Where we’ve been: Soccer Tournament, Blake’s team, at the Wide World of Sports at Disney, We drove, leaving last Wednesday with Blake and Bethany. The college kids did not come with, but we had thanksgiving with them Tuesday night, and another at Landry’s in Orlando with the team on Thursday night.

What Happened: Wind happened. Wind and nerves, at least in the first game, which we lost but could have/should have won. It was a bummer but we dominated the rest of pool play, under much better playing conditions, and ended up tied with the first place team in our pool. Unfortunately, they are also the team that beat us so they won the tiebreaker and went to the medal round (they lost in the finals).

Since Then: We left Orlando yesterday, and were much delayed by three (count ’em!) separate traffic tie ups (caused by wrecks) along the way. We decided to drive straight through on the way home – our trip to Orlando had an overnight stop in it, but we were anxious to get home. We arrived around 6:15am this morning. The trip took about seventeen hours.

Me: Tired but happy.

The Plan

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

The verses following the declaration of new creation in 2 Corinthians 5:17 are full of the word “reconciliation”: us being reconciled to God and being given the ministry of reconciliation, God reconciling the world to himself and entrusting us with the message of reconciliation. Then comes this breathtaking sentence;

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.

And, as you’re reading it, you’ve barely digested that before you see this:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It’s good to revisit God’s plan now and then. At first blush, it sounds a bit crazy. He desires to reconcile the world to himself, and to do that, he plans on using ambassadors to deliver his message of reconciliation. Based on the counsel of his own wisdom, with the goal of furthering his own glory, he decides to choose the most incompetent souls he can find to become his ambassadors, and, to make it even more astounding, he selects these souls from among his bitter enemies.

At the risk of sounding irreverent, this quote from Garth Algar comes to mind:

“First I’ll access the secret military spy satelite that is in geosynchronous orbit over the midwest. Then I’ll ID the limo by the vanity plate ‘MR. BIGGG’ and get his approximate position. Then I’ll reposition the transmission dish on the remote truck to 17.32 degrees east, hit WESTAR 4 over the Atlantic, bounce the signal back into the aerosphere up to COMSAT 6, beam it back to SATCOM 2 transmitter number 137 and down on the dish on the back of Mr. Big’s limo… It’s almost too easy.”

But he’s the Lord, and his ways are so much higher above my ways. His plan is working, and it is increasing his glory, and he has taken from among his enemies incompetent, misfit souls and has turned us into ambassadors. And, of course, it wasn’t easy. It took the blood of God’s beloved Son. But God believed it to be worth it!

The Plan. It’s not always pretty, but the end result will be beautiful.

As a corollary to all this, many of us need correction in our thinking. We think salvation is all about us. It’s not. Salvation is all about him reconciling, not just us, but the world to himself. Whether we like it or not – and hopefully we can see what a great honor this is! – we are ambassadors.

It is unfair for us to expect those who are not in Christ to live as if they were a new creation. However, it is not unfair to expect a changed life from people who say they are Christians! “I know no language, I believe there is none, that can express a greater or more thorough and more radical renewal, than that which is expressed in the term, ‘a new creature.’” (Spurgeon)

David Guzik, commenting on 2 Corinthians 5:17

A Presidential Proclamation

Because I can never resist quoting the great one, here is his Thanksgiving proclamation from 1863:

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

[H/T The Corner]

Some reverse Thanksgiving advice

From Jared, over at Thinklings. This is fantastic: 7 Ways to Crush the Thanksgiving Impulse. A sample:

1. Freak out about everything.

Let your unreasonableness be known to everyone. Be unreasonable about everything. Turn everything into drama, everything into a crisis.

2. Practice practical atheism.

The Lord is at hand, which is certainly something to be thankful for. Our God isn’t just transcendent, but immanent. He wants to be known. You could therefore intellectually acknowledge God is there, but act like he’s not. Assume he has no interest in you or your life. If you pretend like God’s not there, you don’t have to thank him for anything.

3. Coddle worry.

Be anxious about everything. Really protect your worry from the good news.

Read the whole thing . . .

