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Guest Post: I Hate Being Busy

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by Joel Moore, Atlanta, GA

A few months back, my friend, Mike Duenes, asked me to write a column in his blog. Not wanting to say, “No,” instantly, I came up with some sort of reason, long since forgotten, for my delay. Being the gracious host that he is, Mike encouraged me to find the time to make a comment on the topic of my choice. Well, here it is.

What’s up with everyone being busy?

Everyone claims to be busy. In fact, it’s the best excuse out there for any unwelcome invitation to do anything. “Oh, I’m sorry. I can’t do XYZ because I’ve been so busy lately.” Admit it. You’ve said it. You’ve heard it said. People have said it to you. It’s almost as bad as asking a Christian to do something and they respond with, “Well, I’ll pray about it.” Translation? “Fat chance.”

But are we really busy?

Well, I’m sure that there are busy people out there. I know that the President of the United States must be very busy these days; his golf outings have really taken a downward trajectory in frequency as of late. But for the rest of us plebeians, you know, working stiffs that put in 40 at the office, come home, crack open a beer and watch American Idol, being busy is what we say to avoid doing those things that we really don’t want to do.

I’m too busy to go to church.

I’m too busy to pray.

I’m too busy to help out a neighbor in need.

Let’s face it. “I’m too busy,” has become our way of saying, “I don’t care.”

So, the challenge of the day is: Get off your lazy butt and actually do something meaningful in this world. Typing two dozen one liners on Facebook to your long lost High School friends doesn’t count as being social. Watching the most popular T.V. show doesn’t help you understand your neighbor. Sleeping in late on Sunday doesn’t get you any closer to God. None of us are really too busy. We are just too busy doing things that don’t really matter.

See, I’ve finished this blog in about twenty minutes. Damn, I hate being busy.

-JTM

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Written by Michael Duenes

August 1, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Duenes, Guest

5 Possible Scenarios for Egypt

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The following is a guest post by a friend who resides in the Middle East.

With much of the world I watched the historic events in Egypt unfold. Today President Mubarak resigned and celebrations erupted across Egypt along with the Twitter/Facebook status updates of millions of people.

But soon reality will take hold and people will have to get back to living their daily lives, making a living, putting food on the table. And when the celebration turns to implementing a new system I expect many people will be unhappy. The people in the streets have no idea what they want. They have no idea how to run a country. Toppling a government is a far cry from a healthy civil society and the strong-arm dictator type governments are much easier to manage than vibrant democracies with the incumbent healthy give and take of ideas.

At the same time an invisible revolution is taking place. None of the news outlets are talking about it. What is God, who is most concerned with His own glory, doing? A God who has been listening to the prayers of the saints crying out for mercy on the souls of the Egyptians; where is He in all of this?

First, let us look at the possible immediate futures for Egypt. I see five possible alternatives.

1. A man similar to Mubarak (but pretending to be for freedom and the people) steps in to power (through an election most likely) and takes things back to the way they were but using the rhetoric of freedom. This is highly probable. The people will be excited to bring “their man” to power. When he turns out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing it will be too late to change it. He will have learned from Mubarak’s mistakes, and they will be too ashamed and tired to go back into the streets admitting they were wrong. (Note: this has been the case in many revolutions. Read Animal Farm for a good picture of it.)

2. This ideal world continues to move forward. Egypt establishes a representative democracy and freedom and justice reign in a Muslim context similar to Turkey but better. This is what many people watching TV are thinking but this has absolutely no chance. The people have no idea how to live in that system and the leaders have no clue how to run it. (See the Israelites in the desert as described in the book of Exodus for a good picture.)

3. The army decides they are best able to run the country and stays in power or puts their puppet in charge. I do not know Egypt well enough to analyze this one, but am guessing it would not work. However, although Mubarak resigned the army does not seem to be diminished at all and are currently “in charge”. This means that whatever happens next will be with their permission. Again, I reiterate that once the celebration ends and people get back to their lives, they will be very slow to go back to the streets. The military knows this and will be patient in this transition to get people back to their “normal” lives. (Turkey after the 1980 coup maybe?)

4. A man is sitting in Egypt who was trained in the West, has a good understanding of both Egypt and democracy, and is a strong personality with an extra measure of charisma. This would be similar to Ataturk in 1923. He needs the army’s support, has to have clear vision, and is able to manipulate public opinion through difficult times. This is the hard part for countries that want to be part of the world (as opposed to Central Asia, Cuba, and North Korea). I doubt such a person exists. With the rise of Twitter and FB this kind of task becomes much more difficult as information is widespread and patience is short. The kind of reforms necessary to bring about true freedom will not be popular and need time to take hold. This makes it almost impossible doing things the “old” way. How it will be done today is yet to be seen.

(See George Washington and the American Founding Fathers, although I am not sure they would have been successful if Twitter and FB had existed then.)

5. The Muslim Brotherhood comes to power and turns Egypt into a strict Muslim state with Sharia Law. This is a guarantee if you watch Glen Beck. I agree the odds for this are high. I honestly do not know enough about this group to say much. I did notice that today is the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran. (See Iran for the model.)

I will be surprised if the new regime is not the first or fifth option or some combination of the two. But in the bigger picture even these things are secondary. The world is focused here. The world looks mainly to education and human government for their salvation. However, hope in these will always bring disappointment in the end and Egypt will not be an exception.

The most important question not being discussed on Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and Foxnews is, “What is God doing in all of this? Where is Jesus?” If we are followers of Jesus, then we need to know where He is and what He wants us to do.

Of course we can pray, and we should. Let’s pray for peace and freedom and justice; for God’s kingdom to come, for rulers who love and honor God and allow freedom of religion and protect minorities.

But we need to be aware that God’s people have been in Egypt for many years spending countless hours offering up prayers to God for His kingdom to come. I have no doubt these events are part of what God is doing to answer those prayers. In times of chaos and uncertainty people are often able to see reality more clearly; as the life they know crumbles around them they are able to question beliefs they have always held; they are able to listen to the call of the Holy Spirit and to respond. May this be such a time for the Egyptians.

As a new earthly “kingdom” is implemented in the land of the Pharaohs, may the expansion of God’s kingdom, the yeast that works invisibly in the dough, see just as great a revolution in the hearts of the Egyptians. People, currently living in Egypt, are working to see this happen. Let us pray for them.

-DD

Written by Michael Duenes

February 12, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Posted in Guest, Islam, Reflections

The Perfect Technique for Winning Every Argument

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The fact that God gives good gifts to His creatures knowing they will use them against Him is truly astounding. An example of this is seen in the atheist author Christopher Hitchens, who is currently fighting cancer and is being stubborn to the end. I was made aware of this by Doug Wilson, author of the creatively named Blog & Mablog.

Mr. Hitchens has clearly been given a writing gift, but unfortunately has used it to rage against God and religion. In spite of this fact he has no lack of “religious” friends, many of whom are praying for him during this time, a fact that seems to bother Mr. Hitchens enough that he wrote about it in Vanity Fair.

My main point here is not to discuss Mr. Hitchens’ cancer, but rather to focus on a rhetorical technique he uses in his article while making a comment about evolution. He mentions many different religious “leaders” of different faiths and finally comes to Dr. Francis Collins, a Christian he genuinely respects. Dr. Collins has written a book, The Language of God, which apparently tries to “make science compatible with religion”. (I have not read the book, just repeating Mr. Hitchens description.)  About the book Mr. Hitchens says the following,

“(This small volume contains an admirably terse chapter informing fundamentalists that the argument about evolution is over, mainly because there is no argument.)”

This comment is almost an after-thought in his first-person feature article. It is simply a weak jab at “fundamentalists”, whom he clearly dislikes and disrespects.

The comment is a brilliantly evil (think Austin Powers) arguing technique. How wonderful that all I have to do to close an argument is to find an “expert” and say that he says there is no argument.

Let’s try this…

Rick Warren is the pastor of a mega-church that filled Angels’ Stadium for two Easter services. He says the argument about whether there is a God is over, mainly because there is no argument. [Note: I just made the second sentence up, but Dr. Warren would probably say it if he knew that it would solve the whole debate on God and atheism, of course that is if there were a debate which there is not because Rick said there is not (or will say it soon).]

Pick a creation scientist… He says the argument about creation is over, mainly because there is no argument.

This technique would also work great for teenagers in trying to convince their parents of whatever they want…

“Mom and dad, I just wanted to let you know that the argument as to whether I’m going out on Friday is over, mainly because there is no argument.”

I can think of so many great uses of this technique. I’m sure if I asked you to add your own, we could fill up the comment section of this blog for miles.

But, of course, this technique is not designed to answer anything but rather to force the other side to kowtow. Instead of feeling disrespected, we “should” understand that the argument/dialogue/conversation we thought we were having was decided when we left the room to get coffee, and we need to get with the program.

As an atheist, Mr. Hitchens’ disrespect is not a surprise. He cannot be expected to have an ethic of turn to the other cheek or love of enemies. But as followers of Jesus we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. May we respect our opponents, address the issues, and repent when we fall short of this. May those who are opposed to us be treated in such a loving way that they find that being a Christian’s enemy is, in fact, a good place to be.

I agree with Doug Wilson that we should be praying for Mr. Hitchens in spite of his wishes. But let’s not fall for his rhetorical techniques or use them, for that matter.

How about you… Have you seen other techniques used that are designed to avoid dealing with the issues? Have I used any above?

-DD (This has been a guest post by Duke Dillard, who is currently living in Turkey. You can follow Duke’s Twitter posts, mainly links to news about honor killings and his favorite blogs, at @DashDill.)

Written by Michael Duenes

September 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Guest, Reflections