Wednesday, June 29, 2011

D.A. Carson on the Biblical Qualifications of Elders and Deacons

Very helpful insights here on the biblical qualifications for elders and deacons. "Elders be exemplars of the principles mandated for all Christians."  My suggested take-away for you men: man up!  Live to these standards.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jesus Didn't Respond Based on How People Responded to Him

(From a devotion I led recently...)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we are to lead a congregation with a diverse set of ideas and opinions.  This is not a new problem in the history of the Church, of course, and not even new to us.  But it has been on my heart to study this in the Scriptures.

I keep coming back to Jesus.  We need to believe what God says: we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and God’s ambassadors to a spiritually dead world.  We engender community by dying to self, loving others in the grace of God, and following Jesus.  “In this world we are like Jesus.” (1 John 4:17)

How did Jesus handle diverse reactions to his ministry?  Let’s look at three situations where he performed miracles: healing the paralyzed man (Luke 5), restoring a man’s withered right hand (Luke 6), and converting water into wine and healing the sick (John 2).

16 God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:16-18

17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Luke 5: 17-26

1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
 3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

 6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

 10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Luke 6:1-11

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
John 2:23-25

In each case we’re told that Jesus knew what they were thinking, what was in their hearts.  Sometimes there was great praise to God (Luke 5) and “people believed in his name” (John 2), and sometimes the miracle engendered hatred (“[they] were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.” Luke 6:11). 

Jesus didn’t respond to their response.  Knowing what was in their hearts, their thoughts, “Jesus would not entrust himself to them.” (John 2:24).   He did not need their testimony.  He knows He is Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5).  He knows his relationship with the Father. Remember, Jesus did not have the kind of sinful pride we so often do!  He operates out of love (which asks for nothing in return) rather than fear.  Fear and pride go together well.

Jesus’ view of His calling and ministry (and God’s view of our ministry) is independent of how people respond. 

If we’re to be Jesus-like leaders, honoring God, we must operate out of love.  We must build people up, help them mature, engage in difficult conversations, humbly obey Christ, be open and teachable, listen well, serve well, do the right thing irrespective of whether people are praising God or plotting “what to do to” us.   

It may help to take the long view of events.  A trillion years from now (still short of eternity), looking back, what was the right thing to do?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thoughts on Feeding 10 Billion People

My friend Kevin Nelstead posted some good questions about feeding our growing world population.  I added a long comment, reproduced here because I hope people see an example of how to work from biblical principles to address complex issues.


Kevin, before answering your questions, I think it’s appropriate to back up and create some context – biblical principles and pertinent observations.
From a biblical worldview, I propose these principles:
· Persons, being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and having an eternal soul, are significant and of infinite worth.
· God gave mankind the responsibility of being stewards of His creation (Genesis 1:28). Being a steward means making decisions and working through trade-offs. Stewardship does not mean ownership; only God “owns” creation (Psalm 50).
· Sin affects both people and the planet (see Romans 8:22); neither is perfect.
· God is sovereign over His creation, but mankind cannot entirely tame it or control it. We do not live in perfect harmony with creation (Genesis 3:17-19).
· The Creation we see today is not eternal, it will be remade in God’s fullness of time (Revelation 21:1-5). People’s souls are eternal, and therefore take priority over creation when there are conflicts.
· We do not know when this age ends (Ecclesiastes 8:7; Mark 13:32); we cannot assume it is either a short time or a long time when making stewardship decisions.
Pertinent observations, though not strictly biblical:
· Natural systems have resilience, but also breaking points. We have a very poor record of understanding the limits of systems or predicting how they behave. We tend to miserably under-estimate or over-estimate effects of changes and trends. All simulation models are wrong. Some are useful.
· People have imaginative and creative powers to solve complicated and complex problems. Malthusian projections have been wrong partly because they did not take into account human versatility/ingenuity, tremendous improvements in agricultural productivity and the logistics of moving food and purifying water.
· Human beings are terrible at estimating risk and responding realistically to it.
· War, ethnic politics, and foolish pride have caused more hunger than actual lack of food on the planet. The starvation deaths because of distribution challenges of available food and lack of clean water are avoidable.
· Charity support models have not been effective when continued for long periods of time, because they invite corruption and eliminate the incentives for individuals and groups to create sustainable infrastructure. There are many lessons from aid given to Africa over the last 50 years.
· Central planning models fail, and fail worse as systems grow more complex. There are many variables we cannot control and barely influence. We often confuse leading and lagging indicators. We have at best incomplete historical data, of varying usefulness. Production models tied to individual economic and political liberty have sustainably produced the most food over many years.
Thoughts with respect to food production:
· The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is calling for a 70% increase in food production by the year 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people. The Eastern Hemisphere is both where most of the population growth will occur and where productivity challenges are greatest.
· I believe we can produce food to 50% more people than live today – it will take concerted efforts on my fronts, but I believe it can be done. We need progress in plant breeding, animal management, and agronomic practices. The amount of arable land is roughly constant now – so improving yield productivity is our best hope. More people moving to urban centers means longer distances to move food.
· The best approach to feeding the world is a rich mix of all kinds of farming. There are places in the world where large-scale monoculture is feasible, and many more places where it is not. I think commercial interests and individual liberty will continue to drive a rich mix. Central planning efforts will distort markets and perpetuate inefficient approaches.
Success will require contributions from For-profit and Non-profit entities, both small and large. There is room for all – and I believe all have specific valuable roles and unique contributions in feeding the world.
· Water is crucial. Read the excellent book, “The Big Thirst.” The problems of sufficient clean water are manageable.
· Land management is crucial. Farming on marginal land creates problems which need to be solved later.
· It would be possible for the US to feed itself from smaller, organic farms. But… perhaps 50% of the population would need to be involved, rather than the 2% on farms today. And there would no grains, fruits, and meats to export.
· Plant breeders are making strides with both transgenic and non-transgenic crops, and harvestable yield continues to climb. I find it difficult to imagine doubling or tripling yields without some GMO.
· Government policies can promote progress or hamper it. I personally believe the intellectual basis driving many government policies is unbiblical, favoring the environment over people, and by default assuming humans ARE the problem.
· My hypothesis is that God has distributed food production potential across the continents so that we would have to work together and build relationships. Regions which have the capacity to produce surpluses should produce surplus to feed others. It makes sense economically, too.
Answering your other questions:
We are fulfilling the mandate “be fruitful and multiply” – but I don’t have the revelatory insight to say “We’ve fulfilled it. Stop.” History teaches us to be confident that some of the solutions to our challenges will be created by people yet to be born!
Christians have the most helpful worldview for working through the stewardship issues and simultaneously valuing human life and individual liberty. Therefore I pray regularly for more believers to follow Jesus into agriculture and food production and government agencies which oversee them.
*Note: I’m employed by a leading multinational agriculture corporation. My comments do not in any way represent the company’s position.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Men, I hope you have a terrific day! Celebrate, and also recommit to being the father our Heavenly Father desires for you to be.  The world needs great fathers.

Wordle for this blog

You can use Wordle to make a "word image" from any text or web page with an RSS feed.  Here's this blog:


I'm encouraged to see Jesus so prominently displayed!

Friday, June 17, 2011


I have several friends who are waiting.  A lot.  One friend tells me "I passed Remedial Waiting 101 and 201 and I'm almost done with Remedial Waiting 301."

I find it very interesting that God commands Elijah twice to go to a location and stay there, without explaining what Elijah is supposed to do while he's there (other than wait):

 2 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”
 5 So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9“Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”

And Elijah did such non-monumental ministry in these locations that no one knew where God's prophet was for over 3 years. Zero public ministry. (See 1 Kings 18:10) I believe every man will, at least at some times, be called/commanded to wait.

There is something deep in a man which struggles with waiting. I suspect God knows this, and knows that waiting is the best thing for us.

What do we do while waiting? Michael Hyatt has some excellent suggestions, well worth your time to review. He emphasizes recognizing that God is in control, renewing your faith in God's steady provision (this is what I believe that Elijah needed to develop), and redeeming (rather than wasting) the time to prepare for the future.

My friend in Remedial Waiting 301 tells me this song has really helped him remember to serve God and continue to worship while he waits:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Challenges Are You Facing as a Dad/Husband?

Looking for your feedback, men -- what challenges do you face now? What are you struggling with? I'd like to know, and then I will write more blog posts to address those. Comment below, or email me at info(at) Thanks!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Seth Godin on Leadership

Helpful, challenging thoughts on leadership -- helping people grow in a quantum way, not just a little.

Exclusive interview with Seth Godin from GiANT Impact on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Does Difficulty Mean We're "Outside" God's Will?

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Matthew 3:16-4:1

After reading Carl Medearis’ new book (Speaking of Jesus), I’ve committed myself to investing in the four Gospel books this summer.  I need to be re-immersed in the stories of Jesus, and the stories Jesus tells.

There’s an important insight here that helps us understand God’s design for ministry. 

Jesus is baptized by his cousin John, then receives a special baptism of the Holy Spirit at the start of his three-year public ministry which will result in salvation for us.  (We don’t have time to go into it here, but we must think carefully about this baptism – the Holy Spirit was always with Jesus.  Here is a special recognition service of Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will, not some evidence of a 2nd baptism as some would say.) 

The Father says “I love Jesus and with him I am well pleased.”  He’s pleased with His son!  And what does He do?

The Father who is pleased with His Son sends Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted!  Right here at the start of the public ministry is a huge challenge, which could threaten the whole effort. 

We could talk more about fasting – which is how Jesus successfully prepares for the temptations that come at the end of 40 days – but today I just want you to see that the loving Father sends Jesus into a terrible struggle at the start of ministry.

Many great ministry efforts in history have started the same way. In retrospect we see how God was pleased with His servants, and then launched them with temptations and challenges.  The fact that we face ministry struggles may have nothing to do with God’s displeasure with us!  Early adversity does not mean that we’ve failed to follow God’s direction or made a mistake (the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness).  Difficulty and adversity does not necessarily mean we’re outside God’s will – which should encourage us!

One of our most important roles as leaders is to encourage and teach others about this truth.  They can persevere in the strength of Christ!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Feeding the World

Sobering challenge:

"This month, the global population reached 7 billion.  Each year, the world population grows by about 78 million people -- equivalent to the population of Germany.  By 2050, world population will be 9 billion, growing to 10 billion by turn of the century.  Feeding and providing nutrition for this growing population -- and doing it in a sustainable manner -- may be the defining challenge of this century." (Jim Borel, DuPont VP)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Devotions for Your Children

I've yet to meet a father who says, "Family devotions -- piece of cake, do 'em every day consistently and my kids love it."  

For older children (say, above 8 or 9), I recommend you share what God is teaching you in your own daily Bible time.  You can scale it down, provide more context, tailor it to make it relevant to their current challenges.  This doesn't have to be exhausting or take a lot of prep time.  

For young children, I think you have to be more purposeful on finding content that is helpful and age-appropriate.  Picture Bibles are good for this purpose.  

If you want to be more sophisticated, I admire what Tim Challies is doing to lead his children

What's worked for you?  Comment below. 

Monday, June 06, 2011

Loving Wayward Children

Here are 12 ways to love your wayward children, by Abraham Piper.  Excellent counsel here!  I really appreciate the loving perspective, without compromising truth.