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!"
Antidote to Boredom

Enthusiasm comes to English from the Gk word 'entheos' -- literally, "God within." Think about that the next time you get bored.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Barbary Pirates and 21st Century Terrorists

Joshua London has written a useful history of the American war against the Barbary Pirates -- there are many lessons to learn about fighting Islamofascist terrorists today. I encourage you to read this excellent interview with the author. You'll come away with a better understanding of the history of the Marines, the nature of the enemy we're fighting now, and why this is a Long War.
Federal Regulations Hurt US Oil, Natural Gas Production

Pete duPont's editorial "Addicted to Regulation" outlines Federal laws and regulations over the last 25 years that greatly restrict domestic oil and natural gas production. US oil consumption is more than 20 million barrels/day (up from about 15 million b/d in the early 1980's). Our production has declined to 5 million b/d from about 10 million b/d in 1970.

There is abundant supply (105 billion barrels off the continental shelf and in Alaska), and low-impact means to acquire it, yet Federal Laws have put nearly all this off limits for production.

I believe the economic potential of cheap gas is huge -- it promotes manufacturing, transportation, and profitability for all kinds of commercial and non-commercial ventures. Cheap power sources have always fueled economic and social progress, throughout history.

We need to pursue other options as well. Nuclear power is a must. Hydro-electric should continue where it's feasible. We have many options for clean-burning coal. Solar and wind have growth potential.

(Hydrogen gets a lot of media buzz, but simple physics make it unlikely to be successful.)

Christians should be good thinkers. Yes, it's true that the proven US oil reserves (without oil shale) will only take care of US needs for 25 years, allowing for 30% demand rate increases. But that's 25 years we can use to bring other options on line. That's 25 years to improve batteries, for example, so that electric vehicles are more practical.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why Email is Good

It's fashionable to complain about email. I think we need more genuine dialogue, including face-to-face conversations. All communication, to be effective, takes training -- and we are ever learning.

David Maister makes some excellent points about why email is good:

"[E]ven though it's traditional to bemoan the increasing use of email, let me (just for the heck of it) take the other side and try to make the case (my points are serious here) why using email is INCREASING our abilities to connect:

a) You can type, re-type and re-re-type an email until it says what you want, the way you want it. Done right, there are none of the ambiguities of human speech ( "What I meant to say was..") Email can promote clarity

b) You can ask a friend or a spouse or anyone else to help you say it right. Try doing THAT in the real world. Email can promote collaboration and friendship

c) You can keep five or six (or more) conversations going at once without anyone feeling slighted that you do not have all your focus on them alone. Email means you can make everyone feel special.

d) You can keep track of what people said and hold them to their promises. Email can promote honesty.

e) Email removes the visual, body-language, verbal-accent cues that we over-rely on when reacting to other people: email can promote the importance of reason and logic, and reduces bias due to gender, racial or national background or appearance. It is profoundly democratic and politically important.

f) Email allows us to think before we react, thereby promoting less stress, thoughtless comments and knee-jerk reactions. It allows people who are not naturally quick at interpreting other people's remarks to reflect and respond with greater emotional intelligence. Email can facilitate good relationship interactions and language."
Strong Christian Leadership

David McCullough gave a speech on John Adams at Hillsdale College. Worth reading. See how a purposeful Christian man worked to serve others! (And his wife.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Battle Training

We like to think about the story of David v. Goliath (1 Sam 17) and say to ourselves, "See what God can do with even a little skinny kid!"

Don't miss these important facts:

1. David had already been annointed by Samuel (1 Sam 16:13): "and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power."

2. David was an armor-bearer in the house of Saul (1 Sam 16:21-22) and had experience in the company of strong men.

3. David had defended sheep from a lion and a bear -- and killed them both. (1 Sam 17:34-37) Guys, think about going one-on-one with a wild lion and a wild bear. That's not weenie stuff.

God arranged battle training for David before he ever met Goliath. Yes, he was a youth, but not a pampered momma's boy kid.

How has God been arranging your training for future battles? And what are we doing to train our sons and daughters to win battles?
It's Father's Day Again

I really enjoyed Father's Day, and was wonderfully pampered by my family -- I watched parts of the US Open golf tournament!

It's good to have a day to honor our fathers.

But today is Father's Day. And tomorrow will be, too. And every day until we don't read about these kinds of statistics any more:

"According to the CDC, DoJ, DHHA, and the Bureau of the Census, the 30% of children who live apart from their fathers will account for 63% of teen suicides, 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions, 71% of high-school dropouts, 75% of children in chemical abuse centers, 80% of rapists, 85% of youths in prison, and 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders. In addition, 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. In fact, children born to unwed mothers are 10 times more likely to live in poverty as children with fathers in the home.... David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American values, adds '[The absence of fathers] from family life is surely the most socially consequential family trend of our era.' "

(I took this from the 6-16-06 issue of The Federalist newsletter.)

We sang "Rise Up, O Men of God!" at our church on Father's Day. The point of that hymn is that men need to rise up not just once but again and again. Today is another day for dads everywhere to be dads, honor the Lord, and save this and the next generation from darkness.

If you're looking for a good place to begin, check out this compilation of verses about family, by Kevin Nelstead.
The Superman Movie Is Coming!

Here's an interesting column thanking Hollywood for not pursuing the evangelical audience to promote the new Superman movie.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Writing "Today's Psuedochristian Version"

Sometimes the best way to get the real meaning of a Bible passage across to a group is to give them a made-up version that is ironic, satirical, or sarcastic. The made-up version has to sound like how some people really think -- the contrast effect is what helps people learn!

I'm teaching tomorrow on Hebrews 12:1-3. Here's the made-up version I've created to help this group recognize and grip the REAL instruction:

“Anyway, as long as you think people are watching, don’t be seen holding on to extra trinkets and gear, but leave them conveniently nearby so you can pick them up again. Since nobody really knows what’s around the bend, don’t push yourself beyond a sensible run-walk pace, and take breaks at every scenic turnout in the road. Look at Jesus occasionally, certainly on Sunday morning, and make sure others see you doing it. It’s his fault your in this mess, after all. Just because Jesus suffered doesn’t mean you have to, and besides, he died a long time ago in a country far, far away. If you get discouraged, well, other people sometimes feel that way. Buck up, plan to start again soon, and hopefully you’ll feel more like running later on.”

(I refer to this as "Today's Pseudochristian Version")

Here's the authentic text (NIV) so you can the comparison effect:“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

This is a fun way to teach and coach your kids. As they get older, ask them to help create the pseudo version -- they'll learn a lot!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wise Thinking About Statistics

"[O]ne of the great modern American understandings is that statistics don't lie but liars use statistics." -- Peggy Noonan
Progressive, Patient Attack Strategies Used Against God's Men

John Stanford has some good counsel for us:

"New followers of Christ are soon attacked with strong temptations from the Devil. His goal is to cause them to despair and turn from following Christ.

If this initial attack fails, the Devil will wait a while until the new believer's zeal has cooled, and then try new temptations.

Later, when the believer is growing well spiritually, the Devil will plant in his or her mind the temptation that the progress is due to the believer's efforts, not God's.

A fourth way the Devil attacks is to focus on the believer's weaknesses. A common attack is when the Devil plants seeds of sexual lust."

You can sign up for John Stanford's email encouragement here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day in the US. There are some wonderful traditions with the US Flag, including some significant meanings that have been attached to the ceremony of folding the flag.

"The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation's motto, "In God We Trust". After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today. There are some traditions and ways of doing things which have deep meaning. You will see many flags folded in the coming weeks, and now you will know why."

(See this site for some clarification that these are not "official.")
On Mentoring

"Mentoring is one of the best investments in the future." —David Neils

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Condiment or Meal?

A primary spiritual and practical problem is that we confuse condiments and meals.

Let me try to explain the metaphor.

My kids like to slather lots of butter or jelly on a chunk of bread. The bread, after all, is just a vector for the good part -- the butter! So the layer of butter sometimes approaches the thickness of the bread. (Where did they learn this? From me, of course.) Sometimes I tease the kids by asking, "Would you like a little bread with your butter?"

Really, the bread is the meal, and the butter should just be a condiment.

Please don't get me started on what people do with ketchup. :-)

Jesus is the Bread of Life. The Word of God is our daily bread. Worship in spirit and truth is our meal. Giving ourselves to serve others is our meal.

We spend way too much time on "condiments" -- things which are nice, add a little zip, but shouldn't detract from the real meal. TV is a condiment, not a meal. Use it that way.

What are some other condiments in your life?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

You Can't Charge Hell Like This

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church had some strong, challenging words for men in his church:

"Things were starting to get out of hand with the men, so I called a meeting and demanded that all of the men in our church attend. I preached for more than two hours about manhood and basically gave the dad talk to my men for looking at porno, sleeping with young women, not serving Christ, not working hard at their jobs, and so on. I demanded that the men who were with me on our mission to change the city stay and that the rest leave the church and stop getting in the way because you can’t charge hell with your pants around your ankles, a bottle of lotion in one hand, and a Kleenex in the other.”

