Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our View of Jesus Christ Cannot Be Too Big

Axiom: Our view of Jesus Christ cannot be too big. Read this passage from Colossians 1 aloud and be awed, humbled, and encouraged:

"We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message"

Friday, January 30, 2009

10 Things Only Women Understand

  1. Cats’ facial expressions.
  2. The need for the same style of shoes in different colors.
  3. Why bean sprouts aren’t just weeds.
  4. Fat clothes.
  5. Taking a car trip without trying to beat your best time.
  6. The difference between beige, ecru, cream, off-white, and eggshell.
  7. Cutting your hair to make it grow.
  8. Eyelash curlers.
  9. The inaccuracy of every bathroom scale ever made.
  10. OTHER WOMEN !!
HT: FamilyMan

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Instead of a "Stimulus Package," Let's Try This

Matt Perman expounds on a WJS editorial and lays out good arguments why the proposed stimulus package will not work well. Instead, go for permanent tax cuts to help businesses and increase investments.

I'm in agreement with Matt. Part of our political challenge is the delay interval between enacting tax cuts and seeing results. One of the key principles of system dynamics is that cause and effect are not closely related in time and space.

Over the history of the 19th and 20th centuries we've done all kinds of government and economic experiments (check the histories of Great Britain, Japan, Argentina, France, Russia, and the US for prime examples. There is a body of results to look at for stimulus efforts and it is not pretty. Tax cuts have always worked.

It does no good to say, "Oh, but it's different now with X group in charge." Economic behaviors are derived from fundamental human tendencies -- irrespective of which government is leading or their political philosophy.

Those who argue that tax cuts do not help everyone proportionally have some merit to stand on. There is room for compassion-based approaches, including handouts and help-ups.

One final question: where do people get the idea that the US Federal government has an independent source of money than state governments or companies? I've heard people in Iowa say, "Well, if the Feds won't pay for that we would." Uhm...our taxes and fees are what the Fed uses...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement

I'm going through the 15 week Perspectives course now. Excellent! This is a college level course on God's work in the world through history, with world-class traveling faculty. I recommend you pursue it when it is available in your area. In the meantime, you can get a lot of good information just from their website.

Lack of Expectation

Martyn Lloyd-Jones provided us with a keen insight about a significant problem: we often have no expectation that God will act as we worship, praise, and serve Him.

"This is Christianity: the Lord appears! Suddenly, in the midst of the drudgery and the routine and the sameness and the dullness and the drabness, unexpectedly, surprisingly, he meets with you and he says something to you that changes the whole of your life and your outlook and lifts you to a level that you had never conceived could be possible for you."

Let us be expectant husbands and fathers, always receptive to our Lord speaking and acting. Let us keep our eyes and hearts open, and our minds attuned that God is always at work (John 5:17)

HT: Between Two Worlds

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Countering Abortion

A new US President, our president, has reversed direction on the Mexico City policy . Let us continue to pray for him, and also for the protection of life.

Three good reads:

The President's statement on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade -- and a good point about the question of human rights

Information about the Jewish beliefs and the early Church stands against abortion in the vicious Roman culture

Abraham Lincoln's logic on slavery (which applies to abortion and euthanasia, also)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Christianity is a Verb, Not a Noun

I really appreciated Mark Batterson's view on what's wrong with the Church today:

"I think the modern church has fixated on sins of commission. Don't do this and don't do that and you're alright. But that's not alright. Why? Because goodness is not the absence of badness. You can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right. That is why we're more known for what we're against than what we're for. Christianity was never intended to be a noun. It was meant to be a verb. It is sins of omission, those things we could have, would have, or should have done for the cause of Christ, that grieve our Heavenly Father. We've got to quit playing defense and start playing offense. We need to quit fighting amongst ourselves and start loving our enemies. We need to quit pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Discipleship is so much more than the accumulation of rote knowledge. It's a sanctified imagination that dreams God-sized dreams. It is a heart that breaks for the things that break the heart of God. It's not enough to create our own sub-culture. We desperately need to raise up a generation that feels called to culture-shaping professions as God-ordained vocations. We cannot reduce the gospel to the forgiveness of sins. It's about glorifying God by maximizing our God-given potential and serving our God-ordained purpose. It can't just be about creeds. It's got to be about deeds. It can't just be about us. It's got to be about others. We need the courage to stand up for what's right in a culture where nothing is wrong. But we need to do it in a spirit of humility. We need the courage to incarnate the gospel in creative ways. But we need to do it in a spirit of authenticity. And we need the courage to preach the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. But we need to do it in a spirit of grace."

