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Monday, November 30, 2009

Fearfully and Wonderfully Wired!

“Presented with a word’s image on the retina, average readers of English can, within a few 10ths of a second, match it with one of 50,000 or more words stored in their mental dictionaries, comprehend its meaning in context and proceed seamlessly to the next word.”

Susan Okie, in her review of Reading in the Brain,by Stanislas Dehaene (Viking, 2009) published in The Washington Post, Sunday Nov. 29, 2009, page B6.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What is the Good News?

Just a reminder:

"The good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in His image to know Him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from Him.

In His great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in Him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ's sacrifice and that God's wrath against us had been exhausted.

He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness.

If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God."

Mark Dever, "The Gospel & Personal Evangelism"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Alphabetical Thanksgiving

Sometimes, while riding the bike or jogging, I just run through the alphabet thanking the Lord for things or people…surely not a sanctified thing, but just an exercise that helps me to “in everything give thanks…” Thought I’d close out the thanksgiving holiday by typing:

A – Aaron Dolan; an old-school Youth For Christ club sponsor and bus driver who has been used of God to introduce hundreds to the Savior. Aaron now resides in the Cameron, Mo Veteran’s home

B – My brother, Bob, who is still outside the family of God, but being prayed for!

C – Chinese food!

D – Duty. A simple, but loaded word. Sometimes I do things out of duty, and that is okay.

E – Enthusiasm. Or, better, enthusiastic people that are contagious.

F – Faith. I’ll let wise theologians argue about faith; I’m simply thankful the Lord has given me a measure.

G – God in His Triune Being; truly awe – some

H – Howard Hendricks; an author who continues to impact me

I – Ice, to crunch.

J – Jesus, Jane, Josiah, Joel, Janelle, Jacob

K – Knowledge…though I have not much, I desire to “grow in the grace AND knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”

L – Love…in both noun and verb form

M – Marsupials

N – Non-negotiables. Thankful God has given me some…and that they are so few in comparison to most people

O – Oxymorons

P – Priorities, and the desire to discern proper, Biblical priorities as opposed to trendy “Christian” priorities; both in positive and negative sense

Q – Quizzing, as in Bible quizzing. After three decades of watching teenagers participate, still incredibly impressed by both the competition and the ministry

RReading, the ability and desire to so do in a wide variety of subjects

S – Salvation, and the increasingly firm conviction that, in its entirety, “salvation is of the Lord”

T – Truth…that, contrary to cultural “thinking,” there is such a thing; and that it trumps trendy “Christianity”

U – Utility infielders…and the reminder that I desire to be a “utility Christian”

V – Vision. Even when it’s cloudy; physically (since my July eye injury) or cloudy as related to the future (as in now)

W – The opportunity to “Wait on the Lord,” both as in “waiting” for a period of time, and “waiting” as in serving

X – X-rays; and the reminder that only God knows the intentions of the hearts

Y – youthful thinking, and that it is not only for young people

Z – Zoos – just to be reminded at the awesome work of the Creator

Thankful Thanksgiving Thanks

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
–Psalm 100

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Parenting Particulars

This remains challenging, convicting, and comforting, from RUTH"S blog

10 Things To Remember When Your Child Is Disobedient

Photo 125
Here are 10 Things I had to remind myself today when the job of correcting my children felt especially difficult…

