Taking the Lord’s Name

I surveyed a number of people I know, both IRL and online, and asked them, “What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain.”  The most popular response was the GD bomb. This rang true with my upbringing where I was taught that misuse (mostly paring the word God with a cuss word) is in violation of Exodus 20:7 and was often quoted, “Though shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.” Now, I have no argument against the idea that dropping the ol’ GD is bad. It can’t be good to ask God to damn, or declare that God has damned, something. Right? But I think the issue goes much deeper and into a much more uncomfortable place than simply minding the words you say.

I have a friend who first brought this to my attention some time ago. He shared a sermon he had heard where the pastor related taking the Lord’s name in vain to how a woman (traditionally) takes a man’s last name when joining in marriage. The analogy went something like someone who only gets married for the benefit and not out of love. They’ve changed their name in representation of becoming one with the other person, but they really haven’t. They did it only out of some personal gain… in vain or in vanity.

I like that analogy. It certainly holds true to the meaning of, “In vain” according to Strong’s Concordance. But, unless the person who married in vain does something illegal then what is the outcome? Maybe they get away with it. After all, there is no law against marrying for money as far as I know.

But then there’s good old fashion fraud. Let’s shift this analogy just a bit. There’s this thing called a power of attorney (PoA). We in the military use these often when we deploy. We will normally grant power of attorney to our spouse or close relative in order to handle some of our affairs while we are off doing war stuff. There are two basic types of PoA; general and limited. A general PoA means that the person named on the piece of paper can act in your name in legally binding ways without limitation. They can open bank accounts, get new credit cards, buy and sale real estate and cars… you get the picture. A limited PoA is just as the name implies. The person named can only do what the paper says… like pay a bill or sell a car.

Jesus says whatever we ask in his name we’ll be given (John 14:13-14). God says to not take (use) the Lord’s name in vain else bad things will happen.

There’s a problem with granting someone power of attorney over your affairs, especially the general type. You have to trust that person to not use your name in vain. In many cases the military implores us to not grant a general PoA to anyone… even a spouse. There are many tales of the unfaithful or vengeful spouse using the granted power to wreck the deployed person’s finances, credit, and life.

Jesus has given us more of a limited PoA. What he hasn’t given us is a neat, orderly list of what we may and may not ask for. What we have instead is Psalm 37:4. We’re told that if we delight in the Lord that he will give us the desires of our heart. Careful on how you read that! It means he changes what you desire, not that he’ll give you what you desire in this moment. So as we grow into a more Christ centered life, the desires of our heart shift to be the needs of the mission of the great commission.

I say all that to ask these self evaluation questions.

When you say you’re a Christian or a follower of Christ or however you put it, are you taking the Lord’s name out of love or some sort of gain?

When you pray and petition Jesus for whatever you’re asking in that moment, are you asking in his name for his mission or yours?

I welcome your comments and discussion!

Pastors and the Unobtainable Standard

1 Timothy 3:2

New Living Translation (NLT)

So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach.

Pastors must be perfect and without sin, the end. It says so right there in scripture…

Or does it?

I don’t think it’s any secret that reading the Bible takes practice and training. Sentence structure, paragraph phrasing, all manner of the ways in which each author was accustomed to writing, even the originally intended audience are all important factors to consider when studying God’s word.

The example above  from 1 Timothy is a great example where we read part of a verse and assume we know what it means because we know what that statement would mean if it were said today. But God is smarter than us… big surprise there. When he was inspiring Paul to write this section of text, he also pushed the man to give qualifiers to the statement. Very, very rarely can you take one verse, or as in this case part of a verse, and get whole truth from it.

Let’s read on shall we? Starting with the second part of verse 2:

He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.

So you see that, yes, a pastor is held to very high standards, but they’re also clearly defined. We in the church who are under the pastor must take care to remember that our guy is not Jesus. Yes we all say things like we want to model our lives on Christ or we want to be more like him. We quote scripture like, “Less of me and more of you.” But being perfect, as Christ was perfect, is an unobtainable standard in this life and especially by our own will.

So give your pastor a break. He’s going to say things you don’t like, do things you may not agree with. He’ll quite possibly fail to live up to your standard. But your standard isn’t what you should judge by. Don’t forget that Christ said that you’ll be judged by the same measure by which you judge others (another amazingly misread and misquoted verse).

