Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Unceasing Anguish? Me?

I was reading in Romans 9 tonight and found myself feeling my commitment to spreading my faith inadequate.
Romans 9:1-5 (New International Version)

God's Sovereign Choice

1I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised![a] Amen.

Notice how Paul describes how he feels about his fellow Jews and how they have not accepted Jesus. “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” Paul’s statement made me question myself and my level of commitment. “What sense of urgency do I feel about spreading the Good News?”

I am not talking about a brute force approach and level of commitment. I am not talking about beating total strangers “over the head” with my faith. I believe that their salvation has very little to do with me, how “in their face”, or how competent I am at presenting the Gospel. I believe that true salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit drawing the person close to God.

That being said, how badly do I want the Holy Spirit to use me? How much energy do I expend in prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of the non-believers around me? How badly do I want to discern when the Holy Spirit is prompting me to say something, be somewhere, or do something which might help someone in their journey to come to accept Jesus?

It is just too easy to get too busy. Being available to the Holy Spirit can be inconvenient. Schedules can be unpredictable. And heaven forbid that the Holy Spirit might whisper in my ear “I want you to pack up your things and take your family to the other side of the world and become a missionary.” Am I committed enough to say “yes” when called upon? Well.. maybe a week-long mission trip instead.

God, help me make Your priorities my priorities. Use me in in a way that suits Your purposes. If You need me to make big changes and sacrifices, prepare my heart. Give me the faith I need to say “Yes” when You need me. Amen

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Remember Childen of Prison Inmates This Christmas

Last Sunday, my church had an “Angel Tree” outside the sanctuary. Hanging from it were cards, each representing a child with a parent was serving time in a prison. While we were asked to take a child’s card from the tree and purchase a gift for the child, the child would never know our participation. This was because the gift was to be tagged so that from the child’s point of view, the gift came from their incarcerated parent. The card gave the child’s name, age, gender, clothes sizes, and a gift suggestion. The guidance was to spend $20 or less.

I had never done this kind of thing before, and I felt led to do something special for a child who might not get anything for Christmas. I also felt, that no matter what the parent may have done, the child should get at least something from their parent.

My “angel” was a 12-year old girl who wanted a portable CD-player. I ran by Walmart and picked up a CD player that also had an FM radio. (It came with headphones, too.) I felt like the radio might would come in handy, not knowing how many CDs the child owned. It was just under $20 before tax. I noticed it did not come with the 2 AA batteries required. I decided to “splurge” on a 10-pack of AA batteries to go with it. I blew the $$ limit I guess.

God, tonight I offer a prayer for the innocent children separated from a parent because the parent is in prison. I know that when any of us does something against the law, we must suffer the consequences. Some of those suffering the consequences have children and their children suffer from the separation too. It saddens my heart God because these children don’t deserve what life has dealt them. So I ask Your special blessing on those innocent children. Make them resilient and provide for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Work in the lives of people like me who can spare a few dollars and make a difference in a child's life. Show the children how to succeed in life and how not to follow in their parent’s footsteps to prison. Grow them up into productive citizens. Send the Holy Spirit to work in their life. Draw them close to You and bring them to a saving knowledge of Your Son Jesus. Be also with the parents in prison. Work in their lives also and draw them close to Yourself. Use their time in prison to mold them into the kind of person You need them to be. Where there is pain and broken relationships in their young lives, I pray You bring healing and reconciliation. Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Holy Spirit's Leadership in the Life of a Christian

A couple of weeks ago I was preparing a Sunday School lesson on the leadership of Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. I sent an email to friends asking if they had a story to tell about how the Holy Spirit had worked in their life. This is a great story from one of my friends.

Testimony of the Spirit’s Leading

When I taught at the Christian school in East Tennessee, I had rebuilt the engine in our little Ford Falcon. She was running like a well-oiled sewing machine. A week or so later, my wife was rear ended on Alcoa highway and totaled the auto. She had minor cuts and bruises. We could not buy a car at that time because we had bought our son one in his senior year of high school. We both had asked the Lord to teach us to trust Him, but this wasn’t the method we would have chosen.

As we prayed we sensed the Holy Spirit directing us just to praise the Lord and trust Him for a car.

In the meantime we (the school) had been led of the Lord to trust Him for $50,000 extra for school expenses. One day my wife was on her way to Nashville with one of our staff, and they were listening to a tape by Jack Taylor, relative to giving. She said the Lord asked her how much she had to give. She said nothing. The Lord then said, "You have that $900 insurance check." She almost choked but finally said, "OK, Lord, I am willing but you will have to tell my husband.” When she returned to town she said, “The Lord told me something, but I can’t tell you.” I thought, “What in the world is she up to?”

Well, the insurance salesman called the week of Thanksgiving and told us he would come by Friday and leave a check for $900- a good price for a used car. Now to a memorable Thanksgiving Day. We had a special service in the school chapel (this was a day and a boarding school). When we bowed for prayer to end the service, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Give me the insurance money and trust me for a car.”

I leaned over to my wife, still in the middle of prayer time, and said, “The Lord just told me something but I don’t think you will like it.” She snickered and I thought she was being irreverent. BUT she knew what the Lord had said. Afterward we laughed, cried, prayed and both agreed this was the Spirit’s leading.

At the cafeteria I bowed my head in prayer and a white car flashed through my head. I did not know what to think, since such was not normal for me.

For 2-3 weeks we were filled with joy to give the money and enjoy being without an auto. The only person who knew about this was Jane, the Chairman of the Trustees, my wife’s prayer partner. Jane was in a grocery store when one of her neighbors stopped her and said, “You know I am retiring and we want to downsize to one car.” Do you think the (my friend’s last name)’s could use an auto in their work at the school?” Jane responded, “I don’t know you will have to call them.”

At that time I was out of town and on a school trip. The lady called and offered the auto and my wife said, “We really can’t afford to buy one now. We are paying for our son’s.” The lady responded, “Oh no, it is paid for. I want to give it to you.”

I got back in town and told my wife it had to be white. I had not before told her of the experience at the lunch table. People who see things are sometimes thought to be- you know. Well, we went over to the couple’s house and they had a good running used WHITE Pontiac. Hallelujah!

Now, about the end of the school year, my son for some reason was driving this car and got rear ended. This time the Lord said, “Take the insurance and get another car.”

Quote of the Month - Pledge of Allegiance

With hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and severe thunder-storms tearing up the country from one end to another and mudslides, earthquakes, and bird flu around the world, the quote of the month is:

Jay Leno: "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

Saturday, November 19, 2005

First Official Act of President George Washington, April 30, 1789

George Washington took the oath of office, April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City with his hand upon an open Bible. Then, embarrassed at the thunderous ovation which followed, the pealing church bells and the roaring of artillery, he went inside to deliver his inaugural address to Congress.

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect.

that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the function allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.

Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency;

and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.

These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps finally, staked of the experiment....

I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the Benign Parent of the Human Race, in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessings may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations and the wise measures on which the success of the Government must depend.

Quoted from:

The Christian Life is Not

The Christian life is not about our life being a succession of one happy day after another. It is not about our comfort or a low-stress lifestyle.

Instead, it is entirely possible that God may want us to leave our comfort zone and embark on a journey of faith. God may lead us towards something which seems impossible for us to accomplish on our own. Usually, that is the point! God, and not us, deserves the all the credit for what is happening. Perhaps He just wants to know whether we will really trust Him. Perhaps He will only reveal the path before us one step at a time. He may place us on a path where we can rarely see what lies over the next hill or around the next corner. At times it may seem like walking alone in the dark with a light that only illuminates the next footstep. But.. God is always right there with us.

The Christian life is not being well thought of by our neighbors.

Your neighbors may think you are narrow-minded. They may think you’re “not very smart” or “intolerant.” They may make fun of you behind your back. “Can you believe that guy? He actually believes that stuff!”

The Christian life is not our ticket to material success in career and life.

We cannot negotiate a contract with God. “Ok God, I agree to worship You and only You. In return, You God will provide me with an above average income and protect me from financial upheaval. Sounds like a fair bargain to me God. Is that a deal?” God is not a Las Vegas slot machine that gives us preference on winning the big jackpot. God rarely tells anyone the winning lottery ticket number ahead of time. Instead, He wants us to be willing to depend on Him for what we really need... not what we say we want.

The Christian life is not a way to banish the Devil and his temptation from our life.

In fact, the more we step out in faith to serve God, the more threatening the witness of our life becomes to the Devil. When we allow God to use us for His purposes, we attract the Devil’s attention. We are likely to get more temptation and difficulty than ever before. After all, the Devil doesn’t need not waste his time on us if we live our lives outside of God’s plan for us.