1. You disobey the Lord…and He is the perfect Father.

2. His kindness leads us to repentance.

3. God disciplines those He loves.

4. Your child’s disobedience does not measure your value any more than his obedience showcases your achievement.

5. Your child’s disobedience teaches you dependence on God.

6. And sometimes it’s more than dependence He’s after, it’s complete desperation for Him.

7. Your child is clearly a sinner, and needs to hear the truth of the Gospel, and see it lived out through you.

8. Times of correction serve to remind, or establish within your child, his own sense of need for a Savior.

9. It’s not good behavior you really desire…you want his heart.

10. Your child is a person, not a project.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Handling Criticism

Carl Trueman’s thoughts on how Christian’s should respond if they are criticized or defamed (specifically on the web):
The answer is simple: for myself, I do not believe that it is appropriate that I spend my time defending my name. My name is nothing—who really cares about it? And I am not called to waste precious hours and energy in fighting off every person with a laptop who wants to have a pop at me. As a Christian, I am not meant to engage in self-justification any more than self-promotion; I am called rather to defend the name of Christ; and, to be honest, I have yet to see a criticism of me, true or untrue, to which I could justifiably respond on the grounds that it was Christ’s honour, and not simply my ego, which was being damaged. I am called to spend my time in being a husband, a father, a minister in my denomination, a member of my church, a good friend to those around me, and a conscientious employee. These things, these people, these locations and contexts, are to shape my priorities and my allocation of time. Hitting back in anger at those who, justly or unjustly, do not like me and for some reason think the world needs to know what they think of me is no part of my God-given vocation. God will look after my reputation if needs be; He has given me other work to do.

Was Our Lord Just Having Fun?

Colossians1.16 declares, "For by Him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him."

Pictured is a transparent sea cucumber captured 1.7 miles beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Yikes?

Jesus created this? Yup. Why? Beats me. But I wonder if He had a grin as He molded this together....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just Do What Feels Right - Gap 2009 Holiday Commercial

Is there a real need for youth ministry? Duh. Not picking on the stores represented, but the verbal message of this combines the worst of "political correctness" with the encouragement to "do whatever feels good". Gaggeth a self-respecting maggot.

The Gospel in Three Words

“Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.”
—J.I. Packer, Knowing God

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Answering the "Hypocrite" Excuse

The often-raised "excuse" for not going to church is "There are too many hypocrites there."

A classic, though not kind answer, "That's okay, there is plenty of room for another one."

But a while ago someone played that excuse on me, and I responded, "Don't you like the NFL?"

"Well, yeah."

"Of course you know there are a lot of scum bags in the National Football League?"

"Well, yeah."

"But you still like the NFL, right?"

Not sure if I made my point, but it works for me!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Forget the Basics; Forget the Faith

"I have yet to come across a student who struggled with, or even abandoned, the faith, who did not, at some early point in their struggle, abandon the mundane routines of the Christian life: regular attendance at the preaching of the word, prayer, etc. etc. Boring they may be, but they are God’s means of preventing amnesia; and we forget them at our peril."
- Carl Truman

Read Slowly, Chew Carefully:

“It’s no wonder that self-help books top the charts in Christian publishing and that counseling offices are overwhelmed. Our pride and our neglect of the gospel force us to run from seminar to seminar, book to book, counselor to counselor, always seeking but never finding some secret to holy living.
Most of us have never really understood that Christianity is not a self-help religion meant to enable moral people to become more moral. We don’t need a self-help book; we need a Savior. We don’t need to get our collective act together; we need death and resurrection and the life-transforming truths of the gospel. And we don’t need them just once, at the beginning of our Christian life; we need them every moment of every day.”
- Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson, "Counsel from the Cross"  (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2009), 30

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Artistic Interpretations of "Spiritual Emphasis Week" Sermons

Ron VanderPol, an instructor at Sheboygan County (Wi) Christian High School, artfully interprets three of the sermons I preached during last weeks "Spiritual Emphasis"....very cool stuff! Thanks, Ron. (the actual works are about 20x30") BY THE WAY...he did these AS I was preaching; pretty much done when I said "amen" each time except for a bit of tweaking...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Terrific Trio of Counsel

Just read this on a blog; advice from a church planter that is applicable to all:

1) When you’re tempted to fear, lean into faith.
2) When you want to control, you must let go.
3) When comfort lures you, choose sacrifice.

Those Great Theologians - John, Paul, George & Ringo (sorta) Got It Right!

Okay, the Beatles may not be everyone's favorite (although they remain one of mine), but one of their biggest songs, "All You Need Is Love" does compliment the greatest commandment.

But this, by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, (The Love of God, pp. 49-50) elaborates in a way I needed to read:

"The more I study the New Testament and live the Christian life, the more convinced I am that our fundamental difficulty, our fundamental lack, is the lack of seeing the love of God. It is not so much our knowledge that is defective but our vision of the love of God. Thus our greatest object and endeavor should be to know Him better, and thus we will love Him more truly."