Love God, love people and you’ll make it through just fine :)

A New Galaxy is Revealed

Not so Long Ago in Spain

Samsung has officially taken the cover off of their new Galaxy S flagship phone and it’s already far more exciting than the previous iteration. I remember after the Galaxy S4 was announced at Unpacked last year I felt less than enthusiastic about the new model. I had the S III at the time (yeah they used roman numerals way back then) and was very pleased with the handset. My only real complaint was that the S-Cover, while decent at keeping the display clean, didn’t do much else. It should be quite telling then that the most exciting announcement about the S4 in my world was that the upgrade to the S-Cover, the S-View, did stuff like sleep and wake the phone, provide a window for quick view without opening and also prevented the cover from blocking the camera when folded all of the way back. This welcome change was not enough for me to drop the money to upgrade my phone however.

Now, a few months went by and by happenstance I did upgrade to an S4 and grew to be very fond of the phone. I like and use some of the air gestures, the IR blaster is a big part of my home entertainment system, and performance is speedy and reliable. My opinion is that it is a great phone, it was just marketed poorly.

Enter the Galaxy S5

Earlier today we met the Galaxy S5 and I’m pretty pumped. With the S4 it felt like Samsung was saying, “Hey, you know all those services Google provides on Android? We do that now, we just call it ‘S-_____'” For my uses, S Note is good and I use it every Sunday on my Galaxy Note 8 but that’s about it. But not with the S5. This time around Sammy has taken all I like about my S4, kept or upgraded those, and added things to make the device stand in a category all its own.

Here’s my list of things that have me excited about the Galaxy S5:

  • It’s water resistant. Water is the bane of mobile devices. With the S5 I plan on listening to many podcasts (Elevation, Life Church, Mars Hill, and more) while showering off that run in the morning.
  • The IR blaster is still there! I was afraid it might disappear
  • Finger print scanning. I was nervous about this when it was a rumor. I was concerned it would be a knee jerk reaction to Apple’s Touch ID. It probably is, but since it works with PayPal that means you can secure almost any online purchase with it. On iPhone you’re limited to iTunes/App Store I believe. Also you get an encrypted file locker that is only accessible to fingerprint unlocking.
  • 1080p display. I don’t want a phone with a 2k or 4k display just yet. The S5 has a slightly larger battery than the S4. Had Sammy gone to a UHD display then we probably would have seen a battery life decrease even with increased mAh.
  • Textured back. No longer is holding the phone like holding a wet bar of soap.
  • Real Time HDR. Qualcomm demoed this about a year ago when they released the Snapdragon 800, which is the heart of the S5. Maybe I missed it but the S5 seems to be the first phone to showcase this capability.

There are also a few unknowns that I’m eager to get figured out before buying in.

  • Android 4.4 – will we get the always listening “OK Google” hot word awesomeness?
  • Will the SD card slot support the new 128GB cards?
  • What about accessories? Will my beloved S-View cover get an update or even be available for this phone?
  • The heart beat sensor. Will it work anywhere besides a finger? If so will we see arm bands that allow skin contact for pulse monitoring while working out?

So am I Getting One?

In short, yes. I’m in the same frame of mind that I was with the S III release. Back then I was rocking an S II Skyrocket and planned to get the S III when funds were available. To my fortune, Best Buy put the S III on a one day sale for $50 while it was still the new Sammy flagship so I picked one up sooner than I thought I would. On the S4 I was going to pass altogether but when I needed to add a line to my service I thought, “What the heck?” and got the S4 for myself. Now with the S5 I’m in the thought that I will for sure upgrade to this phone but will just have to wait until funds are there. I’m also going to attempt to be more intentional with this purchase and grab the international model if there is one. Custom software and capabilities seem to come out much faster for the international S4 than the US I337 model.

What are your thoughts on the Galaxy S5? If you’re a current Android user do you think you’ll pick one up? If you’re an Apple user, could this be the one that has you consider making the jump?

Satan Wants You to be Happy

What?

 

Yes, you read that correctly. Satan, the enemy, the Devil, whatever you prefer to call him – wants you to be happy. As a matter of fact, he wants you to make other people happy. He wants you to have a fantastic life. A life filled with success and pleasure.

Why would he want that? Isn’t he the bad guy? Isn’t he just out to kill, steal, and destroy?

Yes, all of that is correct. I’ve started thinking, however, that our interpretation of these statements has gone to a place that serves to further his mission of deception. You see, Lucifer isn’t out to kill, steal, and destroy you or the things you love – his mission is to cause the eternal separation of souls from God. He has been in God’s presence, he knows what it is like to physically be near God’s glory. Also, he now knows what it means to be separated, and like any bully he wants others to suffer alongside him.

In order to accomplish his goal he simply needs to convince people that they don’t need God and in this day that doesn’t necessarily mean he needs to run around possessing people or causing all kinds of havoc. No, in modern societies his job is much simpler. Create a world where people can get everything they think they need. Give them constant entertainment, convince them that true happiness can only be obtained through profession, possessions, and relationships.

Satan is most certainly a supernatural being who (I believe) does still work in the supernatural realm. He, and other demons, can and do work miracles and produce signs and wonders. (Matt 24:24)These tricks only work against a small minority however. Many Americans and other citizens of the world simply don’t believe in the supernatural. A vast majority of proclaiming Atheists found their entire lack of faith on the apparent lack of evidence that the supernatural is real. If the enemy were to be running around performing supernatural acts then those folks would have the evidence of the reality around them. Sure, some of them would remain unsaved – but others would come running to God. Right now the enemy has them all, so why risk it?

No, see the great deceiver wants you to be content, even prosperous. The more people are convinced that a life built on the foundation of their own abilities, intelligence, personality, etc. then the more often people will never need to turn to God. They’ll simply go on supplying their own feeling of completion. When whatever thing they use to fill that void stops working then they’ll find another… then another… then another… then one day the truth will be revealed.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Let’s talk about miracles for a minute. Every miracle in the Bible had a common theme: everyone one of them showed God’s power and glory to the people in the vicinity who were on the fence or having trouble believing. Jesus used them for teaching moments. See John 9 as an example. Further we are instructed to test the spiritual claims and manifestations we encounter. (1 John 4)

So here’s what I want to leave you with. The next time you experience inexplicable prosperity, or are benefited in a way that can only be explained as miraculous – give that experience a little test. Ask yourself and anyone else involved, “How does this show God’s glory to those who need it?” or “How can this thing be used to deliver the Gospel to the unreached?” or “Does this gift allow or hinder my ability/desire to humble myself to God’s will and serve others in His name?”

The bottom line: Just because something appears to be good and/or supernatural does not mean it is from God. Remember that the enemy can work in many ways. In this age I believe he is working on a cultural level, influencing us in our societies to be dependent on ourselves or our worldly institutions. In doing this he drives people en masse to forego the gift or salvation, freely given, by our Lord, Jesus Christ,

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday marked the end of my career with the U.S. Air Force. The journey started with aircraft and ended with spacecraft. I spent  time flying to various places around the globe where I met interesting people and ate interesting meals. It was a privilege to serve the country in the various roles that were required of me for the past nine and one-half years.

Today, however, marks a new beginning!

Today I start my career with the U.S. Air Force Reserves!

I don’t have a lot to say about the Reserves yet. As I write this, I have not yet reported in for my first day (however due to the scheduled posting I’ll probably be knee deep in paperwork for various account registrations and such as you are reading this).

My family was extremely blessed by an opportunity to join the Reserves in a full time position without having to spend a month or more on Traditional Reserve (part time) status first. This means I’m moving from full time active duty Air Force to full time active duty Reserves without skipping a beat. I’m told that this type of move is hard to find and fairly rare.

That theme has resounded throughout my career change, the rare or impossible continues to happen. I’ve been seeking God’s aid, wisdom, and guidance on a move to the Reserves for two years and now that it’s happened I see His influence throughout the process.

More to come!

Eight Days In

Continued from Four Days In

Things are picking up as I approach the end of this week.

I’m still getting an amazing response and amount of interest in the BBHN-Mesh for Colorado Springs. The interest is enough that I’m working on a website to centralize all of the info, I’ll have that link up next week. One big development really has me excited, but I’ll keep it under wraps until it is a sure thing.

