Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Humor often conveys truth; this is ten minutes of sort of humor (too close to reality in many cases)...but is worth watching to hear the woman's comment at the end...
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL. I wish everyone who watches this would send it to every one they know. In less than two minutes a HUGE problem is exposed, explained...now may it be exterminated!
“The Christian’s present taste of reality in fellowship with God and his people is but an anticipation of the substantial realities which are reserved for the future, ‘laid up’ in heaven for us. Therefore, we are not to think of ourselves as largely enjoying the fruits of Christ’s victory now, with heaven as some glorious consummation, a kind of finishing touch. Rather we are to recognize that heaven holds most of the great things won for us by Christ, and that our present experience is no more than a precious foretaste of what is to come.”—R.C. Lucas, "The Message of Colossians and Philemon"
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I am all for "foreign missions" even as my family and I continue to serve as "home missionaries."
And I do not buy the oft-voiced argument, "Why should so many hear repeatedly when many have never heard?" Of course I 'buy" the latter part, but too often what Americans hear is a false "gospel" laced in churchianity and "it's all about me" rather than the truth of the gospel.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
This is taken from an article titled "The Gospel-Driven Organization" by James Tonyowich, PhD in the "Christian Leadership Alliance." It is well-worth a slow read:
"We ourselves are broken. When God called Isaiah, he responded, "Woe is me! I'm ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips … " (Is 6:5). Peter's initial response to Jesus was, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man" (Lk 5:8b). St. Paul counted himself "the worst of sinners" (1T 1:16).
"The Gospel frees us to know the truth about who we are: broken, sinful creatures.
"As former Westminster Seminary professor Jack Miller used to quip, "Cheer up, my friend! You're far worse than you think. And God is far more loving and kind than you ever dreamed or imagined."
"If we do not have an understanding of our brokenness, it is an indication that we do not understand the Gospel and we and our organizations will probably do more damage than good.
"Not only are we broken, we work in a broken world filled with broken people — many of whom are Christians. Years ago, Richard Lovelace, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary professor and long time church renewal figure, taught me what I consider the most valuable lesson I have ever learned for ministry. "It is very difficult," he said, "to tell the difference between wolves in sheep's clothing and very confused, very broken, very angry sheep."
I added the "bold" to the sentence that slapped me in the side of the head...
Monday, August 24, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
“Instruction, advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are backed up by the pattern of your own life. Your children will never believe you are in earnest, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your actions contradict your counsel.”
~ J.C. Ryle
Monday, August 17, 2009
"This is my confession:
I was born into a believing family through no merit of my own at all.
I was given a mind to think and a heart to feel through no merit of my own at all.
I was brought into the hearing of the gospel through no merit of my own at all.
My rebellion was subdued, my hardness removed, my blindness overcome, and my deadness awakened through no merit of my own at all.
Thus I became a believer in Christ through no merit of my own at all.
And so I am an heir of God with Christ through no merit of my own at all.
Now when I put forward effort to please the Lord who bought me, this is to me no merit at all, because...it is not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
...God is working in me that which is pleasing in his sight. (Hebrews 13:21)
...he fulfills every resolve for good by his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
And therefore there is no ground for boasting in myself, but only in God's mighty grace.Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:31)"
Yes, I know Mr. Franklin was a deist and not a follower of Christ, but wisdom is wisdom regardless of from where it comes.
Here's his methodology of choosing:
“My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other Con. Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that at different time occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out five; and thus proceeding, I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly.” –Benjamin Franklin
Didn't know I was copying Ben, but I've kinda done that in the process of decisions. Another way that I heard, but don't remember from who, is to ask, when about to embark on a made decision:
A. What's the best that can happen?
B. What's the worst that can happen?
C. Can I live with "B"?
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The young man is this photo posted the following on his very public Facebook. This is a brave step by a teen who I've always thought had so much going for him if he'd just sell-out/surrender to Jesus. He requests prayer, and I ask you to pray for him...and all other students who want to pursue the Lord regardless of what their friends or others in their sphere of influence desire.
