Saturday, December 31, 2005

Marriage Resolutions

What's on your New Year's Resolution list to strengthen and preserve your marriage?

Here's a hint: your wife spells love "T-I-M-E."
Encourage your Pastor

Men, please find ways to encourage your pastor(s) as the new year starts. These are worthy servants who are working to build you up and equip you for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). Train your children to respect and appreciate pastors, beginning with your example.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Daily Discipline

What if you decided that you were going to read your Bible and pray for your family every day in 2006?

I read this recently about a recommendation to exercise daily, and set specific goals:

"What would happen if you went 365-straight days without missing a day of exercise?...Then make a goal to perform the same task every single day, without fail, for 365 days. At the end of the year, when you look backand see how far you've come, I doubt seriously that'll you'll feel that the "repetition" was dull or boring. No, the repetition is what helps refine you and make you a better person. "

Exercising your body is a good thing! How much more can be accomplished by reading God's Word daily and interceding for your family?
Looking Back, Being Thankful

Doug Phillips (from Vision Forum) sent out two important things you should do this time of year.

1. Catalog the key events of 2005.

What I appreciated was his suggestion to be comprehensive in the review, and do this as a family:

" In addition to recording the key events and providences of the year chronologically, I try to take the time with my family to record some of the following information on separate bullet lists:
Where did I/we travel?
What were the titles and key texts of sermons I preached?
What books/articles did I write?
What significant household projects did we accomplish in 2005?
What were the most important meetings of the year?
What special friendships were made this year?
Which children lost teeth, and how many?
Who grew in physical stature and how much did they grow?
Who learned to read this year?
What diet and physical exercise regimen did I maintain to honor “my temple”?
What books did I read? Did we read as a family? Did my children read?
What Scriptures did my family memorize?
What loved ones died this year?
What were the great personal/ministry/national tragedies and losses of the year?
What were the great personal/ministry/national blessings of the year?
What were my most significant failures/sins for the year 2005?
What unresolved conflicts/issues am I bringing into 2006?
What significant spiritual and practical victories did I experience?
In what tangible ways did I communicate gratitude to those who have blessed me and invested in my life?
What are the top ten themes of 2005 for my family?"

2. Write thank you letters to the people who have been most influential in your life, and in 2005.

"Before the year ends, make a list of two types of people: The first list are the names of people whose life, ministry, or personal investment in you have deeply touched you and changed your life. (In my case, the list includes parents, pastors, and even some teachers from the early years of my Christian walk that I did not meet until much later in my life, but whose books and tapes were crucial to my personal discipleship as a young Christian.) The second list should include those people who played the most significant role in your life in 2005."

Terrific ideas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Biblical Fatherhood

Doug Philips (Vision Forum) excerpted this from a book titled "The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy."

A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector, with the authority and mandate to direct his household in paths of obedience to God. (Gen. 18:19; Eph. 6:4)

A man’s authority in the home should be exercised with gentleness, grace, and love as a servant-leader, following the example of Jesus Christ. Leadership is a stewardship from God. (Ps. 103:13; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 11:29-30; Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:7)

The authority of fathers is limited by the law of God and the lawful authority of church and state. Christian fathers cannot escape the jurisdiction of church and state and must be subject to both. (Rom. 13:1ff.; Eph. 5:21; 6:4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.)
Leadership Quote

"If I put a loaded gun to your head, I can get you to do things you might not otherwise do, but I've not practiced leadership; I've exercised power. True leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to." -- Jim Collins
Are We Thanking God Enough?

Mark Batterson has some useful factoids about what we should be thankful for:

"I think most of us take most things for granted. Right now, thousands of things are happening in your body that you are totally unaware of. Trillions of chemical reactions are taking place in every cell every second. Electrical impulses are shooting across synapses. Hormones are surging through your bloodstream. Your body is breathing, thinking, metabolizing, calibrating, repairing, purifying, digesting, and circulating all time. And here is the amazing thing: you don't give it a second thought. As important and as integral as those processes are to our survival, most of us are totally unaware of what our bodies are doing most of the time. We take the miracle for granted. The retina conducts close to ten billion calculations every second. And that is before an image even gets to the brain. The Reticular Activating System is filtering millions of stimuli every second and determined what you pay attention to and what gets ignored. Your ear drums are picking up sound waves and they are being translated into intelligible language.Just to touch your nose with your finger takes approximately 400 separate chemical reactions. The ability to pick your nose is an amazing act of neurological coordination. It's gross. I'm not advocating for it. But it's miraculous.We take the sunrise for granted. Why? Because there isn't a day that the sun hasn't come up. I don't know anybody who consistently thanks God for keeping the planets in orbit day in and day out. But it's miraculous.If we thanked God for every heart beat we'd owe God 100,000 thank yous per day. Throw in every breath and we'd owe him another 23,000 thank yous."
Christian Infighting

There's an old saying that the worst fights are among family members. One former pastor I know talks about how Christians excel at shooting our wounded.

Perry Noble has a useful blog post about this. He takes on those who would argue about
-- the correct translation of the Bible to use
-- predestination vs. free will
-- music in worship services
-- eschatology
-- Bible teaching methods
-- whether to have church service on Christmas day if it's on Sunday

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sobering Statistics

TVs consume 4 percent of the power generated in the United States. That's 46 billion kilowatt hours a year.

I don't know what personal computers consume. :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Holding Hands High

You probably remember the story about Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ hands all day so that Joshua and the Israelites would defeat the Amalekites in battle. Here’s the passage to read:

“Amalek came and fought Israel at Rephidim. Moses ordered Joshua: "Select some men for us and go out and fight Amalek. Tomorrow I will take my stand on top of the hill holding God's staff." Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses' hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle.
(Exodus 17:8-13)

Think about this a bit – how tired do you think Aaron and Hur were after a few hours of holding up Moses’ hands? No stone to sit on for them! I suspect they were excited about the victory, but their whole bodies probably ached when they lay down to sleep that night. (Plus, these men weren’t 18 year-old who wouldn’t “feel it” the next day, or three.)

Also, how much did Moses’ arms and shoulders ache from being held high? Try this – hold your hands over your head for five minutes.

I imagine that all three of them were praying for an end to the battle, for victory sooner than later!

The Lord frequently calls men to support one another, in prayer, in action. But everyone’s arms may get weary and sore. Everyone may be excited about the end result, but there was plenty of discomfort getting us there. Stay the course when you’re in the fight with a brother. Don’t listen to the whiny committee in your head telling you to stop holding the other person up.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Special Assignment

I like how Eugene Peterson translated Colossians 1:1

"I, Paul, have been sent on special assignment by Christ as part of God's master plan."

You and I have been given special assignments, too. Think about that. Pray about it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ten Things You Never Hear In Church

#1 - Hey! It's my turn to sit down front!
#2 - I was so into your message that I didn't notice it went 25 minutes too long!
#3 - Personally, I find witnessing more enjoyable than golf.
#4 - I have thought about it and decided to give our church the $500 per month that I have been sending the TV evangelists
#5 - I volunteer to be a permanent worker with middle school students!
#6 - Forget the denominational minimum salary, let's pay our staff so they can live like we do.
#7 - I LOVE IT when we sing songs that we've never sang before.
#8 - Since we're all here, let's begin the service early.
#9 - Pastor, we'd like to send you to this Bible seminar in Hawaii...
#10 - I LOVE IT when you preach on giving!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Meditation* on Caleb

There are some inspiring and challenges lessons from Caleb in Joshua 14:6-15. He's 85 years old. Remember that Caleb and Joshua were in favor of going into the promised land -- but 10 others lost heart and discouraged Israel against going in. The result? Joshua and Caleb spent the next 40 years with these whiners and cowards, and dug a lot of graves. But they clung to the Lord's promises. Now the time has come for Caleb to ask for territory. Let's listen in to what a righteous 85 year-old says to the only other man who had shown courage so long before.

6 Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, 'The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.' 10 "Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said."

Notice a few things:

Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly. Caleb has been living in confidence that God will fulfill his promises. Caleb is just as strong as he was at 40 (think of that!).

Caleb does not ask for green pastures and a quiet retirement. He asks for the mountain of Horeb (where God had met Abrahm). Horeb means "fellowship" or "communion." Caleb wants to settle where he knows God is!

One minor problem: the Anakites (Goliath's people, remember?) have settled in this mountainous region in large, fortified cities.

So instead of asking for a quiet place to retire, Caleb is asking for a new challenge -- a mountain to conquer. How many 85 year-olds have you met who are flexing their biceps and shouting, "Bring it!" You have to love this guy.

And Caleb is confident that the Anakites will be easy to drive out if God is with him.

Ok, let's look at Joshua's response.

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.) Then the land had rest from war.

Joshua blesses his fellow spy Caleb. I can easily imagine the smile on his face when Caleb asks for the mountain! Notice that the record doesn't go on about the difficulty of conquering the Anakites -- it simply states that Caleb had it for his inheritance and passed it on to his descendents.

May God help us to learn from Caleb, brothers. Where do we need to have more confidence in God's promises to us? What mountains has he put in your view, so you can say, "Bring it!" and charge ahead? What people or circumstances look like giants now, but seen in faith will shrink to their proper size?

*I took some of these thoughts from a CrossTrainer presentation by Jerry Foster.
Why You Need to Keep Studying the Bible

"Howard Hendricks tells a story that vividly illustrates the necessity of personal Bible study for spiritual leaders. During his college years, Hendricks passed one of his professor’s homes on his way to work early in the morning as well as on his way home from library late in the evening. After only a few days, he noticed the light was continually on in his professor’s study. When Hendricks asked what kept him studying, poring over his books, his professor replied, “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than a stagnant pool.” "

Amen! You and I know that we can go for a while on "momentum" from previous study, but we feel it quickly, and others will know soon enough. The branch stripped from the tree stay green and fresh for only a short while!
The Meaning of Christmas in Four Short Sentences

"Jesus left his place. He came to our place. He took our place. And He invites us back to His place."

Hallelujah!
Basics of Intelligent Design Argument

I know a number of my readers are interested in the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design debate. A lof of mainstream press articles I read do not explain ID well, or characterize it as biblical creationism sanitized to remove God. This
Does Your Heart Burn for Jesus?

"Desire is when you want something. Passion is when you refuse to live without it. "
-- Stephen Pierce

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Encouraging Other Men

I'm called to encourage other men. I'm trying to pour it out (but am well short of what I know God wants me to do). I send emails, make phone calls, check up on men whom I see and know and can ask "How are you doing? Really?" and "How can I pray for you?"

And it doesn't matter much whether the men are older than I am, a peer, or younger. If the Lord puts a guy on my mind or heart, I'm going to encourage them and pray for them. It's what I'm supposed to do.

(So here's a cool thing: My son is becoming one of those men. )

I've decided that it doesn't matter what feedback I get. Most men are appreciative, but I'm not looking for that. Last night one brother-in-the-battle told me he really appreciated the emails I send him. "When I see that, I know I can make it."

What about you? What guys are around you that need to hear from you?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Quote of the Week

"We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. If the foundation be firm, the foundation will stand." -- Calvin Coolidge

May all our presidents, governors, congressmen, and even appointed officials believe this, as well as have the guts to say it!
What a Tee-teeing Dog Taught a Pastor about Resisting Satan

Check out this delightful story from Perry Noble. And then take your stand!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Primary Misconceptions Fueled by Satan

Satan tells many lies about Christianity. Here are three lies that he has poured mucho fuel on, and chewed up the mileage:

1. Christians are (by definition) intolerant.

Can someone please point me to the most recent Christian tyrant dictator?

2. Patriarchy automatically leads to abuse of women and children.

The truth here is that biblical patriarchy leads men to protect and cherish women and children, nurturing and defending them.

3. All cultures are morally equivalent.

The standard is the commands of Jesus -- love God, and love your neighbor. I'm not arguing that any nation is perfect, but not every culture even lives towards these standards.


Coach your kids, men. Help them to be discerning about lies.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Snippet of Conversation

See if you can figure out which one of these speakers is me :-)

"Democracy will never work in Iraq."

"I think they have a great start. Their third election this year will be two weeks from today."

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

No ember lasts long by itself

D. L. Moody was visiting a prominent Chicago citizen when the idea of church membership and involvement came up."I believe I can be just as good a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it," the man said.

Moody said nothing. Instead, he moved to the fireplace, blazing against the winter outside, removed one burning coal, and placed it on the hearth.

The two men sat together and watched the ember die out.
"I see," the other man said.

Citation: Keith Long, Room to Grow (Hendrickson, 1999), quoted in Men of Integrity (3.2).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Volunteers?

A friend who studied under Howard Hendricks passed along this quote from him: "Do not ask for volunteers. Satan will raise his hand every time."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Jesus was born to die

Jesus was born to die as a sacrifice to ransom His people from destruction. Think about the incredible mixture of joy and suffering that Jesus knew he would experience after he laid aside His glory and became a little baby. There would be all the goofiness of being in a child'sbody. The struggles of the flesh. He would taste the joys and pains of being in a family -- with sin-satured parents and siblings and neighbors. He would know some hunger and pain.

There would also be beautiful country to enjoy and experience. After he tookup his ministry, he would see the joy in the eyes and heartsof people whom he would heal. He would experience laughter and celebrations -- weddings, parties, dinners withtax collectors. Think of the joy that would come as hecommanded demons to come out of people and stop tormenting them. Think of the thrill of seeing people repent of their sins and begin following his commands. Imagine his enjoyment of walking along the roads with his disciples,and teaching the crowds. Imagine his sweet times offellowship with the heavenly Father in prayer.

But Jesuswould also anticipate people misunderstanding him, rejectinghim, spitting on him, calling him horrible names,beating him, ripping open his back with whips, pounding nails into his flesh. He would experience the full physical and psychological suffering of the cross.
Jesus knew all these things as he laidaside His glory, stepped over the threshold of eternity into limited time and space, and entered into humanity as a baby.There would be joys in those 33 years, but many awful timesas well.

So at Christmas it is good to celebrate the coming of the Lord. But let us remember that Jesus came to die. The wonder of the Lord coming this way, to experiencethis life, for us, for me, needs to fill our minds andhearts this season.

Jesus foreknew ALL ofthis -- and still did it.You see, He is the only one who can walk by sight. We can't handle walking by sight, when it gets down to it -- we'd balk. We'd fail. Our loving Father knows we can't handle it, so He calls us to walk by faith. Faith in Jesus.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

16 Red Letter Commands of Jesus

Tony Morgan has identified 16 one word commands of Jesus. This is brilliant! Very helpful. Check it out now.
Cotton Mather’s Characterization of William Bradford

William Bradford was certainly used by God to preserve the Puritan colony at Plymouth. Check out this characterization of the man by Cotton Mather:

“He was indeed a person of a well-tempered spirit, or else it had been scarce possible for him to have kept the affairs of Plymouth in so good a temper for thirty-seven years together... The leader of a people in a wilderness had need be a Moses; and if a Moses had not led the people of Plymouth Colony, when this worthy person was their governour, the people had never with so much unanimity and importunity still called him to lead them.