The family and I made our last trip to Elitch Gardens for the season. Fun was had by all as usual. We made three family trips there this summer, all for the price of two season passes… not bad.

Wheels are starting to spin very quickly in getting ready for the start of our student ministry. This year is going to be exciting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding.

I’ve let the fitness stuff slide for the past couple of days… that’ll be fixed tomorrow morning!

That’s really about it I guess. This is just a random post though it does well to illustrate how free my mind is during my extended absence from work. I’ll try to add more substance next time!

Four Days In

Continued from 31 Days

I’m four days into my month long vacation and already I’m feeling like a new person.

I’ve spent more time in scripture, had a few pointed theological discussions via Google+, spent time brainstorming the Colorado Springs Broadband-Hamnet (BBHN) mesh project, and spent more general time with the family.

The BBHN mesh is an exciting use of brain power during my time away from work. Establishing a 2.4ghz WiFi network on a city wide scale is quite the challenge.

My wife and I shared a definite prayer answered moment this evening which is always awesome and humbling.

In all, the first four days has been relaxing and refreshing. The real adventure starts tomorrow, however. Normally at this time on a Sunday night I’d be getting the uniform laid out, keys and badges put out in the open , making and packing lunch, and all of the other things that come along with the beginning of the work week.

Instead, I’m relaxing on our faux sectional couch watching “Our Nixon” with my beautiful wife, enjoying a cup of coffee and lackadaisically updating the ol’ blog (this post took about two hours).

It’s midnight right now so I’ll take this opportunity to try the scheduled publishing feature of  Wordpress. By the time you read this I’ll be half way through day five.

I’m not really sure how to end this post other than to say thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment, and good night!

o/

31 Days

Today is a big day.

Today is my first day of leave.

If you’ve read my About Me page then you know I’m currently on active duty in the Air Force. In the military, the term for vacation day is leave. We get 2.5 days of leave for every month that we are on active duty, totaling 30 days per year. It’s a pretty significant benefit when you do the math:

30 days = 1 month

1 month per year over 20 years = 20 months

20 months in years is 1 year and 8 months

This means over a 20 year career, you only work 18 years and 4 months. Not too bad.

I’ve been saving leave for awhile, we’re allowed to carry 60 days of leave into a new fiscal year. Also, I’m two months from leaving the regular Air Force and moving to the Air Force reserves; so this looked like a good time to use some of my time off.

One month off.

A whole month off.

Today is the first of 31 days away from the office and I had no idea what to do with it, until now.

We thought about travelling to see family but school also starts this month and with pets to arrange for the trip never came together. Twelve hours into my first day I was already bored enough to clean the house! I needed a better plan.

So this is it! I am officially devoting the next 31 days to the following:

  • Family Time
  • Physical Fitness Improvement
  • Creativity

To accomplish these three focus areas they will all be centered on the priority of a more strongly God centered life. Prayer, worship, and scripture will be the tools and the strength and peace that only God can bring will be the fuel.

New Amp!

The King James translation of Psalm 100 says to make a joyful noise to the Lord. For the worship guitar player that means the quest for tone is not just personal, it’s part of your worship. While each player’s tone journey takes many unique paths, there’s one ingredient that a very vocal majority agree on: tube amps rule the guitar amplification world.

I’ve own a few amps in my time as a player, but never a tube amp. Around a year back I decided it was time. I wasn’t about to just dive into the most popular, affordable, or most star used/endorsed model however. No, I embarked on a quest of my own.

During the past year I’ve played every tube amp I could plug in to. I tried the standards: Vox, Fender, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Orange, etc. I even had the chance to sample some local handmade boutique amps.

In the end I paired my Strat up with an Egnater 15w 1×12 Tweaker combo. Until six-ish months ago I had not heard the name Egnater so I was a little skeptical when the store salesman started talking them up. The impression I had was that this was some new start-up amp company, but no, they’ve been in the business for 30 years.

I’m very pleased with the new gear and am still working to dial it in. A tonal playground is ahead of me until we return to rehearsals in a month.

Check out the video below for a quick demo of the new amp.