Friday, November 30, 2007

Pan-Millenialists Don't Worry About Tomorrow...

History Revisionists are alive and well. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just Google it. You'll find that they are "scholars" that write about history in such a way that it fulfills the agenda that they support. I really hope I'm not one of these guys.

I'm driving my son to the Doctor today and he asks me to tell him a story about war. After a few seconds, I decided to introduce him to the Civil War. So, for the next ten minutes, I gave him a complete rundown on the entire Civil War from start to finish. I started at Fort Sumpter and ended at Appomattox.

He sat there silent as I spoke of battles, bravery, and a final surrender in which Grant allowed Lee to keep his sword. After I had given what I thought was probably the greatest cliff notes version of the Civil War, my little boy asked me a simple question....

"Why?"

"Why what?" I asked.

"Why did Americans fight each other in the Civil War?"

That's when it hit me. I was now faced with explaining something that has been under politically correct scrutiny for years. But I'm not debating with an adult, this time I'm teaching a young mind that is being sculpted by God, Marci and I and we are molding it into what he will become in the future. I didn't want to be a history revisionist so I told him what I believed, in a manner that I hoped he could understand. I told him this:

The people down South were mad because the people up North weren't paying them enough for their goods. The Southerners started sending their stuff to Europe which made the North mad, and then the North decided to abolish slavery but the South didn't, so the next thing you know the Southern States start to secede from the Union...

Now he was really confused.

There are so many different arguments about the cause of the Civil War. I've heard it was a "War Against Slavery" and I've also heard it was a "War for States Rights". Today, we see it in the news as we fight in far off places in the "War against Terror" or as some call it, "War for Oil". Each have valid arguments, but neither seem to be able to prove they are the number one, root cause of the conflict.

So what about the end of times? You know, the stuff in Revelations that everyone seems to have a different interpretation of. There are Pre-Millenialists that believe there's going to be a rapture, the Antichrist, 666 on your forehead, a huge battle called Armageddon, and then judgement. There are the Post-Millenialists that believe things are going to get better and better and then Jesus will come. And last there are the Amillenialists that believe the battle of Armageddon has been going on for some time in the spiritual realm between good and evil, Jesus will come back, judgement will occur and the earth will burn up and eternity begins. All can be argued to a standstill, except maybe Post-Millenialism that was blown out of the water when World War II, 9/11, and all the other tragedies have occurred to show that things really aren't getting any better.

I've decided that I am Pan-Millenial when it comes to the end of times. If you've never heard of this belief, it's not new but actually old. I know that the prophecy written in Revelations cannot be interpreted by me so I've resigned myself to the fact that everything is going to Pan Out in the future because we know that we really do win in the end!
So, why worry about what's going to happen in the future, when we can't agree on a single interpretation? So much time and money is spent on prophecy conferences, books, and movies that have nothing to do with discipling others and walking with the Lord. I'm reminded that Jesus said it best when He said, "Don't worry about tomorrow"...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Death Wobble...

I'm a jeep person. I love my '99 Wrangler and hope to drive her until the wheels come off. Well, over the past few months I've been expecting them to do just that every time the needle reaches 56 mph. It's at that moment that the steering wheel starts to shake back and forth, and ultimately crescendos into a loud, violent rattle that makes me feel like I'm riding on the back of this dog at the right. But, thank goodness its not a dog, it's a jeep. And, it's my method of transporting my son to school, myself to work, and my wife and I as we cruise with the top down. So, gotta get it fixed.

I started the research process on Google. I tried the phrases "Jeep shaking" and was immediately greeted by a ton of articles related to what Jeep Enthusiasts abhorrently refer to as 'THE DEATH WOBBLE'. I thought great, now I can find how some smart person cured it, but was I wrong. There is no cut and dry single root cause of the death wobble. I read articles that told me to everything from replacing the entire front end, to simply having the front tires balanced. So, since I'm a newly converted Dave Ramsey follower, I took the least expensive first and had the tires balanced. Guess what, the wobble went away almost completely and is hardly noticeable. Is it cured 100%? No, but the teeth jarring, wheels flying off fear is now gone. Will it come back? Probably, but it's only $10 to have the wheels balanced so I'll just budget in $40 a year to get this done.

Hmmmmm.... Ever had the Death Wobbles in your own life? Ever gone through a season were everything goes well and you may even be making a ton of progress and then it starts. Slowly at first, then building into a calamity of immense proportions that causes you to feel like your world is coming apart and you are about to crash because you feel like you just can't hang on!!! I know I have and I also know that Jesus himself said that the Christian would go through tough times, most of the time.

Many think that when you become a Christian, your troubles are over. Boy are they wrong. Following Christ is a dangerous thing to do. You will scrutinized, chastised, and maybe even punished for your faith. Even Jesus himself was punished just because he was Jesus. Think about it, Pontius Pilot told the crowd he couldn't find anything wrong with him and the next minute, he has him flogged!! But wait a minute, I thought he couldn't find anything wrong with him?

So, expect the death wobbles to come in your Christian walk. But, they are only temporary, and can't even compare with the incredible joy of salvation. Even in the worst of the worst times, and when it feels like the wheels are coming off, there really is JOY, JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY! It's worth it...


Monday, November 26, 2007

Why I Blog...

I've missed something... and I just noticed it. What I have just come to realize, is that almost every blog I visit has a post somewhere in it's archives that is devoted to the reason the author chose his or her particular little corner of the blogosphere to call home and why.

Hummmmmm....., I don't think I have ever explained why I own 'Man Coming Alive', why I named it that, or even what gives me the right to write things down here. So, just in case the blogosphere cops come snooping, here goes:

Men's Study 2004 - I helped lead a men's study of the John Eldredge book 'Wild at Heart'. All through that book, Eldredge talks of coming alive in Christ and accepting your role as a man of God. Me and 10 other guys got it. We all came alive and were made more aware to God's grace, forgiveness and blessings and stepped up and accepted our place in His battle. We all 'Came Alive' as Christians. We weren't dead or anything like that, just snoozing.

Discovered what a "Blog" was April 2005- One day while searching for references to the Holy Spirit being described as 'the Wild Goose', I found a blog that a guy in Colorado writes about his family. I was intrigued that this guy wrote about what happens in his day to day life, what God was doing in his family, and just his every day guy stuff/ramblings. But even more so, I wondered just who in the world really cares. That's when I found our that he has a reader base of around 600 people that care about his ramblings.

August 2005- Decided that maybe someone would want to read what God was doing for me. I took the leap and created a free blog on blogger and decided that I would write about what God spoke to me, taught me, and showed me through my everyday life. If anything, I thought it would be a great way to get it down before I forgot it. So, using the John Eldredge 'Coming Alive' theme, Man Coming Alive was born.

So, two plus years later, I'm still here, still writing and still coming alive. My reader base is only around 30 or so per day, but of that, 700 or so are faithful to log on at least monthly and read about a common guy's walk with Christ and what I learn along the way. I know for a fact that God speaks to me through everyday things and I've written a ton of posts that prove it. If you've noticed, I keep everything current and I don't write about things that happened years and years ago because to be honest with you, I'm ashamed I wasn't following His lead then. You won't find many stories about when I was a kid because I only want what is current, fresh, and newly spoken to me through my life now.

Looking back, I'm glad that God led me to this little corner of the blogosphere. If I didn't blog, I'd have missed out on a wealth of info because, and you can ask my wife, I've got a really crappy short term memory. I'm sure I've missed a few here and there, but at least I've captured and expanded on many of the good ones through blog posts. And that my friends is why I, and every other Christian should write down what God teaches them. Remember, His grace tip-toes around our everyday experiences in this world. And it's only when we see with the eyes of our heart that we are able to learn what He's trying to teach us. This is my story about those little glimpses I've had...



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stop the Insanity...

Last night was the yearly showing of the Peanuts Thanksgiving special on TV. We normally watch it, but Marci and I attended a going away party for one of our friends, and had to miss it. But, Will watched it with Nana and hasn't stopped talking about Snoopy, Linus, and how mean Lucy is every time Charlie Brown tries to kick the football.

I'm sure you know this story, that's illustrated in the picture at the right. But, if you've been living in a cave, under a rock, or on another planet for the past 30 or so years, here's the quick and simple explanation:

Charlie Brown wants to kick the football. Lucy tells him she'll hold it for him. He goes to kick it and she pulls it away at the last second. Charlie's momentum is such that he cannot stop and goes flying through the air and lands several feet away with a severe headache. And to make matters worse, Lucy walks away laughing at him.

This has been a recurring theme in almost every Peanuts cartoon that I've ever seen. Every time Lucy holds the football for Charlie, she pulls it away. Charlie even tells her that he knows she's going to pull it away but he tries to kick it anyway, failing miserably time after time. In one episode, Charlie tries to sneak up on her but her "spidey senses" must have warned her, because once again, she pulls it away. Over and over, Charlie loses out and gets hurt. But, he keeps trying because he thinks he will one day succeed.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. In Charlie Brown's case, he is so trusting in Lucy that he is willing to believe she will not pull the ball away. Even though she does every time, he tries to kick it. Is he insane? Or is he just to afraid to do something different to alter the outcome?

Think about this from a spiritual standpoint... What would you like to change, if you could change anything about your spiritual life? AND, are you doing anything different to change it? I know that I for one, get "stuck in a rut" of going through the same "religious" paces over and over.

My friend Roy Hooker has been writing a ton of convicting stuff lately about everything from praying before eating to attending Church and how we go through the motions without ever attempting to do anything different. For instance, how many of you say the same prayer at the "Appointed Prayer Time" that falls in the slot between sitting down at the table and passing the rolls? This is just one example, but if you sit and take inventory, I'm sure you'll compile a nice sized list in a short period of time.

So, if you are up for it, I want you to think about what you may have settled on as the only outcome for a certain aspect of your spiritual life. Now, ask God to open up a door and teach you what you can do to get a better result. In my case, God's led me to learn more about my family's finances and stewardship so that I can better glorify him. Maybe it's not finances, but something as simple as praying an honest prayer and really thanking him before a meal... Maybe it's overcoming a fear of lifting a holy hand during worship... But whatever it is, try it.

In Charlie Brown's case, two sticks would have teed up that football up good enough to boot it down the field. But, that would have required him to do some work and put forth some effort. He'd have had to found the sticks, trimmed them, and experimented with them until he had the football set up just right. It would have taking some time, some sweat, and maybe even some frustration, but in the end, the result would have been a victory rather than a same ol' same ol' lump on the head...





PS- Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Typos...

I've come to the sobering realization that my grammar stinks. I found this out by going through my previous posts and re-reading them in hopes of jogging my memory for a new topic to blog. Well, I got that new topic, after spending about two hours correcting simple words and phrases that I had obviously 'Fat Fingered' the first time around. So, today it's all about 'Typos'.

The word 'typos' is a strange word. I know it's short for typographical error but it kinda sounds like a Greek word. I even envision the Greek god Typos, god of all mistakes, errors, and fat fingers.

As I reviewed the past year or so of posts, the errors I found were mainly simple mistakes that the spell checker had failed to catch. Things like "their" instead of "there", "were" instead of "where", and the occasional run-on sentence. All simple, all common, and all of them making me feel as though I am definitely not smarter than a fifth grader.

My question is why did I make these simple errors? Surely after years of writing and blogging, all of the practice would have paid off and I could write error free. WRONG! And then I am reminded of why they place a spell checker on every word processing program. Heck, that's why they put an eraser on the end of every pencil too.

My friend Andy (an awesome writer), described it best to me when he told me that most times we are more concerned with getting our thoughts down before we forget them, and that we don't worry to much about the grammatical part of what we're writing. Sure, we use the best real-time grammar, spelling, an word choice we possibly can, but we are really more concerned with getting the main points, the guts of the work, in black and white. In my case, I write mainly about my daily life and what God teaches me along the way. So when I write, I try to put down what He has and is speaking to me as quick as I can, because I'm afraid I'll forget these divine thoughts if I don't. And, when we do anything quickly, you better believe there is a higher chance of errors.

Last night in our men's study at Church, my friend Gary (a professional writer) and I were talking about proofreading. He told me that he and a friend in Indianapolis proof each other's pieces prior to submitting them. But, he also told me that after one of his is published, he never fails to find something he would like to have changed or written a little different. I told him I can relate to this every time I skim through a few pages of my book and find some simple little thing that screams at me from the pages, begging me to revise it.

Bottom line is, I've got a long way to go before I am perfect. Actually, though I strive for perfection I know I will always fall short and there is nothing me, you, or Typos the Greek deity can do about it. I can aim small and miss small, but in the end, it's still a miss. Though my humanness is weak and far from perfect, I gotta' praise Him for His grace and the simple fact that I'm forgiven. That really is all that matters, and keeps me typing away...

Monday, November 12, 2007

321 Little Hands...

"Uncle Donny, Can you come to our Veterans Day program at my school on Friday?"

My niece Chloe's sweet little voice tickled my ears with this request. I couldn't refuse so I told her that I wouldn't miss it for the world. But little did I know what was in store for me.
I arrived at her school Friday morning and made my way to the gym. From what I understood, the teachers and students had put together a Veterans Day program in which each grade would sing a song about America and a State Representative would be speaking. As I got to the gym and plopped myself down beside my Sister-in-Law, she quickly told me that I couldn't sit by her (big shock!) and went on to tell me that I had to go sit 'up front'. I asked her why and she told me that all Vets had to sit together because they would be recognized. So, I made my way up to the chairs next to the podium.

