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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lasting Fruit

A couple months ago Teens For Christ Connection (Phillipsburg, Ks) celebrated their 40th anniversary with an all-day event.

As Jane and I had served on staff for a couple years, and since I was, ah, "seasoned," they asked me to help MC the program.

Part of the day involved families from each of the four decades sharing how TFC had impacted their lives.

One family traced their spiritual lineage back to the Spirit of God working through a guy named Jack Hager.

It blessed my proverbial socks off; and I just learned it was videoed.

If you click the following link, you can either watch it from the beginning to learn the genesis of TFC, or you can advance to about 4.40 where I introduce the family; perhaps it will as much a blessing to you as it is to me.

Just a reminder - back then, like now; like until I flat-line; Jane and I are able to be in full time vocational ministry because a team of individuals and churches partner with us in finance and prayer.

As I frequently comment, "The gifts of God's people make ministry  possible; the prayers of God's people make ministry powerful."

To watch the video CLICK HERE

Friday, May 26, 2017

Me? Read a Book? Yeah, You!

I saw the ad often as a child.

Frankly, my parents didn't give me much, but my father did convey to me the importance...and joy...of reading. I remain an unashamed bookaholic.

It pains me to see so many of all ages who do not read.

Some say they've no time; some say it's too hard.

Which is why I resonate with this article by James Emery White:


One of the most frequent questions I get is how to keep up with culture. My stock answer is to read voraciously. Then the follow-up comes: How can I become a better reader?
Borrowing a phrase from Thomas Jefferson, Susan Wise Bauer rightly maintains that any literate man or woman can become a reader. “All you need are a shelf full of books... and a few ‘chasms of time not otherwise appropriated.’”
With the scent of a savvy, real-world reader, Bauer gives the following suggestions:
  • Morning is better than evening: Why fight the fatigue?
  • Start short. As with physical exercise, work your way into shape starting with no more than 30 minutes a day.
  • Don’t schedule yourself for reading every day of the week. Aim for four days, giving yourself some days off for the inevitable interruptions of life.
  • Never check your email or social media right before you start reading. You know how it distracts the mind and commands your time.
  • Guard your reading time. Set it, keep it and protect it.
  • And take the first step now.
I might add three more to her list:
First, do not attempt to read a book – particularly a significant one – in the context of chaos. Blaring music, kids running amuck and interrupting you every five minutes, getting up to answer the phone... such distractions are insurmountable. Guarding your reading is more than setting the time itself aside; it is protecting its quality.
Second, do not become discouraged if you read slowly, resulting in only a few books a year. The more you read, the faster you will read. The same is true with comprehension. Your mind is like your body; you should not expect to run a 4-minute mile the first day or complete a marathon after two weeks in the gym. Speed and increased abilities in reading comprehension come with time. And they will come.
Finally, reading is served by knowing the degree to which individual books should be read. Not every book qualifies for a cover-to-cover journey. Long ago, Francis Bacon gave this wise counsel: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested.” Read each book to the degree that it deserves, and no more. A classic text that will help in this area is Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book.
Most people would be amazed at what can be accomplished with such practices. Will Durant, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the famed 11-volume The Story of Civilization once listed “The One Hundred ‘Best’ Books for an Education.” As if he anticipated the reaction to such a program, he writes, “Can you spare one hour a day? … Let me have seven hours a week, and I will make a scholar and a philosopher out of you; in four years you shall be as well educated as any new-fledged Doctor of Philosophy in the land.”
He’s right.
James Emery White
Adapted from James Emery White, A Mind for God (InterVarsity Press).
Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.
Francis Bacon, Of Studies.
Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book.
Will Durant, The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, compiled and edited by John Little.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"But We've Always Done It This Way"


Some hate to change. 

Some think any change is compromise.

Whether we like it or not, things...and people...change.

What worked a couple years ago may not work today. What works in Los Angeles may well not work in, say, Kansas City.

I'm pretty sure I know why people really don't like change -

It means work.

The gospel never changes. The methodology of presenting the gospel does...or at least should.

