Thursday, October 30, 2003

Launch an adventure

If you’re willing to launch a spiritual adventure to expand your heart and increase your ministry, pray that people around you – including your children -- will ask you questions.

Let’s review some verses.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Pe 3:15)

In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' (Joshua 4:6)

The Philistines asked, "What guilt offering should we send to him?" (1 Sam 6:4)

And if they ask you, 'Where shall we go?' (Jer 15:2)

"Where did this man [Jesus] get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked. (Matt 13:54)

Face it – it’s difficult to share with people who aren’t asking you questions. It’s easier to coach and train and encourage our kids when they’re asking us questions, too.

Why do I call this an adventure? Because you’ll be amazed at how wonderfully and creatively our God will answer your prayers. Strangers, coworkers, and neighbors will ask you very specific questions about your faith, or will ask ordinary questions about your life in such a way that it becomes natural to share your faith or give praise to God. Your children will ask you questions that you have to stretch to answer. Extended family members will get beyond the usual “So, how’s work going? I see the kids are still growing.”

Here’s the best part: they’re going to ask you questions that will drive you further in prayer and dependence upon God so you can answer them!

One quick example. I was recently asked by an unbelieving coworker, “Why the hell do you want to go to Venezuela?” I started my reply with, “ ‘Hell’ is the operative word there.”

So pray that they will ask.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The problem with images

Chuck Colson relays this critical observation by Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death (emphasis is mine) :

"Postman’s thesis is that different media encourage different ways of thinking. The printed word requires sustained attention, logical analysis, and an active ima gination. But television, with its fast-moving images, encourages a short attention span, disjointed thinking, and purely emotional responses.

Postman says he first discovered the connection between media and thinking in the Bible when, as a young man, he was struck by the Old Testament words: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image.” Postman says he realized that the idea of a universal deity cannot be expressed in images, but only in words.

As he put it, “The God of the Jews was to exist in the Word and through the Word, an unprecedented conception requiring the highest order of abstract thinking.” This is the God Christians worship today—a God known principally through His Word and incarnate."

Men, let's prayerfully consider the TV watching in our homes. Let's work to ensure that we and our families are good thinkers, and not taken in by sound bytes and pixels manipulated by those who do not know God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Jews and Christians bring different perspectives

Mel Gibson's new movie The Passion has evoked amazingly different responses. Dennis Prager provides helpful insights. Here's an excerpt:

"When watching "The Passion," Jews and Christians are watching two entirely different films. For two hours, Christians watch their Savior tortured and killed. For the same two hours, Jews watch Jews arrange the killing and torture of the Christians' Savior."

Monday, October 27, 2003

How far can logic take you?

My mother, studying for her CPA exam, used to say that logic was a step-by-step means of arriving at the wrong answer.

"Every logical position will eventually lead you into trouble, and heresy, and chaos. Every logical position is consistent, but it is logic which is in the human mind, not God's logic. The human mind is finite and cannot grasp eternity, and therefore the finite mind sees the infinite as not graspable coherently. If we could grasp it all coherently, without contradiction, we would be God. The person who insists on being logical to the end winds up in a mess. I am not saying that we should not be rational. I am not anti-intellectual. I am saying that the intellect by itself is helpless to arrive at total truth." --Kenneth L. Pike

Let's keep 1 Cor 1:25 in mind, brothers.

Sensitive? Or lacking sense?

There are always concerns when technological progress outstrips the conditions of the heart. Paul Greenbert dissects the news reports about the more "sensitive" tests for Down's Syndrome in utero and their application to support abortion.

Paul Greenberg: Our brave new world

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Knowing your day of death

Neil Cavuto writes about the curious story that Pope John Paul now knows the day of his death, and how it may be affecting his actions.

A few thoughts:

We're told to take up our cross daily and die to ourselves. Our purposes are rooted, therefore, in Christ, and in our new life in Christ.

God may choose to reveal to some the time of their death, but that does not appear to be the norm. Unless he does, let us walk in faith simultaneously making long-term investments in people (so that the generations to come will be blessed) and making every day, every hour count.

If I think about it, I don't want to know when I'm going to die. Frankly speaking, I lack the spiritual maturity to walk in trust and obedience if I was convinced of that fact.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." -- Matt 5:8

The pure in heart long to see God. The old heart of stone (Ezek 36:25-28) can’t see God anywhere, but the new heart of flesh finds God sovereign everywhere and speaking continually.

