Get the book here

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Adoption Option

Jane and I have two children the old fashioned way (Josiah is 26, Joel, 23) and two that God dropped into our laps through adoption (Janelle, 15; Jacob, 8)...Here's a great and short video on the subject:

Coburn Family from Josh Sliffe on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How Much More?

“God saw Abraham’s sacrifice and said, ‘Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me’ [Gen. 22:12]. But how much more can we look at his sacrifice on the Cross, and say to God, ‘Now, we know that you love us. For you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from us.’ When the magnitude of what he did dawns on us, it makes it possible finally to rest our hearts in him rather than in anything else.”
- Timothy Keller

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Snoopy is Honest

Changes are, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard" was not Snoopy's favorite verse:

Don't Make Me Do Your Time

As most know, I was converted in jail enroute to prison. One of the wisdom-rules of prison life is "do your own time." In other words, don't do a races time, a gangs time, anothers your own time...

And though we are to esteem others as better than ourselves, and strive to out-serve them; I don't think we need to "do their time."


Let me of the things often done at camps at which I speak is "Mission Impossible." Briefly it is a great game that is played in the dark of night with searchlights and so forth...campers must sneak to a certain point without being captured/seen. There are usually staff members hiding, camoflaged, the whole deal.

I do not play; never have, never will. Neither do I do paint ball. I served a tour in Vietnam and such things can open memories I'd rather leave shut. I have no problem with others enjoying the activity; I just don't participate. But I don't ask anyone else to do my time.

Some have a real problem with what they describe as "rock music," because it brings back memories and/or emotions from the past.

I respect that. It is not an issue for me.

So don't ask me to do your time. I'll continue to listen to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and other groups from way back in the know, when musicians were musicians and not computer programmers!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Don't Dalmationize the Word!

In other words, take the Word as the Word, not "inspired in spots!"

D. A. Carson has an important word for us:

“However hard some things are to understand, it is never helpful to start picking and choosing biblical truths we find congenial, as if the Bible is an open-shelved supermarket where we are at perfect liberty to choose only the chocolate bars.
“For the Christian, it is God’s Word, and it is not negotiable. What answers we find may not be exhaustive, but they give us the God who is there, and who gives us some measure of comfort and assurance.
“The alternative is a god we manufacture, and who provides no comfort at all. Whatever comfort we feel is self-delusion, and it will be stripped away at the end when we give an account to the God who has spoken to us, not only in Scripture, but supremely in his Son Jesus Christ.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Dad's Letter to Hurting Daughter

Fred Smith wrote bunches of books. He was a Christian first, a successful businessman, and, as this letter evidences, a wise father. Read more about him, and/or read more of his stuff BY CLICKING HERE

Fred’s family was not impervious to heartache.  In 1986, their oldest daughter was divorced after 20 years of marriage.  Recently, a 23 page letter to her was found in Fred’s files.  It is clearly marked across the top, “Not Sent.”  The date reflects a period of turmoil; the letter reflects a wise father’s heart.  With her permission, we are excerpting just a few of the principles with the hope and prayer others in difficult situations may find hope through strategic thinking.

“Try to read this through the first time as if you were reading or grading an essay.  There is so much with which you will disagree that if you stop at any or all those points you will not get the sense of what I have written.”  This introductory statement set the stage for the pages and pages of observation.

I am not surprised at how much alike we are.  So, I don’t feel  like I am guessing when I make suggestions for your thinking.  I will be as honest as I know how.

1. Drop all counseling except from a licensed therapist.  You are getting too much talking from too many people.  They are all sincere, but most are immature as counselors.  Just ask them to pray for you as a friend and not make you their “spiritual project.”  The best intentioned, untrained people can be wrong.  Display as much maturity as you possibly can.  Study the steps of grief recovery.  Don’t shortchange anger, but get through it maturely.  Stop screaming.

2. Work out a plan on paper for your future that you can carry out.  The hurt has undermined your decision-making ability.  You fear rejection and seem determined to find the perfect will of God before moving.  God knows your heart’s desire and will reward it ---- you don’t have to focus so much on the finding.  And, honestly, when you do find it, it probably won’t look like you think it will.  You seem intent on identifying God’s will by the test of smooth sailing and good feelings right now.  We won’t argue this, but I think you are wrong.  You may have to let someone else see for you during this time of partial blindness.  Don’t appoint a committee, even of well-meaning friends.