Two Good Books by a Ranger

I have a friend who is a retired Army Ranger. I've heard some of his stories of what it took through Ranger training -- amazing stuff. My son (12 at the time) commented, "I bet only the baddest and meanest tough guys get through it." This man profoundly influenced my son at a critical age when he responded, "Oh no. They're far too selfish. They wash out early."

I recently read these two books by Chuck Holton about his Ranger experiences and the faith lessons that he absorbed.

A More Elite Soldier


I appreciated his writing style, the stories, and the faith lessons. These would be good material for a small group of guys to read and discuss. A More Elite Soldier is primarily about Ranger training and his experiences in combat in Panama. Bulletproof is about overcoming fear.


John Piper on the Economic Downturn

John Piper gives some wise counsel on the economic downturn we're experiencing. "It may be bad for our pocketbooks and our egos, but it may not be bad for our souls."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Man's Prayer

"Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be a stronger man.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks."
-- Phillip Brooks

Add a Bible Search box to Firefox

Firefox (you need version 3) lets you add a Bible search box in the browser! This means that no matter what web page you're looking at, you can immediately search for a Bible passage without first navigating to a special page.

You can get Firefox (free) here. Firefox has many nice features, and feels faster than Internet Explorer. You can have more than one web browser on your PC or Mac at once.

Here is how to set up for searching (takes 1 minute):
1. Open Firefox 3

2. Navigate to a Bible search tool. Both of these work, there may be others you like:
ESV Bible

3. Find the search bar, which will be on the upper right side of the brower. Click on the small down arrow at the left side of the search bar. Use your mouse to select BibleGateway or ESV. It will look like this:

Another handy site to add to Search is (Just be cautious about trusting Wikipedia articles; most are very good, but cross-check the information you find there against other sources.)

Here is how to use it:

Let's say you are working on something and want to use that reference to "the unfolding of your Word brings light," -- you know it's in Psalms or Proverbs, but don't have that memorized. Or you know it well but prefer to copy/paste it rather than typing it!

Click the down arrow on the search bar and select your Bible search page. Then fill in keywords or a reference (like James 3) in the search box. Press or click on the magnifying glass icon to start the search.

Voila! In a few seconds you have it:

"The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:30)"

This is very slick!

HT: Between Two Worlds

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Leaving Behind and Going Forward

Mark Batterson provides some good counsel on transitioning as you discern the will of God for you:

"I thought I'd share one of my litmus tests when it comes to discerning the will of God. I think the will of God is like a double-lock. You need to feel called to something. That's the first lock. But you also need to feel released from where you are or what you're doing. That is the second lock.

Here's where it gets complicated. Feeling called to and released from don't always happen simultaneously. In fact, they rarely do! If you feel called to something, but don't feel released from where you are, then you need to stay put. And God will honor your faithfulness! Where it gets even tougher, emotionally and spiritually, is when you feel released from something, but you don't know what God wants you to do next. It's like spiritual no-man's land. And that is when you need the courage to take a step of faith."

A Simple Way to Keep Up With Blogs

You're busy, and want to maximize the value of your time while staying informed, right? Then stop surfing through your list of favorite blogs and websites to see if there is something new. Subscribe to blogs in feed readers -- and then you'll be notified when there is new content. You'll save a TON of time and be a more efficient reader.

Surprisingly to me, only about 6% of blog readers do this. Let's increase that number!

If you use a feed reader, you can easily subscribe to this blog's content by clicking on the orange RSS icon in the address bar or on the side bar.

If you don’t use a reader, there is still a very easy way for you to keep up with this blog. You can subscribe by email. There is a form on the right side of this blog. Then, each morning the posts from the previous day will be delivered right to your inbox.

And if you don’t use an RSS reader but want to get started with one, Abraham Piper has a very helpful post on how to do that called What is RSS? A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader. He provides step by step instructions to seeting up this free tool. Recommended!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Faithy by Proxy? Check the Context

Matt Capps tackles the question about faith by proxy -- the idea that if the head of a household is saved, the whole family would be saved. He looks closely at Acts 11:14; 16:31 and other passages. There's a very nice description of how households actually worked in NT times. Plus you'll pick up some useful tips on interpreting Scripture.


Argue Like Jesus

This new book looks very interesting: How to Argue Like Jesus. I haven't read the book yet, but the free excerpt is very good (get it a their website), and I have great respect for Joe Carter based on his years of blogging at different sites.

