Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Book Recommendation

This is a terrific new book for every ministry leader, not only youth pastors:

Check out my personal review and recommendation.

What the Colts Did After They Won the Superbowl
Note the Lombardi trophy in the picture.
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 04: The Indianapolis Colts hold hands in prayer after winning the Super Bowl XLI 29-17 over the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)Getty Images
Hat tip: Brad Roth
But They're Just Unhappy About American Imperialism in the Middle East

Associated Press reports this:

"Al-Qaida posted a 56-second video Friday of rockets being fired at what it claimed was a US military base in Afghanistan. The pictures were accompanied by a song whose lyrics included the line:

'Burn the Christians, fight the devious Christians who worship crosses.' "

Universal Health Care -- Not a Solution

Universal health care is a campaign issue. I would encourage you to keep your compassion for those needing health care, but not look to comprehensive government action for solutions.

Nathan helps us think clearly about the cause and effect of this approach.
Another Stunt -- But Reveals the Hearts of Some

Therea are plenty of news stories these days about the James Cameron documentary that claims to have found the remains of Jesus Christ and his son.

This is ridiculous stuff. Very common names. Why would they be buried away from the hometown?

But I'm even more disturbed by the 'Christian' leaders who are saying, even if these were proven to be the bones of Messiah Jesus, it would not affect their faith.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Good Friend Asks You If You're Having a Poopy Day

Saturday was not a shining day of Christian maturity for me. I was irritated, selfish, growly, grumpy, tired, and a poophead.

I knew it, and I knew it wasn't right, but I was sulking in it and unwilling to do what I should to get back into right relationship with God and with others.

A friend spotted me at a show choir event that day and noticed I wasn't my usual self.

Sunday Morning comes. Our gracious God makes things VERY CLEAR to me. So I repented, and pull forward to what's consistent with Christ-in-me.

Sunday at church this friend comes up and checks in this me. I tell him that yes, I was being a poophead, and it's cleaned up with God. Then I thanked him for checking in with me.

So now I have a new way to characterize a godly friend -- they're willing to engage you about having a poopy day.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Amazing Grace Movie

Nope, haven't seen it, but plan to.

I did want to point you to a useful editorial in the WSJ, "Hollywood's Amazing Glaze." Charlotte Allen points out that the movie script de-emphasizes the Christian motivation for William Wilberforce. She also gives some useful history about the social improvements driven by the evangelical community at the time, particularly the Methodists. (John Wesley's last letter was written to Wilberforce a few days before he died.)

So I am hopeful that people will see the movie and learn more about the events through other sources. Here is a good jumping-point to many sources.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sea Level Changes, O My!

My friend Kevin Nelstead has an interesting post about historical sea level changes. This is a hot-button issue for the global warming discussion.

Kevin and I have talked about how complicated (many components, intricate connections) and complex (we don't understand how all the parts work together) this issue is for Christians. I'm delighted to call him my friend, and recommend you get the RSS feed to his blog, The Earth Is Not Flat.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Amazing Grace

I think this movie has a lot of potential to change people's hearts. Can you imagine the conversations it can spark?
Catching Up on Reading

Several recommended columns and essays:

Harry Jackson advocates more Christian mission work -- helping the poor with practical economic, health, and environmental problems in the name of Jesus -- as a means of combating Islamic terrorism.

Ken Conner points out that we are still in a battle against atheism (and its horrible fallout). We have fought successfully against it in the past, and need to continue.

Dinesh D'Souza continues to hammer away ("facts are stubborn things") that there are two clashes of civilization -- one within the West, and one within the Muslim world.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

From Mark Batterson's blog:

1. At Lunch Time, Sit In Your Parked Car With Sunglasses on and point A Hair Dryer At Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down.
2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don't Disguise Your Voice.
3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, Ask If They Want Fries with that.
4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It "In."
5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks . Once Everyone has Gotten Over Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch to Espresso.
6. Finish All Your sentences with "In Accordance With The Prophecy."
7. As Often As Possible, Skip Rather Than Walk.
8. Order a Diet Water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.
9. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is "To Go."
10. Sing Along At The Opera.
11. Five Days In Advance, Tell Your Friends You Can't Attend Their Party Because You're Not In The Mood.
12. Have Your Co-workers Address You By Your Wrestling Name, Rock Bottom.
13. When The Money Comes Out The ATM, Scream "I Won!, I Won!"

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Self-Esteem Is a By-Product of Competence, Not a Precursor

“You can tell a lot about an educational system by its vocabulary. When Calvinistic terms like grace and works are replaced by educantisms like self-esteem, you know the system’s in trouble. Or is even to think on grace and works now considered a violation of the separation of church and state? The mere mention of a religious idea in public has been known to make some of our more advanced thinkers break out in hives and litigation. As for those of us inclined to sneak a biblical allusion into our prose now and then, we need not fear; our ‘educated’ classes may no longer recognize it. The theory behind the Cult of Self-Esteem is simple: First get the cart, then put it before the horse. Just feel good about yourself and achievement will follow automatically. It would be too much to call this approach instant gratification; it’s really more like pre-gratification... Want to build real self-esteem, the kind that is the fruit of self-respect and not just an inadequate substitute for it? Expect, even insist on, competence. Don’t pretend it’s there when it isn’t. If that sounds too hard, that’s the catch with self-respect—it has to be earned. Self-esteem, on the other hand, costs little or nothing. And it’s worth just what you pay for it.” —Paul Greenberg
Great Quote

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” —Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Expect Unbelieving People to ...

