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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why Youth Stay in the church!

This is very insightful, instructive, and informative (like the alliteration?)...Seriously, a loud, hearty, and enthusiastic AMEN to this:

Why Youth Stay in Church When They Grow Up

“What do we do about our kids?” The group of parents sat together in my office, wiping their eyes. I’m a high school pastor, but for once, they weren’t talking about 16-year-olds drinking and partying. Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years. These children had come through our church’s youth program, gone on short-term mission trips, and served in several different ministries during their teenage years. Now they didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. And, somehow, these mothers’ ideas for our church to send college students “care packages” during their freshman year to help them feel connected to the church didn’t strike me as a solution with quite enough depth.

The daunting statistics about churchgoing youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?
It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

1. They are converted.

The apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room. Listen to these words: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). We youth pastors need to get back to understanding salvation as what it really is: a miracle that comes from the glorious power of God through the working of the Holy Spirit.
We need to stop talking about “good kids.” We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them. In short, we need to get back to a focus on conversion. How many of us are preaching to “unconverted evangelicals”? Youth pastors, we need to preach, teach, and talk—all the while praying fervently for the miraculous work of regeneration to occur in the hearts and souls of our students by the power of the Holy Spirit! When that happens—when the “old goes” and the “new comes”—it will not be iffy. We will not be dealing with a group of “nominal Christians.” We will be ready to teach, disciple, and equip a generation of future church leaders—“new creations”!—who are hungry to know and speak God’s Word. It is converted students who go on to love Jesus and serve the church.

2. They have been equipped, not entertained.

Recently we had “man day” with some of the guys in our youth group. We began with an hour of basketball at the local park, moved to an intense game of 16” (“Chicago Style”) softball, and finished the afternoon by gorging ourselves on meaty pizzas and 2-liters of soda. I am not against fun (or gross, depending on your opinion of the afternoon I just described) things in youth ministry. But youth pastors especially need to keep repeating the words of Ephesians 4:11-12 to themselves: “[Christ] gave . . . the teachers to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” Christ gives us—teachers—to the church, not for entertainment, encouragement, examples, or even friendship primarily. He gives us to the church to “equip” the saints to do gospel ministry, in order that the church of Christ may be built up.
If I have not equipped the students in my ministry to share the gospel, disciple a younger believer, and lead a Bible study, then I have not fulfilled my calling to them, no matter how good my sermons have been. We pray for conversion; that is all we can do, for it is entirely a gracious gift of God. But after conversion, it is our Christ-given duty to help fan into flame a faith that serves, leads, teaches, and grows. If our students leave high school without Bible-reading habits, Bible-study skills, and strong examples of discipleship and prayer, we have lost them. We have entertained, not equipped them . . . and it may indeed be time to panic!
Forget your youth programs for a second. Are we sending out from our ministries the kind of students who will show up to college in a different state, join a church, and begin doing the work of gospel ministry there without ever being asked? Are we equipping them to that end, or are we merely giving them a good time while they’re with us? We don’t need youth group junkies; we need to be growing churchmen and churchwomen who are equipped to teach, lead, and serve. Put your youth ministry strategies aside as you look at that 16-year-old young man and ask: “How can I spend four years with this kid, helping him become the best church deacon and sixth-grade Sunday school class teacher he can be, ten years down the road?”

3. Their parents preached the gospel to them.

As a youth pastor, I can’t do all this. All this equipping that I’m talking about is utterly beyond my limited capabilities. It is impossible for me to bring conversion, of course, but it is also impossible for me to have an equipping ministry that sends out vibrant churchmen and churchwomen if my ministry is not being reinforced tenfold in the students’ homes. The common thread that binds together almost every ministry-minded 20-something that I know is abundantly clear: a home where the gospel was not peripheral but absolutely central. The 20-somethings who are serving, leading, and driving the ministries at our church were kids whose parents made them go to church. They are kids whose parents punished them and held them accountable when they were rebellious. They are kids whose parents read the Bible around the dinner table every night. And they are kids whose parents were tough, but who ultimately operated from a framework of grace that held up the cross of Jesus as the basis for peace with God and forgiveness toward one another.
This is not a formula! Kids from wonderful gospel-centered homes leave the church; people from messed-up family backgrounds find eternal life in Jesus and have beautiful marriages and families. But it’s also not a crap-shoot. In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their home with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church. The words of Proverbs 22:6 do not constitute a formula that is true 100 percent of the time, but they do provide us with a principle that comes from the gracious plan of God, the God who delights to see his gracious Word passed from generation to generation: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Youth pastors, pray with all your might for true conversion; that is God’s work. Equip the saints for the work of the ministry; that is your work. Parents, preach the gospel and live the gospel for your children; our work depends on you.

Author Jon Nielson is the senior high pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"The whole import and substance of the Bible teaches us that the God who does not need any thing nevertheless desires the adoration and worship of His created children." A. W. Tozer Whatever Happened to Worship

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Not Just "Good Pastors"

Stole this from THE RESURGENCE
It's a great article about "Ten Things Good Pastors Say." 
But methinks it applies to all of us;  I know it was both encouraging and convicting to me, so I share it with thee:

1. Please Forgive Me

Better than "I'm sorry," which can often be followed with an "if" or a "but," these words indicate a humble heart. Bad pastors hide their faults behind the cloak of their authority, practice self-defense against all charges, and basically pretend. Good pastors know they're sinners and admit it.

2. You're Right

Good pastors know they're not always/usually the smartest, most "spiritual" person in the room. They are zealous to give credit and acknowledge achievement and intelligence, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it encourages and empowers others.

3. You're Wrong

Bad pastors chicken out when it comes to calling out people on sin or biblical ignorance. Good pastors brave potential conflict and hurt feelings and say, "You're wrong," in gentle but firm ways, when necessary.

4. Jesus Loves You

Why did we stop saying this? I think because it became cliché. I'd love to see a recovery of the art of "Jesus loves you" strategically said at times of others' admissions of failure, sin, or trouble, "Jesus loves you" is a fantastic way to speak the gospel into people's lives.

5. I Love You

I think one reason we stopped saying "Jesus loves you" to people is because we don't really love them ourselves. Might as well save the hypocrisy, eh? But good pastors lay their lives down for the sheep. Telling people you love them is a reminder to them and to you that sacrificial love is your calling.

6. Me Too

Next to "Grace is true" (see #9, below), these might be the most important words in pastoral counseling. Bad pastors trade regularly in "Not me." In the pulpit and in the office, bad pastors set themselves apart from their congregations with tales of adventure, spirituality, and personal holiness. In the pulpit and in the office, good pastors talk of sin and trials and utter ineptitude and say, "Me too." I have seen entire countenances change when I've said some variation of "Me too."

7. Any Time

Of course you don't mean it literally. But you kind of do. Good pastors are available.

8. Thank You

Bad pastors think they're owed. Good pastors know everything is a gift.

9. Grace is True

I think deep down we all want to hear, "You're approved" (see #10), which is why we find "Grace is true" such a radical statement. You probably won't use the words, of course. But good pastors take the opportunity to glorify God by talking up his amazing grace every chance they get. Just 30 minutes ago, my writing of this post got interrupted by a visitor who wanted to talk about works and grace. I relished the chance to confirm his suspicion that grace is true. Bad pastors may say grace is true but the context of their teaching and the expectations in their leadership say, "Your works must be this high to ride this ride." I know some of my friends hate it when "gospel" is used as a verb, but I just have to say it: Good pastors gospel their people.

10. You're Approved

Everyone wants to believe they have what it takes, which is why it's such a bummer to hear the first half of the gospel and learn we really don't. Don't leave your people hanging. Be a good news pastor. Bad pastors beat their people up with their failures. Bad pastors are always disappointed. Good pastors know grace is true and Jesus is Lord, so they are ready to challenge every self-despairing soul with the wonderful truth that in Christ we are approved by God. Good pastors tell people they do have what it takes when they have Jesus' righteousness.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another Great Week...both behind and ahead

The first week of Teens For Christ camp in Alma, Nebraska concluded Friday, and we start again  tomorrowfor week number two...

The Lord worked through the combined efforts of the TFC staff, incredible volunteers, and the folks who pray for and invest in the ministry to which the Lord has called the Hagers.

Had some incredible one-on-one conversations; some encouraging, some heart breaking. The deceitfulness of sin entraps so stealthily...and often teens are virtually provoked into sin by the apathy and/or active participation of their parents.

First Jack Two Thirteen - there is no such thing as an illegitimate child, but all too many illegitimate parents.

But Spirit of God worked...and we are praying He does the same thing for this second week.

Temperatures have been close to horrible; but attitudes have been good...and I praise God for airconditioned chapel (and housing!).

Jacob is having a blast...participates a bunch, went to County Fair lastnight. Going to take him to Arch Museum over I 80 when he wakes up...preaching tomorrow morning; then back out to camp.

Jane's birthday is the 26th, and once again I'm on-the-road. So grateful for such a wonderful, supportive wife with ministry of her glad the Lord called us as a team.

Early Morning Scream

So I get up early this Saturday morning in Oxford, a tiny village in Nebraska. Wander around town looking for a cup of coffee...find one! Yippee! Sitting on a bench sipping, probably around 5.45 am, when I hear a scream cut through the morning silence, "I hate you with all of my heart!!!"