“Purity of heart cleanses the eyes of the soul so that God becomes visible.”
-- John MacArthur

Friday, October 24, 2003

How is God's glory being revealed through Terri Schiavo?

Thanks be to God! He has turned the heart of the governor and now Terri Schiavo is being fed again.

Let us always choose life, remembering that we are all made in the image of God. Ben Shapiro has some good comments about this issue, outlining the different worldviews of those who wanted Terri to starve and those who believe that we're responsible to help her live.

God is using Terri Schiavo to put these differences in high relief, so they are visible to all.
Be prepared

We need to coach our kids to think through how they will respond when temptations come -- before they come. We talk to our kids about what they will do if/when someone offers them a joint, or if they're with a group of kids who start vandalizing property, or if they see a Playboy magazine at someone's house. There simply isn't time to calculate the right responses when some temptations come at us so quickly, and the longer the temptation hangs there in front of us the less likely we are to turn away. (Though it's always possible with Christ's help -- see 1 Cor 10:13. We try to prepare them for potential peer pressure or scorn for making God-honoring choices. This is training.

What about you, brother? Have you thought through your response plans? List out four kinds of temptations you're more vulnerable to, imagine scenarios, and prayerfully make your commitments on how you will respond.

Here's a good scenario to think through: If you were General Boykin getting flamed by NPR and newspapers and the Arab American Insitute for making public statements consistent with the truths of the New Testament, how would you respond? (If you aren't familiar with this story, you can start with Ann Coulter's column -- I sometimes cringe when I read her columns, because she can be shrill, but she makes good points.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Where are the Muslims who will silence their own?

"The notion that religion is not at the heart of the hatred directed at America from outside and now inside the country qualifies as extreme denial. Throughout the Muslim world, America is condemned not mainly because of its ideas but because Islamicists believe we are infidels opposed to God." -- Cal Thomas

Check out the rest of this column.
2nd American Civil War -- Part II

Dennis Prager continues his astute catalog of Left and Right views. Here's a good example: "The Left believes that criticism of Christianity is important and that criticism of Islam is bigoted. The Right believe that criticism of Islam is important and most criticism of Christianity is bigoted."

Monday, October 20, 2003

How long can our republic last?

Alan Keyes has some sobering words for all who are concerned about recent judicial actions.

Let us be found faithful in prayer, men, for the glory of God.
Three questions

I recommend you ask (and answer) three questions daily. The first two were given to me as challenges along with a New Testament when I was considering Christianity in 1985.

1. Who is Jesus? Our understanding of Jesus grows as we enter into kingdom living and walk along the arc of discipleship. He is Lord!

2. What will I do about that? What decisions must I make today to serve the Lord of the Universe? "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I'm convicted now that I must ask and answer a third question:

3. Where is your faith? This comes from Luke 8:25. Let's examine each word in this question.

Where? Is your faith stuck on a post-note in your Bible, or is it in your heart? Is your faith placed on Jesus, or on idols that cannot sustain you (position, paycheck, achievements, stuff that will rust or rot)?

Is? The present tense. Not last year or yesterday. Today. Now. Not next year or after you retire. Today. Now.

Your? Your faith. The question is not about the faith of your pastor, your parents, your spouse, your children, your neighbors. Your faith.

Faith? "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb 11:6) Jesus didn't ask where the disciples' memory was, nor their dreams, nor their skills in navigating or storm reading.

Where is your faith? Your Lord, Savior, Master, Teacher, and Friend is asking. These are wonderful days for ministry.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Bringing up children

Dads, you need to read this sermon by John Piper : "Raising Children Who Hope in the Triumph of God"

"Therefore I conclude that whatever else it means to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord == the King and Commander and Ruler of all things == it means this: bring the children up to hope in the triumph of God.

== Bring them up to find their place in the triumphant Cause of the Lord Christ.

== Bring them up to see everything in relation to the triumph of God.

== Bring up to know that the path of sin is a dead end street no matter how many cool and famous people are on it, because the cause of righteousness will triumph in the end. Christ has already struck the decisive blow on Good Friday and Easter morning."

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Where to put our energies to preserve marriage?

I have some misgivings about efforts to add a constitutional amendment defining marriage. I can't quite put my finger on why.

Gary Aldrich makes some good points in his column about this issue.

Key excerpt: "Marriage is in trouble; nobody can argue otherwise. But an effort to amend our constitution – even if we could get one – will do nothing to improve the institution of marriage. Gays and Lesbians, and even their radical and obnoxious agenda, are not responsible for soaring rates of divorce. Religious conservatives should concentrate on the causes of divorce and use their amazing and powerful influence to help reduce the incidence of divorce."

Along these lines I recommend the Divorce Proofing Campaign from America's Family Coaches.

Step one for all of us to strengthen and preserve our own marriage.

As the Lord brings people into our sphere of influence, we should prayerfully and practically help them strengthen and preserve their marriages. Each is precious.

If a marriage amendment comes in the context of this ministry, great. But it's not a starting point or the solution in itself. Changed lives are.

The Gospel is critical in this every day. Every hour. Remember that the Gospel comes in two parts, each necessary. First part : You are far worse than you can imagine. Second part : You are far more loved than you ever dared to hope. Jesus is the issue.

Types of war

Clifford May's ideas of war of power vs. war of wills are helpful.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Learning from elm trees

Check out this good book review. Our culture is very steeped in the Enlightenment thinking. This is one reason why the language Tolkien uses in The Lord of the Rings trilogy sounds like a throwback -- it is!

Men, we do well to study nature. The created has much to teach us about our Creator!
Watching the headlines

David Limbaugh points out a scary set of headlines this week.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Spiritual Bernoulli

You're probably familiar with the Bernoulli principle: there is a sideways force generated when a fluid (even air) is moving at velocity. This is what pulls your car towards the semi rig when it passes you at high speed.

There is a spiritual Bernoulli principle at work when we worship the Lord of Heaven. When the congregation sings and fills the air with praise, lifting high the great Name of Jesus, there is a spiritual "sideways" force created that draws the people of God closer together. When we pray and praise Almighty God, our marriages are knit together, and our children are drawn closer to our hearts.

So if you sense distance and gaps in your relationships, leverage this spiritual law of the universe -- praise the Creator, our ever living Lord, Savior, Master, Teacher, and Friend -- and watch the gap close.

For His Glory only! Amen!

When praying men need encouragement to keep praying

"When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it, the extraordinary prayers of His people. And it is revealed that when God is about to accomplish great things for His Church, He will begin by remarkably pouring out the spirit of grace and supplication." -- Jonathan Edwards

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

"How long will you waver between two opinions?" ( 1 Ki 18:21)

Dennis Prager writes lucidly about the second American civil war.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Churchill inspires -- good message for today!

"Do not let us lose the conviction that it is only by supreme and superb exertions, unwearying and indomitable, that we shall save our souls alive. No one can predict, no one can even imagine, how this terrible war against German and Nazi aggression will run its course or how far it will spread or how long it will last. Long, dark months of trials and tribulations lie before us. Not only great dangers, but many more misfortunes, many shortcomings, many mistakes, many disappointments will surely be our lot. Death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield. We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible. Our qualities and deeds must burn and glow through the gloom of Europe until they become the veritable beacon of its salvation. " --Winston Churchill (1940)
What is this telling us?

The pop cultural view that violent women are cool and entertaining is disturbing. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is perhaps the farthest along this ugly trendline, but not the first. (See a good review if you had any doubts about seeing this one.)

What ugliness inside us ("Let's just call that sin.") are these movies appealing to? Consider that, then turn your eyes -- and the eyes of your family -- to Jesus.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Concerning addiction to prescription pain medication

There are those who will seek to crucify Rush Limbaugh because they delight in the "hypocrisy" of the self-righteous who are exposed.

Christians are people of mercy, because of God's mercy towards us. Jesus emphasized this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:7). Mercy means giving people less punishment and more help than they deserve. Mercy is identified with justice, and does not excuse sin.

Check out Ben Shapiro's story for a helpful view.
We had to act in Iraq

Mark Alexander's analysis Weapons of Mass Destruction -- and Obstruction... is excellent. "The U.S. inspection team has uncovered significant evidence of chemical- and biological-weapons programs, and even more extensive evidence of Iraq's missile program -- all banned under UN resolutions. Kay reported Saddam's Iraq to have been in violation of UN sanctions in at least nine separate covert programs. The inspectors also found evidence of chemical- and biological-weapons testing on humans. This preliminary report -- after only three months of investigation -- stands in stark contrast to 12 years of failed United Nations weapons inspections; a failure culminating in the UN Security Council's weak-kneed acquiescence to Saddam."