Thursday, November 12, 2009


To some Mark Driscoll is more-than-a-bit controversial (he remains one of my favorites, which is not to say I think he (or any other human...most especially me) is infallible) but no genuine follower of Christ can not admire this brief video:

Theological Argument


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kleenex Probably Needed

Perhaps some who have never been in the situation will think this is sappy; but on this Veteran's Day it is a sober reminder of reality for so many.

Ongoing Repentance

“He that desires to be a true Christian must be experimentally acquainted with repentance and remission of sins. These are the principle things in saving religion. To belong to a pure church, and to hear the gospel, and receive the sacraments are the great privileges: but are we converted? Are we justified? If not, we are dead before God.

“Happy is the Christian who keeps these two points continually before his eyes! The brightest saint is the man who has the most heart-searching sense of his own sinfulness, and the liveliest sense of his own complete acceptance in Christ.”
~ J.C. Ryle

Ah, I Can So Relate! Things Not Always As They Seem


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Best Video I Have Ever Seen

I thought a bit before I typed the title...but this, from Passion, really is THE best video I've ever seen...I challenge you to give it four-and-a-half-minutes to see if you concur.

To Commemorate Veteran's Day - Honor To Serve

I was in Pasadena, California watching tv in a bar when Jeremiah Denton made the incredible statement that appears as part of this video. It made an impact in my life then, but later it would mean incredibly more.

At the end of that year I was arrested in Texas that resulted in a prison sentence in Oregon. While in Texas I was introduced to the Lord and the gospel via reading a paperback book someone had donated.

The Spirit of God did His convicting work, and at the age of 26, from a stereotypical child of the sixties Nam vet, alcoholic, drug dealing thief I was set free.

I use Denton's statement frequently as an illustration that following Christ is NOT about "your best life now," but is about sacrifice, inconvenience, and great joy.

And, by His grace, I challenge me as I challenge others to live in such a way that maybe...maybe...we will one day bow at His feet and state, "Lord Jesus, it has not been easy, I got close to giving up, but by Your power I've come to realize that it has been an honor to serve You under difficult circumstances.:

Thanks to all other veterans, and "welcome home."

(and if there is someone tempted to yell because of the person singing the song, I am aware of the situation; but his sin does not negate the words of the song)

Shai Linne- Wrapping the Truth in Rap

Perhaps not your style...but solid theologically...

Life is Full of Surprises

Our God has big sleeves, and occasionally has "tricks" up them...that's what I thought of as I read this:


Saturday, November 7, 2009

If I Were King

If I was the king of the world (hmmm, I hear Coldplay)...anyway, if I could I would mandate that every Christ-folower, especially those in vocational service, would read On Being A Servant of God by Warren Wiersbe. It is one of a handful of books that I read, reread, and get encouraged, clobbered, and exhorted with each reading.

His definition of ministry is worth several times the price of the book:  "Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God."

As I restarted the book this morning here at Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander, Wi I reflected that I first spoke at this camp for a winter retreat probably in 1979. Yikes! And I again reflect on what a slow learner I am...and a book like this challenges, comforts, and kicks-in-the-butt in just the right way to bring about not simply conviction, but change.

If you are satisfied with your life and ministry, ignore the book. If you are open to a sanctified mixture of challenge, conviction, and confirmation, get the book!

And, yeah, you can provide me a few cents for my deputation account if you order off the link below:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Permissible Versus Beneficial

Here is great stuff from Mark Batterson:

"Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial."

Your future is found in I Corinthians 10:23. It reveals two options: permissible or beneficial. And your destiny will be determined by which option you choose.

Who we become is determined by whether we settle for what is permissible or strive for what is beneficial. It's so tempting to live down to what is required. It's so tempting to live in our comfort zone. It's so tempting to take the path of least resistance, but the path of least resistance never takes you where you really want to go!

What am I getting at? Well, are you setting for what is permissible? Or are you striving for what is beneficial? Are you giving God leftovers? Or are you seeking first the kingdom of God? Where are you compromising? Where have you become comfortable with what is permissible?

Don't let short-term comfort short-circuit God's long-terms plans for your life. Spiritual short-cuts always turn into detours! Take the hard way. Take the high road. Strive for what is beneficial.

"The Motions"-Matthew West

One of my favorite songs; made a bit nicer through a video collage

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Does This Impact Life? Ministry? Future?

Very well done documentation of the amazing, incredible, rise and continued rise of social sites etc...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reading Without Obeying Dangerous

A. W. Tozer brings it home:

"To be entirely safe from the devil's snares the man of God must be completely obedient to the

Word of the Lord.

The driver on the highway is safe, not when he reads the signs

but when he obeys them."

That Incredible Christian, 51.

No Comment Necessary

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Genuine Bat Man!


Janelle Soon To Be FIFTEEN!

Hard for me to believe that my (only) daughter, Janelle, will be 15 on Wednesday. With three sons (two older, one younger) I testify that daughter-raising is HUGELY different than son-raising...and can't even imagine doing ANY kid-raising without absolute assurance that the Lord loves them more than I or Mom do! Photo was taken at the recent Life Chain; Janelle is flanked by Faith and Sarah Williams, daughters of Johnny and Pam Williams (of God's Mountain, and First Baptist, Wathena, Ks). We've known Johnny and Pam for three decades and consider it a tremendous joy to live just a few miles from them.

A sort-of Formula for Christian Growth

I am not a big fan of “seven steps to spiritual growth” or “four keys to revival” stuff. Formulatic spirituality loses some of the spontaneity that I believe is evidence of the Spirit of God honoring time spent in His Word.
2300-8083~Einstein-E-Mc2-PostersBut, if I discern a formula in the reading of Scripture, it maketh sense to me.
I discovered one this morning while reading Romans 4.
This chapter is focused on Abraham, and that he was justified by faith rather than by works. Reading from the English Standard Version, verse 16 summarizes, “That is why it depends on faith…”
Verse 18 declares, “In hope he (Abraham) believed against hope.” The next couple verses reveal he “did not lean on his own understanding” (Prov 3.5); and then verse 20 reads “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.” (emphasis added)
Verse 21 reveals that he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.”
It appears to me that “as” he gave glory to God, his faith grew stronger.
So, no matter how dark the day, how dense the fog, how tough the journey; we are to “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice,” give God glory that He is sovereign and that “all things work together for good” and, thereby, our faith grows stronger.
Rather cool.

The Pilots Who Overflew Minneapolis: What REALLY Happened

This was written by good friend Denny Brownlee for the Morning Show at Family Life Network (the ministry with which I served for over 20 years before moving to Missouri a year ago)

Sinning Against Law versus Sinning Against Love

“…when the devil comes and says, ‘You have no standing, you are condemned, you are finished’, you must say, ‘No! my position did not depend upon what I was doing, or not doing; it is always dependant upon the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Turn to the devil and tell him, ‘My relationship to God is not a variable one. The case is not that I am a child of God, and then again not a child of God. That is not the basis of my standing, that is not the position. When God had mercy upon me, He made me His child, and I remain his child. A very sinful, and a very unworthy one, perhaps, but still his child!

"And now, when I fall into sin, I have not sinned against the law, I have sinned against love. Like the prodigal, I will go back to my Father and I will tell Him, “Father, I am not worthy to be called your son.” But He will embrace me, and He will say, “Do not talk nonsense, you are My child,” and He will shower his love upon me! That is the meaning of putting on the breastplate of righteousness! Never allow the devil to get you into a state of condemnation. Never allow a particular sin to call into question your standing before God. That question has been settled.”

Martyn Lloyd Jones, The Christian Soldier, p. 255

Sunday, November 1, 2009

God Owes Us No Explanation

 A couple years ago I read a great book by Alistair Begg, The Hand of Godwhich seeks to demonstrate God's sovereignty throughout the life of Joseph. 

The book tells the partial story of Dr. Helen Roseveare (photo) whohelen served in the Belgian Congo during the horrific uprising in the mid-1960s that resulted in dozens of missionaries being brutalized and murdered.
Roseveare was in the middle of all this chaos; saw friends shot and dropped into mass graves, and was a victim of brutalization beyond belief.

In a letter to Alistair Begg, Dr. Roseveare declared, "The phrase God gave me years ago, during the 1964 rebellion in the congo, in the night of my own greatest need, was this: 'Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?'"

Ponder that for a while. How often have we heard, or said, "Well, I sure don't get this, but I'm sure God will tell me why I'm going through this situation...."

The question Dr. Roseveare heard from God echoes in my heart, and I pray continues to bounce around my heart and mind..."Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?"