Can't tell if it is a child, a teen, or an adult...the voice is incredibly loud, but distorted. I look towards the sound and see a pick up roar away...I hear and see nothing else...

My first thought was that a girl had lost her virginity and had been dumped. Then I wondered if it was, in fact, a child who had hoped to spend the day with divorced dad but he changed his mind...

So I prayed that whatever the situation, that the Lord would use it to bring attention to Himself as the ultimate need-meeter.

And I thanked Him for prompting me to pray.

Maybe that's what it means to "pray without ceasing"?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"Cultivating quietness is a missing discipline today...the quietness needed to nurture an inner life hid in Christ." AW Tozer

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Danger of Assumption

In the Army we had a phrase about the word "assume" that we'll skip for now...just think "king james donkey."

But the following comic aptly portrays the danger of assumption...and the need for us to look carefully, listen carefully, react carefuly (sounds rather proverbic, huh?)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Devotionals Not Cutting It?

I am not against "devotionals"...especially if they are based on the Word, and that those who use the devotionals make the time and effort to open their Bibles and read the cited passage (if there are no Bible verses as part of the "devotional"...well, it ain't "Christian")...

But, I fully concur with the following assessment written many, many years ago:

I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that “nothing happens” when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand. C.S. Lewis

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pride's Peril

I believe it was C. S. Lewis who wrote, "Pride is the chief sin."

Here is warning from Jonathan Edwards:

"Pride is the worst viper in the heart. It is the first sin that ever entered into the universe. It lies lowest of all in the foundation of the whole building of sin. Of all lusts, it is the most secret, deceitful, and unsearchable in its ways of working. It is ready to mix with everything. Nothing is so hateful to God, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, or of so dangerous consequence. There is no one sin that does so much to let the devil into the hearts of the saints and expose them to his delusions."

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any proof, and the worshipping heart needs none." A.W. Tozer

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Week Later - Debrief

What the Lord did at Crescent Lake Bible Camp last Wednesday is extremely hard to try to put into words...which may well be an indication that it was a God-thing as opposed to a sadly typical camp "high."

But I will try to recapture the event, as much as for my sake as anyone who may read this.

Now that a week has evaporated I can say with confidence it was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. The whole week was uniquely blessed (I'm sure as  a result of many, many people praying) but Wednesday evening was phenomenal.

I preached on the totality of God's forgiveness, and our responsibility, duty, and privilege to "pass it on" (Ephesians 4.32 etc).

I sat down, and the band began to facilitate worship (I hate the term "lead" worship) we sang I "heard" the voice of God in a firm, crystal-clear way. (No, I did not actually "hear" Him speak...) There was no arguing from me (amazingly enough)...

I walked through the teens to the front, motioned to 'Shua, the leader-of-the-band...he gave me the floor and I said something like,

"In the past 24 hours several of you have spoken to me of your addiction to pornography. It is rampant throughout our society...and it is terribly destructive and has long-lasting impact. The Bible says "confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." I am compelled to say this, if you are serious about repenting of this horrible sin and walking in newness of life, and are willing to publicly admit that sin  even as you pray for yourself and others, I want to open the front of the chapel (extremely confined and crowded with music equipment) and suggest you come and physically kneel, pray, be prayed for."

I then sat down...and many students and counselors came and knelt, both young men and ladies. Sobs were heard, prayers were heard, and it was a clear demonstration of God's convicting Spirit.

Perhaps 90 minutes transpired. I was going to take some video, and then felt it was too holy a time to record. Students were still kneeling and praying as we dismissed the crowd (cancelling the evening game).

I was pretty certain it was a Spirit-thing when the students left...silently. Hardly a word was heard...and the teens gathered in their "team" groups.

A moment or two later prayers were again heard all over the campground, and a bit later a group started singing...this perhaps lasted another hour. I really lost all track of time, and as I later spoke to staff, counselors, and students...we all did.

Rather than have the teens meet in their cabin groups for closing, someone made the decision to have all the males meet in one building and all the females to meet in another. I went to the men's meeting and, after realizing they were all looking at me to speak and lead, I said, "I have to go call my wife" and left...feeling with my departure they'd be free to share...

These meetings lasted another hour or so...

The next morning several campers and staff spoke to me individually of their conviction, repentance, and desire to be delivered from the trap of pornography. Since then I have received letters, emails, and calls from many.

It looks bland on paper...but it was incredible in person.

Pray for the continue working of Spirit of God in the lives of those who were genuine. Only God knows. But the adversary will fight hard, yet "greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world."

As I told the campers, in order to follow through with various decisions, they may have to set their standards higher than their parents as far as what music to listen to, what tv to watch, and where computers should be (it is idiotic to have a tv or computer in a teen's room).

