Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Great quote from C.S. Lewis

"We must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world -- and might even be more difficult to save. For mere improvement is no redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine." --C.S. Lewis

Dads, we must not fall into the trap of merely wanting our children to be nice. They need to be redeemed!
Teach the Bible to Change Lives is available!

I'm thrilled to report that my new ebook, Teach the Bible to Change Lives, is now available.

Check out this terrific resource at http://www.teachtochangelives.com. You won't want to pass up this opportunity for the ebook and three exclusive bonuses during this introductory price period.

If you would like to get a free 4-part minicourse on The Four Elements of Great Bible Teaching, sign up at http://www.teachtochangelives.com/4minisignup.htm

Also, you can sign up for a free weekly teaching tip at http://www.teachtochangelives/optin.htm

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

How to Pray for Your Pastors

Our pastors are treasures from the Lord, for our benefit. Let us be found faithful in prayer for them! The pastoral staff at Bethlehem Baptist have some recommendations on how to pray that will be good for your pastor(s) as well.
Good example

I didn't know Curt Schilling, Red Sox pitcher, was a Christian. If your kids like sports players, share this story with them.
Quote of the month

"The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts." --John Jay, the man whom George Washington appointed as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Gut test for Husbands

When was the last time you spent a solid 30 minutes talking with your wife about things she thinks are important?

Here's the challenge: tomorrow morning at 6am, you should be able to answer that question with "Yesterday."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Black Belt in Spiritual Maturity

David Allen (of Getting Things Done, which I recommend) has this definition of a black belt:

"You are a black belt when you have achieved a level of proficiency that allows you to train yourself when you get out of shape. That is, you have enough self-awareness to know you have fallen out of rhythm and sufficient master of the art to get yourself back to proper form."

Think about that in terms of a Christian disciple. Spiritual maturity (black belt) is when you have developed sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and know when you are not in step with Christ. And how to use the Word of God and prayer to get back into rhythm with Christ.

How are you doing at this men? And how are you helping your family to attain spiritual "black belt" status?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Practicing Mindfulness

My brain is usually flitting around on multiple ideas and tasks at once. (Some people talk about their inner voice. I have a whole committee in there, and half of them are whiners.)

One of the very best things I've been trying to do in the past couple of years is to sit down and just talk with my wife -- no interruptions, just asking questions, really focusing on listening, telling her about what I'm thinking (I have to work at using enough words for this!). Frankly, I'm still not very good at this, but I want to get better.

The key to progress, men, is to stop trying to multitask. We're really bad at it, anyway.

That's why I recommend you read this fun (and short 2 page) article "Your Brain on Multitasking." An excerpt:

"But imagine what it would be like if every time your co-worker, friend, spouse, lover, child wanted to say something to you and you turned and gave that person all your attention. End of story. No television sucking you into the event horizon. No glancing at the computer. No talking on the phone or checking your watch or reading a report... just 100% mindful, totally there, perfect eye contact, YOU. If you already do this now, that's awesome. If not, then if you try it--and I mean really try it--your family might think something's wrong with you. (One of those, "Who are you and what have you done with my husband?" moments.) "

So try being more mindful today, men. You'll get more important stuff done right.
The Christian Response to Homosexuals and the Radical Homosexual Movement

There's an operating tension between levels of interaction. Individuals and small groups seem to operate one way, and yet something different happens in larger groups -- cities, states, nations. Macroeconomic perspective on unemployment, for example, says that 4% unemployment is wonderful -- celebrate! But in the microeconomic view, 4% unemployment means thousands of families are without work that want to work.

Something similar, I believe, is true for the issue of homosexuality.

At a "macro" level, the radical homosexual movement is undermining standards. They are defining deviancy down (and really, defining normal heterosexual marriage as deviant). They are coming after our kids, men. And the societal costs in the long run are enormous. See Ben Shapiro's recent column for more on this perspective. I believe the Christian response at the level of government must be to stand for God's standards.

At the "micro" level, where you and and interact with individuals who are homosexuals, we must also stand for God's standards. Our interaction must be telling the truth in love and with acts of love. This is the Jesus way, with compassion. On the whole we're doing pretty well with the "hate the sin" part and not very well with "love the sinner" part. See Ryan Zempel's column reviewing a new book, "Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would" for more on this.

For both levels, we need to tell the truth in such a way that they will respond.
Quote for the week

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." -- Helen Keller
Parent Job Description

Todd Wilson has posted a hilarious and largely true job description of a parent. Worth reading. And don' t miss out on his set of pictures if need a laugh.
Back online, catching up

Sorry it's been a while. Our Internet connection was unavailable for several days. It was sobering to monitor my feelings of withdrawal, and realize just how much our family relies upon the email and web access.

Monday, March 07, 2005

We Don't Want to Be Sheep

The people of God are described over 100 times as His sheep. It's not meant to be a compliment. It is an accurate picture -- sheep are filthy, stupid (no analytic power, and zero memory), and defenseless.

Eric Evers points out that we don't want to be sheep. We kinda like the idea of a shepherd, but only if he just lets us do what we want. A good friend at work reminds me that while everyone needs to be managed, no one likes it; this concept isn't limited to just one or two dimensions of human experience!

The answer is to move into a life of repentence. Let the Shepherd take you to where you don't want to go, discipline you with His rod, and set the pace.
Feelings are Not the Arbiter of Truth

Dennis Prager does surgery on the foundations of feelings driving decisions. "The entire edifice of moral relativism, a foundation of leftist ideology, is built on the notion of feelings deciding right and wrong."

Consider how this infects our schools, legislatures, and judicial institutions. It's insidious, and biblically odious.
Coaching Modesty with our Girls

Dads, we need to work with Mom and coach our girls into modest dress and behavior. You're in charge, not the designers and manufacturers. Rebecca Hagelin has some suggestions.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Interview with Eugene Peterson

Great interview with Eugene Peterson on defining "spirituality." Worth your time. A few excerpts:

"Do we realize how almost exactly the Baal culture of Canaan is reproduced in American church culture? Baal religion is about what makes you feel good. Baal worship is a total immersion in what I can get out of it. And of course, it was incredibly successful. The Baal priests could gather crowds that outnumbered followers of Yahweh 20 to 1. There was sex, there was excitement, there was music, there was ecstasy, there was dance. "We got girls over here, friends. We got statues, girls, and festivals." This was great stuff. And what did the Hebrews have to offer in response? The Word. "

"One test I think is this: Am I working out of the Jesus story, the Jesus methods, the Jesus way? Am I sacrificing relationship, personal attention, personal relationship for a shortcut, a program so I can get stuff done? You can't do Jesus' work in a non-Jesus way and get by with it—although you can be very "successful."
One thing that I think is characteristic of me is I stay local. I'm rooted in a pastoral life, which is an ordinary life. So while all this glitter and image of spirituality is going around, I feel quite indifferent to it, to tell you the truth. And I'm somewhat suspicious of it because it seems to be uprooted, not grounded in local conditions, which are the only conditions in which you can live a Christian life."
Interview with Eugene Peterson

Great interview with Eugene Peterson on defining "spirituality." Worth your time. A few excerpts:

"Do we realize how almost exactly the Baal culture of Canaan is reproduced in American church culture? Baal religion is about what makes you feel good. Baal worship is a total immersion in what I can get out of it. And of course, it was incredibly successful. The Baal priests could gather crowds that outnumbered followers of Yahweh 20 to 1. There was sex, there was excitement, there was music, there was ecstasy, there was dance. "We got girls over here, friends. We got statues, girls, and festivals." This was great stuff. And what did the Hebrews have to offer in response? The Word. "

"One test I think is this: Am I working out of the Jesus story, the Jesus methods, the Jesus way? Am I sacrificing relationship, personal attention, personal relationship for a shortcut, a program so I can get stuff done? You can't do Jesus' work in a non-Jesus way and get by with it—although you can be very "successful."
One thing that I think is characteristic of me is I stay local. I'm rooted in a pastoral life, which is an ordinary life. So while all this glitter and image of spirituality is going around, I feel quite indifferent to it, to tell you the truth. And I'm somewhat suspicious of it because it seems to be uprooted, not grounded in local conditions, which are the only conditions in which you can live a Christian life."

Friday, March 04, 2005

New Eugene Peterson book

Many of us are fans of Eugene Peterson. His latest book is taking my breath away. It's titled "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places."



This is a long book, 338 pages plus appendices, notes, and indexes. So I'm sure some of you will say, "Uh, thanks for the tip" and turn away. But think twice, get the book.

I could about 25 posts with great excerpts. Here's one, from page 318:

"In 1910 G.K. Chesterton wrote a book with the title What's Wrong with the World. It was early in the century and the country was full of ideas and plans for making the world a better place to live. Socialists, anarchists, and utopians of various sorts were offering up proposals regarding poverty and economics, war and peace, ignorance and education, sickness and health, mediocrity and eugenics, propoals on how to set right what is wrong with the world. It was an optimistic age and the assumption in all the proposals was that all we had to do was find the right ideas and right technology and we could fix whatever was wrong. The daily newspapers were full of intelligent advice. but they were also impersonal, dealing with programs or plans that would redistribute income, enact legislation, develop mechanisms or tools, reform the educational system. None was without merit. But not one was personal. None identified the core "wrong," the refusal to deal relationally and responsibly with what is "right" with the world, namely, God. It is not surprising that neither the word "sin" nor the word "love" appeared in their proposals. Chesterton's book was a collection of his newspaper columns in which he called attention to the conspicuous omission of any sense of God or sin among his brilliant contemporaries. If I had to summrize Chesterton's weekly polemics directed to the pundits of the day who thought they could make the world better without bothering with God or sin, I would propose, simply, "me." What's wrong with the world? Me.
Overheard

I overheard a new Christian asking an older Christian, "What is the best book of the Bible to read?"

I didn't hear the response clearly, but it made me think. There are several good answers:

"Whichever book you are currently reading."
"All of them, because the Bible is an integrated whole, a love letter from the Lord to His people."
"For new Christians, perhaps Mark or John."

Let us pray for greater desire for the whole counsel of God among our families. Let it begin with us.
Wacky Warnings

These product warnings are hilarious! Enjoy. Then ponder what it says about the level of personal responsibility in our culture. And if this trend keeps up, what warnings will be put on newborn babies and fiancees?

A brass fishing lure with a three-pronged hook on the end warns: “Harmful if swallowed"
A household iron warns users: “Never iron clothes while they are being worn”
A label on a hair dryer reads, “Never use hair dryer while sleeping”
A warning on an electric drill made for carpenters cautions: “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
The label on a bottle of drain cleaner warns: “If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product.”
A smoke detector warns: “Do not use the Silence Feature in emergency situations. It will not extinguish a fire.”
A massage chair warns: “DO NOT use massage chair without clothing... and, Never force any body part into the backrest area while the rollers are moving.”
A cardboard car sunshield that keeps sun off the dashboard warns, “Do not drive with sunshield in place”
An “Aim-n-Flame” fireplace lighter cautions, “Do not use near fire, flame or sparks”
A label on a hand-held massager advises consumers not to use “while sleeping or unconscious”
A 12-inch rack for storing compact disks warns: “Do not use as a ladder.”
A cartridge for a laser printer warns, “Do not eat toner”
A 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow warns: “Not intended for highway use”
A can of self-defense pepper spray warns users: “May irritate eyes”
A warning on a pair of shin guards manufactured for bicyclists says: “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.”
A snowblower warns: “Do not use snowthrower on roof.”
A dishwasher carries this warning: “Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher.”
A popular manufactured fireplace log warns: “Caution - Risk of Fire”
A box of birthday cake candles says: “DO NOT use soft wax as ear plugs or for any other function that involves insertion into a body cavity.”

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Eric Evers has some good insights from John 4:5-52.
Movies vs. Reality

You can help your family by training them to be appropriately skeptical of what they see on TV, in movies, or even read in the newspaper. We need to be discerning men, and raise discerning citizens. We started with commercials when the kids were little. ("Hmm... do you think holding a Pringles can like that really brings you lots of smiling friends?" )

Churchlaughs.com has this fun list for movies.

Reality According to Hollywood
All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread.
The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place.
The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.
A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.
Cars that crash will almost always burst into flames.
Persons knocked unconscious by a blow to the head will never suffer a concussion or brain damage.
It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.
Any lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds—unless it's the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.
All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they will go off.
Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.
It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.
Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.
It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts; your enemies will patiently wait to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.