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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What a Loaded Sentence!

"It's better that men should be disorderly saved than orderly damned, and that the Church be disorderly preserved than orderly destroyed."

Richard Baxter (12 November 1615 - 8 December 1691), quoted in Geoffrey F. Nuttall, Howel Harris: 1714-1773, page 42.

"Worship" & "Evangelism" Defined

I really, really, really like the observations, books, and sermons by Mark Batterson. Here is his latest commentary off his blog:

"Can I share a couple of personal definitions? Worship is bragging about God to God. Evangelism is bragging about God to others. In other words, evangelism is a form of worship. We start bragging about who God is and what God has done as we worship Him. And we don't stop.

I know that a lot of Christians feel subconscious guilt about not sharing their faith enough. That really isn't the issue. It's a byproduct of a deeper issue and the issue is this: we don't love God and love others like we could or should. If you really love someone what you really want for them is a relationship with Christ. And the more you love them the more you want it."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wow! I'm Not the Onlyl One!

“The longer I live the less optimistic I am that I will end without sin and the more grateful I become for the blood of Christ imputed to me. As I grow older I do not feel myself becoming gloriously holy but I find myself feeling great love for the gospel.”

- John Piper, in a message given at the re:Focus pastors conference

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A New Friend

Abbie was in Janelle's cabin this past week at Crescent Lake Bible Camp. They became good friends, and I get to piggy-back on the friendship!

Unexpected TV commercial

My good friend Sandy Brownlee (of Family Life Network) shared this...I'm blessed to pass it on...I have one word - WOW

Forgiveness - Better Late Than Never

Thanks to a good friend, I watched this video with tears. I served in Vietnam '68-'69 attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry. At this point I've no desire to return. But I'm glad this man did, and am so grateful for the forgiveness Christ purchased (at such a horrific cost) for those who repent and trust; and will continue to strive to obey His command to "pass it on" - "forgiving one another even as God in Christ Jesus has forgiven you."

Reflections after Junior High Week Crescent Lake

The camp is quiet, the students are gone, the "glow" is after...

It has been a marvelous week. Thursday evening, in particular, was an inexplicable event as the Spirit of God moved in worship and proclamation. I won't attempt to describe it, except to add the trite truth that "you had to be there."

The worship band (Kneel), the director, other adults and I concur that it had been a singularly unique evening...

Many students made various commitments...will they stand the test of time? I pray so...I expect to hear from many of them before the weekend is over...the blessings of rapid communication!

Pray as the staff, counselors, and I rest up for a few hours before we do it all again with senior highers. Pray that this is a fantastic week of impact that lasts.

As I often say, camp can be a dangerous thing if well-intentioned speakers/counselors press for "decisions" rather than lasting change. All too often heartfelt "invitations" forget to get people lost before they get found. Peer pressure can result in full altars that are emotional only.

"No one comes to the Son except the Father draws (compels) him." "Salvation is of the Lord."

So don't ask how many students got saved this week. I'm not the Holy Spirit. Rejoice with me that the Word was sung, proclaimed, modeled and shared...and that Word will not return void.

And pray for these students as they leave the nibble-of-heaven that a well-run Christian camp is (and Crescent Lake is in the head of the list)and return to the free fire zone called life 101.

From the "Many a Truth is Said in Jest" Dept

I recognize I may offend some, but I want you to know I pray for our President daily, because I am commanded to:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It Tastes Good; But It Is a Sin Hated by God

Chris Brauns:

There for a while I was on a kick lately of eating chocolate toffee almond nuggets: creamy and sweet.

Unfortunately, when I ate those choice chocolates, I hadn’t seen the last of them. After they have tasted great, they show up just above my belt. As good as they are, they are not worth the calories. When I eat a chocolate, I give it a free pass to head for my stomach and out into my body.

That says, Proverbs is how gossip is.

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts (Proverbs 18:8).”

So, important is this Proverb, that it is repeated verbatim later in Proverbs 26:22.

