Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not a Monument! and Other Quotes

I captured some great quotes from Brad Padgett, our speaker at our last Perspectives class:
"Debt is a nice way of saying 'slavery.' "
"Why are you waiting for a call when you've been given a command?"
"Two visions is di-vision."
"It's a world Christian movement, not a monument."
"We shouldn't measure churches by seating capacity, but by sending capacity."
"Two thirds of Jesus' ministry was cross-cultural."
I originally posted these on Twitter. You can follow me there at

US Civics Quiz -- How Much Do You Know?

Here’s an interesting online civics quiz:
I got 30 of 33 questions correct. What’s your score?
This would a good thing for your family to go through.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The biblical story in 4 images

Wonderful, inspiring -- the biblical story in four images (5 min video).

HT: Between Two Worlds

People Groups Where You Live

Here's a fascinating resource to check out the nationalities, languages, and people groups who live in different cities:


You will probably be surprised at how God has settled people so that the Gospel message can be shared. This is a great jumping-off point for a small group or Sunday School discussion, or just your family at the dinner table.

Career vs. Vocation

I speak periodically with people about jobs, careers, what they should study in school, etc.

Sometimes I find it helpful to relay this etymology lesson about the words “career” and “vocation”:

Career comes to English from the middle French word carere , which was a circular race track in the 1400’s and 1500’s. We get the word “careen” from the same root word.

You can go very fast on a race track, and may even win awards for it. But where did you go, really?

In contrast, vocation comes to English from the Latin word vocare, which means “voice” or “calling.”

You want a vocation, not a career. Understand that, if you are a believer, you are already falling the voice of the Master. You have a calling to pursue.

Using Pennies to Visualize US Spending

I'm not posting this as a criticism of President Obama, but because it's a good visual illustration of the US Budget. It might be a great conversation starter with your family about the scale of spending, and how to prioritize spending -- especially if you don't have all the money in the first place.

Reduce spending by $100MM? It's a start. Rinse, repeat!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Looking for Systematic Framework Guide to the Bible?

Galyn Weimers has made available an incredibly valuable framework for Bible study -- at no cost! If you're looking for a systematic guide to understanding the Bible and Christian faith, tailor made for producing lessons for youth or adults, check this out immediately. The PDF of the book is available free online.

If you prefer, you can order a physical copy of the book (with companion CD) for $20 plus shipping.

Outstanding resource!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reading, Speaking, and Writing

Great quote:

"Reading makes a full man, speaking a quick man, and writing an exact man." -- Francis Bacon

Exercise your abilities -- read widely and deeply, speak with others about issues of consequence, and write (if only journaling). You'll grow. Help your family in the same way.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Care Has Moral Underpinnings

While I have been critical of "environmentalists" I truly do believe we're called to be stewards of God's creation. (Thanks to Kevin to sharpening that.) It's fair to be concerned about approaches and priorities, and think critically and carefully. It's also appropriate to stay very humble about our understanding of the complex systems involved.

I find it interesting to talk about these issues with not-yet-believers who claim to be athiests and Darwinians. As Greg Koukl points out, their passion for Earth care has moral underpinnings. There is no Darwinian logic to it. My observation is that for many of these acquaintances, environmental priorities are idols. People are wired for worship, and their understanding of the environmental movement becomes a false god.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guarding -- Strength Through Openness

Tim Challies outlines the inherent dangers (and I would say especially for men) when we operate under anonymity.  

One of Satan's primary strategies is to isolate men, in order to more readily tempt them.   Solitude is good and important -- when we stay conscious of God's presence.  I'm speaking against the kind of anonymity that helps us forget God altogether, and then we're much more likely to speak and act in sin.  

I asked a man who had been married for over 60 years for his advice.  He told me that he recommended holding your wife's hand a lot.  "I've never gotten into trouble while holding her hand."   

I encourage you to read the article, it's very good. 

Three Rules for Success in Business

When I left the academic world and took a job in a large company in 1993, my dad (who had been successful in a different large company) gave me what he called "the three rules for success in business."

Rule #1: Always tell the truth.

Rule #2: As far as Rule #1 allows, make your boss look good.

Rule #3: Always be very nice to the secretaries and receptionists, because they can choose not to help you.

I've found his advice works very well. I've shared this with dozens of admin assistants and receptionists and they always laugh and agree with rule #3.

Be sure you say Thanks! to your administrative professionals today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Be Wary of Quiet Time "Performance"

Tim Challies warns us against quiet time "performance," a legalistic response to the command that we study God's Word and pray. Excellent! He concludes:

"So do not allow quiet time to become performance. View it as a chance to grow in grace. Begin with an expression of your dependency upon God’s grace, and end with an affirmation of His grace. Acknowledge that you have no right to approach God directly, but can approach Him only through the work of His Son. Focus on the gospel as the message of grace that both saves and sustains. And allow quiet time to become a gift of worship you present to God, and a gift of grace you receive from Him."

