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

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.


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’…


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.

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.