The Christian life is not a one-time event after which nothing more is required of us.

We should not act like we’ve gotten our ticket to heaven and then just wait around to die. God wants us to grow. God wants us to mature. He wants to have a continuous and on-going relationship with Him. He wants us to enjoy the time we spend with Him in prayer and Bible study. When prompted by the Holy Spirit, He wants us to be willing to step out in faith without having to know the final outcome ahead of time. He wants us to be willing to take chances to serve Him.

The Christian life is not about getting God’s blessing on our plans and the choices we’ve already made.

It is more about asking God to reveal what plans He has for us and asking that He equip us for those plans of His. It is more about being willing to alter our plans to align them with God’s plans. It is more about asking for His guidance so that we make our choices according to His will... and seeking His guidance prior to making the decision.

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Sin of Being Too Busy

I got the following in an email today. I'm afraid I don't know who the original author is but as I read it I found myself thinking how true it must really be. I'm curious what you think.

Satan called a worldwide convention of demons.

In his opening address he said,

"We can't keep HUMANS from PRAYING."

"We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and
knowing the truth."

"We can't even keep them from forming an intimate
relationship with their savior."

"Once they gain that connection with GOD, our
power over them is broken."

"So let them go to their churches; let them have
their covered dish dinners, BUT steal their time, so
they don't have time to develop a relationship with

"This is what I want you to do," said the devil:

"Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior
and maintaining that vital connection throughout
their day!"

"How shall we do this?" his demons shouted.

"Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and
invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds,"
he answered.

"Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow,
borrow, borrow."

"Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and
the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours
a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles."

"Keep them from spending time with their children."

"As their families fragment, soon, their homes will
offer no escape from the pressures of work!"

"Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear
that still, small voice."

"Entice them to play the radio or cassette player
whenever they drive." To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and
their PCs going constantly in their home and see to
it that every store and restaurant in the world
plays non-biblical music constantly."

"This will jam their minds and break that union with

"Fill the coffee tables with magazines and

"Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day."

"Invade their driving moments with billboards."

"Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order
catalogs, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter
and promotional offering free products, services and
false hopes.."

"Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines and
TV so their husbands will believe that outward
beauty is what's important, and they'll become
dissatisfied with their wives. "

"Keep the wives too tired to love their husbands at

"Give them headaches too! "

"If they don't give their husbands the love they
need, they will begin to look elsewhere."

"That will fragment their families quickly!"

"Give them Santa Claus to distract them from
teaching their children the real meaning of

"Give them an Easter bunny so they won't talk about
his resurrection and power over sin and death."

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive."

"Have them return from their recreation exhausted."

"Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect
on God's creation. Send them to amusement parks,
sporting events, plays, concerts, and movies

"Keep them busy, busy, busy!"

"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship,
involve them in gossip and small talk so that they
leave with troubled consciences."

"Crowd their lives with so many good causes they
have no time to seek power from GOD."

"Soon they will be working in their own strength,
sacrificing their health and family for the good of
the cause."

"It will work!"

"It will work!"

It was quite a plan!

The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing
Christians everywhere to get busier and more rushed,
going here and there.

Having little time for their God or their families.

Having no time to tell others about the power of
Jesus to change lives.

I guess the question is, has the devil been
successful in his schemes?

You be the judge!!!!!

Does "BUSY" mean: B-eing U-nder S-atan's Y-oke?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Are You Too Comfortable? Am I?

I was thinking about how God wants us to grow. In some ways I think our "comfort" is at odds with what God wants for us sometimes... maybe even most of the time.

I think of Paul's comments about milk and solid food in Hebrews 5:13-15

13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Then there are Jesus' words about pruning in John 15:2

"while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful."

Here are a few related quotes I like on how trials, struggles, and “stretching the envelope” help us grow:

A saint’s life is in the hands of God as a bow and arrow in
the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the
saint cannot see; he stretches and strains, and every now
and again the saint says, “I cannot stand any more.”
But God does not heed; He goes on stretching until
His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly.
We are here for God’s designs, not for our own.

Oswald Chambers

If we study the lives of great mean and women carefully and
unemotionally, we find that, inevitably, greatness was
developed, tested, and revealed through the darker periods
of their lives. One of the largest tributaries of the River of
Greatness is always the Stream of Adversity.

