Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some Humility About Climate Change

Somehow I doubt this story will lead the CBS Evening News, because it's not congruent with the "global warming flow," but I suggest you read "Forget Global Warming: Welcome to the New Ice Age." (It's just 2 pages.)

Salient information:
* Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966
* Record cold and snow in several continents
* The "melted" Arctic ice is back
* The sun is in an inactive phase

Does one cold winter make an ice age? Nope. A few hot summers mean global warming? Not necessarily.

Let's be humble about the quality of our measurement systems, the coverage and range of our data, and our ability to accurately understand trends in complex systems.

As for the impact of mankind, we should also be humble. Sometimes human actions have clearly had a disproportionate effect on global systems, and sometimes we have not. One the basic principles of system dynamics is that cause and effect are not close together in time or space. Therefore it is systematically difficult to understand the relationships between factors in climate, and the magnitude of their effects.

Being good stewards of the Earth we have been given, after all, begins in humility.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

John Calvin Did What???!!

John Calvin receives an amazing amount of criticism, and usually (I find) from men and women who have not read very much of his actual writings. He's learned, but his reputation for being cold, heartless, and distant is unwarranted.

Here is a nice article giving evidence of John Calvin's passion for planting churches and evangelism overseas.

John Calvin did what???!! Trained church planters and missionaries? Pastored them via many letters from Geneva? Yes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thinking Clearly About Judging Others

For years I've been looking for helpful instruction about making judgments, ever since a homosexual rights advocate loudly lectured me on a plane, shouting, "You can't judge me! It says in your Bible you can't judge me." (He was referring to Matthew 7:1-5.)

But we are commanded to make some judgments (e.g., to discern between good and evil). Jesus only condemned hypocritical judging in Matthew 7:1-5.

So I recommend Greg Koukl's nice article about all this, "The Scoop on Judging." He does a great job outlining different kinds of judgments and pointing us to Scripture.

Asking Questions About Health Insurance Mandates

Betsy McCaughey has some good questions for the presidential candidates about health insurance mandates.

There are many behavioral factors when it comes to a large, mixed population and follow-through on health care. It would be incredibly difficult to move from the current state of participation to 100%, without becoming draconian and without considerable expense. Generally speaking, I observe that the political "solutions" in health care generate more negative unintended consequences than were expected (witness the current situation in Massachussets, and national programs in Canada and Europe).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sharing on Politics

We're called to be Jesus-followers first, and everything else comes after. So, living in community, I need to work at keeping my brilliant and insightful and absolutely correct political views in check.

As you might surmise from that second sentence, I find this very difficult. I joke with my family that the primary reason we still subscribe to the local paper is so that I can get an aerobic workout reading it.

I believe you should carefully think through issues and develop convictions about the major issues, including the role of government. I do not believe that we should be "whatever" people; if anything, Christians should be the best thinkers on the planet! We're called to be discerning about good and evil, which requires careful observation and analysis.

We stand firm on our convictions, but they are not weapons for beating people. Paul instructs us to stand firm on doctrine, but instruct people with gentleness and patience (2 Tim 2:22-26) -- and this principle should apply to our political views as well.

Gordon MacDonald has written a nice article for Leadership magazine that explores the challenges of pastoring and political positions. While he and do not agree on some political views :-), such as the role of government in addressing poverty, I found his counsel helpful. He outlines a number of principles that I think preserve the right perspective of being a Jesus-follower first, and loving others in community, while acting on our convictions.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Email subscription or RSS Feed

Please note that over on the right side there is a form to make it easy to sign up for email notification whenever I post new information here, and a widget that makes it really easy to add this blog to your RSS feedreader.

Get the information when you want it, without having to visit here to see if there is no information available!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Four Reasons Economic Pessimism is Overblown

Rich Karlgard spoke at Harvard, outlining 4 wrong reasons for pessimism about the US economy:

1. President Bush's unpopularity -- correlates with "we're in a recession" polling. [I'm not sure this is very significant, compared to the remaining three.]
2. Presidential election year -- it's always in the interests of the 'out' party to argue that the economy is tanking, so it gets a lot of media attention
3. Journalists are poorly informed about business and economic information, and therefore most media stories on business information are poorly written
4. Poor perspective on the numbers -- the amount written off for subprime mortgage loans so far is about $140 Billion, which is a typical amount of stocks gain/loss every trading hour on Wall Street, and about 1% of the US gross domestic product. Yes, it's a big number, but it is a very small part of a really big economy.

So you might be asking, are there things which do concern me about the economy? Sure! They include high tax rates, entitlement programs that promote government nanny-care instead of individual responsiblity, and high personal credit card debt rates. And I'm not keen on the growing trend of foreign sovereign national money being used to purchase large stakes in US corporations.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

OK guys, this is the day. Make it special.

Then, let's make tomorrow special, too. After all, this women is the most special person on the planet, the one that God gave you that's perfect for you.

A Picture That Communicates the Gospel

Gene Veith shows a picture of lightning striking the status of Jesus Christ in Rio -- and points out that it's a great picture of the Gospel.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Better Way to Assess the Income Gap

I've learned a lot from Thomas Sowell about economics. Here he provides a better way to assess the income gap between the rich and the poor.
It's maddening to me to keep hearing how the rich are getting richer and the
poor are getting poorer, and so on. The fundamental difference is the difference
between talking about abstract statistical categories and talking about
flesh-and-blood human beings. Since the book came out, for example, there's been
a study released by the Treasury Department based on income tax returns. There,
they are talking about following the same human beings over a span of years,
which is wholly different from following income brackets over a span of years,
because in all the brackets more than half the people change in the course of a
decade. So what happens to a bracket is an abstract question; what happens to
the flesh-and-blood human beings is different.
For example, for the flesh-and-blood people who were in the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers in income in 1996, their average increase of income over the next decade was 91 percent -- so they almost doubled their incomes. Meanwhile, for the people in the top 1 percent -- presumably the rich who are getting richer -- their average income declined 26 percent.

Politics is defined as the competition for limited resources. That's fine. My frustration comes when people manipulate or hide information in order to get results. That's deception. And most charitably, if leaders are simply unaware of factual information on economics, it's underwhelming.

And...from a global perspective, there are over a billion people who would rejoice to be as rich as the American poor.

How Many Bibles Do You Have?

Christian Resource International reports that the average American Christian owns nine Bibles, is actively in the market for more, but rarely use the ones they have...

That's a powerful picture of the American church today.

This Kind of Accountability Fosters Growth

Here's a terrific, detailed article about how three men are holding one another accountable in key areas.

Many "accountability" relationships fail because they are not built out of friendships, with a "Barnabas" character of encouragement. The author notes a number of other reasons why accountability is difficult, but I think this is the primary reason.

If you want to grow spiritually, set up some boundaries, set up some action + time targets, and follow-through in a small community of people to help you go where you want to go.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

See Prayer As Something Your Regenerated Heart Wants To Do

Lee Irons gives us some excellent suggestions about prayer:

"The great danger is to turn the duty of prayer into a law that leaves you feeling guilty for your lack of prayer. The paradox of law-based motivations to godliness is that the more guilty you feel, the less you will do what you know you ought to do. And the more you fail, the more guilty you feel. It is the never-ending spiral of law-sin-guilt from which one cannot be extricated apart from the gospel.
So try something new. Follow Dabney’s encouragement and think of prayer as something that you already do without realizing it. Or, perhaps more accurately, as something that your regenerate heart wants to do, if only you would capitalize on those irrepressible promptings from the Spirit and turn them into conscious prayers. Instead of thinking of prayer as something arduous and requiring tremendous amounts of discipline and effort, see it as something easy. As soon as the thought, “I should pray about this,” pops into your heard, do it right then and there. Just talk to the Lord, even if for the briefest moment, even for a second or two (what I call “arrow prayers”).
Even when you have sunk into a pit of spiritual emptiness, where even the thought of trying to crawl out makes you feel exhausted and hopeless, the irrepressible promptings of the Spirit are there, perhaps nothing more than the simple, abject cry, “Lord, help me!” It is not really the case that we are prayerless. It is just that we have such an exalted conception of prayer that we have overlooked the many prayers that we have despised as unworthy of the name of prayer. "

Whom to Vote For?

A number of my friends in the US are really struggling with their choice for presidential candidates (in both Republican and Democrat parties). I've yet to hear someone say, "He/She is the perfect candidate for me to support."

Some define politics as the art of compromise. We need to accept that these are human beings, of the same DNA, of the same dirt that we are.

Melinda (of Stand to Reason) gives us some helpful suggestions about a difficult decision.
Since a decision will be made in the November election, I think it's wise
that all of us still participate. Sitting out won't avoid some conclusion,
and only renders us ineffectual in influencing the outcome at all, whether we
want to salvage some good or reduce the evil, as we see it. I think that
even given bad choices in an election, there is usually a candidate than can do
some good according to my moral and political values, and it's better to do the
good that can be done than none at all.

If we can increase some good, or if we can reduce evil, then I think we have a moral obligation to make a decision among bad options.

A Strategy for Fatherhood

Gregg Harris outlines a strategy for godly fatherhood. Highly recommended!

There are 3 qualities in God’s father-son relationship that we should try to emulate in our own relationships:
The father makes the son a part of what he’s doing.
The son does the will of the father.
Father and son outdo one another in showing honor to one another

He suggested this simple, summary strategy for fathering :
1. Get a life.
2. Include your kids in it.
That’s it.
If that doesn’t feel like enough, here’s his 3rd step: repeat steps 1 and 2.

Read the whole article: a strategy for godly fatherhood.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

In, Not Of

From Justin Taylor's very interesting blog, "Between Two Worlds":

The great nineteenth-century evangelist D. L. Moody was once asked to describe what he thought the relationship between the church and the world ought to be. Should the church reject the world altogether — separating from it so as to avoid contamination? Or should the church embrace the world wholeheartedly — becoming just like it so as to reach the lost? The evangelist answered, “The place for the ship is in the sea; but God help the ship if the sea gets into it.”

HT: Matt Perman

Apprentice Leaders

Darryl Wilson gives some excellent advice about finding and developing apprentice leaders.

A blacksmith told me that in colonial days they had developed a standard to know when an apprentice was ready to go out on his own:

1. They possessed the basic knowledge
2. They demonstrated the basic competency
3. They were capable of continuing to learn on their own

I'm thinking more about this with our teenagers!

Bible Study Tool Lens You Should Check Out

I'm not sure whom has created this, but it's a very nice Squidoo lens on Bible Study Tools (and has many devotions as well). Check it out:

Biggest Challenge in Ministry

What's your biggest challenge in ministry?

I agree with Peter Mead, that Dr. Joseph Stowell has the right answer: "Me."

Me, myself, and I. Me squared.

Pride is ever the opponent. "He [Jesus] must increase, and I must decrease."

Monday, February 04, 2008

This Won't Be For Everyone

I've got a free audio presentation for those who might be interested, but it won' t be for everyone.

Before I tell you what it is, I also want to tell you that I'm raising some support money for friends who are missionaries in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It's the start of Mardi Gras there, so it's a season of spiritual darkness and little-to-no restraint on public sin. What you see on TV is just what censors would allow to be shown. There is everything from animal sacrifice, worshiping idols, to public sex orgies in the streets.

And my friends are ministering to the lost and hurting right in the middle of this, shining lights for Jesus in a dismal and frightening place. They need some additional financial support because the US dollar has fallen about 20% to the Brazilian currency. In case you're wondering, I'm not giving the names of the missionaries for their protection.

So I'm offering a free audio -- and inviting people to donate to support these missionaries. (Yes, the audio is free if you want it without charge.)

OK, so what's the audio lesson? And why will it not be for everyone?

The audio is about the opportunities and realities of creating your own online Christian ministry.
Each month I get questions from people who would like to do something like what I do. They have sermons, book ideas, devotion collections, and Bible lessons that they'd like to publish. Or they want to start blogging or posting videosof Bible teaching online.

And for many, the idea comes in that they could generate some income in the process.

Traditional book and magazine publishing is pretty tough to get into. So there is some appeal to publishing digitally via the Internet.

There is also amazing potential to reach people worldwide and build up workers in the Kingdom of our Lord! There is a strong need for quality Christian materials. It's possibleto reach thousands and tens of thousands of people this way. It's never been easier to publish and distributeinformation.

So how do you get started? What do you need to think about? And how do you sort out the hype from useful advice thatyou might find online? (I'm sure you've seen headlines like "Make Millions Working Two Hours a Week From YourBeach Home." -- uhm, ri-i-i-g-g-h-h-t-t-t)

Keep reading if I have your attention.

What you need is some credible advice about online marketing and sales, and some specific information aboutthe Christian marketplace. I've been publishing information online since 1993, and selling since early 2005. I'v estudied online publishing and marketing, and made plenty of mistakes.

So I sat down last Friday morning and recorded over an hour of strong advice and practical counsel:
* How to define your objectives
* Some realities about the Christian marketplace (it's different than the diet market!)
* Eight tarpits and traps to avoid
* The four skills you need to develop (or find)
* My recommended approach for getting started
* The tools and services I use (I really pull back the curtain here!) and recommend

I organized the information with this question in mind:"What do I wish someone had told me when I was thinking about starting my online ministry?"

Now I'm not pitching anything in this audio presentation. I'm not going to sell you on a product or service. It's pure content.

Go here:

Again, the audio is free, but 100% of your donations will go to support my missionary friends in Brazil.

Why am I doing this? Why am I giving it away? Frankly, I'd love to see some of you start an online ministry! But I don't want you to have to make all the same mistakes and mis-steps that I've made. So let me help you get started with solid advice you can trust.

It's one of the ways that I can teach to change lives!


P.S. I'm going to take this audio lesson down on February 10th. Don't delay!