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Thursday, June 30, 2011

What I Saw at Crescent Lake Today

Looked like we were going to get some thunderstorms; but nothing...pretty day, though cloudly. Some great conversations...missing my family but loving what God is doing here.

Here's some shots from my hour or so paddling around on a funyack:

                                                  A wonderful view through the feet

                              There were two, but one was a bit more skittish....

                                           How creative our God is!

                                        Uniquely beautiful water plant

                                         This guy let me get pretty close as I drifted rather than paddled

                                             The Retreat Center where my room is (from the kayak)

What Does "Accepting Christ" Legitimately Look Like?

Jonathan Edwards (emphasis added):

"That act of the will which there is in justifying faith tends to practice. He who by the act of his will does truly accept of Christ as a Savior accepts him as a Savior from sin, and not only as a Savior from the punishment of sin. But it is impossible that anyone should heartily receive Christ as a Savior from sin and the ways of sin, if he is not one who sincerely has a mind to part with all the ways of sin; for he who has not a mind that sin and he should be separated cannot have a mind to receive a Savior to part them. . . ."

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"In many churches Christianity has been watered down until the solution is so weak that if it were poison it would not hurt anyone, and if it were medicine it would not cure anyone." (don't know when this was written, but Tozer died in 1963...he had eyes more observant than most)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seen Today at CLBC

Crescent Lake Bible Camp, as mentioned, is my favorite camp. Here are some things I was able to see today during my bike/prayer ride:
                                                    The Climbing Tower is New This Season

                            The haunting cry of loons augment the beauty of sunrise

                              I sure love (and miss) our home, but I do like this house near the camp


J. C. Ryle provides a partial description of the "great exchange" that took place when our Savior, who had lived the life we couldn't live; was obedient to die the death we should have died:

Was He scourged? It was that “through His stripes we might be healed.” Was He condemned, though innocent? It was that we might be acquitted though guilty. Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was that we might wear the crown of glory. Was He stripped of His clothing? It was that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness. Was He mocked and reviled? It was that we might be honored and blessed. Was He reckoned a malefactor, and numbered among transgressors? It was that we might be reckoned innocent, and justified from all sin. Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was that He might be able to save others to the uttermost. Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful of deaths? It was that we might live for evermore, and be exalted to the highest glory.

J.C. Ryle

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why the Blessing on Crescent Lake?

After over thirty years of speaking at 5-7 camps each summer, I still maintain that Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander, Wi is my favorite camp.

Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, it is well staffed. Yes, the facilities are great...but that is not the reason it is my "favorite."

.There is something unique here. It is amazing to witness. It is undefinable. I hesitate to use the word "anointed" because of the way that has been cheapened by self-described "anointed" people. But there is something rare here.

And I think I know why...make a moment to read this plaque displayed by the lake (sorry the photo isn't more clear, but...):

God's Glory Doesn't Come to the Lazy

"Do you want to see His glory?"

Can't imagine any Christian hesitating on their answer...

But most won't.

Because they are lazy. Because they are too caught up in the "stuff" of life...hobbies, sports, television, net surfing. Because they are too caught up in the "stuff" of spirituality...conferences, Christian books, ministry.

Too caught up to "Be still, and know that I am God." Too caught up to do some deep thinking and meditating. Too caught up in the snares of commonality.

 Christian growth involves two terrible four-letter words -  t i m e   and    w o r k. There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

“If we want to see God’s glory, if we long for ourselves and others to be transformed into godliness, we must dwell on the gospel, where his glory is most clearly seen. It is the gospel into which we are to look, and it is by the power of the gospel that we will be changed.”
— Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Dennis E. Johnson in Counsel From the Cross

Monday, June 27, 2011

Help, I Need Somebody

Too often I take God's help for granted...sure, I recognize when He shows up in what I consider to be a "big" way...but I sometimes forget to thank Him for the things I've prayed in travel, a good report from doctor, Jane saying she had a great day..the "mundane" things of daily life.

Yet Hsi Word commands "Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you."

Thought of that as I saw this:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Drive...

The Super C week wrapped up yesterday...after a ton of goodbyes, and several one-on-one prayer times, I hit the road around 11.30am.

Yup, I was pretty tired; but not stupid...I stopped every couple hours to walk around, do knee bends, breath deep...the whole thing.

Felt good, weather was great, kept going. Got pretty tired as I neared Stevens Point, Wi...used the gps and called a few hotels...everything booked...except a Super 8 that had a room available for 120 bucks! No thanks. What was going on? A friendly clerk told me there was a softball tournament, a baseball tournament, and a ...wait for it...donkey festival...who woulda thunk?

So I proceeded to stop at a favorite Chinese place for dinner in Wausau; then drove to Crescent Lake Bible Camp where I'll start speaking at a junior high week later today; followed by a senior high week.

As I've mentioned, I find it hard to button my shirt as, this week, the entire Hager clan will be working at Christian camps...Joel at Timber Lee in East Troy, Wi; and Josiah continuing his full-time role at God's Mountain; Janelle doing her summer lifeguarding and more at God's mountain, and, this week only, Jane doing the cooking at God's Mountain (with her trusty assistant Jacob.

Yup, I'm proud, grateful, and grinning! The photo was taken early this morning during my prayer walk around the grounds of the camp...

Friday, June 24, 2011

One down...but not "out" or "over"

Tonight was the almost-obligatory campfire at week's end of a Christian camp experience.

Offhand I can't think of any of the 190-200 weeks of camp at which I've spoken that did NOT have a campfire...and my Korean friends usually have at least two during the week I share with them annually.

Tonight was wondrous...calm, somber, not an excess of emotion...several stated they were converted this week, others making decisions to read Word more often; others said they Romans 12.1ed their life tonight at the earlier meeting. A group of four young men publicly declared their battle with pornography; and asked for prayer as they struggled against that particular sin.

As I listened, I gazed up and watched the heavens declare His glory even as teens verbalized His glory. I thought of the scores of campfires it's been my privilege to observe since I first started speaking at camps in 1979...and of the seven other camps at which I'll speak this summer.

At each one I'll glance up at the stars...all created by Him and for Him..just as each camper is created by Him and for Him...

And I'll be amazed that I am called to do what I get to do.

After all these years, it still amazes, humbles, and emboldens recognize that the One who opens doors that no man can shut has called and equipped me to "do" this ministry.

And I pray camp isn't "over," but that the Spirit-prompted decisions made here endure as the students discipline themselves to stay in communication with the Father through the intake of His Word and the exhaling of prayer; through commitment to a good, Word honoring local church, and through any other doors of service the Lord opens.

I am one blessed dude. And I am so very, very grateful to the Lord; and to the folks who give and pray to ensure that the work continues.

Standing Out

Tonight is the last evening meeting for this first week of camp ministry 2011.

I will challenge the students to stand up, stand firm, stand out for the Lord Jesus in a time where the biggest enemies of the cause of Christ are within the professing Body.

As I was praying about preaching, I noticed this; and it reminded me of how one individual standing up by living and looking different does, in fact, stand out:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"To be effective, the preacher's message must be alive--it must alarm, arouse, challenge; it must be God's present voice to a particular people. Then, and not until then, is it the prophetic word and the man himself, a prophet."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Can I Help?

"Without Me, you can do nothing," says our Lord Jesus Christ.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," says Paul.

As Spirit of God continues to shape, mold, reform us; we can and should cooperate. In areas of temptation we can pray like crazy to have the power to resist etc, but if our struggle is alcohol we better stay out of bars! If our struggle is lust it isn't so much an issue of staying off certain websites; it is "bouncing the eyes" off the magazine rack at the grocery check-out.

Yes, we need His power. Equally yes, we need to use our heads and exercise (un)common sense.

Or, as Snoopy observes:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

All Dad's Who Stay The Course are Good Dad's

A "father" who willingly abandons his children relinquishes the title of Father or Daddy. But those men who stand by their wives and their children are heroes...regardless of what they do or don't do:

Especially for Dads

Both encouraging and convicting...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Give Me Jesus!

Wow...I want to figure out how to watch and listen to this every morning:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Intriguing Testimony

All who are in Christ share the same testimony, "I once was lost, and now I'm found." Details, backgrounds, and current situations vary, but the essence is the same, "I once was blind, but now I see."

So don't speak of celebrity testimonies. I don't hear it often anymore, but for years people would call me a "trophy of God's grace" because of my criminal background.

We are all trophies of His grace.

So the tattoos may scare you, the hair may alarm you, but give this testimony seven minutes and be blessed:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

The love of God is one of the great realities of the universe, a pillar upon which the hope of the world rests. But it is a personal, intimate thing too. God does not love populations, He loves people. He loves not masses, but men.

A. W. Tozer

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Scenes from the California Trip

Already posted some photos of the memorial service for my are some "lighter" shots of blessed times with family. Perhaps the highlight of the trip as an almost-two-hour-prayer meeting with my brother-in-law John Wilkerson (who pastors First Baptist, Long Beach, Ca).
                        What I Don't Miss About Southern California - Traffic & Smog
                          Some of the Hagers and all the Wilkersons Await the Stunt Show at
                                                    Knotts Berry Farm Monday

                                                          Jacob and his second youngest  cousin

                                                 Jacob on one ride that did not make him (or me) scream

                                                     Jack, Jacob and a trio of cousins

                          Jacob really wanted to actually SEE the HOLLYWOOD sign..he did

                            Jacob's (and my) shadow over the "star" of Harrison Ford

                                              My old stomping grounds - fun to share with fam
                                        And still another cousin enjoys the day with Jacob:
                                     Johnny Depp he wasn't, but close enough for us!
                                    Darth and a Storm Trooper made the day for Jacob!
                            An odd assortment of characters, but, hey, it's Hollywood!!!!!
                                                        Cousins Enjoying a Ride At Knott's

                       Suspicious confirmed...this was a defunct restaurant on Hollywood Blvd...

                                                       Jacob, two cousins, and Uncle John!
                                               One of only two daughters (of 9) - Lydia
                                          Thanks, Mom, for taking the picture!
                                     My favorite cartoon character...and Jacob loves him also
                           And as the clock nears 8pm...time to leave after a great, great day!

Greatest Challenge In Contemporary Christianity?

If you don't follow PETE WILSON I urge you to do so. He nails it (as he often does) in this writing. We often speak of people missing heaven by about 18 inches...a whole lot of Jesus in their heads, but no Jesus in their hearts.

Same thing applies to, well, application. We can store up Bible verses, theology, techniques and more in our heads and do no heavenly good for the King or His Kingdom. Or we can do the work...and invest the move it to our 24/7 lives and, amazingly, be used by God to bring glory to the Son.

Here's how Pete worded it:

I believe one of the most obvious challenges in contemporary Christianity is we mistakenly assume that information automatically translates into transformation. However, knowing something is true does not in and of itself ensure that the truth will make a significant difference in our lives.
James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
We have more access to great information than ever before.
  • Unbelievable Bible study tools available on the internet for stinkin’ free.
  • Phenomenal messages from the world’s best pastors one click away, thanks to podcasts.
  • In-depth and engaging bible studies adorning the shelves of bookstores all across America.
So what’s the problem?
We have to find a way to transfer all this incredible information that we know in our minds to our hearts so it can be lived out. We have to find a way to, as James puts it, “look intently into.” The word for “looks intently into” (parakypsas) literally means “to stoop down” in order to have a good close look.
Here’s my two cents. In order to “stoop down” you have to “slow down.” There’s not a crisis of information, but of transformation. And the greatest enemy of transformation, in a word, is hurry.
So slow down, stoop into God’s Word, actually do what it says, and see if the transformation doesn’t follow.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Think Before Opening

I try to read the appropriate chapter of Proverbs each day.
While psalms teach us how to worship; Proverbs teach us how to live.

So many of the Proverbs warn about the power of the mouth. Proverbs 13.3 is an example:
"Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin."

Ah, Snoopy, you teach me so much! Thanks for this reminder about being careful opening my mouth!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Wow. God is creative, powerful, and amazing:

My Brother

Most who read this know that I used to think my family was screwed-up, until I went to school and discovered we were "dysfunctional."

But I really think a reason I am still in youth work at my, ah, advanced age is that my upbringing was a generation or two "ahead" of its time..with parents not involved in my life at all; moving out at 14, etc.

My brother was 11 years older than I, so we really did not interact as brothers...he would drop in and out of my life as his military career allowed, and as I got older and more into drugs etc we rarely talked. We reunited several years ago, and for that I am grateful.

His death on Good Friday was a shock, and, for a variety of reasons, his widow did not hold a memorial until yesterday. Well over a hundred folks came, and it was as good a  time as such an event can be. I was able to share Jesus as I asked the Lord to set a watch over my lips; and met a few of his friends who knew Jesus and the gospel and who told me they, too, had shared with him.

Here are a few pics:

                                                       Bob Early in His Military Career

                When I was arrested way back when I lost everything, so this is a treasure - my brother holding me

 An honor guard did a folding of the flag thing, and a 1 star general handed me and Bob's daughter a flag
                                             (his  widow received one at his actual burial)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Brother's Memorial

At my brother's memorial service today (Saturday) an honor guard did the folding of the flag thing and presented one to his daughter, and one to me. Perhaps 100 folks at the first service, several shared; met at least two who shared our mutual faith. For most, no hope...again one reason why Romans 15.13 is one of my most favorite verses.
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A New (old) Invitation Song?

Probably not.

Most who know me understand that my view of the "invitation system" is not typical. I'm not totally against it (though I can't visualize Jesus softly saying, "every head bowed, every eye closed"; not have I ever understood why we want people to stand up and stand out for Christ, yet all too often try to "start them out" in secret ("no one is looking around, this is between you and God").

No way do I question motives of those who give standard invitations; and I can tolerate them (since I know God is sovereign in all things) as long as they don't devolve into manipulation...

But...all that aside, while on a prayer walk an old song came back into my head (so old it was when musicians were musicians and not computer programmers)...

Perhaps I'll use it as my next invitation "hymn"? Whatcha think?

Friday, June 10, 2011

You Are What You Eat

"Thy Words were found, and I did eat them..." said Jeremiah. If "you are what you eat" let's work hard to see that we have a steady "diet" of the Word of God (not "just" books about the Word) and the "natural" thing is that we'll transmit/show/declare that Word which burns within in the ghost ants below:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"We weren't given the Bible as a substitute for God; rather it is supposed to lead us right to the heart of God." AW Tozer

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Great Reason to Travel To California

Though the primary reason for this trip is to attend and participate in my brother's memorial service Saturday; there are also other visits to be made..spending the day and night with Jane's sister and family in Long Beach...left the house at 5am CDT, arrived at LAX 10.05am, by the time we picked up the car was close enough to lunch time for us.
If you've had one, you know how good they are; if you haven't, it's sort of like prison and Vietnam..if you ain't been, you don't have a clue: (plus, Bible references are on the wrappings!) I do believe there are In N Outs in heaven:

What Does Beginning of Wisdom Look Like?

Worship: Reverential Fear of God

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world
stand in awe of Him.
--Psalm 33:8

"When we come into this sweet relationship, we are beginning to learn
astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination,
lofty admiration of the attributes of God and something of the
breathless silence that we know when God is near.

You may never have realized it before, but all of those elements in
our perception and consciousness of the divine Presence add up to
what the Bible calls "the fear of God."...

There are very few unqualified things in our lives, but I believe
that the reverential fear of God mixed with love and fascination and
astonishment and admiration and devotion is the most enjoyable state
and the most purifying emotion the human soul can know."
A W Tozer in Whatever Happened to Worship?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why Is the Body Losing Teens?

Never heard of this guy until this morning...this is one of the most important messages I have ever shared...if you care about youth; if you care about His church; if you care about the this, heed this, pray this and, please, share this any way you can...After 30 plus years in (primarily) prison ministry, I assure you...he nails it. Yes, it is this "simple":


Need to increase your "awe" factor? As in "awesome"? Our God is awesome...and here is man's best guess as to what goes on inside of our "fearfully and wonderfully" made the cellular level...incredible:

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Josiah and Jacob" - Photography by Janelle

Can't even begin to write how much I love this photo of my oldest and my youngest, taken by my only daughter...


Yes, I know they are only "on loan" from God; but Joel, Jacob, Janelle, and Josiah (left to right, on Bald Head Island last month) are treasured gifts...they encourage me to pray more (and more desperately), the teach me much about life, they remind me how powerless I am...through all the "stuff" of parenting I recognize that Jane and I are so abundantly blessed...

Josiah and Jacob at God's Mountain

Son Josiah is a full-time missionary working at God's Mountain located in Rushville, Mo (just a few miles from our home) is a pic of him teaching at Leadership Training last week:

Son Jacob is at basketball camp at the Mountain through tomorrow afternoon. First time away from home without Mom or Dad. He is doing well. Us? Well.. (Jacob is 3rd from left in upper left corner)


“Adam and Eve faced temptation about a tree in a bright, sunny garden, a paradise with no pressure. But Christ faced temptation about a tree in a dark garden, a garden given the name that meant ‘oil press,’ and certainly he felt squeezed like an olive in a press on that dark night, to the point that his sweat was like drops of blood.

If Adam and Eve obeyed God about the tree, they would live. If Jesus obeyed God about the tree, he would die.

Jesus obeyed. And through his obedience he gained for us far more than Adam lost for us through his disobedience.

Adam lost for us the beautiful ‘naked and not ashamed’ of the garden. But at the cross, Christ hung naked and full of shame. It wasn’t his own shame. It was your shame and my shame. He ‘endured the cross, despising the shame’ (Heb. 12:2) so that ‘everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame’ (Rom. 10:11).” 
Nancy Guthrie, The Promised One - Seeing  Jesus in Genesis

NOTE - Book to be published end of July

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Special Announcement!

Thanks to my buddy DON SUNSHINE for letting me know that volume 1 of the "Basic Introductory Manual For Understanding Women" has finally been published: