and raise up children to

Been discussing the importance of youth ministry with a brother. I'm going to stand by my belief that the solution to raising Godly young men and women is not investing further in youth ministry workers (not to contract either, or lose that focus, don't get me wrong), but rather to expand men's and women's ministry. The Bible never commands the body to raise the young in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The Bible reserves that command for parents, specifically fathers. The dearth of Godly young ones is because of the dearth of Godly fathers, make no mistake about that.

I don't want to brag, but I will. My son moved up from preschool to kindergarten, and in his moving up ceremony, all of the kids had to state what they wanted to be when they grew up. Many said "vet"; others stated "policeman" or "doctor". My son said, "When I grow up, I want to be a Godly man."

I'm sure people felt I rehearsed that answer with him. And I did. But not for that ceremony. I'd been teaching him that for over a year. And will repeat that every day until he's fulfilled that desire in his heart. I don't need an Awana volunteer, a Sunday school teacher, or a senior pastor to instill that virtue in my son's heart. And neither does the Lord expect that. If I'm not doing that on my own, then Houston, we have bigger problems.


see, he is ahead of you

"Vision 2008 - Going Deep"
* Worse than being blind? Having sight but no vision (H Keller)
- Prov29:18: we need God's constant leading
* Significant spiritual growth
- Small groups w/ Truth Project
- Sermon series on doctrine
- Partnership with TBC and Perspectives
* Making a spiritual difference w/ Tamajaq
* Making a difference in our community
- Community carnival
- Food bank expansion
* Healthy base of stewardship (inviting, belonging, serving, giving)
* Increasing involvement in prayer
* Prayerfully exploring an orphan ministry {Ps68:5-6a; Jam1:27}


and the beasts of the field

Feeling a little lazy today. The video today was found on Godtube, but not sure there is a real Christian meaning to it. It's one of those things you forward around because it tells you to at the end, and it is cute. But that's an Aerosmith song of all things. Yes, there's a comment in there about love and never forgetting those you love, and Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and all, but I'll leave that metaphor to you. I told you, I was feeling lazy.


is carried away, his heart

I'm a fan of Hillsong United. Been humming one of their tunes all day today. The clip below shows them performing that song. [Note: MWS does a good version of it as well.] My favorite part is when the chorus kicks in at about the 3:33 mark.

It's frustrating sometimes worshiping Sunday mornings amid the flock when more than 50% of them won't allow their hearts to be carried before the throne of God in utter abandonment, overwhelmed by His presence. Below you can see the band praising amid a sea of raised hands. For most of the performance, they seem like they almost want to stop the music and simply stand there, stand there, undone and overcome.


narrow that leads to life

I'm not yet ready to say that every believer needs to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship" -- but that's only because I just started the book. But I do believe every believer needs to at least read the beginning of the book, a meditation on "Costly Grace." Bonhoeffer wrote this sixty years ago, and yet it speaks to one of the most fundamental issues facing American churches today -- the prevalence of "cheap grace."

Bonhoeffer writes:
In [bad churches] the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin . . . Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.
Everyone who reads this chapter on the difference between costly grace and cheap grace, between the real meaning of grace and the fake meaning of grace peddled by so many modern churches, will realize that much more how evil, how completely and utterly evil the positive thinking message being sown by the antichrist Osteen really is. Of course Americans want to attend the church that doesn't require them to focus on their inner darkness. They want as much of that cheap grace as they can swallow.

Note to self: Bethel will be built on costly grace.

write in a book what you see

For a future something:

Different witnesses (& attitudes) at the cross:
* Pharisees & soldiers (unbelievers)
* The one Roman soldier (doubter turned believer)
* Mary, the mother of God & Mary Mag(sorrow)
* The two thieves (convert & mocker)
* The disciples


authority over all flesh, that

There are a lot of different viewpoints about the mix of politics and Christianity. You can argue whether or not God votes Republican; that argument is less than constructive.

Reading an amazing book, and came across an argument Bonhoeffer makes on whether or not Christians should be involved in politics at all. Bonhoeffer makes the argument that "it is not only my task to look after the victims of madmen who drive a motorcar in a crowded street, but to do all in my power to stop their driving at all."

It is not enough to counsel women on the value of life; it is a moral obligation to end infanticide. It is not enough to serve the poor; it is a moral obligation to end corporate greed and class warfare. It is not enough to run marriage seminars; it is a moral obligation to protect the sanctity of marriage.

