Thursday, April 26, 2007

Does He promise and not fufill?

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?

So I was listening to Numbers this morning in my devotions. Yes, I said, listening. I find the Pentateuch hard to read sometimes, but I gain a lot from listening to it on CD, particularly Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. A couple of years ago, my big Christmas present was the entire Bible on CD. As much as I enjoy quiet time on the couch, with my cup of coffee in the morning, I'm finding that in order to get through Numbers, I have to listen to it on my morning commute.

This morning I was listening to the oracles of Balaam. This verse stuck out to me, particularly as it was uttered by this guy who usually followed the money instead of following God's leading. It was also much needed as we are in some difficult days on the Kroc project and God knows to reassure us of exactly who He is in such moments. As I look back over the last 18-24 months as the Army has contemplated Kroc and my own involvement with it, we have come through many tough times. There have been "impossible" city bureaucracies, "untenable" real estate timing, "insurmountable" fundraising obstacles. I put all those words in quotations because God has erased those words and affirmed His promise of enlarging His Kingdom in Boston through this project time and time again.

God is on the move in some amazing ways in this city. Any time I might be tempted to doubt His plan for the center or for Uphams Dudley, I have to look at the path we've traveled to get to today. He is teaching me trust, patience, instructing us about His sovereignty, reminding us of the need for humility and that He is ultimately in control of it all. Our God is a good God and worthy to be praised. He will not promise and not fulfill. He may not fulfill on our exact schedule or to our exact specifications, but so long as we're obedient, He will fulfill to the perfection of His plans in His time. Good enough for me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Crass or Capitalist?

I know it sounds like one of Larry's post titles, but I was struck by this article about news outlets buying ad space on google and yahoo for searches about the Virginia Tech shooting. I was going to post about the number of flagpoles I saw this week at full mast, but this takes it one step further.

Read the whole article here, but here are the last 2 paragraphs:

One potential problem for news organizations is that keyword ads "can also leave you looking crass -- that you're tapping in for a business purpose on a tragedy," said Danny Sullivan, editor of the newsletter. "It could make some people's eyebrows go up ... 'Did you have to go after that particular term?"'

But Sullivan added that if news sites have "substantial information" to share about a search term -- even if that information is, after all, a commercial product -- "I would err on their side of that -- that it's not so bad."

Is it really not so bad? Is this any different than what news stations or even newspapers have done for years, putting together flashy logos to depict human tragedy? Is it more sinister because it involves considering what search terms people will use in order to sell your advertising? And who is making the decisions to do this? Is it the NY Times or CNN or is it Proctor & Gamble and IBM who are buying ad space both in TV land and in cyberspace? How cold have we become as a nation that we're willing to sell human tragedy and call it "not so bad?"

PLEASE NOTE: The Gunshot Google image at the top of this post is not actually from Google. I created it to drive home the point.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Old Army Sunday

So we were in Manchester, CT last weekend. They were having an Old Army Sunday. I may or may not blog on the first half of the meeting. I'm a bit ambivalent about it and don't want to speak out of turn as I'm sure there were good intentions.

The second half of the service, the sermon by Lt. Colonel Joe Bassett (R) was excellent. A couple of nuggets from this God-given word.

His opener led the way: "We don't worship The Salvation Army or William or Catherine Booth. We worship Jesus Christ our Risen Savior."
He shared a longer quote from DA Carson about the Church, but this portion stuck out to me: "we're better at organizing than agonizing." He's talking about agonizing over the lost, a world dying in sin. If there's any indictment on the church that hits close to home for me right now, it's this one. If we don't agonize enough and organize too much, we're lost.
Colonel went on to talk about judgment and how people should be treated when they come into a Salvation Army worship service--whether it's a holiness meeting or a salvation meeting or any meeting. "People come into our meetings & they know the problems that they have in their lives. They don't need those problems to be pointed out to them. They don't need to be reminded of the burdens they bear. We need to be prepared to bear the burden with them without being judgmental."
He also talked about full surrender. "When God called me to officership, I siad, 'God, this is stupid.' There are times even now, all these years later, when I say, 'G what u r asking me 2 do is ridiculous.'" I thought that was one of the most honest and true statements I've ever heard about Christian service. What God calls us to do is ridiculous, that's why the cross is foolishness to the world. God's call doesn't come with a stupid-free guarantee. His grace is outrageous and sometimes he asks us to do outrageous things for Him.
I suppose I should tell you what the scripture was on which he spoke. It was Nehemiah chapter 2. Here's the quick 3 points. In Neh 2:4 God asks Nehemiah, "what is it u want?" Nehemiah has 3 answers:
2:5 to be sent
2:7 to be safe
2:8 to be supplied
God gave Nehemiah what he asked for, but that didn't mean he had it easy. Sanballat and friends didn't want Nehemiah to do this good work. God does the same for all who are called, but not necessarily in the way that we might envision sent, safe or supplied.
Here was a real stinger from Colonel Bassett. He was discussing the fact that Nehemiah stood up and fulfilled the calling God had placed on his life. That didn't mean sitting on the sidelines or hoping the wall could be rebuilt or being politically correct. This is the encouragement he gave to the congregation: "There are battles to be caused. Nehemiah, sent, safe, supplied declared war on life as it is." I think we are too small in our thinking sometimes, too safe. Notice the verb that was used--battles to be caused. We sometimes talk of battles to be fought as if we'll stumbled upon them and then do what we ought to. Are we looking for the battles we need to cause in God's name?
He followed it up with this. "There is no concern in the mind of satan about an Army that only goes through the motions. Do you cause satan much worry? How much overtime did the enemy have to do last week because of me?"

Old Army Sunday ended with people at the mercy seat (including me) and a call to prayer as we sang (not O Boundless Salvation -- they started with that one) but this:

In the Army of Jesus we've taken our stand
To fight 'gainst the forces of sin.
The rescue we go, Satan's power to o'ertrhow
And his captives to Jesus we'll win.

I'll stand for Christ, for Christ alone
Amid the tempest and the storm.
Where Jesus leads I'll follow on;
I'll stand, I'll stand for Christ alone.

We go forth not to fight 'gainst the sinner, but sin;
The lost and the outcast we love;
And the claims of our King we before them will bring
As we urge them His mercy to prove.

Jesus pitied our case and He died for our race,
To save a lost world He was slain;
But He rose and now lives, and His pardon He gives
Unto all who will call on His name.

Though our trials be great and God's enemies strong,
To battle undaunted we go,
For our warfare's the Lord's and to Him we belong,
In His strength we shall conquer the foe.

Frederick William Fry (SASB 687)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter 2007

I can' blog, but I can take a good photo every now and again. The Easter shot for this year.