Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How a Weird Subject Line Encourages People

If you get an email from someone that just says “Bzzzzzzzz!” in the subject line, and nothing else, it’s because they’re praying for you.  This quick shorthand way to communicating “Hey, I’m praying for you!” is spreading rapidly around the world. 

Someone suggested I explain the history of Bzzzzzzzz! messages and promote the idea further.

Go here for all the details:

http://www.teachtochangelives.com/BzzzzzStory.htm

I'll be curious to see your responses in the comments! 


Conservatives vs. Statists

I'm reading Mark Levin's new book, Liberty and Tyranny. I like the way he describes "statists" -- people who push for the power of the state over individual liberties. It has long irritated me that terms like "liberal" and "progressive" have been co-opted and misappropriated as political labels.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

"The Modern Liberal believes in the supremacy of the state, thereby rejecting the principles of the Declaration and the order of the civil society, in whole or part. For the Modern Liberal, the individual's imperfection and personal pursuits impede the objective of a utopian state. In this, Modern Liberalism promotes what French historian Alexis de Tocqueville described as a soft tyranny, which becomes increasingly more oppressive, potentially leading to a hard tyranny (some form of totalitarianism). As the word 'liberal' is, in its classical meaning, the opposite of authoritarian, it is more accurate, therefore, to characterize the Modern Liberal as aStatist. ... The Statist ... knows that despite his successful usurpations, enough citizens are still skeptical and even distrustful of politicians and government that he cannot force his will all at once. Thus he marches in incremental steps, adjusting his pace as circumstances dictate. Today his pace is more rapid, for resistance has slowed. ... The Conservative does not despise government. He despises tyranny. This is precisely why the Conservative reveres the Constitution and insists on adherence to it. An 'effective' government that operates outside its constitutional limitations is a dangerous government. ... The Conservative is alarmed by the ascent of a soft tyranny.... He knows that liberty once lost is rarely recovered. He knows of the decline and eventual failure of past republics. And he knows that the best prescription for addressing society's real and perceived ailments is not to further empower an already enormous federal government beyond its constitutional limits, but to return to the founding principles. A free people living in a civil society, working in self-interested cooperation, and a government operating within the limits of its authority promote more prosperity, opportunity, and happiness for more people than any alternative. Conservatism is the antidote to tyranny precisely because its principles are the founding principles."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Departure From the Original Plan

The U.S. Federal government has become the nation's largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health-care provider, and pension guarantor.

I do not think our nation's founders could have imagined that this would happen.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Responding to Michael Spenser: The Coming Evangelical Collapse

I'm delighted that Michael Spenser published his 3 part blog series on "The Coming Evangelical Collapse." I believe much of his diagnosis is correct, and I appreciate his authentic sharing of concerns. His willingness to frankly share his observations and thinking has provoked an excellent discussion in the blogosphere about what matters, and this is always a healthy process.

Several of you asked me to articulate my views. I started to sketch out my thoughts, and then came across Melinda's wonderful post on Stand to Reason.

She says everything that I wanted to say about it.

God's Church will stand. Seasons and movements of the Spirit change over time, but always forward in God's great sovereign purpose. The world at large may add labels and misintepret what is going on.

John Calvin -- Missions and Church Planting

Mark Driscoll gives a nice introduction to John Calvin's sustained efforts to train and launch missionaries, and sponsor church planting in the mid-1500's.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why Do We Need to Learn Faster?

This popular video is studded with facts about the exponentially fast technological changes we're living in.



Our fundamental problems are spiritual, not technical, political, or economic. But in order to continue to be effective, we need to keep learning faster.

Leadership is Performance Art

I was intrigued with this concept: Leadership is Performance Art.

By the way, Thayer's book "Leadership: Thinking, Being, Doing" is a rock-your-comfortable-world book. It's not an easy read, either, I'm wading through it in chunks. There's somehere here to offend everyone's usual sensibilities about leadership -- but it's good.