Apathy is the devil's temptation. Separation of church and state is the devil's legal counsel. As Burke has stated, "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."


houses or brothers or sisters or

"Wise Up About Friendship"
* Everyone wants friendship
- Loneliness biggest emotional issue facing all
- In perfect Eden, still not good for man to be alone
* Be choosy about friends {Prov12:26; 13:20; 1Cor15:33}
- Pick friends based on eternity, affinity, loyalty, & character
- Especially for young ones
* Be committed {Prov18:24}
- Quality over quantity
- Jackie Robinson story
* Be considerate {Prov17:9; 25:20}
* Be confidential {Prov11:13; 16:28; 20:19; 25:9-10}
* Be candid {Prov24:26; 27:5-6; 28:23}
- Compliment in public; correct in private
- Correct when up; comfort when down
- Never correct until open to correction
* Be constructive {Prov27:9, 17}
- Only two choices: build up or tear down (choose former)
* Be consistent {Prov17:17}
* What a friend


there takes place a change of

Finished reading a great book today. Toward the end of the book, the main character is discussing the book David Copperfield with his daughter. The daughter quotes the first line of the book:

"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."

That is very clearly an un-Christian worldview. The believer's life has a hero, and it's Christ the Lord. That is the whole of the Gospel -- that our own life has been delivered by another. The rest of our life after that moment of deliverance should show not us, but the One who rescued us. Our biographical novel -- if we have any success as a disciple of Christ -- should be filled with descriptions of how once we were lost, but now? Now so found.


what they were makes no difference to me

Yesterday, one of my sweet things asked what a denomination was, and I had to try to explain how people can be all one type of thing and yet have subgroups that believe very different things. Then listened to Rob Bell discuss the term emerging church in the clip below.

I think it makes Him very sad that His flock can't agree to focus on Christ the Shepherd and nothing else, but that they would rather squabble over whether or not dancing sends you to hell. I don't know how one turns a flock toward His glory, and away from the world that blinds them.


to inquire of him privately

In Matt26, the Last Supper shows Christ prophesying His getting betrayed. He goes on to say that the betrayer was the one who dipped his hand in the same bowl as Him. Disciple after disciple say "Surely, not I, Lord?" Only when Judas says it does Christ respond, "You have said it yourself."

Question: do you think this is done privately or publicly?

If public (as was my common view before today), would not the other disciples have rushed Judas? Peter at the very least might have lunged for him. Might Judas not have run off and gotten the soldiers and Pharisees then, rather than sit through an uncomfortable meal and the teaching and singing that followed?

I can only imagine that Christ prophesied aloud and the next few minutes were spent in silent meditation, each disciple trying to remember who dipped at the same time as the Lord; maybe trying to wonder if they had done so, and whether they would be a suspect. I imagine the dipping allusion to have been made public not to embarrass anyone, but rather to let Judas know that He already knew. And I imagine Christ smiled at every "Surely, not I" that was whispered to Him; perhaps He whispered back something unheard to every one. I don't imagine it was a public announcement of future failure. I'm thankful for a Lord that doesn't do that with me.


the father knew that it was

"Wise Up About Fatherhood" {Prov17:6}
* A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children {Prov13:22}
- What will be your legacy?
- Ps71:17-18
* Fathers are important
- Media message is opposite of that
- Facts say otherwise
* Raise sons (& daughters) who desire wisdom -- will be your joy
* Discipline your children
* Caution
- Not all fatherless children end badly
- Neither will all fathered children end well
- Have guilt complexes about neither
* Proverbs 31 man {Prov31:11, 28-30}
- Important to model being supportive to wife
* Practical tips
- Spend time w/ them
- Make a house of fun not ridicule
- Christ the leader of your home, not you
- Scripture-based fatherhood essential


how great a struggle I

A year ago late spring, a number of folks from the flock were dealing with some tough issues. Wondrous one asked me this evening whether or not I was mad at God during a time over a decade ago when I was struggling. I replied I was never really mad at Him; more hurt by everything. The clip below shows an altogether different way to respond to trial....


everything that moves on the

I had an upwelling of pride tonight, getting to watch my nephew graduate from high school. I remember seeing him as a baby on my prom night and it's remarkable to see him as a grown man ready to take on his future. His father (my bro-in-law) told me that he (the father) was a wreck, and I can only imagine. It'll be a decade hence when I'll get to see my first sweet thing in robes, and all the prozac in the world won't be able to contain me.


in a different form to

The clip below is making the rounds via email, so there's a chance you've seen it already. I'm posting it on the off-chance you haven't. The video is a reminder that at the most basic level, the most fundamental aspect of the Gospel is that it is a story of redemption, of love. It is a reminder that the two most powerful words in the English language are "but God." We were once sinners, but God made us children of eternity. And if you haven't experienced Christ yet, if you haven't experienced His ability to flip that paper write-up of your life, then friend, you have no idea what you are missing. But imagine a version of you 180 degrees different in all the ways that matter. That version of you is only a cross width's away.

(Note: The youtube clip of this has better audio, but I'd rather never link to that site if given the choice to find the Godtube version of the same.)


reached a decision to

Sometimes as a father you have to make tough choices. Your child wants that expensive thing and it's beyond your budget? Sorry, no. Your child wants to eat that dessert, but it's not healthy? Sorry, no. And there is that pang inside you of such love for the children that their every desire is your own desire; but your responsibility as leader has to come first.

As a business leader, I make decisions all the time, and never did I feel a similar pang of desire to meet my love's desire competing against my responsibility to make good choices. As a leader of the flock, I make decisions all the time. But last night at a meeting, had to make tough choices, and surprised to find similar pangs.

I guess that's a good thing, this sense of love, this patrimonial responsibility, this knowledge that good decisions must be made, sometimes contrary to my own desires. I might be doing something right.


He who fashions the hearts

The clip below shows a wound up Louie Giglio -- although for those who are familiar with Louie, you might be wondering when is he ever wound down. For those who don't know him, Louie has a passion about passion for God. Watch the 8-minute clip below for the first 2:20 seconds or so, where he quotes from Ps33 and talks about the God who loves us and holds us together. The ensuing 6-minute diversion about protein is optional, and personally, not as engaging. The worship of the great God behind it all? Not optional.


the report about Him was spreading

"Wise Up About Sharing Your Faith" {Prov11:30}
* Christ commands us to be His witnesses {Luke19:10; John17:18; Luke15:4-10}
* Make a list of names of people (school, work, club, family)
* Pray for their salvation {Rom10:1}
- That God would draw them to Himself {John6:44}
- That the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin {John16:7-8}
- That God would open their mind to understand the Gospel {Luke24:45; Acts16:14; Eph1:18}
* That God would somehow use you {Acts11:21}
- Saving people is God's business
- We have little role to be faithful in playing
* Raise the flag; in some casual way, identify with Christ
* Look for opportunity to meet a physical need in their life {Matt5:16; Jam2:16-17; Prov3:27-28; Titus3:1-2,8}
* Offer to pray for them -- "People want a God who is interested in their everyday lives."
* Work at becoming their friend; do something socially with them {Matt9:10-12; Matt11:19; Prov17:17}
* Invite them to special events at church


and was not able to finish

Sometimes things don't turn out the way you think they will. Big Brown's trainer was certain there would be a victory, calling the Triple Crown a "foregone conclusion".

Many approach Heaven with the same sense of certainty, believing that the goodness of their lives will punch their ticket to eternity. Many believe that their good works far outweigh their sins. Many believe that the relative purity of their heart will be enough to make heaven a foregone conclusion.

Friend, unless you have accepted Christ as your Savior, the end of all days will be a far bigger surprise to you than the outcome of a horse race. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man may come to the Father but through Me." Your goodness is not enough. Your good works are not enough. Your heart is not enough. You will lose that race.

Unless you ask Christ into your heart. The Bible says if you do that, that outcome is a sure thing. The Bible says "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." You will be saved.

Big Brown was three minutes away from immortality and fell short. You might be three minutes, three months, three decades away from facing your end. And unless falling short is your goal, that Savior is your only means of salvation. Will you make that choice today?


the face of all the earth

I haven't gone into specific detail about the falseness contained in the evil read I mentioned in yesterday's post. A simple google search for the book, or a read-through of the 1-star reviews on Amazon will give you a thorough listing of errors. But one of the issues is the incarnation of God the Father as a woman.

Now later in the book, this false incarnation claims that "For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning." (pg 93) Oh, I see. Apparently this false teaching is under the guise of challenging you to think outside of the box in regards to your faith. All for that, but you can do that in other ways than a false portrayal of the Father. It's bad enough there are denominations who replace "Father" with "Creator" in their liturgy and translations (going so far as to revise the Doxology, for crying out loud, which in my mind should be a capital offense). I'll devote a future posting to the importance of the Fatherhood to the faith.

What I want to respond to today is a conversation I had with the wondrous one. In Gen1:27, the Word says that man and woman were created in the image of God. If God is the Father, how is woman made in His image?

* The image we're made in is not the physical likeness of God. God can appear however He chooses. He appears as a burning bush. He appears as a column of flame. He appears as various angelic beings throughout the OT. One of the wonderful things we have to look forward to in eternity is seeing the true image of God.
* We're made in his holy likeness. In Col3:10 and Eph4:24, Paul talks about our renewed likeness and image in Christ. In both of those instances, he's talking about our sanctification and growth in personal holiness.

We may want to picture God with friendly eyes and a beaming smile, like Santa. We may want to picture him as blue-eyed and handsome, the picture of Aryan perfection. We may want to picture Him as muscled and buff, the ideal of strength. All of these imaginations border on idolatry -- which is making God into the likenesses of our choosing. The focus on what we see in God is not His form, but His nature. Trying to read too much beyond that will lead us nowhere.


careful how you walk

The wondrous one has been having a conversation with a friend in the flock about a very dangerous book that has been making the rounds in some believers' circles. This friend (whose role as a shepherd in the church is influential) sees so many great truths in the book, that she wants to share it with many. I've played the role of spoiler and cautioned the wondrous one not to read it, and this very night, sent a lengthy missive to the friend trying to lay out reasons why she shouldn't be assisting the book's popularity.

My arguments:
* Books that contain 8 great truths and 2 lies will convince many to believe in the 2 lies, especially if the 8 truths are so great. The Bible warns us that false teaching is persuasive, and often girds itself in some truths. It's the reason Osteen the false prophet can be so massively popular. We cannot help spread subversive teaching.
* Especially if you're a shepherd; you're held to a higher standard.
* There are far better, and more doctrinally pure books that can be recommended if you want to share truths. Want to share the truth about the wondrous nature of the love of God? John Piper has written a few good ones. Want to know about how God can heal the broken? See Lewis, CS and A Grief Observed. Go ahead and spread the truths -- just do so sans lies.

There's that children's song with the lyric "O be careful little eyes, what you see." I guess we should be singing that to ourselves as adults, too.


were great searchings of heart

There's a great new band with a great new single that's in the Christian Top 20 called "Love is Here." Full lyrics can be found HERE. Love the heart of this song -- that all who search for love, for healing, for salvation, for completion, that they don't need to look farther than the cross. That love and all the rest is here for them; waiting for them with an outstretched, nail-pierced hand.


who was corrupting the earth with

After dinner tonight, my daughter was telling us what she learned in school and I misheard her and thought she had learned two lessons on antichrists. Of course, I jumped in and began talking to her about 1John2. To which she of course asked, "What's an antichrist?" Long story short, it led me to the evil one.

Check out John Piper on false teachers. Osteen's ears must be burning. (Either because he's being talked about, or because he actually dwells permanently in raging fires.)


in all purity

"Wise Up About Sex!" {Prov5}
* Sex a powerful force -- used by advertisers, politics, whole culture
- What should Christian attitude be toward sex?
- Prov devotes almost 3 chapters on subject of sexual immorality
* Sex is good; God created it. {Prov5:18-19; Gen1:27-28; SongofSol}
* Like all good gifts from God, sex can be misused & perverted {Prov6:27-29}
- Like H2O becoming a flood
- Not exercised in His boundaries & purpose, sex can be ugly & destructive
* Boundaries of sex are boundaries of marriage {Ex20:14; Heb13:4}
* Your sexual purity is essential to your walk w/ God {Prov28:9}
* You are vulnerable to sexual immorality {Prov16:18}
* Your body belongs to God {1Cor6:20}
* Sexual purity begins in the heart/mind {Prov23:7, 4:23}
* Avoid walking the fire {Prov5:8, 7:6-8} -- temptation to live outside of His boundaries always looks better than it really is
* Consequences of sexual immorality {Prov5:9-14}
- Your life
- Your wealth
- Your physical body
- Regrets
- Public humiliation
* The alternative {Prov5:15-20}
- Culture portrays Christians as anti-sex or sexually repressed
- Sex is positive & beautiful within God's boundaries
* Everything we do is observed by God {Prov5:21-23}
* What about cohabitation?
- Sinful {Prov16:25; 1Thess4:3-8}
- 40% cohabitations break up before marriage
- Cohabitations have 50% higher rate of divorce
* What about those who've already sinned sexually?
- Repent {1Cor6:9-11; 1John1:9}
* Resources: Focus on Family and Eternal Perspectives Ministry
* Other practical suggestions:
- Guard what enters heart/mind
- Small group accountability
- Dress modestly
- Avoid close friends of opposite sex
- Romance your spouse