Saturday, June 10, 2006

Doesn't It Strike You as Weird...

...that China has banned The DaVinci Code? Or that it's been similarly nixed in some Muslim countries? I mean, what's their beef with it anyway?

Massive Tribute to 9/11 Firefighters Unveiled

A 56-foot long bronze bas relief tribute to the firefighters who perished as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center has been unveiled in New York City. The Times has the story. Be sure to click on the multimedia interactive feature while there.

It seems an appropriately epic tribute to genuine heroes.

Rick Warren's Reflections on Life and Faith in Face of His Wife's Cancer

A friend sent this to me a few weeks ago. Andy Jackson at has the whole thing. It's well-worth taking the time to read. I love what Warren says at the end:
God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do. That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD. Difficult moments, SEEK GOD. Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD.

Friday, June 09, 2006

"It's the missing that counts"

Richard's microfiction hero gets romantically nostalgic in the grocery store.


Go, take a listen. (Thanks to Tamar for linking to this beautiful piece of musicianship.) Interestingly, George Harrison often composed songs on his ukulele.

Participate in John's Poll

John Schroeder of Blogotional is conducting a poll to determine the level of comfort that credal Christians might have with voting for a Mormon candidate for President in 2008. Of course, the most prominently mentioned name is that of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, whose father's bid for the GOP nomination in 1968 ended spectacularly over his "I was brainwashed" gaffe. Go here to participate in John's poll.

(Sorry it's taken me so long to get this onto my blog, John. I've been recovering from oral surgery and haven't felt like doing much this week.)

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 18

Mathematician, philosopher, and atheist Bertrand Russell was fond of dismissing the Ten Commandments with the simple observation that they're actually composed of more than ten commandments. While Russell was correct, that's no basis for dismissing them.

We've come to call them The Ten Commandments because of how they appear in a pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament generated in the city of Alexandria, called The Septuagint. There, these commands are referred to as the deka logoi, the ten words or the ten sentences.

It's a bit of a contrivance to conflate them into ten commandments then, resulting in differing numbering of them. The Lutheran Cyclopedia notes:
The Bible gives us no basis for a certain numbering of the Commandments or of determining their respective position...The Greek and Reformed Churches make [Exodus] 2:2,3 the First, verses 4-6 the Second, verse 17 the Tenth Commandment. The so-called Augustinian division, retained in the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches takes verse 3 (vv.3-6) as the First Commandment, verse 7 as the Second, and divides verse 17 into the Ninth and the Tenth. Thus the Fourth Commandment of the Lutheran Catechism is the Fifth of the Reformed...
In The Small Catechism, written for use by families at the dinner table, Martin Luther treats the Ninth and Tenth Commandments separately. Not so in The Large Catechism, which he penned for pastors and theologians. There, they're treated together. And rightly so.

The commandments are:
You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his cattle, or anything that is your neighbor's.
The intent of this command, whether rendered as one or two different ones, is clear. In the preceding commands, God has warned us against actions we might take that would do harm to others. Here, God addresses the attitudes that lead to such actions.

These commands remind me of something God said to one of the sons of Adam and Eve, a man named Cain. Cain had become surly when, unlike his brother, who offered the firstlings of his flocks to God, he had given the leftover grain from his farm as an offering of thankfulness to God. Cain knew that God was pleased with Abel's offerings, but not with his. God noted Cain's reaction and so, told him:
"Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted? And if you don't do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you, you've got to master it." [Genesis 4:6-7]
Mastering sin involves subjecting our thoughts and our attitudes, those things that give rise to sin, under God's influence and power. (This is a daily battle, by the way, which nobody ever completely wins, least of all me!) Jesus once said:
It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That's what pollutes. [Matthew 15:19, The Message]
To covet is to desire something that isn't rightfully ours, be it the affections of another's spouse or their possessions. Luther pointed out that in ancient times, obtaining a divorce for the flimsiest of reasons was even easier than it is today. In both the Old Testament world of the Hebrews and the New Testament world of the Roman Empire, a husband could simply decided to dismiss a wife and then be free to entice another man's spouse to become his wife. This command was designed to thwart that sort of behavior.