He was a person for study as well as action; and hence, notwithstanding the difficulties through which he had passed in his youth, he attained unto a notable skill in languages... He was also well skilled in History, in Antiquity, and in Philosophy; and for Theology he became so versed in it, that he was an irrefragable disputant against the errors, especially those of Anabaptism, which with trouble he saw rising in his colony... But the crown of all was his holy, prayerful, watchful, and fruitful walk with God, wherein he was very exemplary.”

How would you compare, brother? Let us purpose to be bold & gentle men
Remembering Some Law

Iraq Liberation Act (passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1998):

“It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”

This passed the House 360-38 and the Senate 94-0.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Flat Tax?

I recommend Flat Tax Revolution. It's a straightforward read, plenty of detail.

Forbes does a great job outlining the "hidden" impacts that the current tax system makes, and gives excellent reasoning why a national sales tax would not be nearly as effective.

I'm an advocate of the flat tax strategy, but I'm not sure I agree with the exact formulation Forbes proposes here. (And I'm still scratching my head wondering how people come up with the rate -- 13% for some, 17% for Forbes. If 10% works as a tithe, why does the federal government need more?)

So part of the reason I recommend this book is because it gives you additional details and insights so you can start wrestling with it. We're Christians, and we should be the best thinkers on the planet -- in the Church we have the mind of Christ.

It's too bad that so many people will be put off the concept because a "super wealthy" guy like Steve Forbes is promoting it.
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Someone equipped a dear friend with a pager when he was battling cancer earlier this year. Then the pager number was distributed to hundreds of his friends and fellow CrossTrainers. Whenever we thought about him, and were praying for him, we dialed the pager number. My friends pager was buzzing constantly, a powerful reminder of the prayers of the saints.

More recently we've adapted this to email and text messaging. Now I'm sending out email messages that just have

Bzzzzzzzzz!

in the subject line. That's it. But the recipient knows that I'm praying for them, and they're not in the battle alone. Give this a try -- it's easy on you, and powerful for others.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Half-time Encouragement

I'm called to encourage other men. So I really appreciated this wonderful "Get Back in the Game!" column by Clark Cothern. Get it, read it. And then let's get back into service!
The Bush Administration Didn't Lie about WMD

I have resisted the urge to post about the inane, despicable, grandstanding, do-you-think-people-just-don't-remember?, why-are-you-giving-the-enemy-ammunition?, treasoness behavior of Democrat party leaders and elected representatives who claim the Bush administration lied about WMD to get us into war in Iraq.

There is plenty of documentation available for those who actually care to check facts rather than swallow elephant-sized 'sound bites.' Start with this excellent summary by Norman Podheretz, "Who is Lying About Iraq?"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Get Some Quiet!

The Screwtape Letters is a popular book in our home, so this article caught my attention:

"A Kingdom of Noise: A Screwtape Letter for the Media Age"

Read it and enjoy. And then here's my challenge -- what can you do today to get some quiet? God is speaking, and there are things you will not hear in the presence of manufactured noise.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Prepare for Narnia Discussions

Our family is really looking forward to the new movie coming out, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe on December 9th.

Check out Roaring Narnia for resources and ideas about discussions around this movie.
Get over it!

John Piper answers objections about going into missions. Great responses from the wise and tender heart of a Scripture-soaked challenger!
Recommended American History Books

Marvin Olasky -- whom I do not always agree with, but always read -- has some excellent ideas for good books to help you and your kids appreciate American history. I've read nearly all his suggested books, concurring wholeheartedly with his recommendations.
"Jedi Christians"

For those of you interested in the Star Wars saga, or who have children interested in it, check out this interview with Dick Staub, author of "Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters."

I love what A.W. Tozer told his father, about the secret to knowing God: "Young man, read the Bible and pray every day and you'll grow like a weed!"

Friday, November 11, 2005

Praise is Hard, Revealing

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." -- Abraham Lincoln

"The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives." -- Proverbs 27:21

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Yesterday at CrossTrainers we held a Medal of Faithfulness ceremony to honor four men -- including my good friend Rick Holmertz -- who had gone home to be with the Lord in the past few months. This was a wonderful, tender time celebrating their strong walks and that they finished well, and the legacy echoing forward through their families.

My dad, dead now for four years, was likewise honored at a ceremony like this. I burst into tears when saw his pictures again yesterday. I think about him every day (in fact, I wear his beloved watch to remind me of him), and miss him terribly.

A good friend pointed out to me when he died that the reason we hurt so much is that we weren't built to say goodbye. It wasn't in our original design. There's wisdom in that.

But most of the chest pains I experienced yesterday were because God did some work in me. "Get rid of this stupid stuff that doesn't belong in the life I have for you." One of the best quotes of 2005 is "Don't get stuck on stupid." Apparently in military training they say that pain is the feeling of fear leaving your body. Well, as men, sometimes it's not fear leaving your body, it's stupid stuff leaving your heart.

Semper Fi, Jesus. With your help, I will be semper fi.
385 years ago -- A Seminal Event

The Mayflower Compact was signed 385 years ago on November 11, 1620. This was the critical forerunner document to the US Constitution, a huge break from conventional ways of thinking. No one but the Puritans could have made this covenantal kind of agreement.

Worth reading again today:

"IN THE name of God, Amen.
We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the 11 of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domine 1620."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Riots in France

It's useful to talk with your older children about the riots in France. Why aren't immigrants rioting in the US? The seeds for this rebellion against the French society was seeded, watered, and fertilized over many years. The social structures there do not give them any economic equality, and the Muslims are not interested in conforming to the "French" way of living.

Read Thomas Sowell's excellent column for good insights.
http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/thomassowell/2005/11/08/174706.html

You can look at these surface issues, but here's the thing to talk with your kids about -- what are the heart issues involved?
Good Insights -- on heathens and the First Amendment

"Many of our people, without knowing it, are Christian heathen, and demand as much missionary effort as the heathen of foreign lands." -- Booker T. Washington

"Why...must government be neutral about religion? Because, we are told, the First Amendment demands it by forbidding any 'establishment of religion.' But this is nonsense. The First Amendment says nothing of the sort, and I wish atheists would read it as literally as they think most Christians read the Bible. 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof' means something very different from 'Government must be neutral about religion.' It bars the Congress of the United States from legislation that either establishes a religion or prohibits its free exercise. This left the states free to do both, and for a long time they did. Several states had official religions as late as the 1830s. You may deplore this, but don't say the Constitution bans it, because it plainly doesn't. Now we are told that the Constitution forbids everything from a moment of silence in the classroom to the phrase under God in the Pledge of Allegiance!" —Joseph Sobran

Monday, November 07, 2005

About Gas Prices

I filled up on gas at $1.99 yesterday. I'm sure the Des Moines Register post a major headline "Bush Causes Gas to Fall $1 in 75 Days" any time now. (After all, if it was Bush's fault the price went up to $3, surely he gets the credit for making it go down $1?)

Alan Reynolds writes a nice column about oil profits, prices and politics. "If prices or crude oil and gasoline really rise and fall at the whim of U.S. petroleum companies, why would oil and gas prices ever fall?"

Make sure your kids get some basic economics so they can be good citizens.
Transparency?

Fun quote from Ann Coulter: "Minority Leader Harry Reid dramatically invoked an obscure Senate rule to close the Senate for two hours, putatively in order to rehash old arguments about the Iraq war in closed session. In other words, Reid demanded more transparency in government by shutting the doors, throwing out the public, dimming the lights, and turning off the TV cameras in the chambers of the U.S. Senate. "

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Fun Picture

These "make your own sign" sites continuing to pop-up -- so let's enjoy. Hat Tip : B.R.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

25 Years Ago

Ronald Reagan was elected President 25 years ago yesterday -- Nov 4, 1980.

