Monday, May 31, 2004

Three book recommendations

I’m an inveterate reader, and usually have several books going at the same time. It’s been enjoyable to read these three together, as one gets new insights into the other. I recommend them.

Spiritual Leadership (Henry and Richard Blackaby, 2001)
After Oswald Sanders fine book by the same title, I think this is the best book on Christian leadership I’ve read. The Blackabys’ functional definition of spiritual leadership is dead-on: “Helping people hear God’s voice, and obey it.”

TrueFaced (Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch, 2003)
You’ll get very uncomfortable reading this book. The authors do a great job dissecting the nature of our sin.

Unstuck ( KeithYamashita, Sandra Spataro, 2004)
Not a Christian book, but an excellent book to review if you lead teams or work on projects. The diagnostic tools to identify why your team is stalled (or “stuck”) are terrific, and there are many helpful prescriptions for getting “unstuck.”

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Women in War

I'm clearly not politically correct, because my male heart grieves that our nation has put women in war situations. It breaks divine order. I believe we're inviting God's judgment.

It's interesting how little specific attention has been paid to the fact that women soldiers have been killed or seriously wounded in Iraq. Consider this New York Times report (from a Vision Forum newsletter):

"A homemade missile launcher propped up in an apartment window let forth a volley, and an American soldier lay moaning and bleeding, grasping for her life. The scene repeats itself so often in the Iraqi capital these days that it hardly goes remarked upon, particularly when the soldier, like nearly 4,700 other soldiers since combat operations began, is only wounded.... The wounded soldier writhed in her own blood and shrieked, her voice climbing and ebbing suddenly as if she had run out of breath.... Later in the day, a spokesman for the First Cavalry Division said the soldier had suffered shrapnel wounds to her leg and that she had lost her right arm from the forearm down. He did not give her name."

It's demonstrably bad military policy to have both genders working in active units in combat theatres, even if only for guard duty. Ten percent of the ground troops in Iraq are women. Pregnant soldiers have had to be evacuated from under-fire situations, putting many soldiers at additional risk. Soldiers are conceiving babies while serving in war theatre.

Kathleen Parker writes about the political correctness that has drawn us into this era.

What should we do?

There is no political solution to this mess. A series of decisions were made to bring us to this point, and there is simply not the political will in this country to undo those decisions and stay the course.

There is a spiritual solution.

We serve the God who can do more than we can ask or imagine -- I can imagine a military without women. How God could accomplish this I do not know, but I know He can.

On a family level, let us purpose as fathers and husbands to see that our wives and daughters and granddaughters do not enter the military.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Are We Wild Enough?

I enjoyed Doug Giles' comments about Wild Men. How are you doing on the wildness scale?

Doug Giles: The Wild Man: "The Wild Man"

Friday, May 28, 2004

Add Mr. Kana To Your Prayer List

"We are calling on...America not to stop; to go on with us on this blessed mission, which the Iraqi people will never forget: this blessed mission of liberation, of democracy, and of freedom."

Younadem Kana is the lone Christian member of the Iraqi governing council

What do we need to see in order to understand?

Most media outlets are relentless drumming on the Abu Ghraib stories. I find it hypocritical that these photos are "necessary for people to understand" and yet other photos and images are not appropriate or necessary so people can 'understand':

images of murdered innocents in Israel, or in the US on 9/11/01
the burned and mutiliated bodies of four contractors in Iraq
Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl being murdered by thugs in hoods
partial birth abortion
a 3D image of a baby in her mother's womb

I appreciated these comments, published in The Federalist recently:

"The party of partial-birth abortion is still fuming at the photos from Abu Ghraib. Unborn children don't survive the torture of abortion, but images of violence done to them never make it to the desks of Democrats. The party of Abu Ghraib in the womb did interrupt its outrage over barbarism abroad long enough this week to tout barbarism at home. The human rights abuse of abortion remains the centerpiece of the Democratic party's platform. John Kerry simultaneously assured his supporters that as president he would speedily remove American soldiers from the "death zone" of Iraq and preserve the death zone at home protected under the penumbras of the U.S. Constitution. 'I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 court who's about to undo Roe v. Wade. I've said that before,' he said. Not to worry, abortionists: John Kerry won't apply the Geneva Convention to unborn children. He won't send the Red Cross to visit your Planned Parenthood clinics... Enemy combatants have rights under their platform; unborn children don't. Why is Abu Ghraib "un-American" and abortion as American as apple pie? Shouldn't a civilized nation be consistent?" --George Neumayr

Your Prayers Can Be Hindered, You Know

John Piper has an excellent sermon on 1 Peter 3:7ff. Men, let's love our wives and live with them in such a way that our prayer life remains unclogged. There are many Christians in the US, but perhaps God is not able to use us effectively because we're making poor choices that lead us away from holy living.

The whole sermon is good. I especially liked this part:

"Jesus does not kiss a drunk wife. He may carry her off the street and back to bed. He may be utterly patient with her, and set before her hot coffee and fresh starts. But he will not kiss a drunk wife.

What do I mean? I mean that when the bride of Christ, the church, is drunk with the world, she may turn to him for a brief kiss of prayer, but her breath wreaks so bad of worldliness that he turns his face a way.

'Be sober for the sake of your prayers,' Peter says. But whoever sobered up by coasting? Nobody coasts into sobriety. Not physical sobriety, and not spiritual sobriety. Sobriety happens when we begin to use sound judgment about our lives. Sound judgment about how we spend our time. Sound judgment about the spiritual climate or our homes. Sound judgment about the worldliness of our leisure. Sound judgment about the music we listen to, the movies we attend, the TV we watch.

Nobody sobers up without intentional steps to get the bottles of worldliness off the shelves, out of the cabinet and out of the house. When that happens, then the spiritual breath begins to clear up and the kiss of prayer is not hindered."

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Accompanying Presence

Men, I recommend you read an interview with Bill Hybels about the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching. If you preach or teach, you will get some helpful insights about cooperating with the Spirit, and the courage you need.

But if you are a husband or father, read it again and think about the role of the Holy Spirit in your daily service to your wife and family.
Carrying the Name in Vain

Dennis Prager includes some interesting comments about one of the Ten Commandments in his newest column about Islamofascist terrorists murdering innocents while saying "Allah Ahkbar":

The Commandment widely translated as "Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," is imprecisely translated. The original Hebrew literally reads, "Do not carry the name of the Lord thy God in vain."

And, the Commandment continues, "for God will not hold guiltless (literally, "will not cleanse") whoever carries His name in vain."

As a strong believer that God (or whomever one credits with authoring the Ten Commandments) has at least as much common sense as I do, it seems inconceivable that God can "cleanse" (implying "forgive") a murderer but not someone who said God's name when he shouldn't have. Therefore, the Commandment about the misuse ("misuse" is the translation of the New International Version of the Bible, my favorite translation) of God's name must be about far more than merely using God's name "in vain."

* * * * * *

Message to Dennis: There is a hell.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Leadership in Difficult Times

Men are always called to lead in difficult times. All times are difficult; some are more difficult than others. Let us therefore encourage one another with strong words!

Here is Abraham Lincoln's 2nd Inagural Address, perhaps one of the finest speeches in Western history.

"At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then, a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new would be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this, four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war, seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invoked His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh". If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether".

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

John Piper's ANTHEM strategy to avoid lust


A N T H E M - Strategies for Fighting Lust
November 5, 2001 — Freshwords Edition

I have in mind men and women. For men it's obvious. The need for warfare against the bombardment of visual temptation to fixate on sexual images is urgent. For women it is less obvious, but just as great if we broaden the scope of temptation to food or figure or relational fantasies. When I say "lust" I mean the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct. So here is one set of strategies in the war against wrong desires. I put it in the form of an acronym, A N T H E M.

A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire. I say "possible and reasonable" because some exposure to temptation is inevitable. And I say "unfitting desire" because not all desires for sex, food, and family are bad. We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them. "Avoiding" is a Biblical strategy. "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). "Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14).

N – Say NO to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. "In the name of Jesus, NO!" You don't have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." Strike fast and strike hard. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" ( James 4:7).

T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying "no" will not suffice. You must move from defense to offense. Fight fire with fire. Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ. The Bible calls lusts "deceitful desires" (Ephesians 4:22). They lie. They promise more than they can deliver. The Bible calls them "passions of your former ignorance" (1 Peter 1:14). Only fools yield. "All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter" (Proverbs 7:22). Deceit is defeated by truth. Ignorance is defeated by knowledge. It must be glorious truth and beautiful knowledge. This is why I wrote Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. We must stock our minds with the superior promises and pleasures of Jesus. Then we must turn to them immediately after saying, "NO!"

H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out. "Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1). Here is where many fail. They give in too soon. They say, "I tried to push it out, and it didn't work." I ask, "How long did you try?" How hard did you exert your mind? The mind is a muscle. You can flex it with vehemence. Take the kingdom violently (Matthew 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Hold it. Hold it! Don't let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ's sake, fight till you win! If an electric garage door were about to crush your child you would hold it up with all our might and holler for help, and hold it and hold it and hold it and hold it.

E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. We default to deceit because we have little delight in Christ. Don't say, "That's just not me." What steps have you taken to waken affection for Jesus? Have you fought for joy? Don't be fatalistic. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart – more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don't have: "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14). Then look, look, look at the most magnificent Person in the universe until you see him the way he is.

M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" (Romans 12:11). "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Abound in work. Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. Fix a faucet. And do it for Jesus' sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you "zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.

Fighting at your side,

Pastor John

Opposing Gay "Marriage"

We have not yet lost the battle for marriage, men. Take care of your own marriage, and fight for the institution.

I appreciated Jeff Jacoby's comments about media bias in reporting on this issue, but also his succinct statements about our responsibility to frame the discussion. Here's an excerpt:

"Preaching to the converted has its uses, and both sides engage in it, but gay and lesbian advocates didn't move the cause of homosexual marriage from the outlandish fringe to the liberal mainstream by speaking only to those who already agreed with them. They made their case in terms that the unconvinced could understand too, and framed their radical proposal as an issue of civil rights and family love. Those are appealing arguments -- especially if they are repeated often and infrequently rebutted. With so few leaders on the other side making an equally articulate case, it's not surprising that same-sex marriage advanced so far so fast.

Those of us who think this week's revolution is a terrible mistake need to do a much better job of explaining that the core question is not "Why shouldn't any couple in love be able to marry?" but something more essential: "What is marriage for?" We need to convey that the fundamental purpose of marriage is not to put a seal of approval on adult relationships but to unite men and women so that any children they may create or adopt will have a mom and a dad. Marriage expresses a public judgment that every child deserves a mom and a dad. Same-sex marriage, by contrast, says that the sexual and emotional desires of adults count for more than the needs of children. Which message do we want the next generation to receive?"

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Best Books List

Some time back I mentioned that I was compiling a list of best books
for our children. Our intention is to provide copies of these books for
each child when they leave home, so they have a starter library of
books that will bless them for many years to come.

Here is the list, by category:

Bible Study

Thompson Chain Reference Bible
The Message
Naves Topical Bible


Knowing God (A.W. Tozer)
The Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis)
The Heidelberg Catechism
The Holiness of God (R.C Sproul)
Your God is Too Small (J.B. Phillips)
Basic Christianity (John Stott)
Renovation of the Heart (Dallas Willard)
Commentary on Galatians (Luther)

Helps to Walking Humbly with Thy God

Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices (Thomas Brooks)
Celebration of Discipline (Richard Foster)
Life Together (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Desiring God (John Piper)
Thoughts for Young Men (J. C. Ryle)
Imitation of Christ (Thomas a Kempis)
The Pursuit of God (A. W. Tozer)
With Christ in the School of Prayer (Andrew Murray)
Hearing God (Dallas Willard)
Spiritual Leadership (Oswald Sanders)
My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers)
Point Man (Steve Farrar)

Letting Your Light Shine

The God Who Is There Francis Schaeffer)
Ideas Have Consequences(Richard Weaver)


The Federalist Papers
Tortured for Christ (Richard Wurmbrand)
Fox's Book of Martyrs
A History of Knowledge (Charles Van Doren)
Modern Times (Paul Johnson)


The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Pilgrims Progress (John Bunyan)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

Life skills

How to Read a Book (Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren)
The Elements of Style (Strunk and White)
The Fifth Discipline (Peter Senge)
Warfighting Marine book of war strategy

* * * * * *

Email me at if you would like a PDF file of
these books, with my description about why each was selected. I'll be glad
to send that to you.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Calling the younger generation to rise up

Doug Giles, a pastor, author, and radio show host in Florida, calls on young Americans to lead.

Doug Giles: Clashing in the Classroom: "The young person who wants to see righteousness exalt this nation, who wants to see the family unit united, the government constitutionally govern, our cruddy culture clashed with and the Church churched � this young adult should be seen and heard loud and clear and on a constant basis. If not, we will have cultural, political and ecclesiastical hell to pay.
As Churchill so aptly said, �If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.�
Righteous young adults of our nation: having inherited one heck of a mess, you are next in line to lead. That being said, each young person has a duty to bring us back to basics and forward into greatness. "

This brings Deut 6 back to mind, Dads. Let's help our kids be courageous leaders.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Homer: Book or Film?

The new movie Troy is opening today. The early reports are that it will be a "great" movie, but that the filmmakers have drastically changed the plot. I'm pretty sure that fewer people will bother to read The Illiad than tackled The Lord of the Rings.

If you or your teens want to watch this movie, at least check out the plot summary of the book before you go. :-)

Getting clarity in Iraq

Charles Krauthammer: It's time to be strong, not resign: "The prize in Iraq is not praise for America from the Arab street nor good will from al Jazeera. We did not have these before Abu Ghraib. We will not have these after Abu Ghraib. The prize is a decent, representative, democratizing Iraq that abandons the pan-Arab fantasies and cruelties of the Saddam regime."

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Satan's primary tactic

"From Hitler’s vision for a Thousand Year Reich and Lenin’s promise to use the dictatorship of the proletariat to build a workers' paradise, to abortion depicted as a 'women’s health issue' and homosexual behavior justified as an 'alternative lifestyle,' evil always comes to humanity disguised as good. The results are just as invariably consistent -- destruction, suffering and death. Beware the Serpent’s promises." --Dr. Earl H. Tilford

Satan's primary tactic is a 3 step process:

1. Show you something

2. Make it seem appealing

3. Get you to succumb

He has had a lot of success with this approach. We can't stop him from showing us stuff, or trying to make it seem appealing. But we don't have to give in to step 3. Men, we need a strong Biblically-based worldview to counter Satan's tactics. Because we are so easily swayed into thinking something would be good, we must rely not on our own judgments, but the revealed truth of God.

"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." (Psalm 31:24)

Monday, May 10, 2004

Prayer guide for your children

A friend put me on this prayer guide -- I'm starting tonight.
Posting Comments

Please note a new feature for this blog -- you can post comments. (You do need to register with Blogger, but that's free. Go to to sign up.) I encourage you to sign up and add to the discussion. Put in related links, other thoughts, etc.

Respect for Moms

Men, let's be sure to work with our kids on respecting Mom. This seems like one of those long parenting challenges, though I wish it were just one conversation. When it comes to showing respect for Mom, every day is Mother's Day.
Book recommendation

Add Reflections of a Father's Heart to your wish list. It's only available from because Todd Wilson self-published it. Chapter 3, "The Three Squeezer," about their signal to say "I love you," is worth the $7.95 price of the book. Lots of good stuff here, just be prepared for moist eyes and laughter.

And sign up for Todd's free weekly newsletter if you haven't already.

Dad's need this stuff.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

National Day of Prayer

"Prayer is an opportunity to praise God for His mighty works, His gift of freedom, His mercy, and His boundless love. Through prayer, we recognize the limits of earthly power and acknowledge the sovereignty of God. According to Scripture, 'the Lord is near to all who call upon Him. ... He also will hear their cry, and save them.' Prayer leads to humility and a grateful heart, and it turns our minds to the needs of others. On this National Day of Prayer, we pray especially for the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who are serving around the world to defend the cause of liberty. We are grateful for their courage and sacrifice and ask God to comfort their families while they are away from home. We also pray that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and throughout the Greater Middle East, may live in safety and freedom. During this time, we continue to ask God's blessing for our Nation, granting us strength to meet the challenges ahead and wisdom as we work to build a more peaceful future for all." --President George W. Bush by proclamation for the 54th National Day of Prayer to be observed Thursday, 06 May 2004.

What does it tell us when there are "two to three million Americans," especially teenagers, who are deliberating cutting or burning themselves, pulling out hair, and breaking bones in order to feel better?

Self-Injury a Growing Behavior

"It's perhaps the fastest growing behavioral problem affecting adolescents in our country," said Levander. "And it's terrifying to think where it's going to go with such a lack of therapeutic resources available."

This is straight out of Mark 5:1-20, where the demoniac cut himself with stones.

We don't need more therapy sessions, we need a divine Rescuer!
Astounding commentary

I recommend you read John O'Neill's comments in the WSJ about John Kerry's unfitness to serve as Commander in Chief. John served on the same Swift boat as Kerry in Vietnam.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Military Appreciation Month

I'm grateful Congress designated May as Military Appreciation Month.

I have two suggestions.

First, pray for our men and women in the military. They're defending our nation and our families. They need God's blessing and protection.

Second, say thanks in person when you can. There are many National Guard members in our community. We see them frequently in stores and restaurants in the area. I make it a point to briefly introduce myself, look them in the eye, shake their hands, and say thank you for their service. Model this for your kids, Dads.
"Studies show" is a favorite defense of those who don't want to think

I enjoy Dennis Prager's wit and logic and heart. In his latest column he uses simple logic to debunk the statements that same sex marriages raise children as well as a father and mother.

While I applaud the column, it is sobering to realize that we feel compelled into logical, human-level arguments about marriage. We're defending the Bible. A pastor friend has a sign in his office, "Don't Defend the Gospel, Preach It!" C.S. Lewis wrote that defending the Bible is like defending a caged lion. Let the lion out of the cage, and he can defend himself quite well, thank you.

"The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way--never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity." (2 Cor 10:3-6, The Message)

Where's the real danger to women?

Jeff Jacoby writes bluntly about the odd perception that the Pro-Life position is dangerous for women's lives. They instead should be seriously worried about militant Islam.

Despite feminist revisionism to the contrary, where the truth of the Gospel goes forward, women's lives improve.