Bits of gossip are like chocolate nuggets: smooth and creamy, they melt in your mouth: it tastes good to be in the loop; it is sweet to hear someone else notice the same weaknesses in another that have frustrated you; it feels spiritual to ask for prayer – - gossip and grumbling and complaining are a tempting treat.

But, remember this. As sweet as those gossip nuggets may taste, snacking on them is not the end. Words of gossip accumulate on our spiritual waistlines. They shape the inmost part of our being. Gossip muddies our windshields so that everything looks dirty.

The next time you are tempted to take the tinfoil off a piece of gossip and pop it in your mouth. Think again. Words of gossip go down to our innermost being.

Greater Love...

Thanks to Tony Dungy's organization for making me aware of this video from Extreme Home Makeover...A prompt to hug those we love a bit more often...

APD Extreme Home Makeover clip from Family First on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Check off the Bucket List

Greetings from Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander, Wisconsin! Speaking here for two weeks; my favorite camp as far as beauty and so forth goes; and today was a "first". Yesterday daughter Janelle went waterskiing for the first time...and did well. Son Jacob decided he had to try; and he and Jane thought it would be jolly good if good old Dad would follow their I did! Alas we weren't there when Janelle went, but Mom got Jacob and me! What a blast! Thanks to Dale and Desi for helping us...and, more importantly, for ministering grace throughout the year as missionaries serving with Crescent Lake:

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Suffering for Jesus?

Yeah, right. I have spent over three years of my life (somewhere around 180-190 weeks) speaking at teen camps; I love and am appreciative of the opportunity to teach/preach; am amazed I get to do it; but I also love just hanging out with the students.

During last week's camp we had a water fight...and the director announced, "5 points if you hit someone, and 10 points if you hit Jack!!!!"

So, yeah, I got a bit wet! And, now that I'm at Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander, Wi we are just about to go out to the athletic fields for water wars...methinks I'll get wet again!

What the Body Needs

So true so many decades ago when Bounds wrote this; but so desparately true, and so incredibly needed, today:

What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men -- men of prayer.

Edward McKendree (E. M.) Bounds

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dynamic Diversity

Diversity manufactured or mandated doesn't cut it; diversity spawned from mutual faith in and love for the Lord Jesus Christ is a beautiful thing. Thanks, James MacDonald, for making us aware of this:

One Way Rap from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reaching Men

Happy Fathers Day to all!

Speaking of "men," here's an old observation from a sharp, sharp mind; and his premise flies in the face of much that is taught/caught currently:

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Romans, Vol. 1, 252):
It is an interesting thing that there are men, especially, who prefer a message when it does hit them and hurt them, and the one thing they cannot abide is sentimentality. Give them something strong, even severe, and, though it hurts, they know it is right, and they will listen to it. But if you once give them the idea that you are getting at them, and trying to influence them by certain methods and a certain psychological approach, they will not even come and put themselves under the possibility of being affected.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Amazing Choir Triggers old YFC Memories

Back in the day when I was on staff with Kansas City Youth For Christ ( a loooong time ago) we used to do the first part of this video with teenagers/audience participation. These guys do it a tad better!
It might be worth six minutes of your time to be refreshed!

"Puppy Love" for Jesus

Last night, at teen camp, I showed a clip of the young Celtic Thunder guy singing "Puppy Love."

I reminded the students that puppy love is simply being in love with the idea of love; not a person. I then suggested that there is a sort of "Jesus" puppy love; where one is in love with the idea of Jesus, the benefits of Jesus, the music of Jesus, but not in love with Jesus.

We talked about "you are My friends if you do whatever I command," and, of course, John 14.21.

Then this afternoon I found this quote from John R. W. Stott:

John Stott in an appendix with the title, “Reflections of an Octogenarian, 27 April 2001”:

. . . Let me share with you a conviction about obedience. John 14:21 is one of my favorite verses. Here are the words of Jesus: “Whoever has my commandments and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

The verse ends with a particularly precious promise: “I will show myself to him (or her)”, or “I will manifest myself to him.” Is this just what we are longing for, namely a clearer vision of Christ? . . .

