Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thank God for C.S. Lewis!

Chuck Colson has a nice tribute to C. S. Lewis, born November 29, 1898. Lewis is certainly one of the most influential Christians on my life.

Read the Chronicles of Narnia series to your kids if you haven't already. In fact, I recommend them to adults. Lewis' novels are like the best children's sermons -- he's speaking to the parents, too.

Is Arafat in Hell?

Dennis Prager has an interesting column defending the belief that Arafat must be in hell. His belief is based on a rational discourse and a just God:

"One, therefore, need not be a conservative Christian to believe in some form of hell for the evil. All one need be is a rational believer in a just God. For if there is a just God, it is inconceivable that those who do evil and those who do good have identical fates. A just God must care about justice, and since there is little justice in this world, there has to be in the next. ... So, of course, I hope Yasser Arafat is in hell. It means that a just God rules the universe. If you think that is hard-hearted, consider the alternative, that one of the most corrupt and cruel human beings of the past half-century is resting in peace. Whoever isn't bothered by that is the one with the hard heart."

Christians can go further, and with more confidence. Jesus warned about hell (a lot!).

This is a good dinner topic with your family. Challenge family members to look up relevant Bible passages.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Good thought for moments of temptation

"Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he isreally selling himself a slave to it." --BenjaminFranklin
Marketing to weak minds

I enjoy reading Seth Godin's material, very stimulating ideas. Check out this blurb about his upcoming book: Seth Godin is coming out with a new book in May called "All Marketers Are Liars: But Great Marketers Tell Stories We Want to Believe."
This from the Portfolio summer catalog:
Every marketer tells a story. And, if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche Cayenne is cooler than a $36,000 VW Touareg, which is virtually the same car. We believe that $225 Pumas will make our feet feel better than $20 no-names...and believing it makes it true.Seth Godin argues that it doesn't matter if something is actually better or faster or more efficient. What matters is whether the consumer believes your story. Godin teaches readers how to create a powerful story (even if it's a fib).Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and the share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner and the iPod.Marketers fail when they are selfish and scurrilous, when they abuse the tools of their trade and make the world worse. Think of telemarketers and Marlboro.This is a powerful book for anyone who wants to sell things people truly want, as opposed to commodities that people merely need.

This gets me to thinking about the message of the Gospel. (Two parts -- 1. You are far worse than you can imagine. 2. You are far more loved than you ever dared to hope.) Mr. Godin would argue that it only matters that the sales message align with people's desires, not whether it is needed or even true. The Gospel aligns not only with the desire of our hearts -- to be loved, to be known, to matter, to understand our place and purpose -- but is also objectively true. A clear winner!

Godin's ideas here also make it easier to understand why we settle for such lousy substitutes that the world offers us, no matter how pricey.
Make It Your Business

Thomas Brooks' dedicatory to his wonderful book, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, ends with strong words of encouragement, purpose, and request for prayer. This book belongs in your library, but should be well-used. Study this (don't get hung up on the style of English, this is from 1652), and see how a man of Christ loves others.

"My desires to you are, That you would make it your business to study Christ, his word, your own hearts, Satan's plots, and eternity, more than ever; That ye would endeavor more to be inwardly sincere than outwardly glorious; to live, than to have a name to live; That ye would labor with all your might to be thankful under mercies, and faithful in your places, and humble under divine appearances, and fruitful under precious ordinances; That as your means and mercies are greater than others', so your account before God may not prove a worse than others'; That ye would pray for me, who am not worthy to be named among the saints, that I may be a precious instrument in the hand of Christ to bring in many souls unto him, and to build up those that are brought in in their most holy faith; and 'that utterance may be given to me, that I may make known all the will of God' (Eph. 6. r9); that I may be sincere, faithful, frequent, fervent and constant in the work of the Lord, and that my labor be not in vain in the Lord; that my labors may be accepted in the Lord and his saints, and I may daily see the travail of my soul.
But, above all, pray for me, that I may more and more find the power and sweet of those Things upon my own heart, that I give out to you and others; that my soul may be so visited with strength from on high, that I may live up fully and constantly to those truths that I hold forth to the world; and that I may be both in life and doctrine 'a burning and a shining light,' that so, when the Lord Jesus shall appear, 'I may receive a crown of glory which he shall give to me in that day, and not only to me, but to all that love his appearing.' (John 5. 35 and 2 Tim. 1. 8).
For a close, remember this, that your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all.
I shall now take leave of you, when my heart hath by my hand subscribed, that I am,
Your loving pastor under Christ, according to all pastoral affections and engagements in our dearest Lord, THOMAS BROOKS "
About Civil Unions

Midge Decter delivered an excellent speech about the problems with compromise on civil unions. Worth y0ur time.
The Same Man -- Public and Private

Heard recently: "I don't want to hear your message if your wife doesn't want to hear your message." Men, let us take care that our life at home is consistent with our life on the platform, in public view.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

It's Thanksgiving!

Some time back we were at a get-together at a friend's home. He was called upon to ask the blessing for the meal. He quieted all of us with this question: "Is everyone thankful? I wouldn't want anyone to perjure themselves." Let us be thankful, grateful men!

I'm grateful for a President who does not flinch from reminding us that our liberties and freedom come from God. See the text of his official proclamation. Here's a part:

"All across America, we gather this week with the people we love, to give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. We are grateful for our freedom, grateful for our families and friends, and grateful for the many gifts of America. On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come from the Almighty God. Almost four centuries ago, the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest feast to thank God after suffering through a brutal winter. President George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and President Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War, asking Americans to give thanks with "one heart and one voice. Since then, in times of war and in times of peace, Americans have gathered with family and friends and given thanks to God for our blessings.
On this Thanksgiving Day, we thank God for His blessings and ask Him to continue to guide and watch over our nation."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

"This is a health crisis, not a sin!"

Joe Carter takes the evangelical church to task for not addressing the sin of gluttony.

"While many churchgoers have heard sermons warning against the dangers of sexual sins such as adultery or fornication, they’re not likely to have heard their pastor speak out against gluttony. It’s doubtful that many Christians would even consider it a sin. An openly homosexual couple attempting to join the congregation would be looked down upon by the obese deacon showing them to the door; and no one in the pews would even recognize the irony. The stink of our hypocrisy is so overwhelming that it’s amazing we can hold down our order of Super Size fries.
Gluttony was once listed among the seven deadly sins. But now it's considered, when it's thought about at all, as a private health matter. We may realize that overeating has led to weight gain, a change in appearance, or diminished health. But we never recognize it as a spiritual problem."

Read the whole column. You don't have to be overweight to guilty of gluttony.

"Lest we start to feel superiour to the obese, though, we should remember that not all gluttons are overweight. I’m 5’10”, 165 lbs and, thanks to the Marine Corps preoccupation with physical activity, in relatively good shape. But while my waistline may not expose my shame, I’m prone to overindulging in food. I eat several snacks between meals. I eat when I’m in my car. I eat when I’m bored. I eat when I’m restless, when I’m frustrated, when I’m watching TV, when I’m on the computer…I eat constantly for no other reason than that I can.
In stuffing my face, I neglect my spiritual life. I turn to the refrigerator instead of turning to prayer. I pause at the vending machine instead of pausing in meditation. I seek out a piece of bread instead of seeking the Bread of Life. I fill my life with food in order to avoid filling it with God. "

Good thoughts for men who would live out Jesus' style of eating -- fasting with prayer, eating what's appropriate, and unafraid to feast with celebration.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Focus on the Word

How wonderful -- it's National Bible Week!

"The Bible is the rope God throws us in order to ensure that we stay connected while the rescue is in progress." -- J.I. Packer

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Pit bull or Poodle?

The passivity of men in the Church and the majority of homes is a primary spiritual problem. This blog is named "Be Bold, Be Gentle" because Christian men should reflect the toughness and tenderness of Jesus Christ. That's the combination that the Holy Spirit will bring out in us as we obey the clear commands from the Word.

I encourage you to read Doug Giles' latest column "Do You Have a Pit Bull Attitude?" He contrasts biblical pitbulls with biblical poodles in his usual ascerbic style. Here's an excerpt:

"God intended His believers—especially Christian leaders—to be spiritual warriors, to be pit bulls who smash demonic strongholds, stand for truth and bring life, light and healing to this great planet.
As I see it, a Christian without a Pit Bull Attitude is a Poodle Christian. What a terrible fate, to be a poodle Christian. A pit bull Christian is a hero and a champion, braver than the bravest, one who laughs at difficulties, dangers, and death.
The poodle Christian runs to his air-conditioned doghouse when it starts to get “hot in the kitchen.” Sweetie poodle Christians fear they might lose the curl in their hair if they get too close to the flame … too close to the front of the major spiritual and moral battles of the day. Therefore, the poodle Christians choose to hang out within the stained-glass-tinted windows of the Church instead of going out into the real world to confront secular monsters. Yes, the call to battle always seems to find them at covered-dish dinners. "

There are those who fear strong men. In my experience these people want tamer men, "sissified men." They believe that strong men will harm women, children, and the weak. Strong men have throughout history. But not men strong in Christ. Men strong in Christ have changed the world so that women, children, and the weak have nothing to fear. Men strong in Christ hear God's voice and obey it. They are rich in grace and mercy because God has redeemed them from the pit of hell. They provide for and protect others because God's character has been worked into their hearts. They discern good and evil, and act appropriately towards both, because the Holy Spirit indwells them.

Be bold, be gentle. Be strong in Christ.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Parenting tip

Dads, let's remember that we're raising kids who belong to God. Our aim is for them to grow up strong in Jesus and be Christ-like, not [in my case] Glenn-like.

Friday, November 19, 2004

May God bless the Marines!

We should be very grateful to the Marines for their victory in Fallujah. I'm grateful men this tough and disciplined and honorable defend my family and our country. As for NBC's videotape purportedly showing a Marine shooting a defenseless Iraqi lying on the floor... get the right picture. See the excellent Semper Fi editorial in the WSJ.
Confusion about Theocracy

There's plenty of fear-mongering from ill-informed writers about the President's re-election pushing America into a theocracy. Joe Carter posts some useful perspective on the meaning and history of theocracy. Here's his hook starter:

"Living in a country where 34 percent of the population believes in UFOs and ghosts, I shouldn’t be surprised to find that Americans will believe just about anything. Still, it is rather disconcerting to discover so many people think that our nation is turning into a “theocracy.” "
Building Mighty Men

A friend recently pointed to 2 Samuel 23:8-39 and said we needed to be builders of mighty men. Read the stunning descriptions of David's mighty men, and consider who are the mighty men in your family, church, and community today.

Who will be the mighty men in the next generation? And the next?

How are mighty men built? Does this give you some ideas of how to inspire your sons and the young men in your community?

Recommended reading: Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle, a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Linda Lawson spoke briefly at CrossTrainers yesterday. She lost her husband and three other family members in a plane crash earlier this year. She had several good things to say to the men, but here's the best:

"Every women I know is insecure. You need to remind your wife that she matters."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Don't Waste Your Life DVD

I just watched the Don't Waste Your Life presentation by John Piper on DVD. Get it. I know some of you just aren't readers. Get it and watch it. $11 for a book and the DVD. I believe this message, internalized in you and your family, can change the world.
Where there's a cross, there's a touchpoint on the cultural war

I recommend Dennis Prager's column defending the small cross on the Los Angeles county seal. He closes with this:

"In 1834, 99 years before Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power, the great German poet Heinrich Heine, a secular Jew, predicted what would happen if Christianity ever weakened in Germany:
A drama will be enacted in Germany compared to which the French Revolution will seem like a harmless walk in the park. Christianity restrained the marshal ardor of the Germans for a time, but it did not destroy it; once the restraining guard is shattered, savagery will rise again . . . the mad fury of the berserk of which Nordic poets sing and speak.
That is what this American, this Jew, and millions of others believe is at stake in the Left's attempt to impose a redesign of the Los Angeles County seal and thereby redesign America."
Right statements on faith

Give Star Parker for hitting the nail cleanly with her hammer in We All Have Faith in Something. She correctly identifies the traditional Democrat faith -- in government as a solution. "The Democratic gospel preaches an all-encompassing faith that politics and government will solve our personal problems. ...check out what they call values: Government-run health care, government-run schools, government-run personal retirement and a politically defined and managed overall sense of social justice. "

Now, men, let us be careful to place our faith in the right Person.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What would it look like if...

Here's a good dinner conversation starter for your family. Read this passage from Acts 19, The Message translation of the unexpected result of some exorcist's attempt to use the name of Jesus:

13Some itinerant Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time
tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul's "game." They pronounced the
name of the Master Jesus over victims of evil spirits, saying, "I command you by
the Jesus preached by Paul!" 14The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high
priest, were trying to do this on a man 15when the evil spirit talked back: "I
know Jesus and I've heard of Paul, but who are you?" 16Then the possessed man
went berserk--jumped the exorcists, beat them up, and tore off their clothes.
Naked and bloody, they got away as best they could.
It was soon news all over Ephesus among both Jews and Greeks. The
realization spread that God was in and behind this. Curiosity about Paul
developed into reverence for the Master Jesus. 18Many of those who thus believed
came out of the closet and made a clean break with their secret sorceries. 19All
kinds of witches and warlocks came out of the woodwork with their books of
spells and incantations and made a huge bonfire of them. Someone estimated their
worth at fifty thousand silver coins. 20In such ways it became evident that the
Word of the Master was now sovereign and prevailed in Ephesus.

Encourage your family to imagine the scene in all its details.

Then ask these questions:

How is authentic faith different than “Jesus talk”?
Can you think of “secret sorceries” that may be present in our midst today?
What would our city look like if the Word of the Master were sovereign and prevailed? What would your family look like?

Don't be surprised if the responses to the third question begin to describe a sinless state. Help them realize that sin and its effects will still be here, but that we would be quick to reconcile and forgive, and so the effects of sin would be much less.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Greeting one another

I'd like to promote an idea: when you talk with people, write emails, and letters, use biblical language of blessing people. The letters of the New Testament usually begin and end with statements like

"Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ," (Ephesians 1)

"To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ, may mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you." (Jude)

Why not do this today? Are we afraid this kind of blessing is "old fashioned?"

I've been enjoying new kinds of closing greetings in emails. Feel free to use any of these:

Under His Mercy,
Serving the best King ever,
Your fellow-bondservant, ,
May the Lord open our eyes and hearts ,
Enjoying Christ together,

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Renewed plug for online resource

There are some new readers of this blog since I last mentioned Bible Gateway. Great free resource, I use it frequently.
Even in the "blue" states

Curious data about % votes for President Bush in the states he lost to Senator Kerry:

39% - Rhode Island, Vermont
40% - New York
44% - California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland
45% - Hawaii, Illinois, Maine
46% - New Jersey, Washington
47% - Oregon
48% - Michigan, Minnesota
49% - New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

The "blue" states are less uniformly blue than some think.

Have you noticed the uptick in conversations with your friends and extended families about "moral values?"

Friday, November 12, 2004

Fighting the Sin of Pride

Print off a copy of this article and read it...weekly. Great stuff from John Piper. And if you haven't already, sign up to receive [free!] sermons and writings from DesiringGod.org.
About those exit polls

Much heat but little light has come from the infamous exit polls that so many have written about. Check out Charles Krauthammers' column which logically debunks the "it's moral values, stupid white evangelicals!" story. Key excerpt:
Its origins lie in a single question in the Election Day exit poll.
The urban myth grew around the fact that ``moral values'' ranked highest in the
answer to Question J: ``Which ONE issue mattered most in deciding how you voted
for president?''
It is a thin reed upon which to base a General
Theory of the '04 Election. In fact, it is no reed at all. The way the question
was set up, moral values was sure to be ranked disproportionately high. Why?
Because it was a multiple-choice question and moral values cover a group of
issues, while all the other choices were individual issues. Chop up the
alternatives finely enough, and moral values is sure to get a bare plurality
over the others.
Look at the choices:
-- Education, 4 percent --
Taxes, 5 percent -- Health Care, 8
percent -- Iraq, 15 percent --
Terrorism, 19 percent -- Economy and Jobs, 20
percent -- Moral Values, 22
``Moral values'' encompasses abortion, gay
marriage, Hollywood's influence, the general coarsening of the culture, and, for
some, the morality of pre-emptive war. The way to logically pit this class of
issues against the others would be to pit it against other classes: ``war
issues'' or ``foreign policy issues'' (Iraq plus terrorism) and ``economic
issues'' (jobs, taxes, health care, etc).
If you pit
group against group, moral values comes in dead last: war issues at 34 percent,
economic issues variously described at 33 percent, and moral values at 22
percent -- i.e., they are at least a third less salient than the others.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Managing the incoming information artillery barrage

There's a critical skill that we need to master, and we need to help our children master: handling the multiple firehoses of information available to us today. There are email, blogs, podcasts, cell phones, beepers, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, snail mail, and (gee I almost forgot :-) books. How do you practically sort it out? What's important? How do you focus? What would Jesus do!?

First, let's make sure we cultivate a love for God's Word in ourselves and our families. Work with your wife, and teach your children how to read the Bible -- both devotional and study methods -- and apply it. I'm learning that we need to weave prayer into this work, or else we'll cultivate dry theologians rather than wells of living water that can minister to others.

Second, make time and space for relationships. These are more precious than most books, and certainly more than almost anything that's on TV. The books Margin and Making Room for Life are particularly recommended here.

Third, there are particular skills for processing information that I believe will be increasingly essential for people. I recommend Surviving Information Overload and Getting Things Done in this category. If you are only shooting to help yourself, that's too low a goal. Purpose to teach your whole family about this.

Arafat dies

Arafat dies in Paris at age 75. A few days ago Rich Tucker had, to my mind, appropriate commentary about Arafat's legacy and how the "intelluctual elite hailed him."

Let us pray for the leadership of the "Palestinian" people, shameless and horribly manipulated like pawns in a lousy chess match. A fraction of the people are brothers and sisters in Christ. (Don't be taken in by simplistic media reporting that all Palestinians are Muslim and support Hamas.)

Remember Genesis 12:3, brothers. God is still looking after His people.
Christians and Government

I believe Christians should stay engaged in civics because it is both good citizenship (which honors the Lord), and it is an avenue of influence to limit the damage of sin (through law).

But I also know that involvement in government is a dangerous allure. Some evangelicals are "expecting" the Bush administration to "repay" for their votes. This is hazardous and manipulative, and not in the way of Christ.

Cal Thomas has reminders for us, also. See "Focus on the wrong families?"

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Wives of Weinsburg

Doug Phillips shares this story.

The wives who lived within the walls of the Weinsberg Castle in Germany were well aware of the riches it held: gold, silver, jewels, and wealth beyond belief.Then the day came in 1141 AD when all their treasure was threatened. An enemy army had surrounded the castle and demanded the fortress, the fortune, and the lives of the men within. There was nothing to do but surrender.

Although the conquering commander had set a condition for the safe release of all women and children, the wives of Weinsberg refused to leave without having one of their own conditions met, as well. They demanded that they be allowed to fill their arms with as many possessions as they could carry out with them. Knowing that the women couldn't possibly make a dent in the massive fortune, their request was honored.

When the castle gates opened the army outside was brought to tears. Each woman had carried out her husband.

The wives of Weinberg, indeed, were aware of the riches the castle held.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Husbands, Fathers, I want you to do two things today. First, go to God's Word, start anywhere familiar and comforting, and then read aloud until you feel God's encouragement and strength in you.

Second, ask God to show you another man who needs encouragement. Then follow-through, phone or email him with some encouragement.

Tomorrow, repeat this process. Get in the habit of seeking God for encouragement, and passing it on to others. That's being bold and being gentle.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

This is telling

Eleven states had referendums about same-sex marriage on the ballot. All eleven state voted against same-sex marriage by very wide margins -- 2:1 or higher! Praise God, men.
Still working to be salt and light

I appreciated Chuck Colson's comments in his most recent column:
The kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One no matter
how good the president’s character or great his ability. Don’t get me wrong:
Elections are important; the law is a moral teacher. But all the laws and
political victories will not help us if we lose the culture. Our job is the same
no matter who is in office: that is, to make serious disciples and to bring
Christian truth to bear in all of life....To paraphrase the Scriptures, what
will it profit us if we win the presidency—but lose our children to a corroded
culture? The election is over, and now it’s time to get down to our job, to be
steady at our posts—discipling our children and transforming culture, the only
way cultures are ever changed: from the bottom up.

Armstrong Williams echoes this truth and calls for political leadership that will facilitate moral striving " to rekindle in our children a sense of moral striving, so that they may realize something greater than a popular culture that glorifies violence, sexual promiscuousness, same-sex unions and disintegrating family structures. "

What happens in your house, men, is more important than what happens in the White House.

Monday, November 01, 2004

What will we do if John Kerry is elected?!

I’ve heard this question from several Christians lately, with gasps and mutterings. There’s a simple answer: We should do the same things we would do were President Bush re-elected.

Pray for kings and all those in authority. (1 Tim 2:2) Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:7)
Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. (Deut 6:5)
Love others as yourself (Lev 19:18). Serve others in the power and name of Jesus.
Sing spiritual songs in your heart. (Col 3:16) Be joyful and hopeful (1 Thess 5:16-18; Col 1:11), glad for a redeemed life, ever-looking forward to heaven.
Be in the world without being of the world. (John 17:6) Be salt and light in your neighborhood and workplace (Matt 5:13-16
Talk about the Word of God all the time with your family (Deut 6:7)
Wake up every day astonished that you are alive (see Luke 13:1-5)

And we can count on our Risen Lord to guide us into all truth and wise living, for the sake of His Name.

Now I have strong preferences about which candidate should be President, and what Presidents and other elected officials should do and not do. (Here's a start -- let every citizen be familiar with The Constitution!) But men, we need to be sober-minded, and pay attention to clear instruction from Scripture. Whomever is elected President is not our Savior. Let us not ascribe to any man more than what God ascribes.
What are you called to?

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God (Ephesians 1:1)

Paul fully understood that he was an apostle by the will of God. It was his calling, his purpose, his endeavor – everything was subject to this.

You are not outside the will of God, brother. What are you called to be and do? Put your name and purpose in that sentence. , _____________ by the will of God.

I’m a husband, father, teacher, encourager, and spiritual leader by the will of God. That's an incredibly encouraging reality!

What about you?
About lies

The only thing that God cannot do is lie. Satan is the father of lies – his crummy kingdom is built on a foundation of lies. Lies are his native tongue.

How much different would the world be if people were incapable of lies? No matter what, you could only tell the truth – to others, and to yourself. This will be a key difference between our numbered days here, and heaven.