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."

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."