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There are two days left in summer. The Fall Equinox arrives on September 22 this year.

I wake up on this fine late summer day with my mind ready for work. And I wake up cold, chilled to the bone.

There is a fine layer of frost on all the roofs around. The water in the birdbath has a thin solid surface.

The thermometer says thirty degrees.

Winter seems impatient this year.


Scripture Comments Off on summertime

There are two days left in summer. The Fall Equinox arrives on September 22 this year.

I wake up on this fine late summer day with my mind ready for work. And I wake up cold, chilled to the bone.

There is a fine layer of frost on all the roofs around. The water in the birdbath has a thin solid surface.

The thermometer says thirty degrees.

Winter seems impatient this year.

waiting for the world

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There is much talk about the need for International cooperation. There is much criticism of George Bush for failing to garner complete and total international support.

This is what happens when the international community takes charge. Honestly, should we worry what the international community thinks of our actions?

I suspect there are those in the Sudan, as there were those in Rwanda in years past, who would much prefer seeing American soldiers in their midst rather than the home grown variety. But, that’s the way of a strong tendency within international and liberal thinking… they are significantly more comfortable with regret than strength.

why American’s hate foreign policy

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Sometimes an article gets it right enough that no more words need be said.

God and Politics

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Former Senator George Mitchell once noted:

Although He is regularly asked to do so, God does not take sides in American politics.

The one time senator from Maine and Majority leader may know the law, may know politics. He’s not a theologian. It is ludicrous to believe God does not take sides. At least from a Christian perspective. The personal God we believe in is engaged with culture and certainly chooses between people.

The warning is not that he doesn’t take sides, it’s that we should never be too confident which side he is on. The reality is that he’s not always on our side. That is the lesson of the history of Israel as told in the various Samuels, Kings, or Chronicles. God does choose.

The Civil War is a fine example. One could argue the south had more genuinely religious leaders, fine church going folks who fought for a bad cause. Both sides prayed to the same God. Which did he favor? Stonewall Jackson was shot by his own pickets. The battle plans for Antietam were left on the road wrapping cigars for Union soldiers to find, neither France nor England, nor any of the supportive international community offered assistance or recognition. Why?

Maybe it’s all coincidence.

Hitler stopped at the English channel. He could have pressed onwards to and through Britain. He didn’t. Germany had a state church praying to God. Who did God choose?

Now politics is trickier, because we don’t have vile people on either side – no matter what partisans say – George Bush has done his part, John Kerry has done his, both have lived their lives with some great measure of regard for public service.

This is not a proclamation of God’s choice. I’m not a prophet, nor would I deign to speak for God, even if I have suspicions.

God does choose, however, and sometimes we can see the effects of his choice. When Israel faced Ai, they lost courage and fled, confused by a weak and smaller foe because God had chosen against Israel. When David faced Goliath the miracle wasn’t a small boy was able to kill a giant. The miracle was that a teenager had the courage and faith in God to try.

When God chooses hearts are affected. Small things add up, weird patterns develop. Things go wrong for one side, and the weaknesses of others are hidden. There seems to be what can only be called ‘bad luck’ despite great potential. All the way through these things happen, piling up to create an aura which changes hearts and minds across the land.

Does this mean Clinton was destined by God to be President? Paul would say so, which is why attacks on Clinton were always sinful, despite his actions. He didn’t live up to his call fully… but then no one ever does.

This time around we haven’t quite gotten to the final act. It seems to me however there are trends developing which indicate those subtle patterns which a watchful eye can discern.

God does choose. That is a fact. Our humility always comes in the fact we don’t choose for him.

Advertising God

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The United Methodist Church, not the first group which comes to mind when I think of Evangelism, has what I consider a beautiful ad campaign going. I’ve seen two commercials so far, and they are wonderful. Intriguing, unthreatening, honest, gentle. Basically, the gist of the first one is that God is waiting for us, and will always be there. The second is that after a life of searching in various ways, we draw towards God.

They catch you, then at the end add a nice, poignant tag. I have no idea their effectiveness… but for me the question is whether they make me proud and honored to be a Christian. They do. As a theological Wesleyan myself, this makes me delighted. All we hear about is the liberal slide. This tells me that at least a part of the Methodist church remembers its roots, and is taking up what may exactly be the kind of thing Wesley would do in this era.

Igniting Ministry. Check it out.

