Get the book here

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Need to Set a Goal?

Donald Whitney writes, 

"It's one thing to be unfamiliar with Scripture when you don't own a Bible; it's another thing when you have a bookshelf full.

No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God's Word. 

Nothing can substitute for it.

There is simply no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Josiah & Jacob on Christmas eve eve

Jane, Josiah, Jacob and I took a trip to Crown Center/Union Station on Sunday evening.

                                 Intense hangman at Nick and Jake's on way home...

                                         Outside Crown Center...

                                           The Union Station tree...

Miracle One

Wayne Grudem is one smart dude. In his Systematic Theology he makes this observation:

"It is by far the most amazing miracle in the whole Bible -

far more amazing than the resurrection

and more amazing than the creation of the universe.

The face that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join Himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man,

will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

As 2012 evaporates, it is hard to be optimistic. The economy, obamacare, the pending Supreme Court rulings on "gay marriage", and many other factors combine to make the future bleak...

Yet we cling to the Lord, and believe in His sovereignty.

And we recognize that "all God's people got trouble."

Thought of that as I read Habakkuk 3.17,18 as part of my intake this morning:

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls, 
yet will I rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation."

React, or act? It is an act of the will to "rejoice" and to "take joy."

Recognize the focal point of rejoicing..."in the Lord"..."in the God of my salvation."

Helps me keep things in perspective...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Surprised by Suffering?

I wonder if 1 Peter 4.19 was one of the verses Thomas Jefferson didn't like?

Don't imagine most of the expensively-suited television "preachers" like it...

"Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."

Thought of that verse as I read this, from Charles Simeon:

"My dear brother, we must not mind a little suffering for Christ's sake. When I am getting through a hedge, if my head and shoulders are safely through, I can bear the pricking of my legs. Let us rejoice in the remembrance that our holy Head has surmounted all His suffering and triumped voer death. Let us follow Him patiently; we shall soon be partakers of His victory."

Monday, November 26, 2012

In Ministry? Wanna Be? Read this...

"It really is true: the health and success of your ministry really are a matter of death and life.

If you are ever going to be an ambassador in the hands of a God of glorious and powerful grace, you must die.

You must die to your plans for your own life.

You must die to your self-focused dreams of success.

You must die to your demands for comfort and ease.

You must die to your individual definition of the good life.

You must die to your demands for pleasure, acclaim, prominence, and respect.

You must die to your desire to be in control.

You must die to your hope for independent righteousness.

You must die to your plans for others.

You must die to the pursuit of your own glory in order to take up the cause of the glory of Another.

You must die to your unfaltering confidence in you.

You must die."

Paul Tripp

Dangerous Calling

Friday, November 23, 2012

Don't Quit

The day after...


Still thanking?

Should be. "Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Rejoice...even though the line may be long, even though you're a Jets fan, even though a family argument may  have disrupted the holiday...

Pray without ceasing...not as a "last resort," but as a first...

In every situation, give thanks...not "just" on Turkey day, not "just" before meals, but "in every situation..."

But, wow, it is so tough today...

In the words of that great theologian Mark Lowry, "Sure beats hell, sure beats hell, no matter what you're going through you're doing pretty well..."

Give thanks...with a grateful heart...

Thursday, November 22, 2012


"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you..."

So much to be thankful for...everyday...

The gift of salvation purchased at such a horrific cost...That God came to me when I certainly wasn't seeking Him, convicted me of sin by His Spirit, brought me to repentance and faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus...

So grateful for my Proverbs 31 wife...celebrating 30 years next Tuesday...

Four children...answers to prayer, incentive to pray...

The opportunity to serve vocationally for over three decades...

The adventure of subsisting on missionary source of income save the gifts/investments of people who stand with us in prayer and finance...

The desire to finish well...

His unfailing love...

The opportunity to redeem the days...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In EVERYthing Give Thanks???

Doctor Helen Roseveare was a missionary to what was then known as the Belgian Congo in the mid-1960s.

It was a time of horrific war, killing many, to include dozens of missionaries.

Helen saw friends shot, dropped into mass graves, and more. She was a victim of terrible brutalization and abuse, but survived.

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

A Prayer for Overflowing with Thankfulness

     So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7 
     Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be a man who gives you the quality and quantity of thanks of which you are so absolutely worthy. Not like a slow drip, a babbling brook, or a meandering stream, but like a geyser—a gospel geyser—spontaneously erupting with gratitude any and every moment. I want to overflow with thankfulness, to the praise of your glory and grace!
     I have every reason to be like the healed Samaritan leper, who with a stunned heart and irrepressible gratitude returned to give you heartfelt thanks (Luke 17:11-17). I return today, and I want to return every day, to express my profound thankfulness.
     From the first nanosecond I was given faith to receive you as Savior and Lord, I was fully and firmly rooted in your righteousness and love. Now, completely forgiven, I have no other righteousness than yours. Just as I cannot add one iota to your righteousness, I can never, ever be separated from your love, and your love, alone, is better than life. You have already set me free from the penalty of sin, you are continually setting me free from the power of sin, and one day you will set me free from the very presence of sin.
     Jesus, I want to live in you—reflecting upon your glory with an unveiled face and marinating in the riches of your unfailing grace. I want to be built up in you, maturing by the same grace that saved me, being liberated for the race that you’ve set before me. I want to be strengthened in you, forgiving others as you have forgiven me; forbearing with others as you forbear with me; accepting others as you accept me—loving as your beloved.
     Lord Jesus, how I would love to be already done with all of my carping and droning, all whining and complaining, all boohoo-ing and Eeyore-ing, and with every other expression of ingratitude. But until that Day, rise up in me this day, and set my heart, voice, hands and feet free to love you and serve those around me. Oh, Fountain of Grace, Oh, Artesian Spring of Life, set me free. So very Amen I pray, in your glorious and grace-filled name.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Punched in the Face?

“The amount which you understand the gospel is measured by your ability to be joyful in all circumstances. If you grasp what a treasure the presence and acceptance of God are, then even when life goes really wrong you will have a joy that sustains you, because you’ll recognize the value of what you have in Him. When life punches you in the face, you’ll say, ‘But I still have the love and acceptance of God, a treasure I don’t deserve.’ And the joy you find in that treasure can make you rejoice even when you have a bloody nose. You have a joy that death and depravation cannot touch.”
— J. D. Greear

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Billy's Anticipating

Billy Graham turned 94 yesterday...

And said this:

"I never expected I would live this long, outliving my beloved wife, Ruth, as well as many friends and loved ones. I believe God must still have a purpose for keeping me here, and I look forward to seeing what that might be."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adversity's Aim

I am so prone to describe professing Christians who clip this, and many other verses, out of their Bibles in the manner of Thomas Jefferson..but I won't..

2 Corinthians 1.9, "Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead."

John Piper, "Adversity by its very nature is the removal of things on which our comfort and hope have rested and so it will either result in anger toward God or greater reliance on Him alone for our peace. And His purpose for us in adversity is not that we get angry or discouraged, but that our hope shift off earthly things onto God.

God's main purpose in all adversity is to make us stop trusting in ourselves or any man."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Phenomenal Gospel Presentation

This is wonderful and wondrous...consider sharing on your facebook page, blog, whatever...:

Hallow(een)-defined Christian buzzwords

Pretty funny...and reasonably accurate..."definitions" from Russell Moore:

The words “evangelical” and “fundamentalist” have very little meaning. For some, a “fundamentalist” is anyone who believes in miracles. For others, it necessitates a King James only Bible or a pre-trib Rapture or even a certain sort of public posture. At an American Baptist Churches General Assembly, I’d be considered a hardcore fundamentalist. At a KJV-only independent Baptist Bible camp, I probably wouldn’t be counted.
And “evangelical” includes, for some people, everyone from J.I. Packer to T.D. Jakes to Brian McLaren. That can get confusing, especially to those on the outside of our circles.

A few years ago, a friend of mine, the inimitable John Mark Reynolds, attempted to explain, simply, some of the differences for our friends on the outside of conservative Protestantism. Picking up on the old definition, “An evangelical is a fundamentalist who likes Billy Graham,” Reynolds said, “An evangelical is a fundamentalist who watches The Office.”

I tried my hand at explaining the spectrum, with tongue in cheek, using Halloween as a Rorschach test. I posted it over at the First Things group blog. Here goes.

An evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for Halloween.

A conservative evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for the church’s “Fall Festival.”

A confessional evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up as Zwingli and Bucer for “Reformation Day.”

A revivalist evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up as demons and angels for the church’s Judgment House community evangelism outreach.

An Emerging Church evangelical is a fundamentalist who has no kids, but who dresses up for Halloween anyway.

A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist whose kids hand out gospel tracts to all those mentioned above.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why Pray?

Driving back from prison this afternoon spent a bit of time praying for the responders/residents etc on the East Coast as Sandy impacts.

Recalled an after-Bible-study conversation with an inmate who asked, "Why pray if God is sovereign?"

