Updates

January 24, 2008

-Thanks to everyone who prayed for Victor and his sister. In surgery on Monday, the doctors discovered and fixed the problem. She is on the road to recovery; Vic is back in Hotchkiss. PRAISE THE LORD!

-Outlines are harder than I thought. They give your semester this feeling that you are never done. Even if your other assignments or projects are done, you can always be doing outlines.

-Tonight, I got to go to a USC-UCLA Men’s Volleyball game at the Galen Center. UCLA is ranked #4 in the country. USC is…well, they’re not ranked. USC won in five games. I’ll go so far as to say it was the best men’s college volleyball game I have ever attended.

Now I am on lounge duty, where I’ll be working on…

…outlines.

Fight on!

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All vacations must come to an end. My winter break ends tomorrow as I dive back in for another semester of college!

Honestly, it’s nights like tonight when I feel my nerdiness the most. I am way too excited to start school again.

Here’s the class load:
New Testament Survey II (with Doc Halstead, so I will be doing outlines)
Foundations of Science (more commonly known as Foundations of Sheol–most hated GenEd class)
Machiavelli (with Dr. Frazer)
American Political Thought II (with Dr. Stead and four other students)
Foreign Missions Prep (I am signing up to go to Uganda this summer with a Master’s missions trip)
Possibly Sermon Prep, but I think I might drop it now that I am signed up for Missions Prep
Collegiate Singers
RA Class

College is busy and difficult, but at the same time it is way too much fun. I am excited for another semester of classes at TMC and life in Hotchkiss.

During RA re-entry, one of the Resident Directors (Gunner Gundersen), led the guy RAs in a discussion on prayer. The discussion was framed around one big question:

What would your life look like if you believed everything the Bible said about prayer?

This is a powerful question because prayer is a powerful thing because our God is powerful. I hope this semester is shaped by prayer more than any semester yet.

And here is one practical application: I just got off the phone with Victor Martinez, a guy on my wing. His sister just had a baby, but she lost a lot of blood and was not doing well. Now she is doing worse. (The baby is fine.) If you read this blog, please pray for Victor and his sister. Pray that God would bring her back to health. Pray that Victor would be confident in the Lord. Pray that this would open up opportunities for the gospel. She is being moved and operated on tomorrow so please pray.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
-James 5:16

Here are today’s results:

NEVADA

Democrats
Hillary Clinton 51%
Barack Obama 45%
John Edwards 4%

Republicans
Mitt Romney 51%
Ron Paul 14%
John McCain 13%

SOUTH CAROLINA
John McCain 33%
Mike Huckabee 30%
Fred Thompson 16%
Mitt Romney 15%

-Some are now saying it is a McCain-Romney-Huckabee race. Thompson was depending on a strong showing in South Carolina; many are ruling him out. Gulianni got 2% in South Carolina; if he doesn’t win Florida, he may be finished. But anyway you slice it, the race is still wide open. Many in the Republican base are not happy with McCain’s “front-runner’ status.

-Many are noting how Hispanics voted for Hillary over Obama in Nevada. If this trend continues, it may help Hillary in other important states. Speaking of trends, older voters are voting Clinton; younger ones are voting Obama. As far as John Edwards goes, it’s looking pretty dismal for his campaign.

-Who knows where this thing could go? There are still so many possibilities for who could could become a nominee. And beyond the primaries, I’m amazed the Republicans might actually have a chance (especially if Hillary is nominated.)

-I found a quiz on ABCnews.com that is supposed to match you up with a candidate. The three candidates it gave me were 1) Duncan Hunter (who just dropped out), 2) John McCain, and 3) Rudy Gulianni.

-Keep paying attention:
January 26- Democratic South Carolina Primary
January 29- Florida Primaries
February 5- SUPER TUESDAY

Here’s the scoop:

Romney wins. The race is wide open. Romney, McCain, and Huckabee have each won a major primary/caucus so far, and Gulianni still looms on the distance. Many who counted Romney out are counting him back in; I am learning to not listen to all the pundits who want to draw too many conclusions after every debate or primary.

So keep paying attention. And be looking forward to forward to February 5–Super Tuesday. Many states (including California and New York) hold their primaries on this important day. If you live in California, make sure you are ready to vote!

Here the official results:

Romney- 39%
McCain- 30%
Huckabee- 16%
Paul- 6%
Thompson- 4%
Guliani- 3%

Hillary won the Democratic contest, but Obama was not on the ballot due to technical difficulties. Don’t worry; that race is still wide open, too.

Do You Crave It?

January 10, 2008

One Monday night this last semester I was walking down Hotchkiss Upper Front when I stopped to talk to my friend and wingmate Adonis. We discussed our night classes, and he asked me if I liked my major (which is Political Studies.)

“Yeah,” I responded.

He replied with one more question, and these words have stuck with me ever since. His follow-up query showed that he understands that a vast difference exists between liking something and longing for something. He asked, “Do you crave it?”

On Christmas night, I had a long conversation with my brother Billy, his wife Cory, and my father. We discussed various aspects of ministry and noted the importance that every Christian understand the gospel and desire the Lord. A key sympton of these deficiencies is a lack of time in the Word. As we conversed, I began to think to myself, “When it comes to the things of the Lord, do we crave it?”

Do we really seek to glimpse the beauty of the gospel? Each and every one of us is a sinner deserving judgment, but even while we were in this hopeless condition, God sent his son to die for us. Everyone who repents and believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of their sins. They find eternal life and are reconciled to God through adoption as children. And as children of God, we have an inheritance that cannot fade away reserved for us in heaven. Do we crave the gospel?

Have we really tasted and seen that the Lord is good? Everything we have is a gift from God. Each day he unloads his goodness and mercy upon his children. He tells us that no matter what happens to the Christian, God will work it out for good. No matter how long we live, we will never see the end of God’s faithfulness. Do we crave the Lord?

Can we get enough of the Bible? No one can truly glimpse the beauty of the gospel or taste and see that the Lord is good without the Scriptures. Through his word, God tells us the gospel and communicates who he is. How can it be that many Christians neglect to read the Bible? These words are our life. Do we crave God’s Word?

As I return to The Master’s College for the Spring 2008 semester, I want it to be characterized by an intense, personal craving for the Lord. And as I serve on Hotchkiss Upper Front, I pray that we collectively long for the Lord, glory in the gospel, and meditate on God’s word.

In the midst of an environment like a church or The Master’s College where liking the things of the Lord is easy, there is an important question we must all ask ourselves:

Do you crave it?

If you think politics is predictable, you’re wrong.

This summer political pundits, staffers, and donors thought John McCain’s presidential campaign was done. Tonight he won a fairly decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary with 37% of the vote. (Romney came in second with 32%.)

This weekend, the voices of politics began to announce the death of the Clinton campaign as Barack Obama was bound to win in the New Hampshire. Many polls showed him with a double-digit lead. Tonight, Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary with 39% of the vote over Obama’s 37%.

A few thoughts from me:

I’m starting to like McCain more and more. I’m impressed by how he has stuck by his positions (primarily the war and immigration.) On many issues, especially the surge, McCain took an unpopular position that ended up being right. He can look back and say, “I’ve been saying this all along.” Even my brief time in a peaceful part of the Middle East made me start looking for a candidate that could lead America in foreign policy. McCain shows signs of intelligence and leadership in this area. I’m interested to see how he does.

I’m also beginning to feel a somewhat cautious optimism about this election year, not necessarily an optimism for Republican victory in November. But I have begun to hope for an election in which the issues are discussed honestly and openly and then the voters come out in droves to decide.

Finally, this is only the beginning. Among the Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire and the Republicans in Iowa, Wyoming, and New Hampshire, five contests have been held in which real American voters have gone to caucuses and polling places to vote for a president. The voters have chosen five different winners. Nothing is over. This nomination process could full of twists and turns and ups and downs before it is over.

May the best candidates win.

Tonight the leading presidential candidates of both the Republican and Democratic parties faced off in consecutive debates sponsored by ABCnews, some channel in New Hampshire, and–wait for it–Facebook. Here are a few of my thoughts: (I watched the whole Republican debate, but only bits of the Democratic one. Hey, I’m a Republican.)

The Format. This was the best political debate I have ever seen because the format allowed for actual…debate. The first half of the debate was very much geared towards open discussion.

Immigration. McCain and Gulianni officially won me over to their viewpoints on immigration. Their plans offer some kind of path to citizenship for illegals already in the country. However, they do not offer pure amnesty; some kind of penalties would be imposed. Other plans (like those of Huckabee and Romney) would require all illegals to leave and get at the back of the line. Tonight’s debate made me realize that deporting 12 million people is just not realistic.

Romney vs. McCain. McCain and Romney were going back and forth, especially on immigration. I think McCain did a good job defending himself against Romney’s ads, but I think he might have gone one verbal jab too far when he agreed that Romney was the candidate of change.

Everyone vs. Ron Paul. As soon as Ron Paul opened his mouth, everyone pretty much teamed up to shut him down. I think they did an effective job of doing so. However, if you ask the people on Facebook, they will give you a different opinion. (Don’t ask me why.)

How They Did. Huckabee and Gulianni did the best tonight. While everyone took some shots at Romney, they did not get as involved in the fracas as McCain. They also communicated their positions well. (I liked Gulianni better.) Thompson made sense pretty much every time he opened his mouth…that is if you can stay awake through his answers. His campaign is struggling without energy. Romney was getting hit from all sides. With what the polls are showing, his campaign is taking on water. McCain did well, (especially in defending his position on immigration from Romney) but he would have done well to cut out one or two pot-shots. Ron Paul is just too far out there…unless you ask the people on Facebook who probably won’t vote anyways.

The Great Divide. From watching only a little of the Democratic debate, it was easy to see the huge divide between the parties. On the biggest issues of the night, health care and the war, each party offered fundamentally different answers. All the Democrats are pushing for nationalized health care. This is anathema to the Republicans (myself included.) There are going to be some big issues at stake in this election: foreign policy, health care, the economy (speaking of which, why doesn’t the falling value of the dollar get talked about more?), judicial nominations, etc. This is why I will end up voting for the Republican nominee. I like the way Sen. Obama talks, but his policies will take the country in a direction I fundamentally do not agree with.

The debates are over. We’ll see who New Hampshire picks on Tuesday.

UPDATE: One of the reasons I remain hesitant to jump on the evangelical bandwagon for Huckabee is his support of the FairTax. Here’s an article on nytimes.com that explains why.

During my junior year at Believers Academy, I started meeting my Bible teacher, Tyler Sultze, once a week at Taco Cabana for breakfast. While the food was scrumptious, the fellowship was also delectable. The first book we went through and discussed over breakfast tacos was Be Satisfied by Warren Wiersbe. Next, we decided to tackle Desiring God. It was then that I was introduced to the writings of John Piper, for which I frequently thank God.

Why do I thank God for the ministry of John Piper? Let me put it this way: I often tell people that if you would have asked me at the beginning of high school why I was a Christian, I would have said something like, “I’m a Christian because that’s what I’m supposed to be.” But if you asked me the same question at graduation, I would have said, “I’m a Christian because that’s what I desparately want to be.” Piper’s writings were instrumental in this change or perspective.

Piper helped me see God as desirable. The gospel is great because it reconciles us to him. Sin is worth fighting because the pleasures of sin are utterly incomparable to the superior pleasures of God. Giving your life to Christ is worth it because by losing your life, you find it.

And it is not as if he was making this stuff up. He was simply pointing out how obvious this concept is in the Scriptures. The Psalms overflow with language that delights in God. Even the “hard” teachings of Jesus reveal the superiority of living for Christ. Whoever has left houses or lands or family will receive a hundredfold and eternal life. The man who finds a treasure in a field does not sell all that he has out of obligation, but with joy over the treasure he has found.

These concepts are crucial for Christians to understand. The Christian life is not one merely of obligation, but of joy. As my dad likes to say, “It’s not a ‘got-to’, it’s a ‘get-to.” And yes, the Christian life is hard–Scripture makes that clear. But denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Christ is worth it because nothing compares to knowing him.

This Christmas Break, I have started reading Piper’s Future Grace, and I have been greatly refreshed and energized by it. This post was primarily the result of one quote I read last night:

Christian hedonism [or pursuing ultimate satisfaction in Christ] is the final solution. It is deeper than death to self. You have to go down deeper into the grave of the flesh to find the truly freeing stream of miracle water that ravishes you with the taste of God’s glory. Only in that speechless, all-satisfying admiration is the end of self.

I thank God for John Piper because of quotes like this and books and sermons that teach that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

The Iowa Caucuses are over. Here are some of my thoughts:

The Winners. Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama emerged as the clear winners in the Republican and Democratic Iowa Caucuses, respectively. Huckabee continues to ride the wave of rising popularity–a key part of which is his support from “born-again”, evangelical Christians. (Total sidebar: It’s amazing how much that term is getting tossed around. I wonder if people know what that means.) The question is whether the Huckatrain can keep rolling. Many Republicans still are not sold on Huckabee (myself included), and many believe that he cannot wage an effective campaign in the general election. Obama also had an outstanding night that was capped by his speech which the media cannot stop talking about. And there is some valid reason for that. His speech spoke to the issues Americans care about in a passionate, unifying way.

Overall, the winner of the night is change. People are tired of politics as usual. They want candidates that will bring change to Washington.

The Losers. While several candidates technically “lost,” I believe the two biggest losers are Romney on the Republican side and Clinton on the Democratic side. Romney poured so much time and money into this state that his losing effort here does not bode well for the future of his campaign. He needs a better performance in New Hampshire. Clinton’s third place finish also hurts. On a night when change is the theme, she seems to be the Democrat that gets pegged with the weight of the institution. Also, it seems that many believe she may prove to be too divisive in the general. All this said, it is hard to rule anyone out in this crazy election season.

Frustration. I’ll admit that I (as a Republican) am a bit frustrated with the Republican party and its candidates. As I watched the Democratic speeches, I heard them speaking out on the issues, and I do not seem to hear the same thing from the Republican side. I see a party that bounces around from mediocre candidate to somewhat likeable candidate as we realize that we’re not really excited about anyone. Why is that? I do feel like the Republicans are all trying to walk a tight-rope as they try to distance themselves from the establishment (insert ‘Bush Administration’ here) without distancing themselves too much from the base of the party. In the midst of all this, it is easy to forget what a conservative is and to speak clearly on the issues from a conservative standpoint.

The most frustrating moment of the night for me came during an interview of Rudy Gulianni on Larry King Live. Larry asked the former mayor about Barack Obama, and Gulianni was properly very polite and congratulatory. But as he wrapped up his answer, I kept on waiting for him to speak out about the same issues Obama had spoken about. Why can’t Republicans speak out about issues like health care and unifying America and optimism? Why can’t we say that we care about those same things but explain that the ways Obama, Edwards, or Clinton would deal with the problems facing America are wrong-headed?

Those are just a few of my thoughts. Seriously, though, the race is still wide open on either side. But it could narrow considerably next Tuesday in New Hampshire.

The Presidential Election starts today.

Ok, so you say that election day is not until November, but in fact, today is the day that some Americans will begin voting for the next President of the United States.

Over the next year, I’m going to devote some time, energy, and space on my blog to the election. I’m not saying that everyone needs to be super-excited about the election; I’m not telling everyone to go out and vote for a certain candidate; and I’m certainly not trying to encourage anyone to be as big a nerd as I am. I’m merely encouraging people to pay attention. This election, like every election, is important, and in this country we have the ginormous privilege of being a part of the electoral process.

Today is Iowa Caucus day. This evening many residents of this state will gather in homes, coffee shops, and other various locations and eventually they will gather in different corners of the room in support of their chosen candidate. Based the results of these caucuses, winning candidates will receive the votes of the delegates of Iowa at their party’s convention this summer.

While the winners of the Iowa caucuses will receive relatively few delegates because Iowa is a small state, the results of today and the first primary election in New Hampshire next Tuesday will prove to be important. If candidates do not fair well in these early contests, they may find their numbers plummeting and their coffers empty very soon. If a lesser-known candidate does well, he/she may be catapulted to success in later and more imporantant primary elections.

The main contenders running for President are as follows: Democrats- Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama; Republicans- Rudy Gulianni, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney.

So as the process begins, pay attention. You may not sit in front of the television for a few hours tonight like I will, but at least take the time to find out who won.

But if you do watch CNN tonight, you never know when you might just see some free, political entertainment…

    Howard Dean’s speech after the 2004 Iowa Caucuses
    The Dean Scream