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.