Here is his note:
I've wrapped up the last year of summer camp for 2009, with my 20th consecutive year at "Korean Kamp" in Quakertown, Pa.
Twenty weeks of speaking to mostly Korean/Americans. Somewhere around 180 weeks total since my first camp speaking in 1979. Thirty-one years of full-time, vocational (primarily) youth ministry.
Why do I do it?
Fundamental answer: God has called, equipped, and enabled me to so do.
Further answer: I love students, and I am thrilled that I get to try to influence them for Jesus and His gospel. And so many (and it gets worse every year) come from "good" churches and yet are very ignorant regarding the basics of the faith.
For whatever reason (and, yes, I've got a few dozen opinions!), most professing Christian teens have no assurance of their salvation. There is a mixed-up heap of thinking "since I prayed 'the prayer' (which is found no where in Scripture) I'm 'in' no matter what" blended with "if I sin I must not be a Christian at all."
Why? They are all too often not told to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling," and don't understand that it is "God who is at work within (them) both to desire to do and do His good pleasure."
They are all-too-often ignorant of the purpose of the book of First John, "that you may know that you have eternal life."
They are all-too-often given lists of do-and-don't, rather than challenged to "present (their) bodies as living sacrifices." Some are challenged to focus on short-term mission trips while forgetting their full-time mission field is their home, their school, their community.
They are encouraged to read magazines and books about the Book, but not exhorted to read the Book (nor given practical training in how to so do).
All too often emotional messages are climaxed by a "every head bowed, every eye closed" invitation that, if responded to, results in a five-minute "counseling" session that produces far too many "decisions" that don't last rather than disciples who do last.
So as long as the Lord God continues to open doors of service...whether from pulpits or camp stages or one-on-ones or jails or schools or....whatever...I'll keep being grateful I get to do what I get to do, and will try to preach/teach/model the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Am I older-than-dirt? Yup. But I fully intend to go out as a (primarily) youth guy.
Okay, I don't know if this is true or not; but it is rather funny:
As a bagpiper, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside
service for a homeless Scotsman who had no family or friends. The funeral was to be held at a new cemetery in the remote countryside and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods country area, I became lost and
being a typical man, did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour
late. I saw the backhoe and the crew who were eating lunch but the hearse
was nowhere in sight.
I apologized to the workers for my tardiness and stepped to the side of the
open grave where I saw the vault lid already in place.
I assured the workers I would not hold them up for long but this was the
proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. I
played out my heart and soul as a salute to the fallen Scotsman.
As I played the workers began to weep. I played and I played like I'd never
played before, from "Going Home" and "The Lord is My Shepherd" to "". I closed the lengthy session with fine tradition with the
pipes by playing "" and walked to my car.
As I was opening the door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of the
workers saying to another, Sweet Jeezuz, Mary 'n Joseph, I have never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty
“Nothing I can remember to this day appeared to me so clear and distinct, as my own sinfulness, Christ’s preciousness, the value of the Bible, the absolute necessity of coming out of the world, the need of being born again…”
“All these things, I repeat, seemed to flash on me like a sunbeam in the winter of 1837…Before that time I was dead in sins and on the high road to hell, and from that time I have become alive and had a hope of heaven. And nothing to my mind can account for it, but the free sovereign grace of God.”
~ J.C. Ryle
“All of our personal problems and church problems come because we don’t come continually back to the gospel to work it in and live it out.”- Timothy Keller
Saturday, August 15, 2009
“The gospel shows us that God is far more holy and absolute than the moralists’ god, because he could not be satisfied by our moral efforts, even the best! On the other hand, the gospel shows us that God is far mare loving and gracious than the relativists’ god. They say that God (if he exists) just loves everyone no matter what they do. The true God of the gospel had to suffer and die to save us, while the god of the relativist pays no price to love us.”- Timothy Keller
Friday, August 14, 2009
“We gather as the church to proclaim the truth. We gather to declare—to ourselves, to each other, and to God—what we know to be eternal reality. There is one God, who is sovereign over the universe and every detail of our lives. We have rebelled against him. He sent his Son to die in our place for our sins. And through Jesus Christ we have forgiveness and peace with God.
