Saturday, May 06, 2006

Is It Time to Encourage Americans to Have More Children?

Once upon a time, Americans made lots of babies. Of course, one reason for that was that birth control wasn't so easy. But, in an agricultural society with relatively high infant and child mortality rates, it made sense for married couples to have larger families. Such families produced the workers needed to keep farms productive and food on the table.

Not so today. Nowadays, Americans aren't having enough children to replenish those who leave the workforce due to retirement or who die, as eventually happens to everybody.

This lower birthrate is one factor creating jobs for foreign workers, legal and illegal, who come to this country.

But, according to demographers, birthrates are decreasing rapidly in every part of the world, especially in Mexico. All of which means that, if current trends continue, sometime later this century, America's big problem may not be illegal immigrants swarming over our borders, but too few Americans and too few foreigners taking all those jobs that need doing if our society is to function and our hospitals and nursing homes--places that members of my Baby Boomer generation will increasingly frequent in coming years--are to operate optimally.

Don't be surprised if soon Congress debates putting incentives for Americans to have larger families into our tax code. Since it seems that soon the world will stop sending workers our way, the answer to America's future work force needs may be for Americans to make more babies.

Listen to the interview you'll find under "Immigration Demographics" here.

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 3

They start with a promise.

When God gave the Ten Commandments to His people, the Hebrews--and through them, to the rest of the world--He didn't dive into the first, "Thou shalt not..."

Instead, He began with a breathtaking promise: "I am the Lord your God..."

Why do I call that statement breathtaking?

For that matter, why do I call it a promise?

Because, before demanding a single act of obedience to Him, God promised to be the Lord of this ragtag group of just-liberated slaves. He promised to be there for them, to hear their prayers, to lead them into a land they didn't deserve.

God's words to the Hebrews are at loggerheads with humanity's usual notions about God and religion. We tend to think, "If I do this or that, God will care about me." But God says here, "I care about you now, even before I lay down the rules."

And the Bible says that God chose the ancient Hebrews not because there was anything special about them. This is emphasized in a famous passage in Deuteronomy:
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)
Did you catch the argument that passage makes?: God loved the Hebrews because He loved the Hebrews.

It's the nature of God to love. "God is love," we're told in the New Testament book of First John. So, God chose a people that the world might deem unlovable and certainly unworthy of note to be His people.

They were also to be a "light to the nations," meaning two things:
(1) Through this people--imperfect, often rebellious, sometimes faithless, frequently whiny--God would demonstrate the toughness and resolve of His love. When the world reads the story of God's dealings with His ancient people, the Hebrews, in the Old Testament, they're enlightened about God, His charitable attitude toward the human race, and His willingness to forgive sinners who turn from sin and follow Him.

(2) Through this people, God would bring "the light of the world" to birth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
"I am the Lord your God..." God said before getting to the first commandment. It's a promise God loves keeping to all of us...if we will let Him.

[Thanks to John Schroeder of Blogotional for linking to this post!]

Friday, May 05, 2006

Our Brief Sojourn to the Big Apple

My son, P-Diddy, and I flew to New York City and spent the better part of today there. (No, we haven't suddenly acquired a fortune. We're able to take trips like this because he works for an airline.)

It had been thirty-plus years since my first and only previous trip to the Big Apple. We decided that since we had just a day, we would concentrate on Lower Manhattan, leaving exploration of other parts of the city to other days we hope to spend there.

The weather was glorious and as is true of most places one visits, people were friendly.

I will say though, that there's probably a higher percentage of sketchy characters in New York than there are in other cities. Like the guy who stood at the front of our subway car to make a speech in which he claimed to be a stroke victim whose utilities had just been turned off. I've known stroke victims and I'm sure this guy wasn't one. What stunned me is that people actually gave him money!

As I watched passengers handing wads of bills and handfuls of change to this clearly fraudulent character, I thought I said, "Unbelievable!" under my breath. But I said it loudly enough for the woman next to me to hear. She smiled and I told her, "I've ridden public transportation in lots of cities, but I have never seen anything like that!" "It happens here all the time," she said. "And do you think these people actually believe him?" "Some of them."

I wanted to say, "Sheesh! I'm from Ohio and I thought that I was supposed to be a hayseed." But I decided to keep my trap shut...for once.

Yet, there was something strangely consoling about this business. The stereotype of people from New York City is that they're jaded and cynical. But here some of them were, buying a tale of woe which this Midwestern preacher found transparently false! Maybe one measure of people's hearts is their willing to suspend their wariness in spite of all the reasons they have for not trusting people.

Another character we ran into today was the guy who told us during a ride on the subway that he was going to the Police Department to file a complaint. Just the day before, he'd been framed, he said, when the cops found a kilo of cocaine someone had planted in his SUV. "I'm gonna get my SUV back, sell it, and then buy a nice house in Puerto Rico and never come back here," he told us. I wanted to say, "Uh...right" with mock credulity, but I stifled the impulse.

But we did meet a boatload of cool, welcoming, helpful people, proving once again that wherever you go, you'll find folks who love telling others about their hometowns.

As to the sights themselves: We went to Wall Street, Trinity Church, the World Trade Center Site, Saint Paul's Chapel, Castle Clinton, Fraunce's Tavern (where George Washington said good-bye to his officers at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783), the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine, and on the way back to the airport, made a brief stopover at Times Square, a hundred times more vital, bustling, and safe than it was when I visited in 1975.

For my son and me, it was particularly cool to see the tomb and gravesite of Alexander Hamilton in the Trinity Churchyard. Unfortunately though, the small monument to Hamilton is in need of some repair. He truly deserves lofty recognition: Not only was Hamilton a hero of the American Revolution, he also was the architect of the country's (and thus, of the world's economic system) and by his authorship of most of 'The Federalist Papers,' responsible for convincing the thirteen original United States to approve the Constitution.

Was I moved by the World Trade Center site? Yes and no. Of course, like everyone else who was beyond toddlerhood on September 11, 2001, I'll always remember that day when not only America, but peace, civility, and decency, were attacked. And while there are signs posted on the fences through which one can peer to see the site, there were still people winding their ways through the crowds to sell picture books about the 9/11 tragedy, books always opened to photos of a jet plowing into one of the towers, the smoke billowing out. The hawking at that moment and in that space made it difficult to focus on the events that transpired there four-and-a-half years ago.

Of course, New York has always been about commerce, nowhere more so than in Lower Manhattan. But the September 11 attacks do remind us that there had better be more to our lives than buying and selling. In the New Testament, James says that we come into this world with nothing and that's how we'll leave it, too. In the face of these realities, we see how desperately we need God. (See here.)

Maybe I'll write more on our New York trip tomorrow. I'll also hopefully, resume my series on the basics of Christian faith. But for now, I need to hit the sack.

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Come back later today for a new post or two. Until then, check out the archives. Thanks!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The problem with satire...

is that few are good at it.

Remember Don Imus' appearance at the White House correspondents' dinner ten years ago? Bill Clinton was president and Imus delivered a rude, graceless "speech" not even worthy of the witty repartee one might encounter during a 2AM stop at the White Castle for a bag of slyders following a night of barhopping.

Stephen Colbert appeared to be emulating Imus' grimly unamusing example in his appearance before the same group this past week.

I agree with the assessment of Richard Cohen writing in today's Washington Post that Colbert was lame and unfunny. I also agree with Cohen that Colbert's performance was even less than that:
Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude. Rude is not the same as brash. It is not the same as brassy. It is not the same as gutsy or thinking outside the box. Rudeness means taking advantage of the other person's sense of decorum or tradition or civility that keeps that other person from striking back or, worse, rising in a huff and leaving. The other night, that person was George W. Bush.
Satire is a difficult form of humor, something requiring subtlety rather than a sledgehammer. It requires good judgment. The satirists in Shakespeare's plays--the jesters--were able to deliver their barbs at royalty while making the royals laugh.