Read the whole blog post.

"How to Survive the Economic Meltdown" book available free

Patrick Morley, tremendously influential author of "Man in the Mirror" has written a very good book, "How to Survive the Economic Meltdown." I read through it yesterday. It's studded with solid advice and Scripture. Good stuff, easy to recommend.

Furthermore, Mr. Morley wants to get this into the hands of people it will help.

Go here to get a free PDF copy or order physical books at a reduced rate. This could be a good resource for men you know, if not yourself.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Learning from the 1970's

Rich Karlgaard gives us some thoughts about the patterns seen in the 1970s. He correlates the reactions to the political distrust and economic challenges to the "turning inward" movements that resulted in the 1980's "me" decade.

Do you think the current period of political and economic challenge could lead to another "turning inward" movement? Or is that selfishness always there? What would it take to turn Godward and then outward to serve a needy world?

Challenging Christian Reading List

If you're looking for no-fluff, challenging Christian reading, then check out this list. I've read about 1/2 of these. This is lean meat and hearty potatoes reading, not cheese puffs.

It's Not About the Balance of Good and Bad

A common misconception is that God judges us on the overall balance of good and evil works. You'll find this in your children, too, if you pay attention.

Even one sin condemns us, apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ.

Ray Ortlund uses the story of Benedict Arnold to explain this well.

Helpful Advice for Leading Prayer Meetings

Here is some helpful advice for leading prayer meetings.

Counsel for Unity on Church Leadership Teams

John Piper provides wise counsel for church leaders, to preserve unity:

Six Biblical Guidelines for Loving Each Other Amid Differences

1. Let’s avoid gossiping.The New Testament warns against gossiping.

2. Let’s identify evidences of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.

3. Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.

4. Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree.

5. Think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.

6. Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right. And in that way, let’s shape our relationships by the gospel.

Read the whole article, it's excellent.

Dads Changing Diapers

We've all been there!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Creating a "Blank Bible" for Personal Study

I'm a big fan of my wide-margin Bible, but it's still too small a space for all the note-taking and writing that I'd like to do. The two primary problems with loose-leaf Bibles are bulk and the awkwardness of writing near the 3 ring binder holder.

So I was amazed to read about how several people creating "blank Bibles" similar to what Jonathan Edwards did (see this very cool video explaining Edwards' approach) . They remove the cover from a Bible, cut off the glue on the binding side, then insert blank sheets of paper between the pages of Scripture, and hold everything together with a spiral binding so it lays flat when open. Amazing!

Check out the detailed instructions here and here, with lots of pictures. Here's one approach using just the Gospel of Matthew and a Moleskine notebook.

I'm timid to try it, but might overcome my fear, because it looks so useful and practical! Anyone tried to create a blank Bible for their own use?

US Federal Budget -- Graphically

Check out this very detailed graphical view of the US Federal budget. Might be good discussion fodder for your family.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Luther on the Scriptures

"In truth you cannot read too much in Scriptures;
and what you read you cannot read too carefully,
and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well,
and what you understand well you cannot teach too well,
and what you teach well you cannot live too well."
-- Martin Luther

What a great reminder for us to devote ourselves to the Word and Prayer!

HT: Between Two Worlds

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

400,000 New Bible Teachers by 2021

Men, many of you know I'm actively involved in coaching Bible teachers, and run another blog named "Teach to Change Lives." Please pray for our 400KTeachers initiative. Thanks!

Messy Marriages, Gracious God

Recommended: Paul Tripp's interview on "Messy marriages in the hands of a gracious God."

"The problem begins with unrealistic expectations in two areas: First, people don’t take seriously the fact that we live in a terribly broken world where things just don’t operate the way they were meant to. That means somehow, someway, everyday we greet some kind of difficulty – small or great. It’s just impossible to protect your marriage from the fallenness of the world. The second thing is we don’t take seriously what the Bible has to say about the fallenness of people – our own struggle with sin. I carry into my marriage something inside of me that is destructive to relationships. Sin makes me want to live for myself. Sin is self-focused, self-serving, self-absorbed, and, in that way, is anti-social. So couples not taking the Fall seriously and not taking the fallenness of people seriously, are unprepared for the kinds of things they are going to face as they get married."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

No Other Discipline Is More Important

Mark Batterson reminds us that the kings of Israel were commanded to make a personal copy of the law and study it daily.

"No other spiritual discipline is more vital to your spiritual growth that daily Bible study. Period. It has to be a daily routine."

Friday, April 10, 2009

How Much Can One Letter Teach Us?