There are many things we can proclaim during and after a time of corporate worship. God’s glory is unending, and his perfections are infinite. But the fuel of our praise will always be the gospel of Christ who has redeemed us and brought us to God.”- Bob Kauflin
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Learned the traveling Vietnam wall was in Quakertown, drove down to see it quickly. Harry J. Colon was in my unit, died in June of 1968, the last buddy to die (I left July 9). I've been to the wall in D.C., but today I noticed, several names up from Harry, a "Jack L. Hager." No idea who he was, but rather weird.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
“Why am I so blessed? I am blessed because, in the most painful moment in human history, Jesus willingly subjected himself to the rejection of his Father. He took on my sin and allowed himself to be rejected. In this unthinkable moment of substitution, the Trinity was torn apart as the Father turned away the Son. Here is what you and I have to understand: Jesus was willing to suffer the horrible rejection of his Father so that you and I would never, ever have to experience it ourselves.”- Paul David Tripp
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Wow. Here is a link to some amazing photos of ants: CLICK HERE
Some genuinely amazing stuff...whether you have a tendency to be a sluggard or not, there is lots of easily applicable information here! The photo is one ant remaining still so other ants can do their God-appointed thing.
Or, of course, you can believe this all just sort of happened, evolved...
“Nothing perhaps affects a man’s character more than the company he keeps. We catch the ways and tone of those we live and talk with, and unhappily get harm far more easily than good. Disease is infectious, but health is not.”
“Now if a professing Christian deliberately chooses to be intimate with those who are not friends of God and who cling to the world, his soul is sure to take harm…Mistakes in friendship or marriage-engagements are the whole reason why some have entirely ceased to grow.”
~ J.C. Ryle
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I've posted off and on about Celtic Thunder since I happened onto them on PBS (of all things!) over a year ago. This song has become my favorite...the then 14-year-old's Dads reaction a few seconds in makes me wonder if I ever cause Abba to "tear up" being pleased with my life?
The words are not too tough to apply to our lives as children of the One who does all things well.
This from Fox News regarding the helicopter/plane collision in New York yesterday:
"A helicopter pilot refueling on the ground at the heliport for Liberty Tours, which operated the doomed sightseeing craft, saw the plane approaching the helicopter and tried to radio an alert to the pilots, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The warning wasn't heard or didn't happen in time.
"He radioed the accident helicopter and told him, "One Lima Hotel, you have a fixed-wing behind you." There was no response."
As apprentices of Jesus we see people headed for ultimate disaster. Do we warn them in a timely manner? It is not our "job" to make them listen (only God can do that); it is, fundamentally, not our "job" to "lead" them to Christ...our task is to point them to Jesus through actions and words.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
~ J.C. Ryle
Friday, August 7, 2009
"Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Perry Noble, John Piper, Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, Rick Warren, Craig Groeschel, Wayne Cordeiro, Andy Stanley, Ed Young, the list goes on and on. Well known pastors, fruitful leaders, each with their own area of exceptional competence, each with an influence and an impact that appears far greater than my own in one or many ways. And those are just a few of the names that come to mind . . . names of people I don’t know or hardly know. Then there are friends whose ministries also exceed my own, Jack Graham, Bill Hybels, Greg Laurie, Jim Cymbala, David Jeremiah, Bob Coy, etc., another long list.
Man I get sick of hearing about these people. Every day they are blogging and writing and preaching and holding conferences, and making an impact and building the kingdom. Hey!!! HEY, Look at me, I’m doing something too! When do I get my name in lights? When do I get my head above the crowd? If we are not careful we can trap ourselves in a game of comparison and even criticism. “Yeah, well he may be reaching a lot of people, but he’s not doing it right,” or “Really? You think that is an appropriate way to talk to God’s people?” Or “I would never be as arrogant, or self-promoting, or compromising, or . . . ?” Here’s how I have slain the dragon of ministry comparison:
1) We are on the same team: Rejoice!
