Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Milestones and rhythms seem terribly important to us. You feel this tangibly as you move into situations where there aren't the patterns you expect. I suspect, but cannot prove, that this need for rhythm is part of our makeup.

Certainly we look forward to a new year, a fresh start, and blessed hope of bright futures. Let's keep on following Jesus, men!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Rejoice With Me!

20 years ago today, under a tree on the campus at Northwestern University, Cathy said "Yes!" when I asked her to marry me. I am a blessed man. God is so good!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I'm going to be enjoying the Christmas week with my family, and not blogging. So we'll see you again in 2007.

Be bold, be gentle!
What Do We Worship?

Cal Thomas points out that for many people in America, politics has become religion.

Reading this, I'm reminded of the elevated state of politics in Rome (and other empires) before they collapsed. This is a correlated factor, not a causation, but we should see it as a key symptom of spiritual problems.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sobering Statistic

1 in 32 people in America are monitored in the criminal justice system -- in prison, on parole, etc. See this Prison Fellowship article for more about sharing the Gospel with this huge group of people.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Comparing Perspectives

Francis Chan suggests a good thought experiment: Imagine that someone interviews your friends and relatives and coworkers and asks what they see in you. Then that same interviewer contacts God and asks what He sees in you.

What's the comparison?

This is a good way to assess how much we're hiding from people, and the congruence of our inner and public lives.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christian Worldview and Pacifism

I occasionally get drawn into discussions about whether Christians should participate in or support military action. There's a lot of shallow thinking today about pacifism. If this topic interests you, check out this article. You don't have to agree with everything, but this is a good example of someone diligently working through facets of a big issue.

I am not a pacifist, just so you know. I do not think violence is a first solution, but there are times when protecting innocent lives requires it. Let's consider a personal level. If some man is beating on my daughter, and doesn't stop when I ask, then as a father I need to step in and remove him to protect my daughter. I will use whatever force is needed to stop his action.

On a national level, in this fallen world, sometimes war is the only means of stopping evil. I am not arguing that all wars are ok, or that wars begun for noble purposes always remain noble, or that individual actions in the midst of wars are excused.

What happens after the war is also critical. I sat next to an elderly Japanese man on a plane trip once. He had been a teenager during WWII, and expected to die defending against a US invasion of Japan. He told me that the forgiveness of the Americans after the war, and their willingness to help rebuild, shocked his family to the core. This was so unexpected of a "conqueror."
Post # 1005

I just noticed that I passed 1000 posts to this blog. This reminds me how much we underestimate what we can do over a period of time!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Looking for Good Men's Ministry Books?

The Man Church has a great compilation of books on masculine Christianity. Check it out.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Did Jesus Have Bad PR?

I recently gave a Christmas devotion for the seniors group at our church. I tried to help people think about the terrible public relations job around the birth of the Messiah. From a human perspective, this was a PR disaster! Listen to it here.
Leveraging into Prayer

For years I've struggled against rage, anger, and bitterness. Oh most people who know me would probably be suprised by that statement, but I assure you it's true.

Strong emotions like anger arise naturally when we experience a gap between what is and what we think/know should be. Or could be. I believe anger is a God-granted emotion designed to motivate us into action.

So things happen, or don't happen, especially in family life, that are just not in line with what I think should be. And since the friction of sin making life in community hard isn't going to evaporate this side of heavenly glory, I need a strategy to help me operate constructively and wisely when anger surges.

I've been training myself to jump from the first feelings of anger into prayer. I short-circuit the positive-feedback loop that leads me into sin by shifting a significant amount of energy into conversation with my Master, Teacher, Savior, Friend, and Lord.

I have a low success rate to date, but I am persisting.
Hey, I'm the Person of the Year!

According to Time Magazine, bloggers and others contributing to the content of the web are the Person of the Year for 2006. Wow! I'm honored :-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Would You Like That in Mauve or Taupe?

Bible publishers are doing a booming business as they repackage the Bible into a astounding array of formats, covers, and colors. And sales are up! There is a tremendous consumer hunger for the Bible -- that's good news. We're so affluent that you can get a Bible that fits the image you want to project to others. (Reminds me of ladies shoes.)

Soon you'll be able to get a Bible for your ipod -- more good news for those who are ipod-centric.

One part of my brain is celebrating the proliferation of Bibles. Making it interesting and accessible to more people should be a good thing.

Another part of my brain is concerned that we pay more attention to format and show than to absorbing the content. Let us be careful to avoid feeling good about a Bible format, but denying its power. (See 2 Tim 3:1-5)


P.S. To consider for Christmas giving: support the Wycliffe Bible translation ministries. There are over 6000 languages in the world, and over 5000 do not have the complete Bible translated.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Focus!

I'm a guy with an easily fractured span of attention living in a culture that rewards short attention spans. We've got a gazillion distractions coming at us (as if we needed them -- most of our focus problem is OUR problem -- I'd have the same problem, really, if I were by myself in an empty quiet room.)

The solution is to train our minds to focus. To be truly present with an issue, a person, an experience. I have a lot of learn in this area.

Check out this short article for some helps getting started.
Seeing the Many Opportunities for Prayer

I love this story about a man who prays for lots of people, looking for opportunities all the time. What a model for us, men!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Good words from Psalm 139:23-24

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
(The Message Translation)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Cambridge Declaration

My friend Kevin Nelstead points us to the Cambridge Declaration -- excellent work on the centrality of the Gospel, biblical inerrancy, and stewardship of the earth.

Clear thinking takes work. But it's worth it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thinking about Joseph's Righteousness

John Ortberg has a wonderful essay about Joseph's righteousness, and his decision to sacrifice his reputation to take Mary to be his wife. Recommended. We don't have a single recorded word of Joseph in the Bible, but he is a rich example for us to study.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Computers Enable People to Live Forever?

Ray Kurzweil is a very smart man, and has written extensively about his confidence that computers and medical technology (e.g., nanobots that will repair human tissue) will effectively allow humans to live forever. See this blog post for a good jumping off point on that theme.

A few thoughts on this idea:

1. This is a sad idea. Given the frustrations of life, and the grinding nature of sin in human relationships -- irrespective of the perfection of the human body and our thinking capacity -- I suspect such "eternal" life would be a Faustian bargain. There is no way these technologies address our fundamental problems of being.

2. This is an arrogant idea. There is a Creator, and He is sovereign over all our steps. One car accident, one tornado, one slippery kitchen floor... there are damages to the human body that cannot be overcome by technological repairs.

3. May our Lord save us from situations where we are tempted to sin because we have technological options that far outstrip our wisdom.

4. I can hear Thomas a Kempis speaking: "What good is it to live long if we do not live well?" (from The Imitation of the Christ)

5. We have not learned the lessons from the Tower of Babel. I'm certainly in favor of medical advances to help people. But we have a strong tendency to pursue these things because we want to become gods.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hand-warmer

One of my delights is to be a greeter at our church. I stand outside one of the main doors, shaking hands with people, opening the doors, and escorting the older ladies who need an extra measure of honor and help. I pray for people as they come in. I pray for the people I don't see, too -- including those in the hundreds of homes that have been built around our church building in the past four years. I'm asking God for 500 men.

Yesterday we had a vistor from another church, a man who also greets and loves it. "I call myself a hand-warmer," he told me. "Everyone needs a warm hand in the morning."

I like the title. It fits. Hand-warmer.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Is Your View of God Big Enough?

Here's a fun joke sent to me by a friend:
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for
lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples.The nun made a note,
and posted on the apple tray, "Take only one. God is watching."Moving further
along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of
chocolate chip cookies.A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is
watching the apples."