When I got there, I realized that I was one of the younger guys there. I sat down and looked around. In front of me was a man that wore a hat adorned with patches and pins. I saw the words "Ranger" and "WWII Veteran" and even "Jungle Expert" on his cap and thought to myself what stories he could tell. I also saw an older man wearing a Purple Heart medal and another with a Bronze Star.

"JEEEEEZE!" I thought to myself, "I don't deserve to even sit anywhere near these guys." I never saw combat, never served overseas, and the only time I ever got shot at was when an Alpha Company tank mistook our tank for a target and hit us with their machine gun accidentally (luckily we were inside). I was about to get up and move when the music started, and the program officially began. I was stuck, so I nervously scanned over the schedule. To make matters worse, I saw where there was a part of the program when each Vet would be asked to stand and tell their Branch of Service and who we were there to represent. I was nervous about doing this in such a great cloud of Veterans, that is until I locked eyes with Chloe, who was seated in the floor in front of us and she smiled at me. I then realized that I was there for her and she was proud enough of me to ask me to be her representative.

The program went off without a hitch, and I proudly stood up and told my name, US Army, and "I'm here today representing Chloe VanHorn". She smiled at me from the crowd of little faces and I smiled back.

When the program was over, the teacher in charge of it gathered all of us up and formed us into a horseshoe shaped line in front of the podium. We all stood there for a minute wondering what was next. I looked down and saw one of my soccer players approach me, hand me something, and walk off. I looked at what Luke had given me and it was a simple little card he had made for me that said, through stickers and crayon marks, simply "Thanks for being a veteran". I was touched.

That's when the kids showed up with outstretched hands. While I was receiving my card, I failed to notice that the teachers had lined up each class and started them down the line of Veterans shaking hands as they went. So, I started shaking hands. I shook, and shook, and shook, and shook some more. They kept coming in little waves with outstretched hands.

I noticed something about kids during all of this: Only one out of ten would look at you in the eyes when they shook. And One out of maybe twenty would have a firm shake. It's funny, but I have always made presumptions about a person's personality by their handshake and I was getting lots of practice now. I could tell which kids were shy, goofy, assertive, and just plain tough, by the way they shook my hand.

When it was all said and done, I shook 321 little hands on Friday. It is a pleasure to see God's children up close like this and wonder just what these same little hands may one day accomplish. Who knows, I may have shook a President's hand on Friday. Or, maybe a great inventor or scientist. But on the dark side, I may also have shook a murderers hand. So today, my prayers are for the owners of those little hands and for those that shape them into what they will one day become.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Could Your Son Please Watch the Cartoon Network???

I'm in trouble with my son's Preschool teacher. You might be thinking, "Big deal, it's Preschool and your wife is after all, the principal". I thought those things too, but this time it's not a bad thing I'm in trouble over. Actually, it's funny and his teacher was laughing about it when she told us. The problem lies in the fact that I am raising myself, and I am showing up through my son on a daily basis. Confused? I'll explain:

My little boy is fascinated by war as I have been all my life. Be it cowboys and Indians, infantry duels, or my personal favorite, tank battles, he is all over it. Almost every night, there is a battle of some type in our living room floor. I wrote post about one our epic battles in August, and I must say that they only gotten better, and more interesting as he learns more about all things military.

Case in point- He asked me if ships could fight each other. I explained how they fought and told him about my favorite movie on this subject 'Master and Commander'. He was excited about seeing ships battle, so we watched it together and he has been hooked on Naval history and warfare since then. And, I remind you, he's 4 going on 5...

Along with all of this, I've watched his creative energy flow into his drawings and colorings. It's nothing for him to take a plain white sheet of paper and entertain himself for 45 minutes drawing, working, and asking me strange questions such as, "Dad, what color is France's flag?" and "What are those things called that hold the sails on the tall ships?"

This leads me to being nicely and jokingly reprimanded by my son's teacher. It seems that they have a portion of their class time devoted to free drawing. When each child is finished, they sit in a circle and the teacher holds up each drawing and tells the class what it represents. Usually the kids will draw a tree, or a dog, or something that resembles a house, you know, something normal...

The other day, my son's teacher came to my wife's office with one simple request:

"Could you please let Will watch the Cartoon Network?"