President Reagan reduced taxes and took firm stands that helped end the Cold War.

But for the husbands and fathers who read this blog, I want to emphasize one thing about Ronald Reagan that we need to emulate more: his optimism.

Our families need us to identify hope in the future, see potential for progress, and have confidence in God working out his plans. Are there tough days ahead, likely tougher than some in the past? You bet. But we're God's guys in this situation, and God plus anyone is a majority force.

I think about what they tell the Navy Seals in training: "You can do three to ten times what you think you can do." God promises us much bigger harvests than that (30, 60, and 100-fold!).

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained." (Philippians 3:13-16)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Allah is not God

There is a lot of hooha and multiculturalist talk about Allah being God, or the same as the Christian God. This

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Male-bashing

Jennifer Roback Morse has a useful insight about male-bashing feminists: "Male-bashing has developed into a full-blown art-form in this country. And strangely enough, the male-bashing is often accompanied by the presumption that men and women are the same in every significant way. No one seems to notice the logical conclusion: if men are bad, and women and men are the same, ergo, women must be bad."
Appropriate Anger

We get all hung up on anger. Anger is a serious spiritual problem. I personally really struggle with anger (rage, actually) because there was a period in my pre-Christian life when I cultivated rage and hate for its power.

Christian men do need to get angry, just at the right things, people, and events. That's why I can recommend Doug Giles column, where he rails against milquetoast passivity. He has two great recommendations:

"1. Don’t unleash your anger on your loved ones, friends or pets (unless you have a cat).
2. Don’t waste your wrath on the inconsequential. For example, I wanted to get really peeved at the people down here in Miami who are screaming for the government to take care of them post-Wilma because they did not take care of themselves pre-Wilma as they were warned to do. Instead of getting wound-up, I decided that I would chill out with one of my stockpiled Coronas and a beautiful Cuesta Rey #9 in my hurricane-shuttered, generator-powered, canned-food-filled, fully armored home. Remember, soldier, anger has a shelf life. Use it sparingly and wisely. "

Anger has a shelf-life. That's a great insight.
The Problem with Utility as a Measure of Good

I'm a reasonable fan of technological progress. I'm not completely blind to the spiritual and cultural problems technological advances have created, and will continue to accelerate. (The real problems of mankind haven't changed in thousands of years.)

These days I watch the fascination of the Internet and Web 2.0 and the Google "brain." People get excited, people get rich.

Most of the arguments for going forward are utilitarian: X technology helps people do Y better, so it must be good.

Simon Ings, a science fiction writer, said this: "When our machines overtook us, too complex and efficient for us to control, they did it so fast and so smoothly and so usefully, only a fool or a prophet would have dared complain."

May the Lord help us to be fools and prophets at the right time.
Thinking about Suitcase Nukes

There's an excellent article by Brendan Miniter that reviews the "suitcase nukes" information. Read this, think about why we want to believe it. Let's work to be discerning men, not gullible.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Useful Counsel from a Country Crooner

"Figure out who you are and then do it on purpose." -- Dolly Parton

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Great Quote

"Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul." I don't know the author, just heard this on the radio. I love the image.

Go find someone and help them breathe!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Palestinian Violence

If you'd like some useful background on why the Palestinians* pursue violence as a political strategy and with alacrity, check out this nice summary by Bret Stephens in the WSJ:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=110007443

As you read this, keep in mind that a increasing fraction of the Palestinians are Christian (maybe 12-14%) , and they are not fomenting violence.

*I wish there was a more useful name. Many of these people originated in Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, and are not now allowed to return. They are political pawns of evil men.
Data on Abortion

Here's a sobering article with abortion statistics from a reliable source.

Useful, horrifying facts:

"since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, there have been more than 40 million abortions in America. According to the study, “one of every three American women will have an abortion by the time they reach 45.” Additionally, in a typical year there are 4.1 million live births, 1.3 million abortions and 900,000 miscarriages."

"Catholics represent 27 percent of those having abortions -- roughly 350,000 per year— and Born-Again or Evangelical Christians represent 13 percent of those having abortions – roughly 170,000 per year."

Keep in mind these numbers are for abortions performed in the United States. There are millions more every year around the world.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sharing Christ with Muslims

There's valuable insights here about witnessing to Muslims. Check out this 2 page article, no matter whom God leads you to share with -- the strategies here shouldn't be limited to Muslims.
What to think about Miers?

There has been a LOT written about the Miers nomination for the Supreme Court. I was surprised by the nomination, but even more surprised by the split amongst political conservatives.

I don't always agree with Marvin Olasky, but he's always worth listening to. His recent column "Theory vs. Practical Experience" points out a useful, constructive path forward.

Let's also remember, men, that our Lord is in control.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Learning How to Distinguish Good and Evil

I believe that God's men must develop and exercise their discernment muscles. We're called to speak about truth, and distinguish good and evil.

Check out this useful analysis of Steve Chalke's book, "The Lost Message of Jesus" in a Banner of Truth article. Consider the tone of the article, and the careful wording. The author dissects this [unfortunately] popular book. See how the standards of orthodoxy are applied, wisely, tactfully.

We need to do the same kind of exercise with popular but wrong books like "The daVinci Code" and goofy "news hour" segments on TV.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Recommended Exercise for Husbands

Say 5 nice things about your wife today. To her.

And if you speak about her to others, make sure it is ONLY to praise her.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
(Proverbs 31:28-29)
Great Quote

"If you don't like change, you will like irrelevancy even less." -- General Shinseki

Monday, October 17, 2005


Juggling Danger

As a juggling fan (yeah, I can do swords and flaming torches, but not chainsaws), I thought this article made some good points. Juggling three is success. Dropping four is not. Be careful, then, how many things you try to juggle!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Dreams

A few quick thoughts about our dreams, and the strategies God and Satan take with them.

God provides us with our dreams. He has big things for each and every one of us. Things impossible to accomplish without Him! He is pulling us along, encouraging us to step out in faith and trust, building us up so we can see realized dreams.

Satan runs around pouring water on dreams, and trying to shrink them. His motto is "See a spark? Douse it so it doesn't flame up." He can't create dreams, only corrupt them or twist them to his purposes. He picks a handful of people and warps their dreams into something huge and awful -- like tyrants and dictators. Everybody else gets the "squash 'em" treatment.

Be bold, be gentle pursue the dreams that are bigger than yourself. You're not a leader if everyone around you thinks the dream can be easily accomplished.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Teaching for life change

Josh Hunt interviewed Josh Jones of Athens Church about their small group designs. (I don't have a web link, this was in an email message from Josh Hunt, dated 10/12/05.) Interesting quote:

"Josh Jones: I would probably say that the biggest mistake a small group leader should avoid is the knowledge acquisition trap. A lot of times, we have fallen for the lie that if we just learn more theology and more about the Bible that life change will follow. Most of the time, this is not true. I know in my life, that has not been true. It’s great when I learn more, but it rarely produces change. That doesn't mean we shouldn’t be increasing in our knowledge of Scripture; I’m just saying that the focus should not be on that. Most Christians know plenty of theology and Bible- we just don’t apply it. I believe a major role of a small group leader is to help the group build a community that can be honest about life and can help each other apply the principles of Scripture. The focus should be on life change- not knowledge acquisition."

As leaders in our homes we need to focus on life application opportunities, and not be satisfied with head-knowledge only. I would argue that many Christians actually know their Bible rather poorly, and this is in part why their lives look little different from not-yet believers. But application teaching is the best kind of hook to get people engaged with the Word so that they are excited about learning. And at least in American culture, seems to be a strong avenue for the Holy Spirit to work -- and without Him, without the Father drawing us on to Christ, there is no life change at all.

Jesus never condemned the Pharisees for their devotion and study of the Scriptures. He worked very hard to help them see accurately that they were studying words, not the ways of God, and few of them seemed to understand His message.
Blogging for God

Interesting news article about religious bloggers. I do believe this is an important tool for people learning how to express themselves and create dialogue opportunities. But many blogs (like this one) are mostly one-way communication; there are not many comments, and few emails. Some blogs get substantial reply communication.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Get 10% Discount at CBD

Christian Book Distributors is offering a 10% discount through Oct 31st on their already-excellent prices. Your total purchase must exceed $35. Here's a search box to get you started. You'll still need to enter this promotion code when you check out and provide payment information : 219525.

What a perfect way to start Christmas shopping or pick up that book you heard about!









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Friday, October 07, 2005

Leading with Integrity

Andy Stanley has some excellent points about leadership with integrity. Recommended for every dad.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Read the New Testament in Less than a Month

Here's a special free report I put together describing a you-can-really-do-it plan to read through the New Testament in less than a month. Try this. You'll be amazed at what the Lord teaches you!

Get the plan, pick a day soon, and start.
Getting Beyond Polite

Are you a small group leader? Do you have some ongoing relationships with a few guys? Check out John Ortberg's excellent advice in "No More Mr. Nice Group."

"Personalities united can contain more of God and sustain the force of His presence better than scattered individuals." -- Dallas Willard
Interacting with Women Who are Not Your Wife

A friend told me yesterday morning how this verse has really helped him interact in a godly manner with women who are not his wife:

"Treat ... older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity."
1 Timothy 5:1b-2

The Word is good, and the command is helpful.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Looking for prayer guides

I'm on the hunt, collecting prayer guides or outlines for husbands to pray for their wives, and fathers for their children.

If you are aware of any, please email me at beboldgentle@yahoo.com Thanks!
Love on your pastors!

October is officially Pastor Appreciation Month. There is a helpful set of eight ideas to show your love for your pastor in this 1999 Christianity Today article.

The first idea is to cut the criticism. I loved this story:

"Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers, creator and host of television's "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood," recently gave an address describing the time he was a student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and attended a different church each Sunday in order to hear a variety of preachers.
One Sunday he was treated to "the most poorly crafted sermon (he) had ever heard." But when he turned to the friend who had accompanied him, he found her in tears.
"It was exactly what I needed to hear," she told Rogers.
"That's when I realized," he told his audience, "that the space between someone doing the best he or she can and someone in need is holy ground. The Holy Spirit had transformed that feeble sermon for her—and as it turned out, for me too."

Read the rest.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Date Night!

Pastor Perry Noble has good advice for dating your wife.

1. Double-dating went out with the high school prom
2. Leave the cell phone alone!
3. Trust your babysitter
4. Be willing to pay money for a babysitter
5. Let your kids cry
6. Don't fight the silence

Check out the whole article.
Are you a Spiritual Leader?

Husbands and Fathers ought to check out this list from Tony Morgan, "10 Easy Ways to Know You're Not a Leader."

Friday, September 30, 2005

News coverage

I spent a fair amount of time in airports and airplanes yesterday, so there was a constant drum of CNN and newspapers and newsmagazines. The depth of coverage of stories on the TV news was incredibly shallow -- I timed one story labelled as "in-depth" at 4 minutes 10 seconds.

Our kids played soccer when they were very young. Watching 4 and 5 year old kids play soccer is pretty entertaining. They all cluster around the bal trying to kick it. Eventually it pops out and they whole group runs over to swarm the ball in its new location. The goalie, bored, wanders off to look at an interesting bug or leaf.

I think that's a pretty good picture of the news coverage today -- sensationalized, no strategic insights and shallow thinking, no one putting two and two together over time and geography.

But then I remember: this news format is a product of what people want, and Satan is delighted to help out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Storms Do Come

Doug Giles has some excellent advice in this column, "Riding the Storm Out."
Government Failure to Eradicate Poverty

Hmmm... three facts from the US Federal Government:

1. 37 million Americans live in poverty.
2. There are 82 poverty-related programs at the Federal level.
3. In 2005, those 82 programs had a combined budget of $500 billion.

Applying 3rd grade math skills (even at the worst public schools), that works out to $13,500 per person.

We clearly need a different approach, and people who say that the federal government is ignoring the plight of the poor need to be still.

Again, spending "other people's money" does not create lasting solutions.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Open Questions

What does a "100 minute Bible" us about the understanding that God's Word is for us, to help us understand the Lord, and as a vehicle for Him to interact with us -- the most wonderful relationship we can ever experience?

Next open question -- will anyone even be surprised by this, let alone appalled?

I just can't imagine the fabulous scene in Nehemiah 8 with a "100 minute Bible."

From the BBC story:

"100-minute Bible designed for time-starved Christians

An 'abridged' version of the Bible is being released in Britain today.
Publishers say the 100-minute Bible is ideal for those who do not have time to read the original.
In the beginning there was the Bible and to read it chapter and verse would take months.
Now it has been turned into a slimmed down page turner in an effort to get more people to read it.
The 100-minute Bible contains just 20,000 words and it is aimed at those who do not have the time to go through the whole book.
The abridged version picks out stories of the life of Jesus Christ and records the growth of Christianity.
It was written by a retired head teacher and minister and supported by some influential church leaders. "
Encouragement for Tired Dads

"So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us--who was raised to life for us!-is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing--nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable--absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." -- Romans 8:31-39, The Message

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bloated, Unconstitutional Federal Spending

As a political conservative, I'm alarmed about the federal spending pattern on education, "health and human services," and disaster bailouts. None of these are consitutional. I recommend we spend more on the military, which is clearly constitutional.

This didn't start with the current Bush administration, but it seems every administration since FDR just presses harder on the accelerator.
  • The debt run-up is unconscionable. My children's grandchildren may die paying off a rebuilding of New Orleans. And now we're creating a precedent that the federal government is obliged to pay for the recovery after any and every natural disaster.
  • The fine-sounding idea that the federal government can wisely spend money is not supported by historical data. Locals spending local dollars are usually pretty smart. The intelligence level drops off quickly when you think that you're spending "someone else's" money.
  • The whole strategy of federalizing solutions simply undercuts personal, family, and community responsiblity.
  • Creating ever-larger scope of the federal level is unconstitutional and dangerous. Gerald Ford wisely said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have."
  • This environment does nothing to help our political leaders make difficult decisions. We're rapidly approaching a system where it is practically impossible for someone to remain in political leadership while arguing for spending less or returning to a Consitutional view.

What we sow, we reap. Let us pray for mercy, because we dare not pray for justice.

Get Some Passion!

