Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Kudos to an Eagle Scout

I applaud this Eagle Scout's project: reprinting his grandfather's WWII prayer book for current military serviceman and women. Stay strong under the flack, young man!
Move off oil energy?

The Rocky Mountain Institute proposes a 30 year plan to get the US off an oil-based energy economy. I have a few concerns about the details, but I'm intrigued by the audacity of their suggested approach. It would require a sustained political will, considerable change by individual consumers, a cooperative military and industrial base, and many changes to the our infrastructure.

It took about 30 years for Patrick to evangelize Ireland. Pagan practices were almost completely abandoned in one generation. That historical event is considered the fastest and most peaceful religious conversion of a nation.

What could happen in your family or community in 30 years? We tend to greatly overestimate what could be done in a year, and underestimate what can be accomplished in five years. Men, let's start thinking in terms of generations, as the Bible does.
Pray and Contact your Representatives

The US House of Representatives has an important vote Thursday, 9/30, on the Marriage Protection Amendment. Focus on the Family has useful information about the amendment.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Book recommendation: The Divine Conspiracy

From time to time I'm going to recommend books. The Divine Conspiracy is not an easy read, and far too many copies are collecting dust on shelves rather than being opened again. (I like to recommend books that are rich enough for more than one reading.) Our Lord has used Dallas Willard's writing to expand my understanding of what God is doing, and I know it will help you.


God opens a hole for his runners!

Here's a great story from Leadership Weekly:

High School Football Player Scores Touchdown of the Year

Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly called it the "Play of the Year." A local newspaper called it "the touchdown heard around the world." Sports shows everywhere told the story. Jake Porter, 17, a member of the Northwest High football team in McDermott, Ohio, was born with chromosomal fragile X syndrome, a common cause of mental retardation. He couldn't read. He could barely write his name. But he loved football, and he faithfully attended every practice.Northwest coach Dave Frantz wanted to do something special for Jake. So before a game against Waverly High in the fall of 2002, Frantz called his friend Derek Dewitt, the head coach at Waverly. Frantz suggested that both teams allow Jake to run one play at the end of the game, assuming the game wasn't on the line. Jake would get the ball and take a knee, and the game would end.So, with Waverly leading 42-0 and five seconds left in the game, Frantz called a timeout. Jake trotted out to the huddle, and the two coaches met at midfield. Sports Illustrated's Reilly picks up the story:

Fans could see there was a disagreement. Dewitt was shaking his head and waving his arms. After a ref stepped in, play resumed and Jake got the ball. He started to genuflect, as he'd practiced all week. Teammates stopped him and told him to run, but Jake started going in the wrong direction. The back judge rerouted him toward the line of scrimmage. Suddenly, the Waverly defense parted like peasants for the king and urged him to go on his grinning sprint to the end zone. Imagine having 21 teammates on the field. In the stands mothers cried and fathers roared. Players on both sidelines held their helmets to the sky and whooped.Apparently when the coaches met before the big play, Frantz had reminded Dewitt of the plan, that Jake would simply take a knee. But Dewitt wasn't satisfied. He said, "No, I want him to score." Frantz objected, but Dewitt insisted.Dewitt called his defense over and said, "They're going to give the ball to number 45. Do not touch him! Open up a hole and let him score! Understand?"Jake had the run of his life, scoring the touchdown heard round the world, on the Play of the Year. All because of Dewitt's unselfish decision: "I want him to score."

Like coach Dewitt, God has high purposes for each of us. God wants us not just to get the ball and touch a knee to the ground. He wants us to score a touchdown.

Citation: Mark Moring, Elburn, Illinois; sources: Sports Illustrated (11-18-02), The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W.Va. (11-10-02)

Monday, September 27, 2004

Be strong, and get to work

The Lord gave strengthening commands to the people of Israel through Haggai. They had paneled houses, but the Temple was still in ruins. Here's the Message translation of Haggai 2:1-7:
1On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the Word of GOD came through
the prophet Haggai: "Tell Governor Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and High Priest
Joshua son of Jehozadak 2and all the people: 3"Is there anyone here who saw the
Temple the way it used to be, all glorious? And what do you see now? Not much,
right?4""So get to work, Zerubbabel!'-GOD is speaking.""Get to work, Joshua son
of Jehozadak--high priest!'""Get to work, all you people!'-GOD is
speaking.""Yes, get to work! For I am with you.' The GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies is
speaking! 5"Put into action the word I covenanted with you when you left Egypt.
I'm living and breathing among you right now. Don't be timid. Don't hold back.'
6"This is what GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies said: "Before you know it, I will shake
up sky and earth, ocean and fields. 7And I'll shake down all the godless
nations. They'll bring bushels of wealth and I will fill this Temple with
splendor.' GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies says so.