I told him I have that same question...and have never been fully satisfied with the "answers" I've heard or read or come up with myself over the years.

"So do you still pray?" he asked.

"Yup." I responded.


And I gave him the only answer I have - "Because the Word of God commands me to, and because Jesus prayed."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Be There

Wise words from Warren Wiersbe...

"Never underestimate the importance of simply being physically present in the place God wants you. You may not be asked to perform some dramatic ministry, but simply being there is ministry."


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

God of...

I've no idea who started the concept of writing a Bible verse below one's signature, but that habit has been mine for a long time.

For several years I've used Romans 15.13 as part of my signature.

In the ESV it reads, "May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

"Hope" is such a cherished commodity! I love its appearance in the old hymn, "My hope is built in nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness."

My acronym for hope is:

People and

God is in charge. God is in control. God will fulfill His purposes.

Confidence in God's sovereignty produces "joy" and "peace" matter what.

And I don't want a little hope...or even a generous portion of hope...I want to "abound" in hope...

Thus I need to be continually (re)filled with Spirit of God...because I leak.

And leakage results in a lessening of hope...which can lead to despair.

Praying for myself...for you..."May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What is the Gospel?

This is good (from Creature of the Word):

"In its simplest form, the gospel is God's reconciling work in Christ - that through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, God is making all things new both personally for those who repent and believe, and cosmically as He redeems culture and creation from its subjection to futility."

Friday, October 5, 2012

What Is Ministry?

I just started rereading, for perhaps the 5th or 6th time, Warren Wiersbe's On Being A Servant of God.

Though a confirmed bookaholic, there are few books I reread. Not sure if that is good or bad...

But this book remains a source of encouragement, gentle rebuke, and guidance. I recommend it highly.

I also love and thus share his definition of "ministry":

"Ministry takes place
divine resources
human needs
loving channels
to the 
glory of God."

May today be a day that we are loving channels who God uses to supply divine resources to meet human needs in such a way that He, and only He, receives glory.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Count Your Blessings!

Remember that old tune, “Count Your Blessings, Name Them One by One”?

Kind of cheesy, but cheese is good in the right place.

I am not too spiritual to admit I sometimes get in the dumps. Even if I don’t know it my darling wife is willing to point it out! (One of so-many reasons that she is #2 on the all time blessing list!)

But yesterday as I walked out of a prison after leading a weekly “Courageous” Bible study I reflected on a lot of the things the Lord has allowed me to be involved in.

I did not exhaust the list…but these were some of the things I marveled at…

  • The opportunity to be in vocational ministry for over three decades…and all of that time subsisting on missionary support!
  • The chance to go to a now-defunct Bible school that gave me a great education and incredible hands-on opportunities
  • The privilege and blessing of meeting, falling in love with, and marrying Jane almost thirty years ago
  • The honor of being a dad…to Josiah and Joel the old-fashioned way; and to Janelle and Jacob via adoption
  • The privilege and responsibility of preaching thousands of times in all kinds of venues…churches, camps, seminars, retreats, jails, prisons, etc.
  • One-on-one prayer times and conversations with teens and adults
  • Electronic communication on a daily basis responding to questions, prayer requests, and more from teens and adults from all over the world
  • Watching the light go on as Spirit of God does His thing

Of course the biggest blessing is that the Lord called me to Himself before the creation of the world, and brought me to conviction, repentance, and trust in a jail cell in Texas in January of 1974.

Every situation, every “crisis,” every moment gives me two choices…whine or worship.

I choose to worship!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Those Terrible Four-Letter Words

No, not those words!

I mean "t i m e" and "w o r k."

Thought of that pair as I read, and was convicted by, this:

"All work takes time. When it becomes clear to us that prayer is a part of our daily program of work, it will also become clear to us that we must arrange our daily program in such a way that there is time also for this work, just as we set aside time for other necessary things, such as eating and dressing."

O. Hallesby

Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Let It Get Old...or Cold

"Think much of the Savior's suffering for you on that dreadful cross...
think much of your sin that provoked such suffering...
and then enter by faith into the love that took away your sin and guilt...
and then give your work your best."

C. John Miller, The Heart of a Servant Leader

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Flowers and Weeds

"Unless we know the difference between flowers and weeds, we are not fit to take care of a garden. It is not enough to have truth planted in our minds. We must learn and labor to keep the ground clear of thorns and briars, follies and perversities, which have a wicked propensity to choke the Word of life."
Clyde Francis Lytle

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why Bible Quiz?

For over three decades I've been involved in Bible Quizzing.

A new season has started...and hundreds if not thousands of teenagers are reading, thinking about, memorizing big chunks of the gospel of Matthew.

Why do we in the Bible Quiz Fellowship (and many other ministries/denominations) make the effort?

John Piper helps answer the question:

"The Spirit inspired the Word and therefore He goes where the Word goes. The more of God's Word you know and love, the more of God's Spirit you will experience." (in Desiring God)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Sunset

Iphoneography does no justice to this unique show this Labor Day evening...weird clouds, unique gaps allowed sun to come thru..much nicer in person...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Best Dating Quote Ever

I have no idea who Jefferson Bethke is, but I am now following him (I stole this from a retweet from Matt Chandler)...this is a fantastic perspective, and the best brief commentary on dating ever:

"Dating with no intent to marry is like going to the grocery store with no money. U either leave unhappy or take something that isn't yours."

Blue Moon

Another evening walk...stopped by the Bethel Cemetery on the way back,and tried to get creative with the blue moon...won't be another one for over a year...and, yes, it is the moon...not the sun...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Missouri Treat

Jacob and I went to the Missouri Regional Conservation headquarters on the campus of Missouri Western University for a program on black bears. Never knew this place was there..many displays, lots of information, great program.

Here's a couple shots:
                                             The skull of a black bear draws mixed reaction
                              A of many displays

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apologies to (Potential) Commenters

A great friend just made the time to let me know the "word verification" previously required for those who wanted to post comments has been a pain.

If you've been frustrated by this, I ask for your forgiveness, and want you to know I have disabled that function. I can deal with potential spam; would rather make it easier for I can grow in understanding through your comments.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Preach It, Lady!

Absolutely stunning stuff...I am first amazed, blessed, and challenged by the content; and, a distant second, flabbergasted that she memorized this poem. The delivery, and the fact that the speaker is a woman, may cloud your thinking; shake your head, open your heart, and watch this....(and, yes, some of the secondary content is directly applicable to African/Americans...but it all applies to us...)

Lord, Help Me Not To Be Like Lucy

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Struck by the many "unknown soldier" headstones at the Springfield, Missouri National Cemetery; especially this one...I assume these soldiers were from one of the battles around Springfield during the Civil War (what a ridiculous name for a war!)...but wonder...about their story, individually and collectively; why they were buried together (could be gruesome); if their loved ones ever knew of their resting place...and confident that the Lord knew each by name...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Civil Cemetery

I took a few walks around the Springfield (Mo) National Cemetery while we Hagers had a mini-vacation. A brochure at the hotel says this is the only national cemetery that has warriors from both the Union and the Confederacy buried.

Here's some shots:

                                   639 unknowns...amazing...sad...

                    Gotta do some research and find out why this guy got buried in the States?

Help Wanted...

I do not want this to turn into an argument between calvinists and armenians.

But I continue to be perplexed; and risk opening the proverbial can of worms.

Some of you will know to whom I refer. I ask you NOT to mention his name on this public forum.

Decades ago I served with a young man who was a phenomenal preacher of the Word. Hundreds came to Christ under his include a staff member with whom I now serve. He officiated the wedding of another staff member.

Then he was caught in homosexual sin.

He disappeared.

Then he showed up pastoring a small church. A friend stumbled into this situation, and learned that the "pastor" had told the church that he was out of the ministry for a while because of his wife's death. He left.

Later he showed up at a Metropolitan Community "Church" in Kansas City and later "married" his long time partner.

Now he pastors an, according to their website, "open and affirming" "church" near Kansas City.

Question: How does (or does)  First John 2.19 apply? "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us."

Was he ever a Christian? Or did God simply bless the message rather than the messenger? If your theology allows, did he "lose" his salvation? Can he be a genuine Christian and live in ongoing sin as a lifestyle? Even if you believe "once saved always saved," is it possible for a genuine Christian to give up his salvation? ("No man can pluck them out of My hand" says Jesus, but can you jump?)

This individual serves as an example of all too many I've known over the years. Then, for those who remember, we have Ray Boltz and Jennifer Knapp.

As homosexual practice (as opposed to temptation) continued to become a huge focal point in the professing church, maybe I'm not the only one who is trying to biblically, and thus logically, work through this stuff?

What thinkest thou?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lucys are in Your Life

And mine...I saw this today and it reminded me that there are a whole lot of folks who don't need a Bible verse, a Christian cliche, or a new book to read...

They simply need someone to listen....

Will I (you?) be the one?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tree Trio

This Sunday afternoon we all went hiking in the woods across from our dry...still has its own beauty...spotted these three trees...

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Jacob and I spent the morning near and in the Remington Nature Center, one of St Joseph's treasures. The "Landis Battery" of Civil War reenactors had a cannon; shot it; discussed it. We then went inside the Center and saw an amazing display of arrowheads, axes, and much more. These collectors are there this weekend only; most of the stuff was found locally. Incredible! One of those few hour trips that cost nothing and educated much. Thankful...
                                           Jacob and the boys relaxing after firing cannon...

                                   This man gave Jacob part of the fuse puller...

                              Jacob, the Colonel, and the horse (General Lee)

                                  Of give me a (museum) where the buffalo (don't) roam...

                                              Yes, I am rather glad I got the burst...
   Jacob, the cannon, and the Big Muddy (Missouri River)

                                  One of dozens of displays inside the Remington Center...

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Quick heads-up...

More than likely someone is going to kick

Probably nothing you did to "deserve" it; nothing you can do to prevent it.

You can do something now to determine how you'll respond...You probably know what that is, yes?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Advice for Camp Directors

Seven or eight weeks of camp ministry this summer.

Over 200 weeks throughout the ministry to which the Lord has called me (I am not now, never have been, and never will be a "numbers" person)

In Indianapolis waiting for my friend Chris and son Jacob to wake up so we can continue the journey home. It has been a great season, marvelous to watch Spirit work...

A few reflective observations, suggestions if you will, for those who oversee Christian camps.

In no particular order...

1) Good and healthy food. If you can't afford to do this, don't do camp. Find a way to provide salad bar for lunch and dinner, or at a minimum one of them. Lousy food, or unhealthy food (no matter how "good" it tastes) makes grumpy and/or sluggish campers. Sucks.

2) Great counselors. Committed to the Lord, ready to sacrificially minister to kids, not "only" during camp, but as long as ex campers stay in possibly for life. Not committed to "decisions," as in pushing campers to make a "decision" for Christ, to "pray the prayer" etc...Counselors who will hang with the goofy kid, the unwashed kid, as well as the "cool" and good looking campers. Counselors who will spend time, sit with, eat with the campers rather than the staff or other counselors

3) Speakers/teachers who will bring it...what?...the gospel, and how it is not "just" how we get saved, but "as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him."

4) Think through evening programming. Do we really need a "big" event after the worship/preaching sessions? All too often there is a move of Spirit of God but counseling is cut short because we "have" to get to the big game. Oh, but some kids will be disappointed (or is it the staff who will be disappointed?) Too bad. At a minimum allow adequate time for counseling/prayer after the evening teaching/preaching session.

5) Unless it particularly fits the "theme" or whatever, don't introduce new songs at camp. It is hard enough to get teens to sing the first few days anyway; use some songs (meaningful, biblical songs) that most know rather than try to teach new stuff...

6) Not suggesting burkas or however you spell that, but publish clothing guidelines and ENFORCE them..not "only" at the pool. Hard to teach on modesty etc when too much is hanging out and otherwise exposed. And enforce it for counselors (and staff) as well as campers!

7) Touched on earlier, but needs to be stressed..have counselors/staff sit among the campers, not among each other. Don't make the speaker be the cop.

There is more, but I'll work on it more before venting.

These are simply observations. The camps I was at this summer, for the most part, were excellent in administration, ministry, and so much more.

But we can all do better...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Korea Kamp to Philly to York, Pa

Year 23 preaching at "Korean Kamp" for Pioneers for Christ ended around noon today (Saturday). Chris Davison, son Jacob and I traveled into Philadelphia to play tourist; got stuck in some demonstration by 30,000 union workers (gee, wonder who they will vote for?), so didn't get to spend as much time as hoped; but did see a bit of the sites, went through Chinatown, enjoyed philly steaks...then drove as far as York, Pa..Jane pricelined us a fantastic old hotel in the middle of town..the Yorktowne...very cool. Posting photos before hitting the horizontal...
                                                         A guest list impresses..our name will soon be on it (not)
                                                             The Yorktowne in York, Pa

                                              Jacob's favorite part of Philly Chinatown.

                                     While paying toll enroute to Philly a northbound vehicle had a serious problem, responders got there as we pulled out, no idea what happened...

                                Hopefully they will see places like this only from the outside...

                                                 Lots of interesting architecture in York, Pa

                                         Kevin Ro was Chris' counselor, a long time friend of mine
                                                        and a new friend of Jacob!