Perry Noble, writing about a health scare with his wife, gives this charge to pastors:

"Pastors--one question for you before I go...I really felt led to ask all of you this, if you had just one more message to preach to your church...you knew that the following Monday God was going to call you home...and so you had one shot left...what would you say? What would you tell the people that you have the privilege to serve every weekend? Why don't you prepare that message--and say it! Preach like you have nothing to lose...go for it...pedal to the floor! I did on July 31...and it is one of the most freeing feelings in the world. Your people need to see fire and urgency...not political correctness or a wimp who is afraid of losing his paycheck!!! "

How are we doing as dads and husbands? What would you do and say differently today if you knew that God was going to call you home tomorrow?
Get Adobe Reader

Not the usual stuff for this blog, but a recommendation: get the latest version of Adobe Reader software (free) at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

It's nice software, and corrects the known vulnerabilities in versions 5 and 6 that most people are using now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Striking a blow for personal righteousness

Dennis Prager nails it with this column. Excerpt: "...leftist ideologies are so preoccupied with "social justice" that they generally ignore personal character development.
Judeo-Christian values believe the road to a just society is paved by individual character development; the Left believes it is paved with action on a macro level."

Monday, September 19, 2005

Astute Observations on Politics

"Politics is evil. Ten years ago I thought politics was misguided. But the events of the past decade—indeed, of the past 10 or a dozen decades—have proven me wrong. The sum and substance of politics was expressed in the 1860s by Nicholas Chernyshevskii, a prescient Russian radical: 'Man is god to man.' And politics violates the other nine commandments as well. Politics could hardly function without bearing false witness. Likewise, without taking the Lord's name in vain. This is especially true given that, in politics, the Lord who is so loosely sworn by is Mankind. In the modern era politics has taken the place of mere tyranny. The result has been more killing in one century than in all the preceding centuries combined. Covetousness and stealing define redistributive politics. Without redistribution politics would have no political support. Graven image is as good a name as any for the fiat money by which politics operates. Politics' insistence upon involvement in every human activity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is more anti-Sabbatarian than golf. The Social Security system is no way to honor thy father and thy mother. And as for adultery, there was, and there may be still, Bill Clinton... Observe our national politics. Observe politics around the world. Observe politics through the ages. Does it look like God's handiwork? When it comes to having a role in politics, that would be the Other Fellow." —P.J. O'Rourke

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Does God Hate New Orleans and Biloxi?

Doug Giles, as usual, has some wit and wisdom in his latest column recommending people be careful about attributing Katrina to God's payback for sin.

"So, why did New Orleans and Biloxi get socked? I’m not going to jump out there and speak for God (principally, because He hasn’t spoken to me since I went to that Celion Dion concert in Vegas four years ago), but here’s my best guess: if you build a big city below sea level in the middle of hurricane highway then the chances are you’re eventually going to take a hit. It doesn’t mean God hates you. It just means there is a cost to living on the coast. Now, if New Orleans, Biloxi or Miami gets hit six more times between September and October and continues to get hit several times each year over the next eight summers, then I would say God’s probably annoyed with them. "

Read the whole thing, it's good.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

For Anyone You Know Facing Off Cancer

Check out Tony Snow's terrific column, "Fear Is A Waste Of Time."

"Still, the last few months -- my time of surgery and chemo -- have been the happiest and most thrilling of my life. They have confirmed lessons that seem at once too good to be true, and too important and vital not to be.

Here is a short inventory:
Faith matters. Prayers heal. Love overcomes.
People want to do good for others; they just need excuses.
Fear is a waste of time. The worst that can happen is that we'll die -- which happens to everybody, anyway. Until the Grim Reaper comes knocking, we're alive.
We can count our hardships, but not our blessings.
Life does not revolve around us. It envelops us.
There is no condition that someone else has not already overcome."
Happy Constitution Day!

It's the 218th anniversary of one of the most incredible documents ever written by men.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. "

If you haven't read it lately, do so. You may be surprised at how far the US has deviated from what's in there!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Scary Facts

Focus On The Family recently did a survey, asking young people who they would go to if they had a difficult problem to work out and needed advice. Where is Dad listed? #40.

Here's another sobering fact for the United States: 90% of the boys in church today will not regularly attend church at age 20.
Quote of the Month

"If men become men, the world will change." -- Larry Crabb, from The Silence of Adam
What would be different if we had responded "perfectly" to Katrina?

What if every level of government -- from local politicos in New Orleans to FEMA to Congress and the President – had responded perfectly to Katrina?

Perhaps fewer people would have died.
There might be less devastation, at least less flooding in New Orleans.
The economic impact might be slightly less.

And what would be the same?

People would have died.
The physical damage would still be enormous and take years to clean up and rebuild.
500,000 citizens would still be displaced from their homes.
The living conditions in these areas would be precarious at best for months.
Gas supplies would still have been disrupted.
The port of New Orleans would still have sustained enough damage to keep it closed for weeks.
The impact would be greatest on the self-employed, the poor with little or no insurance, the physically weak, and anyone without extended family to help them.
Americans would have responded to meet the needs of fellow Americans with passion and sacrifice.
It’s Not About Race

There is one factor in the New Orleans disaster that isn’t getting much media play. It partially explains why the same storm didn’t result in riots, looting, and murder in Mississippi and Alabama. It’s not race, but marriage.

Over 80% of the families who did not leave New Orleans are unmarried mothers and their children. Without good and present male role models, children (boys especially) move towards their basic selfish, lazy, sinful instincts.
Your Home Should Not Reflect the Cultural Sewer

Rebecca Hagelin recommends an Internet filter, parental controls on cable TV channels, and using quality movie review sites. (I suggest you skip the cable TV altogether – what are you missing, really?) We use Plugged In Online and recommend it.
Equality, But Not Sameness

Dennis Prager has some useful comments about the feminization of Western culture. Equality – which Judeo-Christian ethics emphasizes – is not sameness. There are serious concerns about the feminization of our institutions.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Changing a Community Takes Two Generations

It's possible to complete change a community of people in two generations -- for better or worse. But let's not kid ourselves about the level of commitment required. Historic evidence abounds that only the people of God are willing to pour out love and faithful service to a dying community for the length of time needed.

Consider this example of the Irish community turnaround in New York City, as described by Larry Elder:
Consider the mid-1800s, and the plight of New York City's Irish underclass.
According to William J. Stern, writing in The Wall Street Journal, "One hundred
fifty years ago, Manhattan's tens of thousands of Irish seemed mired in poverty
and ignorance, destroying themselves through drink, idleness, violence crime and
illegitimacy. . . . An estimated 50,000 Irish prostitutes worked the city in
1850. . . . Illegitimacy soared, tens of thousands of abandoned Irish kids
roamed the city's streets. Violent Irish gangs fought each other . . . but
primarily they robbed houses and small businesses. More than half the people
arrested in New York in the 1840s and 1850s were Irish. . . .
"
Disgusted by government "charity," Bishop John Joseph Hughes led
movements to form non-government-aided Catholic schools and numerous self-help
programs. He promoted abstinence and the belief that sex outside of marriage was
a sin. His diocese's nuns served as an employment agency for Irish domestics and
encouraged women to run boarding houses. What happened? Within two generations,
"the Irish proportion of arrests for violent crime had dropped to less than 10
percent from 60 percent. Irish children were entering . . . the professions,
politics, show business and commerce. In 1890, some 30 percent of the city's
teachers were Irish women, and the Irish literacy rate exceeded 90 percent."

Hope, Faith, and Love, men.
Home-Grown World Christians

Noel Piper shares some useful ideas about helping our children become believers concerned about the whole world, not just our provincial area.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

How's your mid-life spiritual checkup?

I appreciated Philip Yancey's Believer's To-Be List. Good stuff!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Opportunity and Privilege

Here's a prayer adventure: ask the Lord to give you someone who needs to be encouraged today. Watch for that opportunity to come up, and when it does...lavish love on that person the way Jesus does.

Daily privilege and calling -- lavish love on your wife!
Great Quote

"I am challenged. I am not satisfied to be in the race, I want to run to win. (Please see 1 Cor 9:24-27!) I want to be the best I can be and reach as many people as I can for Christ. My passion is HOT...and I can't wait for Sunday!" -- Perry Noble

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

And a 6-Six Year Old Shall Lead Them...

Check out this remarkable story of Deamonte Love. What grace of God! You have to wonder about the back story of the parents of these children. What happened to them?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Marching Orders

This is Deuteronomy 6:4-7 from the Amplified Bible.

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord].
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might.
And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then]
You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

God's Word for Grown-up Men Today

"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ--that's where the action is. See things from his perspective." -- Colossians 3:1-2, The Message

You've been called...so serve!
You're in Christ...actively hunt out the good things where Christ reigns!
You're a man...walk boldly!
You're God's man...be alert to where your Commander in Chief is at work!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina and Intelligent Design

John Piper has an excellent short reponse to Daniel Schorr's demand that the "Bush's intelligent designer answer for Katrina." Read this. Let's strengthen our understanding of the sovereignty of God, of sin, of grace and mercy.
Another question for family discussion

Why is there looting, rape, and murder in New Orleans and not Biloxi? Why were there not reports of these sins after hurricane Ivan in Florida?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Learning Lessons from Katrina

The dreadful situation in New Orleans is bringing out the best and worst in people. I suspect the media is magnifying the evil behavior, but they aren't making it up. People are looting stores. People are shooting at rescue helicopters and police.

Many more are quietly, unselfishly helping one another and remaining orderly.

So dad, is there an opportunity here to talk with your family about spiritual realities? You bet.

This is a great story on the nature of sin in people's hearts. Lawlessness becomes evident when the restraints are lifted. Does anyone have an excuse to be lawless?

Where is the providence and mercy of God? [You might consider that Katrina dropped from category 5 to category 3 just as it reached land. The destruction and loss of life could have been far, far worse. And with our satellite technology, hurricanes take no one by surprise. People have opportunity to prepare, to choose, to escape.]

Is there a difference between getting food, water, diapers, and medicines from ruined stores, and stealing TV sets? Train your boys to think through this -- what would you do to take care of your family, or the weak? How would you make it right with the store owner later?

How do you share with others about the love of Christ in this environment?

Rich stuff!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Satan's Strategy

Paraphrasing Gary Rosberg from his talk at CrossTrainers yesterday: "We know that Satan's main ploy with men is to isolate them. If he can get you alone, it's easier to lead you into doing something stupid."

Men need others, too. Let's help each other celebrate life, and finish well.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mars Hill Church

How do we build churches on strong biblical convictions, and still appeal to the local un-churched culture?

How about your family?

This is a fun read. Just to get your going, here's a quote:
"Kate Justus recently professed her faith in a public way, getting dunked at sunset by pastors in wet suits as part of a mass baptism organized by Mars Hill Church.
The 22-year-old heard about the Ballard congregation through a friend who initially considered it "a really weird place," before telling her this: "It is actually very cool. They are OK with drinking as long as you don't get drunk, they are OK with dancing, and they really like sex as long as you are married."
Hold her hand

I was chatting with two of my favorite people, an 87-year old man and his wife of 58 years. I asked them for ideas about keeping a marriage going strong.

He reached over with his right hand, and patted her hand tucked into his left hand.

"This," he said. "Hold her hand a lot, whenever you can. It keeps you together, and keeps the man out of trouble."

That's pretty good advice for us, men. Let's work at hand-holding more often. Start today.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Those Young-uns Today!

For the last few years, folks at Beloit College have prepared a "Mindset List" for each incoming class of Freshmen. It's a good reminder, to me at least, of just how differently they perceive the world.

Some highlights:

They don't remember when "cut and paste" involved scissors.
Pay-Per-View television has always been an option.
Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker have never preached on television.
Pixar has always existed.
They never saw the shuttle Challenger fly.
They never saw Pat Sajak or Arsenio Hall host a late night television show.
Digital cameras have always existed.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fight for Your Families

Great leadership from Nehemiah:

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." (Nehemiah 4:13-14)

Notice that he posted them by families. And the families were armed against the enemy. (Do our families know how to fight the Enemy that seeks to destroy them?)

Nehemiah quells their fear. "Remember the Lord."
(Do our families have a gut-level understanding that Jesus is on our team?)

Fight for everyone in your family.
(Do we fight more for houses or for homes?)

You are the leader, Mister. Passivity = Cowardice. Ask your wife to pray for your courage and boldness.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Guarding our Speech

Pat Robertsen is getting appropriate criticism for his suggestion that the US Government should simply assisinate Hugo Chavez, near-dictator of Venezuela.

I am not supporting Pat Robertsen, except as a brother in Christ. President Chavez is a serious concern in the Western hemisphere, and the US government must not ignore what he is doing in Venezuela, in Columbia, and with Cuba. Robertsen probably gave words to the thoughts that others have had, but in publicly doing so he just gave Chavez a significant weapon of leverage. Chavez will use this as further justification of his military build-up and control. I believe it is not possible for Chavez to generally improve the internal situation in Venezuela, and so he has (like so many dictators before him) built up a false image of an external enemy to consolidate and reinforce his personal power base.

Why am I writing about this issue here? Because we're men, and men need to guard their speech.

Jesus said, "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." (Matthew 12:36)

Let me be more cautious and quote the larger section of Matthew 12:

33"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

So what we say is really a heart issue that needs the grace and discipline of Christ to change.

We will be held accountable, men. Even for careless words.

I often joke with people that I can be a "babbling Brooke." But it's not a joke, it's a serious issue.

Let's help one another to use our speech to build others up, especially within our families. Bold and gentle speech is the way.

Monday, August 22, 2005

This Dad Speaks for Me

I appreciated this tender-hearted dad, writing about the loss of his son in Iraq.
No Nosehairs Scissors on This Flight, No Sir!

From the Federalist:

"America's skies are safer today, aren't they? Even U.S. troops being deployed aboard chartered aircraft must undergo the same security screening as your average passenger. When the National Guard's 48th Brigade Combat Team deployed from Savannah, Georgia, to Iraq, the unit's commander, Lt. Col. John King, reluctantly instructed his soldiers to surrender pocket knives, lighters and nose hair scissors, in compliance with FAA anti-hijacking regulations. Having so complied, the soldiers were allowed to keep their rifles, combat shotguns, pistols, bayonets, helmets and body armor. Here we might suggest that the policymakers at the Federal Aviation Administration deploy their oxygen masks ASAP—they've definitely got their heads, err, in the clouds."
18th Anniversary

We were married 18 years ago today. I remember being fine and confident and thrilled until mid-way through the service, when I had to light the unity candle and my hand started shaking. But a look at my beautiful bride settled that down! I definitely married up.

We're better together for God than we are separately. May the Lord continue to bless our marriage!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Great Word Picture

“The Word of God is like cool water from a canteen. During the most difficult times, it brings relief and a feeling of renewal that allows us…to accomplish any mission set before us.” -- retired Marine Corps Commandant Charles C. Krulak
The danger of trying to make everyone happy

Inside I secretly wish I could avoid all conflict and make everyone happy. I intellectually know this is run-off from the chicken coop, but it’s a wish that haunts me now and then.

That’s probably why I really liked this comment from Tony Morgan, pastor of Granger Church in Indiana: “We learned long ago that to try to make everyone happy, you have to be comfortable with this ‘zone of mediocrity.’ It’s a place where there are few critics but it’s also a place where few people become really passionate about ministry and their relationship with Christ.”

Oh, Lord, help me to be Hot for you in all the right ways, not cold or lukewarm. (Revelation 3:15-16)
Get Your Family to Church on Time

You just have to see this. http://familymanweb.com/top_ten.htm
Back to Basics

We never get away from the basics, men.

“Peter’s word to us about [refreshment] is: ‘Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.’ Acts 3:19 Repentance is not just turning away from sin, but also turning toward the Lord with hearts open and expectant and submissive.” -- John Piper
Leadership Principles that Still Hold

Eric Mack rediscovers some outstanding leadership principles from Edward White Benton, a former Archbishop of Canterbury.
Real leaders don’t complain

Hey guy, pay attention to this. Marshall Goldsmith recently said, “Real leaders are not people who can point out what is wrong. Almost anyone can do that. Read leaders are people who can make things better.”

Think about that for your family.

Let’s make things better.
Great quote

“Can you imagine if Christians actually believed that God was trying to rescue us from the pit of our own self-addiction?” -- Donald Miller

What a perfect illustration of our sin – “the pit of our own self-addiction.” Wow. Just let that image roll around in your mind for a while.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Real Thing

The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn't even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn't want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten.

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

John 1:9-14, The Message
Quote of the Month

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW--What a Ride!" -- Kenneth P. Bowles

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sobering money facts

More Americans will declare bankruptcy this year than graduate from college.

The average credit card debt per American household is $8,400. On most cards, the "minimum payment" strategy will cost you $24,000 over 25 years.
39 Things I Bet You Didn't Know

This makes for fun dinner conversation with your family.

1) Debra Winger was the voice of E.T.
2) Pearls melt in vinegar.
3) It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for ayear's supply of footballs.
4) Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating arealready married.
5) The 3 most valuable brand names on earth: Marlboro, Coca-Cola, andBudweiser, in that order.
6) It's possible to lead a cow upstairs...but not downstairs.
7) Humans are the only primates that don't have pigment in the palms oftheir hands.
8) Ten percent of the Russian government's income comes from the sale ofvodka.
9) The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," usesevery letter in the alphabet. (Developed by Western Union to testcommunications)
10) The only 15-letter word that can be spelled without repeating aletter is uncopyrightable. Stewardesses is the longest word that istyped with only the left hand.
11) No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver,and purple.
12) "I am" is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
13) Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches.
14) A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.
15) The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days ofwhen the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on theground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.
16) The name of the Don McLean song.)
17) Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king fromhistory. Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts -
Charlemagne; and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.
18) 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
19) Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down-hence the expressionto "get fired."
20) Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th:John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2,but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
21) Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes themlooks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.
22) An ostrich's eye is bigger that its brain.23) The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.
24) The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army forthe"General Purpose" vehicle, G.P.
25) The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point inColorado.
26) Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.
27) If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have$1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without beingable to make change for a dollar.
28) The only two days of the year in which there are no professionalsports games (MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL) are the day before and the dayafter the Major League All-Star Game.
29) Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.
30) The mask used by Michael Myers in the original "Halloween" wasactually a Captain Kirk mask painted white.
31) If you put a raisin in a glass of champagne, it will keep floatingto the top and sinking to the bottom.
32) Snails can sleep for 3 years without eating.
33) Actor Tommy Lee Jones and vice-president Al Gore were freshmanroommates at Harvard.
34) The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from
scene.
35) Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a "Friday the 13th."
36) James Doohan, who plays Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott on Star Trek,is missing the entire middle finger of his right hand.
37) The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in everyfive must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstripsin times of war or other emergencies.
38) There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
39) All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.
It's the Little Things

Is there anything harder than being a good husband and good father -- consistently?

(Being a consistently good wife and mother is probably at least as hard :-)

I find it instructive to hear women praise their husbands or children praise their fathers. They don't mention the diamond ring, the big vacation, the bouquet of roses, or coaching the championship game. It's about the little things every day, every week, every month. Smiles and hugs, encouragement, bringing them coffee or treats, short notes and phone calls to check on them, the "I'm home" kiss, filling up the cars with gas, taking out the garbage, a $1 bill slipped to them at the store when they needed it, a wink across the crowd, the hand signal that says "I love you."

What's one little thing that you can do more consistently today?

Next week, add another one. C'mon it's not hard. We just have to do them.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Short hiatus

I will be taking a week or so off from posting, while I turn my attention to other things. Be bold, be gentle!

What if you were arrested...for studying the Bible?

Here's a good thought exercise for you, and perhaps for your family. What if the police arrested you for studying your Bible, or talking about Jesus with others?

It's not preposterous. It happens regularly in China (see this recent news story).

What would you say? How would you act? What Scripture passages would give you comfort, and direction? What might greater purposes might the Lord have for your arrest?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lord, don't look past me!

"For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." 2 Chron 16:9

Mike Swaim challenged the men of CrossTrainers yesterday to meditate on this verse and then pray, "Lord, don't look past me!"

What do you need to do today to have a prepared heart?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Your Life Song is for the Lord

Casting Crowns is releasing a new album later this year. The album and feature track is named "LifeSong." I had an opportunity to hear this while driving to the visitation for a friend's dead mother.

The refrain is "May my Life Song sing to You."

Eternal life has already begun for believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Our Life Song will not be interrupted by physical death. The echoes of our Life Song remain in this world, affecting the generations to come after us. But we will continue singing our Life Song forward in heaven, for the praise of Jesus.

By God's grace may we all sing loudly, clearly, and on key!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lance's Best Next Move -- go home and play

Congratulations to Lance Armstrong on his extraordinary achievement, winning the grueling Tour de France again. It's great that he can retire at the top of his game.

Look what was buried in the Fox News story:
President Bush called to congratulate his fellow Texan
for "a great triumph of the human spirit," saying the victory was "a testament
not only to your athletic talent, but to your courage."


Armstrong's 5-year-old son, Luke, delivered a
different message. "Daddy, can we go home and play?" the boy whispered to him
as he stepped off the podium.

Improving Test Scores, or Education?

While I have some concerns about the Bush Administration's Leave No Child Behind campaign, there are some positives:

1. It draws attention on a critical issue
2. Test scores are improving

I still believe the federal department of Education is unconstitutional; governement oversight of education is not explicitly given to the federal level, and is therefore reserved to the States.

Read this Fortune cover story on America vs. China for some great reasons why we need to work at our education system.

But dads, we can't be focused entirely on test scores and grade-point averages. We need our kids to develop skills to be good citizens of the Kingdom. Schooling is just one element of their true education.
Murderers Must Die

Dennis Prager has another clear-reasoned article in his series on Judeo-Christian values. This one covers the value of human life, and the death penalty. It's interesting that taking the life of a murderer is the only law given in all five books of the Penteteuch.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Humor...sort of

Todd Wilson presents this top ten list.

You know your not the most caring husband in the world if you’ve ever said this to your wife:

"That’s a pretty good gash on your hand, Dear. As soon as the evening news is over I’ll run you up to the emergency room."
"Hey, can you tone down the crying? I’m trying to read here."
"What’s the big deal? I got you an anniversary present a couple of years ago didn’t I?"
"What’s wrong with our curtains? They were good enough for my grandmother and my mom weren’t they."
"What’s the candle light for? You afraid I won’t eat this stuff if I can see it?"
"What do you mean you have nothing to wear? You just went to the mall 8 or 9 years ago."
"A date? Alone? What for?"
"You want to watch that movie? It’s just a sappy romance without a single shoot out."
"You want me to read a book about how to be a better husband? Babe, how can I improve upon perfection?"
"You’re packing your bags?...so does that mean I'll have to make my own dinner tonight?"

And you've just got to click on this link to see a hilarious collection of photos.