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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bible Quizzing - Around the World

If you've hung around me for any length of time you know I'm pretty passionate about Bible quizzing.

I've said a few (million) times; it's the only thing I do that I can't lose at. I can preach, and blow it (all God's people said..) I can counsel and mess it up. Zillions of things I can do that won't work.

But working to get teens to memorize the Word of God...it's a win/win/win situation.

I've been involved at one level or another since 1977.

I'll be involved until I croak.

And...as reported earlier...after 2.5 years I finally got approval to "do" Bible quizzing in one of the prisons in which I work. Because of my schedule we won't start til fall in WRDCC, but start we will. Super excited about "doing" quizzing every Tuesday afternoon for ninety minutes...my initial plan is to discuss one week; quiz the next, etc.

I hope this opens the door to every prison in the state...then..."happy are those who dream dreams, and are willing to pay the price to see them accomplished."

A great friend was able to start quizzing in a Colorado prison this year...we also have quizzing in Jamaica, Mongolia, Belize and...well, you can find out by investing twenty minutes to watch this:





Monday, May 30, 2016

Symphony in "F"

I don't remember where I "found" this; it is not original, but I think it is rather enjoyable, and may also be enlightening, as well as entertaining. (alliteration). Anyway, here it is:

Symphony in F

Feeling footloose and frisky, a featherbrained fellow forced his father to fork over his farthings. Fast he flew to The-Prodigal-Sonforeign fields and frittered his family's fortune, feasting fabulously with floozies and faithless friends. 

Flooded with flattery he financed a full-fledged fling of "funny foam" and fast food. 

Fleeced by his fellows in folly, facing famine, and feeling faintly fuzzy, he found himself a feed- flinger in a filthy foreign farmyard. 

Feeling frail and fairly famished, he fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from the fodder fragments. 

"Fooey," he figured, "my father's flunkies fare far fancier," the frazzled fugitive fumed feverishly, facing the facts. 

Finally, frustrated from failure and filled with foreboding (but following his feelings) he fled from the filthy foreign farmyard.

Faraway, the father focused on the fretful familiar form in the field and flew to him and fondly flung his forearms around the fatigued fugitive. Falling at his father's feet, the fugitive floundered forlornly, "Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited family favor."

Finally, the faithful Father, forbidding and forestalling further flinching, frantically flagged the flunkies to fetch forth the finest fatling and fix a feast. 

Faithfully, the father's first-born was in a fertile field fixing fences while father and fugitive were feeling festive. The foreman felt fantastic as he flashed the fortunate news of a familiar family face that had forsaken fatal foolishness. 

Forty- four feet from the farmhouse the first-born found a farmhand fixing a fatling. 

Frowning and finding fault, he found father and fumed, 

"Floozies and foam from frittered family funds and you fix a feast following the fugitive's folderol?" 

The first-born's fury flashed, but fussing was futile. The frugal first-born felt it was fitting to feel "favored" for his faithfulness and fidelity to family, father, and farm. 

In foolhardy fashion, he faulted the father for failing to furnish a fatling and feast for his friends. His folly was not in feeling fit for feast and fatling for friends; rather his flaw was in his feeling about the fairness of the festival for the found fugitive. 

His fundamental fallacy was a fixation on favoritism, not forgiveness. 

Any focus on feeling "favored" will fester and friction will force the faded facade to fall. 

Frankly, the father felt the frigid first-born's frugality of forgiveness was formidable and frightful. But the father's former faithful fortitude and fearless forbearance to forgive both fugitive and first-born flourishes. 

The farsighted father figured, "Such fidelity is fine, but what forbids fervent festivity for the fugitive that is found?
Unfurl the flags and finery, let fun and frolic freely flow. 

Former failure is forgotten, folly is forsaken. Forgiveness forms the foundation for future fortune."

Four facets of the father's fathomless fondness for faltering fugitives are:

 1) Forgiveness
 2) Forever faithful friendship
 3) Fadeless love, and
 4) A facility for forgetting flaws

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What "Waiting on God" Means...

"Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given."

G. Campbell Morgan

Saturday, May 28, 2016

THINKABOUTIT

"It's a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand."

-- Madeleine L'Engle

Friday, May 27, 2016

Up From The Grave? No Thank You...

A former pastor and present friend told me one day that when I died he would immediately pray that I'd be brought back from the dead.

 I asked him not to.

That episode plopped back into my head recently when I attended a funeral for a much-too-young man at which his dad said he and his church prayed for such a resurrection.
backfromdead In no way can I identify with the grief of a parent who has lost a son, and I pray I never can relate. But I again hope no one ever prays me back from the dead.

The scriptural principle is "it is appointed unto all men once to die, and after that the judgment." 

Sure, there are a few exceptions in scripture (bless God, most notably the Son of God who "was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead). 

And, of course, we hear  of such back-from-the-dead things in third world countries. Is it possible? Certainly...God can do anything He wishes..but the scriptural principle remains - once

Are these third world "miracles" frauds? Perhaps...not necessarily. It could be that, in such a third world situation, those around may think a person dead, but in fact they are not (with limited medical technology). And, yes, considering some of the "preachers" who testify of these "resurrections," methinks there may be a bit of intentional fraud from time to time...Then, of course, there are the epidemic of heavenly visits and returns published over the past few years.

Oh, Jack, you are being judgmental. Yup. You are absolutely correct, because we must judge in order to discern. "But, gee, Jack, Jesus said not to judge." Please read the context of His statement...I won't do the work for you; except to say He said, in effect, "Judge not, lest you be judged." 

Guess what? We will all be judged...nonbelievers at the great white throne, Christians at the judgment seat of Christ. At the great white throne the issue is sin; at the judgment seat of Christ the issue is works.

And we write the standards of His judgment as we judge others. If we judge with a microscope, the Lord will judge us accordingly. Maybe it's a good idea to judge ourselves with a microscope, and others with a telescope? 

And the motive is all important...I know I'm off base if I find joy in judging; I'm pretty sure I'm okay if it hurts me to judge.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Grief not withstanding, we do not grieve as the world does when a loved one who is "in Christ" dies. We shall see them again. Sure, we still miss them, but in the cold reality of bottom-linedless...do we really want them back? Certainly our heart does, but does our head? They are with the Lord in glory! He "appointed" their death.

Through the tears of separation we want them back, from our view they died too young, too soon, too whatever. But if we really believe they are in glory, is it not rather selfish to even pray them back? And, if, in fact, loved ones die without Christ, is it really responsible to pray for a resurrection so they can have another chance? Again, the black-and-white of Hebrews 9...it is appointed unto man once to die...

Boy, that looks harsh in type, but it's reality.

Anyway...please....if you hear that I've croaked, do not pray for me to be brought back. Instead, find a copy of "If You Could See Me Now" and listen to it, grin, and be jealous (in a pure and sanctified way, of course

An Angel?

On Monday I walked the trail in Cameron before going into Crossroads Correctional. I was speaking on the phone when...out of nowhere...a walker going in the opposite direction handed me a crumpled note and mumbled something about "today's verse."

I opened the note, then looked back to thank him...he was gone.

Maybe he jogged after he gave me the note? All I know is it seemed like he disappeared.

Yes, I believe there are angels. I'd guess they know how to spell better than this guy did.

Still...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Please, Please Read This

NOTE...I wrote this in July of 2006. It is more vital today than it was then...

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a fantastic author and speaker. I met her briefly surrenderyears ago when Del Fehsenfeld (now with the Lord) did a staff retreat for Kansas City Youth For Christ. 

Her book Brokenness is great, but I want to provide some quotes from her Surrender - The Heart God Controls. Published by Moody in 2003, this small-sized book of only 175 pages is loaded with important...I'd say vital insights.