Humility: from unnatural to natural to almost unnoticed

I hope to expand upon this thought at a later time (you ever notice that, with me, the “big post” is always scheduled for “later”? But I digress) . . . *ahem*, but one of the quotes in my rotation played a part in a radical change in my thinking on humility. Here it is:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Humility does not come natural to most of us. It’s just not in our fallen nature. I believe, though, that through the work of God in our lives humility can become a natural state. The danger at that point is that it becomes a natural, very much observed state, with lots of “holy cow, I just did something humble!” moments. Which is one of those two steps forward, three steps back kind of things.

True humility is so natural that it goes unnoticed in most cases.

This intersects with a lot of my thoughts on blogging, social media, and just how we’re to live and move and have our being. More (perhaps) later.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Decision Points

We’ve been listening to the audio book of Decision Points by former President George W. Bush. I’ve been pretty impressed with it (the audio book is, by the way, narrated by GWB himself).

There are some good quotes from the book that I may post when I have more time, but for now my main observation has been more of a reminder to myself: history’s judgment of a President can take a while to be rendered. Our politics are so polarized right now, and, as far as George W. is concerned, the events are still too recent. I think sober and more detached analysis of his two terms is still a decade away.

We’ve made it through perhaps half of the book at this point. There is an obvious pride – taken in the best meaning of the word – that comes through in certain sections. Two chapters in particular highlight this: the first being the chapter on his decision to limit embryonic stem cell research to existing lines of already doomed embryonic cells, and the second being the chapter on his response to the terror attacks of 9/11, and in particular his accomplishment in keeping the country free from any further attacks after that terrible day. Other notable sections include the narratives around his decision to quit drinking, his faith, and the 2000 election.

I particularly like the format. Every chapter is themed around a particular decision that Bush had to make as President. I’m looking forward to the rest of the book.

An observation about utopians

I think Dennis Prager is on to something:

Utopians will always be less happy than those who know that suffering is inherent to human existence. The utopian compares America to utopia and finds it terribly wanting. The conservative compares America to every other civilization that has ever existed and walks around wondering how he got so lucky as to be born or naturalized an American.

Whatever you think of his larger point, I do think there’s a certain lack of gratitude in the utopian mindset, even about their own plight, let alone that of the truly less fortunate. Not that I have anything against utopianism, of the right sort. As a Christian, I’m a utopian, but I don’t expect the new earth to come from, of all things, political action.

Life is hard. Some of us in the West have been blessed to be born into an extremely wealthy, healthy, and peaceful society when compared to most all other places and certainly to most all other times in history. For those to whom much is given . . . We’re to work hard to make the plight of others better.

But we’re not going to be the saviors.

Star Wars design EPIC FAILS

A must read: John Scalzi’s Guide to the Most Epic Fails in Star Wars Design. A few of my favs:


Sure, he’s cute, but the flaws in his design are obvious the first time he approaches anything but the shallowest of stairs. Also: He has jets, a periscope, a taser and oil canisters to make enforcer droids fall about in slapsticky fashion — and no voice synthesizer. Imagine that design conversation: “Yes, we can afford slapstick oil and tasers, but we’ll never get a 30-cent voice chip past accounting. That’s just madness.”

. . .

Stormtrooper Uniforms

They stand out like a sore thumb in every environment but snow, the helmets restrict view (“I can’t see a thing in this helmet!” — Luke Skywalker), and the armor is penetrable by single shots from blasters. Add it all up and you have to wonder why stormtroopers don’t just walk around naked, save for blinders and flip-flops.

The commentary by indignant Star Wars fans is funny too . . .

[H/T Phil]

“Men must endure their going hence”

C.S. Lewis' GraveToday is the 47th anniversary of the death of the great C.S. Lewis.

How blessed we are to have had such a gifted man in our midst. His writings have been a great help to me, beyond what I can express. I was at his house earlier this year, and that was an experience I will always treasure.

I look forward to meeting the old Oxford Don someday (but he’ll be young again!) in the Kingdom of the One who delighted his imagination and illuminated his wisdom.

Happy anniversary, dear professor Lewis.