Anyone who believes in the necessity of the new birth and the authority of the Word of God is on our team. They may play the game a little different but if we are for the King and the Kingdom we should be able to delight in any wins they experience as wins for the team. It’s a great heart check to get yourself to the place where the blessing of God upon other ministries truly causes your heart joy. Cultivate the capacity to express genuine thankfulness whenever you hear of a fellow servant that is making an impact upon a needy area for Christ. I know I can’t be there, and I am so grateful that he or she is. “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15).
2) All is not as it appears: Reflect!
The Bible makes it clear again and again, (e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:13) that there will be surprises at the judgment seat of Christ. Big is not only not better; it might not even be blessed by God. The demands faced by high profile ministers can be crushing and we should not allow ourselves to see their roles as more satisfying than they really are. I can honestly say that the bit of fruitfulness I have seen has been as much a burden as a blessing. Beyond that, all that appears fruitful is not necessarily so, and some things that appear less effective on the surface are being greatly used of God. This should cause all of us to examine our own motives and ministries so by God’s grace we can be on the right side of that final surprise. “The last will be first and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16–that verse has always scared me).
3) Jesus Himself is the prize not “success:” Rest
Yes, I love to serve but I must always remember that I serve because I love. The great commandment is about being in relationship with God and others, not about bearing fruit or building ministry. I have to continually wean myself off the addiction of ‘doing,’ things for God and on to the dependence of being in relationship with Him. I can’t speak for what others are doing but I know that in the end I want to log my best hours as Mary not as Martha. The goal of ministry is to get people deeper and deeper into a God glorifying, soul satisfying relationship with Christ. I want to be about modeling, enjoying and resting in that as my highest calling. “Be content with such things as you have for He has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
In about 10 more minutes (or so it will seem), we are gonna be standing before Jesus Christ and the words we will be longing to hear are not “Well known,” but “Well done!” Let’s believe that others are going for that too, whether we know their names or not and let’s rejoice when we see others fruitfulness, reflect upon our own motivations for serving Christ and let’s rest in the knowledge that . . . “Promotion does not come from the east or the west, God is the judge, who sets up one and puts down another” (Psalm 75:7). "
"Just heard Dr. George Wood preach an amazing message on legacy at the AG General Council. I've never heard a message on Leah. It blessed me and challenged me. The main point? You can't measure influence by its earthly time span. You need time and distance. Only eternity will tell. Leah had a tough life, but what a legacy she left in the form of a lineage that led all the way to Jesus.
There was an altar call at the end of the service and I went forward for a couple reasons.
1) I went forward because I need all the prayer I can get. For what it's worth, I looked for the pastor with the grayest hair to pray for me. I wanted someone who's talked to God for a long time.
2) I went forward because I want to keep humbling myself before the Lord. I saw this modeled in my father-in-law, Bob Schmidgall. He was so revered and so used by God, in part, because he never missed an opportunity to kneel before the Lord. If you stay humble there is nothing God can't do in you and through you.
3) I went forward because I'm so grateful for what God has done. I feel like General Council is a dream benchmark. My first Council was 1989. I was a teenager. And God began birthing a dream in my spirit. In the last few years, a lot of dreams have become reality.
Long story short, I'm going to keep going to the altar until the day I die.
I don't know what church tradition you come out of, but I grew up in a church that called people to the altar. I know there is nothing magical about an altar. And like anything else, it can become an empty ritual or spiritual game. But there are moments in life where you just need to go to an altar to get right with the Lord or seek the Lord or humble yourself before the Lord.
By the way, I asked Parker if he wanted to go with me to the altar. He did. And it blessed me big-time. Nothing is more important than teaching our kids to seek the Lord. And sometimes you need to simply extend an invitation."
“If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.
For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”—J.I. Packer, "Knowing God"
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I have a lot of people in my life, and have had for a long time. A LOT! And because of that I have had countless opportunities to observe a deadly character combo: two traits that on their own are bad enough, but together are crushing to any real chance at Christ likeness. In fact if both these things are true of you, life transformation will never be more than a mirage. Wanna know what they are?
There are two character traits that make life transformation difficult if not impossible.
1) Blindness: Not physical blindness but spiritual blindness. Another term would be lack of self-awareness. None of us perceive ourselves perfectly but some people have a large gap (think grand canyon) between who they perceive themselves to be and who they actually are. Like the guy I just heard about who is trying out for American Idol even though he didn’t even pass the audition to sing on our worship team. Or the person who is sowing discord in the church right now because he can’t have the personal relationships he wants with the main leaders. (If you can’t join them criticize them? weird huh?). Or the family I know that was barely holding it together here in America yet claimed that God was calling them to a very difficult part of the mission field. They refused the warnings of others and invested themselves in a 10 year ministry of ’survival.’ Such a waste, all because of a blindness to their true condition. Ever wonder about the problem with the preacher who keeps firing away for almost an hour each Sunday, unable to see that every single person jumped off the ‘pay attention’ train at the first stop? Why is our church shrinking? Hello, hello, are you really unable to see that you are talking peoples faces off and boring them into the bottomless pit? Answer: Yes, I am unable to see that. It’s called blindness!
Now blindness by itself is not that deadly because there will always be an army of people lined up to tell you how incredibly clueless you are about the way you come across. If you have even a shred of humility you will benefit from the input of others. You will listen and learn as loved ones guide you by the hand to the life transformation you desperately need but couldn’t see. That has happened for me more times than I can possibly count. But what if you won’t let other people do that for you? This leads to deadly character flaw number two:
2) Stubbornness: Some people are flat out stubborn. No I’m not, you say! YES YOU ARE YOU! Need some evidence? OK! a) you argue with everyone who tries to tell you anything, b) you keep making the same mistakes over and over, and c) you think that your way of seeing things is the best way, the right way, the only way. Yes you do!! . . . You just can’t admit it because you are . . . ____________ (fill in the blank, hint: it’s starts with ’st’).
OK, so nothing so bad about being stubborn or blind, but together they form the deadly character combo. People who are blind and stubborn are impossible to lead, difficult to follow and painful to be in relationship with. Are you blind and stubborn?
Pr 26:12 “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Blindness and stubbornness; I have seen it in elders who gave up everything rather than let someone shine a light down the dark hole of their own arrogant unawareness. I have seen it in husbands who refuse to even consider that they ARE part of the problem. I have seen it in young people whose immaturity and naivety is massively multiplied because they can’t see the problem and won’t let anyone connect the dots on their behalf. And worst of all, YES I have seen the combo in the mirror and it has terrified me. Are these deadly twins lurking in the corridor of your character? If in doubt, ask the people who know you best: “Hey, am I stubborn, and are there things you think I need to change that I might be unable to see?” Ask a few people who know you well . . .
Then count to a million outloud before responding to their answer.
“The cross is not simply a lovely example of sacrificial love. Throwing your life away needlessly is not admirable — it is wrong. Jesus’ death was only a good example if it was more than an example, if it was something absolutely necessary to rescue us. And it was. Why did Jesus have to die in order to forgive us? There was a debt to be paid — God himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born — God himself bore it. Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.”- Timothy Keller
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
“Since His resurrection, Jesus has kept His physical body, in a glorified form. Jesus did not have a body before He came to earth; He took on a physical body for one purpose only — so that He could die. He became a man to live the perfect life for us and then to die in our place. But even when all that was over, He kept a physical body for eternity in heaven, with the scars on His hands and feet and side now part of His glory. He has permanently identified with us. This is amazing love.”
- Susan Lutz, “Love One Another As I Have Loved You” Journal of Biblical Counseling (Spring 2003), 10.