Of course, obeying this or any of the other commandments isn't an easy thing. (A fact that we'll delve into more deeply in the next post in this series.) We cannot obey any of the commandments, least of all these last two, on the strength of our wills. Obedience comes down to surrendering to the God Who gives Himself to us in Jesus Christ. He will perform what I have called a holy lobotomy, changing the minds and therefore changing the actions of those who turn from sin (repent) and follow Jesus Christ. (But even then, we will rely not on ourselves, but on Jesus Christ to make us acceptable to heaven in spite of our sins). Paul, in the New Testament, encourages those who want to live lives pleasing to God in this way:
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. [Romans 12:1-2, The Message]
More on how that all works in the next installment of this series, I hope.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

So Gruesome You Can't Help But Look

In light of the current controversy over Ann Coulter's insistence that four 9/11 widows have "enjoyed" the deaths of their husbands, I looked up the only previous post in which I wrote about her here. It appeared on April 23, 2005:
I read the TIME magazine cover story on pundit Ann Coulter yesterday. To tell the truth, my only exposure to her previous to that was seeing a few guest appearances she made on Hardball, in which Chris Matthews rightly raked her over the coals for suggesting that liberals are, by definition, unpatriotic.

What I got from the TIME article is that this is a woman who has found a profitable gig. She's a professional provocateur who would rather make people laugh than think. That's fine except that lots of people, whether supporters or detractors, take her schtick more seriously than she apparently does.

She also appears to me to be trapped by the persona she has created and fearful that as she continues to play her part, someone could physically attack her. That must be an awful feeling. Like the moth attracted to and willfully staying in the flame in spite of the risk, Coulter appears to be both lured and repulsed by the fame she has created for herself.

It's sad that we live in a culture that often loves heat more than light and that someone like Coulter is so desperate for prominence that, in spite of her undeniable intellectual gifts and quick wit, she feels compelled to throw in with the purveyors of heat rather than the throwers of light.

Her current prominence probably says something [both] about her and about our country.

In spite of that seemingly negative assessment, I came away from reading the piece liking Coulter...and feeling sorry for her, genuinely sorry for her.
Today I have to say that I still feel sorry for her. But her increasingly shrill and nasty statements make her less than likable. Many conservatives tell me that she's an embarrassment and they wish that she would just be quiet and go away.

Politics is a full-body-contact sport, to be sure. But Coulter has crossed a line with her new assertions about the 9/11 widows.

But give Coulter credit: Like Morgana the Kissing Bandit, she's getting precisely what she wants from her outrageous statements: attention. That, in turn, will no doubt lead to book sales.

By now, Ann Coulter is like the three-car crack-up on the Interstate: You don't want to look, but what's before you is so gruesome, so outrageous, you can't help but look.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin is trying to legitimize Coulter's 9/11 comments saying that the author is "antagonizing the Left with her comments about the liberal 9/11 widows." It isn't just the left who is likely to be antagonized by Coulter's comments. People on the right, evangelical Christians, and people who believe in civility are all likely to be antagonized by them. I know because I'm on the right politically, I'm an evangelical Christian, and I believe in civility in our public discourse and I think that Coulter's statements are indefensible!

It's perfectly legitimate for people to disagree with the four widows that Coulter attacks. But to say that the women are enjoying their widowhood or to suggest, as she did today, that their four husbands may well have been contemplating divorcing them, is savage and insulting.

[Thank you to Andy Jackson of Smart Christian for linking to this post.]

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Get Your Kicks on Route 666

Ann Althouse writes about the numerological superstitions some Christians apparently attach to 06/06/06:
If there is a God, do you think there's a chance in Hell that he smiles on your superstitiousness?
I've no doubt there is a God and that maybe Ann could have found a better way to ask her question. But I couldn't agree more with the sentiment behind it.