Made me wonder -- in what ways do I need to enlarge my view of God?
Be a Lion Chaser, Not a Scaredy-Cat

I highly recommend Mark Batterson's book, In the Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day. He begins with the story of Beneniah, who chased a lion into a pit and killed it, then later became the leader of King David's bodyguard. Meaty, readable, thought-provoking, funny -- get it, read it, grow.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What Are You Filling Your Life With?

Like many of you, I struggle to enjoy family relationships as much as I know I should. So I was humbled to read this short article from a home-schooling mom who is intentional about caring for souls in her home.

A few excerpts:

"Everyone fills their lives. The question is, what will we fill it with? When most people consider simplifying their lives for the better, the first thing they restrict are the children. Children make noise, cost money, and wake in the middle of the night. They are hard work if you are going to raise them right. Yet I can think of no sweeter means to enjoy the simple, good things in life than alongside God’s gift of children.

Children are not the obstacles that keep us from enjoying the good life, so long as your definition of good things is not material. It takes careful thought to live simply, to nurture good character that will stand against a consumer-driven culture. I want our children to look back on their childhoods and remember family reading times that lasted too late and bowls of cherries that sat on the kitchen countertop. As I think through the things that fill our lives, I aim to purge the clutter and embrace the things that matter, especially the eternal souls in my care. "
Disturbing Decision by the Church of England

The Church of England is now saying it's ok to allow "severely deformed" babies to die by withholding treatment.

There's a whole run of rational arguments they offer, but I don't see any Scriptural support.

Check out this article for the full story.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Prayer Guide

John Piper compiles a list of what to pray for -- using your wartime walkie-talkie. Great resource, highly recommended!
Mayflower Compact

On this day in 1620 our forebears signed one of the most important documents in American history.

"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."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Would Jesus Tax?

There's a good bit of controversy between Christians about economic issues -- often boiled down into overly simplistic viewpoints of

Jesus wants us to help the poor, not the rich, so we should tax the rich and give to the poor!

Or

Jesus loves capitalists because capitalism is freedom!

Guys, it just isn't this simple. If it was, I think we'd have more specific economic direction (I mean specific macroeconomic direction that the Treasury Department should use) in the Gospels.

I appreciated this article because the author tries to work through some of the complexity.
US Elections

Most of the candidates I voted for in Iowa did not get elected. And most of the candidates I would have supported across the country did not get elected.

This was not a surprise.

Pundits and pollsters will spend days and weeks gloating, bemoaning, and interpreting the results. We also do, driven by an almost compulsive need to understand complicated systems in simplistic, linear terms.

But while disappointed I am celebrating, too. I'm very grateful to live in a free country, where I have so many civic privileges, even if this world is not my home. And I have a new list of leaders to pray for.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Quote of the Week

Kevin Nelstead points us to this one:

"People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated."
D. A. Carson, For the Love of God

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ministry Burnout? Run with Jesus Instead

Hey, if you're feeling a lot of burdens in your ministry, check out what I wrote to teachers on my other blog, Teach to Change Lives. This truth applies for whatever ministry work God has called you to, men -- including our husband and father roles.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Two Good Articles on Climate Change

I really appreciate the detail and approach in Climate Non-Conformity and Stern Review. The Nicholas Stern report from the UK got a lot of media attention -- not surprising given it's conclusions -- and so it's helpful to get some additonal facts and analysis about Stern's analysis and methods.
How to Be Spiritually-Minded

John Piper gives us excellent counsel about turning our minds toward God.
Santorum Speech Worth Reading

I'm not a Pennsylvanian, but I was impressed reading through this speech by Rick Santorum. I think he clearly "gets" that we're at war.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Coarseness of Speech

Words mean things. It has bugged me for years now to hear kids say, "That's so gay!" when they aren't referring to it being happy or homosexual. And now I hear adults saying it! Grrrrr. Political leftists co-opt the word liberal and anarchists trying to pitch themselves as progressives.

Leaders bear an extra responsibility for using words well. In today's world a man who doesn't use coarse words is the man who stands out for Jesus and respecting others.

Randy Ehle gives us good advice about our words.
The M Word

We have a lot of euphemisms and excuses and rationalizations on this topic -- guys, I encourage you to read Perry Noble's counsel.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm a Day Late!

Yesterday was a day to celebrate, but I missed it. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg on October 31st, 1517.

I've always wondered what he was thinking about when he did that. I'm sure he didn't appreciate at the time where it would all lead to, for the Church or for him personally.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

European Demographics

My friend Kevin Nelstead shares some interesting data on European demographics. I really appreciated this insight:

"Europe needs to be re-evangelized, or there could be a repeat of what happened in Asia Minor. The land to which Ephesians, Colossians, and Galatians were written (Turkey) is now 99% moslem. Don’t let the same thing happen to Europe."

Lions Everywhere

Leaders make the difference. Philip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, said this:

"An army of deer led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a deer. An army of lions led by a lion is to be feared most of all, for it is unstoppable."

I'm going to follow the Lion of Judah. May we be lions, too!
Become a Man of Low Resistance

I'm not very good at fixing electrical devices or circuits. For years if I needed to fix something wired into the house my first thought was to turn off the master breaker. I had to call one of my friends, a professional electrician, to come over and help me figure out how to set up two lights in our basement. (I had wired two shorts in the circuit, so kept blowing the breaker.)

Resistance is a molecular property of materials. If electrical current flows freely through a material (e.g., copper), it has low resistance and is a good conductor. If electrical current cannot flow (e.g., ceramics) the material is an insulator. We exploit the properties of some metals that conduct electricity poorly to make space heaters and toasters -- high resistance creates HEAT. (See this nice left-brain description of resistance.)

God has transformed us from insulators to conductors by giving us a heart of flesh and making us conductive (receptive) to His Spirit. But in our stubbornness we often resist the flow of the
Spirit and the work of God in our lives, and that creates needless HEAT. Not passion for the Lord, nor passion to see His kingdom grow, nor love for those who do not love you back, nor zeal of any value -- but strife and discourse, anger and resentment, bitterness and jealousy, pettiness and selfishness.

May the Lord help us become men of low resistance, and little heat.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Weather Stone

There was a weather stone like this at a Boy Scout camp I went to regularly in the 70's. One of the Scoutmasters there used it as a way of reminding us that we need to pay attention to what's happening here and now.

Dead Cat Humor

I don't hate cats, but I thought this was pretty funny.
New Jersey Supremes Require Same-Sex Marriage

I'm a little suprised there isn't more news out about the New Jersey Supreme Court decision that forces the state to recognize same-sex marriages.

This article from First Things was one of the more useful analyses of this event.

Cultures throughout history have moved from treating homosexuality and sexual deviancy as an abomination to tolerating, and then exalting it. They have all ended in destruction. I'm not suggesting this is the only reason why. But I think it's an important lagging indicator of a society that will not thrive.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Get Your Eyes In The Right Place!"

Men, we're visual creatures. We think in images, we love images, we lust after images.

We're wired for worship. We were created to worship.

So it's natural that in our flesh we're going to worship what we focus on.

I've told my kids that they are the first generation that couldn't believe an image just because they saw it. With today's digital technology, your can't tell if it's real or manufactured. Until recently there were pretty good ways to detect fake pictures and images. No longer.

Men, you would think we'd be better at spotting Satan's efforts at fake images -- where love and satisfaction and peace and success are tied to airbrushed models, stuff, career, "lifestyle."

"Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith." If we get our eyes in the right place, on King Jesus, we will know, and be known, and be content.

I want to go blind to the crud of the world because my eyes have been burned by the glory of Jesus. Then I'll see the world clearly, and people compassionately.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Morning Song

We have a Land & Hildebrand album, and I pull it out occasionally on Sunday mornings just to listen to this song with the kids.

Sunday Morning
Words and Music by C.W. Kalb, Jr.

Life in Soddy Daisy was all laid back and lazy.
Six days a week we lived in peace and angelic harmony.
But then one day in seven, when our eyes should turn to heaven,
We’d oversleep and wake knee-deep in pure hostility

Chorus:
And there was chaos, mayhem, panic, and disorder,
Even worse when we were cursed with not enough hot water.
We broke most of the most commandments and a host of heavenly warnings
Just tryin’ to get the family to church on Sunday mornin’s.

Well, don’t just lay there in that bed,
I’ll snatch evr’y hair out of your head.
Backtalk me and know I’m liable
To slap you with my Holy Bible.
No time to bathe, no time to eat,
Just comb your hair and brush your teeth.
We gotta get dressed in our Sunday best
To sing ‘Just As I Am.”

By the time we reached the service
We were frazzled, frayed, and nervous.
We squirmed and stewed there in that pew
Till the final prayer was prayed.
Then like bats out of Hades
We elbowed kids and old ladies,
Tryin’ to beat the Methodists
To the Holiday Inn buffet.

Chorus

I know we’re supposed to love one another
But I think I know why Cain slew his brother.
They only had one bathroom in the Garden of Eden,
Cain was late to Sunday School and Abel was in there readin’…

Chorus

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How God Uses Flawed People

I loved this story, from preachingtoday.com. I share it because I am finding many people know their flaws and misunderstand how God can (and does) use them.

* * * *
A house servant had two large pots. One hung on each end of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. The other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. For two years the servant delivered each day only one-and-a-half pots full of water to his master's house.

The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable over accomplishing only half of what it had been made to do.After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the servant one day by the stream."I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"What are you ashamed of?" asked the bearer.

"For these past two years I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you don't get full value from your work."

The servant said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path." As they went up the hill, the cracked pot noticed the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path. When they reached the house, the servant said to the pot, "Did you notice the flowers grew only on your side of the path, not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Reaching Out to Guys

Useful ideas here about reaching out to guys through movies, sports, hunting & fishing, cars, and sex.

Men need friends. Everything you can do to create environments where godly men can create friendships rooted in Christ builds massive anchors for families and communities. Individually men are toothpicks, easily shattered. But God's design is that we're toothpicks duct-taped together on a steel bar (Jesus).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Morning Prayer

"Father God, you are my great encourager! You give me everything I need, you are my rock, and your glorious Son Jesus sits at your right hand praying for me. What is your dream for me? What can I do (or not do) today that will make you smile at me, your adopted child? Who can I reach out today and encourage and bless, just as you have done for me?"

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Here's a Man Calling Other Men to Rise Up!

Mark Batterson writes:

"Here's my New Year Manifesto:

Grab life by the mane. Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop criticizing and start creating. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Laugh at yourself. Keep making mistakes. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. And remember: if God is for us who can be against us?
Unleash the lion chaser within!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spiritual Constipation

Got your attention?

There is a very curious phenomenon where guys are "consuming" church and reading and listening and reading...but their service level (output) is pretty low. I'm not talking about a rhythm of ministry when a man has been working and serving, and then needs to take a Sabbath rest. I'm talking about the man who serves very little at any time.

If you eat and eat and eat, and nothing comes out the other end, you have constipation. It's painful. Your alimentary canal is not working as it was designed.

Spiritual constipation may not be immediately painful, but you will plateau in your spiritual growth. You're full up, and aren't going to be able to grow until you begin to act and use what you already have. I'm very impressed with the ministy described in Acts. People began their discipleship walk with Jesus -- including serving others -- with not a lot of experience or specific knowledge. They learned as they served.

Avoid constipation, guys. Assess what's going in (some of you may need to adjust that!) and what's going out.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Security vs. Freedom

I'm concerned about the systemic follow-through of our entitlement systems for health care and Social Security.

The facts are stark, even if there is debate about how many years we have before we're crushed in payment obligations we can't fund. I'm tremendously impressed with the strength and resiliency of the US economy (at least in the current world situation; China/India expansion can make some major impacts). But there are reasonable projections of taxes for entitlement payouts requiring being about 20-25% of the GDP!

Generally speaking, I'm in favor of privatizing health care rather than going with government-centric options. We've done the government experiement many times in history, and it has never turned out well. Many people argue that privatizing health care is unfair to the poor or that government (read: Someone Else) should be the sole payer.

So here is a helpful framework for thinking about this issue: Do we want security, or do we want freedom? Security is drawn toward the idea of entitlements and Someone Else paying for it. Freedom looks another way.
Rednecks!

Since I grew up in a holler in West Virginia, I tend to appreciate Jeff Foxworthy's humor. He says the definition of redneck is "the glorious absence of sophistication."

"You know you're a redneck if...

you have a set of salad bowls that say "cool whip" on the side!
you make change in the offering plate
fast food is hitting a deer at 65 mph
you have a race car on your prayer list
you stare at orange juice containers because they say "concentrate"
your mailbox is spelled male
your dad walks you to school cause you're in the same grade"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Marriage vs. Cohabitation

I'm disturbed by the common cultural acceptance of couples living together. Dennis Prager has a nice column arguing for the benefits of marriage from a secular perspective.

But just look at the words themselves for some insight.

Marriage comes to English from old French, most likely, and is always associated with joining, connecting, one-ness, and identified relationship.

Cohabitation means "being in the same space." You can cohabitate with dogs, ants, fleas, prisoners, or your weird brother-in-law Fred. There is nothing in the word meaning that implies a relationship at all!
Leading Ain't Always Easy

Leading is about doing the right things, not the easy things. I have this committee of voices in my mind, and half of them are whiners. I'm learning that as situations come up and I know what should be done, some of those committee voices will start saying, "But this isn't convenient!" or "That's too hard, and you're tired."

Men, we must learn to overrule those voices. Be the spiritual leaders of our families is not a microwave-popcorn-and-Barcolounger experience.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Quote of the Week

"Remember, for every mile on the road of truth, there are two miles of ditches."
-- Ed Gungor
Work-Life Balance

For years I've seen advice articles with titles like "Five Simple Steps to Balancing Work and Family" or "Keeping Perspective with Healthy Work-Life Balance."

Have you noticed that Work is usually listed first in the title, not Life or Family?

I'm not going to be able to give you my version of work-life balance advice. There aren't 'five simple steps,' and it is not a linear process.

How do you know you have the right "balance" between two things? I don't think you can. Biologically, we only have sensations that tell us we are out of balance. We respond to those by moving muscles in the opposite direction. So standing still and walking, for example, are the continuous (and after decades of experience, unconcious) exercises of moving away from the unbalanced state.

I can't honestly say that Jesus lived the 'ideal' of a balanced life. He paid attention to rhythms of work and rest, of prayer, and most of all kept his focus in the right place.

Work is good for us. And we need rest. We need purpose and focus, or we flounder in our flab. So I don't see that work is distinct from life.

Family and friend and neighbor relationships offer suffer from the way we have engineered work today. That's the real out-of-balance issue I struggle against.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What Should Christians *Do* About Global Warming?

My friend Kevin Nelstead -- a Christian and scientist and all-around clear thinker -- points out some evidence for global warming that we should pay attention to.

There are credible scientists who are concerned about poor data and poor interpretation of data from the "Inconvenient Truth" crowd.

I think it's reasonable to believe at this point:

1. The earth is warmer than it was. There have been cycles of warming and cooling in the history of the planet.
2. A warmer earth will be different than what we think of as 'normal' -- there would be higher sea levels, for example, and some species would be affected. Of course, we could also grow crops like corn, wheat, canola, and soybeans at higher latitudes in Canada and Russia, which might become significant for feeding a growing population.
3. It's still uncertain to what degree (pun intended) human activity has caused warming. Consider the estimate that Mt. St. Helens eruption released more "greenhouse" gases than all the automotive emissions in history. (Read that somewhere, can't locate a reference right now, so take that as 'volcanoes release a LOT of gases that contribute to warming.')

Update 10/2/06:
Kevin Nelsted corrects me on this one with a good source of data about CO2 emmissions:

In regards to your third point on your blog entry:Here are the numbers on human vs volcanic CO2:--annual volcanic production of CO2: 130-230 millionmetric tons--annual human production of CO2: 22 billion metrictons--therefore human production of CO2 is at least 100times greater than volcanic productionSource: USGS(http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/Hazards/What/VolGas/volgas.html) Other sources have similar numbers.I see the "Mt. St. Helens eruption released moregreenhouse gases than all the automotive emissions inhistory" concept on Christian web sites often, and asfar as I can tell it is completely untrue.

4. No one knows for sure what humans can do to create global cooling trends.
5. The economic price of the recommendations to limit warming, or create cooling trends, are staggering. The political reality of the Kyoto Treaty is that the worst polluters on the planet (China, India) are exempted. The US Senate unaminously refused to approve the treaty.

So what's the Christian to do?

We pray for wisdom. We celebrate God's goodness to us. We act as responsible stewards. We love people over things. We point people to Jesus. We remember that we are the created, not the Creator, and our Creator gives all things we need.

Those are important, but easier to say than do consistently. And they're general in nature.

What do we do, specifically?

I frankly am unsure what political leaders should do at any significant level. I'm concerned that the rational level of discourse is poisoned and almost impossible to get to with current media practices and a culture of people untrained to thinking. Reasonable people will point out that the demonstrable short-term impacts of Kyoto-type solutions are tremendously expensive when you consider there is NO evidence they will help the problem. [And what is the problem, exactly? What are you trying to solve or prevent? We need to define that better.]

I think Christians should be the best thinkers on the planet. So perhaps one specific thing that we do is insist on good data, humble interpretation, and rational discourse that does not dissemble into polarized half-truth. And is there some way to design an experiment to test possible solutions? (Computer models are only moderately useful, no matter what you see in scifi movies.)

I also recommend we pursue rational, clear thinking about how nations should adapt to higher sea levels and shifting growing zones. What would be a 25 year plan, for example?

Finally, we don't lose sight of Jesus.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Model Prayer

This prayer was posted as a comment on Pastor Mark Driscoll's (Mars Hill Church) blog. It's a wonderful model prayer for pastors and church leaders -- and husbands and fathers who are the spiritual leaders of their families.

I really like how this prayer begins with wonderful praise about God's character and power.

"Oh great God and creator of all things. The one who said but a word and matter and energy hurried into being ready to obey your command. To the God who lives in unapproachable light yet did come so near to know every hair on our heads...To the gracious Father of our Lord Jesus, who sings over his sheep during the night watch. To the coming Lord and Sovereign King invading the world with the ever present and expansive reality of your Kingdom...To the Spirit which searches our hearts and minds and intercedes for us...To you, very God of very God, to you we pray.
Hold up the arms of the elders and deacons of Mars Hill. Establish their feet again and again and again on the rock of Jesus...the lofty and risen Jesus who lives making intercession for his sheep in Seattle. Give them conviction, give them holiness, give them humility, give them love for their enemies, give them mercy and help in their times of need.
Father, whisper to your pastors in that great city, men who have been called to a wild and unpredictable ride in the northwestern realms. Let them feel the breeze of your sovereign grace as the hurricanes of the world, the flesh, and the devil continue to rage. Protect their marriages, protect their children, give them rest, give them peace, both break and build them, comfort and skill them...so that hands now set to a plow in the Kingdom shall never look back. Bring them safely into the care of your Kingdom - when Jesus comes, or when you call them home.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen"
Reid Monaghan, Pastor, Inversion Fellowshipwww.powerofchange.org

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Resurgence of Calvinism

Nice to see this article about the resurgence of Calvinism in many churches and seminaries. And I agree that John Piper's preaching and writing has a lot to do with it!

Real joy flows from a right understanding of who God is, and who we aren't.
Perryisms Worth Repeating

Perry Noble says insightful things in fun ways. Mark Batterson captured these from a recent conference:

"Pastors, I have a word from the Lord. Get rid of the preacher hair."
"I was pagan of the year eight years running."
"Jesus powerwashed my soul."
"We wanted to create a culture where people were more concerned about the condition of your soul than the condition of your wardrobe. We wanted to create a culture where people where more concerned about Scripture than Robert's Rules of Order."
"Church ought to be the most engaging place on the planet. If the tomb is really empty we ought to act like it."
"Get out of his box or let God out of His. He wants to move."
"You better believe we're about numbers. Numbers represent souls."
"Don't shut the backdoor of the church. The church is a body. You shut the back door and you've got problems. You need a Holy Spirit enema."
"If you target the people nobody else wants you won't be able to stop from growing."
"Be more concerned about who is coming in the door than those who are going out the door."
"A church is not effective when a pastor ministers to the people. A church is effective when the body ministers to the body."
"I'm not teaching this church to depend on me. I'm teaching this church to depend on each other."
"People will sit on their blessed assurance as long as you let them."
"Your passion is not my burden."
Finally, I love the prayer the New Spring staff prays: "Dear Jesus, Yes. Amen." I love it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Seeking to Understand

Bernard Lewis has a terrific speech here reflecting on the history of the Arab and Muslim nations, and how the West should understand it.

"Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us. "
Christian Response to Muslim Outrage

John Piper shares some Bible-drenched wisdom about how Christians should respond to the Muslim outrage over the Pope's recent comments. Read it. Study it. Share it.
Christianity is Spelled Done

From a sermon by Mark Batterson:

In the words of Bill Hybels, religion is spelled do. Christianity is spelled done.

It is so easy to base our identity on how we look, what we know, or how much we have. In fact, sometimes it is easier to base your identity on the wrong thing when you look better or know more or have more. That was certainly the case with Nebuchadnezzar. But the only sure foundation is basing our identity on what God has done for us at the cross.

In the words of Romans 12:3: “The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by who God is and what God does.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Using Time More Effectively

One of the most common excuses (lies we tell ourselves, right?) is that we don't have time to . Check out these excellent time effectiveness tips for people like you who want to be more effective in ministry!
We Are At Our Best When...

Though this article is specifically about pastors, I recommend you read it and think about fathers and husbands. To sum up,

We are at our best when we help move men and women toward the kingdom of heaven.
We are at our best when men and women in the community can really be better off because of our ministry.
We are at our best when the people in our church can trust our integrity.
We are at our best when we, as leaders, stay focused on what is most important.
We are at our best when through our ministry the hearts and lives of the people are changing.
Where's the Beef?

Hmmm.... Pope Benedict accurately quotes a 14th-century emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, who said ""Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

And just as with Dutch cartoons, and a poor novel, riots erupt from the "religion of peace."

I was disappointed to hear Pope Benedict's apology for quoting this, and for saying that he personally disagrees with Paleologus. Because I think Paleologus was right, and have been proved right in the centuries since. And we need to say so.

I can hear Margaret Thatcher saying, "This is not the time to go wobbly."

Let us make Jesus the central issue.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

iChurch -- Consumer approach

I appreciated the insights in this article about individual choice in churches superceding commitments. I need to meditate more on how I myself have incorrect ideas about a consumer-value God. Check it out for yourself.
Could We Hear Something Like This Today?

Franklin Roosevelt said in his Jan. 6, 1942, State of the Union mesage, "The world is too small... for both Hitler and God...The Nazis have now announced their plan for enforcing their... pagan religion all over the world -- a plan by which the Holy Bible and the Cross of Mercy would be displaced by Mein Kampf and the swastika." He said in an April 28, 1942, fireside chat, "This great war effort must be carried through to its victorious conclusion... It shall not be imperiled by the handful of noisy traitors -- betrayers of America, betrayers of Christianity itself -- would-be dictators who in their hearts and souls have yielded to Hitlerism and would have this Republic do likewise."

Source: World Magazine blog

Friday, September 15, 2006

How's Your Prayer Life?

Over the years I've found that asking this question will humble almost everyone: "How's your prayer life? Is it what it should be?" Certainly humbles me!

No matter what your calling as a spiritual leader, you need to be diligent about prayer.

Here's some useful, practical advice from Rick Warren.
Faith Fall-off in Twenties?

New report from Barna suggests that most twenty-somethings who actively practiced their faith in their teens struggle to continue.

Question I have is whether we've created a sigutatino in our youth programs where there is so muhc external structure propping up their faith practices that when those are removed, there is too little internalized discipline, practice, and commitment remaining to sustain it.
Great Quote

“Make us masters of ourselves that we may be the servants of others.” -- Sir Alexander Patterson

There is no question that one of the limiting factors in our ability to serve our families is the extent of our self-discipline.

"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1 Cor 9:26-27

Monday, September 11, 2006

Getting Past Lukewarm Christianity

Recommended: article in CT summarizing many of Dallas Willard's points on genuine discipleship.

"...God has much bigger things in mind for us. He wants us to join his mighty project. That's a main reason we need thoroughgoing transformation. He wants people like us to become fit enough to follow Jesus inside "the infinite rule of God," becoming searchers for his kingdom, agents within it, witnesses to it, and models of it. We now have little kingdoms of our own, just as God intended. Depending on our age and level of responsibility, we have a small realm "where our choice determines what happens." God wants us "to mesh our kingdoms with the kingdoms of others," all inside his master kingdom, "which pervades and governs the whole of the physical universe."

"What else are all these glad biblical instructions for?
Put on the full armor of God.
Seek his kingdom first.
Fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion.
Heal the sick.
Stir one another up to good works.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.
Teach everybody to obey everything I have commanded you.
Let your light shine before others. "

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sermon Cloud

I just learned about this cool sermon audio resource, Sermon Cloud. You can search for sermons by keyword, and then download the audio (free). Listeners are "rating" sermons and providing comments.

They also provide services to churches and pastors who wish to upload sermons and syndicate them with RSS. Very slick.
Scripture Memorization

John Piper gives the reasons for memorizing Scripture:

1. Conformity to Christ
2. Daily Triumph over Sin
3. Daily Triumph over Satan
4. Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
5. Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
6. Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways

Friday, September 08, 2006

Strong Measures

Newt Gingrich makes a bold and plain argument for better execution on the Long War against terrorists.

"President Bush today finds himself in precisely the same dilemma Lincoln faced 144 years ago. With American survival at stake, he also must choose. His strategies are not wrong, but they are failing. And they are failing for three reasons.
(1) They do not define the scale of the emerging World War III, between the West and the forces of militant Islam, and so they do not outline how difficult the challenge is and how big the effort will have to be. (2) They do not define victory in this larger war as our goal, and so the energy, resources and intensity needed to win cannot be mobilized. (3) They do not establish clear metrics of achievement and then replace leaders, bureaucrats and bureaucracies as needed to achieve those goals.
To be sure, Mr. Bush understands that we cannot ignore our enemies; they are real. He knows that an enemy who believes in religiously sanctioned suicide-bombing is an enemy who, with a nuclear or biological weapon, is a mortal threat to our survival as a free country. The analysis Mr. Bush offers the nation--before the Joint Session on Sept. 20, 2001, in his 2002 State of the Union, in his 2005 Second Inaugural--is consistently correct. On each occasion, he outlines the threat, the moral nature of the conflict and the absolute requirement for victory.
Unfortunately, the great bureaucracies Mr. Bush presides over (but does not run) have either not read his speeches or do not believe in his analysis. The result has been a national security performance gap that we must confront if we are to succeed in winning this rising World War III."

Others have suggested this is World War IV (WWIII being the Cold War with the Soviets).

Strong measures like the ones Gingrich advocates are almost certainly needed. I'm left wondering if Americans at large have the toughness and persistence required. My grandmother, who lived through the depression and WWII, has pointed out that my generation is a bunch of weenies.

In times like these we tend to quote 1 Chronicles 12:32: "Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command." Notice the last part of that verse -- the men were leaders of their families. Let's not forget that!
Bringing up Boys ... by screens?

Some disturbing facts:
The average child spends 900 hours a year in school and 1,023 hours a year
watching television.
In the average home, the TV is on 6.7 hours per day.
By the time a boy reaches eighteen years of age, he’ll have spent 22,000
hours watching television. That is more than any other activity besides
sleeping.
The number of videos and DVDs families rent every day is twice the
number of books read.
By the age of sixteen, the average boy will have seen
200,000 acts of violence on television, 33,000 of them acts of murder.
One
fourth of children under two years of age have a television in their bedrooms.
Two thirds of preschool boys sit in front of screens for more than two hours
per day. That is more than 3 times the hours they spend looking at books or
being read to.

This is sowing the wind and we will reap the whirlwind. What will we do differently, dads?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Learning from the 'Croc Dude

Steve Irwin had a tremendous amount of passion for animals and the natural world. His enthusiasm ("Crikey!") overcame a lot of resistance to learning. Teachers, leaders, and dads -- we need to display our enthusiasm!

I also like what Mark Batterson says:

"In one sense, the way Steve Irwin died was so tragic. Evidently, the barb from a sting ray punctured his heart. But I think the way he died is a reminder and a testament to a something really powerful. I hope this comes across the right way. Every death is tragic no matter how someone dies. But Steve Irwin died doing what he loved to do. That doesn't lessen the grief. But he died the way he lived.I know this sounds morbid, but I want to die doing what I love to do.Some people live their lives as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. I don't have a death wish. I want to live a long life. But if I had to choose between a long life and a full life I'd choose a full life."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gmail Shortcuts

If you've got a Gmail account, learn a few keyboard shortcuts. Saves a ton of time!
More Satisfaction in God

John Piper shares 13 ways you can help people become more satisfied in God. Though written to pastors, these are excellent for husbands and fathers, too. For example, "Describe God's value -- his treasures -- in lavish terms." And "Model for the people extended meditation and reflection on the word of God."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Life Inside a Cell

You have got to see this short video, an animation of life inside a cell. Amazing. Lyrical.

(Note: you probably need broadband to enjoy this. )

Let us praise the Designer, Who had made Himself known to us!
Opportunities Abound

The U.S. Department of Labor has predicted that we will face a 10 million worker shortage in 2010.

What opportunities does this create for Christ-following businessmen? Families raising their children to take the love of Jesus into their world?

Whom will the Lord send to be a co-worker with you?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Holding the Ropes

I'm a big believer in encouraging our brothers and sisters! We need more men to learn how to do this, linking their encouragement to the truth of Scripture. Here's a wonderful example to learn from.

John Piper received this message from a missionary on the field:

"I need you to pray for me—I have a situation here where the occult is involved . . . . My friend has confided in me about some things . . . . I believe her story and believe that she may be in danger (as well as I) and am certain that her husband is in danger. I have been asking the Lord to save this woman and her husband for several months now. . . . I love these people so much my heart (literally) aches when I think of them separated from God forever."

His response:

"Your situation fills me with a sense of urgency that our people understand some of the battle many of them do not feel, but which you are tasting firsthand. My prayer for you is that God would give you a deep peace in his absolute sovereignty over all principalities and powers and world rulers of this present darkness and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Put on the whole armor of God, and you will STAND against all the fiery darts of the evil one. “They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Revelation 12:11).
. . . The greatest thing in the universe is that when Christ died he disarmed Satan and all his hosts (Colossians 2:13-16). I take that to mean that he stripped him of his one mortal weapon—unforgiven sin—because he nailed all the charges against us to the cross. That means Satan can rough us up but cannot damn us. I do not take lightly the threats, but they are not ultimate. They are limited. You can always say, Jesus is superior in strength and he died so that no accusation can hold against his people.
The great accuser, liar, murder has been exposed. He has been defanged. He can hurt us by gumming us, but his poison is gone. We cannot die. We cannot lose the battle that God fights for us with the death and resurrection of his Son. All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus. Lay hold on him. Speak his sovereign name. Trust his power and mercy and blood and righteousness implicitly.
We are holding the ropes and love you."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rent-a-Priest?

Apparently this is genuine, and not real: a service where you can rent-a-priest for weddings, etc. Does this tell us anything about the scarcity of real community?
Katrina, One Year Later

It's interesting to see the media reports about the impacts of Hurricane Katrina, and the successess and failures of rebuilding things and people's lives.

I'm hopeful that Katrina events spark a revolution in Congress, because people understand the limits of federal disaster spending. Federal spending (so far!) has exceeded 122 billion dollars (over 5x the federal outlay for Sept 11 attacks) and has been relatively ineffective compared to private business spending and volunteer efforts.

I would be very interested to see a Christian journalist study the situation and try to point out as many places as possible where God's fingerprints are evident. Consider how many people could have died, but didn't. Think of the many lives changed for the better! And consider how God has exposed evil clearly -- in corrupt politics processes and in the human heart.
Christians and Politics

Perry Noble has some refreshing comments about "Jesus, the Bible, and Politics." Very helpful balance of focus-on-Jesus, and engage the process.
Why are We Blaming Others for Our Poor Image?

I routinely hear (and think) about how leftists, the mainstream media, and others put Christians down or characterize us as hypocritical imbeciles.

Several events converged recently, so God has my attention on this!
-- I'm studying John 13-17, seeing how Jesus tells us to love others.
-- A Muslim acquaintance points out that the kindness of a Christian family is making him uncomfortable with his long-held views on Christian and Jewish 'infidels'
-- I've run into articles and blog entries like this one: "Does Christian Laziness Lead to Our Lack of Credibility?"

Now it is true that Satan will fan the flames of hatred against God's people using lies.

But by and large, we have earned our negative image. Let's choose to live a life so full of love that bad PR will clearly be seen as lies, not just half-truths.

Monday, August 28, 2006

PodCasting

One question I get more frequently now is "Do you know how to get started in podcasting?" Many people are recording their sermons and lessons and making them available as mp3 files. This is a terrific way to leverage your teaching material -- people all over the world can benefit.

I'm just at the front edge of learning about podcasting. If you're interested in this area, I recommend you check out this resource -- PDF ebook, over an hour of online video to walk you through it step by step, many useful bonuses, and a 90 day money-back guarantee!

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Truth Project

Focus on the Family is launching a new DVD series about Christian worldview -- it's called The Truth Project. This might be an excellent study for your small group or an elective class at your church.

A good starting point is this article about Christian worldview by Del Tackett.
"Mega" Churches

I know many of my readers are interested in church growth, church dynamics, and missions. This article has some of all three!

Sidebar: It's ironic that we think about megachurches being modern. The early church had over 3000 the day after Pentecost, with more "added to their number daily." Many of the large churches in Europe in the major cities had thousands of regular worshipers from 1200AD on.
Quote of the Week

"Prayer is rebellion against the status quo." -- unknown

How many times have I shrugged my shoulders and said to myself, "Oh well, nothing I can do about it" -- when I should have been interceding before the Throne of all Grace, to whom nothing is impossible except lie?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Battle

I made a choice some time back to write less on this blog about politics. I will continue to hold myself in check on US politics. But irrespective of political position, I believe Christian men must understand the times in which we live. We are fighting a war against Islamic terrorists who want to destroy JudeoChristian "western" life.

These people are very clear about their purpose, men, and no amount of warm fuzzy speeches or appeasement gestures will deflect them. Hard words and real action is needed. We've done the other experiment, and we'll get the same result each time.

There is a spiritual war, remember, going on behind this one. That's the real war. We must be fighting both the real war (see Ephesians 6:12) and this war in the Shadowlands. On the latter, I recommend these recent columns:

Thomas Sowell's column "Point of No Return?"
Michael Barone's column "Our Covert Enemies"
Cal Thomas' column "The Real Teachings of the Koran"

And notice that news articles are once again appearing about nuclear power/weapons in Iran. They had a nice 2 month layoff while media attention was focused on Israel vs. Hizballah (which gets most of its funding and weapons from Iran and Syria).
Learning for the Real Business World

Guy Kawasaki has twelve useful suggestions on what high schoolers and college students should be learning to be productive in the real business world (vs. how things operate in academic environments).

How to Talk with Your Boss
How to Run a Meeting
How to Leave a Voicemail Message
How to Have a Conversations
How to Figure Out Anything On Your Own
etc.

Read the whole thing here. Good stuff, dads, and we can do a lot of this with our kids.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rejoice with Us!

Today is our 19th wedding anniversary. I married way, way up! By God's grace we are better together than we are apart, for the sake of ministering to God's people, and for the glory of His Name.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Teen Sex Beliefs, Practices

The Des Moines Register featured an article yesterday about teens and sex beliefs. Scary statistics and comments! Dads, we have work to do! Men, our communities need us to stand tall and speak truth and pray for transformed lives.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Getting Passionate about Jesus

This Perry Noble story reminds me of a good friend who, years ago, did an AWANA lesson where he brought in shopping bags full of his Nebraska paraphenalia -- and then talked about how he was even more excited about Jesus.

"What if churches were as passionate about Jesus, who knows every hair on their head, as fans are about players that don’t even know they exist?
What if people were as intentional about arriving to church before the service started as fans are when it comes to arriving to a football game before it starts?
What if people were just as excited when a church service when into “overtime” as fans are when they get to see the game continue?
What if people in the church celebrated as loud as people at the games do when their team scores?
What if people were as passionate about telling others about Jesus…just as passionate as a fan who went to a game and saw an incredible performance?
What if people at church could learn to enjoy the experience of worship with thousands of other worshippers and not worry about who knows who–they do this at football games every week! (I think it is incredibly hypocritical of a person who will go to a Clemson game and not get mad because Tommy Bowden didn’t come speak to them–but they will go to a church service the next day and get mad if the pastor doesn’t speak to them!!!)You see, passion leads to action. You don’t have to ask if someone is passionate about football…you see it…it just comes OUT!!! And the same can be said about Jesus…if we are passionate…it shows. HE dominates our thoughts and our actions…and we go all out to serve Him."
What Are Your Risking For?

"Everything God created us to be and do is on the other side of risk." -- Scott Aughtmon
Podcasting & Technology-based Outreach

Check out this good, solid article about the value of podcasting sermons (or other material) from your church and using technology to expand your reach. "The message is sacred, the medium is not." Don't underestimate how God could use your willingness to make good information available.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Deciding What to Do Now

It's pretty easy to fall into whiny, complaining, "I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed, I'd rather just watch a sit-com, it's too big a problem" mode, isn't it.

I liked what David Maister recently wrote:

"You here a lot of people saying things like these:

We’re too busy doing the wrong things to have time to do the right things
We've got so many of the wrong people in the key positions that we can't get the right people appointed
We got too may of the bad clients to serve that we don't have the time to get the good clients
We've been known as people who do X for so long, that no-one will believe that we now do Y
I'm stuck doing stuff I hate but I can't afford to quit
He / She's never going to change, so why bother?