All I can say, all I can beg, is "God, please do it again!"

Multi Purpose Peanuts

Courship/dating/singlehood for life/etc...

No shortage of "experts" on a subject of which the Bible has principles only rather than "thus says the Lord..."

But enough of that...there are so many ways to "interpret" the following cartoon...some very serious, some very light...I'll leave it to you (and I'd love you to make the time to comment!):

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sense about Spirit

I will die on this mountain:

If you are in a meeting of any type where Holy Spirit is getting more attention than Jesus, do not walk, for the nearest exit.

He (the Spirit) is just as personal, holy, and lovely as is the Father and the Son, but the clear ministry of Spirit of God is to glorify the Son.

R. C. Sproul puts it this way, "It is the chief ministry of God the Holy Spirit to bring people to God the Son and apply His work to them. In a true outpouring of the Holy Spirit people are never led to a unitarianism of the Third Person of the Trinity. A preoccupation with the Holy Spirit without a view of Christ is not the desire of the Holy Spirit Himself."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Okay a few more from CLBC, and some from Timber Lee

Left Crescent Lake this morning; arrived at Timber Lee to visit Joel and Chris&Shannon Radloff. Joel and I and a bunch of counselors traveled 45 minutes to the Hickory Hill Buffalo Farm in Emmett, Wi. The owners,  Gene and Jacque Imes, gave us a tour and fed us buffalo (bison) burgers and more...delightful hosts, wonderful are pics:
                                                             My new friend Sarah

                                Joshua a.k.a. 'Shua facilitated worship with a great band

                                       Silent witnesses at the Buffalo Farm

                                    The homestead included this 19th century smokehouse

                                      Yes the buffalo got close...

                                   My friend of several years Tina

                                            Another friend of a few years...Devan

                                              Calf needs mom

                                  Hard to fathom millions of these once roamed our nation

                                                    Son Joel enjoying  the break from overseeing counselors

                                                    Another outbuilding on the buffalo farm

                         The counseling team (to include Sam) was the best team I've ever worked with

I Love This Sentence!

Here is the opening paragraphs of a blog written about "The King's Speech." It is by MIKE WITTMER and is worth reading in its entirety.

But these first paragraphs are so very valid, and the "bolded" sentence is the best one I've read in perhaps months:

I finally saw The King’s Speech last night (and early this morning, it’s a long movie). I almost never watch movies in a theater, not because of my residual conservative upbringing, but because I can’t see paying $20 when my wife and I can watch the same movie for $1 a few months later. I do read the reviews of each new movie, and frankly, there aren’t many that I’m interested in seeing, and even less that God wants me to see.  I doubt that it’s possible to spend much time in theaters and not suffer spiritually. 

If you think that sounds legalistic, it may be because you’re too licentious. Of course conservative Christians were wrong for saying that our young people should not go to the movies (especially when we watched the same films at home on our VCRs). But I don’t think we’re better off now that the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and even our sermons include illustrations from R rated movies (and not the good kind). Pastors, please remember that any time you refer to a movie in one of your sermons, you are giving tacit approval to every person there to watch it. Every teenager is thinking, “If my pastor saw Caddyshack, then I can, too.” Is it any wonder that our young people struggle with sexual sin?

Last Set of Pictures

Okay, still in the "warm fuzzies"...probably need to distance myself before writing much; but these past two weeks have been, at a minimum, a highlight of my 30 plus years of ministry; if not the highlight...God worked here at CRESCENT LAKE BIBLE CAMP  in a powerful, unique, ensure-only-He-gets-the-credit way.

What a joy to be here to see it...and to experience the intense spiritual conflict that verified the working of Spirit of God. As Spurgeon said, "The surest sign of the smile of God is the frown of the devil."

As I've written and said, there is something "special" here at CLBC...not "just" the absolutely fantastically trained and committed counselors and staff, but a sense of "sacred ground" that, from my view, traces back to the start of the camp in 1937.

I encourage you to read the history of CLBC BY CLICKING HERE

 Here are a few final pics from 2011

                               Praying, like these plants, each teen keeps growing and going

                       "Oh, my, they are raising their hands and clapping and...and...dancing!" Yeah,
                            what's your point? Read Psalm 150, and understand that "man looks on
                            the outward appearance, but God considers the heart."
       AN ABSOLUTE JOY TO WORK WITH 'SHUA AND "COLLIDE"...extremely talented musicians;
                   more vital, lovers of the Lord, lovers of teens, and lovers of pointing to Jesus rather than self

                       Treasured, long-time friends Bruce & Joan Frasier spent Friday night with us...

Praying for No Cold Water

The senior high week at Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander, Wi concludes this morning...I will head to TimberLee in East Troy, Wi to hang out with Joel...the counselors (FANTASTIC group of counselors, by the way) and staff (wonderful people) will get a 24 hour break before doing it all again); and the campers go back to real-life-101, also known as the war zone...

And too many of them, like Linus, will leave here excited and determined, but will get home to have their zeal dampened by parents who want Jesus to be part of their life, rather than have Jesus be their life.

Pray with me that the Lord would use each teenager to be salt and light in his or her own home; and that the dampness and chill of typical churchianity not quench their fire, their zeal, their desire to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Hit the Road, Jack...

On the road again..four or so hours to Timber Lee to hang out with Joel; then tomorrow eight hours to HOME ! Yippee!

Few more shots:

                                               Traveling Reps from Emmaus College

                                                      Band prays before morning rally Friday


                                      Dale, and his wife Desi, Haskins pour their hearts into serving's Dale practicing what he teaches:

                          No real spiritual application, but campers enjoy "Man Gorilla Gun!"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hmmm....well, yeah....

Glad to be (almost) on the Way Home...

The two weeks of ministry at my favorite place on earth, CRESCENT LAKE BIBLE CAMP in the northwoods of Wisconsin, will end which point I'll head to Timber Lee in East Troy, Wi to visit son Joel (and a couple other friends) overnight, and then Sunday I'll make the trek HOME! Yippee!

But it is bittersweet. The Lord did (and is doing) some wondrous things here...and after more than a day to reflect what happened here Wednesday night was a genuine taste of revival...bring it on, Lord! As I've written before, there is a spiritual "something" here that is no where else I've been, and I remain convinced it goes back to two pastors kneeling and praying on a rock in 1937 as they invested their last dollars in a piece of land, now CLBC, on which to build a camp. The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.

Some photos:
                                           The vital link of ministry - counselors!

                                          Rapid Movers All Over the Camp

                                                         Thursday dusk

                                                         Nibble of God's Handiwork

                                                                More of the GREAT counselors

                                                                 Simple Beauty

How Does the Spirit Impact?

Most have a sinful tendency to say "God always" or "God never" in connection with so many aspects of life.

R C Sproul makes a sane, balanced, and important observation:

"The Bible does not provide a uniform formula for the proper physical or emotional reactions to the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

The presence of tears, convulsions, jerking, laughter, etc. are no measure of the Spirit’s presence. 

When we canvass the Scripture to see how the saints reacted to the outpouring of the Spirit, we see no prescribed form of bodily behavior. Habakkuk had a quivering lip and a trembling belly. Others fell to the ground as though dead. Some wept, some sang, some were reduced to stunned silence. 

In light of the diversity of human personalities and indeed the very nature of man, the presence or absence of these responses is no true test of the authenticity of the Spirit’s work.

However, I hasten to add that though a wide variety of emotional responses may be detected in Scripture by those who encounter the living God, there is at least one emotion that may safely be excluded from the list – namely, boredom. It is hardly possible for a creature made in the image of God to be awakened or revived by the Spirit of God and be bored in the process."


Thursday, July 7, 2011

From 1976..still Amazingly (and Sadly) Contemporary

If you're a will relate.

If you're an will remember.

And, if you're an adult...remember that it is incredibly harder now for our teens than it was back-in-the-day...whether that is 40 years ago or just a couple years ago....

What the...

Revelation 21 and 22 present  heaven as the opposite of hell. Hell is separation from the gracious presence of God; heaven, living in that presence. Hell involves terrible pain; heaven, unceasing joy. Hell means the darkness of banishment from God’s glory; heaven, basking in its light. Hell consists of everlasting rejection by God; heaven, being His son or daughter forever. Hell entails the second death; heaven, eternal life.

Robert A. Peterson

Hell On Trial

Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

"Our walk by faith, if it is true biblical faith, will get us into trouble." AW Tozer

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Parents - Stop Enabling the Pornographication of your Children

Just had a great walk and talk with a camper who is struggling with pornography and the issues to which it leads.

Wish it was an unusual conversation.

Two weeks ago at Polo a counselor and three teens publicly admitted their struggle with porn and asked for prayer.

The issue is not simply for males; it is a growing hazard for females (of all ages).

PARENTS! Wake up!

As I tell the teens, if they are growing more serious in their desire to live for Jesus, they may well have to set their standards higher than their parents.

A Christian home that allows MTV, for instance, is no longer a "home," but a "house." There are other stations beside MTV, but to allow that filth in the house is similar to letting 4,283 mules take a crap in your living room...with far deadlier results.

A Christian parent who allows their child to have a tv or computer in their bedroom is, well, stupid.

"Oh, but Jack, I trust my child."


There is no such thing as an illegitimate child, but there are far too many illegitimate parents who refuse, whether by laziness, fear, or "I don't want my kids to dislike me."

Moms and Dads...if you genuinely love your them enough long term to let them hate you short term.

Gonna Make Some of You Mad Probably...

"Most of us labor under the delusion that we have every right to our lives; that we have the right to go where we wish, do as we please, live as we choose, and decide our own destiny. We do not. We belong to God. He made us for himself. He chose us in Christ out of love, from before the foundation of the earth to be his own. He has bought us twice over, both through his generous death and also by his amazing resurrection life." Phillip Keller

Balancing the truth of Keller's quote with perceived, inherent American "I've got my rights!" and "Go for the gold" and "Look out for number one" is a continual battle.

I love America. I'm grateful to be a citizen of a free nation.

But my allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to His Father, who "so loved the world..." not the United States.

I am uncomfortable seeing an American flag adjacent to a "Christian" flag.

And I believe it is very difficult to live for Christ in our nation.


We just celebrated "Independence Day." Yet we are totally dependent on the Lord.

We are told to "look out for number one," yet our Savior reminds us "if you want to be great among God's people, learn to be the servant of all."

"Go for the gold" rings our unofficial anthem. Be content, rings scripture.

American citizens demand our "rights." Exactly what rights does a bondslave of Jesus have?

I love our country. I pray for her leaders (not just those I agree with...). I spent four years serving in the Army.

But it is not, nor has it been, nor will it be "God's country."

And thus we should guard ourselves from off-balance patriotism which could tragically slide into idolatry.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What I Saw Today At Crescent Lake

Such a wondrous place is Crescent Lake Bible Camp (Rhinelander, Wi)'s a few shots taken today:

Generations Apart, Same Observation

Perhaps this will sound self-serving.

Not meant to be, as well as I know my own (deceitful) heart...

Within two days I heard the same assessment  from a herd of junior highers (with whom I just completed a week at Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander, Wi; during which I took the photo whilst on a funyack) and a woman in her late seventies or early eighties...

The teens said something like, "Thanks, Jack, for speaking so clearly about what I needed to hear. I can't understand my pastor/youth pastor/etc but you are so 'in-my-face' that I have to pay attention. I didn't like some of what I heard, but God worked in me..."

After I preached in a local church many folks gave the typical thanks etc (what Howard Hendricks calls the evangelical "glorification of the worm ceremony") on their way out...

But the elderly woman (at my age can I call someone else elderly?) enveloped my right hand in both of hers and said, with tears, "I haven't heard preaching like that for a long, long time. Keep preaching the truth, and preach it hard, young man." (no matter what she said, the last two words endeared her to me!)

I've learned to bounce praise to the One who is worthy (and, by the way, I usually bounce criticism the same way).

But I hear those sentiments so often...

Why are all too many include "professionals"...notorious for almost saying something?


Psalm 113.3: "From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!"

Fourth of July sunset at Crescent Lake Bible Camp; Rhinelander, Wisconsin...a place where God works mightily!

Do I Really Trust in His Sovereignty?

Do I really trust in the sovereignty of God?

Do I really believe He's got the whole world in His hands?

Well, yeah, I do. I sure don't "get" it...but I'd probably jump off a cliff if I didn't believe that "the Lord God reigneth omnipotent."

I like John MacArthur's insight:

"The wonder of wonders to me is not just the miracle where God instantly invades and just interrupts and violates the flow of everything. To me the greater wonder is that God can take it all and still make it work for His will. That’s astounding to me. The diversity of an innumerable number of events, circumstances and attitudes that occur within the limited freedom of men and demons and God pulls it all together to accomplish exactly what He wants done. Incredible not only to conceive that it can be done but to make it happen. But that is precisely what God does. So that the world with what we assume to be an almost infinite number of random choices is doing nothing more than acting out that which is predetermined by God."

Monday, July 4, 2011

So Stinking Funny!

I am stealing and reprinting this whole thing from HERE

I laughed over most of them, proverbially rolled on the floor over some, and just got a lot healthier (because a merry heart does good like a medicine):

Do you write many letters? Back in my lower-tech days, I wrote lots of letters ... long letters! It seems that the easier and cheaper communication became, the less I communicated with handwritten letters. I'm in touch with many of the same people I used to write to, but I'm also definitely in touch with many more than before. Most of my written communication now is by e-mail, texts, and instant messages. I rarely ever receive handwritten personal letters, maybe because I seldom send them myself.

In my files I found some very short letters, all of which actually say quite a bit. I've accumulated others along the way, and post them today for your enjoyment.

Dear Americans,
You'd have cool accents too if you hadn't thrown all that tea in the water.
The British

Dear Internet,
Please stop with the talking ads that start on their own.
Just had a heart attack

Dear Internet Explorer,
Thank you for being the #1 browser that people use to download a better browser.
Safari, Firefox and Chrome

Dear Silence,
You may be golden, but I'm silver
Duct Tape

Dear Yahoo,
I've never heard anyone say, "I don't know, let's Yahoo! it..." just sayin'....

Dear Facebook,
Congratulations on becoming a verb. Welcome to the club.

Dear Facebook,
Just wait, one day they'll abandon you as well.

Dear Windshield Wipers,
Can't touch this.
That Little Triangle

Dear Icebergs,
Sorry to hear about the global warming. Tough luck.
The Titanic

 Dear World,
Please stop freaking out about 2012. Our calendar ends there because some Spaniards invaded our country and we got a little busy....
The Mayans

Dear Math,
Please grow up and solve your own problems. I don't have time for yours AND mine.
I don't care about the value of X

Dear Mathematicians,
Here's a hint: X will always equal 10.
The Romans

Dear Rubik's Cube,

Dear "ppl hoo tawk lyk dis,"
We are coming for you.
The Grammar Nazis

Dear Toaster,
Just gonna stand there and watch me burn?

Dear Americans,
Oh, you thought I meant change for the BETTER ... I can see how you'd think I meant that....
President Obama

Dear Obama,
Harder than it looked, huh?
George W

Dear Amish,
You shouldn't be reading this.

Dear kids who tormented me in 7th grade because I was smarter than you,
I need you to work overtime tomorrow.
Your Boss

Dear John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,
Your name is my name too!
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

Dear people that text back "K,"
I am rarely in the mood to talk about Potassium.
Facetious chemistry student

Dear Scissors,
I feel your pain... No one wants to run with me either.
Sarah Palin

Dear girls who have been dumped,
There are plenty of fish in the sea ... Just kidding! They're all dead.

Dear The Movie,
The Book

Dear Prince Charming,
You've got some 'splaining to do!
Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty

Dear Customers,
Yes, we ARE making fun of you in Vietnamese.
Nail Salon Ladies

Dear National Association of Procrastinators,
That is quite the acronym.
I think I'll join you

Dear person reading this,
You're here because you're actively procrastinating or avoiding real work, aren't you? It's too.

Liberty Will Reign - John Adams - Wow

I did not get to watch all this HBO (yes, HBO) series. When winter comes I will netflix it and watch it all. This brief clip is powerful:

Precisely Why Today is Dangerous

Read Charlie's definition of "independence." Don't get your patriotism mixed up with your faith. It is difficult to live for Christ in America...because we are told lies from day one:

"I'm independent...I can do what I king is going to tell me what to do!"

"I deserve better than this."

"I'm going for the gold; looking out for number one!"

But the Word of God says...

"Without Me you can do nothing...You are no longer your own, you are bought with a price..."

The only thing you deserve is hell.

"Esteem others as better than yourselves." "If you want to be great in God's Kingdom, learn to be the servant of all."

Enjoy the holiday, don't eat too much...but don't buy into the lie (see previous post).

Don't Buy The Dream

Sunday, July 3, 2011

People Get Ready! Wow...

Note to self-appointed witch hunters...please do not bother to post "but Jack, are these people Christians?" It's the message of the song, and the talent of the individuals that makes this very, very enjoyable...(and if it really does bother you that maybe they are not believers (I don't know their hearts) you really think every "Christian" artist is? And, even if he or she is, do you really think all their backup musicians are? Please be consistent and "logical" in your legalism)

For the rest of you...enjoy..

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The CLBC Team

Who are the hardest working people at any camp?

Easy...the kitchen crew...and we had a fabulous youth group making sure we got fed, cleaning, washing etc this past week.

The second hardest working people? Easy. The counselors. Here is a shot of the counselor debrief as junior high camp at Crescent Lake closed today:

The counselors are fantastic, gifted, committed to serving the Lord by serving the campers; and men and women of prayer.

The band "Collide" pointed us to Jesus through song, and will also be here fo r senior high week, which starts Sunday at 2pm. Pray for us.

I was gracious enough to take a photo of the band that, quite obviously, should be the photo on their first record album:

What a Drag It Is Getting Older...

I am so grateful I've been able to speak at several camps every summer since 1978...I'm incredibly blessed to have been speaking in and running youth groups for that duration of amazes me that I'm saved; that I get to do what I get to do; and I specifically pray for at least two more decades of such ministry.

A blessed reality for the last several years is that I get to spend time with campers whose parents were campers back-in-the-day...

For instance, Lynn was part of the HCY group way back when, part of the church youth group where I filled in for over a year...and now her son, Ian, camped with me this week. Her daughter isn't quite old enough...yet.

Make the Time

I know you are busy. But I urge you to make the time  to read this from Tim Challies
It is tremendously insightful, deeply convicting, and vitally important:


I grew up in a Christian culture in which very little evangelism took place. How little? The first believer’s baptism I ever witnessed was my wife (she was my girlfriend at the time) and that was when we were eighteen or nineteen. It was the first time our church had ever baptized an adult. And what’s more, it was the first time most of the people who attended that church had ever seen an adult get baptized.

A few years after my wife’s baptism we moved away from the town we had grown up in so we could be closer to my place of business. In the past decade we have been members of two different churches that place much greater emphasis on reaching the lost. We have seen many, many people come to faith, including several who are now close friends. We have seen lives altered dramatically and have seen more baptisms than we can count—baptisms in churches, rivers, pools, and a really big, ugly aluminum tank. We have shared in the joy of seeing people profess their faith by being baptized. It truly is one of the greatest joys of any church.
Over the years I’ve had to reflect on what made the churches I attended as a child and teenager so ineffective at evangelism. While there are several reasons I could provide, and they are of varying importance, there is one that I believe stands at the foundation of the rest: These churches often regarded the unbeliever as the enemy. Of course the church would never have articulated that belief, but it seemed to be deeply rooted.
This attitude manifested itself in many ways. One of the clearest ways was among the children of church members. They would rarely, if ever, be allowed or encouraged to play or even interact with the unsaved children in the neighborhood. I knew an “urban missionary” whose children were confined to their backyard and were forbidden from playing with the other children. The churched children were not allowed to play with other children lest they become corrupted by their worldliness.

My observation was that this approach failed and failed badly. First, the church was not faithful in its calling to take the gospel throughout the world. They preferred to exist in an enclave, safe from outside influences.

Second, and ironically, the children developed a fascination with the world. I believe this was, in large part, because access to the outside world had been denied to them and they had never seen the pain and heartbreak that are the inevitable results of forsaking God. The world can look awfully attractive until a person sees the results of giving himself over to it.

Third, the parents were prone to ignoring worldliness in their own children. I know that I saw more drugs, more drinking, more disrespect and more awful behavior in the Christian schools I attended than I did in the public schools. This isolation simply did not work. What I saw was that we do not need the world to teach us worldliness. Worldliness arises from within.

The attitude that was modeled by my parents was far different. They took the opposite approach and we, their children, were always encouraged to make friends with the children in the neighborhoods we lived in. We saw many children and parents come to faith in this way. Many others may not have become believers, but they received a clear presentation of the gospel so that they are now without excuse before God. And regardless of whether or not these people came to faith, we gained many good and valuable friendships.

Mom and dad did not do this because they regarded the folks in the neighborhood as a project, but out of a genuine love, concern and appreciation for these people. The person next door was not an enemy, but a person who was just as unsaved as my parents were not too many years before. The person next door was someone in desperate need of a Savior, and they intended to give everyone the opportunity to meet the Savior through them.

My parents were not afraid. They did not hide us away from the world. They allowed us to see sin and to see the effects of sin. They allowed sin’s mystique to be destroyed, they allowed us to see unbelievers acting like unbelievers. When we saw difficult things or shocking things they taught us that the wages of sin is death. We saw this, not in the abstract but in reality.

Sometimes worlds clashed. There were a couple of times when my sisters brought friends to church, friends who were unsaved but were showing interest in the gospel, only to have them mocked or scorned. One little girl was scolded and had her ear “flicked” by the woman in the pew behind her because she was not able to sit still throughout the service. A friend my sister brought to church was openly mocked by the children in the church because he had dyed-blond hair and an earing. He never returned, and as far as I know, never expressed any openness to the gospel after that time.

I truly believe, after many years of reflection, that the heart of the problem in these churches was in their attitude towards the unbeliever. The person next door was the enemy; he was a person to be feared for what he might do to the family, and the children in particular; he was someone to be regarded with distrust and suspicion rather than with love and sympathy.

The irony is that when we protect ourselves from this enemy, we are prone to take our eyes of the real enemy; we allow him to slip by, unnoticed. We are not waging war “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). The real enemy is not next door. The real enemy is our own sinfulness and the worldliness that continues to try to manifest itself in our lives. The real enemy is spiritual, not physical. The real enemy, the most dangerous enemy, is within.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Truth About Salvation "Decisions" (Eph 2.10)

No fruit...

Because there is no shoot:

Because there is no root:

Even Lone Ranger had a Buddy

Amazes me how many twist, avoid, ignore Hebrews 10.25, "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

We are "parts of the Body." There are tons of dangers. We really do, we really do, we really do need each other, as Lucy points out: