Get the book here

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Not "Just" The Bible Gets Cut-and-Pasted

My favorite hymn is the Getty's "In Christ Alone."

Not some of the hymn, not most of the hymn, but the entire hymn...all the words.

But there are many who "cover" the song and cut out, eliminate, remove an entire verse.

And thus they remove propitiation...a vital part of the gospel.

Jesus did not "simply" die on the cross...He who knew no sin became sin...He offered Himself as a substitute, and the cup of God's wrath that should have been poured on me was poured out on the Son...the atoning sacrifice.

God's holy wrath against sin was satisfied.

And so reads the words of Getty's hymn.

But it is cut out by many...heard it done last night.

And here is an example of "I don't like that so I'm dropping it" in action, this one done at Passion 2013, a conference for teens and young adults...okay to add a lot of "oh oh oh oh ohs" but not okay to sing all the composers words?:

Owl City pulls the words also. The Newsboys sing the song in its entirety.

But no one sings it as well as the they are:

In case you don't have time or inclination to watch any of the videos, here are the words that are left out. I'm sure there will be some who shake their heads and mutter, "Oh, Jack, it's not that big of a deal."

Well, yeah, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus is a huge deal. The full and complete payment of sin is a huge deal.

These words are not merely poetry...they are doctrine, they are correct, they are essential. 

(and I don't know copyright law to know how kosher/legal/ it is to sort-of-cover a song...but it sure isn't ethical.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

Friday, September 26, 2014

Testimony in Death

I did not know this young (13 years old) man.

His Dad serves with "Behind the Walls," Bill Glass's ministry with which I've had the privilege of serving.

Ethan died earlier today of neuroblastoma.

I look forward to meeting him...

A few days ago, he wrote this:

"My biggest fear isn't dying. My biggest fear is that others will blame God for my death and not believe in Him. I don't want people angry at God or even blaming Him. I mean, there is much more than just this life. Just because He didn't heal me on earth doesn't mean He won't heal me in Heaven." 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lock Up Your Sacred Cows...

This is a mind-stretching, heart-flexing message.

Selective hearing as opposed to careful listening is dangerous. Careless listening may result in you thinking the speaker is viciously attacking your favorite speaker/author.

I urge you to carefully, focusedly, listen to this entire message (26 minutes or so)...summed in this sentence:

"Before we are called to something or somewhere we are called to Someone."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

To Those Who "Love Jesus but Hate Church"

I concur with Chan.

And those who claim to "love Jesus" but "hate church" are basically adulterers.

They are having an affair with Jesus.

They want the warm fuzzies, the theological debates, the lets-sit-around-and-bash-the-church events,
the lets-laugh-about-all-the-stuff-we-used-to-believe-but-now-have-abandoned-now-that-we've-seen-the-(relative)-light-fests...and all the rest.

Usually these occasions are laced with blasts at the judgmental, the "legalists," those who try to integrate their faith with their world and national view, and others.

The word "affair" is apt.

They want the "good stuff" but not commitment.


And denial of "do not forsake the assembling together of yourselves."

An affair is easy; commitment is tough.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Love Christ? Love Teens? GET THIS BOOK!

Firing Jesus by Greg Stier will take you probably an hour tops to read...

If you love Jesus, the gospel, and teens you will probably reread it almost immediately...

If you have worked with teens as a youth worker - especially in a church setting - you will be nodding in agreement, laughing out loud, and probably weeping as you read.

This is a fictional account of an all too often real event...the virtual crucifixion of a youth worker who is actively trying to disciple rather than entertain teenagers.

The author, who founded and leads Dare2Share, knows of what he writes. The brief book provides glimpses into the lives of adult leaders, teen leaders, messed-up-teens, and, most important, a youth worker who wants to please God and not provide "body counts," "results," or other junk that clouds the issue of discipleship.

I can't recommend this book highly fact, I'll give it my Hager money back guarantee that I've only offered for a few books - if you buy it and don't think it is worth the money, let me know and I'll reimburse you.

Here's another recommendation:

Derwin Gray, lead pastor of one of America’s fastest growing churches, says: “You read a good book once. A great book a few times.  But a remarkable book becomes an annual pilgrimage that feeds your soul, strengthens your call and clarifies your focus. Greg Stier has written a remarkable little book. Pastors, elders, youth leaders, parents and students should bless themselves by reading Firing Jesus.”

And here is a link to buy it, in either paperbook or e-book: CLICK HERE

Monday, September 1, 2014

Amazing Amazon

I love Amazon. As a confirmed bookaholic it has served me well. I have never had an issue with Amazon.

So when I saw The Everything Store, subtitled "Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," I grabbed it for my summer travels.

It is an incredibly interesting history of Bezos, Amazon, and the e-commerce industry overall. It reveals cutthroat tactics, an incredibly driven (and driving) Bezos, and scores of employees along for the ride.

As Steven Levy noted, "The Everything Store is a revelatory read for everyone - those selling and those sold to - who wants to understand the dynamics of the new digital economy. If you've ever one-clicked a purchase, you must read this book."

And I love this quote that preceeds the actual book  (from Bezos' commencement speech at Princeton in 2010):

"When you are eighty years old,
and in a quiet moment of reflection
narrating only for yourself the most personal version of your life story,
the telling that will be most compact and meaningful
will be the series of choices you have made.
In the end, we are our choices."

Reflections on Labor

On this Labor Day I reflect on "full-time, vocational ministry."

Since 1978 I have had the immense privilege, joy, and responsibility to serve as a home missionary. In 1982 God allowed me to marry Jane, and we've served together since as a team...Next to Jesus, she is my biggest blessing, my source of encouragement, and my (occasional) kicker-in-the-butt when I need it.

God has opened effectual doors of service in ways never anticipated. He has "blessed-beyond-belief" in so many ways, in so many places, in so many circumstances.

He has showed Himself strong in my weakness. He has strengthened me for the journey. He has blessed our efforts to "brag on Jesus."

And I continue to be amazed I get to do what I get to do.

I believe it was Indira Gandhi who said, "The secret to success is to find people who will pay you to do what you would pay to do if you had to."

If that is at least partially true, the Lord has allowed me to succeed, at least partially.

For all those years we've served as home missionaries; trusting God to provide our income through folks who partner with us in finance and prayer. With no other income (save the occasional honorarium), God has showed up in incredible ways over all these years.

And His people have stood with us.

It's long been my goal to be the oldest youth worker in America. I probably am getting close. There are probably not many people who have served as long "on support." I get to speak and teach and counsel in places as varied as maximum security prisons, junior high Bible studies, churches, public schools, youth rallies, civic organizations, and more.

Begging the question:

"What am I doing here?" God could use a donkey (yeah, there may be some similarities)

And yet in His sovereign will He has called me, equipped me, energized me, and blessed me.


No idea.

But thrilled beyond words to be able to "labor" in His Name.

Tiring? Yeah. Frustrating? Duh. Heartbreaking? All too often.

But...exhilarating? energizing? encouraging? Very often.

And as God gives us courage and conviction to stick to the gospel, the Word, and the essentials; increasingly lonely.

As the "difficult times" of 2 Timothy 3 get more difficult, as more and more professing Christians waffle on the exclusivity of the gospel, the reality of sexual sin (to include homosexuality), the fact of hell, and the authority of will get more lonely.

But as we cling to the Lord, fix our eyes on Jesus, and trust Him we will move ahead...continually stunned that He uses us for His glory, and recognizing that:

And, yes, we'd appreciate your prayers as we move ahead...(if you'd like to receive updates on our ministry, email me at