Vetting Prayers

Apparently the Obama Administration requires pre-approval of prayers used at public events where the President will be speaking.

Don't use the name of Jesus, that could be inflammatory!

I'm disturbed by this trendline.

HT: Gene Veith

Three Thoughtful Quotes

"The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity. The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery." --former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." --American physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988)

"When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set." --Chinese writer Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

HT: Patriot Post

Culture Declines, God's Sovereignty

I think one of the reasons for expanded interest in eschatology is that many of us live in times when we perceive the coming end of our predominate culture. Paul could see the evidence of the decline of the Roman empire, I’m sure. Of course in the 1970’s we had a lot of economic and political difficulties, and Hal Lindsey assured us the end was near.

If we pull back and view historical patterns, there are hopeful signs.

For example, in the 1790’s the quite new country of the United States of America was in serious trouble. Flailing economic mess, high alcoholism and suicide and crime rates, major foreign powers poised for assaults – much worse, really, than anything we experience today. But consider how this decade of horrible problems laid the groundwork for the Great Awakening in 1800 and 1801!

Let us remember that God is sovereign, fulfills all His promises, and alone knows the timing of the end. Until then, we look for Christ’s coming, and live as faithful ambassadors, blessing our communities and countries as we have opportunities, and making disciples of all nations, as He commanded.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Great Books List

After my recent post discussing my reading habits, a number of you asked me for a reading list.
I don't recommend every book I've read to others. And I read widely, across a number of disciplines. But I thought it was worth the time to list out 75 explicitly Christian books which have greatly influenced me.

These are the books that I return to, gladly, again and again, knowing that I can learn still more from them. The authors have been used by God to help disciple me.

Here is the list.

I'll be interested to hear your comments and feedback.

Life Management

Scott Aughtmon, one of the most creative church-gatherers (he doesn't call himself a church planter) I've encountered, gives some helpful advice about life management.

Sober but Encouraging

Hutchins' analysis of the financial problems we face -- how we got here, and the importance of innovation and private capital investment in getting out -- is well worth putting on your reading pile.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Question

I’m sure my friend and mentor didn’t understand the explosive power of the bomb he dropped on me.

His simple question transformed the way I have thought about sin, temptation, and the Christian life.

I met weekly with my friend for encouragement and mutual accountability in agreed-upon areas of weakness. For three weeks running I had to confess failings in one particular area. “I hate that I’m saying it,” I said quietly, “but… I did it again.”

“Here comes the lecture,” I thought, knowing I deserved it.

My friend paused, then asked me this simple, profound, and powerful question:

“That’s not consistent with Christ in you, is it?”

In that moment God catalyzed something wonderful in my mind. Following Jesus is not about making my heart and mind better through external “righteousness.” Following Jesus means my thinking, acting, and living should flow out of the glorious reality that I am a new creature in Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The reality of this new creation is the primary source of all wisdom, godliness, and righteous living (see Galatians 6:15).

Use this question to help frame your decisions. When you’re faced with a choice, you can ask “Lord, what’s most consistent with Christ in me?”

Use this question to resist besetting sins. When you are tempted, it helps enormously to ask “Is this consistent with Christ in me?”

Use this question when you are fearful, or weak, to remind yourself of the character of Christ in you. “Is this consistent with Christ in me?”

Let us be grateful people, confident in “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Answering Questions about Learning Faster

I've gotten some interesting email about my messages
challenging teachers, pastors, and church leaders to be
better learners.

Let me address some of the questions and statements that
might be of more general interest.

"I have a master's degree from seminary and read a lot.
I'm sure some people on your mailing list could use your
help, but I don't." -- Pastor A.W.

Great learners are simply people who know they have a lot
more to learn, and remain excited about learning.  If you
don't think I could help you learn faster and better (with
less stress, too), then you're exactly right.  If your mind
is closed to improvement, I won't be able to teach you, any
more than Jesus could open the minds of some of the
Pharisees.  May our Lord bless your pastoral ministry.