Dangers of Intellectual Relativism

Bob Lewis, an IT consultant, wrote recently about intellectual relativism. I think this insight is useful and applies in many areas, not just business decision-making:

"A perennially popular myth has it that trusting your gut is a good idea. It's distinct from, but closely related to a parallel cognitive sin, Intellectual Relativism. The difference: Intellectual relativists consider the use of evidence and logic in making decisions to be futile, where those who trust their guts consider it to be a waste of time....

For the record: Intellectual relativism and gut-based decision-making affect organizations at all levels and sizes, with potentially disastrous results. At the smallest scale they can prevent workgroups from achieving basic competence. At the largest it can drive entire nations to ruin."

I believe we Christians should be the best thinkers on the planet, since we have been given access to the mind of Christ! But our behavior suggests this is far from true...yet.

Starting Point: Old Earth Creation Views

My friend Kevin Nelstead at the GeoChristian blog has a nice post if you'd like to see a starting point for discussion about old earth creation views. It's not only the "new" science in recent times that leads people to think the earth is old, but the biblical text itself.

It hurts when I see brothers and sisters and whole churches dividing over creation accounts. I have strong convictions now, having studied the issues, but will not break fellowship with another believer who does not share my convictions. These are disputable matters -- and dialogue about them should encourage us and actually draw us together, rather than plowing ground for bitter roots to grow.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Like No Other Leadership Book You'll Read

I'm recommending Pete Blabler's new book, "The Mission, The Men, and Me" as a leadership book like no other you're likely to read.

The author recounts leadership lessons he mastered as a Delta Force commander. This is not really book about military battles -- he's focused on the mission planning and leadership responsibilities.

The title comes from some advice he received early in his Army career: The 3 Ms. Mission, then the Men, and then last, Me.

The insight he shares are tremendous for leaders in all kinds of situations, summarized into these pithy aphorisms:
  • When in doubt, develop the situation.
  • Always listen to the guy on the ground.
  • Humor your imagination.
  • It's not reality unless it's shared.
  • Don't get treed by a chihuahua.

I'll leave it to you to get the book and understand how they engineered the only "Bigfoot" sighting in Bosnia as a means of slowing down a car long enough to capture the wanted war criminal inside.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Good Bible Study Tactics

It's imperative that fathers and husbands be good students of the Word.


There are proven ways to study the Bible that you should know. Reading the text is a first step. Then you need to interact with it!

Go to the page of helps for Donald Whitney's classes at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Check out the resources under the section titled "Files related to meditation on Scripture" -- terrific stuff here for you:
* Questions to ask as you study a verse or passage -- based on Philippians 4:8 and from Joseph Hall
* Methods of Meditation
* Meditation mapping
* How to organize times of silence and solitude
* Praying through Scripture (alone, or with a group)

I've been experimenting with mind mapping as a way of organizing my thoughts and notes -- very helpful! (If you'd like free software to do this, I recommend FreeMind.)

And here's a free bookmark with the questions to dive into Scripture based on Philippians 4:8 and Joseph Hall.


The study you did yesterday or last year was good. What Bible study will you do today? And how can you teach your children to study the Word?

HT: Between Two Worlds

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Instead of "Happy Holidays," Let's Say...

Scott Aughtmon, a church planter in the Redwood City area of California, suggests that instead of saying "Happy Holidays," we could say

"Happy Chris-Kwan-ukkah!"

What a hoot!

Athiest: Africa Needs God

Check out Matthew Paris' remarkable column, "As an Athiest, I Truly Believe Africa Needs God." He testifies to the effectiveness and impact of Christian mission work vs. the secular NGOs and government efforts.

"But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. "

The whole article is worth reading.

Question for us to answer: do the athiests observing the community impact of our lives, and our families, concur with the transforming change -- and call it good?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Developing Leaders -- Would Like Your Help

I'm thinking a lot these days about how to better develop leaders in the church. I find many weaknesses the typical leadership development programs used by business groups. The church needs leaders, and better leaders. We need a holistic framework for developing people, rooted in theology, and anchored in the purpose of glorifying God through serving others.

Peter Drucker pointed out that "We need far too many leaders to depend upon natural talent." So there must be efforts put into developing leaders.

Can you help me out? In the comments below, could you let us know what you see as the need for developing leaders -- at all levels and for all areas -- for ministry? What's working well, what's not? What has helped you develop as a leader (for many of you reading this are indeed leaders now)? What would help you develop more?

If you prefer to email your response to me, send a message to


Not Grim Strength but Glory-Strength

"Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven't stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us."
(Colossians 1:9-12, The Message)