In an age where "decisions" are considered "vital" by most (as in "How many decisions for Christ at your meetings, Jack?"), prayerfully and seriously consider the following:

"The person who has never acknowledged Christ's right to rule over his life has no basis for assurance of salvation. He may claim to be a Christian; he may have walked an aisle or prayed the sinner's prayer; he may know how to speak 'Christianese'; he may be heavily involved in Christian activities; but if he thinks he can have a relationship with God by retaining control over his life and somehow trying to fit Jesus in with everything else, he is deceived and still at war with God.

"Sadly, for the past 150 years or more, evangelicalism has developed a theology that offers assurance of salvation to almost anyone who prays a prayer or 'makes a decision for Christ,' even though he may still be clinging to his rights, holding on to his sin, and bent on running his own life. The Scripture does not recognize such a profession as genuine."

tson DeMoss later shares insights from  Josef Tson, a Romanian pastor exiled from his native country in 1981. He returned to Romania a decade later, having observed and learned many things during his sojourn in America.
Tson writes of a change that he believes occurred in the 1950s and 1960s; which he identifies as a "shift from the call to full surrender, to the call tocommitment." 

He continues, "Christian surrender means that a person lifts his or her hands and says to God, 'Here I am; I surrender; You take over; I belong to You; You dispose of me!'

"But this is America, the country of the independent people! This is the place of 'Nobody should command me!...I belong only to myself!'

"A call to surrender, and even more, to full surrender, simply doesn't go well with such people. Therefore, the preachers who wanted 'results,' and wanted them in big numbers, felt (and gave in to ) the temptation to soften the demand, to reduce the cost, to make the message more 'palatable.' And they hit the word 'commitment.'

"You see, commitment means 'I engage myself to do something for you,' or, even lighter, 'I promise to do something for you,' but I remain myself and I may keep my promise or not. We can speak of weaker or stronger commitment, but be it as strong as possible, it is still my independent self that engages itself in a tentative promise."

Oddly, university professor Allan Bloom made a similar point in The Closing of the American Mind (1987) as he wrote, "Commitment is a word invented in our abstract modernity to signify the absence of any real motives in the soul for moral dedication. Commitment is gratuitous, motiveless, because the real passions are all low and selfish."

May I be bold enough to urge, beg, plead with you to re-read the above?think  This is vital. I've said often that the most terrifying passage of scripture is Matthew 7.21-23. If you don't know that passage, and if that is the case are too lazy/busy to look it up; that's just confirmation of the state of the professing Body of Christ in America.

 All too often folks who would rail against anyone who lets some one tell them what to think won't put the effort into thinking themselves.

Messages that speak of God's  love, but don't spend much time discussing and defining sin; messages virtually void of repentance; "Every head bowed, every eye closed"...music softly playing...a tearful pleading by a (probably) sincere preacher...and the all-important "decision count" (a.k.a. "body count") have produced baptized pagans. Surely the Spirit of God blesses some of these efforts in spite of the situation; but how many people who "think" they are saved will one day hear the horrific statement of Matthew 7.23?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

No Fooling!

Read James this morning...I believe it was Martin Luther who called it "an epistle of straw" because he thought it taught salvation by works...It doesn't...
But I noticed afresh something in verse 22 of chapter 1 - "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (ESV) The NLT puts it, "And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don't obey, you are only fooling yourself."
What was fresh to me is that the "hearer only" doesn't fool anyone else...but only him or her self. The "hearer only" can put on the act and fool some for a length of time...but truth will prevail and reveal.
No follower of Christ is perfect...save for those who have no pulse. Positionally, yup. Practically, nope. The bummer is the more we go and grow in Christ the more we (should) realize how far we fall short.
Yet if there is no desire to "do good" there is no salvation. Ephesians 2.10 is just as inspired as Ephesians 2.9,10.
Thus we can think we are fooling people (hopefully we're not dumb enough to think we can fool God), but we are only fooling ourselves when we "talk" without making the effort to "walk."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It's All Greek, to me...

My Current Second-Favorite Hymn...Gospel-Saturated

"In Christ Alone" remains my favorite (as long as the "wrath of God is satisfied" verse is included)...but this is a close second...and also happens to be sung by Mrs. Getty. 

We sing it often in our church...It tears me up every time...Thank You, Jesus; Thank You, Father; Thank You, Spirit!