When I do hear such phrases, I'm reminded of this:"The past has a vote, not a veto." - Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, Born in Lithuania in 1880s

* * * *
"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." (Php 3:13-14)

Let's not let the past have a veto, men. Make decisions today about moving forward, and how. This is how we lead ourselves, our families, our churches, everywhere.
The Language of God

Check out this incredible talk by Francis Collins, a committed Christian and leader of the human genome project.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Quote of the Week

"True conversion gives a man pardon but does not make him presumptuous. True conversion gives a man perfect rest but it does not stop his progress. True conversion gives a man security but it does not allow him to leave off being watchful." -- Charles Spurgeon
Go After the Young Men

Mark Driscoll suggests the Church should go after the young men.

"The problem is the Church today is just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickafied church boys. 60% of Christians are chicks and the 40% that are dudes are still sort of...chicks. It's just sad.
"We're looking around going, How come we're not innovative? Cause all the innovative dudes are home watching football or they're out making money or climbing a mountain or shooting a gun or working on their truck.
They look at the church like that's a nice thing for women and children. So the question is if you want to be innovative: How do you get young men? All this nonsense on how to grow the church. One issue: young men. That's it. That's the whole thing.
They're going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate. They're going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war, you get everything. You get the families, the women, the children, the money, the business, you get everything. If you don't get the young men you get nothing."
Be Careful How You Measure Progress

I love this evangelism story from Bill Hybels. He spent years befriending his son's soccer coach, helping him with little things. It reminds me to be careful about how we measure progress and value -- in the kingdom of God we are usually wrong to be concerned about the rate at which spiritual progress happens.
Cheat the Church

Andy Stanley makes a leadership focus decision to cheat the church, rather than his family.

Maybe you and I need to think about what organizations we "cheat."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Things I learned in the BWCA

My son and I spent several days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area last week, traveling about 40 miles by canoe and portage, and camping along the way. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

This is a huge area, with lots of open space, and you're just the visitor there. Even the ducks know this. Certainly the bald eagles do.

It helps a lot when you son is as strong or stronger than you. 50 pound canoe, 50 pound packs, and a food pack, it adds up.

I took along my notebook and pen, assuming that I'd have tons of great ideas and insights. I prayed a lot, but didn't think about much to write down. Instead, I had a wonderful experience of "Be still, and know that I am God."

When wolf howls wake you up at 1am, you discover some urgency in your prayer that wasn't there when you laid down to go to sleep.

Our ancestors were tough! And how did they find there way around without topo maps, anyway? You would think someone would rig up a solar-powered neon "P" sign to mark these portage sites!

Minnesota mosquito legends are all true.

Teenagers recover faster than 44 year olds. I'm sure I knew that before, but this trip reinforced it.

There are some rocks and tree roots that no Thermarest mattress can make comfortable.

Coordinated paddling gets you there much faster, with less effort. Parenting is much easier when the kids cooperate, right? And our spiritual growth is much faster when we lay down our foolish defensive pride and let God work in and through us. Community life is better when we submit to the idea of paddling together.

The worst rocks are the ones that don't stick up out of the water, but are just below the surface. You don't see those until the last seconds, or until your canoe grinds over them.

The best way to have good conversations with your teenage son is to go with whatever he wants to talk about, and not try too hard to steer the conversation to where you think it should go.

We're eager to do it again, but willing to give it a year or so.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Short Hiatus

I'll be on vacation this week, away from the electronics, enjoying God's creation. So no blog postings until after Aug. 11. In the meantime, be bold, be gentle!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Thursday, August 03, 2006

How to Respond to Mel Gibson

There's lots of buzz about Mel Gibson's remarks about Jews and being arrested for driving drunk. I don't know if this would have gotten so much media attention except that he is well-known for being a conservative Catholic.

How does the Christian community respond? Pound this out in USA Today headlines? Uhm, no.

I liked Tim Woody's recommendations.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

One of Glenn's Most Embarrassing Moments

If you've got 11 minutes, I'll tell you about one of my most embarrassing moments -- and how God did me a huge favor by humbling me. Check it out here.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Good Song Lyrics

I think this is a Phillips, Craig, and Dean song. Good stuff!

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How you Love me
It's Amazing

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How you Love me
It's Amazing

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How you Love me
It's Amazing,
so amazing, it's amazing

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

God Almighty Lord of Glory
You have called me friend
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Prayer Request

Brothers, would you please pray for me? I'm putting together a short series for a men's group on friendships. I will base the teaching on Barnabas. Please pray that I would reach more clarity on what the Lord wants me to bring to these dear brothers at this specific time. And ask the Lord to be at work in the hearts of men. Thanks!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pray for Chinese Christian Leaders

Four of our brothers, leaders in Chinese churches, have been sent to labor camps. Let's pray for our brothers and sisters in China, so that Jesus will be glorified more and more there.
InstaVerse

Here's a nifty tool (free) that you can install on your PC: InstaVerse. If you type in a Bible verse reference in your word processor or email message, it will show you the full verse if you mouse "hover" over it. Available in many translations. Slick!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Comparing Voices

God's Voice | Satan's Voice
Stills You | Rushes You
Leads You | Pushes You
Reassures You | Frightens You
Enlightens You | Confuses You
Encourages You | Discourages You
Comforts You | Worries You
Calms You | Obsesses You
Convicts You | Condemns You

from Brio Magazine, Aug 2008 edition

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thinking Clearly About "Moral Equivalency" in the Middle East

I have intentionally posted less frequently about politics and world events in the past few months. Israel's incursions into Lebanon to go after Hezbollah terrorists, and military attacks against Hamax positions and equipment, have generated a lot of muddy thinking by those who would prefer everyone "just get along."

So I gladly point you to Dennis Prager's recent column and this column from Michael Medved.

If terrorists in Toronto fire missiles at cities in the US, and Canada was unwilling or unable to put an end to them, do you think the US would not meet this threat this with military force?
Quote of the Week

"The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly."
-- Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Funny...But We Do This Kind of Thing

Here's a joke that makes a great point. (BTW, I've seen variations of this joke for Methodists and Lutherans.)

* * * *
I was walking across a bridge recently. I spied this fellow who looked like he was ready to jump off. So, I thought Id try to stall him until the authorities showed up. Don't jump! I said. Why not? he said. Nobody loves me.

God loves you, I said. You believe in God, don't you? Yes, I believe in God, he said.

Good, I said. Are you Christian or Jewish?
Christian, he said.

Me, too! I said. Protestant or Catholic?
Neither, he said.

What then? I said.
Baptist, he said.

Me, too! I said. Independent Baptist or Southern Baptist?
Independent Baptist, he said.

Me, too! I said. New Evangelical/Moderate Independent Baptist or Conservative Independent Baptist?
"Conservative Independent Baptist," he said.

"Me, too!" I said. "Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist or Lose-Your-Salvation Armenian Conservative Independent Baptist?"
"Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist," he said.

"Me, too!" I said. "Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist or Historical Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist?"
"Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist," he said.

"Me, too!" I said. "Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist or For Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist?" "Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist," he said.

"Me, too!" I said. "Unashamed Fundamentalist Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist or Strict Separation of Church and State Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist?" "Unashamed Fundamentalist Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist," he said.

"Me, too!" I said. "Pro-Disney Boycott Pro-Life Unashamed Fundamentalist Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist or Anti-Disney Boycott Pro-Choice Unashamed Fundamentalist Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist?" "Pro-Disney Boycott Pro-Life Unashamed Fundamentalist Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist," he said.