3. Focus on your foundation.   Your tendency to put others first is a form of escapism.  Running away from your responsibility to yourself creates havoc.  One must start inside and work outward to have a center to life.  Otherwise, the working outside creates a dependence on the acceptance of others.  You need a foundation upon which to build the house….the quiet center.  Don’t confuse this with selfishness or self-centeredness.  We all must start with the “you.”  When you fall into self-rejection, you fail to honor God.  I wish you could appreciate what I feel is unique and potentially great about you.  In wanting to be humble, you fail to acknowledge God’s gifts to you.  Don’t lie about what you have been given.  You only have what God has given you, anyway.  Do you feel the strength of what I am saying?  (It is 3:00 in the morning, so I may be getting a bit fuzzy).

4. Get a job.  This is not just an economic necessity, but a psychic one, as well.  It will give you a routine, something positive to demand your attention which will keep your old thought patterns from dominating your mind.  It will give you a feeling of self-sufficiency which you will need.  Your kids deserve to have a home they can come back to.  You deserve a home, even if it is one you alone must provide.  This all comes with a job and a profession you can depend on.  A job is the first key to your recovery and the recapture of your center from which to operate.  You may feel like you don’t have the energy, but you will as you have new experiences and renewed self-respect.  Remember I have the word “Start” on my desk?  It reminds me what to do when I am stuck.  If I did not, I would sink deeper and deeper into the fog and self pity when I don’t have the energy to move forward.  You are my relative --- it will work for you, too.  Just start.

Think carefully about:  1) What letter do I need to write to a family member? 2) How does Fred’s wisdom apply to me right now? 3) Who in my life is hurting and stuck?

Words of Wisdom: “I fully believe you are coming through.  You belong to God.  I know, for I gave you to Him and He will keep that which I have committed.”

Wisdom from the Word:  “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1 NET Bible)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dangers of Christian Camp

As I start the first of seven weeks of teen camp, I reflect yet again on over thirty years experience at these potentially life-changing events.

And, as I looked back over this blog; I realize I wrote about this a year is that post:

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!
Then I notice I did a similar entry a year prior to it is:
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.

Remembering Dana Key

Just again thought of Dana Key who died a couple weeks tubed DeGarmo and Key, found this one...happy memories...and still jealous I could never grow hair like these guys (not out of demonic legalism, just didn't have the roots!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cruiseship or Battleship????

Well done and provocative:

Working Faith Only Faith

Important reminder from A. W. Tozer:

“In the New Testament there is no contradiction between faith and obedience.  Between faith and law-works, yes; between law and grace, yes; but between faith and obedience, not at all.  The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith.”

Every Father Is A Son

In honor of Father's Day:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sufficient Grace Demonstration

I had the immense privilege of knowing, albeit briefly, Hugo Liborio and his wife Sarah. We worked together a few times at the camp I speak at in Nebraska, sponsored by Teens for Christ, the ministry in Phillipsburg, KS that Jane and I served the first two years of our marriage.

In December Hugo died unexpectedly at a very young age. He and his family were stateside on furlough. After the funeral Sarah and the children returned to the Dominican Republic.

TFC sends mission trips each summer, and what follows is a letter Sarah wrote to them that will encourage, bless, and challenge: (bold type added by me to highlight)

Dear Mission Tripper!

I am so honored to be able to help send you on mission trip! I know the eternal impact God does on a life during a mission trip, and that is something I want to be part of. It is never a waste of finances to put it where God is working!

And even though I don't know you, I know God is working on YOU! Whatever your personal motive is for going on mission trip, theGod of the Universe has His own reason. He wants you to go for a specific reason to change something in you. You're right where God wants you to be, even if it doesn't fel like it.

I went on my first mission trip when I was 14 years old. I went to the Philippines for two months. It was the hardest thing I had done in my life up to that point, but God was faithful to get me through.

During that mission trip God called me to be a full time missionary. I didn't know how, when or where, but I knew someday I would be living overseas dooing God's work.

From that summer on I sought every opportunity to deepen my relationship with God, and also to do more mission trips. TFC, the TFC staff, and their summer mission trips were a HUGE part of my spiritual growth and training...

I finally entered full time missions with my husband, Hugo, in the Dominican Republic in November 2008. Hugo had waited 9 years since God had called him to missions and I had waited 13 years to finally fulfill God's ultimate call on my life.

Hugo and I enjoyed an amazing, totally blessed 10 months of ministry on the mission field. While we were back in the states to have our second baby, Hugo died of a brain aneurysm. He was only 29 years old. He had only 10 years of committed life to his Savior.

I wanted to tell you all this background information for a reason. In processing Hugo's death, I have started to see that those years leading up to serving on the mission field, my focused seeking God to know Him more, were for the purpose of wanting to be a missionary. That was always the underlying motive.

But now I see that God used that learning time during those 13 years to give me a foundation of Jesus Christ that He knew I would need in order to pass through losing the love of my life.

So my advice is this...Enjoy mission trip, serve God, seve others, but don't lose what God wants to teach you spiritually. Because only God knows when you will need that spiritual lesson to keep you from being shaken in a trial.

After losing Hugo, in Christ's strength and grace, I returned to the mission field one month to the date (of his death). The verse that I kept in my mind was 1 Corinthians 15.58, "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Just Plain Weird!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Attitude Triumphs Over "Handicap"

Okay, warning, there is a phrase in this that might offend the rather straight-laced; but this is a tremendous demonstration that "attitude determines actions which determine accomplishments." I just ordered his book...he was raised in a Christian home...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Driscoll Doctrine

I am really, really enjoying and benefiting from "Doctrine - What Christians Should Believe" by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears.

I am intentionally reading it slowly, thoughtfully, and meditatively. This morning, while riding my exercise bike, was especially impacted by:

"Repentance is the Spirit-empowered acknowledgment of sin that results in a change of mind about who and what is lord of our life, what is important, and what is good and bad."

"It is important to note that the Bible always speaks of elders in the plural. This follows the New Testament pattern that ministry is to be done in teams so that everyone is under authority, including those in authority."

"The powe of preaching does not come with clever stories or rhetorical devices but with the power of the Spirit and the answer to prayer."

Yeah, I know Mark has done and said some rather dumb things in the past...have not we all? But I suggest you don't toss him out based on earlier things, but consider that he, like us (hopefully), has "grown in the grace AND knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Wow...I Am Looking Forward to This New Matthew West Album!

What a Difference A Single Letter Can Make!

I vaguely remember ads from way, way back (can't remember what the ad was pushing) said, "Send me a man who reads."

The statistics are staggeringly sad that so few men read...anything...substantial. I'm a bookaholic, so it's hard for me to be objective...but not reading is robbing oneself of so very, very much.

And it is not a matter of time...we always make time to do that which we value.

Perhaps we value other things too much...see what a difference a letter can make:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Greatest Threat

Thanks to my buddy DON SUNSHINE for sending this my way. It is over eight minutes, but make time to watch it: (by the way, Don does a fantastic training on sharing should bring him to your church...Midland Ministries will host him at a Revive Conference in St Joseph Nov 19-20)

Strangers to Ourselves

Yet another home run from MARK BATTERSON

II Corinthians 15:3 says, "Examine yourselves to make sure you are in the faith."

Most of us don't like examinations. It doesn't matter whether they are physical exams or school exams. Exams often reveal what we don't know (school exams) or don't want to know (physical exams). But the only alternative is ignorance. And the same is true spiritually.

I think we live in a culture that has largely lost the art of spiritual self-examination. Alot of people know more about their favorite celebrity than they do about themselves. We're strangers to ourselves. After all, it's so much easier watching reality TV and living vicariously through others. So how do we do practice the art of examination? Well, there are lots of ways to do it, but the most important is daily Scripture reading. James 1 likens the Bible to a mirror. It helps us see ourselves as we truly are. Hebrews 4:12 says it reveals the hidden thoughts and attitudes of the heart. It's like an x-ray of your soul. It helps us see what is inside. Now here's the reason self-examination via Scripture reading is so important: the more you read it the more potential you have to reflect it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why Do We Disobey?

"As you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk (live) in Him." Too often I fail because I forget that the gospel is not "simply" how we get saved/converted/born again; but it is how we are to live 24/7/365.

Recommend you slowly read this:

“At the root of all our disobedience are particular ways in which we continue to seek control of our lives through systems of works-righteousness. The way to progress as a Christian is to continually repent and uproot these systems the same way we become Christians, namely by the vivid depiction (and re-depiction) of Christ’s saving work for us, and the abandoning of self-trusting efforts to complete ourselves. We must go back again and again to the gospel of Christ-crucified, so that our hearts are more deeply gripped by the reality of what he did and who we are in him.”
- Timothy Keller

Pursuing God Will Get Lonely

Don't ignore the following:

“The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk… It is this that drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else.”
- A.W. Tozer, The Loneliness of The Christian

Friday, June 11, 2010

Yes, My Daughter Is Beautiful!

Good friend (and intern youth worker at our well as daughter of pastor) Faith Williams took some of the girls to Krug Park in St Joseph..Faith is a great photographer and, of course, objective as I am, she had great material with which to work!

Krug Park as some interesting architecture:

And, as I said, my daughter Janelle is beautiful...inside and outside!

Took a few tries, but they nailed it:

The Horribleness of Health/Wealth

The garbage that is most-often preached on "Christian" television...the idiocy of "Jesus died to make you healthy/wealthy/prosperous" is incredibly destructive. The idea that suffering is the absolute result of sin and/or lack of faith is a cancer that continues to spread, sadly, not only throughout America, but throughout the world. (Much of the proclaimed "gospel surge" in Africa, for instance, is the false gospel of health/wealth/prosperity).

The proponents of this garbage have to Thomas Jefferson (Remember, this founding father went thru the scripture and cut out everything he didn't like) 1 Peter 4:19, "Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."

Here's a quote from John Stott's farewell book (that I highly recommend) bringing sane clarity to the subject:

"Christlikeness and the mystery of suffering. Of course suffering is a huge subject in itself, and there are many ways in which Christians try to understand it. But one stands out, and that is that suffering is part of God's process of making us like Christ. Whether it is a disappointment or a frustration, we need to try to see it in the light of Romans 8:28-29: according to Romans 8:28, God is always working for the good purpose of His people, and according to Romans 8:29, this good purpose is to make us like Christ."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don't Neglect Genesis - Malachi!

I try often to refer to the "old testament" as the "First Testament." Why? Because the word "old" implies, even unconsciously, that it is passe, dated, ah, "old."

J. C. Ryle amplifies the importance of the first "testament" of the Word:

"Let it be a rule with us, in the reading of our Bibles, to study the types and ordinances of the Mosaic law with prayerful attention. They are all full of Christ. The altar--the scape-goat--the daily burnt-offering--the day of atonement, are all so many sign-posts pointing to the great sacrifice offered by our Lord on Calvary. Those who neglect to study the Jewish ordinances, as dark, dull, and uninteresting parts of the Bible, only show their own ignorance, and miss great advantages. Those who examine them with Christ as the key to their meaning, will find them full of Gospel light and comfortable truth."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tribute to Dana Key

DeKarmo and Key...rock pioneers...certain pastor/teachers made a living preaching against them; but their lyrics were usually challenging, their musicianship trailblazing, and they were just flat good.
Dana died Sunday...if you are not familiar with them, here's probably my favorite tune they recorded:

Too Convicting

Man, oh man...SCOTTY SMITH nailed me with this one! Painful, but productive if I let it sink in by reading, re reading, and heeding:
     Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Tim. 4:2-3
     Dear Lord Jesus, many times when I read this Scripture, I immediately think of certain characters on TV whose perversions of the gospel raise my ire and dander like nothing else. In my heart, I can become a serial killer of certain “televangelists” quicker than I can swat a mosquito. I confess this as sin, Jesus. I’m not boasting about or justifying my attitude.

     But today, I’m meditating on the portion of the Word looking in the mirror, not at the TV. What do I do when my ears get itchy—when when my demand for pleasure, relief, or getting my way is stronger than my commitment to your glory? What do I do when the Scriptures say one thing and yet my wandering, bored, divided, selfish heart yearns for something else?

     Jesus, I know the people to call who will tell me what I WANT to hear—my “co-dependent” friends who are more afraid of disappointing me than they are committed to speaking the truth in love. I know what authors to read… what “podcasts” to listen to… what blogs to visit… when I want a “second opinion”—that is, when I want to suit my own desires rather than serve the purposes of God. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”

     Jesus, continue to prepare me for in season and out-of-season living. Deepen my love for and submission to the Word. I ask you to correct, rebuke and encourage me with the gospel every single day. Show me yourself in every portion of the Bible, for that’s where the soundest doctrine will be found.

     Lastly, Jesus, help me be a better friend to my friends. I don’t want to be one of the very first people they call when they simply want to hear what they want to hear. I don’t want to be an ear-scratching friend, but a good friend—a gospel-friend. So very Amen, I pray, in your holy and loving name.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Play "Taps" In Your Mind

And if you know of, or see, an old warrior...thank him!

Teens Need to Watch This - Repeatedly

Far too many teens die because of speeding. We often focus on drunk driving (as we should), but "just" speeding causes death. Car crashes remain the number one killer of teens.

If you are a teen...slow down (and if you text while driving you are probably beyond hope)...and have enough sense and guts to tell drivers to slow down if you are a passenger...You are like it:

Pics from the Graduation

Friday I had the privilege of being the speaker for the commencement exercises of the Class of 2010 at Sheboygan (Wi) County Christian High School.

In November I spoke for a week at the school's "Spiritual Emphasis Week" and was blessed when the seniors invited me to their graduation.

Obviously not a huge school, but of the 34 graduates, three are exchange students, a young man (Chris) from Ghana, a young lady from Chile, and a young lady from Thailand.

It was a thrilling time, made more special because I was initially "promoted" to the school by senior Joe Meerdink, the son of long-time friends Jan and Rhonda Meerdink, who I knew in Kansas City before they were "Jan and Rhonda" as they attended the Bible Institute.

Ah, I do appreciate relaxed "dress codes"!
The Class of 2010: outstanding young man returning to Ghana to make an impact for Christ:

Battling Cancer by Focusing on Gospel

I've never met Matt Chandler, but I've read his blog for a long time; and thus have followed his encounter with brain cancer. This young pastor is astoundingly gospel-centered in the midst of this trial. This video update is well worth four minutes of your time: (you can click on the video at the end to see links to the other video updates if you'd like to catch will amaze and strengthen you...and, if you're like me; make you feel like a jerk for whining about little things)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

If This Offends You...Sorry (sort of)

Not sure if this is legit or photoshop, but supposedly this billboard appears on Interstate 10 north of Tucson:

Chaplain's Dilemna - "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

This is from Chuck Colson's organization, "Breakpoint" and needs to be read...Frankly, there are many "chaplains" in the military (and in prison work) to whom this will not be a problem; but thankfully there are a host of conservative, Biblical-minded chaplains also:

Religious Liberty in the Military

June 2, 2010
Many people still remember the story of the four U.S. Army chaplains who served on a troop ship during World War II. When the Dorchester was torpedoed, the four chaplains gave up their lifejackets, linked arms, and went down with the ship, praying and singing hymns.

We remember these army chaplains for their bravery and sacrifice. But unless something is done, today's military chaplains may have a different legacy: being smeared as bigots, and drummed out of military service.
Last month, over 30 retired Army, Navy, and Air Force chaplains sent a letter to President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and other political leaders.

With bills pending in Congress to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the chaplains write: "We are deeply concerned that these changes would threaten the religious liberty of chaplains and Service members. Put simply, if the government normalizes homosexual behavior in the armed forces, many (if not most) chaplains will confront a profoundly difficult moral choice: whether they are to obey God or to obey men."

Forcing chaplains to make this choice will have two consequences—both undesirable: First, knowing they risk discipline and damaging their careers if they don't embrace the normalization of homosexuality, chaplains will feel pressured to water down or even abandon key elements of their denomination's faith and practice.

Second, as the former chaplains wrote, "chaplains might have their ability to freely share their religious beliefs challenged and torn away" in everyday situations.

For example, chaplains administer a marriage support program called Strong Bonds, helping couples endure the stresses of military life.Should homosexual conductbe normalized, same-sex couples may sign up for Strong Bonds. But, as the letter states clearly, the beliefs of many chaplains "would not allow them to support relationships that are both harmful and sinful."
So the chaplains will either deny their religious beliefs or face "the potentially career-ending consequences of a discrimination complaint when they deny the request."

Now, I was moved when I read the chaplains' letter. They cite the following words of the Manhattan Declaration: "Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not...bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it...

"We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."

God bless them!

I urge you to add stand with our nation's military chaplains. First of all, go to and sign the Manhattan Declaration. If you've already done so, get all your friends to do so, get your family to sign, circulate it to all your friends on your email list. We are making a major push to get one million signatures.

Second, contact President Obama and your members of congress and ask them to support the current policy regarding homosexuality.

It would be a tragic irony if those who risk their lives protecting our freedoms should be forced to sacrifice their own.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dirty Joy of Youth Ministry

In late May we hosted our last monthly rally for the school was cold, yucky...and we still did water games (no one ever said you had to be bright to be in youth ministry)...a grand time was had by all who attended...I had the privilege of bringing the message, and there were two teens who made professions of faith. Here are some photos:

So he's not a teen...Jacob got to participate in the water balloon toss:

The game got out of control (?) and I watched Harry get wet

Yes, that would be Janelle in the mud flood with buddy Lisa Johnson:

Janelle discovered the "clean up" water was a bit chilly:

Of course Jacob got involved:

Jane, Jacob, and Jessica (staff member who lives with us - getting married in August) served food to the chilled students:

And I had the privilege of preaching:

Gospel for Breakfast

Another great prayer from SCOTTY SMITH

  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8
     Dear heavenly Father, I cannot conceive of a better way to begin every day than feasting on the gospel. Lay the big breakfast buffet out before me… give me the choice of any and every delicacy imaginable… and I’ll choose words of your unfailing love for me in Jesus, every time.

     There’s no nutrient I need more than the fresh manna of your grace. Nothing tastes as sweet as the assurance of your welcome… presence… and affection. I’ve never met a carbohydrate I didn’t like, but just send me ample supplies of the Bread of Life am I’m a “happy camper”… far better than that, I’ll be a different man.

     Indeed, Father, I’m not just looking to be a satisfied consumer of the gospel. I need your unfailing love for the challenges of the day… this day.

     Apart from the gospel, I’ll whine more than I’ll worship. Apart from the gospel, I’ll judge people more than I’ll seek to understand them. Apart from the gospel, I’ll get my feelings hurt quicker than being careful not to offend others. Apart from the gospel, I’ll avoid people that want more from me than I want to give them.

     Apart from the gospel, I’ll react selfishly to irritants, rather than responding graciously. Apart from the gospel, I’ll talk more than I listen. Apart from the gospel, I’ll think about me much more than I think about you. Apart from the gospel I won’t risk anything, I’ll do just enough to get by.  Apart from the banquet of the gospel, I’ll be reaching for junk food all day long… literally and figuratively.

     Father, because of your unfailing love for me in Jesus, I have put my trust in you. I do lift my soul up to you, right now. Show me the way of the I should go this very day. Show me what thinking, feeling and choosing in line with the truth of the gospel requires of me, and then give me that supply. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ beautiful and bountiful name.

Camp? What's That?

Today our staff is doing final planning for the four weeks of camp we host in Polo, Mo starting June 21...I am overseeing counselors all four weeks, and speaking weeks 2 and 4...we still have room so pray the camp fills up...

Here's a short video from last include a rather extended depiction of my dear daughter Janelle putting a pie in my face!


"The truth is, that our Lord would have us regard the crucifixion as the central truth of Christianity. Right views of His vicarious death, and the benefits resulting from it, lie at the very foundation of Bible-religion. Never let us forget this. On matters of church government, and the form of worship, men may differ from us, and yet reach heaven in safety. On the matter of Christ's atoning death, as the way of peace, truth is only one. If we are wrong here, we are ruined forever."
~ J.C. Ryle

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Birthday Reflections

So it's yet another birthday for me. "Older than dirt" would seem to apply...but as I jogged this morning I knew I'm in better shape now than I was in my 20s and 30s; and, regardless, our times are in His hands. As a plaque in my office reads, "Age is mind over matter; if you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

I heard something the other day that is worth contemplating..."If you didn't know how old you were, how old would you think you were?"  In my case, mid - thirties...sometimes younger!

I know a lot of crabby teenagers...crabby 20 and 30 somethings...and some young-thinking 70-80 year olds.

Attitude determines actions which determine accomplishments.

So, yeah, I'm another year/day/hour/minute/second closer to heaven...but so are you!

Here's a few shots of my biggest blessings: Dad, Jacob, Janelle on log ride at Silver Dollar City last week;
 Jane, Jacob, Janelle at Sight&Sound in Branson, Mo; Josiah and Joel at our new above ground pool (what a hassle to put up...thanks to Randy Rogers for helping); Janelle and Jacob in front of Sight & Sound (where we saw Noah production last week...phenomenal); Joel (left) photographing a wedding in Wisconsin over the weekend; Mom and Jacob enjoying the (ice cold) pool!

One More Memorial Day

Just discovered this...our friends in Canada do a phenomenal job in honoring her dead...was not aware of this, but here is a report from a couple years ago:

If this struck you as it did me, you can watch a six minute compilation of the photographers works by CLICKING HERE

God Owns the Battle

  It is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s. 1 Samuel 17:47
     This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 2 Chronicles 20:15

    As I celebrate yet another birthday today; I find this prayer from SCOTTY SMITH a tremendous encouragement as I, like you, go forth not into "my best life now" but to fight the good fight of faith; praying I never get involved in mickey-mouse fights!

Dear heavenly Father, I love it when you’re selfish with things I don’t really want anyway. So I’m gladly reminded today that you claim ownership of any battle into which you place me. Though you call me into spiritual warfare and though you give me armor to wear (Ephesians 6:10-18), it is you that I must trust in as the Divine Warrior. You’re not calling me to be a disengaged passivist, but a fully engaged worshipper—beholding the salvation of the Lord.

     Whether we’re talking about a mere skirmish or an all out assault from the powers of darkness, the battle belongs to you. Fear and discouragement are not the order of the day, faith and peace are.

     When I’m afraid of events in world history—when it seems like evil and terror will triumph, once again, let me hear the laughter of heaven. Let me see your installed King, the Lord Jesus. Show me the occupied throne of heaven and it will shut up my fears. (Psalm 2)

     When I’m under attack by the seducer, accuser and condemner of the brethren, once again, let me see Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. Jesus, you have become all the wisdom, righteousness, holiness and redemption I need (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). My boast is in you, not in anything in me.

     When I’m in the presence of evil people… keep me thinking, feeling and choosing with gospel sanity. When I’m in broken circumstances with broken people (which is most of life)… let me see Jesus more clearly than the storm and waves. When my own divided, duplicitous, easily-distracted heart wages war inside of me, give me confidence in your commitment to bring to completion the good work YOU began in me.

     When the biggest and most fierce opposition… when the most present and garish enemy… when “hugest” and most daily battle is actually against all the non-gospels and anti-gospels with which this world is filled… keep showing me more and more and more of the glory and grace of Jesus. So very Amen, I pray, in his tender and triumphant name.

Give Them Back - Good Stuff from Warren Wiersbe

Read Psalm 55:22-23

"Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved" (v. 22). This promise tells us that Christians do have burdens. David is not talking about concern for others, although it's good to bear one another's burdens. Instead, he means the burdens that the Lord allows each one of us to bear. One translation reads, "Cast what he has given thee upon the Lord."

Burdens are not accidents but appointments. The burdens you have in your life today are what God has ordained for you--unless they are the result of your own rebellious sin against Him. Burdens help us grow; they help us exercise the muscles of our faith. They teach us how to trust God and live a day at a time.

This promise also tells us that we can cast these burdens on the Lord. Peter said, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (I Pet. 5:7). The Lord gives us the burden, and then He says, "Now give that burden back to Me. But don't stop there; give Me yourself as well." If we try to give Him our burdens without giving Him ourselves, He really can't help us. It's like stepping onto an elevator with many heavy packages and failing to put them down on the floor until you reach your destination. Let the elevator carry both you and your packages.
Notice that the verse doesn't say He'll keep you from problems all the time. He's going to use problems to build your character. But he'll make sure the righteous will not be moved. Cast your burden on the Lord. Let Him sustain you today.

Giving your burden to God is an act of faith. But giving yourself to Him and letting Him use that burden to help you grow is taking an extra step of faith. He will invest that burden in building your character. Give your burdens to the Lord today.