Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31 2009

July 31 2009

Proverbs 31:4 → Good thing we have a President and not a king, then, isn't it? Elsewhere, Scripture speaks of wine and beer as bringing pleasure and as making one forget troubles, along with the warnings of intoxication. I'm seeing here it is not for those who lead to forget their troubles, nor the troubles of those they rule over. It's one thing to take a short break, but if you lead people, hold responsibility for them, you aren't ever allowed the luxury of forgetting about them.

Proverbs 31:11 → Husbands, do you realize your wife is the good you need? That any other stuff is unimportant with an excellent wife. And other passages, like Proverbs 19:13 and Proverbs 21:9, point out that no stuff is worth it with a quarrelsome wife. So? Praise and encourage your wives into excellence. Reserve your criticisms for the one who needs them most: that guy in the mirror.

Proverbs 31:25 → She can laugh, not because she doesn't understand, but because she realizes who is truly in control. It's a little contrast with Sarah in Genesis 18:12, who laughed at God's promise in doubt. The excellent wife laughs at the calamities, knowing God is in control. She might also learn to take her husband's hare-brained schemes lightly enough.

Proverbs 31:30 → How do we encourage young men/young ladies to seek each other? Through fear of the Lord or through charm, beauty, intelligence?

1 Peter 3:8-9 → Well, this sounds easy enough. All the first leader of the church thinks we need is to be harmonious, sympathetic, kind-hearted, humble, brotherly, and not return insults for insults. That shouldn't be too hard? Should it?

James 2:6-7 → Don't we do this too? We fawn over Brad Pitt or John Travolta, while their religious beliefs mock us, while they use their star power to beat Christians down. Isn't it time we focus on Christ?

I see in the headlines today that the Government has decided to hold off the 'Cash for Clunkers' plan after all. Or, maybe not. They seem to realize they are going to run out of money pretty quickly. The point? I wonder how many people have waited an extra month to buy a car, knowing this was coming, but figuring they could wait for free money. When you give something away that's as lovely and material as a new car, people will overrun you in the pursuit. People will spread the news quickly, people will plan around the idea for months.

Not so with us in the church, though. We have something much more valuable than a $4500 discount on a car. We have Truth, the Truth in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, we can be a little grouchy amongst ourselves about side aspects, but the Gospel that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crucified for our sins, and resurrected on third day to reign at the hand of His Father, that's one all Christians agree on. But do we tell with enthusiasm that we heard about “Cash for Clunkers?” Do we hoard it up, as if the supply is limited?

God's grace is deep enough to forgive all sin. Will you consider that today? It won't hurt you, Christian reader, to share with someone else. It won't hurt you to consider for your life.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 30 2009

July 30, 2009

Proverbs 30:3 → Wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One are inseparable.

Proverbs 30:5 → HCSB has 'pure' with 'refined' footnoted: the term here is about metal that has been refined/purified. Some thoughts: it's intentional, as God was intentional with His word. Also, refined metals are stronger, more useful. The Baptist Faith & Message statement 'truth without any mixture of error' is an appropriate descriptor. Refined gold is gold without any mixture of lead. God's Word is pure, contains exactly what He intends it to contain.

Proverbs 30:6 → I need to be careful on this one. It's so tempting to think that my understanding of His words need to be elevated to the same status. Not so.

Proverbs 30:11-12 → This describes many people in my generation, even in churches and church work. We refuse to bless our predecessors, dismissing them as dinosaurs, without stopping to even consider where we would be without their work. I know I've been guilty of it. The old-school SBC has gathered much of my angst. Yet I attended SBC churches all my life. I've known who Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong are, I attended a CP-supported college, learned from graduates of CP-supported seminaries. Maybe I owe a little bit of gratitude back. Does that mean we don't eventually take Mom's car keys when she can't drive anymore? No, we honor her by protecting her when she can't protect herself. But Mom's probably got more in her that I give her credit for. Kind of like Dad. He's always been decently smart, but he's sure getting even smarter. Same thing with some of the old heads that were annoying 5 years ago. They might be smarter after all.

Proverbs 30:33 → Here's a verse to prove the Bible to an irritant: twist his nose. Draw blood. Point out the truth of Scripture.

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52:

The Kingdom of Heaven is: something that grows, shelters, protects, is valuable, is expanding, makes other things useful, a precious treasure that can be hoarded instead of shared, a complete obsession, available to all, but will not be filled with all.

Matthew 13:52 → I read this today like it was the first time I've seen it. Every scribe that has become a disciple? Huh? However, the scribes were trained in God's Word. So, one who is skilled and trained in God's Word and a disciple of the Kingdom is a leader, a possessor of treasure both new and old, and can bring them out to share.

1 Peter 3:7 → God never tells women their prayers will be hindered for mistreating their husbands. Guys, how we treat our wives is serious business!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bailouts again.

I'd like to whine a little bit, if you don't mind. About things both personal and political. It's about bailouts. In fact, let's throw church into the mix too.

I'm sick and tired of the bailout mentality, and I'm realizing that it started long ago. It's not just been the past year or so, it's not just Presidents Bush and Obama, but our American tendency. How do I know?

Let's consider:


Some of you who know me, know that I have been a little overweight for, well, 12 years. Really. I didn't gain a freshman 15 in college, I gained 50, which put me to 200 pounds. I have since made it all the way to 250, and was starting to stay consistently over 250 the past few months. Well, I know I need to lose weight, I've known for years. I feel better when I'm down, I know the long-term health risks, like family tendencies for heart issues and Type II diabetes. So what have I done before? I've tried Slim-fast, I've looked at diets, diet pills, all those things. I want to drop 50 pounds, so I need something really effective. And I'm not alone. Think back to the diet drug Phen-Fen, and how many Americans were using it to take weight off, only to discover it ate your heart or something like that.

So, what am I doing to lose weight? I'm eating less. Instead of mountains of breakfast, I actually eat 1 serving of Cheerios. And that's it. I'm not finishing off my children's food. I don't drink 2 or 3 cokes a day. I'm exercising. I walk 2 miles and run 1 mile a day. Our church has a walking track, and it takes 12-13 laps to make a mile. So, every morning, I'm up here about 5:20-5:30, I do 200 crunches on the 'ab-thingy' someone put in the youth room years ago, then I walk 2 laps, run 1 until I've run 13 laps (ok, jogged, but still). Then I walk 2 more laps. In 3 weeks, I've lost 12 pounds. I still drink coffee, but I mainly drink a lot of water. I feel better, my clothes fit, and I really think we're spending less money on food. But I couldn't get bailed out for this. It took me some time to get in, it's going to take time and discipline to get out of it.

Financial (still personal, but more applicable):

Like many Americans, we're in debt. We have a mortgage, a home-equity loan (the 2 loans were used to buy the house, 80/20 split), 2 cash loans we used to clean up and decorate the house, 2 student loans, a credit card that we've transferred all of our other credit cards to. You know what? I want it all paid off, right now. I want to find that missing rich uncle, or be party to a great lawsuit. I'll take a guilty feeling lottery winner who wants to 'bless' his pastor. I'm even working on the contestant application to get on Are You Smarter than a 5 th Grader ? You know what? Except the game show hope, none of the other are going to happen. I've wanted the house to sell, and to sell for enough to pay off all the other debt, but that's pretty unlikely too. You know how I'm getting out of debt? Except the credit card, every loan has a fixed term, and I'm making payments. In 2 years, the cash loans will be gone. In 7 the student loan. In 27, the mortgage (well, it'll go when we pay off the house). The credit card? At the present rate, 3 years, because when the cash loans go, we'll put their entire payments on the card. My point? It's going to take personal discipline to get out of debt.

Same thing for our church. We've got debt on our building. I want it gone. It's a $45,000 a year weight on us. For now, though, what we can do is make payments. Soon enough, I want to challenge our church to be disciplined to make some extra payments, but until then, we're going to methodically get out of it.

In both of these areas, you can't weight for the bailout. You cannot keep piling on your debt and keep munching cheeseburgers, knowing at some point you'll have to pay it off and lose the pounds. But so often, that's what we want to do. Self-discipline is the necessary key.


Ok, I think the President should have had to furnish indisputable proof of natural-born citizenship before the election. I'd be for legislation in each state that required all persons registering to run in a Presidential primary to show proof of natural-born citizenship. If you really look at the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, you see that what is structured is that the States elect the President. The people don't. The people tell the state their decision, but the state has to honor it (or not). So, the states are the gatekeepers.

But at this point, I don't think you'll get President Obama out on the birth certificate question. Why won't he just release it? Because he won, and doesn't think he needs to address the issue, because he's an elitist who thinks he's always right, like most politicians. (or perhaps he's waiting for his opponent in 2012 to make it an issue? Then he can break out all the proof, discredit his opponent? Do we really need our credibility wrapped around something one piece of paper can squish?) But we want to push the issue because we don't want to discipline ourselves to combat the creeping in of socialism into our nation. We want a bailout, politically. We want to be able to protect our pet politicians while undoing the Presidential Election. Guess what? If we don't want the government deciding who lives and dies through controlling health care, we've got to deal with that through our representatives. And vote out the ones that support it. Same with all the rest of it. Seriously, it's going to take reasonable involvement in the process. (Side note to the President: just show the document, man, and make the whole thing go away. At some point, you have to show your cards.)


I was excited to be at the Southern Baptist Convention this year. Really, I was. I voted for the Great Commission Task Force, and will whole-heartedly pray for Dr. Floyd and that group. But guess what? This should not be about establishing a 'bailout' for the SBC and our churches. You know what will restore us to strength as a group of churches? Not removing Morris Chapman or defending Clark Logan, not reallocating CP moneys, not establishing or eliminating Calvinists from the SBC, but disciplining ourselves to do the mundane, the day-to-day tasks that need doing. The preaching, the praying, the studying, the evangelism. It's not a new program we need, it's that we need to do the old program. So often I hear that we used to do this or that, but that we don't anymore. Why not? Did you know that many of the men and women that surrendered to missions and ministry did so because of the programs from the WMU and the Brotherhood programs? Where are they in our churches? Many of the best Sunday School teachers got their encouragement and learning from discipleship training, and that was also where we learned to be a church. Where is that now? We want the next bailout to save our struggling churches: the next great book, the next great preacher, the next great building. The bailout won't do it.

I am becoming more and more convinced that it is a lack of day-to-day faithfulness and integrity that hurts us in our lives, whether it be national, church-wide, or personal. It will take day-to-day effort and discipline to get ourselves back where we should be. Will you start with me today? Find one thing to do today that moves you even a step closer to your goal. Weight loss is only measured in pounds because I have a cheap scale. A fancy one would show me ounces, and I'd recognize them. I see debt reducing by a few dollars here, a few there. I'll finish my Master's Degree by a few hours here, a few there. How about you? Where can you find a few ounces today?