"Me, too!" I said. "KJV Only Pro-Disney Boycott Pro-Life Unashamed Fundamentalist Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist or Modern Versions Pro-Disney Boycott Pro-Life Unashamed Fundamentalist Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist?"
"MODERN VERSIONS Pro-Disney Boycott Pro-Life Unashamed Fundamentalist Against Women in Ministry Dispensational Premillennial Calvinistic Conservative Independent Baptist" he said.

"Agghh!!! You heretic!" I said. And I pushed him over.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Shepherding and Leadership

If you're in a church leadership position, here's a helpful short article about the overlap between shepherding people and being a leader.
Carved on the Palm of His Hands

I have been singing the hymn below frequently this past week. The lyric "my name is graven on his hands" comes from Isaiah 49:16. Some thoughts that occurred to me as I've meditated on this image:

* My name is carved on his palms, not scrawled there in ballpoint pen. It took significant purpose to put my name there. It's not going to wear off.

* Hands are remarkably sensitive. There would be some pain involved to carve my name there!

* If the Father has a question about Glenn Brooke for Jesus -- who is at his right hand interceding for me (Rom 8:34), Jesus will just hold out his hand to the Father. Question answered. And then they'll give each other a high five!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Great Hymn

I really enjoyed this hymn at PK this year. I was delighted to find that it dates from 1863! I was particular blessed by the refrain "my name is graven on His hands, my name is written on His hears" -- see Isaiah 49:16. Solid theology, Christ-centered praise!

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Words: Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dual Destiny

Pastor Mark Batterson points out that we have a dual destiny.

"One destiny is universal and is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. "

"The other destiny is unique, to become unlike anyone who has ever lived...The goal is for each of us to be a unique expression of praise to God."

(From his 7/5/06 Evotional email)
Leadership Development in This Generation

If you are concerned about developing leaders today, then you should read this article.

Also buried in here is a useful insight about the American church today -- we're seeing God bless two structures: megachurches and niche churches. It corresponds to the success of the big box stores and the specialty stores. Reach everyone with the Gospel!
Getting Rest

Perry Noble has incisive points about God's men getting rest:

1. It's biblical. What should it tell us that the "preserve the Sabbath" command is the longest of the 10 Commandments?

2. We're better at listening to God (and to others) when we're getting rest.

3. Rested men resist temptations.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Christians Transforming Cities

A dear friend spent several years living in New York City, fellowshiping with Redeemer Church under Pastor Tim Keller. He was back there recently and emailed me this about his experience:

"Being back was a very emotional experience for me. The city itself is so different than it was when we were there. I firmly believe that our prayers were answered to remove the evil spiritual force field that surrounded NYC. We walked with our kids through a part of Harlem that I would never have done without kids before. Truly amazing."

Read Pastor Keller's recommendations about Christians living out Christ in communities in cities. Worth your time.
Watch How You Criticize!

One of the most disheartening conversation points I hear from not-yet believers is when they ask why Christians don't get along with each other. "Why are there so many denominations?" "How come different Christian groups say their 'brand' is the only true Christianity?"

I believe that many well-intentioned people, zealous for truth, contribute to this perception by the way they publicly criticize other Christians and Christian groups. Name-calling, harshness, building a viewpoint on innuendo and rumor, and personal insults have no place in the Church. Jesus didn't do this, but Satan does. Let's be brothers of Christ, not act like children of the devil.

I recommend you read Brian MacLaren's comments about fair criticism.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

PK 2006

I attended Promise Keepers in Des Moines this past weekend. Excellent!

Here's my confession about this PK event: I wasn't actually very excited about going, but was focusing on getting a couple of other guys -- you know, who really NEEDED it -- to the event. I was going primarily to get them there.

I needed it. I needed the humbling worship, the 2x4 whacks from the Holy Spirit as men taught, and the encouragement of being with my brothers in Christ.
Quote of the Week

"The left regularly charges America's conservative Christians with wanting to make America a 'theocracy,' being 'fascists' and/or being 'anti-Semites.' They are none of those things, and as a result, the battle against the real theocrats (Muslim fundamentalists), real fascists and real anti-Semites is compromised. The tragedy of all this is that when evils are defined down, good people are left verbally unarmed when the real evils present themselves." -- Dennis Prager

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Jesus Let's You Choose Your Attitude

"Pain, suffering are a fact of this life -- misery is optional. It's all in your attitude." -- Dennis Rainey

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrate the 4th of July

Today is a good day to re-read the Declaration of Independence. Think of the decisiveness and boldness of these men!
Prayer Meeting? Y-a-w-n...

Here's an excellent article describing our pathetic prayer meetings in the American church, with recommendations on changing it. Worth your time.

"As P.T. Forsyth warned, the inability to pray is the punishment for the refusal to pray."
Did They Find Noah's Ark?

Kevin Nelstead has a useful critique of the recent news that a team found the remains of Noah's ark. I appreciate his description of this effort as "psuedo-apologetics." Wise thinking!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fine Objective, But There's a Better One

I've heard this in a variety of ways over the years, and it's a fine objective:

"Live so that the preacher doesn't have to make stuff up at your funeral."

There's a better strategy: be sold out for Jesus. Love the Lord will all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Time Horizon

Success management 'guru' Brian Tracey tells his devotees to think out 5, 10, and 20 years out into the future. Why? The long perspective means you make better choices about today and tomorrow.

How much more, then, should we men be thinking out into eternity? (See Colossians 3:1-4).

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What Do Not-Yet Believers Ask?

Figuring out what people ask questions about is part of cultural anthropology. Sales, Marketing, Advertisers, Copyrighters, media producers are all searching this out -- what do people ask about? Because it's the window to their emotions and will to buy.

We need to study what not-yet believers are asking about.

Here's my observation: Very few not-yet believers are asking the question, "What must I do to be saved?" But nearly everyone is asking "How do I make my life work better?"

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Christianity and the American Revolution

Christianity Today has a wonderful collection of articles discussing the Christian influences during the colonial period and the American Revolution. Recommended!


Here's one interesting excerpt from an article about preaching in colonial times:

"Over the span of the colonial era, American ministers delivered approximately 8 million sermons, each lasting one to one-and-a-half hours. The average 70-year-old colonial churchgoer would have listened to some 7,000 sermons in his or her lifetime, totaling nearly 10,000 hours of concentrated listening. This is the number of classroom hours it would take to receive ten separate undergraduate degrees in a modern university, without ever repeating the same course!
The pulpits were Congregational and Baptist in New England; Presbyterian, Lutheran, and German Reformed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and Anglican and Methodist in the South. But no matter the denomination, colonial congregations heard sermons more than any other form of oratory. The colonial sermon was prophet, newspaper, video, Internet, community college, and social therapist all wrapped in one. Such was the range of its influence on all aspects of life that even contemporary television and personal computers pale in comparison."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Toothpick Duct-Taped to a Lead Pipe

I liked this Perry Noble post, reminding us of our position in Christ:

"Christ Jesus makes us unstoppable. Yes, I know that there is an enemy named satan…but folks–HE LOSES! Jesus defeated him on the cross and one day will ultimately kick his butt and send him to hell! WE WIN! We are empowered! And God has not called any of us to sit on the sideline–but rather to “go for it.”
One of the things we need to STOP doing is imagining ourselves as weak, pathetic human beings that are not capable of accomplishing anything significant–well…if you are NOT in Christ then that is true–but in Christ you are like that lady in the truck–a powerful force.
OR–like the great scholar Lee McDerment said once–that we are all like little toothpicks…and we are easily broken…but when you accept Christ then you become a toothpick that gets duct-taped to a lead pipe–and then NOTHING can shatter you because of WHO you are attached to!"