Good Questions

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A friend of mine has posted some great questions which really get to the heart of the political debate. Rather than jumping all over trying to play ‘gotcha’, I think the nation would be wonderfully served by hearing thoughtful answers to these. They probe not only specific responses, more important they get to the heart of a leader’s philosophy. Indeed, they are for each person to answer, as they illuminate one’s own soul and may help bring out the values which will be reflected in our votes come November.
I am curious to hear how the candidates would answer, and I was curious to hear how I answered them.

Here they are:

This is what I’ve come up with so far:

– What should the role of the US be in the world? Do we really want to become the global police patrol? Will it make things any better for the rest of the world? Will it make things any safer for us?

– If we’re so sure we’re right, how come so many people outside our borders think we’re wrong? This is the kind of arrangement that puts us in company with skinheads, freaky religious cults, and the Taliban.

– The US is the greatest polluter of the environment of all. How can we be more responsible with the incredible resources that we have? Remember, “to the one to whom much is given, much will be required…”

– Should we be aborting our children? Is “personal choice” really the most important value?

– With so much money in our economy, why are our schools closing down?

– With so much money in our economy, why is it so difficult to make sure everyone gets good health care?

– With so much money in our economy, and so little for the important stuff, you have to start wondering where it’s all going. Extreme ecomomic stratification can’t be a good thing.

And if we’ve got extra time on the clock…

– Why are we talking so much about homosexuality? Just speaking personally here, I think the idea of gay marriage is just about as ridiculous as an amendment to the Constitution banning gay marriage. But, really, it’s a serious question: why are we spending so much time on this subject?


Not bad work from a fish. This also would make for a great evening of discussion among a select group of friends over a number of a select brew of choice.

Wisdom for the Day

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Ecclesiastes 11:6 (NLT):

“Be sure to stay busy and plant a variety of crops, for you never know which will grow–perhaps they all will.”

Is is an interesting thing that Ecclesiastes is for me, today, full of especially applicable bits of wisdom?

2 cents

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Kofi Annan has spoken. The Iraq War he says was illlegal. This will likely be good news to those who agree. But, as the name of the organization is the United Nations it’s really more an opinion than a fact. Last I checked, Mr. Annan does not actually have a vote on the security council. Nor is he a president with real executive power. He is a bit like an international version of Johnny Grant.

I’m trying to remember something that Annan has done to bring real peace to this world, but I can’t. Nice guy and all. There is a little matter with his son being involved with the Iraq Oil for Food scandal which might taint his perspective a little bit.

The fact is that the UN is a convenient and wonderful organization. It is also made up of the countries of this world, many of which are led by corrupt and sometimes vile leaders. When the judge of human rights or legal occupation becomes such purveyors of justice as China or Russia or Cuba, etc. then questions of legality are lost in an endless mire of politicking. Bosnia was a preemptive war against a sovereign government. The UN had no voice… because Clinton knew that Russia would veto any action. So, by circumventing the UN he apparently made it legal.

Bush went to the UN, got a vote on approving harsh measures. However, many countries, and Annan, did not actually approve of following through on discipline, so now think it illegal.

Kofi Annan is increasingly reminding me of Sheriff Behan of Tombstone fame. It is precisely the ineffectual action of the UN which prompts US action.

Illegal or not, there are times in which evil must be stopped. And, we are continuing to learn, the UN is not willing to do the job.

Personally, I don’t think the war was illegal. Sad and tragic yes. But where evil rules it will continue to provoke even more sadness and tragedy until overthrown. North Korea shows this, Sudan shows this, Afghanistan showed this. In Annan’s world, legality is too often a shield to protect the most evil among us. Vile dictators who rape and maim, scarring generations with their disgusting rule have no rights which are worth respecting.

There is one aspect which seems to trump God’s call to peace in this world. It is justice. Peace based on coddling evil is not Divine. It is deception and death unrestrained.

So America acts. Because not to act is more unjust than the problems which arise from acting. Illegal or legal doesn’t really matter… especially if the legality is assessed by inherently corrupt officials for whom the law is a pawn for their own ambition.

A Teacher

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Saw this on the Christianity Today website and thought it was quite good:

A teacher ought to be a stranger to the desire for domination, vain-glory, and pride; one should not be able to fool him by flattery, nor blind him by gifts, nor conquer him by the stomach, nor dominate him by anger; but he should be patient, gentle, and humble as far as possible; he must be tested and without partisanship, full of concern, and a lover of souls.

—Benedicta Ward, Desert Christian

Benedicta Ward is the translator of much of the Desert Fathers, and other early sources. She knows of what she speaks