John Lehmberg give us good counsel in this MMI post:

"If I could teach Christian people one thing in life it would be this….

Expect unbelieving people to do unbelieving kinds of things.

The only reason for people to behave morally in our world, when it comes down to it, is because of Jesus inside them. Absent of Jesus, people will continue to sin.

It’s high time that we begin to expect these kinds of things from folks who don’t know Jesus and follow their sinful nature. They don’t know any better because Jesus is not in them. I would hope that seeing unbelieving people in this plight where they are living by their flesh would begin to well up in us compassion for those people, and love, instead of judgment and critique from us.

I think that if our world began to demonstrate compassion and love for those folks, they might actually want to return to Church, where they could find the love of Jesus…. "
Defining Work

Amy Scott shares this insightful observation:

"Things aren't work unless you'd rather be doing something else."

Physicists, of course, define work as moving mass, which is true no matter which mass you are moving or why. But Mrs. Scott's definition fits the human heart well, and reinforces what I believe about our coming experience in heaven -- there will be work for us to do, but we won't call it that.
Curing Souls

Eugene Peterson writes eloquently about recovering the pastoral work of curing souls, which has largely been swamped with our expectations that pastors run churches. This will warm your heart as you see the essential right-ness of it.
5 Big Questions About Health Care

Health care, and who/how it is paid for, is a complicated issue -- there are multiple questions to answer, the complexities of human behavior, and multiple stakeholders? Let's not be left to the sound-bite solutions of the political left or right, because those solutions as described do not address all the questions, nor

I really appreciated the approach Arnold Kling used in this article. He lists these five questions for health care reformers:

1. What will we do about the large projected deficit in Medicare?
2. What can we do to reduce government subsidies for extravagant use of medical procedures with high costs and low benefits?
3. What should we do about the health care needs of the very poor?
4. What should we do about the health care needs of the very sick?
5. What should we do about a scenario in which both income inequality and the share of average income devoted to health care rise sharply?

And then he works through some political, economic, and behavioral dimensions. He outlines things systematically, using good questions to guide his thinking along the way. (You don't have to agree with his conclusions, by the way, to learn a lot about how to think through a complicated problem.)

Read the whole article here. Recommended.
"Just Show Up"

John Stanford gives us good counsel in his recent AO post:

We heard a phrase recently that Win has been using: "Just show up". For example, one day I was to meet with someone over a difficult issue. I didn't know what I would say or how to handle the situation.

Win encouraged me by saying, "Just show up!" She pointed out that itwas God's business and that He would be working. I prayed for myselfand my friend, and then went in a relaxed mood, anticipating that the Holy Spirit would be in charge.

The results of encounters like this don't depend on my somehow saying the right words or acting in the right manner. It is the Holy Spirit, not me, helping the person and/or situation, working for good and giving wisdom.

Thank You, Lord, for this freeing thought, that serving and helping others depends on _Your_ presence, power, working as I "just show up".
(c) 2007 J.L. StanfordJohn Stanford (, Pete Boysen(

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Problem with Celebrity

The Grammy Awards were passed out last night, so there is lots of celebrity news coverage this morning -- Dixie Chics this, Justin Timberlake that, and so on. And if you look at news reports and blogs covering various gatherings of preachers and Christian writers, you see a pattern of men and women using celebrity as a platform to speak to the issues of the day.

There is a fundamental problem with confusing celebrity and moral authority. Celebrity can come from recognized skill, lucky circumstances, heroic deeds, eloquent speech, even sinful notoriety. Moral authority comes from connection with Christ, and long shaping of character, with full awareness of of our natural depravity. If you want a blunter comparison: moral authority only comes through confession and repentance, but you can be quite a celebrity just by admitting sin without repenting of it.

"This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." (Isaiah 66:2)

Let's lead our families to understand whom is worth listening to.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

How Do YOU Pray in the Morning?

Here's a wonderful story -- Eugene Peterson praying Luke 1:68-79 each morning. Don't miss the beauty of this example. Let's think, men, about how we can take our own prayer lives to the next stage.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Valentine's Day -- Special Message to Wives

Hey, I know there are several wives who read this blog periodically, so I have special message just for you. Help your man out with ideas for gifts! He can add a surprise gift in addition.
Valentine's Day Coming Up

Guys, don't put off planning for the big day next week!

And this top ten list (original source) feels a little too real for comfort.

Top 10 Ways to know your wife didn't like your Valentine's gift:

She accidentally backs over it with the car...twice.
The next time you see it is in your garage sale.
She goes upstairs to try it on and never comes back.
She calls her sister to talk about it...and you.
She opens it and says, "Seriously, where is my real gift."
The next morning you find it out by the curb with a big FREE sign next to it.
She opens it and says, "I wonder if this will sell on Ebay?"
For the next 25 years, she refers to the gift as the year you blew it.
She breaks into hives.
She says after opening it, "You're kidding, right?
Great Quote

"God uses tragedies teaches us to fear the right things."
Pastor Kent Wagner

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Guide to Digital Outreach

Here's a nice starter guide if you are interested in ministry outreach via blogs, website, or podcasts.

I firmly believe that God leverages the content He creates through us for broad ministry potential over space and time. These technologies expand greatly on the written word for ministering at a distance, or over years.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sorry for My Absence

Folk, sorry I haven't been posting recently. I traveled to my grandmother's funeral -- she's Home now after 91 spunky years in the Lord's service. Since then I've been battling the stomach flu. I'll get back to regular postings soon.