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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rick Warren on Susan Boyle

I am not a Warrenite...which is not to say I don't agree with a lot of what he writes. But he hits it out of the proverbial park with this (I apologize in advance if an advertisement comes on that rubs you the wrong way; I couldn't find another way to publish this:

What is "Waiting for God"?

G. Campbell Morgan offers a tremendous definition of what it means to "wait on God"...and I, for one, find this discipline of "waiting" to be a most difficult part of following after Jesus...I'd rather do just about anything than, ah, "wait..."

"Waiting for God means...readiness for any command; that sense of
perpetual suspense which listens for the word in order that it may be
immediately obeyed. Those who wait for God are pilgrim souls that have
no tie that will hold them when the definite command is issued; no
prejudices that will paralyse their effort when in some strange coming
of the light they are commanded to take a pathway entirely different to
that which was theirs before; having no interests either temporal or
eternal, either material or mental or spiritual, that will conflict with
the will of God when that will is made known."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Midland Nationals Crew

Here's a shot of the Midland Ministries quizzers/staff that participated in Bible Quiz Fellowship Nationals:

Why I Love to Come Home!

Our two older sons (Josiah, 25; and Joel, 22) are in other states, but as much as I love traveling and speaking; it is always a joy to come home to this:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nationals Bible Quiz Tournament

Writing in Saint Louis where 45 teams of seven teens each have competed the last two days in round-robin style at the Bible Quiz Fellowship National Tournament.

Today we begin the actual elimination tournament...Midlands' "top" team (Messengers) begins seeded fifth! We shall see...I will be quizmastering in the top rooms all day...

Quizzing, BQF style, is an incredible tool to get the Word into students, and students into the Word. We have teams from several states competing; always room for more! I'd love to assist other communities get a quiz program started...

It is competitive (this years material is the gospel of Luke; next year 1 and 2 Corinthians and Titus) is difficult...and it is so hard to describe in words!

But the Lord blesses it in so many ways, and lives are changed, equipped, encouraged and edified as the Word of God does the Work of God.

Pray for the students as they undergo the stress of this day; that attitudes would honor the Lord, that, "win" or "lose" all would be focused on Jesus!

Can you tell I love Bible quizzing?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What is Success in Evangelism?

Wise Words for Careful Thought

“What is success in evangelism? Is it when the person
you witness to comes to Christ? Certainly that’s what
we want to happen.

"But if this is success, are we failures whenever we share the gospel and people refuse to believe?

"Was Jesus an “evangelistic failure” when people like the rich young ruler turned away from Him and His message?

"Obviously not.

"Then neither are we when we present Christ and His message and they turn away in unbelief. We need to learn that sharing the gospel is successful evangelism.

"We ought to have an obsession for souls, and tearfully plead with God to see
more people converted, but conversions are fruit that God alone can give.

"In this regard we are like the postal service. Success is measured by the careful and accurate delivery of the message, not by the response of the recipient. Whenever we share the gospel (which includes the summons to repent and believe), we have

"In the truest sense, all biblical evangelism is successful evangelism, regardless of the results.”

Donald Whitney

Monday, April 20, 2009

Who Am I - In the Dark?

"We are only what we are in the dark; all the rest is reputation. What God looks at is what we are in the dark- the imaginations of our minds, the thoughts of our heart, the habits of our bodies; these are the things that mark us in God's sight. Character is what you are in the dark."

Oswald Chambers

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Heart of the Gospel, The Crux of the Cross

“Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed Himself to be ‘just', and the justifer of him who hath faith in Jesus’.

Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel. No version of that message goes deeper than that which declares man’s root problem before God to be his sin, which evokes wrath, and God’s basic provision for man to be propitiation, which out of wrath brings peace.”

- J.I. Packer, In My Place Condemned He Stood (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 41.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reclaim Church Before Trying To Reclaim Culture

"...All the calls to "reclaim America for Christ" leave me cold. Our real need is to reclaim the church for Christ. When Christ is exalted in His church, when He is loved and revered and cherished with passion by those who bear His Name--in other words, when the church starts living like the church--then His body cannot help but make an impact on culture."

-- Tom Ascol

Two Kids and a Dog

Janelle and our dog, Jazz

Janelle being super-sister to Jacob as we walked through Omaha Zoo last week

Every Day (Should Be) Mom's Day!

Wisdom from Veggie Tales Creator

Phil Vischer, who created Veggie Tales, makes this observation:

I am growing increasingly convinced that if every one of these kids burning with passion to write a hit Christian song or make that hit Christian movie or start that hit Christian ministry to change the world would instead focus their passion on walking with God on a daily basis, the world would change... Because the world learns about God not by watching Christian movies, but by watching Christians.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Worship Junkies

An intriguing and, to some, irritating,quote from Skye Jethani's great book The Divine Commodity:

This philosophy of spiritual formation through the consumption of external experiences creates worship junkies -- Christians who leap from one mountaintop to another, one spiritual high to another, in search of a glory that does not fade. In response, churches and Christians conferences are driven to create ever-grander experiences and more elaborate productions to satisfy expectations. Ironically, these worship spectacles, according to Sally Morgenthaler, are failing to produce real worshipers. She writes:

We are not producing worshippers in this country. Rather we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, any memory of a true encounter with Gd, deprived of both the tangible sense of God's presence and the supernatural relationship their inmost spirits crave.

Ministries that focus on manufacturing spiritual experiences, despite their laudable intentions, may actually be retarding spiritual growth by making people experience-dependent.


The complaint that church is boring is never made by people in awe.

R. C. Sproul

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The (Tragic) New 23rd

The government is my shepherd:
I need not work.
It alloweth me to lie down on a good job;
It leadeth me beside still factories;
It destroyeth my initiative.
It leadeth me in a path of a parasite for politic’s sake;
Yea though I walk through the valley of laziness and deficit-spending,
I will fear no evil, for the government is with me.
It prepareth an economic Utopia for me, by appropriating the earnings of my own grandchildren.
It filleth my head with false security;
My inefficiency runneth over.
Surely the government should care for me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in a fool’s paradise forever.
—Author unknown

Life is War - Maintain Communication!

John Piper offers a crucial reminder:

"Life is war. That's not all it is. But it is always that.

Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth.

Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den.

God has given us prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie so that we can call headquarters for everything we need as the kingdom of Christ advances in the world. Prayer gives us the significance of front-line forces, and gives God the glory of a limitless Provider.

The one who gives the power gets the glory. Thus prayer safeguards the supremacy of God in missions while linking us with endless grace for every need."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dirt Happens

by Tom Holladay

“An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable.” Proverbs 14:4 (NLT)

Life is messy! As one teacher who must have grown up on a farm put it, "There is no milk without some manure."

In other words, if you want a good return it will cost you something - you'll have to feed the ox. It will not be easy - you'll have to shovel some manure.
On our church staff, we call this the N.M. - N.M. principle. No Mess - No Ministry.
The goal of life is not to keep the stable clean!

Anytime you do anything, there will always be some difficulty attached. Nothing will go exactly as planned. It always takes longer than you expected.

God told Adam in the Garden of Eden that one of the results of sin in this world would be weeds - work that is always harder than it feels it "should be."
The only way to escape the difficulty is to not do anything. I know some people whose stable is clean and well organized - because they've chased all of the oxen out! The barn may smell better, but the fields go year after year without a harvest.
So, while you're shoveling manure today (and you will be!) remember that the messes are a part of a meaningful life. Remember that those who make an impact on this world are going to have some really tough days.

And keep on shoveling.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tony Jones is Wrong, J. I. Packer is Right

Tony Jones:

Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God's wrath burned against his son instead of against me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.

J.I. Packer
, from "The Heart of the Gospel" in Knowing God (also in In My Place Condemned He Stood, p. 32):

Has the word propitiation any place in your Christianity? In the faith of the New Testament it is central. The love of God [1 John 4:8-10], the taking of human form by the Son [Heb. 2:17], the meaning of the cross [Rom. 3:21-26], Christ's heavenly intercession [1 John 2:1-2], the way of salvation--all are to be explained in terms of it, as the passages quoted show, and any explanation from which the thought of propitiation is missing will be incomplete, and indeed actually misleading, by New Testament standards.

In saying this, we swim against the stream of much modern teaching and condemn at a stroke the views of a great number of distinguished church leaders today, but we cannot help that. Paul wrote, "Even if we or an angel from heaven"--let alone a minister, a bishop, college lecturer, university professor, or noted author--"should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! ("accursed" KJV and RSV; "outcast" NEB; "damned" Phillips--Gal. 1:8). And a gospel without propitiation at is heart is another gospel than that which Paul preached. The implications of this must not be evaded.

Jacob on the Big Screen!

Saturday, a day after Jacob's 7th birthday, we went to Royals stadium (after eating great Barbecue!) to continue the celebration. Royals lost, weather was good, and between the 8th and 9th inning a discerning cameraman found Jacob dancing...and up he went on the jumbotron!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's ALL Because of Jesus!

Sure, you can take six minutes to tap your toes, snap your fingers, maybe drum on the keyboard, plan an air guitar and...most importantly...reflect that, in Christ, we are complete...because "God so loved the world that He gave..." (Thanks to Micah Fries, pastor of Frederick Blvd in St Joseph, for sharing the link)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Point of the Gospel

Matt Chandler reminds us of the basic message of the gospel of our Lord...and Savior...Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hold Nothing Back

The Pittsburgh dispatcher somehow forgot to alert police officers that a suspect was armed as she sent them to a home...and, inadvertently, to their deaths.

Vital information withheld.

Thankfully, our Lord and His Word hold nothing back. "In this world you will have tribulation," "Marvel not that the world hates you," "Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials," "Exult in your tribulations..."

Dare we who try to influence people to come out of darkness to light do any less? Do we sometimes make conversion more appealing by, however well-intentionally, leaving out the tough stuff?

As I read the gospels it is evident the Lord Jesus always made it easier to say "no" to Him than to say "yes."

A gospel presentation without repentance is not a gospel presentation. An "easy" invitation conflicts with scripture.

Substitution Essentials

This is from one of my favorite books of all time (orderable on the book picture below) and is appropriate for the week:

"The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and put himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone."

-John Stott, The Cross of Christ

Monday, April 6, 2009

Disease Reflected in the Cure

“Knowing the cure tells you a lot about the gravity of the disease. In the cross we see what was needed to cure the wound of sin, and we see to what lengths God was willing to go to cure it. Thus we see its true character as something so reprehensible to God, as something so unfit for inclusion in God’s covenant kingdom, that his own Son must suffer. And finally, it is then that we see God’s character as one who goes all the way, who bears the full burden of the covenant upon himself. We see a love beyond all love.”

Michael D. Williams, Far As The Curse Is Found, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2005), 76.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Passionate Adjectives Regarding the Lord Jesus!

Not just as the Easter week opens, but all the time this serves as a phenomenal reminder:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wanna Smile? Spend four minutes:

Sometimes there are not deep, significant, spiritual insights...just a bit of fun!