Cavett Roberts

Disappointments that come not by our own fault, they are the
trials or corrections of heaven; and it is our own fault if
they prove not to our advantage.

William Penn

The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed.

Howard Macey

Lord, I'm Thankful

God, I know that I have many reasons to be thankful tonight.
  • You blessed my with “travel graces” as I drove over 600 miles in the last two days, 3/4 of the time in rain, without having an accident.

  • You blessed me in my career for I made a pretty decent presentation to a prospective client today.

  • You blessed my family with safety from the tornado warnings, lightning, torrential downpours, high winds, crime, and accidents

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Leadership of the Holy Spirit

Well, it is my turn to teach Sunday School tomorrow. We’re studying what it means to be led by the Holy Spirit from Romans 8:1-14.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me in my preparation of the lesson and reveal to me the message that my class needs to hear. I pray also, that when it comes time to teach tomorrow, that the Holy Spirit will guide me as I try to deliver this important message. Give me the words to say. Help me discern the needs of those in the class.

I pray also that You will prepare the hearts of each and every member of the class, myself included, so as to make them ready to hear Your message. God, I pray that You will remove all barriers which might hinder anyone who needs to hear Your message from attending.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

J.R.R. Tolkien Brings C.S. Lewis to Christ

The name "C.S. Lewis" has started showing up in the strangest of places: movie theaters! With a motion picture of The Chronicles of Narnia coming soon, Focus on the Family has high hopes that today’s culture will look closer at the works of this gifted theologian.

A professor in England during the 1940’s, Lewis was an atheist until age 30 – when he spoke with his colleague J.R.R. Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings). The two professors shared a love for fantasy stories, and one night Tolkien revealed why he gained so much from "legends": because they contain hints of the Christian Gospel, the truest legend of all. That same night, Lewis prayed to receive salvation.

C.S. Lewis went on to become an author widely known for the winsome way he presented the Christian faith. But his love for fantasy stories did not die. He began to create a mystical land where animals hold the power of speech… where dark forces gather to wage war… and the Great Lion Aslan is the only hope: the land of Narnia.

Without question, the themes of sin, sacrificial death, and redemption speak volumes in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Portion of email received tonight from Focus on the Family

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Why does the word evangelical threaten so many people in our culture?

Philip Yancey provides a great article "Exploring a Parallel Universe: Why does the word evangelical threaten so many people in our culture?" which I recommend to anyone who wants to reach skeptics and those who openly disagree with us. Here are a few quotes which should encourage you to check it out:

"I have learned from this group how threatening religion can seem, especially to those who see themselves as a minority of agnostics in a land of belief. They tend to regard evangelicals as morals police determined to impose their ideas of proper behavior on people who do not share their beliefs."

"Reflecting on our conversation, I remembered a remark by Lewis, who drew a distinction between communicating with a society that hears the gospel for the first time and one that has embraced and then largely rejected it. A person must court a virgin differently than a divorcée, said Lewis. One welcomes the charming words; the other needs a demonstration of love to overcome inbuilt skepticism."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Can All 50 States Be Wrong?

I got this in an email today. I think it provides ample evidence that our courts should not be hostile to overt acceptance of faith in the public arena.

Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution
Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land
Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...
Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...
California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom ..
Colorado 1876, Preamble. We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.
Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy
Delaware 1897, Preamble. Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences.
Floirida 1885, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty .. establish this Constitution...
Georgia 1777, Preamble. We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...
Hawaii 1959, Preamble. We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance .. establish this Constitution.
Idaho 1889, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings .
Illinois 1870, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.
Indiana 1851, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to chose our form of government.
Iowa 1857, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings establish this Constitution
Kansas 1859, Preamble. We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges ... establish this Constitution.
Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth of grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...
Louisiana 1921, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.
Maine 1820, Preamble. We the People of Maine . acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity .. and imploring His aid and direction.
Maryland 1776, Preamble. We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...
Massachusetts 1780, Preamble. We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ... in the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction
Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom establish this Constitution
Minnesota, 1857, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings
Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.
Missouri 1845, Preamble. We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness ... establish this Constitution .
Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty. establish this Constitution
Nebraska 1875, Preamble. We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom . establish this Constitution ..
Nevada 1864, Preamble. We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution ..
New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.
New Jersey 1844, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors
New Mexico 1911, Preamble. We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty
New York 1846, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.
North Carolina 1868, Preamble. We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those
North Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of North Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...
Ohio 1852, Preamble. We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common
Oklahoma 1907, Preamble. Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty ... establish this .
Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I. Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble. We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance.
Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing
South Carolina, 1778, Preamble We, the people of he State of South Carolina.grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
South Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of South Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for our civil! and religious liberties .. establish this...

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI.III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...
Texas 1845, Preamble. We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.
Utah 1896, Preamble. Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution
Vermont 1777, Preamble. Whereas all government ought to . enable the individuals who compose it ! to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man .
Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI . Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator ... can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other
Washington 1889, Preamble. We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution
West Virginia 1872, Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia ... reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...
Wisconsin 1848, Preamble. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility .
Wyoming 1890, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties .. establish this Constitution .

And finally a good quote from one of our founding fathers:
"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants." --William Penn

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Leaving Our Comfort Zone for Him

I think the quote below is a great illustration of how God wants us to grow, mature, and “stretch” as we trust more and more in the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

A saint’s life is in the hands of God as a bow and arrow in
the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the
saint cannot see; he stretches and strains, and every now
and again the saint says, “I cannot stand any more.”
But God does not heed; He goes on stretching until
His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly.
We are here for God’s designs, not for our own.

Oswald Chambers

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Modern Signs of God Working When a Nation Repents

Imagine if 10% of an entire nation all showed up at one location at one time to attend the same prayer meeting.

Imagine if a stream that used to be too foul to drink ran clean again on its own.

Imagine if fishing grounds suddenly began producing more fish.

Imagine if the soil began producing more and bigger fruit.

Well, this all happened on the island nation of Fiji. Take a look at "Let the Sea Resound". This 75-minute documentary describes the spiritual revival of this island nation.

The story starts with the nation of Fiji at its darkest hour in 2000. For the first time, a non-Fijian (ethnic Hindu) government was elected and some radical Fijian nationalists tried to take over the island nation by violence. The economy sank as the violece scared away the all-important tourists from the island. Then political leaders began to openly turn to God. What follows is a "moving and instructive testament of unprecedented Christian unity, contemporary signs and wonders, rapid church growth and genuine socio-political transformation. The breath of God has revived even the land and the sea.

Islanders even tracked down several descendents of a Christian missionary killed by pagan tribesman back in the 1800's, brought them to Fiji, and publically asked for forgiveness for the actions of their ancestors.

I am told that the residents of Fiji are real prayer warriors. Many wake up early in the morning and start their day with prayer. Sinde they are located near the international date line, they like to think of it as starting the new day for the whole world with prayer.

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Forgiveness & Grace - 20 Years in the Making

A true story that starts about Twenty Years Ago...

A young enlisted man in the US Navy and young woman meet, fall in love, and get married. The start their life together in a Navy town, San Diego I think. But duty calls the young man out to sea. Over the span of 3 different cruises, the two of them get to spend maybe 2 months together while he is in port. (Not that he could do much about it.) The young woman gets lonely. She finds herself liking the attention of other men. She strays too far and commits adultery. The young couple who barely have had time together at all get divorced. No kids so no custody issues. Neither has much money either so there is no mess with dividing marital assets. She moves away.

About Ten Years Later....

He has married a second time, but it didn’t work out either. He moves to Memphis. Later he comes to know Christ and gets married a third time, this time to a Christian.

The first wife matures and becomes a Christian, too. She remarries, moves to Oregon, and has children. The woman begins to feel led to seek out her first husband and ask his forgiveness for what she did wrong in their marriage. But she doesn’t know where he is.

A Couple of Years ago...

The need to seek forgiveness is still strong in the first wife. Luckily, technology has advanced and there is a bunch of information readily available on the Internet. She finds that her ex-husband used to have a job with a chain of bookstores and had written a bunch of book reviews that got posted on She finds out his old employer. She finds out his new wife’s name, too. She finds where his new wife was a full-time Director of Christian Education at a church in Memphis. She calls them. She discovers the 3rd wife is no longer there, but took a position at another church in Northern Mississipi.

A Few Weeks Ago...

A woman in Oregon finds out she has to go on a business trip to Memphis.

Monday, October 26th, 2005 or thereabouts

The pastor of a mid-sized church in Northern Mississippi has to make up his mind what to preach about on Sunday. After all, they have to print bulletins ahead of time. He decides to preach on the topic of forgiveness.

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

A woman from Oregon has extended her stay from her business trip to Memphis and finds her way to that mid-size church in Northern Mississippi.

That pastor begins a sermon on forgiveness, much like he has begun many other sermons for the last 15-20 years. He notices a new woman in the sanctuary. He doesn’t know who she is but he keeps coming back to her face during the sermon because it is glowing. She is smiling ear to ear. “She must really like my sermon on forgiveness," he thinks to himself.

The pastor pronounces the benediction. The congregation starts heading out. From the door at the back of the sanctuary, wife #3 sees her husband kneeling in prayer at the altar at the front of the now almost empty sanctuary with a woman she doesn’t know, also in prayer. Curious, she heads that way. Her husband sees her and says, “This is Pam.” “Hi,” she says, “nice to meet you Pam.” “No,” her husband interrupts, “This is PAM.” Then it clicked. His first wife.

So, twenty years after committing adultery, ten years after becoming a Christian, and after 10 years of wanting to do it... a woman from Oregon finds her forgiveness and a burden of 10 years is lifted.

And a pastor finds out why he was led to speak about forgiveness.

After reading with this story are you filled with gladness for them? Do you have a new found appreciation for the power of grace? Or, are you trying to figure out how much of your personal information could be pieced together from a Google search on the Internet? Maybe being found wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

PS. I got this story tonight from wife #3 herself.

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Christian Education

I found a really excellent discussion about Christian colleges vs. being a Christian at a secular college by Kenneth C. Elzinga, the Robert C. Taylor Professor of Economics at the University of Virginia. The article is his Centennial University Address at Abilene Christian University.

I think it speaks volumes about Christians in the workplace, Christians in schools, and how much or how little our faith is obvious to those around us.

Here's a quote:

"Teaching. It probably goes without saying that when a physicist at ACU teaches Bernoulli’s theorem, it is not taught differently than it would be taught at UVa. When I teach the economic principle of elasticity of demand at UVa, I am confident the same formula is taught at ACU.
But when I teach the economic theory of income distribution at UVa, it is not fair game for me to ask: What might the Biblical principle of gleaning — leaving some extra grain in the fields for the poor — teach about income distribution in an industrialized society?"

Check out Kenneth C. Elzinga's article here!

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Spiritual Gifts

Check out Jay Adkins' blog for a nice post on spiritual gifts.

Copyright © 2005 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Men's Fraternity - I Hate the Name But Go Anyway

Every Tuesday at 6 am for six weeks or so now, I have ventured out into the morning darkness to meet about 30 other men (mostly from my church) for Men’s Fraternity. I‘m not sure what I expected, but what I’ve gotten out of it has been different from what I expected. One thing is for certain, this is NOT just another Sunday School class. This is NOT just another Bible study. This is NOT another church service.

The leader has been doing a great job presenting some extremely well thought out material about the challenges men face in today’s society while trying to balance all the roles as husband, father, grandfather, provider, mentor, provider, etc. from a Christian perspective. However, this lecture time has not been a time of large group question and answer like Sunday School. With a few exceptions, the majority of us are slaves to the clock and the expectations of our employers. The leaders make it clear to anyone who might join us that they can participate and be assured we end precisely at 7:30 am.

All the materials are based on the Bible and Bible verses are quoted frequently. I wouldn’t call it a Bible study but we are talking about how men can apply Biblical principles to their lives. We have a workbook but we generally don’t carry our Bibles in to the meeting. I would say this is a time of great introspection about the decisions we’ve made, our priorities, the impact of our fathers, the impact of our mothers, etc. For a lot of men I can see that the way it is presented is “safe” and men with too much pride to go to a counselor to talk about their problems can see that they aren’t alone.

Discussion time is usually the last 30 minutes and is in small groups, usually of four men. The goal is that our group of four learn what makes each other “tick” and become accountability partners. In a short time, I’ve learned that I’m not alone in my imperfect life and my imperfect Christian walk. I don't know about you, but this is not the usual discussion I’m used to having at church. Part of this is enabled because we have a highly motivated group of men who want to come and be different as a result. (We do make it there by 6 am after all.) Part of it is because it is just men. Some of our flaws are too hard to admit in front of our wives and other men’s wives... at least not after only a few weeks. And finally, I think this program is being truly blessed by God and the Holy Spirit is definately at work.

I highly encourage the other men reading this to find something like this for their own spiritual growth. I highly encourage the women reading this to encourage the men in their lives to attend as well.