Many of you know I've been teaching a series from Colossians, and have spent many hours meditating in that letter.  It's astounding how deep is the well of Scripture, how inexhaustible.  

Ray Ortlund has been studying Philippians, and asks a great question: What if Philippians were our only Bible? 

Check out his response.  Be strengthened and encouraged!

King Jesus

Here's a wonderful description of King Jesus.  Highly recommended. 

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Reaching Out to Muslims

Albert Mohler gives some helpful perspective in his recent column, "The Challenge of Islam -- A Christian Perspective." While some will instantly jump to "he's just criticizing the President's comments", I recommend you consider his points on:

* the different approaches of the US Constitution towards religion and the Muslim mosque-and-state fusion (even in "moderate" Turkey)

* the reality that Islam is politically/economically an opposition force against most of our Western civilization values

* the primary challenge being a spiritual challenge for souls

It's important also to recognize the different ethical spheres of operation at work here. What we as Christians (individuals, but connected in the Spirit as the Body of Christ, His Bride, the Church) do is different than how nations/states operate. I do not think it's inconsistent for the US government to act in the best interests of citizens and position in the world, if that's different than how a church would act. For example, choosing to turn the other cheek is rarely good diplomacy between nations. My grandfather used to remind me that the Marshall Plan for Europe came after we crushed the Nazi war machine.

If you'd like to learn more about reaching out to Muslims, has many excellent articles and resources. Here, for example, is a list of the references to Jesus (Isa) in the Koran.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Value of Solitude

"Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius." -- Gibbon

When we intentionally enter solitude (in the presence of the Lord) we have the opportunity to learn afresh to discern what is significant and important -- distinguishing it from noise, fluff, and vanity.

Coming to a Surface Near You

William Gibson said, "The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed yet."

Check out this videos of Microsoft Surface, an interactive computer interface that will likely seem utterly normal to your children and grandchildren. Soon.

I believe fathers will need to make significant efforts to help children use technology well, without worshipping it.

HT: Matt Perman


We cannot make too much of Jesus Christ. John Piper reminds us to be Christ-conscious. Perfect for Easter week!

Bonus Perspective

Putting AIGs contractual $165 million in bonuses in some perspective:

“…if you want a real bonus, outrage, consider this: The operation getting the biggest taxpayer subsidy of all – the federal government – pays bonuses to its employees too. This year it plans to hand out about $1.6 billion of bonuses, despite running more than $1 trillion in the red.” -- Allan Sloan, Fortune Magazine April 13, 2009 issue

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Evil as Entertainment

Tim Challies gives us good counsel in "Evil As Entertainment." An excerpt:

"Telegraphy, television and other forms of electronic media have made the relationship between information and action both abstract and remote. We hear more news than ever which elicits more opinions than ever, but which leave us increasingly impotent, unable to do anything more than offer opinions and bluster about what we might do if we could. And I am left asking, do I really need to read and to know so much of what passes as news today? Do I really need to read and to know about the seedy underbelly of the church, when such things happen thousands of miles away, among people I will never meet and in places I will never be? Such news is plenty entertaining, but it is useless to me. It does nothing to further my faith or to cause me to grow in godliness. In fact, I suspect just the opposite may well be true. I think of Paul’s words near the close of the book of Romans where he says, “I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil” (Romans 16:19b). He wants these Christians to invest their time studying not what is evil, but what is good. When they have confidence in all that is good, the evil will become ever-more apparent.
This is not the first or only time Paul has given this exhortation. In 1 Corinthians 14:20 he wrote “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” And in saying this he echoes the words of Jesus who exhorted His disciples and warned them of the persecution that would come, saying “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
We are to focus much more on what is good than what is evil. This is one of the lessons I sought to teach in The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. “Our efforts in discernment should revolve around knowing the truth so that we might see the evil in contrast to what is true. The reason it is better to focus on what is true is simple: error is constantly changing, shifting and morphing into new forms, always seeking to imitate what is true in new and creative ways. Truth, however, is constant. When we know what is true we will more easily be able to identify what is error.”

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Funks, and Getting Out of Them

The last few days I was in a funk.

I was grouchy, irritable, frustrated, feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff I didn’t want to do. News events about politics and economics made my blood boil. Bureaucratic crap at work was nigh intolerable. Lots of “reckem seckem blechem” talk in my head. When I had to be polite and interact with people I would (like leading a Concert of Prayer at church), but especially at home I simply pulled away from people. Ate three cream puffs in 12 hours. Went into the basements to watch sections of The Dark Knight as escapist medication. Not happy. Headaches. I would go to bed early, but didn’t sleep well. Temptations abound. It’s a good thing I don’t drink alcohol.

