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( 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 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

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
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.
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?