Thursday, March 31, 2011

Incredible Student Led Worship

Worship at the NSU BCM.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Embarrassment as Deterrent

Many things have been used as a deterrent; corporal punishment, capital punishment, KP, running laps, guilt, shame... and the list goes one.

Yesterday, I witnessed a deterrent to a minor traffic infraction that is effective to keep my own driving habits in check.

As I take the kids to school each morning, a representative from the Wagoner Police Department has parked in a prominent position, in the middle of an 'over-flow' parking lot using a radar gun to enforce the 15 mph speed limit within the school property.  There is a half mile drive from the street to the student drop-off point and many parents are tempted to exceed the speed limit, because they are running late or whatever.

Getting pulled over can be embarrassing.

Yesterday, I was exiting the student drop-off lot and saw the officer slowing driving across the field to the access road.  I knew that someone had been caught.

Sure enough, he pulled in behind a car and "lit him up" inside the student drop-off lot.

As the steady stream of parents and students made their way to the drop-off lot, they all passed the parent who had been caught.

For me, the potential embarrassment of being pulled over with the police car lights flashing is enough to keep me from going any over the posted speed limit.

When I lived in Asia, there is a concept called "saving face."  Face is a very hard concept to define or translate, but it relates to self-esteem/social value/status/respect and is an emotional investment by oneself and others. It becomes a very emotional issue when someone has done something grievous or even perceived as grievous, then confronted by someone else.

While being pulled over by the police in front other parents doesn't necessarily constitute loosing face, that was the issue that came to mind as I saw the flashing lights.

The trouble is, today, many (too many) Americans have no shame and some even openly brag about things for which they should be ashamed, and are ashamed of things of which they should be proud. (or take a healthy view of)

Pride in something in which they should be ashamed.

Too many Christians are too embarrassed to share the good news of  Jesus Christ for fear of humiliation, ridicule, or rejection.  The Bible says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.." (Romans 10:11 ESV)  I don't think this means we won't experience humiliation, ridicule, or rejection, but instead it means that we won't stand ashamed before God.

Jesus certainly experienced these things as He hung nearly naked on the cross.  He said, "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:29 ESV)

I go on to repeat the Apostle Paul, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16 ESV)

He endured shame because of our sin.
There are things I should be embarrassed about; my sin, my failure, my weaknesses.  But I will NOT be embarrassed about following Jesus!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh yeah!

Burgers and dogs!

Oh boy! Burgers!

A la Robert

Picnic at Cade's Cove

In the Smokey Mountains

Cades Cove

Our ride to Cades Cove


The Return of Jesus to Gather His Church

Here is a very interesting little tidbit I want to share. In the past two months, there have been three old retired pastors, all over the age of 75 (two in mid 80's) come up to me and said (in a whisper) "God has told me that I'm not going to die, but I'll see Jesus' return instead".

I am completely fascinated by what they've told me and the fact that out of the blue, they told ME.

Are you ready? I don't think it is very far off.  I think it could be before this summer. 

Jesus said in Mark 13:38 ""Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near."  He spoke this in regard to His redeemed knowing when to expect His return.

The signs are clear. Again, as Jesus said, "Be on the alert".

Trust Jesus now, before it is too late!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Lunch buddies

Todd and the Jeep

Stopping thru today.

Crisis in Côte d'Ivoire

From Hotspots:

Côte d’Ivoire (Security threat level - 4): On 2 March 2011 the U.S Department of State issued an updated Travel Warning for Cote d'Ivoire, which reads in part as follows: "The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against traveling to Cote d'Ivoire. In addition to the unstable political situation following the contested November 28, 2010 presidential elections, a rapidly declining economy and a banking crisis may result in a scarcity of fuel, food and other vital commodities. We urge U.S. citizens living in Cote d'Ivoire to consider their own personal security and contingency plans, including temporary departure from Cote d'Ivoire. The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan remains in evacuation status following the ordered departure of all non-emergency personnel on December 20, 2010. This replaces the Travel Warning of December 19, 2010 to update U.S. citizens on the deteriorating political and economic situation and to remind citizens of the Department of State's recommendation to avoid travel to Cote d'Ivoire until further notice.

"Following the contested results of presidential elections in November 2010, many demonstrations turned violent, resulting in death and injury. As pressure on the Gbagbo regime by the international community continues, hostility against westerners, including U.S. citizens, appears to be increasing.

"Clashes between military and militia continue to escalate, as do increased and spontaneous road blocks, many by youth extremists loyal to Gbagbo, who have in recent days perpetrated violence and aggression against vehicles and drivers, with some indication that they may be targeting Westerners. Curfews have been imposed by the Gbagbo regime sporadically and then lifted. These may happen at any time. The U.S. Embassy has imposed a curfew on its U.S. employees and may do so from time to time without notice when deemed necessary. For safety and security reasons it is best for U.S. citizens to comply and adhere to curfews and to consider carefully limiting unnecessary movement during periods of heightened tension.

"All non-governmental financial institutions, representing approximately 93 percent of the country's bank accounts, have suspended operations as of February 18, 2011. The banking system and money-wire services in Cote d'Ivoire are no longer operational. U.S. citizens in Cote d'Ivoire may be unable to receive funds. Additionally, European Union sanctions against the Port of Abidjan have had a severe impact on the arrival of imported goods. The State Department anticipates a general economic downturn, serious shortages of fuel, food, and other commodities as well as price increases, which could result in severe hardship and a simultaneous upswing in civil disturbances and crime.

"Communication blockage and imposition of curfews are common. Bulk SMS messaging, frequently used for emergency messages to citizens about demonstrations or security developments, is generally blocked, and communication through individual SMS messaging is disrupted with little notice. Regular cell phone communications also have experienced difficulties from time to time due to infrastructure problems and network call saturation. Road blocks and the searching of vehicles continue throughout the country.

"U.S. citizens in Cote d'Ivoire should remain extremely vigilant and monitor their personal situation as the security environment worsens. Embassy personnel may be asked on a moment's notice to limit non-emergency movement, especially after dark, and to avoid congested areas, including demonstrations and traffic choke points. U.S. citizens should consider similar security practices.

"The U.S. Embassy's Consular Section in Abidjan may need to curtail non-emergency services without notice. Please check the Embassy web site for the latest information. Due to drawdown of consular staff, the Embassy has diminishing ability to assist U.S. citizens wishing to depart the country. The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens who are concerned about their safety take advantage of commercial means of transportation while they are available and while borders remain open."