free flying soul

"this world has nothing for me and this world has everything...all that I could want and nothing that I need"

My Photo
Location: Macclesfield, North Carolina, United States

Born: 1970; Graduated High School: 1988; Married: 1991; Children: 1996, 2000, 2005; Graduated College: 2008; Figured Out This Faith Thing: In Progress

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Worse Than I Thought

Well...I made it through the first two chapters of Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen. I'm afraid that I have found exactly what I was looking for. There have been precious few scriptural references and those have been questionable. Osteen has pulled some verses out of the Bible and attatched meanings that I don't believe are anywhere near the intended meanings. I will now illustrate.

On page five Osteen tells us that God wants to pour out "His far and beyond favor." He wants us to have the best time in our lives right now. This is an interesting take on Ephesians 2:7 in which we're told that God will "show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." This is right in the middle of a passage explaining how we were dead in our sin and that God's grace saved us. Nowhere do we see the idea that God wants us to win some sort of supernatural lottery. The passage is clearly talking about salvation, not material blessings.

A second example can be found on page six when Osteen explains the passage on new wine in old wineskins. Osteen explains that in these verses Jesus is encouraging his disciples to enlarge their vision. The old skins represent negative thinking and the new wine represents the blessings that God is waiting to pour out. All we have to do is do away with those old ideas and replace them with the "new skins" of positive thinking. What Osteen fails to mention is that Jesus isn't talking to his followers in that passaage. He is addressing disciples of John the Baptist who have asked why Jesus' disciples didn't fast. Jesus uses three illustrations: the bridegroom and attendants, a new patch on an old garment, and new wine in old wineskins. Nowhere in the passage are we given the impression that Jesus is telling us to change our attitudes. I believe Osteen has twisted a familiar passage and given it a totally un-Biblical application.

Once again, I'm trying to give Osteen the benefit of the doubt. I do believe he means well and that his core message is good. We don't need to dwell on the negative. We should think of the positive and trust that God will provide. But that is a far cry from turning God into some sort of magic genie who answers our every whim.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Wednesday, Wednesday

Well...I did it. I went out and bought Joel Osteen's book. I am curious enough to plop down $13.95 at the local Wal-Mart and give it a shot. Best case scenerio is that I end up very bored and giving the book to my mother-in-law. I hope that is the outcome...I really do. I did skim through it while waiting in line to check out and saw a couple of things that sent up warning signs. I won't reveal them to you just yet, I'd rather wait and see exactly what he was saying before I give in to my skeptical and cynical side. I do find it interesting that the Lifeway store did not have the book. I know, I know you're all asking...why did I go in the Lifeway? I was actually looking for the Osteen book. No such luck. Expect a scathing review or a life-changing testimony any day now.

I did pick up a biography of Martin Luther for $1.99. I was tempted to pick up the City On A Hill CD boxset for $24.95 but decided that I'd wait. I do have one question though. Why don't retail stores just price stuff with even numbers? It would make it MUCH easier to calculate sales tax in my head. I guess the thought of saving that one penny is just awesome enough to make us go, "Wow...what a bargain."

My wife and I celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary today. After going to all of her doctor appointments we went to the local Pizza Inn and shared a steak & cheese stromboli. For the record, we met each other while working there during high school. I also worked there for quite a long time. I didn't leave under the best of terms and we seldomly eat there. But I have finally gotten over my intense desire to torch the place so we stop in every couple of months or so...for old times' sake.

Our daughter is absolutely beautiful. Our boys are pretty awesome too. I'd post photos and things, but that would kill the anonymity. You'll just have to take my word for kids rock. I would never have imagined that I could be held breathless while watching a child sleep. It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. They are so amazing. I never knew what true love was until I held my children. Don't take that wrong. I love my wife. I would die for her. But there's something different about your children. You literally hurt when they hurt. I don't know that I can explain it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Two Quick Items

You may recall that I was a bit harsh on Joel Osteen and his unwillingness to preach the Gospel on Larry King Live a few nights ago. I linked to the transcript and pointed out that Osteen didn't seem to be taking much of a stand for Christianity. seems as if others thought the very same thing. A friend of mine led me to THIS reply on Osteen's official website. In an effort to be completely fair, I'm posting it here so you all can get his side of the story. It sounds sincere to me and I hope that he truly means what he says.

The other thing I wanted to share was THIS article someone sent me. I won't go into too much detail because I think you all ought to give it a read. It's fairly long but I think it will be worth your time. The story behind the article is rather interesting. A secular magazine writer decided that he was going to go stake out a Christian rock festival and expose it for what it truly was. He starts off extremely sarcastic and negative but things take a really interesting turn once he rents a 25 foot RV and meets some extraordinary guys from West Virginia.

The article has some profanity and is obviously not written from the viewpoint of a professing believer. But the guy ends up sharing some really insightful observations in regards to both Christians and the Christian music industry. If you have a few minutes...give it a read.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Assorted Thoughts

A lot of bloggers like to expound upon things political. Some of them have actually become semi-famous for their internet ramblings. I have no such aspirations. I don't know that I possess the qualities it takes to become such an astute observer of the American Political Machine. Even if I did, I don't think I care enough to spend large amounts of time sharing my thoughts and feelings with others.

I see nothing wrong with Christians being involved in politics, no matter what side of the fence they sit. I tend to be liberal in many social and economic areas and conservative in others. I don't know that a Christian can be 100% comfortable on either side. I have long believed that both of the major parties are corrupt beyond reformation. I can't claim either of them as my own. I remind myself that I am a visitor to this planet and that the outcomes of elections and scandals really have no effect on my eternal state. I see things that annoy me and I occasionally complain, but I know that my citizenship lies somewhere far beyond Washington D.C. or Iraq. Boycotting Disney and picketing abortion clinics are not things that I will find myself signing up for, although I have strong feelings concerning both.

Perhaps I'll grow comfortable enough to ramble on about my opinions of George Bush or Hillary Clinton. Maybe I'll lower my guard and tell you all who I voted for in every election since 1988 and why. I don't think those things really matter though. I'd rather talk about how my children have helped me understand agape love. I'd rather sing the praises of the woman who let me be her husband. I'd rather share my frustration as I struggle to familiarize myself with New Testament Greek.

I imagine there will be much talk about Atari 2600 games and pop music from the 1980s. I envision friendly theological discussions with occasional detours into pipe-smoking etiquette. My God, my family, my music, and my MANY vices will most assuredly command the most attention. I do hope you come along with me and that the ride will be an enjoyable one.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Daddy's Girl

We welcomed our daughter into the world at 8:19 am yesterday. She is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There were some complications but Mommy and baby made it through the ordeal safely and are both doing great.

This little girl will have me wrapped around her finger for the rest of her life. That's a little frightening because I know how spoiled her big brothers are. I love my kids. I was talking with my oldest yesterday and he asked who I loved the most. I guess all siblings wonder about that from time to time. I did my best to explain how I didn't love any one of them more than the other. I would die for all of them but it wouldn't be honest to say that I felt EXACTLY the same about all three of them. My firstborn has the special bond because he was first. This little girl has the special thing because she's the girl. My middle child is something totally different as well. He is one of the most charismatic people I have ever met and he's only four. He will be knocking the ladies out in about ten years.

I think all of you parents with more than one child understand what I'm talking about. You love ALL of your children with all your heart but there are differences...that's what makes them so special. They have their own personalities and qualities that bring out different emotions and responses. I dunno...maybe I'm just babbling like an idiot. I'm still basking in the afterglow. Give me a few days to come down out of the clouds.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sweet Is The Night

At 7:30 tomorrow morning we will be welcoming our daughter into this world. She will be our third child and we are just as excited as we were when our first son was born. We have been eagerly anticipating her arrival and we are happy that the time is now upon us.

But I will be honest...I'm terrified. Both of our children have been born via C-Section and she will be as well. It's majory surgery and there are all sorts of risks involved. Our last son was born amidst all sorts of complications and we almost made the decision to stop right then. But we waited and now God has blessed us with this child. We are thankful but still very aware of what COULD go wrong.

I guess some of my anxiety can be traced back to my own childhood. My parents lost a little girl when I was eight years old. My brother was four. For the record, our oldest son just turned nine and our youngest is four. Our boys are approximately the same age that my brother and I were. I am so scared that something will go wrong. I'm not going to lie about it. I'm having a really difficult time just turning over my anxiety and worries to God and letting Him get me through all of this.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Edifying Thoughts Of A Tobacco Smoker

I ran across this over on The Thinklings blog. It made me smile so I thought I'd share it.

Whene'er I take my pipe and stuff it
And smoke to pass the time away
My thoughts, as I sit there and puff it,
Dwell on a picture sad and grey:
It teaches me that very like
Am I myself unto my pipe.
Like me this pipe, so fragrant burning,
Is made of naught but earthen clay;
To earth I too shall be returning,
And cannot halt my slow decay.
My well used pipe, now cracked and broken,
Of mortal life is but a token.

No stain, the pipe's hue yet doth darken;
It remains white. Thus do I know
That when to death's call I must harken
My body, too, all pale will grow.
To black beneath the sod 'twill turn,
Likewise the pipe, if oft it burn.

Or when the pipe is fairly glowing,
Behold then instantaneously,
The smoke off into thin air going,
'Til naught but ash is left to see.
Man's fame likewise away will burn
And unto dust his body turn.

How oft it happens when one's smoking,
The tamper's missing from it's shelf,
And one goes with one's finger poking
Into the bowl and burns oneself.
If in the pipe such pain doth dwell
How hot must be the pains of Hell!

Thus o'er my pipe in contemplation
Of such things - I can constantly
Indulge in fruitful meditation,
And so, puffing contentedly,
On land, at sea, at home, abroad,
I smoke my pipe and worship God.

-J.S. Bach

Keep It Simple

HERE is the transcript from the Joel Osteen interview on Larry King Live. I won't cut and paste from it to prove my'll have to read it for yourself. Trust me, you won't be sorry...unless you are a fan.

Let me start off by saying that I was somewhat skeptical of Mr. Osteen to start with. Here is a guy whose only pastoral experience consisted of running the lights and sound for his Daddy's church. He admits that he has no sort of seminary training and that he doesn't use much scripture in his sermons. Am I the only one wondering how he became the pastor of the largest congregation in the United States? Over 30,000 people attend services at Lakewood Church. So many people come that they bought and converted the old Compaq Center in Houston, Texas into their new sanctuary. Mr. Osteen has also penned the #1 bestseller, Your Best Life Now.

I will be honest, I haven't read his book. I don't have the time to read the books that I REALLY want to read so this one has continued to pass me by. However, I have a feeling that I will be picking it up and thumbing through it out of morbid curiosity. Hey, I made it through the first three Left Behind books without slitting my wrists so this ought to be a walk in the park.

I have a second confession to make, I already don't like this book. All I've read are reviews and media blurbs, yet I already feel as if the book is a pimple on the face of Christianity. I guess that can be contributed to the fact that I think Mr. Osteen is watering down the Gospel of Christ and turning it into nothing more than a self-help program for hurting people. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ transforms lives and heals those who are hurting. But it also points out the fact that we are sinners condemned to death and the cross is the ONLY thing that can remedy that. I fail to see Mr. Osteen mention that basic truth.

In fact, at one point during the interview, Larry King comes right out and asks Osteen if Jesus is the only way to God. He asks him if all other religions are wrong and Christianity is correct. Surely the pastor of the largest church in the USA answers the question correctly...doesn't he? I'll save you lazy folks the trouble of searching the transcript. Osteen says that he doesn't necessarily think that other religions were wrong. His cop out is that he doesn't judge anyone. He falls back on the claim that only God knows a person's heart. While that is true, we CAN state that those who don't call on the name of Jesus Christ are condemned to hell. Osteen refuses to do that. I don't want to presume his intentions but I can only guess that it isn't the way to draw 30,000 people every weekend.

Osteen admits that he doesn't use a lot of scripture in his sermons and that he doesn't dwell on sin. The people in his church are often emotionally and physically hurting and he doesn't feel as if he should be adding an additional burden to their suffering. He wasn't called to condemn people and preach the negative message of sin. He comes out and says that he wants to reach out to all people with a message of hope. He suggests that he can't do that by telling people that they are sinners.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 (NASB) says:

1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

When I read that a preacher refuses to confront sin and admit that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to the Father, this verse comes to mind. It's no surprise that he packs the house when he doesn't touch the tough subjects. I've heard Amway presentations that packed more scripture in them than the messages of Joel Osteen. I don't think Osteen is bad guy, in fact, I think he's probably very sincere. I HOPE that he doesn't deliberately gloss over the message of Christ. I pray that he realizes that a Gospel without the cross of Christ is no kind of Gospel at all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Fresh Start

I have recently decided to semi-abandon all of my other internet ramblings. I prefer to have a more anonymous identity and I'm afraid that all of the other places I frequent know me too well. I don't want this to become a place for me and my buddies to come and be silly, I have enough of those already.

I need a place to sit down and seriously discuss things that might get sidetracked and derailed in my other blog. I want to be able to freely talk about things that affect my life without the burden of people knowing who I am. I can't do that elsewhere.

I will give you a brief biographical bit, just so you know what you're dealing with here.

I have been married to the same wonderful woman for fourteen years. We have two sons and are expecting our first daughter in two days. I am in my mid-thirties and have been a professing Christian for over half of my life. I'm ashamed to say that I've only been a practicing Christian for about ten years. I will be a sophomore at a small Bible college this Fall. When I graduate I plan to pursue full time vocational ministry.

I'm still sorting through my thoughts and hope to have my first REAL post up here by tomorrow. I've been reading through the transcripts of Lary King's interviews with Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers, and Billy Graham. Needless to say, there's lots of interesting stuff there.