Marci asked what she was talking about. She went on to tell Marci that all Will draws are ships, tanks, flags, and he gives each one of them a particular war or battle that they are in. For instance, one was Custer's Last Stand while my personal favorite was a picture of two ships slugging it out ala Master and Commander. The problem she is having is that she has to write on the picture what it signifies such as, 'This is France's ship and this is England's' and 'This is the cross of St. George and this is the dragon'. The other problem is when it's time to explain each child's drawing to all the others in the class. I guess it would be kind of hard to explain what his drawings are all about in a way that 3 and 4 year old kids can understand.

So tonight, I guess we'll try some Cartoon network and maybe a smattering of Spongebob Squarepants. I'd rather be watching something about the Eastern Front 1944, but we'll have to save that one for another day. And as for the drawings, if asked, I'll advise my little boy to do what I do and that is that you draw (or write) whatever it is that God puts on your heart. It was God that wrote the quality of warrior on every man's heart and there is no way to keep it from coming out from time to time. I just never dreamed it would at 4 years old...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Had A Bad Day...

"You had a bad day, You're taking one down, sing a sad song just to turn it around..."

I'm down... Yesterday at about 11:30 AM, I came to the realization that an era in my Christian life, with regards to the Church, ended. In the Sunday service, my Senior Pastor passed the baton to a new interim pastor. My Senior Pastor was recently called to shepherd a Church in Phoenix, Arizona. He accepted the calling and Sunday was his final sermon. I wasn't blind to this fact because I knew it had been in the works for a while. But, it didn't sink in until yesterday.

So today, I'm down...

I've heard a few people say, "When the Pastor leaves, I'm leaving too." But then again, I hear that there is another group of people saying, "When he leaves, we're coming back!" Such is the ugly side of this thing we call "Church", and the political crap that comes along with it as self-righteous "Christians" compete in a power struggle to make sure they are glorified rather than God. I look around our congregation and wonder what would happen if Jesus came back right now? But then again, when I start judging, I am becoming self-righteous and sinking to their level.

As for me and my house, first of all, I'm praying about it. Of course, that's the easy answer to give when asked what you think about something/anything. It's the easy answer because, my goodness, who's going to question the fact that you are seeking God's counsel?

Second, I do not attend Church because of a person or the size of the building. I attend Church to celebrate the worship of God that I've been doing all week outside of the Church. If you are going to a Church simply because of a particular person preaching, keep in mind that this is exactly what Jim Jone's flock was practicing as they drank their Koolade.

Third, there is no person, place, or thing that is going to come between me and my relationship with God. And, there is nothing of this earth that I will allow to put a hold on me and jeopardize mine or my family's salvation. It's not worth getting ahead or being glorified in this life to end up going to hell in the end thinking you are saved.

So, I'm sad I'm losing my Senior Pastor and I gotta say that I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that I am envious of the North Hills Church of God in Phoenix, Arizona. It's a tough time right now as my home Church is going through this time of flux, but it will go on. I guess I'll just take the easy way out and say that I'm praying about it...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Wears Me Out...

Of course, it wouldn't be my blog unless I posted a picture of Will's costume for this year. Wolverine, or WILLverine as he likes to be called, made his rounds trick-or-treating at all family and friends we could manage to get to within the two-hour time period. The problem with Halloween is that there is never enough time to drive to 10 different houses so that everyone can "OH" and "Ah" over our kid's costume and give him tons of candy that will go bad before we (and I emphasize) WE, can consume it all.

From the Christian perspective, I can see where Halloween should really not be observed (I guess this is the only thing that I can somewhat agree with the Jehovah's Witnesses about). BUT, I have to look at it from the perspective that we are not celebrating the occult, knowingly or unknowingly. I also can say without conviction that I have never dressed up my kid to glorify the Satan. If anything, Halloween has become a Holiday centered on koinonia and Christian fellowship with all the folks we visit. In fact, if it wasn't for Halloween, we would miss out on a perfect opportunity to reconnect, fellowship with, and finally get a chance/excuse to give a hug to some folks that we don't get to see as often as we should.

So, if you're worried about the celebrating a Holiday that some call a "Devil's Holiday", my advice to you is that you pray about it. Then after you've prayed, do what the Spirit tells you. I've done this, and I look forward to buying the costume and seeing my family and friends as we go trick-or-treating. But, my secret pleasure from all this commotion comes after everyone in the Prater house is fast asleep. That's when I like to sneak into the kitchen and pillage the goody bags to suck down a Reese Cup or two, and maybe throw in a hand full of Hershey kisses before anyone wakes up and catches me...