Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cell Block Renovation

Blogger has introduced a feature called "Dynamic Views".  I'd been holding off on using it because frankly I've grown accustomed to the old look and I like some of the navigation widgets.  Still, I have to admit the new look is cleaner and loads much more quickly, and has some customizable features for the reader.  So please take this for a spin and let me know what you think:

Also, if you haven't yet checked out of Facebook fan page at, I invite you to try it out.  Besides the Jailer's posts, you'll find some excellent bonus content from our dear friends at Dwell and Cultivate, Penned Pebbles, and Love Everlasting Ministries.  NOTE:  Please don't forget to click on the big "Like" button (example circled in red below) to add this to your favorite Facebook pages:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thank You Jesus

Happy Thanksgiving from the Jailer and family ... and our old friend Keith Green (special guest appearance).


Psalm 100

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
A Psalm for giving thanks.
 1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
 2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!
 3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!
 5 For the LORD is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Altar of Me

There is perhaps no manifestation of my sinfulness that is more frustratingly insidious than my own self-regard.  I say insidious because it is so integral to my psyche that I seldom recognize it as real--or as sinful--unless God confronts me directly with it.  I regularly worship at the Altar of Me.

It expresses itself in the simplest of ways, such as in my instinctive, outsized annoyance at the anonymous driver who darts in front of me on Interstate 95.  In most cases I am annoyed not because he did anything dangerous, inconvenient to my own purposes, or that I wouldn't do myself given the opportunity, but rather because ... well, because now he's in front of me.  He's wrong to be there.  I should be in front of him, because ... well ... because ... you know.

Fellow blogger Lora's heartfelt 2009 essay, Worshipping Myself, described the problem in terms of her young marriage, which she called "the most unique petri dish for bringing forth disastrous behaviors":
I began to realize that my frustrations were due to my self-absorption; that in my world, I am king, and Eric is sinning against my unstated and ever-changing morality. I am an idol-worshipper. I worship myself! Moving the oatmeal to a different place is a sin against my will, which put the oatmeal where it was in the first place. 
This sounds vaguely familiar ... in fact, I wrote about just this phenomenon just a month after Lora in Reading My Wife's Mail:
Stated another way, in the same way my focus on the driver's responsibility with respect to the crosswalk took my eye off the stop sign, fixating on Mrs. Jailer's responsibility takes my attention off my own, and can serve to rationalize my own bad behavior ... Even worse, excusing my wrongs by citing hers reduces me to idolatry. I'm effectively saying, "I can't be expected to obey unless my wife does!" My wife thus displaces God (in my mind) as my enabler for obedience. The truth is that "it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose". Transferring that power to Mrs. Jailer (or Jailer Jr., or Jailer Boss, etc.) is idolatrous, unfair, and a losing strategy.
Lora came to the same conclusion.
Yes, we are both selfish – but the only selfishness over which I have any control – is my own. Often, I’ve realized, that correcting another person based on my kingdom’s morality or preferences, is just another way of regarding equality with God as something to be grasped – or rather, crowning myself as king in relationships with other people. The annoyances, therefore, are really a result of my relationship with God and the gospel’s impact on my soul at present. Do I perceive my selfishness as worse than Eric’s (regardless of whether I have a million excuses, or whether MY selfishness makes sense..)? Or am I so obsessed with his flaws and irritations that God’s work in me is merely the work of trying to break through the hardness of my heart, rather than the work of producing fruit in fertile, humble and selfless soil?
I have become increasingly convinced that the ability to discern the extent of my own penchant for self-worship is one of the most important--and painful--lessons I have ever learned ... and one I expect to have to re-learn continually for the rest of my life.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tim Tebow's Philippine Hospital

When I wrote last month about Tim Tebow's promotion to starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, I could not have forseen what would unfold in subsequent weeks.  It's not just that he's brought the 1-4 Broncos to a respectable 5-5 ... it's that he's managed to do it while simultaneously confirming the worst suspicions of his critics (his inaccurate delivery) and the fondest hopes of his fans (he wins anyway).  I find myself somewhere in the middle ... unsure about whether he can keep this up, but hoping for the best.

In fact, my affinity for this remarkable young athelete just ticked up another notch, and not merely because I just watched him drive the Broncos 95 yards for yet another improbable game-winning score against the New York Jets on Thursday night.

No, it was something he mentioned in the post-game interview that really piqued my interest.  It seems that Tebow's charitable foundation has been busy working with CURE International to build a $3 million hospital in Davao City.  Where's that?  Glad you asked!  Davao happens to be the chief city of the southern Philippine island of Mindanao ... and it also just so happens to be Mrs. Jailer's hometown. 

The hospital itself will be "a 30-bed surgical facility focusing primarily on orthopedics" to treat early childhood conditions such as clubfoot, bow legs, spinal deformities, etc.  According to CURE's Mark Necht, it will also meet spiritual needs:  "The medical care is our vehicle to share the Gospel with the patients and families we serve."

In his official statement on the project, Tebow affirmed his continuing commitment to his childhood home:  "I was born in the Philippines and my parents have been missionaries to that area since 1985. The Philippines have always had a special place in my heart."  The funny part is, most Filipinos don't even watch football.  Basketball and, of course, boxing are far more popular in the country where Manny Pacquiao is a congressman.

Still, maybe now that will change just a little, seeing as there is at least one football player with an affectionate eye on them.