Do I have reasons to be in funk? Somewhere, intellectually, I knew that I have every reason for gratitude. But I justified and rationalized my 'tude for hour after hour, for three days.

Yesterday morning early I thought, “I know – this is like when bad moods came over King Saul, and he wanted music so he’d feel better. Yeah, that’s it, I’m like King Saul. This funk isn’t my fault at all.”

Did I mention that my capacity for self-deception appears to be boundless?

That happy thought (“Yup, me and King Saul”) lasted about an hour, and then I decided I would go look at those passages in 1 Samuel again.

Mr. Balloon, meeting Mr. Pin. Pop.

The text says repeatedly, “An evil spirit from God tormented him.” Hmmm… Whatever I have going on it’s not an evil spirit from God.

What’s the solution to a funk?


I’ve had to re-learn the lesson that the way out of funks and moods and ‘tudes is to repent and seek forgiveness, rather than rationalize and justify and misapply Scripture. I suspect I’ll fall into a funk again in the future. Hopefully I’ll get to repentance a lot faster next time.

Recent Reading

Some books I've read recently that I recommend.

Liberty and Tyranny – Mike Levin

Great fuel for my thinking about the US Constitution and how far we've deviated from it. Useful and challenging manifesto for future political conservatives.

Why the Universe Is the Way It Is – Hugh Ross

Too preaching in the last 1/3rd, but fascinating astronomy information.

Commentary on Galatians – Martin Luther

Classic, I try to reread this periodically.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment – Tim Challies

Well written, great call to the command that we discern good and evil.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Praising US Military

I'm privileged to know several men who have served or do serve today in the US military or National Guard. Great men!

Victor David Hanson gives 5 reasons why our military today is outstanding:

1. The officer corps reflects strong values
2. The volunteers have a rambunctious, upbeat attitude
3. The military has married intellectual life and command
4. Technological advances
5. "Walmart good" logistics worldwide

Hanson closes with this: "The real story of the last eight years is not really the political blunders in Iraq, but the ability of the military to adapt, change, and find victory when all said it was lost. In the dark days ahead, I suspect President Obama, once his soft-power initiatives to find peace with Iran, Venezuela, Russia, radical Islam, and Syria, begin to falter (I hope they do not, but suspect they will), will thank god he is commander-in-chief of the military we have. In his accustomed Novus ordo seclorum fashion, he talks always of the “mess” he inherited, never of the rare military he also inherited."

As you encounter servicemen and women, make a point of thanking them. I say "Thanks for service, and for protecting me and my family."

Read the whole article, it's good.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"I cannot. Not without you."

John Piper writes about slaying the dragon of our flesh, in this excerpt from a sermon:

Picture your flesh—that old ego with the mentality of merit and craving for power and reputation and self-reliance—picture it as a dragon living in some cave of your soul. Then you hear the gospel, and in it Jesus Christ comes to you and says, "I will make you mine and take possession of the cave and slay the dragon. Will you yield to my possession? It will mean a whole new way of thinking and feeling and acting." You say: "But that dragon is me. I will die." He says, "And you will rise to newness of life, for I will take its plan; I will make my mind and my will and my heart your own." You say, "What must I do?" He answers, "Trust me and do as I say. As long as you trust me, we cannot lose." Overcome by the beauty and power of Christ you bow and swear eternal loyalty and trust. And as you rise, he puts a great sword in your hand and says, "Follow me." He leads you to the mouth of the cave and says, "Go in, slay the dragon." But you look at him bewildered, "I cannot. Not without you." He smiles. "Well said. You learn quickly. Never forget: my commands for you to do something are never commands to do it alone." Then you enter the cave together. A horrible battle follows and you feel Christ's hand on yours. At last the dragon lies limp. You ask, "Is it dead?" His answer is this: "I have come to give you new life. This you received when you yielded to my possession and swore faith and loyalty to me. And now with my sword and my hand you have felled the dragon of the flesh. It is a mortal wound. It will die. That is certain. But it has not yet bled to death, and it may yet revive with violent convulsions and do much harm. So you must treat it as dead and seal the cave as a tomb. The Lord of darkness may cause earthquakes in your soul to shake the stones loose, but you build them up again. And have this confidence: with my sword and my hand on yours this dragon's doom is sure, he is finished, and your new life is secure."
I think that is the meaning of verse 24, "Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Christ has taken possession of our soul. Our old self has been dealt a mortal wound and stripped of its power to have dominion. The Christian life, the fruit of the Spirit, is a constant reckoning of the flesh as dead (piling stones on its tomb) and a constant relying on the present Spirit of Christ to produce love, joy, and peace within. The difference between the Christian life and popular American morality is that Christians will not take one step unless the hand of Christ holds the hand that wields the sword of righteousness.

HT: Between Two Worlds