But this promise of Jesus is conditional. He reveals himself only to his lovers. And who are his lovers? Not those who make loud protestations of love, and then go out like Peter to deny him. Not those who sing rather sentimental songs “Jesus, I love you.” (It is all right to sing them too, but they do not prove anything.) No, those who truly love the Lord Jesus are those who obey his commandments.

To sum up, the test of love is obedience, and the reward of love is a self-manifestation of Christ.

- John Stott , The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor

I kinda wish I'd found the quote before I preached!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A "Wow" From Tim Keller

Just got clobbered as I read, reread, and thought about this from Tim Keller:

"You need to get used to this reality. Once you become a parent, for the rest of your life, you'll never be happier than your unhappiest child, because your heart is tied to your kids. That is a way of learning the gospel because before you have kids you don't really know what it means that God suffers for your sins. He has to. He has to suffer for your sins, because when you have children you suffer for their sins. Your heart is tied up to them."

Lord, Help Me to Be "Easily Edified"

Justin Taylor's blog is at the top of my "must" reading - check it out HERE.

What follows is a recent entry that really has me thinking...and praying:

"A mature Christian is easily edified."

Chip Stam cited those words by Harold Best in the first video I linked to earlier. Those words have been rolling around in my heart and mind for the past couple of days.

Easily edified.

Isn't that a wonderful goal--a sign of good mental health and genuine obedience of faith?

I'm afraid that far too often an accurate assessment of myself would reveal:

* easily annoyed
* easily irritated
* easily impatient
* easily hurt
* easily angered
* easily distracted
* easily arrogant

But wouldn't it be great if those who knew us best could honestly say, "It is so easy to edify him. It doesn't take much. It doesn't need to be the best sermon ever preached or the most excellent song ever composed or the most powerful book ever written or the most theologically eloquent statement ever uttered. Just the simplest truth was enough to refresh his heart in Christ."

Not a bad way to pray--for ourselves and for others.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stomping on a "Sacred Cow" phrase

"Sadly, it is commonly said among Christians that “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” This is as stupid as saying God loves rapists and hates rape, as if rape and rapists were two entirely different entities that could be separated from one another. Furthermore, it was not a divinely inspired author of Scripture but the Hindu Gandhi who coined the phrase “Love the sinner but hate the sin” in his 1929 autobiography.

The love of God is in fact true but sadly has been so overly emphasized in most Christian teaching that one wonders if God is love or if love is now God."

- Mark Driscoll, Death By Love, p. 128

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Danger of Respectability

"Your danger and mine is not that we become criminals, but rather that we become respectable, decent, commonplace, mediocre Christians. The twentieth-century temptations that really sap our spiritual power are the television, banana cream pie, the easy chair and the credit card. The Christian wins or loses in those seemingly innocent little moments of decision.

Lord, make my life a miracle!"

Raymond C. Ortlund, Lord, Make My Life A Miracle, page 151.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reflections on Christian Youth Camp

As the calendar races to the first of several weeks of teen camp at which I'll be speaking this summer, I again reflect that youth camp is like R & R (Rest and Recreation) when I was in Vietnam.

One moment you are in a warzone, the next you are (in my case) in Australia enjoying seven days of relaxation. But, from the first moment, in the back of your mind, in ever increasing volume, is the tick-tock of the clock...four days, three days, 73 hours...and, boom, back to the war zone.

Students who come to Christian camps are, in varying degrees, leaving the war zone of "real life" and coming to what, prayerfully, will be a taste, a nibble, of heaven. Surrounded by staff/counselors/speakers who love Jesus, away from the all negative media and so forth...enjoying life, laughter, and being challenged by the Word of God.

Oh yeah, and exhausted!

But, in many of their minds, the reality of time slipping away thunders in their heads...three more days, two more, 27 hours...and, boom, back to the war zone.

So our goal should be to equip and arm them to fight the good fight when they get back to the real world. Obviously we want to declare the gospel to those outside the family of the redeemed; and we want to challenge and encourage Christians to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" and give them tools and ideas to accomplish that growth; but we dare not get so "numbers" oriented that we think it is all about "decisions" and "going forward."

After all, profession of faith is not the same as possession of faith.

But too often the emphasis is on "decisions". Obviously some wonderful transformations take place when God's Word is preached; but by the middle of the week the students are so tired and emotional that a careless or impurely solely emotional "altar call" will get plenty of "results," but not often Spirit-prompted commitments.

And we must emphasize that Ephesians 2.10 is just as inspired as Ephesians 2.8,9; salvation works! And we must combat the sloppy agape stuff that indicates it is all about us, and emphasize that the life of a Christian is one of sacrifice,inconvenience, and great joy.

The battle is the Lords, yes, but we are participants in the battle. Lock and Load!

Prayer Mirrors the Gospel

“The gospel, God’s free gift of grace in Jesus, only works when we realize we don’t have it all together. The same is true for prayer. The very thing we are allergic to—our helplessness—is what makes prayer work. It works because are helpless. We can’t do life on our own.

"Prayer mirrors the gospel. In the gospel, the Father takes us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of salvation. In prayer, the Father receives us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of help. We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks as the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers.”

—Paul Miller, A Praying Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2009), 55

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Why Obey God?

Okay, for most it is summer and vacation etc...and no one wants to think about 'indicatives' and 'imperatives,' but this is worth the time to carefully consider:

“In every other religion the indicative flows from the imperative. Which means, ‘because I do, therefore I am… because I do this, therefore I’m a child of God.’ But only in Christianity does the imperative flow from the indicative. ‘Because I am in Christ all these things, therefore I obey.’ Exactly the opposite.”

- Tim Keller, Led by the Spirit (message given at Redeemer Presbyterian Church)

REILLY - Sunlight

Not everyone's cup of tea, but I find this to be refreshing, solid, and just plain good!

Friday, June 5, 2009

God Texts the Ten Commandments

Wish I had thought of this!


- - - -
1. no1 b4 me. srsly.

2. dnt wrshp pix/idols

3. no omg's

4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)

5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool

6. dnt kill ppl

7. :-X only w/ m8

8. dnt steal

9. dnt lie re: bf

10. dnt ogle ur bf's m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More From "A Lover's Quarrel"

The previous post had a quote from "A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church" (and challenged folks to read the book even if it might make them nervous or elevate their blood pressure)...Here's another quote from the book, but this is from R. C. Sproul:

"Everyone who has faith is called to profess faith, but not everybody who professes faith has faith. A lot of people, it seems to me, in the evangelical world, believe that if they have walked the walk, raised the hand, signed the card - that is, made some kind of methodological profession of faith - that they're saved."

The author, Warren Cole Smith, continues, "This statement is an affront to much of modern evangelicalism, but it should be familiar to anyone who knows the teachings of Jesus: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7.21)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Not for the Squemish!

Unless you are the type who only reads books with which you know you'll agree; I have a challenge for you.

But first a quote from the book, not totally in context so I don't scare people away:

(the author writes about Christian radio, and the fact that many of them use a tagline, "safe for the entire family")

"Some of us cannot hear that tagline without experiencing a bit of unintended irony. We remember C. S. Lewis's description of Aslan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: 'Course He isn't safe. But He's good.' The modern evangelical church, on the other hand, has become satisfied with a lion that no longer roars. The church has become safe, but no longer good."

Blood pressure up? Though I'm only half-way through the book, it is challenging, convicting, and a tad confirming. I challenge you to read it. The book, "A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church" is authored by Warren Cole Smith and, if you'd like (which would also help me a bit) you may order it here: