Get the book here

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Trusting Who Christ Truly Is

“The Christian life is built upon the foundation of (1) facing who you really are and (2) trusting who Christ truly is. Everything you do will be shaped by the degree to which you act on the blessings that are yours in Christ.If you only look at yourself and carry around a load of guilt, you will hide, excuse, blame, rationalize, and cover up your shame rather than enjoy the freedom of confession and the joy of forgiveness. You will not enjoy the lasting fruit that comes from following the wisdom that is already yours in Christ! Instead, you will reduce the Christian life to a simplistic list of rules and behaviors that never touch the real problems, and you will be blind to the gaps in your relationship to Christ.”- Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gospel Inexhaustible!

C J Mahanney's Cr0ss-Centered Life is one of the few books I re-read regularly. (It can be ordered off my recommendations, left). Here is a taste:

“To grow in your passion for what Jesus has done, increase your understanding of what He has done.Never be content with your grasp of the gospel. The gospel is life-permeating, world-altering, universe-changing truth. It has more facets than any diamond. Its depths man will never exhaust.”- C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Combat - Physical and Spiritual

Just concluded first week of teen camp hosted by Midland Ministries in Polo, Missouri.

A fantastic week with fabulous teens...several of whom told us they received Jesus this week; and more who declared they made decisive decisions to present themselves totally as a living sacrifice (Romans 12.1)

As we brag on Jesus the enemy forces try to disturb, distract, disrupt. But because people are praying the victories the Word proclaimed and modeled is used by the Spirit of God to do spiritual surgery.

There is also physical combat...and I received this from a buddy with whom I served in Vietnam:

A friend of mine sent me this picture and told me the female airman is a USAF Security Forces sniper. She was a high school cheerleader and Homecoming Queen and enlisted in the military after her graduation. She qualified very high in marksmanship and was trained as a sniper.

My buddy served with her recently in
Afghanistan. He said on Easter day she was watching a road that lead to a NATO military base when she observed a man digging by the road. She engaged the target. She shot him. Turned out he was a bomb maker for the Taliban and was burying an IED (a roadside bomb) that was to be detonated when a US patrol walked by 30 minutes later. It would have certainly killed and wounded several soldiers.

The interesting fact of this story is the shot was measured at 725

yards. I have trouble seeing that far. She shot him as he was bent over burying the bomb. The shot struck him in the rear , blowing him into the bomb which was detonated by the round. He was blown to pieces.

Sherman was correct - War is hell. I suppose some readers may think this was terribly unfair; shooting the terrorist without first memoing him to see if he'd like to surrender? (if you sense sarcasm, you are very perceptive)

As I told the students at one point, I fully expect to hear of a nuclear device detonating in an American city...I hope and pray I am wrong...but....

All the more incentive to obey the command of God to "tell others also" that which is of first importance - the gospel - Christ died for our sins.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Amtrak Adventure

Janelle and I left Rochester, NY last Thursday at 11pm; arrived a bit late in Chicago, met our very good friend Kevin Davis and went to top of Sears Tower and a couple other places, got on train to KC...and shortly thereafter the train stopped.

I'll spare you the details, but turned out a lady died...and we had to wait almost three hours for a coroner to come to ensure the lady was, in fact, dead...and thus we were very late into KC.

Had a great visit with great friends, then came out to camp.

First day and a half very good...fantastic weather (after a stormy start), and for the most part attentive students. The Lord is working in lives...and it is yet another fantastic privilege (and responsibility) to be able to preach for these two weeks to two groups of young people.

Appreciate prayers for genuine working of the Spirit (rather than emotions/peer pressure), for Jane and Jacob at home, for Josiah and Joel in their camp work in two locations in Wisconsin, and, yeah, for the RAPID sale of our NY house so we can locate to our HOME in Missouri.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Request

Regardless of your age, regardless of whether you had/have a good/bad/indifferent relationship with your father, comment one thing that you learned about God the Father from, or by watching, your earthly father.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Some "Christians" Should NOT Witness

Had an interesting Amtrak ride from Rochester, NY to Kansas City, Mo, arriving more than three hours late early this morning (like 1.30), primarily due to the death of a passenger that resulted in a loooong delay awaiting coroner. Apparently an older woman with a "Do Not Resuscitate" bracelet...

Had a woman sitting across from Janelle and me who, in introducing herself to another woman, said, "I am minister so-and-so..."

She then treated everyone, from Amtrak staff to fellow passengers as if they were born to cater to her every need and whim. Occasionally she would throw in a "Jesus" or "Lord," and I'm convinced did harm to the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.

None of us are perfect (the paradox is that as we grow in Christ we also grow in awareness of how sinfully sinful we are!), but if we aren't at least trying to "esteem others as better than ourselves," it would be good for us to zippeth our lip about our relationship with Christ.

Have you had any similar experiences?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On the Road - Again - And a Camp Observation

Janelle and I board a train this Thursday evening headed to Kansas City and ultimately Polo, Mo to speak at two teen weeks. I am amazed -

Amazed I'm in the family of God, redeemed, forgiven, justified...

Amazed I get to spend time bragging on Jesus to teens...almost three years of my life have been spent speaking at youth camps over the last 29 years...

Camp is an amazing thing.

The crucial ingredient is good, committed counselors. The best speaker with apathetic counselors is horrendous; an okay speaker with great counselors will work well.

Good food, good discipline, and good acoustics are key ingredients.

Notice I've not listed "programming" yet?

Doesn't matter what programming you have...if you don't have a good (meaning Bible-based) speaker, good counselors, and the other things listed doesn't matter what kind of programming you have...

I also think camp can be a dangerous thing; if everyone is pushing for "decisions" rather than asking the Spirit of God to work in His way and His timing. I am not against altar calls; I am against "easy" altar calls. Why?

I read the Bible. And I notice that Jesus always made it easier to say "no" than "yes."

Again...I am not diametrically opposed to "invitations," as long as the invitee is the Spirit and not someone doing "business as usual".

All too often, especially in camp situations, students are exhausted, emotionally drained, and a well-meaning but careless speaker can provoke "decisions" born of peer pressure, tiredness, and emotion rather than birthed by conviction and drawing of the Spirit of God.

So I ask prayer that I'd be bold in preaching, clear in communication, discerning in one-on-one counsel...and that the Wind of the Spirit would be pleased to change us during the coming two weeks of camp ministry. (the photo is Camp Polo two years ago)

Do you agree, disagree, or not understand my observations of camp ministry? I ask you to make the time to "comment" so we can, together, learn from each other.

Active Ingredients for an Apprentice of Jesus'

It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us
into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.

Zig Ziglar

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stuck? or Strategic (from His perspective)

I am enjoying Chuck Swindolls devotional emails each morning. Today's applies to the current stage of life the Hagers are in...perhaps it will minister to you also:

by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Kings 17:20--22

That was some prayer. Elijah was not able to say, "Let this child's life return to him, as it happened to Enoch, as it happened to Isaac, as it happened to Moses," because there was no precedence for this particular miracle. So Elijah said, "Lord, I'm trusting You for a miracle. I'm asking You to perform the impossible." He then waited. Everything, at that epochal moment of faith, rested in the Lord's hands.

You may be in the process of placing your own life before the Lord in this way. Things are critical, and only a miracle can breathe new life into your situation. Circumstances are totally out of your control. So you take it to your special place, and, standing in the shadow of your God, you lay it out before Him, prostrating yourself before Him, pleading for His intervention, trusting completely in His miraculous power, refusing to lean on your own understanding.

Dr. Raymond Edman, in his little book, In Quietness and Confidence, writes about a godly man who faced just such a trial.

This is how he met it: He was quiet for a while with his Lord, then he wrote these words for himself:
First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.
Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.
Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
Last, in His time He can bring me out again---how and when He knows.¹

Can you make these four statements? If you can . . . will you?

1. I am here by God's appointment.
2. I am in His keeping.
3. I am under His training.
4. He will show me His purposes in His time.

By God's appointment, in God's keeping, under His training, for His time. What an outstanding summary of what it means to trust in the Lord with all your heart!

1. V. Raymond Edman, In Quietness and Confidence (Wheaton, Ill.: Scripture Press, 1956), 63.

Taken from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Find A Way That Works for You!

This is an old Harry Chapin song...and it's message is an indictment on most forms of "education". Yes, Jesus is THE (only)way...but beyond gotta find what works for you as far as "quiet time," memory work, support raising, sharing the gospel...etc....and I think this arrangement of the song illustrates the drudgery that follows "this is THE way you are SUPPOSED to evangelize, raise support, etc..."
What do YOU think?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Brief but Vital Reminder

“This is what happens when we become Christians. Christ assumes our liabilities and graciously gives us his assets.”

- Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A National Song with Punch

Channel surfing tonight, happened to see this on public television; have no idea if it is an official song of Ireland, but must be something like that as the audience sings along with enthusiasm.
I am blessed to be an American, but I confess I've never been impressed with our national anthem.
Parenthetically; it would be nice if the Body of Christ could be as committed to unity as the lyrics of this song dictate.

Who Is the Focus?

I have often stated the premise that if the Holy Spirit is getting more attention than Jesus Christ is in a church, a ministry, an event; something is very wrong. The Spirit's ministry is to focus attention on Jesus Christ.
Please don't misinterpret no way am I taking away from the magnificence of the Spirit of God, nor His giftings; I am simply stating the biblical fact that the Holy Spirit's ministry is not to bring the focus to Himself, but to the Son.
Just received this from a friend, and it phrases my contention in a different, and probably kinder, way:

“We may not hold a doctrine, or seek an experience, except in Christ. Many are willing to seek power in order to perform miracles, draw attention and adoration of the people to themselves, thus robbing Christ of His glory, and making a fair showing in the flesh.

Any work that exalts the Holy Ghost or ‘gifts’ above Jesus will finally end up in fanaticism. Whatever causes us to exalt and love Jesus is well and safe. The reverse will ruin all. The Holy Ghost is a great light, but focused on Jesus always for His revealing.

Where the Holy Ghost is actually in control, Jesus is proclaimed the Head—the Holy Ghost, His executive.

Frank Bartleman

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Pooch Who Demonstrates Faith...

Not a lot of sense focusing on what you DON'T have; take advantage and use what you DO have...take five minutes to enjoy this! (you may have to turn off my playlist on left hand side!)

What Was The Cause of Jesus' Death?

There are some well-known writers and speakers who think it uncool to talk about Jesus taking the hit for us. Is this merely a weak "gospel"? Or is it rather another "gospel" altogether?

Titus 2.1 (ESV) warns, "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine." The word "sound" could be translated "healthy." If there is "sound, healthy" doctrine; there is unsound, unhealthy doctrine.

Any doctrine taught by anyone that takes away from the substitutionary death of Jesus is at best unhealthy. Jesus lived the life that we could not live; and died the death that we should have died. That is the gospel, and it is of primary, first importance (1 Corin 15).

Ponder this observation:

“To use the magnificent words of B.B. Warfield, ‘Jesus dies on the cross, but not of the cross.’ The cross was the means by which He died, but not the reason why He died. He died through being crucified, but not because He was crucified. He was nailed to the tree, but that wasn’t the cause of His dying.

The cause of His dying is precisely because He is there as the substitutionary atonement for the sins of His people. He dies bearing my sins in His body to that tree, so that I might live; so that through His condemnation at Calvary, the Judge in heaven will say to the sword of justice as it hangs over my head for my sins, ‘Do not slay my son. Jesus has been crucified. He has been put to death’; and I am now pardoned through His dying, justified by His blood, saved from the wrath to come.”

- Iain D. Campbell

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Who Is In Your Corner?

One of the dangers in "growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" is that we can unconsciously get wrapped up in the "deep things of God" and neglect the basics.

I had a friend say years ago that perhaps the best thing that could happen to believers is that every two years they forgot all they knew about Christ and the gospel. Obviously a stretch, but understandable...

This morning's reading for me included Psalm 124; and I stopped in my tracks as the first verse wrapped itself around my heart, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side..."

The Creator of all is on my side! The One who holds the molecules of everything together is in my corner. He has plans for good, and He causes all things to work together for good.


Yeah, but I needed the reminder.

Maybe you do too?

The last verse declares, "Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

What's that issue in your life right now? Abba will take care of it...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Going Through a Trial?

Sometimes you have asked, "Lord, make me like Your Son." And He took you
at your word and began the process and you said, "Lord, what happened?
Why did You allow this to come into my life? What are You doing with
this drying brook?" He answers, "Nothing, except answering your prayer."
For never forget, Jesus Christ, "Though He were a Son, yet learned He
obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb. 5:8).

Howard G. Hendricks

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Fundamental Choice

I can't remember where I heard it, but I like it:

Every situation, every circumstance gives you fundamentally two choices:

whine or worship.

I am prone to whine/complain/grumble, though I know what the Word says about such expressions of lack-of-faith.

Here's a sharper statement (using the word "murmuring" instead of whine/complain/grumble) from a couple centuries ago):

"Murmuring is no better than mutiny in the heart; it is a rising up against God. When the sea is rough and unquiet, it casts forth nothing but foam: when the heart is discontented, it casts forth the foam of anger, impatience, and sometimes little better than blasphemy. Murmuring is nothing else but the scum which boils off from a discontented heart." Thomas Watson

Why am I prone to "murmur" and "complain"? Am I the only one?

Sunday, June 1, 2008


“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is here, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”

- John Stott