"Can you help me?  I have trouble reading the newspaper
sometimes.  I want to be better, so I can be a better
teacher."  -- B.P.

The Lord will, I'm sure, bless your ministry in His Name.
I do believe that everyone can see improvements in their
ability to learn and retain useful information for teaching
and pastoral ministry work.

You see, it's not important whether you can read 100 books
in a year.  It is important that you get better by learning
to learn faster. If you read 2 or 3 books a year, you can
readily push yourself to read 5 to 10 books (with less
stress, I might add!) and retain the information better.

"Is this just about memorization?  I use the Navigator's
method and it works for me." -- S.W.

I actually won't cover memorization explicitly in this
coaching. Enormous feats of memorization are possible (and
indeed have been routine -- young Jewish boys memorized the
Torah).  What I'll explain doesn't depend upon memorization
to be successful.

"Does this require special software?  I don't have a fancy
computer or any money to buy tools." -- W.A.

A lot of what I'll show you can be done without any special
tools at all.  (Our ancestors had less than you do!)  I will
tell you about optional software tools that can help, and
nearly all of them are free.

"I'd like to read more, but I don't have time."  -- J.J.

If you practice a little bit of what I'll show you, you can
read 2 to 4 times faster. And retain more.  I'm completely
serious.  Over the remaining years the Lord gives you,
wouldn't you like to be able to read more, remember it
better, and retain the valuable parts longer?  This will be
a huge benefit you'll enjoy with just a little bit of effort
on your part.

"Speed reading courses don't work for me."  -- A.S.

I'm cynical about speed-reading courses myself.  I read an
ad for one course and realized that if their claims were
true, I could read "Gone with the Wind" in 26 minutes.
Bleh.

What I'm going to be teaching you is a lot more than speed
reading.  It's about *learning* -- which is not just
reading, listening, or watching, but understanding the
material and making connections in your mind.  Faster
reading is possible and desirable, but it's an incomplete
picture of what you need.

"Are you suggesting that the way I learned to study was
wrong?  I went good schools." -- D.F.

My observation is that very few adults, even those who have
been to good schools, learned how to learn.  They rarely
were encouraged to figure out their personal strengths and
leverage them to the fullest.  And far too few people were
encouraged to remain curious throughout their who lives.

I'm less interested in criticizing schools or teachers --
and more interested in helping everyone become a superior
learner.  Wherever you are now with your learning skills,
I'm confident you can be much better.

"I prefer to listen to audios and watch videos instead of
reading.  Will your approach help me, or is it only about
reading?" -- U.G.

Most of what I will cover applies to any medium -- reading
text, listening to audios, or watching videos.

"Where did you learn what you're going to teach in this
course?" -- A.S.

I've been working on improving my learning skills since I
was in high school.  I've searched out many people who
clearly were effective learners and tapped into their ideas
about what helps them.  I've studied the neurobiology of the
learning process, as little as we understand it, and read
through many reports of psychological experiments on
comprehension and retention of information.  Plus I've
tried many personal experiments to practice and adapt and
improve myself.  It's an ongoing process for me.

Until now I have shared my learning with only a handful of
people who have asked for help.  Recently it's become plain
to me that the information could help many, many people in
the church.

"I read the Bible and nothing else.  Why would I?" -- C.K.

I don't advocate reading other information instead of the
Bible, and I certainly think we should generally be
investing more time with the Word of God than less.  But we
belong to the historic community of believers through the
centuries now, and can learn a lot from the writings of
those who have gone before us.  And we should also be
students of the best of the world around us, in order to
develop our skills and understanding, and be able to reach
that world effectively with the Gospel.  I fervently
believe that all truth is God's truth, and worth studying.
We develop discernment and wisdom as we learn.

So I do think you as a teacher should study and learn from
more information sources than the Bible, and evaluate
everything through the power of the HolySpirit. The
challenge then becomes how to learn effectively and
efficiently from the astounding amount of information
available to us!

Did I cover your concern area?  If I didn't, let me know in the comments.

The "Keys to Accelerated Learning" materials is almost
ready.  Watch for an announcement soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Learning to Learn Faster -- Overview Lesson Available

I wrote the other day about my concerns that teachers, pastors, and church leaders aren't learning fast enough or well enough. If the people working in the Kingdom of God aren't the best learners, we'll fall far short of our God-given potential.



People routinely far underestimate what they are capable of learning. If you learned 7 facts per second, 24 hours a day, you could go over 200 years before you would run out of neurons to store the information. Our Lord has made you with a practically infinite capability to learn.


You and I will tap only a fraction of our potential, but we should become much better learners than we are today. We should always be striving to improve our capabilities, because the needs of the Kingdom demand us to be our best -- and better every year.


Here's what I'm going to make available soon: Audio lessons coaching you -- yes YOU -- to learn faster, better, and retain what you need from it all. I'm confident that the practical advice will give you an enormous edge.


You'll learn:


* What learning *really* is
* The key elements of your learning mindset
* Practical counsel on all the elements of the learning process: preparation, input, thinking, and review
* Specific tactics to help you read and listen 200-400% faster than you do today. (No typo there -- 2x to 4x faster.)
* My recommended "tool" list


If this interests you, then please sign up here to learn more. (I don't want to burden anyone who isn't particularly interested!)


http://www.teachtochangelives.com/LearnFasterSignUp


When you sign up, you'll get a 15 minute overview lesson that covers all the key ideas at a high level.


The full course materials will have a lot more detail and practical helps, but my hope is that you'll be able to start putting some of these ideas into practice right away.


I'm praying that God will raise up a more effective generation of teachers, pastors, and church leaders, by sharpening their ability to learn.


Again, sign up to get started learn faster:


http://www.teachtochangelives.com/LearnFasterSignUp

Let the Gospel Grow In Your Life

John Piper exhorts us to never let the Gospel get smaller in our lives. Short, helpful.

Great Resource for Listeners

I tend to favor reading over listening, but there are tremendously good sermons and talks and podcasts available. I love the tagline on the Faith By Hearing blog: "Seize Your Commute." This is an outstanding starting point if you'd like to load up your ipod or car with great material to bless you and your family.

Standing Against the Lie

This transcript of a podcast by Greg Koukl (of Stand to Reason) is a gem. Highly recommended. Let us be found as men who fight against the lie.

"Some of you might be thinking that the enemy is those people who disagree with us. You’d be wrong. You might be thinking the enemy is the devil. Well, he is an enemy. There’s no question about that. But I think the enemy, the focus of our efforts, is what the devil is trying to do to change people’s minds so that they believe a lie rather than the truth. The evil that we are seeking to overturn can be summarized by the words “the lie.”

Paul talks about it in Romans 1:21-25. They believed the lie rather than the truth. People suppressed the truth they should have been following and instead believed a lie. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. Following that in Romans is an explicit statement against homosexuality and lesbianism, and a whole rogue’s gallery of vice listed there at the end of Chapter 1 of Romans. All of these come from believing the lie.

What is the truth that the lie denies? The truth is that God is king and sovereign over all His domain, which is everything and everyone, because He created everything and everyone, and therefore, all is His. The lie says that we are our own. We belong to no one. We are masters of our own fate. We are captains of our own soul. Get out of my way. Don’t cramp my style. And when this lie is believed, what follows is the denial of this central truth that God is king and sovereign. "


Read the whole article, and mark it up. Absorb this one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Follow Me on Twitter

I'm inviting you to follow me on Twitter.

I don't have a wall on Facebook or a MySpace page, and I routinely reject the three invitations I get each week to join the "latest" social networking site. I endure comments from "youngsters" that if I don't Facebook, I don't exist.

But I'm committed to providing regular Twitter updates in addition to the blogs I manage. You'll get to see more about what I'm doing and learning about. It's a free service, too.

Go here if you'd like to follow me on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/Glenn_Brooke

Political-centric Evangelicals: Where is Jesus?

Michael Spenser riles and provokes with posts like "The Limbaughization of Evangelicals," where he points out that many evangelicals celebrate a political viewpoint (whether right or left) rather than worship Jesus.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

If you're looking for a good secular resource on Patrick, start with the wikipedia entry.

Monday, March 16, 2009

We've Got a Lot of Synapses to Work With

I love reading about our brains and how our minds work.  Our brain is a whole lot more than "3.5 pounds of blood-soaked sponge," as Vonnegut opined.   Mark Batterson helps us understand theastounding number of sensors and synapses we have.  

Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Learning Faster -- The Great Need

A significant challenge for Bible teachers and church leaders today is keeping up with what's going on.

Of course, just keeping up today isn't good enough.

In addition to regular, deep time in the Word of God, teachers, pastors, and leaders need to be students of life. 

I believe one of the reasons why the Church is not leading the way today as it could and should is that the leaders are poor learners. 

If you study who takes the lead in the culture, in businesses, in civic organizations, and even in governments, there is a strong correlation with the people who are the fastest and best learners. 

Now I strongly believe that Christians should be the best learners and thinkers on the planet -- we have the Mind of Christ!  But it is often not so. 

My own reputation is that I'm a terrific learner. In addition to my full-time job (not in a church), family and church leadership responsibilities, and running Brooke Associates, I'm constantly in learning mode.

For example, I will read through the whole Bible 4 times this year, as I did last year.  I read 131 books last year and plan to finish over 110 this year.  I'm consistently reading sixteen magazines and trade publications, plus following the text, audio, and video content on 72 blogs.  My friends, fellow church leaders, and students will tell you that I can remember a huge amount.  "Being around you, Glenn, is like sipping from a fire hose of knowledge and insight," says one. 

Am I superman, or the bionic man?  No.  Do I sleep and exercise and eat?  Yes.  Do I have some super-high IQ that lets me do this?  I'm a reasonably smart guy, but know plenty of people much smarter than me.  Are these extraordinary, superhuman accomplishments?  Absolutely not!  They are well within the range of most adults.  

What sets great teachers, pastors, and leaders apart on the learning scale is
* they know what they need to learn, and why
* they understand what learning really is, and have mastered the practices of learning
* they apply what they learn (because the point of learning is not knowing, it's doing)

In a few days I'll write again about this issue, because I think it's extremely important.  

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Handling Nuclear Waste

William Tucker's article "There's No Such Thing as Nuclear Waste" is probably mis-titled, but makes effective points about the feasibility of storing what's left over from rods used in nuclear power plants.

"Ninety-five percent of a spent fuel rod is plain old U-238, the nonfissionable variety that exists in granite tabletops, stone buildings and the coal burned in coal plants to generate electricity. Uranium-238 is 1% of the earth's crust. It could be put right back in the ground where it came from.
Of the remaining 5% of a rod, one-fifth is fissionable U-235 -- which can be recycled as fuel. Another one-fifth is plutonium, also recyclable as fuel. Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes. Forty percent of all medical procedures in this country now involve some form of radioactive isotope, and nuclear medicine is a $4 billion business. Unfortunately, we must import all our tracer material from Canada, because all of our isotopes have been headed for Yucca Mountain.
What remains after all this material has been extracted from spent fuel rods are some isotopes for which no important uses have yet been found, but which can be stored for future retrieval. France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains -- from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy -- beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague."

Never Understimate a Microtrend

"In today's mass societies, it takes only 1 percent of people making a dedicated choice -- contrary to the mainstream's choice -- to create a movement that can change the world."

(from the book, Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes)

HT: Matt Perman

Friday, March 13, 2009

How Prayer Changed New York

I have a good friend who lived in New York city years back, and so I sent him this interesting analysis of the changes in the city.

I really enjoyed his response:

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Glenn,
Thanks for the article. I lived in NYC in the late 80s and early 90s. He is right; it was a very bad place. Crack vials piled up along gutters like leaves in autumn. My neighborhood had the highest homicide rate in the city; it was a fearful place.

Olasky left out what I believe is the single biggest reason that NYC changed...prayer. In 1989, the city had Calvary Baptist (anchor of evangelicals) and Gordon MacDonald and Tim Keller. Those churches began praying for the city. [My wife and I] would get up early on Friday morning and travel to mid-town to a small prayer meeting of leaders at Redeemer where we experienced the most delicious group prayer times that I have ever had. We prayed for the usual Aunt with a bad hip and friend with a dying dog, but mostly we prayed that God's kingdom would be realized in the city; we affirmed that God loved NYC and wanted to change it; we implored Him to do so. We prayed for social justice and for individual hearts; we prayed for revival in the Jonathan Edwards sense of word. We didn't pray for church programs; we prayed for the chaotic outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As Harvey Conn says, "prayer is rebellion against the status quo" that is what we did.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

This helps get me fired up to pray for revival in my area!

To Whom Has God “Chained” You?

You probably know that Paul wrote a number of New Testament epistles to the churches while he was imprisoned in Rome. You may not know that he was chained to a rotating schedule of Roman soldiers, day and night, the entire time.

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:3-6)

Imagine what it was like to be one of the Roman soldiers chained to Paul. Each man would have seen Paul visit with others, encouraging and challenging them. These soldiers were present while Paul prayed and interceded for the new Christian churches, and watched him write out the letters to the Galatians, Philippians, Ephesians, and Colossians. Each one would have heard the story of Jesus Christ, crucified as a their sins, raised from the dead, and Lord of Lords.

They didn’t have any choice but to hear and see, because they were chained to God’s man for hours every day. That’s why Paul asked the Colossians and Ephesians to pray for him, so that he would proclaim the Gospel clearly.

We can only speculate how God may have used this influence on these guards for good, through many generations. How many were gloriously converted? How many family members and fellow soldiers heard about Jesus this way – and about living an abundant life of love in the Holy Spirit?

I’m looking forward to hearing more of these stories when we get to heaven.

But what about your situation? Are there people who are chained to you?

Oh, I don’t mean chains of iron. I’m talking about forced relationships that you didn’t happily “volunteer” for. (I doubt Paul volunteered to be a prisoner in Rome for years.) Perhaps you have neighbors, co-workers, even extended family relationships that strain you. You don’t naturally gravitate to these people because you want to spend more time with them, but God in His sovereignty has set up the arrangement so you must be with them.

Now you can fight and resist and be resentful (though it won’t help.) Or you can recognize that God has arranged circumstances so that they come into His sphere of influence through you! You are His ambassador in “chains,” my friend!

Let us follow Paul’s example and pray that we will be good ambassadors for Jesus, especially in these situations:

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19-20)

In God’s grace, we look forward to future days when we see how God has used us to influence many, many people – even those He had to chain to us to arrange for the Gospel to go forward.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Good Response to "I don't like organized religion"

From Tullian Tchividjian, about inviting a Starbucks barista to church:

She responded in typical postmodern fashion, saying "I'm into spirituality, but I'm not really into organized religion." Brandon, who has a wonderfully quick wit, replied, "Don't worry, we're really not that organized."

Don't Let Someone Use This Debating Tactic On You

Amy Hall provides an excellent guide to countering a common debating tactic, seen fairly often in statements about embryonic stem cells, same-sex marriage, tax rates, etc. (It's not limited to any political party.)

Busyness Is Not...

I really enjoyed the way C.J. Mahaney describes the problem with busyness:

"... busyness is no sign of diligence, faithfulness, or fruitfulness. And that is because busyness does not indicate that we are devoting ourselves to the most important things. We can become busy with everything under the sun except fulfilling the roles God has assigned for us. And no matter how busy I appear, if I am neglecting one of my primary roles, I am a procrastinator, spinning in unproductive circles."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's the Opportunity Here?

An important question that we need to ask God often as we follow Jesus each day is "What is the opportunity here?"

It might an opportunity to renew our minds.
Praise God.
Serve someone.
Take deep breaths and reorient our hearts to Christ.
Endure.
Surrender our puny plans.
Receive gifts from others.
Encourage others and intercede for them.
Be joyful.
Laugh or cry with others.
Experience the flow of God's compassion towards others.
Kneel in awe before the Lord of Lords.

I'm sure this list is not exhaustive. But I'm sure we always have opportunities.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

US Unemployment by County

The NY Times has an interesting map of US unemployment by county. Note the variability! Keep this in mind as you read accounts in the media. Reporting averages and totals is not the whole story.

I still believe that the great enemies of Christians now in the US are doubt and fear. Yes, there are alway uncertainties. We have a great God, and fear of anything other than our Lord is optional.

HT: GeoChristian

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Helpful Analysis of the Auto Industry

Joseph White's analysis of the US auto industry, "How Detroit Automakers Went From Kings of the Road to Roadkill," is an easy and informative read.

He identifies 5 factors that have shaped their course over the last 30 years:

"First, Detroit underestimated the competition—in more ways than one.
Second, GM mismanaged its relationship with the United Auto Workers, and the UAW in its turn did nothing to encourage GM (or Ford or Chrysler) to defuse the demographic time bomb that has now blown up their collective future.
Third, GM, Ford, and Chrysler handled failure better than success. When they made money, they tended to squander it on ill-conceived diversification schemes. It was when they were in trouble that they often did their most innovative work—the first minivans at Chrysler, the first Ford Taurus, and more recently the Chevy Volt were ideas born out of crisis.
Fourth, GM (and Ford and Chrysler) relied too heavily on a few, gas-hungry truck and SUV lines for all their profits-plus the money they needed to cover losses on many of their car lines. They did this for a good reason: When gas was cheap, big gas-guzzling trucks were exactly what their customers wanted—until they were not.
Fifth, GM refused to accept that to survive it could not remain what it was in the 1950s and 1960s—with multiple brands and a dominant market share. Instead, it used short-term strategies such as zero percent financing to avoid reckoning with the consequences of globalization and its own mistakes. "


The whole article belongs in your reading pile. After all, if you're a US citizen, you're part owner now of some of the companies.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Credit Crisis -- explained

My friend Todd Smith at TenTalentsClub.com referred me to this excellent short video explaining the credit crisis. This could be useful for sharing with your family, and starting a discussion.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

ESV Study Bible -- completely free in March!

A real treat: the ESV Study Bible online version is completely free in March.

I urge you to take a look at this if you have not already. I've been enjoying the ESV Study Bible for several months.

You can see my video reviews of this terrific study Bible here and here.

Lint Mystery "Solved"

Humor for the day: the mystery of belly button lint has been "solved."

When I was about 8 or 9 I received a gag gift at Christmas : a "jeweled" belly button brush, with complete instructions on how to use it. The problem was, I didn't understand that it was a gag gift, so I was annoyed when the givers wanted it back. (My relatives recycled gag gifts over and over.)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Penn Is Given a Bible

This is an intriguing story from Penn (of magicians Penn and Teller fame). How does this athiest respond to the gift of a Bible from an audience member?


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Holy Ambition: book recommendation

I recommend Chip Ingram's book Holy Ambition: What it takes to make a difference for God for your reading list.

He uses Nehemiah's story (excellent exegisis of the text) to walk through six steps for leading:

1. developing a dislocated heart
2. experiencing a broken spirit
3. practicing a radical faith
4. creating a strategic plan
5. exercising a personal commitment
6. growing a couragous soul

Excellent for men and leaders seeking to follow God's direction.