Luke 6:41 NIV

Luke 6:41 NIV
"Why do [I] look at the speck of sawdust in [my] brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in [my] own eye?"


Lifehouse "Everything"

Check this out: This is a powerful presentation.


New Friends

The Lloyd Family Blog can be found here...or back there, the highlighted part.  Anyway...I want to point you there.  Although I've never spoken more than 5 or 10 minutes to anyone in the family, but I can see they are a family that knows how to make things grow.  The 5 or 10 minutes I've spent with any of them have been a caring, productive, encouraging 5 or 10 minutes. They have a green thumb, but not with plants...with people.

Thanks Lloyd family for being such a great example.


...and they fell facedown...

"There's no place on Earth like being facedown before the God of the universe..." - LOUIS GIGLIO
There's nowhere else in this world you can go and no better heart surgeon on this planet than the presence of God. I consider myself fortunate to have a gift of music. I love to go to my keyboard and worship...just playing some chords quietly and reflecting on where I've been, where I am and where God is in relation to all that.
If you have not had the pleasure of experiencing David Crowder Band's new CD/DVD "REMEDY", I highly encourage it. The opening song is such a powerful call to worship. The chords are rising, the drums are driving, there's the repetition and the feeling that we are ascending the hill of the Lord. The chords make sense and they lead us to a place that we want to go. David opens with the line "I'm trying to make you sing from inside where you believe...", thus the call of a minstrel or worship leader put into effect. The understanding of the power of God, the power of music, and the unimaginable power of the two combined that requires a thought and response and revelation of God, that is of worship; worship to Him, of Him, and for Him. This is not a commentary on the new DCB album (sorry Sandy), but rather the acknowledgement of music in our lives, and how God uses it to change our hearts. After all, music tames the savage beast.
Jubal was the first documentation of a musician in the Bible. He is credited with being the father of all those who played instruments. What was it INSIDE him that desired to hear that sound? What was it that simple conversation was not enough? What message was there that could not be communicated any other way other than to get on the harp, lyre or flute and make these new noises? It was the "thing" inside. The spirit of God poured into man in such a way that the only response was this "bubbling" over of a new language and the desire to create a new voice-box. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights, from above. This gift of music is a gift that crosses boundaries, languages, races, gender and denomination. Even those that do not believe in instruments in the church still have the hunger and desire to use their voices for God, to sing out and up to glorify Him.
The most intense, powerful worship service I have been a part of (to this day) was one sung in Spanish. I didn't understand a single word and so sang my own song. As long as I continued to hear the words Dios and Hey-soos I knew I was o.k.!
He who hands clean hands and a pure heart will ascend the hill of the Lord. Jacob had a dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder to Heaven. The stairway to Heaven was evident long before Led Zeppelin's acknowledgement. There is an ascension of our spirits that has to occur...and even in this, God still has to descend to meet us. The blessing is that He actually will. The ascension is facilitated, sometimes, by listening to music that glorifies Him. The rising of the major and minor chords, delicately played at the right time, the sounds of the voices rising in response to an undying God, the hum of a group singing thanks to a God that has never failed a single one of them, the ethereal sounds of cymbals and drums being struck and the Word of God in your heart causes action. The action is worship. The action is a response to the revelation of who God is. The revelation comes through His working in and through you. Elijah found the revelation to be in a whisper; Moses found the revelation to be in a bush burning but not consumed; even Belshazzar found the revelation in the handwriting on the wall.
Give God a chance to reveal Himself to you, either through this blog, through a co-worker or through personal prayer time. Allow Him to lift your spirit, allow Him to fix your hurt, allow Him to bless your obedience, allow Him to consume your life.


Why Dog?

I should probably stop reading the news's another one. Another ridiculous story.

"Army stops soldier from bringing home a puppy."

WHAT?!! Have we lost our friggin' minds?! Why is this news? The fact that this has made it on to several LARGE news websites is, in itself, enough to make me want to pour hot coffee in my lap. In case you're too lazy to read the news, let me fill you in. An Army troop is being denied the opportunity to ship home a dog that she and another troop rescued in Iraq.

I try to speak on things I know about, and I consider myself relatively qualified to comment on this outrage. I served in the military and was deployed overseas three times...I've been there...I've seen the conditions...I've interacted with the bear with me.

The first thing that makes my brain explode is the fact that a soldier is even THINKING of TRYING to get an Iraqi dog back into the US so much so that she has actually put in requests, gone through the process and red tape, waited for the decision, and is now so emotionally "defeated" and "distraught" over being denied her request that she is now in the process of appealing the decision. She (the soldier) is afraid that if the dog stays in Iraq it will get killed.  Big deal.  Sorry...but it's not your problem Soldier.  It's a dog.

The second thing that makes me want to pound my face on the cement is the fact that once the Army denied the initial request (as per DoD regulations) the soldier actually WROTE HER CONGRESSMAN.

Allow me to "fine tune that detail". The Congressman actually wrote a letter to "The Army" on the soldiers behalf. How does one write a ridiculous letter like that?:

          Dear The Army,
          Please seriously think about giving my constituent her stray dog                       back.  She found it in Iraq.

          The Stinky Democratic Congressman
          P.S. Vote for me - I'm bored

It gets better, because apparantly somewhere in this stupid madness a reported 10,000 people signed an online petition actually supporting this Government Trained Killing Machine in getting back her dog...that was never hers.  What about the poor Iraqi soldier who's currently wandering the streets with tear-filled eyes looking for the dog he lost in the trash fire?  Who's petitioning for HIM?

BUT THERE'S MORE!  Apparently the SPCA has seen fit to start an entire "division" for saving Iraqi kitties and pooches.  So now, to further waste money, the Program Director for the SPCA's Operation Baghdad Pups division is going to the Middle East PERSONALLY to try to get this idiotic plan pulled off.  Director Crisp of the SPCA is concerned that dogs "left behind" (? what ?) may be killed.  Excuse me?  Since when did we go over there to save the animals?  If you're concerned about things being killed while in Iraq, how 'bout you bring home the WHINING SOLDIER!!!

This whole situation makes me want to just hurl my cookies.  Can someone please tell me why this is happening?  Why is this news?  Why am I wasting your time and mine with this?  Why are over 10,000 nut-jobs catering to this overly selfish soldier who has this freakish emotional attachment to a dog she rescued from a burning pile of trash in a blown-out town halfway across the world?  And why are her e-mails to mommy such a topic of discussion?  Why?  W-H-H-Y-Y-yy-yyy?  Why are people actually traveling overseas for this?  

....why are people going through the passport, customs, flight plans, hotel arrangements, etc. for this dog?  Why are people going through the hoops to get the thing spayed/neutered, shot-up, vaccined, ticketed, and flight-arrangements made to get this dog here to the US?  What if the dog doesn't want to come here?  What if the dog lost was looking for something it lost in the trash and now just wants to go home?  How does stupid crap like this happen?


I'm not a political person to the extent that I blab my feelings to the world.  One thing I'm realizing, though, is that this election is critical, but not just to the US.  Yes, to the world...but even deeper, to the Kingdom of God.  Everything we've been going through as a nation, especially for the last seven years, is the result of a spritual war being manifested through a natural war.  Many Americans were so supportive in the beginning, but not willing to see it through and wrongly expecting GW Bush to fix it overnight.  But this is a war between the tribes of Isaac and Ishmael; this is a centuries old battle between Jacob and Esau.  In a sense, it is a war between Christian and Muslim and even deeper, the end result, Jesus and Satan.  If you've made it this far in the reading you're either cheering for God or Googling my address for threats.  Whatever.  I say all that to say this: Let me make it very clear...this particular post is going to travel on a fine line.  I do not hate Muslims, nor is this intended to be a hate blog.  I do not wish to spread hate.  I am typing this from the aspect of a Christian man in 2008 with my limited knowledge of the Bible.  To accurately follow this post is to understand Christian history and the conflict that is thousands of years old.  So here it goes...

I was reading the (bad) news today and came across two articles that struck me as "coincidental" in their timing.  Both were new posts on their respective websites as of today.  This one on CNN by Campell Brown and another on FOX News by Maxim Lott.  The authors don't really matter.  It's the subject content that I have issue with.

I first read the article by Campell.  In it she addresses a (legitimately) aggressive accusation that Barack Hussein Obama is Muslim.  A comment was made to John McCain recently by a potential voter that BHO is Muslim.  McCain corrected the woman and said that Mr. Obama is NOT Muslim and that, in fact, he is a Christian.  Again...whatever...I'm not here to debate that.  Basically the question of Campbell Brown is "Does it really matter if Obama is Muslim or not?"  

Honestly, I think in the big scheme of, eternity, the big picture and all that, the answer is "no it does not matter."  The reason it doesn't matter is because in the end, when it's all been said and done...(SPOILER ALERT!!) Jesus wins.  (Sorry...I read ahead...)  But anyway, for our own personal desires and immediate comfort levels, it does matter.  Why does it matter?  The answer can be found in the second article.

Mr. (or Mrs.) Maxim Lott (what kind of name is "Maxim" anyway?) writes a very poignant article on two murders that occurred in Texas.  Two sisters were found murdered in the back of a taxi because they had "disgraced" their family by dating non-Muslims and being too "western".  The family was an Islamic family, the father, Egyptian, felt his daughters were becoming to "western".  (On a side note: if you don't want to be "western", don't freakin' move to Texas!)  But I digress...actually not the "western" he was worried about.

Now I'll give this: the father was an extremist.  A Muslim Extremist, just as the folks who thought it noble to fly into the Twin Towers, just as the folks who think it right to blow themselves up on a daily basis.  I put these people into the same category as the Christian exremist who killed her four children by drowning them in a bathtub and then laying them neatly on the bed because God told her to...or because she didn't want them to be "got" by Satan.  But thankfully she's not running the country, and it's easy to discern "mental instability" in those cases.  The problem with many Muslim exremists is that it's difficult to tell who's lying and who's "extreme" and how the heck can I tell the difference?

This is the part that concerns me.  The FBI is considering acknowledging the "murders" in Texas legitimate "honor killings".  An American-Islamic relations director in Dallas is considering this murder, but only until motive is proven in a court.  But my intent in this blog is to answer Ms. Browns question "Does it matter if Obama is a Muslim".  She states, as does McCain, that Obama is not a Muslim, but then follows with the context of the article as if to say, "Who cares if he is anyway?"  I care.  And if you're wondering why, read the articles and read my first paragraph.  If you read these two articles you can see a very clear picture of the differences between a country led by a Muslim and an country led by a Christian.  This nation was founded on people who were attempting to escape Legalism in their religion and their worship of God.  They wanted religious freedom, so they came here.  They founded the nation on words straight from the Bible.  The authors of the Declaration wrote in their personal and public effects the impact of God ruling a country or nation.  Abraham Lincoln said (in paraphrase) If we lose our freedoms, it is our own fault and will be by our own doing.  

The people of Israel begged God for a king.  They were not satisfied being ruled by God.  So God turned them over to their own desires.  Enter Saul.  After a short time of obedience, he began following others, idols, spiritists...anyone other than God.  The country went into decline.  In short, they got what they asked for.  I believe we are there right now.  GW claims to be a man with God's interests at heart.  He claims to be an evangelical Christian and surrounds himself with Godly people and seeks Godly advice.  Regardless of what you say, this country is not in any particular turmoil because of one single person.  It is a collective effort.  One man does not even have the power to do the things people accuse GW of doing.  That's what the system of "checks and balances" is for.  Personally, I think there's a lot to be said in a Kingdom is after all the government God favors and rules.  But again...I digress.

The point is, it does matter whether or not Obama is a Muslim.  It matters a great deal and there is a great deal of danger and sadness America can look forward to if Obama ends up ruling this nation with Muslim and anti-Christian ideals.  His track record makes me really, really nervous.  Muslim background...still identified by the Islamic church as "one of them"...associations with Dr. Jeremiah Wright ("God damn America...")...possible associations with Ayers...etc.  

So with all that being the big the scope of eternity, does it really matter if Obama is Muslim?  Considering one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Chris is Lord...I guess not.


Forever Remembered as Once Forgotten

i had an extremely busy week, weekend and start of another week. i worked all week last week, had two kitchen remodel projects begin and had to leave quickly to get to my reserve weekend in maryland. on top of all this, my wife and i have been going through a small financial crisis that has absolutely drained us emotionally. everyone wants their piece of our pie...but i digress.

i've had this nagging ... whatever ... in the back of my head for the last few days, so i went over some of my work projects making sure all my orders were in, shipments scheduled, etc. i get home and make sure all the bills are paid and kids are taken care of, but i couldn't shake the feeling, nor could i put my finger on what it was.

i got home today and began asking my son how his day at school went. he told me what he had for lunch and i asked him if he did anything special. he said, "dad...i had my birthday party today." i said, "ethan, it was probably for someone else. today is not your birthday." which is true. he said, "i know dad, it was yesterday." it was yesterday ... and i missed it. i don't think i've ever felt worse faster than when i realized what i had done. my whole world instantly crashed and i had absolutely nothing to say. i just ... totally ... selfishly .... forgot.

in the midst of everything that was going on around us i had gotten so wrapped up in my own problems that i missed the day that is characteristically the most celebrated day of a childs life. and he knew it. and he just stood there looking at me. i didn't know what to say or do. for the rest of his life, his sixth birthday will be remembered as begin forgotten.

words cannot describe the pain i felt, and mixed with his excitement about his school party, the contrast was too much to bear. i wanted to run out and buy him a toy, or a cake or some pizza or a movie or a video game or all of them. but i didn't. i will make it up to him, don't get me wrong. but i didn't use that opportunity to act emotionally.

we went downstairs and he sat on my lap and told me about his day. he told me about the party, and what he had for lunch. then he ate some dinner and watched a movie with his little brother, whose birthday is in two weeks. then he went to bed...just like any other day. and i realize...this day is just like any other day. every other day of the year i make stupid, selfish mistakes. every other day of the year he wants toys and too much sugar and cheese pizza. every other day of the year he sits with me or talks with me about what he did at school. that is the reason i have not broken his trust. i have hurt his feelings, but i have not broken his trust. in all reality, i've been broken myself but i have an opportunity...a gem, if you use this time to learn about myself, my son and our relationship.

i am truly sorry, son, that i did not remember your special day.


God & music

"There's been so many times in which I thought I might lose it. The only thing that's saved me has always been music."
- Beastie Boys
"My heart is steadfast, Oh God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn."
- King David
"Music is a fair and lovely gift of God which has often wakened and moved me to the joy of preaching...Music drives away the Devil and makes people joyous...Next after theology I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor. I would not change what little I know of music for something great. Experience proves that next to the Word of God only music deserves to be extolled as the mistress and governess of the feelings of the human heart. We know that the devils music is distasteful and insufferable. My heart bubbles up and overflows in response to music, which has so often refreshed me and delivered me from dire plagues."
- Martin Luther


Keep The Straight Path!!

No. This is not a commentary on homosexuality.

I had to travel north this weekend. Due north. The traffic on the highway was terrible...there was an accident and I was headed directly into Washington DC. I had to use the bathroom, so I pulled off on an exit. It was innocent. I wasn't really trying to get around traffic or out of the mess...just a simple bathroom stop.

There was a lot of traffic taking this exit and at the end of the ramp, most everyone was turning to the right. I thought, "Surely there's a place to stop to the left...if I can squeeze by on the left, I can just come right back and get on the highway. So I went left. Avoiding the "exit" traffic. Before I realized what happened, I found myself on a road that was nothing more than a tiny two lane, back country road with 50 foot pines on either side of me. There was no where to turn around, no where to stop, and a line of traffic had quickly formed behind be (due to the slowpoke in FRONT of me). SIDE NOTE: I hope they weren't following me thinking I knew a secret shortcut!!

Anyway...we were all clipping along at around 40 miles an hour and I could tell we were getting deeper into this mess of trees. The roads were the twistiest, turning-est, hilly-est roads I've seen in a long time. It was all I could do to keep on the road, much less look ahead for a place to stop or turn around. After 12 miles, and about 15 or so frustrating minutes of this, the road opened up and I was able to pull over. I picked up the roadmap and a quick glance revealed to me that I had just gotten sucked through the back side of a state park...a drivers black hole. Usually no pulloffs and just enough road to get you "there"...wherever the heck "there" may be.

On the map, I saw two roads that would take me back the 12 miles I needed to go. By the end destination was NORTH EAST and this little 20 minute jaunt had taken me NORTH the only reasonable solution was to get back to the highway however I could. I could swing around a couple other roads and get back on it, or I could completely back track everything I just did, and STILL not find a bathroom! So I moved forward. Both roads that got me back to the highway were 4 lanes, smooth traffic, lots of potty stops. After about 45 minutes (and a greatly needed rest stop) I made it back to the main highway...4 miles north of where I pulled off originally. There was no other way...anything else would have taken me into DC or West of DC which would have meant I would have then had to travel through DC in rush hour traffic. So I backtracked and ended up 4 miles north of where I first exited. 4 MILES!! AUGH!

I thought of my walk with Christ. Things are going well, smooth even, and for some reason I'll pull off and before I know what has happened, I've taken a path that God had not necessarily made for me.
When God sent the Israelites into the Promised Land, he gave them instructions...Go North, and do not go to the left or to the right. They would pass by many tribes and peoples that would want to kill them or otherwise hurt them. God knew they would pass these tribes and nations...but He also knew the end result. He told them, "GO STRAIGHT" and they would be fine.

God has a path for each of us as well. It's the path of the "straight and narrow." Jesus says "Narrow is the path that leads to eternal life." John the Baptist was a "voice in the wilderness" crying out for us to "make straight the paths." I had no idea how far I would get taken out of my way. It seemed innocent...but sin, which is what takes us off our path for God...never seems otherwise. Many times we don't make a blatant choice to sin against God. Sometimes it happens, even though our intentions are good.

It wasn't until I was on my home tonight that if I had waited until the next mile...I would have had a nice rest stop and a quick exit/re-entry on to the highway.

Are you feeling frustrated and ready to "pull off the road" to take a quicker path? Pray that God would lead you (and me) on the path of the straight and narrow. And in those times of accidental wandering, make a quick effort to allow God to put you back on the path the same way I picking up the ROADMAP, that is the Word of God.



Like...whoa...'s political. It's challenging.

Quiet Please!

i think maybe autumn would be a much more dreadful season if all the leaves screamed as they fell


What's That Smell?

Exodus 30:37 - "Do not make any of the incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord." (emphasis added)

Exodus 30 gives the recipe for the incense that was to be used on the altar of incense as the priests ministered to God. God makes it known that the mixture, or recipe, as HE gave it, was not to be used for personal use, however in verse 36 He says the mixture is to be pure and holy to "you"...the people, yet in verse 38 He reiterates, "whoever makes any like it to enjoy its fragrance will be cut off from his people".

So...what's the incense for?

It is for the priest, but the mixture is a sign of his obedience. It is for the ceremony and to aid in honoring God. Verse 35 says the mixture is to be "salted." Ahh...Christians are supposed to be SALT & LIGHT. As the incense was already salted, it was not until it was LIT that it began to function properly, creating the aroma that was to be used in the worship of God. But even at this level, the aroma was still something God knew would be tolerable and pleasant to the priest. In the end, the aroma that pleased God was that of burning flesh.

The burning flesh that was pleasing to God was burned on the altar that was OUTSIDE the Tabernacle. The offerings of birds, goats, lambs, oxen, etc. The animals...the flesh.

The incense, to me, represents our lives...our worship-lifestyle...and specifically it represents our prayers going up, rising up to God. Are we mixing the ingredients properly and lifting them up to God? Some parts of our lives are not for the world but for God only. Our prayer times. Our personal worship times. Our times of quietude and the circumcisions of our hearts. Those things are not for the world, as it would not understand. As those things in our personal lives are mixed properly, the aroma rises. Jesus acts as our priest, interceding, that is praying, for us always. But even with this understanding, God still wants the aroma of burning flesh. God still desires us to offer up our lives as living die to our flesh take up our crosses and die to what our flesh wants.
Can you imagine: God in Heaven...Jesus at the right hand praying for you? Just then He leans forward a little bit, as if something has caught His attention and He says, "What's that smell? You smell that? Ahh, that's a good smell...smells like flesh. Smells like incense. My child *insert your name here* has just killed his/her flesh. I love that kid. They're special to Me." Jesus says, "Bless them Father." Maybe even some angels or elders lean in to get a whiff. They nod in agreement. "Yeah, that's good. That's definitely has distinct aroma" ...then they continue throwing crowns, praying and crying "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord." Heaven is going to be a loud, aromatic place!

prayer: God, show me how I can better be salt and light. Show me how I can offer up my life as a pleasing fragrance to You. You have salted me with Your purifying salvation, now light the fire in my heart so that I can continue to function for YOU!