Good satire can humble the powerful; bad satire humiliates the would-be satirist.

In their appearances at the correspondent dinners, separated by ten years, Imus and now, Colbert, were rude and crass. That's not satire.

This isn't a good thing


Any time the state has a hand in the direction of a church, it has a deadly impact on the life of the church. While there are some signs of life in the state churches of Europe, by and large the commitment of the members is negligible and in some cases, those churches have been mere lap dogs of the government.

Of course, the dangers to the church's faithfulness are even greater in China, whose government is among the most repressive in the world.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Moussaoui Punishment Seems Appropriate

The Islamofascists will say that life imprisonment for Zacarias Moussaoui demonstrates American weakness. As usual, they would be wrong.

Annie Gottlieb puts it well:
...this seems to me the right decision.

Not because Moussaoui's alleged traumatic childhood and possible mental illness provided mitigating factors, as the defense claimed.

But because he wanted to be a martyr. Death would have given him too much notoriety.

And because he was no mastermind, and the extent to which he was a "conspirator" is not clear -- probably inflated by him. He would have been more a scapegoat for 9/11 than a punished perpetrator.

Let him be forgotten in prison.
It's good the jury denied Moussaoui martyrdom, a fit punishment for this ungodly thug.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan assumes that the jury acted out of fear. We have no indication that that was their motive.

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 2

The other day, my wife and I were in one of those appliance superstores to look at washers and dryers. I walked by a door that led to the stock area. Through a window, I could see a bustling place with appliances stacked to the ceiling. Above the door was a sign that said, "For the safety of our customers, employees only beyond this point."

A few moments later, we heard an enormous crash coming from the stock section. We learned that an associate had dropped a fridge off of a forklift. The wisdom of that sign was underscored.

Sometime in the fifteenth-century BC, a people recently freed from slavery in Egypt made their way--slowly--across a wilderness to a land they believed--or tried to believe--that God would give to them.

More than five-centuries earlier, God had entered into a covenant with the patriarch and matriarch of these Hebrew people, Abraham and Sarah. He promised to make them the ancestors of a great people, a people who would have their own land and through whose faithfulness God would shine a light on the entire world. The Old Testament says that when Abraham believed God's promise, God overlooked Abraham's sin and counted his belief as righteousness. (See here and here.)

In spite of the 430-years that the descendants of Abraham and Sarah spent as slaves in Egypt, God never forgot His promises...or His love for His people. After God got them out of Egypt, during their wilderness wandering, God's hand-picked leader, Moses, met with God on top of Mount Sinai. There, God gave him--and the human family--what we call "the ten commandments." (See here.)

Often, the commandments are portrayed as restrictive rules. But they're no more restrictive than that sign in the appliance superstore was. It was there to protect unprotected customers from falling Maytags!

God's commandments establish boundaries, to be sure. But they also positively define the territory within which life is good, the way our maker designed life to be. They say "No" to some things in order to make it possible for us to say "Yes!" to the best things.

More on the commandments in the next post of this series.

How the World Gets Free from the Evil Gunslinger

Charlie Lehardy confesses that his ultimate movie heroes have always been movie gunfighters like Shane who protect the innocent from the bullies. He makes some connections between those heroes and the story of his biggest hero, although he points out, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a bit more complicated than his favorite Western, The Magnificent Seven, or even than any other religious system:
According to the Christian story, the entire world is held hostage by an evil Calvera [the bad guy in Magnificent Seven]. Like poor Mexican farmers, we are simply too weak to resist him. Our only hope lies in being rescued by someone stronger.

In most religious systems, the back story is much simpler. God will reward you if you live well and obey the rules. In some, living well is its own reward.

From the Christian perspective, we have all succumbed to the Stockholm Syndrome. We are dupes, like Patty Hearst. Calvera has brainwashed us. We have made a hero out of our kidnapper.
Read the whole thing. Like everything Charlie writes, it's fantastic!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 1

I'm sure that I heard the Christian message in the churches I attended as a boy. But I probably wasn't paying attention.