This article by Ron Edmundson maketh sense to me:


Imight have discovered a secret to the success of Jesus’ disciples.
And therefore my own ministry.
I never caught it until recently.
Read these verses and see if you see what I saw:
They were to wear sandals, but not put on an extra shirt.
So they went out and preached that people should repent. (Mark 6:9, 12 )
Remember what happened?
And they were driving out many demons,anointing many sick people with olive oil, and healing them. (Mark 6:13)
Did you catch what made them successful? Don’t miss it?

They wore sandals.

You get it. If I want people to respond.
If I want to see success in ministry.
If I want them to repent.
Maybe I need to wear sandals.
Maybe it’s not happening as much as I wish it would because I’m not wearing the right shoes.
I should wear sandals every Sunday morning. With my jeans or with my suit.
Sandals…the missing ingredient.
And, of course, I’m being funny. Or trying to be.
Okay, not funny, but I’m making a point.
Jesus gave very specific instructions, but they weren’t unusual to the disciples. Just specific. The people seeing the disciples wouldn’t have thought they were dressed strange either.
Jesus’ clothing instructions were within the context of the day.
It’s a reminder to me.
Methods change.
The way we do ministry changes. The clothes we wear. The songs we sing.
I don’t wear sandals. To preach. Catch me Monday through Saturday, or an hour after the last service, and you’ll find me in Biblical attire.
I dress in the context of the day. To the people I’m trying to reach. Styles change.
And, of course, there are other implications of this. Not just shoes. Context changes.
Here’s the point I’m making. If we are not careful, we begin to think our practices, the ones we’ve done so long, or the one we prefer, are Biblical, when really they are contextual.
And, context changes.
But the fact that people need to repent doesn’t.
And, so we minister within the context of the day, and preach truth.
Jesus modeled that for us.

If not…we’d all be wearing sandals.

(My California pastor friends are confused. You can ignore this post and enjoy your sandals.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

No Choice and Choice

Whether you are calvinistic or armenian (or aren't sure what you are {and that's okay!}), you have the incredible power of choice.

As First Jack 1.18 declares, "You make your choices; then your choices make you."

But, of course, in many things you have no choice.

For instance Psalm 118.24 begins, "This is the day the Lord has made..."

No choice. The Creator of all has created this day...

Your choice? The verse continues, "...we will rejoice and be glad in it."

Easy to quote in the sunshine; a tad more difficult to do in the valleys of life...

Yet it is a matter of the will...the power of choice.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Report on BQF Nationals 2017

It is Sunday. Last Wednesday began the 2017 Bible Quiz Fellowship National Tournament. The ministry I serve (Midland Ministries) hosted; and thus we had the prep and post work (of which there is a massive amount).

If you are not familiar with Bible quizzing (BQF style or any other), learn more here.

Forty-five teams of seven from about 14 states participated. This year's tournament was held in Kansas City, which has a large Bible quiz presence. It is only 45 minutes away from Midland's location in and around Saint Joseph, Mo. Many parents, grandparents, and other family members showed up to encourage and watch.

All tournaments have their own flavor; but this one seemed particularly sweet. Interaction among the teen competitors appeared friendly, respectful, and it was great to hear laughter; and great to see a pair or a group of quizzers praying together.

Quizzers (and staff) speak of "PND" (Post-Nationals Depression). Though probably not diagnosable, it is very real thing for many...intense days of competition laced with moments of hilarity and periods of heartache...As I say probably too often...Nationals has such uniqueness that it is like, to me, combat or matter how much you hear; how many videos you watch..unless you've been there, you've no idea.

You'll note I'm not displaying the team placements, or individual achievements. They are important, the teens work very hard for them; but whether they finished at the top or at the bottom; they've all memorized several chapters of Luke...Thus they are all victors.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Drudgery Sanctified

When asked what ministry looks like, I occasionally grin and reply, "We set up chairs, take down chairs; set up chairs, take down chairs..."

It is said we do a lot of the stuff we'd rather not do in order that we can do what we wish to do.

This from Oswald Chambers cleans it up and clears it up (and perhaps convicts it up?)

"Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine."