April 2008


HOOF – HEARTED

Since I’ve been in Kentucky now for about 7 years, and since this weekend is the Kentucky Derby, I couldn’t help but post this short (16 sec.) and hilarious video above and give you some quick Derby Facts below:

  • The Kentucky Derby has been run on the first Saturday in May since 1875.
  • The most famous Kentucky Derby winner, Secretariet, is the only horse to break the 2 minute mark.
  • More people bet on the Kentucky Derby than the Super Bowl.

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I’ve posted some thoughts on Oprah before, but I agree with with my friend, Zach.  We have to know how to interact with this new-age mumbo jumbo.

This would be a good place to start.

(HT: Z)

It hasn’t taken very long for Miley Cyrus (a.k.a. Hannah Montana) to become a pop music icon among pre-teens across the country.  Knowing the pitfalls of many girls who have entered superstardom at such a young age, Miley promises to pursue a different path that will keep her on the straight and narrow. 

Recently, when asked by Barbara Walters what would keep her from becoming the next Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, she responded, “I feel pretty confident I won’t end up like that because I can go out there and be more of a light to them.  I think it’s my faith that keeps me grounded, especially because I’m a Christ follower for sure.”

Saying that she’s a follower of Christ is a big deal.  No doubt Christians will be watching to see if what she believes corresponds with how she lives–which is why the following news by Walt Mueller is so disheartening:

It seems that Miley Cyrus – aka Hannah Montana – has done a controversial photo shoot for the June issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Entertainment Tonight scooped the story, telling viewers that the fifteen-year-old Cyrus had posed topless while wrapped in what appears to be a satin bedsheet. Not only that, but there’s a photo in the mix of Cyrus posing with her father Billy Ray that just seems extremely inappropriate. . . . and even creepy.

My good friend, Lisle Drury, said something very true in response to all this.  He said, “All this should cause us to pray.”  I agree.  Let us pause not to condemn, but to pray for Miley Cyrus.  She may well be a follower of Christ, but she’s still only 15.  She’s fifteen and making millions of dollars.  And she has an Enemy who would love to bring her down along with other pop stars who have preceded her.

C.J. Mahaney with some great thoughts here (and here) on modesty from his forthcoming book, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Crossway, Sept. 2008).  Here’s a couple memorable quotes:

There is “not a square inch” of our lives—including our closets—with which God is not concerned. Even more, he cares about the heart behind what you wear, about whether your wardrobe reveals the presence of worldliness or godliness.

Modesty is humility expressed in dress.

When was the last time you took some time to be alone with God?  I’m talking about being away from all the distractions and busyness of life.  No computer.  No cell phone.  No i-pod.  No T.V.  No email.  No blogging.  No nothing–except you, God, and maybe a Bible and a journal. 

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the need for more solitude in my life.  I admit, it’s hard for me to justify taking time out to do this.  By nature, I’m a planner.  I like to write my list in the morning and mark off all the things I’ve accomplished by the end of the day.  It makes me feel good.  It makes me feel like I matter.  And therein lies the problem.  I forget that it’s not what I do for Christ, but who I am in Christ that makes me accepted and valued.  And so I need to take time to just be in His presence with no agenda but to be with Him and listen to Him.

Some of us, however, spend too much time alone and not enough time with others.  I can identify with this.  I like my time alone, and it’s just easier sometimes to neglect community.  But the danger in solitude is that we miss the fellowship of others who can help us see into our souls.  We miss the encouragement and exhortation from those who care about the outcome of our faith.  We forget that only in community can we see ourselves rightly and play our part in Christ’s body.

I think you know where I’m going with this.  The reality is that we need both solitude and community.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book, Life Together (the inspiration for this blog), once said,

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community.  Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. 

How true.  And so my challenge for you (and me) is to seek out regular times of solitude as you pursue close community.  Practically, wouldn’t it be wonderful to wed these two together in some kind of outing with others in your church?  Solitude mingled with community.  Community mingled with solitude.  Sounds like a worthwhile and perhaps life-changing idea.

Isn’t it funny how we celebrate the day when our child learns to speak his first words.  We can’t wait to hear that first, “Da-Da” or “Ma-Ma” come from their mouths.  It’s a big milestone for our kids, and we should get excited about it.

Yet, the Bible seems to lessen the importance of talking and heighten the importance of listening, when it comes to teaching our children.  Specifically, the Proverbs tell us that listening leads to wisdom.

  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.           Prov. 19:20
  • Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.    Prov. 1:8
  • The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.   Prov. 12:15

It seems that the pathway to wisdom and life is through listening–listening specifically to the good advice from godly parents.  Conversely, the pathway to foolishness and death is through not listening–not listening to one’s parents and elders but rather doing what is right in one’s own eyes.

A powerful story of this reality is found in the book, Hedge of Thorns, first published in 1819 by John Hatchard, then rewritten by Mark Hamby and published in 1999 by Lamplighter Publishing

In it the author tells of a young, 10 year-old boy named John who is told by his parents to never go beyond the “hedge of thorns” in his yard.  But his curiosity gets the best of him and he contrives a plan where he gets his little sister, Belle, to help him make his way through the thorny hedge.  Little Belle, being just 5 years old, is swept up into the excitement of seeing what is beyond the hedge, but when she’s forced by her brother to actually press through the thorns she is reluctant.  Yet John will not be denied, and so he shoves his sister forward into the hedge.  Belle immediately cries out in pain as the thorns cut through her little face and eyes.  John screams for his mom and dad, and his mom comes running only to find her little daughter screaming wildly and bleeding profusely.  After little Belle is all bandaged up, John confesses to his mom the whole truth of his sinful plan.  Although his mom is grateful for the honest confession, she tells him that his punishment is to hold his weeping sister in his lap as she runs to get his father.  In that moment, John shares with the reader the following words.

I beg you not to follow after vain and empty pursuits that may taste sweet awhile, but end in bitterness.  If you are young, listen to your parents, for God has placed them as an earthly Hedge that will keep you on right paths which lead to blessing and long life.

Parent, if you long for your children to be wise, teach them to listen.  Team them to listen to you as you listen to the Lord.  And when they hear you speak may your words come out of a heart that’s filled with the holy Scriptures.

John Piper is launching a new series at Bethlehem Baptist Church on a vison for the next generation and how the church is called to make this vision a reality.  I’m personally excited to listen to these messages and spread the vision of investing into young people.

Here’s what Piper said about why he’s doing this series:

One of our premises is that living for the glory of Christ is not on hold until you are eighteen or twenty-one. There is a way for six-year-olds to make much of Christ and a way for ten-year-olds to make much of Christ and a way for sixteen-year-olds to make much of Christ. And there is a way for parents and church leaders and all of us to create a matrix of relationships and teachings and expectations and blessings that awaken young people from the emptiness and aimlessness of our popular youth culture and give them a vision for Christ-exalting significance throughout their pre-teen and teen years.

Piper mentions the Harris brothers and their desire to ignite a passion for teenagers to do hard things for the glory of God.  Their book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion against Low Expectations has received excellent reviews from respected pastors around the country.  They also started The Rebelution when they were sixteen, and now at nineteen they are doing conferences on this theme.  Gregg Harris, their father, will give the final message in this series at Bethlehem. 

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