Cited here.
A Fatherly Task

"We must diligently strive to make our young men decent, God-fearing, law-abiding, honor-loving, justice-doing, and also fearless and strong, able to hold their own in the hurly-burly of the world's work, able to strive mightily that the forces of right may be in the end triumphant. And we must be ever vigilant in so telling them." -- Teddy Roosevelt

Friday, June 09, 2006

Pray for Our Brothers and Sisters in China

The Church is flourishing in China, despite persecution. Please continue to pray for God's holy fire to sweep through millions of hearts in this country, and around the world.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I'd glad that Canadian officials caught 17 terror-planning men and arrested them. Now I'm hearing two criticisms of this event from a left-leaning, ACLU promoting friend:

1. The police were using profiling strategies unfairly to single out these men.
2. No one is talking about the details of the case, and there's only enough information to make a news headline.

My thoughts:

1. I support the profiling work done that gave extra attention to Arab men. I think it is rational and right to allocate resources (time, attention, scrutiny, money) differentially when there is good reason to believe some individuals with specific ethnic or country origins or religious beliefs are much more likely to be terrorists than others.

Can profiling efforts be abused or miss individuals -- absolutely. We live in a fallen world. If you want fair, you may need to get a different universe. (Side note: give this some thought, you really don't want fair. You and I benefit tremendously by unfair treatment from our Lord.)

Here's another person who says hoorah for profiling.

2. Whatever information is trumpeted on the news gets to our enemies, as well. So less news about what happened is appropriate.

We must remain vigilant. This is going to be a long war.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Anniversary of D-Day

Sixty-two years ago today American and British forces created a 5 mile wide beachhead at Normandy, France. That beachhead, dearly bought, was the opening of liberty for Europe. They poured men and materiel through that beachhead that pushed the Nazi regime back, retook the cities and villages, and restored them to their rightful owners.

Men, remind your families about D-Day. Talk with your sons about honor and sacrifice and freedom. (Check out the National D-Day Museum and the PBS American Experience sites.) The movie Saving Private Ryan is intense, but has some of the best portrayals of what storming the beach would have been like. A friend's father who was in the 2nd wave of boats at Omaha beach (and the only survivor of his boat that day) has told me that one difference is that the movie actors were too old. Most of the men hitting that beach were 17, 18, and 19. If you were 21 you were an old man.

But be sure also to talk with your families about spiritual beachheads. Militarily, a beachhead is a secure zone from which you can launch new attacks. God is working in His Church, in each of His people, to create beachheads that are launching points to retake what Satan has usurped. May the Holy Spirit pour through us to touch, reclaim, and restore thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions of lives! May we be large and clean conduits of the grace of Christ, for the glory of His Name, no matter what our sacrifice.

There are things worth dying for, men.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Great Animal Namer

Geoff Thomas has a useful article talking about Adam. I had not considered the significance of Adam naming the animals of the field the Lord brought to him. There is a useful insight here, too, that this great work needed to be done before the Lord created Eve as his suitable helper. Recommended.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Future Geological Events

Kevin Nelstead posts about events that are geologically likely -- based on historical frequency -- for the next 1000, 10000, 100000, and 1000000 years! Plus he gives some great comments about how Christians should view future Earth. Guys, this makes for fun dinner conversation with the family. Check it out.
English Standard Version?

I'm looking for people who have been using the English Standard Version translation of the Bible. I continue to read positive press, but would like some personal testimonies. Please contact me at info@teachtochangelives or add a comment about your experience. Thanks!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Loving God With Your Medial Ventral Prefrontal Cortex

That's the idea that Mark Batterson proposes in his blog. He's starting a sermon series on neurology and faith. He makes an excellent point:

"I have this conviction: every ology is a branch of theology. That is based on Romans 1:20. Every branch of science reveals a new dimension of the Creator."

Learning to Be Good Listeners

[A joke with a point!]

A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, observing his wife turning back and forth, looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off, he asked what she'd like to have for her Birthday. I'd like to be six again, she replied, still looking in the mirror.

On the morning of her Birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms, and then took her to Six Flags theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Monster Roller Coaster... everything there was.

Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. He then took her to a McDonald's where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake. Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, ..M&M's. What a fabulous adventure !

Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted. He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, "Well Dear, what was it like being six again?" Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed. "I meant my Dress Size, you goofball!"

[This joke is in lots of places on the Internet]
Origins of Lucerna Font

Here's an interesting article about the story behind the Lucerna font used in some Bibles. This is a nice example of a team of people using all their skills to glorify God.