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Monday, June 27, 2016

The Sky Is Falling!

(NOTE - I wrote and published this on November 8, 2006...)

No, it is not. The mid-term election should not be a suprise. Many "evangelicals" (a term that, like most, is defined in the ears of the behearer) will send out letters, and jesuswill preach sermons, and more describing how horrible the election results are.
I agree. But I'm not any more discouraged than I was yesterday. Could it be we as a nation are getting what we deserve? Why, indeed, should "God bless America"?
We have "our" megachurches, "our" bestsellers, "our" people in high places, and yet less Americans believe even in a generic-god than in years past 

Without going into reasons why I think it is so, the body of Christ's impact in our nation has declined - perhaps proportionately to the "bigness" of what I call "churchianity"?

I had hoped the election wouldn't be quite as clobbering to the Republicans. I still believe we need to fight terrorism on their turf, not ours. I am aware the powers-that-be have blown it big time; but I do not think it is irreparable.

But there is more at stake than terrorism, taxes, homosexuality, and whatever else is on someone's "list."

The more-at-stake is simple...Will we "love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our mind, all our strength, and all our soul?" Will we love our neighbors "as ourselves" (even if they happen to be pro-gun-control, homosexual, or prochoice?)

Will we "do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God"?

Or will we just keep waiting for the next flashy book, the next cool seminar, the next big thing?

I'm preaching to myself, friends. We need to strive to walk-the-talk 24/7. We need to recognize that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, or political parties, or activists. We need to fight the "good" fight and not get absorbed in mickey-mouse fights.

In a sense, John, Paul, George and Ringo got it right: "All you need is love..."

I can't remember where I got the artwork...but I like this more than a meek-and-mild, almost effeminate Jesus that is all too common.

Could it be that this is the look Jesus gives our nation?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Heaven Is A Wonderful Place

Eye has not seen, ear has not heard...

But I know a couple things about heaven:

God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit is there...

Sin is not there...

I am going there...

And though there are many blessings in this world, this world is not my home; and, well, I'm not home yet...

As Elizabeth Elliot wrote, 

 "Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Word Encourages....

Some days are draining, some are perplexing, some are demanding. But all days are created by our Lord. Couple verses have been very encouraging to me this day:

Psalm 124.8 "Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

The One who made everything is probably able to take care of our needs, ey?

Psalm 138.8 "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands."

As our hearts surrender to Him and His purpose; He will accomplish that purpose in us, for us, through us. 

Is there joy in the waiting? 

Yeah...because it sure beats hell! 

Is it "fun"? 

Nope...but "fun" is not the purpose of the life of a servant (contrary to what you may hear on, for instance, most of TBN). 

The very genuine difference between "fun" and "joy" reveals itself in the fact that sin is "fun." For a season...then comes payday.

Don't Leave Jesus in the Driveway

Not much difference between prison ministry and (youth) camp ministry...

Didn't recognize that until a few years ago...I often tell the guys, "Whether you make it on the street or not will be determined in the first couple hours after you walk out of prison..."

As far as professing Christian inmates go, the word is "Don't leave Jesus at the gate."

And this morning week one at SuperC (Midland Ministries camp in Polo, MO) comes to a close...and around 11am teens will head back to the "real" world.

In an hour I'll challenge them to "not leave Jesus in the driveway" as they pull out of camp. For those who made "decisions" for Christ I'll tell them, "Whether you follow through on your alleged commitment to read the Bible more, pray more, tell your friends about Christ, obey your parents habitually etc etc you act in the coming few hours will determine whether it 'sticks.'"

Scripture says "do not despise the day of small beginnings."

Would you join me in praying these teens cling to Jesus as many of them return to horrific "homes." The very place that should be a dress rehearsal for heaven is, in far too many cases, a portrayal of the alternative...

And pray as I begin the drive west...tomorrow (Sunday) I'll speak three times behind the walls and wire of the Sterling Penitentiary...Colorado's largest state prison. The next morning I begin a week at Camp Machasay.

Amazed I get to do what I get to do...

Friday, June 24, 2016

C S Lewis Slams Hard into My Thoughts...

It is hard to fathom how "sharp" C. S. Lewis his fiction as well as his non-fiction stuff. This of irritable, painful, yucky people in your life and carefully read on:

"It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor.

The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. 

All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. 

It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. 

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. 

Nations, cultures, arts, civilization--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. 

But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. 

And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment."
 "The Weight of Glory," in The Weight of Glory (Eerdmans, 1949)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sad or Glad???

"To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways; we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should rather be an expression of breathless expectation."  Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Part, His Part

shuttle launch from the Inter Space StaThe photo (space shuttle launch ) reminds me of His vastness, His power, His "unlike-us-ness."

In the midst of the normal struggles of life, parenting, and work...I drew comfort from Psalm 91 this morning.

Noticing the biblical explanation of responsibility, choice, and result. Verse 1 says, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." Thus my job is to "pitch my tent", His "job" is to allow me to live/abide/stay in His shadow.

Verse two indicates my need to "trust."

Verses three and four describe His protection, and verses five through seven portray the resulting "sanctified superiority complex."

Verse nine reiterates "my" part, "Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place..."

Verse 14 continues the admonition, "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name."

Verse 15 and 16 again reveal cause-and-effect, "When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

"Working out salvation" is a continuous and (hopefully growing) discipline.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Time for a Check Up?

Frances Havergal was born December 14, 1836. By 1873 she longed for a deeper knowledge of God (having written many, many hymns to that point).

 On December 2, 1873 she was brought to see that she could not have the full blessedness of faith havergal_fr3without a full surrender to Christ.

On February 1, 1874 she visited a home where there were ten people, some unconverted, some Christians but no where near joyous. 

A great longing seized Miss Havergal, and she prayed all would come to faith..and they did!

On the last night of her stay, February 4, 1874, she was too overjoyed to sleep, and spent the night writing perhaps  her most "famous" hymn. 

She would later conduct meetings, and at the end of each she'd give each attendee a card bearing the words of the hymn. She'd ask them to take the list home, pray over it, and then, if they could make the commitments their own, sign the cards on their checklistknees.

She died at 43, and her headstone in England is engraved, per her request, with her favorite text, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."

Here are the words, with the parens supplied by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

This is yet another reason not to throw out the baby (older, meatier, more doctrinely-sound "hymns") with the bathwater -- and thus focus on totally "new" praise-and-worship...some of which is very good; some okay, more-than-some  me-centered spiritual cotton candy)

I view this as a sort of time for (honest) introspection, a check up, if you will:

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. (my life)

Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise. (my time)

Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee. (my body)

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee. (my tongue)

Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold. (my possessions)

Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose. (my mind)

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine. (my will)

Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne. (my affections)

Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. (my relationships)

Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee. (my all)

Monday, June 20, 2016


"Don't spend time 200px-Dr-Laura_Schlessingerbeating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door."
Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Saturday, June 18, 2016


GarageSale_573x435It would be a reach to get a spiritual implication of what I'm about to say...but I think it should be close to a felony for people to put garage/yard sales all over town...and then never take them down. Yes, there have been times I've followed the magical arrows only to find the sale happened days/weeks/months ago. Grrrrrr. Jane has had some huge sales, and I've dutifully put up the signs, and responsibly taken them down.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I Am Prejudiced

Yes, I freely confess: I am very, very prejudiced...against prejudiced people. Despise might be the apropos, though perhaps not too Godly, word.

But, please be advised that I am not going to apologize to anyone for the ongoing stain of racism, anymore than I would apologize for the persecution of the Jews, the despicable events of last Sunday, or the horror of Hiroshima.

For those that remember the heady days of "Promise Keepers," the early years were marvelous, spectacular, and helpful. How I remember serving with Family Life (NY/PA) and helping take bunches of buses to Indianapolis, Washington, Chicago, and I can't remember where else.

Then things got funky. Ecumenicalism reared its wishy-washy head, and then the call for all the white folk to do a kumbaya thing and hug an African American and apologize for racism.


I don't expect a brother to apologize to me for the African Americans in Germany who took shots at my unit after a stupid lieutenant made a (mildly) racist remark. (Literally: "Don't you boys know how to salute an officer?" That is, of course, unless he is one of the particular brothers who took a shot!

Sorry for the mini-rant; but just read a new post from a guy I respect who suggested we honkies should all apologize to African Americans for the racist attitudes of some. (don't know what happened to the Native Americans, Koreans, Japanese, Ethiopians, Mexicans, etc etc etc)

Wanna Be Used by God? Listen to the tv guys, or read this:

No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow.  Most of the Psalms were born in a wilderness.  Most of the Epistles were written in a prison.  The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire.  The greatest poets have "learned in suffering what they taught in song."  In bonds Bunyan lived the allegory that he afterwards wrote, and we may thank Bedford Jail for the Pilgrim's Progress.  Take comfort, afflicted Christian!  When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.
George MacDonald

Thursday, June 16, 2016

It Ain't Supposed to be Fun!

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

Friday, June 3, 2016

Another Professing Christian Artist Outs Himself

I debated and prayed about posting this for several hours.

But I've decided to add it to the discussion simply because that's how I am led; and because we need to have these conversations as the continued slide into acceptance and compromises escalates.

For many years I have been one of the voices who have said the issue of homosexuality is the issue that God will use to refine His church. All the other discussions of sexuality trace their "acceptance," "tolerance," and, alas, "celebration" to the profound wide-brush compromise on homosexuality in the church-at-large (again, very wide brush).

I repeat myself: homosexual behavior is, Biblically, sin...just as extra-marital sex is; premarital sex is;  sex with an animal is. It is not a "horrible" sin any more than all sin is horrible; though 1 Corinthians 6 reveals that sexual sin of any nature has connotations other sins do not.

So I share this article, and won't even bother - at this point - to draw attention to the idiotic statements that are contained within...but I will point out that the last paragraph is loaded with both truth and warning.

Trey Pearson of Everyday Sunday.
The lead singer of the popular Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, Trey Pearson, came out as gay on Tuesday in an open letter to his fans, ending a yearslong personal struggle between faith and sexuality and joining a flock of Christian musicians who have come out as gay or lesbian in recent years.
Mr. Pearson, 35, has enjoyed a successful career in Christian rock with Everyday Sunday, whose 2009 album “Best Night of Our Lives” reached No. 15 on Billboard’s Christian albums chart and No. 187 on the Billboard 200. The band also produced 20 top-ten singles on the Christian rock charts. He said he has toured in 50 states and 20 countries.
He also spent two decades trying to make himself straight, he said.
His letter, published in (614) Columbus, an arts and culture magazine in his hometown, Columbus, Ohio, detailed the long process of accepting his sexuality and reconciling it with his Christian faith. In the end, he said, it was his growth as a Christian that helped propel his coming out.
“Most of us reach at least one pivotal moment in our lives that better defines who we are,” Mr. Pearson wrote. “These last several months have been the hardest —but also have ended up being the most freeing months — of my life. To make an extremely long story short, I have come to be able to admit to myself, and to my family, that I am gay.”
Mr. Pearson said in an interview that he was raised in a “super-Christian” home where he was taught that “you can choose to be straight.” He spent years trying to make that happen, even marrying a woman and fathering two children. “I had never done anything with a girl when I got married, and I thought it would just magically work,” he said.
Finally he concluded that he could not make himself straight, he said, and that God would love him as he was.
“I got to this place where it clicked pretty hard with me that I was not able to be what Lauren, my wife, needed me to be as her husband,” he said. “I was faced with a decision at that point: if I was going to try to keep burying it down and blaming it on other things, or if I was going to admit to myself and her that I was gay.”

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He and his wife have separated but share in parenting their children, and they continue to be close, he said. “It’s been a really difficult journey to get this point,” he said. “But I feel like I’ve been set free.”
Mr. Pearson’s journey echoes the stories of other popular Christian musicians who have come out, including Vicky Beeching and Ray Boltz. For many, coming out meant criticism from conservative fans and a decline in their careers.
Ms. Beeching said she was happy for Mr. Pearson. But her career ended when she came out, she said, and she has not played a concert since.
“Last month I finally made the big decision to sell all of my guitars, which was an emotional moment,” she wrote in an email. “It’s not a viable livelihood for me now that I’m ‘out,’ and it’s been a tough road to walk.”
Eliel Cruz, the executive director of Faith in America, a religious organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said that each time a Christian musician came out, fans struggled to reconcile their spiritual enjoyment of the music with conservative teachings on homosexuality.
“Will fans recognize that perhaps L.G.B.T. Christians can bring spiritual gifts to the church, as Pearson has from the closet for all these years?” he said.
Mr. Pearson said the response to his announcement had been positive so far, including from fans and other Christian artists, including the bands Switchfoot and Jars of Clay. He said any hate or criticism “looks so minute right now.”
But he had not heard from “the gate holders” of Christian rock, like executives at record labels and radio stations, he said. It is yet to be seen whether he will face the same blowback as other gay Christian artists.
But he said he was not worried. He began producing his own records as an independent artist several years ago, a venture he said had been lucrative. And the support he has gotten from fans and other artists made him hopeful that the subculture of Christian rock was changing, he said.
But finding acceptance from his family has also been a challenge. They are trying to understand, but “where they are in their faith” has made that difficult, he said.
“When you have committed your life to the belief that God hates homosexuality and all of a sudden your son is gay, there is a strain,” he added. “You’ve always loved him and been proud of him and wanted him to fall in love, but now it conflicts with all this theology in your head. But it is changing in our country and I would like to see that change in my family and my church.”

Balancing Grace and Truth Imperative

Randy Alcorn's book, The Grace and Truth Paradox, is a very important read. Sadly, the only way to learn balance is to lose it...(also important to recognize that if we get off balance on grace, anything goes; off balance on truth, we
slide into deadly legalism)

But this, from the book, reminds us how paramount finding that balance should be:

"The ancient, historical Jesus came full of grace and truth.

The modern, mythological Jesus comes full of tolerance and relativism. 

Even in the church truth is sometimes buried under subjectivism and cowardice, while grace is lost in a sea of permissiveness and indifference. 

Without truth, we lack courage to speak and convictions to speak about. Without grace, we lack compassion to meet people's deepest needs. 

The vast majority of colleges were built with the vision and funding of Christians. Why? To teach truth. Most American hospitals were built with the vision and funding of Christians. Why? To extend grace. 

We don't have the luxury of choosing either grace or truth. 

Yet many believers habitually embrace one instead of the other, according to our temperament, background, church or family. 

We must learn to say yes to both grace and truth - and say no to whatever keeps us from them."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Best I've Read - Youth Ministry

I hesitated a couple days before I wrote the review on this one.

I was tremendously impressed in reading the book; my immediate thought it was the best I've read on the subject of youth ministry.

But I didn't want to overreact.

So I let it simmer.

Now I'll say without hesitation: No Guts, No Glory (Matthias Media)is the finest book I've read on the realities of youth ministry.

Frankly, it's a book I could have written; some may say it's a book I should have written.

After all, I've been doing this vocationally since 1977.

But I didn't.

Sure am glad Alan Stewart did.

I always hesitate to type "required reading."

Not with this one. As Director of Staff Development (as you know, I'm really into titles); I will insist the Midland Ministries staff read this book.

I will personally recommend it to every youth pastor/worker I know; and every aspiring youth worker.

It is that good. It is that real. It is that helpful.

One caveat, the authors are there are those weirdly spelled words, and a couple other references that would raise your eyebrows if you didn't I've not yet been speaking or working at a youth camp that had "tea time"!

I can't believe I missed this was first published in 1990, with the second edition coming out in 2000,

You may be thinking, "Oh, it's old." NOT!

Why NOT? Because you shouldn't buy into the next gimmick, the next program, the next strategy.

Basically ministry is ministry - love God, love people.

There is nothing "dated" in this book. Does this sound old? "Most churches have a youth group of some kind, but very few have actually worked out what they are doing and why."

How about this? "Good youth ministry will produce tension because it will produce growth."

Anyone who has been in ministry for more than two weeks will recognize the permanence of: "The tension between youth wants and youth needs lies at the heart of youth ministry."

I'm betting I'm not the only youth worker who wishes every parent of every young person would read this paragraph:

"Unfortunately, it is sometimes Christian parents
who tell their teenagers that they do not have time for proper involvement
in Christian activities, because they need to be studying, learning music,
training for sport, or whatever it is.
This reflects a problem with the Christian life of the parents
rather than the teenagers;
it is what we want for our children that really
reflects our values in life."

I just heard shouts of "Amen!" from every experienced youth worker!

The book serves as a great reminder for the most experienced youth worker. Each chapter concludes with some application questions that make this helpful for an individual, and very useful for a group of workers to go through together. With eleven chapters, an 11 week study period would be fantastic.

I simply can not overstate the case - get this book. It comes with the Hager guarantee...if you buy it and don't like it, I'll reimburse you for your money spent. It's that good. In fact, if you read it and don't nod a bunch, weep a little, and laugh once or better get out of youth work!


"If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."

Colin Powell

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Simplicity. Jesus was never too hard to understand though He had and has some hard statements. 

But perhaps genuine ministry is a tad different than counting noses and "decisions";  especially when the one who makes alleged "decision" is promptly forgotten once the body-count has been taken?

Stumbled across this quote in a book of quotes. It is not attributed, but, wow, methinks it is a succinct definition of what ministry to young people truly is...or should be:simple 

Kids go where there's excitement
   They stay where there is love.

And, as in any other context, "love" is spelled "time." Also known perhaps as "discipleship"? Perhaps better know as being a "friend"? I still marvel at the number of "youth ministers" I've met in almost four decades of service who don't seem to like youth!

The book had another quote, also unattributed...which is timely for me (since today is my birthday...same day every year, weird):
Look at the bright side, no matter how old you are , you are younger than you'll ever be again!