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received; that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15.3)

Listen with your heart as well as your ears...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Early Happy Birthday To Me...And Important Adoption Words

I'm haveing another birthday next week. It's the same date every year...weird.

Yeah, yeah, big deal...getting older sort-of beats the alternative! And older is relative.  

Read this last night: "To be young when old one must be old when young." chickenInteresting thought...all I know is the calendar says I'm AARP material I still feel young  and am grateful for health and pray I never retire...

Anyway, came across the following column about adoption today...and I think this is my birthday present to you (as most of you know, Jane and I have four children; Josiah and Joel  are ours the old-fashioned way; while Janelle  and Jacob were treasures we adopted at birth. 

Here's the column...read/think/enjoy: 

Moore Than a Birthday (A Commentary by Russell D. Moore;  Dean of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, serves as executive director of the Henry Institute.)

Five years ago today my oldest son, Benjamin, was born. Five years ago on June 19th my middle son, Timothy, was born. I missed both days. I didn't send out any "It's a Boy" notices. I didn't deliver flowers to my wife. I don't even know what I was doing on those days in May and June of 2001, except probably writing away on my dissertation. It's not that I was a deadbeat dad five years ago. I just wasn't a dad. I missed my sons' births because I didn't know they were born.

As a matter of fact, five years ago today a baby was born but his name wasn't Benjamin. It was Maxim. Five years ago a few weeks from now, another baby was born but his name wasn't Timothy. It was Sergei. The two of them languished in a Russian orphanage for over a year until the Lord directed our steps to their nursery door and on to the Russian courthouse where we adopted them, and changed their names.

This morning Benjamin came bounding down the stairs, jumping up and down with excitement that he is now five. He and Timothy couldn't go to sleep easily last night. We could hear them chattering upstairs in their bunkbeds about a birthday cake, presents, Steak and Shake, and Chuck E. Cheese. But all I could think about was that first birthday, the one I missed. I don't know what Benjamin and Timothy looked like when they were born. I don't know whether anyone held them, or whether they were just washed and placed in a filthy crib. I don't know what their newborn cries sounded like.

But I do know that five years ago I was feeling sorry for myself. After years of infertility and miscarriages, it was only my faith, not my sight, that told me that God was for me and not against me. I probably prayed that day for the gift of children, maybe while I was ordering coffee and writing another rough draft of a dissertation chapter. Little did I know that my prayers were being answered, despite my lack of trust in my Father.

I have written and preached elsewhere about what becoming father to Benjamin and Timothy taught me about the doctrine of adoption. But, on these fifth birthdays, I'm also keenly aware of what the Scripture tells us about the relationship between adoption and suffering. Even as Paul instructs the Roman congregation that they have inherited the spirit of adoption, he reminds them that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom 8:18).

Five years ago I didn't know that the greatest joys of my life were already here, and yet not quite here. I didn't know that the Lord was using the suffering of an empty cradle to teach me what it means to love two sons more than I ever would have known possible. Perhaps I need to be reminded of that when I allow the worries of the present age to overshadow the glory that is to come. Perhaps I need to be reminded that while I bemoaned my situation five years ago, my children were waiting all the while. And, right now, as I consider the worries of the present age, there's an empty tomb in Jerusalem, the first installment of the glorious kingdom of Christ.

I love Benjamin Jacob Moore and I love Timothy Russell Moore. I don't love them any more than I love Samuel Kenneth Moore (who some might clinically call a "biological" child). But in my love for these two, I sense something more of the Father's love for me. They once were lost, but now they're found.

Tonight you won't find me in my library or behind a pulpit. You can find me at Steak and Shake, and at Chuck E. Cheese. You can find me watching one thrilled little boy open up his presents (Don't tell him but it's a bow and arrow set), while another little boy wonders aloud how many more days until he opens his. And if you notice that plastic birthday hat on my head, just know: that's my theologian's cap. It has taught me more about my God than the tasseled, formal hat on my shelf ever has.

Happy birthday Benjamin and Timothy. I missed the first one. But I'll never miss another.

Posted 6/1/2006 at 4:45 PM

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Proposal for Prayer for LEOs

My heart is heavy as I learn of the murder of another police officer.
Are there dirty cops? Yup. 

Just as there are dirty teachers, dirty preachers, etc.

But the vast majority serve with honor and integrity.

Starting tonight I will ask God to protect police officers...at 9:11am and 9:11pm.

Obviously I'll miss some times, but it's a start.

Comment if you will join me in this endeavor.

 I also will continue to thank every officer I can, just as I do for military personnel.

Oops!

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? 

I'm thinking some poor entry-level clerk was assigned "Make up a poster for the front doors and find some picture to go with it", googled it, and hit the first thing to come up...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

(Note - I first posted this in August of 2005)...

HISTORY TEST- Please pause a moment, reflect back, and take the following multiple choice test. 

Do you remember?

1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by
a. Superman
b. Jay Leno
c. Harry Potter
d. Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40

1. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by
a. Olga Corbett
b. Sitting Bull
c. Arnold Schwarzenegger
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

2. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by:
a. Lost Norwegians
b. Elvis
c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
! d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

3. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
a. John Dillinger
b. The King of Sweden
c. The Boy Scouts
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

4. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
a. A pizza delivery boy
b. Pee Wee Herman
c. Geraldo Rivera
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

5. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by:
a. The Smurfs
b. Davy Jones
c. The Little Mermaid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

6.In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by:
a. Captain Kidd
b. Charles Lindberg
c. Mother Teresa
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

7.In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
a. Scooby Doo
b. The Tooth Fairy
c. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

8. In 1993 the World Trade C! enter was bombed the first time by:
a. Richard Simmons
b. Grandma Moses
c. Michael Jordan
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

9. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
a. Mr. Rogers
b.. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill' s women problems
c.. The World Wrestling Federation
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

10. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers.Thousands of people were killed by:
a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
b. The Supreme Court of Florida
c. Mr. Bean
d Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

11. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:
a. Enron
b. The Lutheran Church
c. The NFL
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

12. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
a. Bonnie and Clyde
b. Captain Kangaroo
c. Billy Graham
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

Nope, .....I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you?

So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. 

They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winning and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 and 40 alone because of profiling.

Let's send this to as many people as we can so that the Gloria Aldreds and other dunder-headed attorneys along with Federal Justices that want to thwart common sense, feel doubly ashamed of themselves - if they have any such sense.

As the writer of the award winning story "Forrest Gump" so aptly put it, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Friday, May 20, 2016

Why Wrath?

"Wrath, unlike love, is not one of the intrinsic perfections of God. Rather, it is a function of God's holiness against sin. Where there is no sin, there is no wrath, but there will always be love in God. Where God in His holiness confronts His image-bearers in their rebellion, there must be wrath. Otherwise God is not the jealous God He claims to be, and His holiness is impugned. The price of diluting God's wrath is diminishing God's holiness." 
D.A. Carson
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
Many professing believers don't like to discuss, or they ignore, or they deny that God exercises wrath. Because of that they don't believe Christ took the hit for us on the cross. That is evidenced by many who take this beautiful, stunning song and defuse it by not singing the stanza that says, "Til on the cross, where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied."
This remains my most revered song...it shall be conveyed at my funeral..

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Lesson from Dirty Money

(Got this from my brother; not sure where he got it. The spiritual, biblical application ought to be clear)
A speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill.

In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill.
He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. Well, hedirty_money  replied, "What if I do this?"

And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?"

Still the hands went into the air.

My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE.


You are special -- Don't EVER forget it." Count your blessings, not your problems and remember: amateurs built the ark ... professionals built the Titanic.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ten Years Ago?

A trip back in time...but the message remains true:
Birthday Boy!
jacob eat How can time zap by so quickly? April 10 was Jacob's fourth birthday...4? Four? Quatro? Inconceivable (cue "Princess Bride" please). Anyway, it's true; the young lad is four.
How I wish I could introduce him to pro-choicers of all stripes. Let's see, his birth-mother had an abortion prior to Jacob, at least one "miscarriage" since; and has yet to learn important lessons of life...oh, there's that troublesome word again...life.

For all the arguments one way or the other, 
the simplest is this: abortion is wrong
if jacob dadfor no other reason the aborted could have been you.

And it is wrong because life is a gift...from conception on. It is wrong on so many levels and from so many perspectives.
And...yes...abortion is sin. But it is not unforgiveable. A woman who has already had an abortion need not feel condemnation if she is "in Christ." There are no "degrees" of sin.
And followers of Christ need to balance anti-abortion with love and acceptance of those who have "been there."
In the meanwhile, recognize that the boy pictured here had an older brother or sister...Jesus holding girl

My Pastor/Teacher Has Fallen...Now What???

(Note...I wrote this a year ago while the incident was fresh; if anything, the couple are worse now..I think they got married; I know they are engaged...)


I wish it was the first time I received such news.

Sadly, it is not.
But yesterday I learned that a pastor with whom I have a casual friendship and a woman I’ve known fairly well for several years are having an affair.
God knows who they are. Some readers know. If you don’t, please don’t try to guess.
As in the other times I’ve heard similar news; I feel pain in my gut, agony in my soul, and fury in my depths.
In this case…he was a pastor and she was a teacher/speaker with an expanding ministry.
And perhaps he was your pastor or you sat under her teaching.
What now?
I recall when Gordon MacDonald fell.
I am not gossiping. This is public record.
Decades ago this prolific author/pastor/teacher made public an affair, resigned his positions, and stepped out of the limelight. (His process of restoration is wondrous and all too rare…in his case repentance and a long process of restoration is a testimony of God’s grace as well as an example of how it should be done. If this makes you curious, check this out
When Gordon’s fall became public (long before internet etc…can’t recall how I learned about it) I was leading  a group of 15-20 college-age students through a study of his Ordering Your Private World (which remains one of my favorite books…if you’ve not read it give it a try)
So here I was leading a bunch of young adults through this great book by this great pastor…and…BOOM…he confesses to an affair!
What do I do now?
Should I continue with the study?
As I thought/prayed I sensed God giving me a Gibbs hit (if you don’t recognize that reference, that’s cool), and I heard Him say (no, not “literally,” but hopefully you know what I mean), “Yo, dummy, you still read Psalms don’t you?”
Duh.
King David, the Spirit-inspired author of most of the Psalms, the “man after God’s own heart,” also fell…into adultery and sanctioned murder.
His sin did not negate the Psalms.
Obviously MacDonald wasn’t (and isn’t…and neither is any one else) “inspired” the same way David was…but his sin did and does not negate his teaching.
So if your preacher/teacher falls…compare his/her teachings with scripture, pray for wisdom/discernment, and press on.
Obviously pray for restoration for the fallen.
And…by the way…ask yourself the uncomfortable question that I ask myself…”How diligent am I in praying for my pastor?
And…what steps am I regularly taking to ensure that I don’t fall into garbage like this.
Lastly…if you wonder how stuff like this happens…in the words of Paul Little, “Collapse in the Christian life is seldom a blow out, it is usually the result of a slow, almost imperceptible leak.” Then google “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns and carefully listen – with your ears, heart, and soul.
First Jack One Nineteen: “Any Christian is capable of any sin at any time.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It's Not New; But It's A Great Book!

(NOTE: I wrote this in 2005):
Read This Book (please)
Make The Time to Read This Book!

I can't recall a book that impacted me as quickly as Dinner With a Perfect Stranger. My only complaint is that I didn't think of the idea behind the book!

Author David Gregory's provocative novella allows readers to "listen-in"on an imaginary conversation between a successful type-A businessman and Jesus. 

The conversation is initiated when the businessman, Nick, receives a formal invitation to join Jesus for dinner.

Convinced the invitation is a gag, Nick shows up to meet a man who introduces himself as, "Jesus. My family called me Yeshua." 

Through the course of dinner "Jesus"serves insights on everything from world religion to the accuracy of the Bible to the purpose of life and the existence of heaven and hell.

Between biting food Nick chews on his own unfulfilled longings, spiritual uncertainties, and anger with God. Is he dining with God, or a lunatic? How does this dinner guest know so much about Nick's life? Could it be?

It is a fascinating, challenging, compelling book. 

This book is a fantastic and unique way to get the gospel into someones hands! Read it for yourself, then give it away, and perhaps think ahead to Christmas and make a list of non-Christian friends who need to "listen in."

I read a portion of the book at a couple of the camps I've recently spoken at...both teens and adults are captivated!

 store...http://www.jacksstore.spreadtheword.com Just click on that link and then click on the Dinner With photo under "Jacks Picks".

Wherever you get the book...get it! I promise you'll not be disappointed.

Superb Day

Yesterday (Monday) was a fantastic day for me.

Actually, every day is fantastic; some are just fantasticker (just for my friends who love the English language :)

 Jacob and I spend Sunday night at the camp our ministry owns and operates in Polo, Mo. Monday I got up and traveled to Cameron and Crossroads Correctional, a maximum security prison.

On the 3rd and 4th Mondays of each month I speak to what is called the "Reformed Bible Study." Yesterday there was about 20 men in attendance. I preached from Psalm 103, and we simply had a God-touched time. Every time the Word is proclaimed there is victory; sometimes seen, sometimes not.

But yesterday morning was "strangely warm" as God's Spirit ministered. Can't adequately put it in written words, but it was a holy hush of reverence.

Last night I spoke at WRDCC in St Joseph. About 70 men came to chapel. It was rainy and cold and thus the yard didn't look all that attractive, so we picked up a few more men than usual.

The prison band did well, and, again, there was a tangible sense of God uniquely working. Again I took off from Psalm 103.1 (I've been camped there for a couple weeks in my personal time). These guys are usually very attentive, but there was an "extraness" to it that, again, I can't explain.

I'm always amazed I get to do what I get to do. I also recognize God could use a donkey to do what I do (and there may be some similarities). But as I drove away from the second prison I was almost tearful in gratitude...first to God for calling, enabling, and equipping; and second to those folks who feel the work is important enough to support in both finance and prayer.

As Jane and I serve as home missionaries through Midland Ministries we receive no salary save that which comes in from people, and a few churches, who give to see our work continue. I've lived that way since 1978, and Jane and I married in 1982. We've not had to worry about where to invest our surplus money; but God, as He promises, has met our every need, and thrown in a few wants.

I frequently (too frequently?) tell our supporters - their gifts make the work possible; while their prayers make the work powerful.

So....I guess all that happened yesterday is their 'fault'.

And I'm grateful beyond measure.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pretty Sure All Life (has) Many Situations


Ah, yes. The above "title" is a bit-of-a-reach acronym for the 150 slices of life recorded as psalms. I still try to read five a day and thus all each month.

Why? Among other reasons, the psalmists record a wide range of emotions and realities.

Sometimes life has "blah" moments; other times life is full of excitement and high emotion. There are other times in (honest) Christians' lives when life just sorta sucks, and God is questioned. 

All these realities and more are recorded in psalms.

Doesn't quite go in with the flashy, prosperity-geared hype of much "Christian" television. Doesn't "sell" well. Goes against the "glitter." Exposes the lies.  

But it is genuine. 

"Speaking the truth in love" is too-often cited as the proper way to give criticism, but the essence is to speak the truth. Methinks there are far too many followers of Christ wallowing in self-induced misery because they feel they are the only ones to be going through a dry spell, a time of doubts, a time of listlessness.  Why?

Because believers too often not only don't speak the truth, we lie. "How ya doing?" "Great, praise the Lord," when, in fact, we are close to dying inside.

Vulnerability isn't "safe," and no one wants to be around someone who is always whining, but we all need to work at being real, genuine, and open with our brothers and sisters in Christ. That "we all" does, of course, include me.

Motives for not sharing? Perhaps some don't think "real" Christians go through down times? Others don't want their particular issue to be spread..in other words, we don't trust those to whom we might be vulnerable. 

Some don't want to admit to having any less-than-mountaintop-experiences.

Perhaps some just don't want to run the risk of making another "down" because of our "downess"? Not sure if that last sentence conveys what I'm attempting to say...

The Psalms are a look inside the heart as well as head of David and the other psalmists. Superintended by the Holy Spirit, the recorded words are sometimes shocking, other times comforting, occasionally confusing.

Sort of like life. Real life. Redeemed life. Life for which we can be certain of one crystal-clear fact...the Lord is with us 24/7...and though He rejoices with us when we rejoice, He weeps with us when we weep...and equips us to do the same with one another.

In a valley? He is with you now...not "just" at the other end. And the way out of the valley is through the valley...with the Lord your God taking the "point."

Saturday, May 14, 2016

I Hate Meetings, But...

Yes, I am not a fan of meetings...but they are (often) a necessary evil. (this is a photo of my view, as the one tasked to take notes/minutes):

Yesterday the Bible Quiz Fellowship leaders met  in Kansas City to discuss the Nationals (Colorado Springs) held just two weeks ago, the 2017 Tournament (which will be held in April in Kansas City), technical issues, proposed rule changes, and a lot more.

These people are, with only a couple exceptions, in vocational ministry and involved in many other facets of youth work other than quizzing. But they take a couple days out of their schedule, pay their own way, and gather together to trust the Lord to unite us in a way that would benefit the quizzers.

Imagine around 20 type A's discussing various viewpoints of various aspects of any program. It could be explosive; but the Lord graciously allows us to work together even when it calls us to disagree, agreeably.

All are focused on this thing called Bible quizzing being as "fair" (just), as smooth, as encouraging as possible in the midst of intense competition. All want to honor the Lord first, and honor the teens who put hundred and hundreds of hours of study and practice each season.

For those who are totally unfamiliar with BQF-style quizzing; the competition can look like it is simply a matter of luck. But luck comes to the prepared, and if we gave the teens a written test on their material, most would pass with flying colors. But the added spark of competition creates excitement as well as occasional bafflement.

But the end result is hundreds and hundreds of teens (and their parents) are memorizing chapters of God's Word each season. (the material for the 2016/2017 season is Luke) Coaches, staff, and parents (which can often be one person) have the opportunity to discuss the memorized verses...what is the first, primary meaning...how does what this passage teach affect the way I respond to problems, parents, other issues?

It is a cool tool. It is not an end in itself. The statistics will be forgotten, the trophies will end up in a box on a shelf or a thrift store...but the living Word of God will do the work of God.

I recently received this from a now 30-something ex-quizzer. It encouraged me; perhaps you:

Jack,

The most powerful testimony someone can give is his own.  Here is mine:

1. Bible Quizzing was a huge positive in my life and has paid dividends well after.  I recall telling you at Youth Action camp as a 8th grader that I was going to take on Bible Quizzing that fall because I believed the competition would incentivize me to learn scripture like nothing had before.  Not only was that true, but I will admit nothing since has been as effective either.  Even thought I cannot now quote entire books verbatim (still proud of being able to do that with John once upon a time) or the myriad others we studied (Luke, Romans, et al), I am often aware that the material is in there in a foundational way.  It is something that shaped who I am and how I think on a fundamental level, not simply in on the surface sense but as actual fundamental building blocks of thought and the very core mapping of how my brain works.  

2. Later in life when I faced challenges and questions about faith (as all who are honest will admit come), my faith was never truly shaken and I believe a huge part of that was and is the ultimate words of truth grafted to my being through memory.

3. Some of the very best, most, and enduring memories I have from late childhood / high school were Bible Quizzing related, Nationals in particular.  Seriously some of the very best times of my life and I will always be appreciative to you for making them possible.

So, though I'm not a fan of meetings (God so loved the world that He didn't send a committee), they must take place; and I am grateful to my brothers and sisters on the committee who come together, knit together in love, to enable quizzing to continue and, prayerfully, to grow.