I wrote in the comments on her blog [with additions in brackets]:
You're right on, Ann. The Bible condemns all superstitiousness, although there are images or ideas sometimes represented by numbers [there]. [The Biblical call is to rely on God and not our superstitions, which amount to idols to which we attribute god-like power over our lives.]

Forty, as in forty days and forty nights and forty years, is thought to have meant "a long time," as in contemporary phrases like "a month of Sundays." (That doesn't preclude forty references from being taken literally, [which I do].)

Seven, because of the Genesis 1 account of creation is the number of completeness, remembering that on the seventh day, God [rested, after declaring] all His creative work, "very good." (And given the wonders of the universe, who can disagree with that assessment?)

In the Gospel of John, eight, as in "eight days later" or "on the eighth day" represents the new creation that issues from Jesus' resurrection for all with faith in Him. The eighth day is God giving all creation another chance at wholeness, a state of being marred by the condition of sin.

Six, because of the same Genesis account, sometimes represented incompletion or even alienation from God. It represented being not to Sabbath rest or the new creation.

Most interpretations of the New Testament book of Revelation are hogwash that pay no attention to its historical context or the fact that it's a "Johannine" document, its authorship attributed to John the Evangelist, who employed a rich mixture of Hebrew and Greek images and philosophical ideas in his writing.

Many ancient texts have the number in Revelation as "616" anyway. But whether that or "666" is irrelevant. Numerology isn't Biblical or Christian.
On Sunday, I cited Proverbs 3:5, which says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." People who spin fanciful and unfaithful scenarios from the Bible based on numerology are guilty not only of enthroning superstitions as their gods, but also of making idols of their own intellects. It's too bad that they scare the credulous. But then, nobody ever went broke mocking God.

I'm spending my June 6 undergoing a surgical procedure at the periodontist's office. However it turns out, I'm trusting God, no matter the day on our Roman calendar.

[Thanks to Done with Mirrors and Pajamas Media for linking to this post.]

[Thanks also to Matt Brown at Good Brownie and Rick Moore at HolyCoast for also linking to this piece.]

Monday, June 05, 2006

Two-Day Posting Layoff Here

There will be no posting here for the next several days. I'll be undergoing a soft tissue graft and will likely be even loopier than usual. My family could also use your prayers these days, details of which I may never reveal here, but which I certainly cannot discuss until at least mid-July.

More on Dave Clark Five's Mike Smith

I wrote earlier about Mike Smith, the Dave Clark Five keyboardist who was paralyzed by a fall suffered some three years ago. Here's more info.

A Digitized Dream

I don't usually remember dreams. This one I did.

In it, I found myself walking through Paul Simon's house in New York City. How I knew whose house I was in or even if Simon actually still has a house in NYC, I don't know. I remember it being white stucco with wood framing, like something you might see in the Italian or French countrysides, a villa. It was two-stories tall, large but not ostentacious.

Somehow, as I walked inside the house, the Simon-connection ended and instead, I found myself in the offices of ESPN, the sports TV and radio network now owned by Disney. I clambered up some winding, plain stairs that looked to be made from oak, beautiful but flat in tone, not coated with shellac.

I walked into a room and found four sports journalists at a table, each wearing headphones, none of whom I recognized. Three were men, one was a woman.

On seeing them, I realized that I was not walking through a house any longer. I was somehow in the archives of the ESPN web site. Everything around me was digitized information that looked like real life, a la Tron, except that nobody was trying to off me.

I was in fact, as irrelevant as anyone who logs onto a web site and reads an article or views a video. I was a consumer. It was like being present, but not part of, some historical events about which you read often; no matter how vividly you imagine it or "see" it, you aren't part of it and you can't change it. It's a done-deal, a dead moment.

The journalists were talking about what was likely to happen in sports in the Year 2002. They were presenting a preview of a year that's four years gone. Everything they said, I'd heard them say already.

I'd been seated, listening to the four journalists for a short time, when I realized that I could almost mouth every word they said as they said them, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. So, I stood up and said, "Excuse me." They turned to me, not saying a word. It was like clicking pause when you watch video streaming. "I've heard all of this before. So, I'm going to leave." When I did that, I woke up.

Most of the time, when I dream--at least in those dreams I remember--if I come to a spot that I don't like, I'll just think, "I don't like this dream. I'd better move on to something else." I just switch channels to something I want to dream or think about.

But I've never had a virtual world dream before. I seem to have moved from television-like dreams, complete with a remote control, to digital ones.

Has the Digital Age changed the way you dream?

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 17

We come now to a consideration of The Eighth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

"Besides our own body, our wife or husband, and our temporal property," Martin Luther writes in The Large Catechism, "we have one more treasure which is indispensable to us, namely, our honor and good name, for it is intolerable to live among men in public disgrace and contempt." It's to spare us such disgrace and contempt that God gives this commandment.

There's good reason for this: Persons with positive reputations are more able to live useful, productive lives, which is something that God wants all of us to experience. When we take people's reputations from them, we not only harm them, we obstruct the plans of God for their lives...and our own.

A few months ago, in a forty-installment series on Christian servanthood, I talked about how God calls us to serve others by safeguarding their reputations. I wrote:
In Medieval times, a woman visited a monk. He was a man admired for giving holy, sensible advice. The woman realized, she said, that she had become a terrible gossip, the purveyor of hurtful words. What should she do? The monk told her to go through the village and bag all the goose feathers she found. Then, she should lay a feather at the doorstep of every person about whom she had gossiped. After that, she should return to the monk.

The woman dutifully did what the monk directed her to do and returned to him. The monk said, "That's wonderful. Now go back to each of those doorsteps and collect the goose feathers you left behind. Then, come back here." When the woman returned for yet another visit to the monk, she reported that all the feathers had been blown away by the wind.

"That’s the point, of course," the monk told her. "We can be forgiven the sin of gossiping about others. If you repent for it, God surely will forgive you. Those you have violated may do the same. But no matter whether you are forgiven or not, the damage will have been done. Gossip spreads as though carried aloft by the wind and you can't bring it back."

The eighth commandment tells us, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” In his explanation of it in The Small Catechism, Martin Luther writes, “We are to fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, or lie about our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain his actions in the kindest way.” Refraining from lying about our neighbor is just the beginning of God’s intentions in this commandment. He intends for us to be guardians of others’ reputations.

Servants of the God we know in Jesus Christ look for ways to build up others’ reputations and to help them be understood and appreciated even when we may disagree with them.
James writes in the New Testament:
If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. [James 3:3-6]
Some of the worst trouble I've experienced in my life and some of the worst damage I've done in this world have stemmed from my words.

I've also seen the damaged reputations caused by others' careless words. Years ago, there was a prominent person in the community where I lived at the time, a leader who struggled to introduce changes and who experienced some successes. Although I agreed with the lion's share of what he tried to do, I also sometimes winced at the pace and recklessness with which he went about his work. He began to experience major opposition and found himself no longer able to lead. Soon thereafter, he resigned his position and went to another community, where happily, he was very successful.

Not long after he left, I was at a ball game and it was halftime. I overheard some people talking about this man. "I heard he took off with a lot of money," one guy said. Not even this man's worst enemies accused him of financial dishonesty. Yet, here was a guy pushing a tale that, with no foundation in fact, nonetheless hurt someone's reputation. I will always regret that I didn't more forcefully defend the maligned man.

Luther summarizes the intent of this command by saying:
No one shall harm his neighbor, whether friend or foe, with his tongue. No one shall speak evil of him, whether truly or falsely, unless it is done with proper authority [judges and preachers are among those Luther claims to have this authority] or for his improvement. A person should use his tongue to speak only good of everyone, to cover his neighbor's sins and infirmities, to overlook them, and to cloak and veil them with his own honor.
God cares about our reputations because God cares about us.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Holy Spirit: God's Presence in the Present

[This message was shared on Pentecost Sunday, June 3, 2006, with the people of Friendship Lutheran Church. Three young people from the congregation publicly affirmed their Baptism, confirming their intentions to follow Christ through their adult years.]

Acts 2:1-21
True story as told by the late Bill Bright, a Christian leader: During the Great Depression, there was a man named Yates who owned a Texas sheep ranch. But it wasn’t a profitable venture at all. Yates was unable to make enough to pay on either the principle or the interest on his mortgage. He and his family were forced to live on a government subsidy, daily facing the possibility of foreclosure.

Then one day a seismographic crew from an oil company told Yates that there might be oil on his land. They asked for permission to drill for oil. Yates signed a contract letting them do that.
Some 1115 feet underground, they struck an enormous oil reserve! For a long time, that first well produced 80,000 barrels a day.

More wells were drilled on Mr. Yates’ land that produced many times that. “In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day.”

Yates owned every bit of it. “The day he purchased the land he...received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief. A multimillionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there even though he owned it.” He had no notion of what he already had!

That, says one of my favorite Christian communicators, Greg Asimakoupoulos, is like many followers of Jesus Christ. We live in spiritual poverty. We could be living lives powered and inspired and encouraged by God’s Holy Spirit. Instead, we try going through life on our own wits, our own intellect, our own minds and bodies. We fail to embrace the wisdom that ancient King Solomon was given by God centuries before the birth of Jesus, words recorded in the Old Testament book of Proverbs:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. [Proverbs 3:5-6]
Today is Pentecost, one of the three great festival days of the Church Year. On it, we remember a strange event that happened ten days after the risen Jesus ascended to heaven.

After Jesus rose from the dead on Easter, He spent forty days with His followers, forgiving them of their sins, shoring up His teaching, preparing them for their future lives without Him, and readying them to be His witnesses.

Jesus, according to Paul, spent time with about 500 of His disciples during this period. Just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus told them to go back into Jerusalem and pray: He would send the Holy Spirit to them. The Spirit would make it possible for them and others to believe the Good News that when people surrender to Him, their sins are forgiven and they have life forever with God.

So, they prayed. And prayed. And prayed some more. There were still about 120 of them praying when Pentecost rolled along.

And then it happened.

All heaven broke loose and “...suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.”

The Holy Spirit had come to that humble crowd of believers in Jesus.

So, what does this strange incident tell us?

First of all, it tells us that through the Holy Spirit, the risen Jesus can be with us now. Our faith is not about some old events that happened to a bunch of people wearing bath robes back in the first-century. We can experience Jesus’ presence in the present. This is especially important for our three confirmands--Heather, Cori, and Laura--to remember today.

All too often, young people and their families treat confirmation like graduation from the Church. But confirmation is really supposed to be a beginning, a moment when you tell the world, “Now that I’m on the cusp of adulthood, I intend to follow Jesus Christ as a grown-up. I intend to make Him the highest and most important priority in my life!”

There are many people in this sanctuary today who can talk about how in difficult and challenging times in their lives, they knew that the Holy Spirit helped them experience the presence of Jesus.

They could also talk about how in the mountaintop experiences of their lives, they knew that presence too.

When my wife was three-and-a-half months pregnant for our first child, our son, she suffered from an appendicitis. During the wee hours of Palm Sunday, 1981, she underwent surgery and I and a lot of family members and church friends, prayed like crazy for her and our baby. In the midst of that praying, I sensed God’s presence.

The doctor told us that five years before my wife's appendicitis attack, we would have lost our son and that ten years before, I would have lost both of them. When I preached at the sunrise service at our home church on Easter Sunday one week after my wife’s surgery--and with her in the sanctuary, you can bet I also sensed the presence of the God into Whose hands I had placed her, our son, and myself.

Many times, I’ve experienced the presence of God’s Holy Spirit when I visit people who are dying or those who are grieving. In those circumstances, I still don’t know what to say or do. But then I pray: I ask God to guide me, to give me the right words and the right silences. Every time I’ve done that, God has empowered me for those moments. I’ve learned that Jesus is good for the promise He made to those who dare to follow Him just before He ascended to heaven: “I am with you always, even to the close of the age.” Through the Spirit He sends to His followers, He is constantly present.

On the first Pentecost day, the Holy Spirit came to bring comfort and power for living to a group of people who had committed themselves to prayer in Jesus’ Name. Heather, Cori, Laura, and everybody: The Holy Spirit of God can be present for you, too. You simply need to invite Him into your life by committing yourselves to prayer. As someone has said, “If God seems distant to you lately, you can be sure it wasn’t because He moved.”

But that brings up a second thing that the Holy Spirit did on that first Pentecost: He made it possible for people who had once been afraid that they might be crucified if they just whispered the Name of Jesus to tell the whole world about Him.

The Spirit even made it possible for them to talk about Jesus in ways that made sense to others. The crowds who heard them asked, “ is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

An old song by the Christian rock band, Newsboys, says, “God is not a secret to be kept.” That’s true. But a lot of times we Christians act as though we belonged to some secret society.

Wrong! Our call as followers of Jesus is to help the whole world know that they can experience Jesus’ presence in their present.

Years ago, a man called me. I’d met him through a group in the community, but didn’t know him well. He asked if we could meet at a local restaurant. He needed to talk. He knew that something was missing in his life and sensed that it might be God. He asked me some questions about Jesus.

I prayed that God would give me the right words. To my astonishment and delight, we prayed together in that restaurant and he gave his life to Jesus Christ. He joined the church to which his family belonged and has been an active Christian ever since.

For as long as I live, I won’t forget the sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence as we prayed together. And even today, I see God in the way that man is living his life. It's an awesome thing!

But a good question to ask is, “Why would I want to help others come to faith in Christ? I’m not an evangelist.”

Maybe not. But Jesus has called you and me to be witnesses, telling and showing others His love. “You will be my witnesses,” Jesus tells us. He states it as a matter of fact; the only question is whether we're going to be good witnesses or bad ones.

To paraphrase Rick Warren, the church that isn’t interested in sharing Christ with others is really telling the world to go to hell. I don't want to be part of that sort of church or to be that kind of Christian!

Once Jesus Christ has come into your life--once you’ve experienced the presence of God in the present, it’s unthinkable that you wouldn’t love your neighbor enough to tell them about Christ!

But what’s really interesting is that the more we share Christ with others, the more present He becomes to us, too. As I helped that man surrender his life to Jesus in the restaurant, he wasn’t the only one who sensed God wrapping His arms of compassion and promised around his life. He embraced us both!

For Heather, Cori, and Laura and all of us, this can be a moment like the one experienced by the three-thousand people who came to faith in Jesus on the first Pentecost or like that man. The presence of God can be a present reality for you.

The presence of God can make it possible for you to give the life that Jesus offers to your friends and family members.

In closing, let me tell you that this can be a time when faith may be kindled in some for the first time or when faith can be renewed.

It’s a simple matter of rejecting sin and of asking Jesus Christ to be at the center of our lives today and every day.

The Spirit can be present in your present. He wants to be. The question is: Will you let Him be? Today, in response to the love and new life God gives through Jesus Christ, let your answer be Yes! "Yes, Lord, be present in our present all the way to eternity!"

[Greg Asimakoupoulos citation of Bill Bright's telling of the tale of the Yates oil reserves is found in Perfect Illustrations for Every Topic and Occasion.]