By the time I got into my teen years, I had almost no connection with the Church. If you'd asked me in those days what the Christian faith was all about, I likely would have said something like, "Doing good and a nice man named Jesus."

Later, with a superficial knowledge of science and a big ego, I decided that there was no God...and that if such a Being existed, I didn't need Him.

That's the way things remained for me throughout my late-teens and as I turned twenty.

But then, something changed. I met a girl. Or, I should say, I re-met a girl. I'd been aware of her since we were in junior high school. Now, in my junior year of college, I fell in love with her and she, improbably, fell in love with me.

She also happened to be a Christian whose faith and the congregation of warm, fun people of which she was a part, meant a lot to her.

She was a Lutheran. In heaven, Jesus-Followers will wear no denominational adjectives, of course. And denominationalism, the notion that one expression of Christianity has a corner on God, is damnable nonsense.

But I also think that denominations--or at least theologies of varying emphases--are likely a brainchild of God. As I say, I'm sure that I'd heard the Gospel message before. But it was in a Lutheran congregation, with its unshakeable belief in the love God has for sinners and in the extension of forgiveness to the repentant who see the beauty and power of God's passion for humanity in the cross, that I really got the Christian message for the first time in my life.

God knew that I spoke "Lutheranese," I guess, and when He spoke His message to me in that language, I fell head-over-heels in love again...this time with the God made known to the world in Jesus Christ.

Other people hear God's call in Jesus Christ in other theological languages. But the effect is always the same: To hear the message God gives to the world through Christ is like a swallow of cold, clear water for a weary wanderer. It brings life and hope and peace.

What I intend to do in this series is talk about the basics of Christian faith.

Maybe through it, you'll fall in love with Jesus like I did. (At least I can hope.)

Or, maybe you'll fall in love with Him again.

Or, maybe, to satisfy your intellectual curiosity, you can learn something of what Christian faith is really about.

Whatever, I'll try to keep these posts short...shorter than this one...and I hope, helpful.

Monday, May 01, 2006 one of the most informative blogs on the net.

First Pass at This Weekend's Bible Lesson: John 10:11-18

[Each week, as I study and prepare for the following weekend's worship celebrations, I share some of what I'm learning, re-learning, and thinking about with regard to the Biblical text around which worship will be built. This is the first "pass" at this weekend's lesson.]

The Lesson: John 10:11-18
11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
Some General Comments:
(1) This is part of a longer section in which Jesus uses the shepherd metaphor. But He does so without using the term in an entirely consistent manner.

(2) As Chris Haslam points out, John 10:11-18 represents a change in the metaphor. He notes that, "In the ancient world, shifting metaphors was common."

(3) Brian Stoffregen notes "the varied associations connected to...shepherd" in John's Gospel, as catalogued by scholar Craig Koester:
  • "First, the broadest level was life experiences." Shepherds could commonly be seen throughout the Mediterranean basin in those days. The term might suggest "a figure with a weather-beaten face, dressed in coarse homespun clothing..."
  • "Second, associations might come from a reader's particular ethnic and religious heritage." The shepherd, of course, played an important role in Biblical history: Abel, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David, to name a few, were all shepherds. Other first-century groups would have identified with this image. "The Greek classics," writes Koester, "...used shepherd as a metaphor for leaders like Agamemnon the king. Philosophers and orators often compared the art of governing a people to the art of shepherding a flock."
  • "Third, the Gospel [of John] itself establishes a certain cluster of associations around the word..." shepherd. In John (a) The shepherd calls the sheep by name and leads them; (b) The shepherd lays down his life for the sheep; (c) We're told that no one can take the sheep out of the strong hands of the shepherd; (d) and in John 21, Jesus passes the shepherd mantle onto Peter.
I hope to present more specific comments on the passage in a later post.

How Christians Might Think About the Immigration Issue, Links to the Entire Series

In light of today's demonstrations, you might be interested in this four-part series, which I recently wrote:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Summing Up

[Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice has linked to this post, as has Mike at Mike's Noise. Thanks to both of them.]

[Thanks also to Sound Mind Investing for linking to this series.]

FAQs About 'The DaVinci Code'

Every Christian should be prepared for the assault on the faith represented by The DaVinci Code movie. Here, from Harvard-trained scholar and pastor Mark D. Roberts, are responses to frequently asked questions regarding the Dan Brown novel/movie which the author claims is rooted in fact.

I urge people who want to see a movie during the run of this new movie, set for release on May 19, to go see something else.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Spinelessness in the Face of Islamofascism Rewarded

Read here.

'60-Minutes' Piece Proves Again That DaVinci Code 'Fact' is Cowpie

Watch or read this report from Ed Bradley.


Luke 24:13-35
[This message was shared with the people of Friendship Church at worship celebrations on April 29 and 30, 2006.]

I love surprises! To me, as a kid, at least half the joy of getting to the tree on Christmas mornings was associated with not knowing exactly what I was going to get...and then being surprised!

For Jesus’ earliest followers, the first Easter was a bit like Christmas morning was for me while growing up. Every time they turned around, they were getting surprised. Our Bible lesson for today, which takes places in the afternoon and the evening of that first Easter some two-thousand years ago, documents several of the surprises God gave them...and us...on that day.

First, of course, was the surprising news they’d all received from some of the female disciples who had gone to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body early that day. They'd reported that Jesus’ body wasn’t there. That was curious enough to the rest of the group.

But what really surprised them was the women’s claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. At an earlier spot in Luke’s Gospel, the Bible book from which our lesson is drawn today, we’re told that the disciples wrote this claim off as “an idle tale.”

But there were more surprises in store. In our lesson, two of Jesus’ disciples left Jerusalem, heading for the village of Emmaus, about seven-and-a-half miles away. Naturally, they talked about their recent surprises, not just the report of Jesus’ missing body and of His resurrection, but the shocking surprise that the Teacher they thought would go to Jerusalem, overthrow the Roman government, and establish Himself as an earthly king had instead refused to fight and gone uncomplainingly to a terrible death on the cross. Not only did they grieve Jesus' loss, they also were mystified that all their hopes had been so violently and abruptly dashed on the previous Friday when Jesus died a humiliating death as a condemned criminal.

It's in the midst of their discussion that these two disciples, got their next surprise: A man suddenly started walking beside them and asked what exactly they were talking about. You and I know that this is Jesus. But the disciples, prevented from knowing by their unbelief, can’t recognize Him.

There are times in our lives too, when the risen Jesus is working in our lives and we don’t even know it. True story: Some years ago, a man woke up in the middle of the night, a feeling of terror overwhelming him and a strange word throbbing in his brain. Pray for this word, he sensed God telling him. The man did so, with no idea why. After awhile, he sensed that his mysterious prayer assignment was completed and he went back to sleep.

Months later at worship, he met a missionary who was at home on furlough. When he heard the name of the village in Africa where the missionary served, the man was dumbfounded. The village’s name was the word he was awakened to pray for that night!

He later learned that at the very hour he had been praying, that village was under attack by a neighboring tribe. All the people had gathered in the village church and the missionary had urged them to pray that God would send help.

Shortly thereafter, the hostile tribesmen simply walked away. Some time later, all the members of that hostile tribe came to faith in Christ and the missionary asked them why it was that on the night of the attack, they had simply left. “It was those men,” one of the tribesmen said. “What men?” “Those warriors who surrounded the church. We were afraid of them.”

The missionary and the praying man from the States concluded that on the night of that attack, God had roused many to pray so that He would have the invitation He wanted to intervene, save that village, and even make it possible for those with murder on their minds to receive forgiveness and new life through Jesus Christ. You never can tell when the God we know through Christ will, as was true on that road to Emmaus, walk beside us!