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Be strong and courageous

Dennis Prager nails it with his insights about the necessity and power of beliefs. An excerpt:

"That is why this battle is a battle of civilizations. One civilization believes in liberty and one does not. The problem is that the civilization that has liberty has not produced anywhere the depth of belief in liberty that the opponents of liberty have produced. That is why most Europeans (and their supporters in America on the Left) see dying or killing for almost anything as pointless. When you don't believe in anything except not dying, you don't really believe in anything. For this reason, European civilization is in peril.

The great question mark is America. America is already in the midst of a civil war, thankfully still non-violent. It is between those who fervently believe in America and in Judeo-Christian revelation and those who fervently believe in neither."
For LOTR fans

Many guys are big fans of the Lord of the Rings movies. Greg Wright at Hollywood Jesus has detailed analyses of the books and movies, highlighting the differences between J.R.R. Tolkien's and Peter Jackson's visions. This is worth checking out if you want to be better prepared to discuss the spiritual significance of the story with your family or friends.

Loving books

Let your wife and children see you reading books -- good books and great books. Some things are more caught than taught, and your family needs to catch the love of books.

“If you can not read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them be your aquaintences.” Sir Winston Churchill

Make it your ambition to wear out books -- particularly your Bible.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Relationship between work and rest

Excellent John Stanford emailing today:

"C. S. Lewis said that he never wrote a book without using ideas from
19th-century author George Macdonald. (Quite a recommendation...)

Over a century ago Macdonald penned an imaginary conversation about
the relationship between work and rest. Here it is, slightly

The concern that's filling your mind at this instant -- the need
that's not a need -- is a demon draining your soul.
> No, mine is a reasonable, unavoidable concern.
Is it something you have to do at this instant?
> No.
Then you're allowing it to usurp something that's required of you at
this instant.
> What's that?
Trust in the living God.
> I do trust Him in spiritual things.
Everything is a spiritual thing.

Coffee thought: When I trust God to provide for my practical needs,
it pleases him more than anything else (even more than "ministry" I do
in his name)."

-- John Stanford

While not a Christian, David Allen has done the best work I've seen on managing workflow, no matter what your occupation.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Encouraging God's under-shepherds

October 12 is Clergy Appreciation Sunday. CT has some good suggestions for encouraging your pastor.

David Kay report

There's a huge gap between what David Kay reports about findings in Iraq and how most media outlets are reporting it -- "No WMDs in Iraq" headlines. Read the actual report and decide for yourself.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Good news!

House Votes to Ban Late-Term Abortion Procedure
Krauthammer -- on target again

Charles Krauthammer pins down some good perspetive in Everyone's an expert. The reconstruction of Iraq is going amazingly fast. Oil production is at 1.6 million barrels a day, more than three-quarters of 2002 production levels. There is no hunger, disease, or refugee problem.

One primary reason that reconstructing Iraq government, business, and social systems is going much faster than any historical precedent (e.g., Germany or Japan) is that the military campaign was remarkably precise -- leaving most things intact. If you travel through many cities in Germany, by comparison, there is precious little pre-1945 construction remaining, certainly nothing industrial.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

If you want God to bring revival, draw a circle on the floor, kneel inside the circle, and ask God to start a revival inside the circle.

Read Cal Thomas' column about the wordliness of the American church, titled "In Dow We Trust." Read it again.

Defining "rich" and "poor"

Bruce Barlett has a good analysis of poverty statistics in his column, "What is poor?"

Travel any time in a 3rd world nation and you get new, realistic definitions of wealth. For example, you're wealthy if you

* can control the temperature of the air around you
* have running water that's drinkable
* can get your children immunized against deadly childhood diseases
* have more than 1 change of clothes

Keep in mind that if you have Christ, you're filthy rich. That's the only imperishable inheritance.

An enigma wrapped in a riddle...

"To this day, people gazing upon China see what they want to see.

It's important that we see the PRC for what it really is - warts and all. And understand that despite a quiescent period, our national interests and aspirations, and China's, have not been, and in the future will not likely be, the same." -- Peter Brookes

Where are the WMDs!?

Every intelligence agency in the world recognized that Saddam had WMDs. (He'd already used some of them!) So where are they? Clifford May outlines two likely scenarios.

And if this story of Kuwait foiling a smuggling of chemical weapons to somewhere in Europe is true, it should be very big news indeed.