October, 2010 Archives

29
Oct

Jon Stewart, C. S. Lewis and hope

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Crowd gathering on Wall Street after the 1929 crash

Crowd gathering outside U.S. Stock Exchange on October 29, 1929 / courtesy of user: Gribeco at en.wikipedia.org

Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” is just a day away.  Organizers have tightly guarded the program, but that didn’t deter a college student who said: “I like the fact that I am going to something and I have no idea what will happen there.  But I know I will have a good time.”  This morning’s New York Times quotes one participant: “I felt like my way of thinking was finally being represented.”

Do you remember a time when there was so much unrest in the nation?

If you’re satisfied with the direction of our country, know that the next four people you meet disagree with you.  This morning’s USA Today website reports that Americans are unhappy about how things are going, by a four to one margin.  It’s been nearly seven years since a majority of Americans in the USA Today/Gallup Poll were satisfied with the nation’s direction. Read the rest of this entry »

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29
Oct

The Texas Strangers

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


Guillermo Mota (R) and catcher Buster Posey celebrate after the Giants victory in game 2 of 2010 World Series

Guillermo Mota and Buster Posey celebrate after Giants victory in game 2 of 2010 World Series Credit: Reuters/Kimberly White

I just watched the worst baseball game since Abner Doubleday supposedly invented the sport in 1839.  The Texas Rangers lost the second game of the World Series tonight in horrific fashion.

They couldn’t get even a single hit with men in scoring position.  They they couldn’t get an out–seven runs scored in one inning as our pitchers issued a parade of walks.  Now the World Series comes to Arlington for game three on Saturday night.  We haven’t given up here in Texas, but we’re not happy.

Notice the pronouns.  When a team loses, “they” couldn’t get a hit.  When they are victorious, “we” did well.  Most of us jump on the bandwagon when the local team wins; we jump off the sinking ship when they don’t.  The good news is that God doesn’t do the same with us.  If Jesus is your Lord, nothing can take you from his hand (John 10:28).  He is with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Aren’t you glad God isn’t just your fan but your Father?

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28
Oct

James Bond’s $4.1 million car

posted in Culture & Faith by Jim Denison

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original story from: USA Today

When we think of James Bond, his cars come immediately to mind.  The Aston Martin driven by Sean Connery in the 1964 movie Goldfinger was recently auctioned for $4.1 million.  It comes complete with a bullet proof shield in the back, machine guns (non-functioning, I assume), and an ejector seat.  Most Bond fans would covet the iconic car; one has now become the envy of the rest of us.

Our culture associates success with possessions.  If James Bond had driven a station wagon, he would likely have been as effective in performing his duties to the Queen.  But we confuse people with property.  Jesus taught us that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).  It’s not what we possess that matters, but what possesses us.

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28
Oct

Missionary builds flying car

posted in Culture & Faith by Jim Denison

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original story from: CNN

A Florida missionary named Steve Saint has developed a car which can go from 0-60 in under 4 seconds, and can fly.  It is the first car of its kind, and will be ready for mass production in coming years at an estimated cost of $80,000.  However, the primary motivation for the car’s construction was not profit. Saint is the son of missionaries who served in the Amazon.  He envisions his invention as a way of reaching people who are not accessible by roads.

Mr. Saint is not the first Christian to use “secular” innovation for the gospel.  Paul traveled Roman roads and spoke the Greek language to “become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).  God honors the creativity and skill of his servants.  What price will you pay to tell someone about his love?

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28
Oct

Is it moral to watch football?

posted in Culture & Faith by Jim Denison

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original story from: The New York Times

Devastating injuries have increased significantly in football, as has our knowledge of their significant implications.  Rule changes, new equipment, and other innovations have resulted.  But what if the problem is deeper?  Is violence such an integral part of football’s popularity that our culture bears some responsibility for its increase?  Jon Landau, an immigration lawyer and ardent Quaker, suggests that if there is a “wanton disregard for the health of the participants,” we should stop watching.

Most of us are not likely to stop watching football games, but the question raises a larger issue.  Edmund Burke is often credited with saying, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  God allows us to use our freedom for good or for evil, but he promises to be our lamp and light if we will seek his guidance (Psalm 119:105).  If the rest of society were as moral as you are, would that be a good thing?

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28
Oct

The spiritual cell phone in your pocket

posted in Culture & Faith by Jim Denison

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original story from: Time

There is a growing controversy regarding the safety of carrying cell phones near our bodies.  Kept in a holster or harness, they seem to be fine.  Carried in a pocket near our skin, they may emit radiation in enough quantity to constitute a danger.  So long as the science is not conclusive, the argument will continue.

There is a spiritual equivalent to a radiation-emitting cell phone, one which is dangerous beyond all question.  You have an enemy which “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  God warned Cain and us that “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).  How?  “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).  The sooner we get spiritual radiation out of our spiritual pocket, the better.

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28
Oct

A Big Mac for every American

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison

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Big Mac combo

courtesy of user: Toddst2 at en.wikipedia.org

What do flu shots, election spending and supercomputers have in common?

The world’s fastest supercomputer was housed at a national laboratory in Tennessee—emphasize “was.”  Now China has the world’s fastest computer.  This morning’s New York Times tells us that Tianhe-1A has 1.4 times the horsepower of the current top machine.  The Chinese have spent billions of dollars in scientific development and investment to fuel its rise as a world technology superpower. Read the rest of this entry »

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27
Oct

The volcano which took its gatekeeper

posted in Culture & Faith by Jim Denison

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original story from: NPR

Mbah Maridjan was the “gatekeeper” of Indonesia’s Mount Merapi, a position he held since 1982.  He succeeded his father in the post, in which he was responsible for looking after the spirits of the volcano and conducting rituals and offerings.  When authorities warned people to flee before an impending eruption, he refused.  The volcano erupted yesterday; authorities later found Mr. Maridjan dead in his house, his body reportedly in a praying position.

We can criticize religious beliefs which would lead a man to die in this way, but Christians should recognize such commitment.  Jesus was explicit: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian and martyr, was right: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  When last did it cost you something significant to follow Jesus?

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27
Oct

Lessons from a torn jacket

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


Torn jacketI once officiated at a wedding with a woman who did not realize she had curlers in her hair.  I told her as gently as I could just a few minutes before the ceremony began, or the wedding photos would have been unusual.  Now I know the feeling.

I was privileged to teach a Bible study early this morning on faith and politics, followed by a day-long meeting with the Baylor Health Care System board.  I shook hands during the day with political and business leaders as well as some of the most accomplished physicians in our area.  Late this afternoon I happened to take my jacket off and found a tear in the shoulder.  Not a minute fraying of fabric–a hole big enough to accommodate a third arm.  I have no idea how it got there and no idea how long it has been there.  Nor do I know how many people saw it before I did.

I wish the tear in my suit jacket were the only shortcoming in my life which is more obvious to others than to me.  Someone noted that we judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intentions.  “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings” excuses my words to you but not yours to me.  The good news is that the Spirit who sees all sin is willing to show us our failures if we’ll only ask.

I’ve learned the necessity of time periodically spent for this purpose.  Ask the Spirit to show you anything in your life which displeases God, then confess what comes to your thoughts.  It may help to write them down.  Know that your Father forgives all you confess, and claim his forgiving grace.

You can ask God to show you the tears in your soul before the rest of us notice.  Is it merely coincidence that you’re reading this reminder right now?

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27
Oct

Proof that morality leads to prosperity

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


A traditional Dutch windmill (1100 Roe) standing in a winter landscape on the outskirts of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

courtesy of user:Massimo Catarinella at en.wikipedia.org

The least corrupt nations on earth are also the most prosperous.  This assertion is not just my opinion: consider the correlation between two fascinating reports in today’s news.

First, let’s review Transparency International’s new annual report ranking corruption around the world.  This morning’s NPR website leads us to the top ten nations: Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, and Norway.  At the bottom are Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar and finally Somalia.  The United States ranks #22, hurt by subprime lending practices, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and controversy over political funding. Read the rest of this entry »

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