But the two disciples got another surprise. When this stranger seems ignorant of the events the disciples have been discussing, they can hardly believe it. After all, Jesus’ crucifixion hadn’t happened in some corner. Anybody in Jerusalem that Passover week would have known about it. “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel,” they tell Jesus, their grief and disappointment in evidence.

Jesus must have surprised them with what He said next. I like the way The Message papraphrase of the Bible renders His words to them:
“So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?"
And then this stranger explains how Jesus’ death and resurrection were all part of God’s big plan to make it possible for everyone to turn from sin and believe in Jesus and so, live with God forever---all of it revealed in the Old Testament.

Jesus surprised them with the Word of God! Later, the disciples remarked to each other how their hearts were on fire when they listened to Jesus discuss God’s Word.

That always happens. It happened for me to see this past week. I was meeting with someone in the community. As we talked, I sensed that while he liked his job okay, it really wasn't the best expression of his passions and abilities. I prayed inside my mind for insight and then asked him, "Do you like your job?"

He hesitated for a few moments and then told me, "Some days." I began to share a few things from the Bible, not in a preachy way, but just conversationally. I told him about how each of us is "fearfully and wonderfully made," that God gives special talents and abilities and passions to all of us and that part of the adventure of life can be in finding the best way to express the "image of God" that resides in all of us.

I babbled on for quite a bit, alluding to, but not reciting, passages of Scripture. Then I caught myself. I apologized for going on. “No,” he told me, “don’t apologize. That made me feel good.” That wasn’t because of me, folks; that was because of the power of God’s Word! In the Bible, God's Spirit touches our spirits.

Jesus can pierce our thick-headedness and our slow-heartedness and surprise us with His love and power when we spend time reading and soaking up His Word each day.

We've spoken of several surprises those two disciples got on the way to Emmaus: the surprise of this man--who we know was Jesus--walking beside them and the surprise of having the mysterious stranger sharing the Scriptures with them in a way that caused their hearts to passionately burn within them. But they got another surprise.

To some extent, to understand this next part of the story, you have to understand some first-century customs surrounding dinners and hospitality. When I describe it to you, you might think it's a little weird. But I think that we probably all have certain rituals we practice surrounding meals.

My mother-in-law and I do. Whenever my wife and I go out to eat with her, Charlene and I fight over who gets the check. We both go through extraordinary steps to let our servers know--without signaling the other person--to, "Bring the check to me."

This ritual happened again a few weeks ago when she came down on Easter weekend. We ate at Cracker Barrel and I won the contest: I got the check. Then came the next part of the ritual, my mother-in-law barking at me to give her the check while proceed to the check-out. After she'd barked at me a few times on this most recent occasion, I turned to her and with great maturity said, "You're not the boss of me!"

When the two travelers and their unknown companion arrive in Emmaus, they insisted that Jesus join them for dinner. According to the rituals and customs of their people, Jesus initially refused to do so. No visitor would accept such an invitation in those days until the ones doing the inviting repeated their request, this time insistently. That's what happened this time.

And it's wonderful that things happened in this way, because it was only because of the two disciples' hospitality that finally, over dinner, their previous unwillingness to believe was overcome! We're told that (again in The Message paraphrase):
“[Jesus] sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him.”
The two disciples now could see that it was true: Jesus had risen from the dead! Jesus will never force His way into our lives. But He will always go where's He's invited.

People sometimes ask me, “How can I believe in a risen Jesus Christ?” It’s simple really: Show Him the hospitality the two disciples showed Him in Emmaus. Invite Jesus Christ into every part of your life. Ask Him to be the Lord of your career, your marriage, your hobbies, your body, your mind, your sexuality. You will see Him working in your life, if you want Him to be there.

The surprises those disciples experienced on Easter Sunday afternoon and evening can be our surprises too.
  • We can be surprised by the presence of Christ in our everyday moments;
  • surprised by the power in His Word to transform our hearts and wills; and
  • surprised by the reality of His resurrection.
It's a simple matter of inviting Him into our lives.