Muslims seek God I do not believe that they have found Him. Allah is not Yahweh and without Yeshua we will spend an eternity seperated from the one we so desperately need a relationship with, the creator of all, Yahweh. Our journey may begin with seeking God, but it ends when we see Him face to face and are either welcomed or condemned.

A look at rules

October 27, 2009

A set of rules will not dictate whether or not a person does the right thing or the wrong thing. I think that to some degree rules in and of themselves can encourage a certain culture. One of the dangers of rules is that they can lead us to conform when we should not. Equally, depending on the situation, they can drive one to rebellion which can be unhealthy. Or some people become overwhelmed by an abundance of rules and simply give up. On the other hand, a set of rules can also guide and strengthen a persons character by setting healthy boundaries and helping to make wise decisions. If the purpose of a rule or a set of rules is to control a person, it will not succeed. Guidance, rather than control, should be the aim. Even then I would lay very little blame for either a good or a bad outcome at the feet of the rule book. I would place it instead where it belongs – with the character of the person under the rule and with the influence of the people around them who were or should have been mentoring, counseling, and helping to guide them both in life and relationship. Those taking this role of influence should include, but are certainly not limited to, those responsible for implementing/enforcing the rules. Jesus talked about the rules that the Pharisees laid on new converts, making the person worse than before. Yes, rules are to an extent necessary to guide and shape a person, but it is equally necessary to see that people and relationships are shaped only a little by the rules, they are primarily shaped by other people and relationships with them. How a rule is implemented is infinitely more important than the rule itself.

So what rules do you keep and which should be changed? Here are a few suggestions for criteria when examining both old and new rules.

– What was or is the intended effect or outcome of the rule in question?
– Is it or will it accomplish that?
– If not, what is the actual effect or outcome of the rule in question?
– Is the actual outcome desirable?
– Is it the rule that needs to change, or the way that it is implemented?
– At it’s heart, is the rule there to protect the image of the entity enforcing it or is it there for the benefit of the person(s) under it, to encourage, mentor, disciple and grow? (and which is/should be taking higher priority?)

Rules are often used to govern matters of the heart, matters of the spirit and certain social issues and interactions. It is wise to remember that each of these is much more complicated than a set or rules.

Real life

October 27, 2009

An excerpt from “So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Any More”

“You know what this whole thing is about, Jake?” John sat back on the bench, crossed his arms over his chest and looked out across the playground. “It’s about life – God’s real life filling your own. He moves in so that you will no longer entertain any doubts about his reality. It’s the kind of relationship that Adam tasted when he walked in the garden with God and heard his great plans to have a people through whom He could demonstrate his reality to the world in more ways than you could ever imagine. It is the kind of life Jesus lived that was more than sufficient to meet every need he faced, from feeding multitudes with a little boy’s lunch to healing a sick woman who touched the hem of his robe. This life is not some philosophical thought you can conjure up through meditation or some kind of theological abstraction to be debated. It is fullness. It is freedom. It is joy and peace no matter what happens – even if you doctor uses the ‘C’ word when he gives you the results of you MRI. This is the kind of life that he came to share with everyone who will give up trying to control their own lives and embrace his agenda.”

“It’s certainly not what so many have come to belive, like working hard, building big ministries or new buildings, It’s about life that you can see, tatste, and touch; something you can frolic in every day that you live. I know my words fail to describe it adequately, but you know what I’m talking about. You’ve had moments like that, haven’t you?”

I want a relationship with Him that produces a life like that.