Note that God speaks to the leaders (Zerubbabel and Joshua) first, then to all the people: Get to work! I like verse 5 -- "put into action the word...I'm living and breathing among you right now."

God didn't call them to pray, sing, or give money. He called them to work. And not work at filling their own grain bins, but for the building of His Temple.

So men, what is God calling you to work at today, for the sake of His kingdom?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Sabbath rest

I appreciated these comments about Hebrews 4:9. An excerpt:
To be a Christian and live in the Sabbath rest of God doesn't mean ceasing
all activity. It does mean, though, asking: "Why do I do all these activities
that keep me harried, distracted, etc.?" What are you trying to prove? What are
you trying to accomplish? What, perhaps, are you trying to atone for?
you realize that God is giving you, in Jesus Christ, all the righteousness in
the universe, your own efforts in that direction suddenly seem a lot less
important. When you realize that it is the Holy Spirit's job to re-make you into
the person you really are, and not your own, the need to be harried and hectic
may just start to subside.


God used Charles Spurgeon, again and again. Check out his sermons online.

How is God working through you today? (It's not a question of if He is working in you and through you, but how.)
Don't miss this story

God's love for an Kurdish Iraqi boy is powerful!
Freedom from, Freedom to

Paul Jacob has an excellent column on freedom and liberty. Read it, then pull out your Nave's topical bible and check out what the Bible says about liberty.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Book recommendation : The Heart of Anger

Many dad are prayerfully parenting children who express a lot of anger. Here's an excellent resource. If you're looking for a book on how to "fix" your child, don't read this one. But if you're looking for insight into the sources of anger and biblical responses, and are willing to own up to your own behavior, get it.


Religous hatred in Saudia Arabia and Iran

Men, we need to be in prayer. Let us seek the Lord for his divine power to open doors for the Gospel in Saudia Arabia and Iran. We also need wisdom for our leaders in dealing with these nations.

While the path forward in Iraq will be difficult, I believe our nation can muster the perseverance to see it through. But our president will be faced with challenging decisions about Iran's pursuit of nuclear power/weapons, and Syria's fomenting terrorist groups.

If you look at the globe, there is a curious fact of geography -- by changing regimes in Afganistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria find themselves completely surrounded by countries friendly to the US and willing to host US military forces.

But I say again, we need to pray. "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD ; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases." (Prov 21:1)
Recommending the Q

Many of us had musical tastes shaped by 70's and 80's rock. Some of the Christian radio stations feel stodgy -- the content is ok, but deep inside you feel like your great grandmother would approve of the rhythms. If you're in that situation, check out KZZQ radio. Or if you're a parent of teenagers, get them listening to KZZQ. (They have a great KZZQ online.

The song, "Who Am I?" by Casting Crowns is getting a lot of airplay now. Here are the lyrics:

Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt,
Who am I?
That the Bright and Morning Star,
Would choose to light the way,
For my ever wandering heart,

Not because of who I am,
But because of what You've done,
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who You are,
I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean (ocean),
A vapor in the wind,
Still You hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling,
And You've told me who I am.. I am Yours.

Who am I?
That the eyes that see my sin,
Would look on me with love,
and watch me rise again,
Who am I? That the voice that calmed the sea,
Would call out through the rain,
And calm the storm in me,

Not because of who I am,
But because of what You've done,
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who You are,
I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean (ocean),
A vapor in the wind,
Still You hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling,
And You've told me who I am... I am Yours,
I am Yours.I am Yours,Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
'Cause I am Yours,
I am Yours.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Why Demonize Homeschooling?

I'm still surprised at the animus towards homeschooling -- check out this story about a terrorist drill in Michigan that features wacko homeschoolers.
Is Time Managing Us or are We Managing Time?

Russ Lipton shares good insights on managing time .

The fundamental reason why it's difficult to be a good husband and father is that you have to pour out yourself and die for others. Men, that's our purpose.

Do not be like the Pharisees who rejected God's purpose for their lives (see Luke 7:30).

Drop the distractions, and set your hearts on pilgrimage through these shadowlands. Your heart won't be satisfied with the sawdust of this pleasure planet, anyway!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Where Strength Comes From

Every worldview, every way of ordering information and events so they make sense, includes a basic sense of where strength comes from. Dennis Prager's column "The Left Thinks Legally, the Right Thinks Morally" looks at two worldviews on authority and strength. An excerpt:

To the Left, legality matters most, while to the Right, legality matters
far less than morality. To the Right and to the religious, the law, when it is
doing its job, is only a vehicle to morality, never a moral end in itself. Even
the Left has to acknowledge this. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to
a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955, she violated the law. Therefore,
anyone who thinks she did the right thing is acknowledging that law must be
subservient to morality. Why, then, must the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein be
subject to international law as determined by Communist China, neo-KGB Russia,
amoral France and the thugs who rule Syria?
The answer is to be found in the Left's substitution of legal for moral. And why is the Left so enamored of law?
First, the Left, which is largely secular, regards morality not as
absolute, but as relative. This inevitably leads to moral confusion, and no one
likes to be morally confused. So instead of moral absolutes, the Left holds
legal absolutes. "Legal" for the Left is what "moral" is for the Right. The
religious have a belief in God-based moral law, and the Left believes in
man-made law as the moral law.
Second, whereas they cannot change God's laws, those on the Left can and do make many of society's laws. In fact, the Left is intoxicated with law-making. It gives them the power to mold society just as Judeo-Christian values did in the past. Unless one understands that leftist ideals function as a religion, one cannot understand the Left.
Laws are the Left's vehicles to earthly salvation. Virtually all human problems have a legal solution.Some men harass women? Pass laws banning virtually every flirtatious
action a man might engage in vis a vis a woman. Flood legislatures with laws
preventing the creation of a "hostile work environment." Whereas the religious
world has always worked to teach men how to act toward women, the secular world,
lacking these religious values, passes laws to control men.
In fact, since it lacks the self-control apparatus that is a major part of religion, the Left passes more and more laws to control people. That is why there is a direct link
between the decline in Judeo-Christian religion and the increase in governmental
laws controlling human behavior. Of course, the more laws that are passed,
the less liberty society enjoys. But to the Left, which elevates any number of
values above liberty -- e.g., compassion, equality, fairness -- this presents
little problem.
All this helps to explain the Left's preoccupation with controlling courts; passing laws; producing, enriching and empowering lawyers; filing lawsuits; and naming judges. Laws and the makers of laws will produce heaven on earth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Are you talking to yourself too much?

All of us have lots of "talk" going on in our heads. For years I've heard lame advice to follow "inner voice." I don't have a voice, I have a committee in here, and half of them are whiners. Besides, I still have to deal with my heart, which the Word of God tells me is deceitful and cannot be trusted.

One of the keys to an abiding life in Christ, a life that approaches the command "pray continually" (2 Thess 5:17), is to convert all this self-talk into dialogue with the Lord.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Brad Stine

Brad Stine, a hilarious Christian comedian (without a puppet!) is worth checking out. He claims he's one of two conservative comedians on the planet. He slides strong messages about gratitude and character through the openings his jokes make in your ribs. Check out his website or the "Brad Stine church promo" at the PK website to get a taster.
Register to Vote

Surveys show that evangelical Christians did not vote in large numbers in the 2000 National elections. Men, register to vote if you have not already done so. Christians must be good citizens.

Jeff Jacoby explains his concerns about the voter registration system. Being able to register to vote by mail without producing identification invites corruption.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

A Suggestion to Combat Unrighteous Anger

Many of us struggle with strong feelings of anger. Anger is a God-provided emotion that surges when we perceive a gap between what should be (or what we'd want, anyway) and what is. Often that anger is unrighteous -- it's not going to lead us to act to save another life or pray, inviting the power of God to come into a situation.

In the spiritual realm, who is delighted with our surge of unrighteous anger? Satan is. So let's not make him any happier!

Here's my suggestion that will take the wind out of the demonic sails. When you realize that you have feelings of anger that are not right, give thanks to God. Yes, I'm serious. Don't try to deny the anger or beat yourself up because you were angry again (and real Christian men would never get angry, right?) Lift up your heart in prayer, saying, "Thanks Lord for bringing this awful anger to the surface so it can be dealt with through your power. I agree with You -- this is coming from a heart not yet fully sanctified. Please work in me and through me by Your power, because I can't do this without you."

The first benefit of this approach is that you invited God's power into the situation. The second benefit is that you'll find you can't stay angry anymore. Unrighteous anger is like a fire -- if you deny it fuel, heat, or oxygen, it goes out.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Let this Blog come to you

If you're using an RSS news aggregator, then use the Atom feed for this blog:
Get the right songs in your head

Our Creator wired us for music. Take advantage of this by getting the right kind of music going in your head and heart, and you'll be able to resist more temptations to sin. It helps immensely to "take every thought captive."

Pick a few praise songs or hymns and memorize them. I was thrilled with the Newsboys performance at PK Des Moines last night.

Here's one you should have in your arsenal:

Here I am to Worship

Light of the World
You stepped down into darkness
Open my eyes
me see
Beauty that made
This heart adore You
Hope of a life
with You

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am
to say that You're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether wonderful to me

King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love's sake
became poor


I'll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that
I'll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

Chorus X2

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


If you enjoyed Zell Miller's speech at the RNC, then you will want to read his editorial response to his critics in the Wall Street Journal.
Book Recommendation: Making Room for Life

Lyle Schaller has noted that "the biggest challenge for the church at the opening of the twenty-first century is to develop a solution to the discontinuity and fragmentation of the American lifestyle."

If you're busy and stressed out trying to deal with suburbia life and be a busy Christian at church, then I recommend you check out Randy Frazee's book, Making Room for Life. The subtitle is "Trading Chaotic Lifestyles for Connected Relationships." The author has practical advice on recoverying a Hebrew day:
6pm - 10pm time for relationships, with the family meal prominent
10pm - 6am sleep
6am - 6pm work (production)

I was very skeptical when I heard about what Frazee was outlining. A zillion excuses came to mind why this was a practical impossibility for my family. But I also heard whispers of "wouldn't that be nice?"

Frazee emphasizes that changes will take significant time and courage. He doesn't water anything down, and provides advice on smaller and larger changes your family can implement. He has some useful ideas about dealing with kids' sports, homework, and church meetings in the evening. It's a pretty fast read, too, guys, almost devoid of the dreaded "theory" chapters that men stall on.

Can the Brooke family make the change? Will the Brooke family make the change? We're going to make a few steps in this direction, and trust God to lead us.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Never doubt the goodness of God

"The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it." --James Madison

Terrorism shows us that evil exists. But looking to Jesus' example, we never lose our confidence in the goodness, grace, and mercy of God. John Piper writes:

Never, never did he doubt the goodness or power of his Father while confronting
the worst evils in the universe. And this did not make him “inhuman.” It made
him perfectly human. His combination of compassion for people and confidence in
God is the call on our lives for how to respond to suffering. It is unthinkable
that Jesus would make doubt in his Father the test of compassion for suffering
Never did he teach us, or even hint, that we should doubt the
reality of God’s goodness and power when facing unspeakable evil. When people
confronted him with the slaughter of the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled
with their sacrifices, he spoke very differently from the Archbishop: “He
answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all
the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but
unless you repent, you will all likewise perish’” (Luke 13:2-3).
For those
who are saturated and shaped by all the words and ways of Jesus, not only does
horrific evil today not bring doubt of God, it does not even bring surprise.
Jesus labored to help us be ready for the worst of evils, even Islamic
terrorists. He taught us that there would be “terrors” (an amazingly relevant
word for what “terrorists” cause—Luke 21:11). He said that there would be
terrible famines and plagues. Betrayal would become common and even parents
would hand over children, “and some of you they will put to death” (Luke 21:16).
People will be “fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the
world” (Luke 21:28). And, perhaps most relevant of all in this day of religious
terrorism, Jesus said, “The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he
is offering service to God” (John 16:2).
But in spite of all this evil and
suffering, Jesus did not even remotely suggest that we should have a flicker of
doubt toward the goodness and sovereignty of God, or that somehow it would be
less humane to hold fast to God with unshakable hope and undoubting faith.
Rather Jesus did the opposite. He strove to help us maintain faith in the face
of horrifying evil: “When you see these things taking place, you know that the
kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31). This is not the suggestion of doubt, but
the certainty of hope. Again he says that when you see these unspeakable evils
happening around you, you should “raise your heads, because your redemption is
drawing near” (Luke 21:38). This is not a time for weakening faith, but
unwavering hope.
The gift that followers of Christ bring to the suffering
world is not the empathy of doubt, but the power of hope. We do not join the
world in their anger at God or their questioning of his existence or justice or
mercy. The very thing that survivors of suffering need most is hope in God
through Jesus Christ. This will not be given by those who make its uncertainty
the measure of our compassion. It is unbiblical and unmerciful to say that what
suffering people need most must be doubted in order to prove our love for them.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Good links

Several good things to read!

The evil work of terrorists (not militants, as some journalists describe them) in Beslan was horrific. The WSJ has a good editorial pointing out that it should be hard to justify specifically targeting children in a school, and that we need to foment a worldview shift on terrorism as the British did for slavery in the 19th century. Dennis Prager again points out that it is only Muslims who are doing such things (even if it is only a minority of Muslims):

With the psychopathic cruelty at a Russian elementary school, have we reached
the point where people of goodwill can ask serious questions about Muslims and
Islam? Or are any challenging questions still to be dismissed as "Muslim
bashing" or, even more absurdly, "racist," as if religion were a race?
truth is that everyone with a conscience has questions about Muslims and Islam.
But the most powerful religion in America, the religion of tolerance, has
rendered it almost impossible to ask any such questions. Most people are so
afraid of being branded intolerant that the most natural and goodhearted
questions are only posed by the handful who have the courage to do so (usually
conservative Christians).

Kevin Miller has great suggestions for anyone is leadership roles who is struggling with information overload. Recommended.

I am praying that President Bush will win the election by a large margin, so there is no doubt about his credibility with the electorate. I'm encouraged in read Brendan Miniter's reasoning for why Bush will win at least 53% of the vote.

But I'm concerned about the Bush Administration pushing for more federal spending on non-defense needs. The federal involvement in education is unconstitutional, though a pragmatist like George W. Bush sees that it may be necessary to prevent the wholesale implosion of public schooling. Terence Jeffrey has a nice column explaining his concerns about how we are setting up a fiscal civil war in the next generation.

Ben Shapiro helps us understand the slippery slope of the religion of tolerance:
"The new religion of tolerance provides a slippery slope into moral oblivion.
All activity must be tolerated, since sympathy for friends and family trumps
traditional morality. With tolerance for sin comes acceptance of sin, and with
acceptance, promotion. With Roe vs. Wade, Americans grudgingly tolerated
With tolerance came acceptance: Those who received abortions
were no longer seen as immoral. Instead, they were the moral equals of ordinary
mothers. Finally, abortion was promoted as a valuable alternative to pregnancy
completion -- and those who condemned abortion were slandered as sinners.
When Republicans passed the partial-birth abortion ban last year, Sen.
Barbara Boxer of California complained that such policy was immoral: "What I
think is immoral is to take your views ... or my views ... and force them on the
people of this country," she stated. "It is disrespectful, it isn't right, and
it isn't what America is about."
The same progression holds true for gay marriage: tolerance, acceptance and promotion. The first step is always tolerance, and tolerance must be attained by appealing to sympathy. The easiest way to gain sympathy for social liberalism is to point out close friends or relatives participating in sin, and then dare us to condemn their actions."

Those concerned about educating children should review the 1910 expectations for eighth graders.

Finally, for all Christian men and especially for pastors, there is Eugene Peterson's wonderful essay, Lashed to the Mast. Do not miss this.

More on the Grass

I'm pleased with the grass that has emerged and is growing well. God is good to this gardener who has at best a pale green thumb! New insight -- the Scott's shady mix seed I planted has a mixture of types of seed. The rye grass has emerged, but I'm still expecting the bluegrass to germinate.
As we minister with others, let us be patient. God has sown different types of hearts to cultivate and nurture; to each He has assigned a schedule.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Nurturing New Grass

I wrote earlier about clearing out a large area under our pine trees. I planted grass seed on Sunday afternoon, and have been faithfully, prayerfully watering twice a day since. Tonight I spotted tiny green shoots for the first time!

There are a number of parallels to helping children or new believers in Christ.

I've been watering what appeared to be nothing but dirt for 5 days, with no sign of growth at all. Lots of water, consistently applied, twice a day, morning and evening. And I'll need to keep watering consistently for several weeks to come.

I'm fully cognizant that I cannot make grass grow. (1 Cor 3:6) I was humbled to realize that I've prayed more intently and passionately for this grass to sprout than I have for some young believers I'm working with.

The most new shoots occur where the ground is partly shaded; the fewest where the soil is exposed to the August sun all day. New sprouts need sun and warmth, but not too much. New believers need protection. Tender grass is easily withered.

May God help us and use us to nurture new grass. Amen!