Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Halloween Thought

I encourage you to develop strong convictions about "secular" holidays like Halloween. If you believe your family should not participate or celebrate, lead your family appropriately. If you don't object to sending your children around in costumes to "plunder the Egyptians" of their candy, lead your family appropriately.

One thought I had last night (which was the official "Beggar's Night" in our community): Many of the darkened Christian homes were missing opportunities to connect with neighbors and be seen as a warm, loving adult by the children.

Again, I know families that have strong no-Halloween convictions, and I respect that. I'm not going to break fellowship with them over a disputable matter like Halloween.

The Debt We Owe Hebrew Scribes

You will encounter people who are concerned about the authenticity of the Bible. There are many articles explaining why today's Bible accurately reflects the original texts. But this information from Parchment and Pen was new to me:

Tradition tells us the Hebrew people were meticulous copyists of Scripture. Scribes were so aware of their task they would go to great lengths to make sure their hand-written copy of Scripture was free from error. Hebrew scribes were bound to the following rules:

1. They could only use clean animal skins, both to write on, and even to bind manuscripts.
2. Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty lines.
3. The ink must be black, and of a special recipe.
4. They must verbalize each word aloud while they were writing.
5. They must wipe the pen and wash their entire bodies every time before writing God’s name.
6. There must be a review within thirty days, and if as many as three pages required corrections, the entire manuscript had to be redone.
7. The letters, words, and paragraphs had to be counted, and the document became invalid if two letters touched each other. The middle paragraph, word and letter must correspond to those of the original document.
8. The documents could be stored only in sacred places (synagogues, etc.).


Wow! He goes on to tell the story of some famous manuscripts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. Recommended! Let this information add to your confidence level!

One more thought to ponder: the scribes carefully copied everything over the centuries --even those things which probably made no sense to them at all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Hadn't Thought About Ironing Boards This Way

Of course many things we consider ordinary and natural wouldn't pass muster with today's mentality. The FDA would ban nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine consumption if these were new products.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ready to Steer the World?

I love this little poem by Shel Silverstein:

God says to me with a kind of smile,
"Hey how would you like to be God awhile
And steer the world?"
"Okay," says I, "I'll give it a try.
Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?"
"Gimme back that wheel," says God.
"I don't think you're quite ready yet."

One key thing we MUST work at, dads, is helping our families get past entitlement thinking. We don't deserve things. We are children of grace. We should seek and accept responsibilities without asking questions about "what's in it for me?" This is maturity.

And it must start with me and you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Repost: What Fathers Should Teach Their Sons

What Fathers Should Teach Their Sons -- it's been amazing to see how this has been picked up by others and used. I trust it will be helpful to you, also.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Encouragement for Dads

For all you dads:

Stand firm.
Love deeply, and sacrificially.
The days are long, but the years are short.

God is doing important work in you and through you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


You know that wonderful promise in Luke 17 where Jesus says "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed"? This devotion isn't about that. It's about what Jesus told his disciples right after that. Listen closely:

7"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? 8Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? 9Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' " (Luke 17:7-10)

These verses aren't covered in many sermons, I suspect, because they're…well…uncomfortable.
"Unworthy servants" and "only doing our duty"- that's how Jesus says we should realistically view ourselves.

But wait, perhaps you're thinking of that phrase we love to quote, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" That's what we are, right? Good and faithful, not unworthy.

Let's look at that Luke 19 passage again, carefully:

15"He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' 17" 'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' (Luke 19:15-17)

The parallel passage is from Matthew 25:
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Think carefully, now. There is no conflict between being unworthy and being a good servant. We are unworthy, because we don't deserve the grace that our Lord shows us by calling us to be servants. With His help (see John 15:5 - we don't do anything apart from Him), we accomplish amazing things, but they are simply our duty. We're following His commands.

There is a key message that we as individuals and we as a church need to hear in Luke 19:17: the reward for accomplishment for Christ is greater responsibility! "Take charge of ten cities" is a much larger responsibility than being a steward of a mina (which was about 3 months' wages).

As I have read and reread the New Testament I have noticed that there is something missing. No where does Jesus ever tell someone that their current level of service is fine and they can just coast, slide comfortably the rest of the way. Jesus recognizes good service and rewards it, but short of heaven we will continue to have increasing opportunities for service - which is the grand adventure of following Christ!

I believe God has already planned great things for us to accomplish in His strength and by His sovereign direction. (See Ephesians 2:10) God loves us far too much to let us sit on our past accomplishments, or wallow in our current state of sanctification. There are larger and greater steps that we will take to fulfill the Great Commission, our standing orders.

It's become popular today to challenge a person, saying "Man up!" My challenge to us is that we say - with joy, entering our Master's happiness, doing our duty - "Servant up!"

May God bless you, and bless us, for the glory of Jesus.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Leading to Change the Status Quo

If you're reading this God has put you in position to lead, to change the status quo, to create movements that change the world. There are some terrific insights in this 17 min video from Seth Godin. As you watch it think about your God-given talents and opportunities. (Bonus learning: study how Seth presents ideas and challenges -- this is not your typical boring PowerPoint!)

I recommend Seth's book on Tribes, too.

Three questions Seth poses for you:

1. Who are you upsetting? If you aren’t upsetting someone, you aren’t changing the status quo.
2. Who are you connecting? Connecting with other like minded people.
3. Who are you leading? Tribes are leadership led, not management led.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Defining Love -- a Child's Approach

We have a lot to learn from children! A group of children were once asked, "What does 'love' mean?" Listen to some of their answers:

Rebekah, 8, said, "When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time—even when his hands got arthritis, too. That's love."
Billy, 4, said, "When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."
Bobby, 7, says, "Love is what's in the room at Christmas, if you stop opening presents and listen."
Nikka, 6, says, "If you want to learn to love better, you should start with someone you hate."
Tommy, 6, says, "Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."
Cindy, 8, says, "During my piano recital, I was on a stage, and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me, and I saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. And I wasn't scared anymore."
Jessica, 8, says, "You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot."

What would your kids say about love?


Monday, October 11, 2010

How the Truth Sets You Free

Note: This is from a short devotion I did recently. I've been helping some people who are fond of quoting "the truth will set you free" understand the real context for that statement from Jesus -- Glenn

31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

33They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants[a] and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"

34Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father."

39"Abraham is our father," they answered.

"If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would[c] do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.

John 8:31-40 (NIV)

Putting “the truth will set you free” in its biblical context:

“to the Jews who believed him” (v31)

“if you hold to my teachings” (v31)

Those things come before: “THEN, you will know the truth” (v32)

Obedience issues!

They go back to their default state in v33: “we’re children of Abraham” (under the Abrahamic covenant)

Saying they have never been slaves is fantasy, revisionist history: They have been slaves – under Egypt, conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, now effectively slaves under the Roman Empire. This is why they were eagerly anticipating a political Messiah!

But Jesus takes them to the real issue: slavery to sin in v34. One’s political situation is irrelevant to this heart issue.

There is no path to freedom apart from Christ (v36).

Abraham believed God (Genesis 15:6) – literally Abram Amen JHWH in the Hebrew.

Plenty of people in the world misunderstand the phrase “the truth will set you free.” Let’s help our congregation and the people in our sphere of influence to understand the real context of truth and freedom – centered in Christ.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Answering Pro-Choice Arguments about Abortion

Long-time readers of this blog know that I consistently advocate for clear and wise thinking. That's why I highly recommend you check out Stand to Reason's excellent blog post "Answer Every Defense for Abortion."

Smart, straightforward, clear, wise, and easy to put into practice. Recommended.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Boys and Reading and Videogames

Do your boys read books?

What books do they read?

Thomas Spence writes a nice column deploring the state of boys' reading. Except for homeschooled boys, they read much less (and less well) than girls. He provides a strong recommendation:

"The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books."

For most families, there will be some videogames and TV and Internet. In fact, it's important in a way to help your kids learn discipline around media while they are at home with you. Put serious limits on the videogames, and know what your boys are playing. Your boys will be better men because of it.

Dads, I know this is tough -- your kids love videogames, and they're addictive. Do not leave this discipline to mom. YOU have to be rigorous on it. And don't expect your boys to say, "Oh, thanks, Dad, saving me from my addictive tendencies towards videogames." I'm not writing this as a dad who always succeeded and did this right, either, ok? I know how challenging this is.

Make sure your boys have good books to read. Biographies of great men are good. History, written well, is captivating stuff. Challenging novels with deep characters in difficult places. These teach boys that life will be an adventure, and the difficulties are worth it.

I have another strong recommendation: make sure your kids see YOU reading books. Talk with your boys about what you're learning. The Bible should be first and foremost, but read other books as well.

If you have ideas on how to restrain videogame time, and good books to recommend, comment away to help us all.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Hanging from a Cable, Reaching Out to Save Lives

This event happened in Des Moines last year. A woman was caught in the backflow below a low dam. Construction workers were building a pedestrian bridge nearby, and quickly lowered one of their men from a crane on a steel cable down to her. He successfully rescued her from certain death, was hailed a hero, and the photographer won a Pulitzer. The only sad part of the story was that the woman's husband did not survive.

This is a great picture of how God is using you in rescue missions, reaching out to desperate, hurting, lonely people. We're safely secured by God's love, far stronger than any steel cable and chest harness, and can fearlessly reach out to those He has put in our sphere of influence. You and I are operating in God's rescue mission -- just yards and heartbeats from hell.

Let us be fearless! There is something far better than a Pulitzer in our future: to hear our Master say, "Well done!"

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A 10 Question Devotion Opportunity

Perry Noble writes up a list of 10 Personal Growth Questions -- this would be a great devotion with your family, dad! (#9 hit me between the eyes!)


#1 – Am I reading my Bible for information or transformation? (James 1:22-25)

#2 – Am I allowing people or circumstances to steal the joy that Jesus promised to me? (John 10:10)

#3 – Is there anything in my life that God is consistently dealing with that I am trying to ignore? (Ezekiel 14:1-5)

#4 – Who are the people in my life that God has placed around me for the purpose of me sharing Christ with them and/or inviting them to church? (II Corinthians 5:16-21)

#5 – Is there anyone I need to apologize to? (Ephesians 4:25:27)

#6 – Is there anyone I need to forgive? (Ephesians 4:32)

#7 – Is there a sin I need to confess to others and ask for help? (James 5:16)

#8 – Am I fully utilizing the gifts and abilities that God has blessed me with…or am I simply choosing to waste my life? (I Peter 4:10)

#9 – Do I know more lines from the movies that I love than verse from the Bible that I read? (Psalm 119:11)

#10 – Is there anything going on in my life privately that, if it became public, would cause me and/or the body of Christ to be embarrassed? (I John 1:9, James 5:16)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Managing Work and Home from...Home

I know a number of my readers are working from home. And nearly all of us need to use computers with Internet access for ministry, but we're easily distracted. I heartily recommend this article for some ideas: Take Back Your Free Time

I'm going to try setting up virtual desktops, for example -- I know about these, but didn't think to apply them this way!