July 29 2009

July 29 2009

Romans 8:26-39:

Romans 8:31 → If God is for us, who is against us? Is it possible that we ought not consider ourselves truly opposed by anyone? That the infinite God so outpaces whatever and whomever we face so badly that it is our shame to count it as opposition? Our own failure to obey is what causes us to stumble and struggle, not the strength of our enemy. It is that we count earthly struggles at a level worth comparing, when they don't belong there.

Romans 8:28-30 → Man, this is a passage that we use and abuse so much! 1.) All things work together for good. Not all things are good. And good is judged in light of eternity and God. He doesn't make all things good, He makes it work for good. I can't imagine how some of the tragedies people face could ever be made good, but I know they can be made to work for good. It may seem subtle, but it's important. I need to realize that while I proclaim the promises of God, not to make new ones on His behalf. 2.)Foreknew, predestined, called, justified, glorified. This passage on its own does not guarantee a doctrine of irresistible grace or exclude it. It tells us that God has known, and has always known, those who are His, and that He intends to justify and glorify those that are His. It's more in support of working all things together for good , as many of the readers would have been struggling with being ignored, abandoned, neglected, persecuted, and many other bad treatments. He's pointing them to the fact that, while Rome and the opponents of Christianity would not justify or glorify Christians, God would. So, v. 31, who do you want? God or Caesar? (need a hint which is better? All Caesar's got left is a chain of pizza franchises.)

Drop in mostly unrelated directly to today's Scripture: I've got iTunes running in the background, using a random of everything in the “Instrumental” genre. Currently, it's a recording of our National March, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by J.P. Sousa. Now, if you know band music, you know this has got an awesome piccolo solo the first time through the last strain, right after the break strain. If you don't know what that means, you now know how I feel in certain sports metaphors, and in practically all hunting discussions. Just watch a 4 th of July special and listen for the high pitched whistle-sounding part. Anyway, the part is written for the piccolo, the highest pitched mainstream instrument in a band. This recording is of the US Merchant Marine Academy Band, and repeats the solo twice. First time, piccolo as written. Second time? Tuba. Playing the same solo. The tuba, being the lowest pitched mainstream band instrument, covers the piccolo part. My point? The guy that hits that tuba solo rocks it. And it's what makes this an awesome version of the song. Here's somebody who has taken on a part that his instrument and his training (tuba players typically play bass clef, piccolo music is in treble) are not geared toward handling. But he does a phenomenal job. If I remember to, I'll come back and link it here. Sometimes, we have to take on jobs and responsibilities that aren't the perfect match for our training, tools, gifts, and talents. What do we do with those times? Do we tackle it and do the best we can? Do we create a memorable recording? The tuba is still obviously a tuba. You will still, obviously to everyone, not be the nursery worker who has been there 40 years and is wonderful, but you can love kids. You might not be the funnest youth worker, but can you love kids your own way? Can you share what God has done for you, even if you're not the most speaker? Can you still preach, knowing you're not as good as Billy Graham or Charles Spurgeon? When you're a tuba player with a piccolo solo, what do you do? (PS: Most of the rest of the music is Chris Rice's The Living Room Sessions vol. 1 . There were supposed to be more volumes, he did one Christmas one, but that's all. More piano, please!!)

I'm still reading DeYoung & Kluck's Why We Love the Church . I'm now wanting to plan my next vacation to hear DeYoung preach. I just read probably the most touching point in the book, where Kluck talks about that one of the things he loves about their church is the lack of happy endings. That there are people with struggles, with diseases that will kill them, and that the church loves, cares, and prays through those, but isn't addicted to the idea that the only things worth celebrating are the 'happy' stories where people are miraculously healed. He's not any more against the happy healings than I am, but just realizes that it doesn't happen very often, and in light of Romans 8:28-30 above, isn't guaranteed, and is thankful that his church isn't destroyed because life isn't perfect.

Proverbs 29:2 ->Again, wicked rulers, people groaning, but not rebelling? When does Proverbs tell us to lock, load, and march? What? Never?

Proverbs 29:4 → Wait a minute, a man “who demands contributions” (I'm in HCSB, but I can't get reftagger to pull HCSB. Here it is:

4  By justice a king brings stability to a land, but a man [who demands] “ contributions” demolishes it.

Prov 29:4 (HCSB))

Is this anything like earmarks, kickbacks, bribes, and ACORN? Please, find me that verse about overthrowing rulers! Quick, like David did with Saul, who went insane and was abandoned by God. What? He waited—for the country to lose a battle and have the king killed in the process? You mean that 1 Peter 2:17 thing about honoring the king still applies when I didn't vote for him? I have other things to worry about? Like focusing on fearing the Lord, loving the brotherhood, that stuff? Certainly I will exercise my authority as a citizen to speak out, ask my representative to do on my behalf, but at the end of the day, God has not commanded me to change the President of the United States (until election time). He has commanded me many other things to work on first.

Proverbs 29:7 → Are we showing our righteousness in our treatment of the poor? Or do we act unconcerned?

Proverbs 29:9 → Note that sometimes fools take wise men to court, and it's to the detriment of the whole system.

Proverbs 29:12 → Who does a ruler listen to? Who do you listen to? Who do I listen to? Does my commitment to truth extend to demanding it from those around us?

Proverbs 29:15 → Don't leave your teenagers to themselves. It's not just children here. If they be at home, you have to continue to impart wisdom. Even if by rod.

Proverbs 29:18 → Obedience to God-given revelation makes happy. Read: Do what the Bible says.

Proverbs 29:21 → Present your workers with the reality of the work to begin with, and hold high the standards.

1 Peter 2:21-25 → In verse 25, look at the contrast between “continually straying” and “have returned.” It's a beautiful picture, in my mind, of the settled reality of salvation. Beforehand, we can't help but stray. When we come home, it's a completed action. The Shepherd may occasionally have to bonk us with a stick to get us to stay home, but He doesn't let us leave.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28 2009

July 28, 2009

Lord God, I ask that today I be a fitting vessel for your glory. I have no hope in this world, except what you give to me. Hold me closely to your side. I ask that you protect my family, and look after those who trust in you. Especially, Lord God, I ask that you strengthen the members of the family of faith that face death for their commitment. May the Christians in North Korea be strengthened by you. And let us not forget them.

Proverbs 28:6 → Yet who do we have running our government(at all times, not just now)?

Proverbs 28:7 → Not a discerning son pleases his father, but keeps the law. The best way for children to act is in obedience to Christ. Fathers have to learn to be pleased with that behavior.

Proverbs 28:8 → Excessive interest is a passive way to make money off the work of others. There's value in work, and to simply profit always from others' work is not the wisdom God sends.

Proverbs 28:9 → There are some people that should not pray. Why offer a detestable prayer? Better to turn your ear to listen, to hear what God has said in his word. Then to offer that prayer. And side note: when planning 'public' prayer occasions, keep this mind. It's often the greatest 'earthly measure' person who is leading it, yet does this person listen to God's Word?

Proverbs 28:12 → Run away! This is another Biblical reason to homeschool---yes, we are hiding ourselves, because when you look at who runs government schools, it's time for people to hide themselves. And their children.

Proverbs 28:14 → There's a place for reverence, for some of the formalistic traditions of worshiping God. Whether it's the music, the structure, the dress, they reflect our attitudes. A heart hardened against reverence will lead to trouble.

Proverbs 28:16 → Good thoughts, whether church leader, business leader, government leader.

Proverbs 28:17 → Besides, Sam Gerrard will catch him. But, if it really was the one-armed man, it'll be okay. Also, don't provide continual aid to those who reject God and carry the bloodguilt of their sin. They'll never be at rest, and they'll never face the consequences.

Proverbs 28:19 → Do the work you have available, don't spend all your time daydreaming. Or on get-rich-quick schemes. To spend all of your work time chasing fantastic ideas leads you to poverty. Chase them when you can, but don't neglect what you've got to do.

Proverbs 28:24 → Honor your parents. It's as great a sin to rob your parents, whether of dignity or respect, as any other sin.

Proverbs 28:28 → People hide, rather than rise up? I wonder why...interesting that here and v. 12 show the righteous hiding when the wicked rule. Proverbs 28:2 shows rebellion as a bad thing, uncategorically. How do we reconcile that?

Psalm 119:129-136 → Do we seek the unfolding of God's words to have light? Are we troubled over the lack of keeping of His word? It seems that a great many times, I'm more concerned that I have violated the dictates of man than I am concerned about the dictates of God. Likewise as a body, do we concern ourselves more for our failure to do His work or for our fitting-in with society?

Establish my footsteps (Psalm 119:133) God, I ask that you give me stability in my obedience, as I seek to walk in the path your word has given.

If I ever find myself in Michigan, I'm going to Kevin DeYoung's church. Reading his book Why We Love the Church, that he wrote with Ted Kluck. Learning to be a little more patient with the structures and some of the things that seem like nonsense.

Revelation 20:2 → Need to remember, that even now, unbound, Satan is still a limited, finite created being. Many times I started to think like a dualist, that there are equal forces of good and evil in the universe. Not so. Evil is weaker, by more than a measurable amount.

James 2:1-4 → And suppose, brethren, that one comes among that carries an iPhone, and can tweet ideas in to the church staff and ask questions, while another comes in without digital service, and can only speak face-to-face. If you look with favor, and harken to the tweets of the first man, allowing him to virtually attend, though capable of physical attendance, if you listen to his questions and ideas, whilst shushing him that has no phone, have you not discriminated against the one? Are you not judging who is worthy to be a part of the service, and who must sit aside? I'm all for tech helping us when we fall short, but tech's no substitute for the real.

1 Peter 2:17 → Fear God, honor the king. Let's remember that one, shall we? I'll fear and worship God. I'll honor the President. But I didn't worship the last one, and I'll not fear this one. Or the next one. The phrase 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs' keeps coming up, even if just on right-wing blogs. Well, my ability to worship goes to my need to worship the one true God. Thankful to realize, though, that the people that thought President Obama was the Anti-Christ have got to be wrong. Really, who's going to buy Keith Olbermann as the false prophet? Who in their right, left, or centrist mind? Come on, now.

Our efforts should be in honoring all people, by loving them enough to share the truth with them of God's love and Christ's sacrifice. Love the brotherhood, that's the family of faith, the Church, your church. No one who abandons the family is showing that love. Does the family have issues? Sure. Some of us younger siblings get grouchy with our older siblings, but all those who follow Christ and trust in Him are the family.

Psalm 143:1 → Thankfully, He answers according to His righteousness and faithfulness. Lord God, let me live with those qualities in my heart today, not my own!

Monday, July 27, 2009

July 27 2009

Oh Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world: Spare me

Oh Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world: Pardon me

Oh Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world: Hear me.

Lord God, that today I will not forget my deep need for grace, nor your abundant depth of it. I thank you for granting Ann and I measurable success in our fitness efforts, and I ask you to continue to do so. Thank you for helping me learn self-discipline in the process. Lord, help this, your church, to see measurable successes from our efforts to follow you. We ask for your grace to cover our sins, and for your power to be in what we do.

Genesis 29:15-28

As I begin to see the goal that I think I should work for, it is becoming easier to conceive of time in long amounts. The idea of spending several years to accomplish something seems far less daunting than it was even two years ago. I see this in Jacob and Leah and Rachel. I also see the idea of an intermediate reward. Jacob had to work a total of 14 years, but he received his reward, Rachel, half-way through, although he couldn't have left with her until the 14 were up. I wonder how often our setbacks would be followed by an intermediate reward if we didn't give up?

James 2:1-13

I wonder what James would say about our celebrity obsession in American Christianity? How we'll fall all over ourselves for Miss California or Mel Gibson or Tim Tebow, but for an ordinary Christian, we could hardly give consideration? What of young women who have chosen to honor God by keeping all of their clothes on? What of people that present the Gospel through relationships, not on the movie screen? What about for the Christian that overcame much adversity to be a clarinet player in the band, not a star quarterback? We may not automatically fly to the rich, but we will dance with joy over 1 celebrity while quietly ignoring a thousand ordinary people. Lord God, let me develop a love for everyone, from the famous to the infamous, and the totally non-famous in the middle.

Then there's the whole technology in church debate. Lord, keep me from being so overly techie that I lose the people in church that just aren't there. And I will strive to realize that worship and technology aren't either mutually exclusive or mutually necessary.

The whole law stands and falls together, and it is not for us to show favor for those who break the parts we don't mind against those who break the parts we dislike. We may not have pet sins that we'll ignore and pet sins that we'll disdain. As believers, we need to take a stand against all sin, especially in our own lives and the behavior of our churches.

Proverbs 27 (HCSB)

Proverbs 27:1 ->Don't boast about things you have no control over. Boast in the greatness of God instead. And remember, the world is incredibly unpredictable, though it is completely in God's hands.

Proverbs 27:2 ->As my old pappy used to say, “Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back.”

Proverbs 27:5 ->Let's live this one in our churches. Done with grace and consideration, love and truth, and based on God's standards. But let's quit keeping silent when correction is necessary.

Proverbs 27:7 → Modernized: Them that hath remarkable medical coverage, consider not those that will suffer at the hands of their legislation and change.

Proverbs 27:12 → What danger do you see? And are you just going to take it? Or will you take cover? What about we Americans? Will we take cover? Make preparations to deal with the danger?

Proverbs 27:13 → I think if we took people's clothes for going into debt, we'd have fewer financial collapses now, because who wants to roam about naked just for wanting a new car? Maybe this would be a good punishment for the people that wrote, approved, and profited from the bad loans and complex market derivatives. Take their clothes away. As my old pappy used to say, “I'll slap you naked and hide your clothes!”

Proverbs 27:14 → Be certain that what you intend to be a blessing is presented such that it is received that way.

Proverbs 27:17 → I need that iron.

Proverbs 27:18 → Look after your leaders. They'll look after you.

Proverbs 27:21 → How do you handle positives? That reveals a lot about you.

Psalm 86:10 → He alone is God! So, I need to quit acting like I'm trying out for his position.

1 Peter 2:10 → Peter's referencing Hosea, and God's promises of redemption and restoration. When we know the Word, we see how God has always been the same, and always been in the redemption business.

1 Peter 2:12 → There will always be slander of the church. Let's make sure it's about stuff we can be proud of. For example, let's have the world slander us for not being materialistic enough, for being too responsive to each other's needs, for, not being holier-than-thou, but for being too much like Christ.

May today be met with abundant effort towards obedience by me, and abundant grace for the task by Him. Lord God, let your power come in fullness on we your people, that we may do the tasks you have given.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Psalm 86:11

Some time ago, I subscribed to receive every 6 week shipments of a commentary set made up of various writers from the early church. It's actually a good set, and it's interesting to see how far back some of the mysteries of Biblical Interpretation goes. For example, even Irenaeus, who lived in the second century A.D., refused to give a hard answer about the identity of the beast or the false prophet, and only speculated as to the meaning of 666 in Revelation 13:18. So, now, 1900 years after it's written, we have people trying to definitely call these meanings, when a man who lived a mere 100 years afterwords thought it was meant to be vague. Oh, and Irenaeus is thought to have studied from Polycarp, who studied with John, the author of Revelation.

However, that's not the point right now. My 'free gift' for signing up for the subscription was a devotional book that includes thoughts on various passages each week, and uses the liturgical calendar to schedule Bible readings and share those passages. (All the Baptist readers just said "What's a liturgical calendar?" A liturgical calendar goes through the various major celebrations of the church and follows a pattern of Bible reading. When used in churches, it is a template for teaching and worship. It allows for you to attend any church that uses the same calendar and not miss out on the main points of the day. We Baptists have a small liturgical calendar: Christmas, Easter, First Day of Deer Season, Superbowl.)

Devotional book actually has several sections for each week, so I'm doing one section from each week every day. Yesterday I read the Psalm. It was Psalm 86:11-17. Here's verse 11:

Teach me Your way, O LORD;
I will walk in Your truth;
B)">Unite my heart to fear Your name.

This stuck out to me. Especially the phrase Unite my heart to fear Your name. How many times do we cry out to God to ask Him to help us fear Him better? Not very many, I suppose. Then I began to process the thought. Part of me fears one thing, part another. Part of my heart longs for certain fulfillments, and part of it hopes certain things never happen. I want this, and that, and they're mutually difficult, if not exclusive. So, what should I do?

Ask God for a unity of heart, and to focus it in the right direction. The right direction is a healthy respect of God.

And the response of the unified heart? A cry to be taught. Do we cry out to be taught?

And when we're taught, to we commit to walk in His ways? Or do we hunker down to do our ways?

What's most important to us?

July 21 2009

Psalm 86:11 ->Wow. How many things is my heart divided by?

Proverbs 21:10 ->It is wickedness to want bad things to happen to people. Any people.

Proverbs 21:27 ->My life---is it right?

1 Peter 2:3 ->The kindness of the Lord->leads to repentance, rebirth, renewal. That we would realize that kindness!

Quote: "It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him." -John Stenbeck.

Thought: This is what I see wrong in so many ways in our churches. For many years we've labored under the idea that we cannot expect people to do things. We can't preach tithing, because some people will be offended. We've got divorced people, can't preach that. Can't expect youth to come to 'big church' since it's dull. Oh, now we can't expect young adults to come either. Now we seem to not expect anyone under 21 to come to the normal church service, and anyone under 35 shouldn't be expected to go to some boring 'traditional' service. When does it end? At what point do we look at people who claim to be followers of Christ and say "Show up. Show up on time, mentally in tune with what's going on. And stay tuned in the whole time." For crying out loud, there are people that will drive 3 hours to sit through 3 hour concerts and drive back 3 hours. How many church services last 3 hours? Counting Sunday School?

If we continue to accept slackness, sinfulness, laziness, idleness, we'll keep getting it.
Moving toward the Horizon,

July 20, 2009

Proverbs 20:3 ->Be careful not to start something just to start trouble. It will consume more than you intend.

Proverbs 20:14 ->Results silence critics.

Proverbs 20:22 ->Ouch.

James 1:20 ->Even our "holy" anger. It does not cause us to be more like Jesus.

James 1:27 ->There's an important "and" there. I'm thinking more and more that our faith and obedience hang more on the "and" situations. It's not faith or works, but faith and works. Not pure sovereignty, but sovereignty and freedom. Not missions or preaching, but missions and preaching. Not young or old, but young and old make up the church. Ever notice the divides we cut just for our own convenience? It's too hard to do both, so we split it down the middle. We have a ministry group that does orphans and widows, or maybe just orphans, and then we have another group striving to be 'unstained' by the world. How is that right?

Revelation 15:3-4 ->Glorify God in the midst of His judgment? That's not quite what most people expect in heaven. We will recognize there that His judgment is perfect, that His righteousness is being revealed, but do we really think that way now? Do we even acknowledge that we will see the lost go to their punishment? AND THAT WE'LL SEE PEOPLE WE SEE EVERYDAY THERE BECAUSE WE SAID NOTHING?

1 Peter 2:2 ->Nutrition for the Spirit comes from the pure Word.

Moving toward the Horizon,

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We could take a lesson...

On handling rumors, innuendos, and gossip from Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Seems this past week at the International Christian Retail Show, rumors started flying that Thomas Nelson Publishers was being sold, or had been sold. The scuttlebutt was that because they were in financial straits, instead of closing down, they were being sold off.

Here's the situation: Michael Hyatt is the CEO of Nelson. If anybody knew they were being sold, he would know. He'd be busily negotiating a nice golden parachute package, and hitting the road. Instead, he publishes this blog post: "No, Thomas Nelson is Not Being Sold" on his personal blog. He details the rumor, the reasons given in the rumor, and some facts to fight against it. You're welcome to read it. The main supporting fact: Nelson has increased their market share by 1.5% in the last year, which is a good thing. The rest show how it's a good thing, and how well they are doing.

Now, I'm not advocating that you spend all of your time responding to rumors, but contrast how Hyatt handled this compared to the way many people and businesses (and churches!) handle rumors. First there's denial, then subterfuge, eventually followed by a crisis of trust, simply because nobody told the truth in the first place. Organizational leaders need to act as Hyatt has acted: his public credibility is now on the hook. If Nelson announces a sale anytime in the next year, he's toast. He'll be called out as a liar, shown to be untrustworthy. And while we'll tolerate that in sports coaches, like all of the ones that say "No interest in pros!" the week before they go to the pro level, only to fail utterly and come back and command huge salaries from colleges because, hey, they were professional coaches, many people in the publishing industry won't go for that. He'll become a guy no one will want to work for or write for, since he'll be the "we're going to sell out the company" CEO.

In other words, if you're the organizational leader, your word needs to be staked with the direction of the organization. Now, events may force your hand to reveal something earlier, but at some point the "no comment" string has to end. Even if you have justifiable reasons for your behavior, people will begin to doubt your leadership skills. Eventually they will question your right to the leadership role.

There are 3 basic responses to rumors about your organization: ignore it, hoping it will go away; lie about it, hoping nobody will notice; hit it with the truth, knowing that will kill a rumor. What do you do?

1.)You cannot keep ignoring it. That makes it grow, and it gnaws on people's minds. They start to wonder, their imagination fills in the gaps. It's the reason that modern 'horror' films are gross, but not terrifying (usually), compared to some of the classics in the genre. It's what you don't show, what your mind fills in, that keeps you awake at night. I wasn't scared by Scream, but the original Psycho was disturbing. I still insist on staying in brightly lit national chain hotels. And even Arsenic and Old Lace has me worried that someday I'll be old and invited to tea by some old ladies...

Back on track, ignoring a rumor allows people to fill it in themselves. While you're saying "no comment" people are guessing what's going on. "Is he no commenting on the sale of Nelson while they negotiate a better price?" "Is he no commenting because he's quitting?" "Is the Captain saying 'no comment' about that iceberg because he's concerned?" People will begin to assume whatever they want to assume. All of the negativity they've heard, they'll add to you. It's destructive.

2.) You could lie about it--say that you are being sold when you aren't, that you aren't when you are. How long will that last? And then, when the truth comes out, where will you be? Honesty is truly the best policy.

3.) You can tell the truth. Some people won't believe you. They'll think you're being evasive. They'll think "there's got to be more." Let them think that. Let them investigate. If you are really hiking the Appalachian Trail, show them the campsites. Show them your sign-ins and sign-outs on the trail stops. Give them a receipt from the Holiday Inn you stayed in when you couldn't take the woods anymore. They can investigate until doomsday, and all they will find is the truth. No harm there.

You may think that sometimes you can't reveal the truth. A business deal needs secrecy or confidence. Sometimes it does, but it will be resolved, and if it's that close, you should have a date. Instead of 'no comment' try 'no comment until ______.'

Two quick exceptions: 1.) Information about someone else. If I know you're not hiking the Appalachian Trail, it's not my job to out that. So, "I do not discuss things about other people that are not public knowledge." Then, drop it. Don't hint. Don't give an off-the-record. Don't create an analogy. That's it. Point people to the subject and tell them to consult that person. Likewise if it is information not in your official domain. If you are the mail-clerk, point people to the CEO about company sales rumors.

2.) And this might be a subset, but classified information that could hurt people. For example, I've got a high school buddy in Iraq. I assume somewhere around Baghdad. It's no secret, it's on his Facebook page. However, if I knew from being in school with him that he had become a black-ops trained helicopter riding sniper, and that he was, in fact, in Iran, I shouldn't spread that info. Not even his training skills. If he wants you to know that's what he does and where he is, that's his issue. But you don't have the right to confirm the rumor that a highly-skilled marksman is in a certain place. Really. Also, counseling information. Including who you saw in the waiting room at the counseling office. Don't do that. I saw a disturbing report on the news the other morning, where a financial expert was talking about things not to put on your credit card, because these purchases will hurt your credit rating. One was "Counseling Services." What? How do credit card companies get the right to raise your rates over seeking help? But if that's credit-reportable, then when you go the bank, your loan officer knows it. As does the loan secretary, and everyone else. If you are the teller, you shouldn't go around spreading that someone is even in counseling. Those of you who do counseling, you know the consequences of breaking confidence. Enough said.

So, all-in-all, when confronted with a rumor, especially one that is taking on a life of its own, hit it in the head. With the truth. Trust me, it will come out better in the end.


July 16 2009

Jeremiah 7:16-20 ->Ouch. Enough said.

Proverbs 16:2 (HCSB) ->No one does things for motives they think are wrong.

Proverbs 16:6 (HCSB) ->One doesn't turn from evil because of cuteness.

Proverbs 16:26 (HCSB) ->No appetite, no work. Also: FOSTER AN APPETITE FOR GODLINESS! And for evangelism. Let our appetite for a right relationship drive us forward.

Proverbs 16:28 (HCSB) ->Loose lips sink ships. And churches, relationships, marriages, friendships, and so on...

James 1:5 ->Ask God, because God knows you ain't got it.

1 Peter 2:1 -> Even if the enemies of the church use malice, deceit, and slander, we cannot.

Quote: "A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm." -Charles M. Schwab

Thought #1: Like develop complex derivatives that crash the global free market economy?

Thought #2: I like the almost. It's like a hedge fund.
Moving toward the Horizon,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 15

Psalm 143:12 ->Sometimes an act of love for one results in the destruction of another.

Proverbs 15:2(HCSB) ->Wisdom also lends itself to the ability to communicate wisdom. It's no show of your wise nature that you refuse to communicate that wisdom.

Proverbs 15:4(HCSB) ->Words are powerful.

Proverbs 15:19(HCSB) ->Thorny hedges make bad travel routes, great defenses, and serious barriers.

Proverbs 15:22(HCSB) ->This is hard for me. I have few advisers, though I know my need for some.

Proverbs 15:27(HCSB) ->Earn it. Respect, wealth, education. Don't get it through dishonest means.

Proverbs 15:28(HCSB) ->Contemplate your responses.

Proverbs 15:33(HCSB) ->Humility must be our action.

James 1:16 ->"Be not deceived" should we have this engraved on our computers and TVs? I think so.

1 Peter 1:25 ->Am I preaching the indestructible word? Or my own philosophies?

Quote: "The best way to get people to think out of the box is not to create the box in the first place." -Martin Cooper.

Thought #1: What's wrong with a box? Boxes are used to contain things that need to be kept together. They protect. They allow a joint labeling. As long as you're in the right box, what's wrong with that?

Thought #2: Beware doing the same just to do the same. Beware doing different just to do different.

Moving toward the Horizon,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14 2009

Psalm 143:9 ->God, you are my refuge! Not this house, not this nation, but You!

Proverbs 14:1(HCSB) ->Do you build your home? Or destroy it?

Proverbs 14:2(HCSB) ->Integrity is about your relationship with God more than with man.

Proverbs 14:10(HCSB) ->Empathy is good, but you don't really know what someone else is dealing with. You can still care, though.

Proverbs 14:15(HCSB) ->A verse about email forwarding!

Proverbs 14:28(HCSB) ->Don't short the King of His splendor!

Proverbs 14:34(HCSB) ->Especially God's people.

James 1:14 ->Your sin is from your own lusts and flesh. Take responsibility for it. And take control.

James 1:21 ->You are to put aside the wickedness you had before you came to Christ. Not continue to feed it to make you relevant.

1 Peter 1:25 ->The Word is what lasts.

Quote: "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." -James Baldwin

Thought #1: No, he's not related to Stephen, Alec, or any of those Baldwins.

Thought #2: Actions matter.

Word jumble of the day: "We enjoy going to church at the church with the church because we're part of the church." Yep, because in the English language, church can be appropriately used in each of those senses. Lovely thing, isn't it? As Dr. Steeger once said, "Words don't have meanings, meanings have words," to show that sometimes you have overlap. Multiple meanings are attached to the word church as to many other words. Do you want to fight over those meanings or just leave it alone?
Moving toward the Horizon,

July 14 2009

Moving toward the Horizon,

July 13 2009

(Yes, a day late)

Psalm 143:10 ->You are my God. Not food. Not A/C (which died during this devotional time). Not the Blackberry!

Proverbs 13:12(HCSB) ->Lord God, let our be fulfilled in You, not in anything else.

Proverbs 13:19(HCSB) ->Sometimes, one must turn from evil to have desires fulfilled.

James 1:2 ->And the air conditioner quit. It can't mean to consider that joy, can it? Probably not, given that James wrote to people facing death for their faith. We shouldn't think busted A/C is even worth comparing. Instead, it's a chance to be reminded of the blessings we have, and a way to know better how to pray for our friends on the mission field without it, and to realize the needs of those without it around us.

Revelation 13:8 -> 1. This "all" doesn't mean everybody. 2. The book, known from the foundation. Christ has always known who is his.

Revelation 13:17 ->Buy or sell any thing or anything? Is this a true economic boycott of all believers or does the idea of shadow markets among believers fit? It sounds like there can be no buying or selling in any way at this point without the mark.

1 Peter 1:24 ->All of this earthly stuff gets mown down! Flower of grass? That's some fleeting stuff, isn't it?

Quote: "Everyone is like a tack and can only go as far as the head permits" -Olive Ann Beech

Thought #1: I'm like a tack? I'm more like a push pin--they're fatter around the middle.

Thought #2: True thought. If the head of Christians is the Lord Jesus Christ, we don't have many limits, do we?

Reader poll: Do you also read my other blog? And would you just as soon have it all on the same website?
Moving toward the Horizon,

Monday, July 13, 2009

My view of the hazards of blogging

Not that I am the world's foremost blogging expert, but I wanted to share a few thoughts on the hazards of blogging, from where I sit. Which is in my office, because the air conditioner is out at my house. And I read James 1:2 this morning about considering it joy when you have trials, and realized that none of James's readers had A/C in the first place, but were facing trials like family abandonment and death. So, lack of A/C is annoying, but it's not really even a trial. Want a trial? Click over to Voice of the Martyrs and pick a prayer request.

The following list is for bloggers like myself, that don't have widespread following or national renown. People like the Teampyro guys, Frank Turk, or other long-term part-time bloggers have different hazards. So do people with big names that have blogs, like Thom Rainer or Al Mohler. But there are hazards for the little people like me. And I want to share them. So, the hazards of blogging? In no particular order:

1. Assuming people actually read your blog. Yep. That's a hazard. Why? Well, I'm pastor of a nice little church here in Monticello, Arkansas. I have 3 messages and 1 lesson to prepare every week, and a church to lead. I also blog. I have, sometimes, blogged about something and then assumed that people in my church were aware of what I had said. Guess what? They weren't. I have found myself assuming people knew what I meant when I referred to my blog. And then I learned something. All those stats that showed visitors with local IP addresses? Not my church members. So, I have learned to put time into most of my blog posts, but that they cannot consume my time. Nor can they be considered equal to my other responsibilities. Blogging makes a great outlet for me to rant about denominational life or political situations, because then I can focus on the Word in church ministry. But, I have to realize I need to say somethings both on the blog and in person. In short, don't assume that people are reading your blog and know what you're talking about. This would even apply to greats of the blog world. Add in that, even as you gain fame on the net, you might not be recognized on sight. Many bloggers use pen names, but they don't introduce themselves by that name. Which is fine, but if you introduce yourself to me as, for example, Jules, I won't automatically know you're from Everyday Mommy.

2. Assuming nobody reads your blog. This also applies to your comments on other people's blogs. I will not forget getting an email from a prominent Arkansas Baptist about my comments on a controversial issue on a blog. I didn't realize my comments were being read or noticed, since nobody really interacted with them. I rarely get comments on my own blog. My stats stay low. But, somebody is going to read it eventually. Really. So, if you're ashamed of it, don't say it. And especially don't link it to Facebook.

3. Spending all your time blogging. Enough said. Unless you're getting paid for it, do your job, love your family. Then blog.

4. Spending no time blogging. Don't run off at the keyboard. Say something. Or leave it alone.

5. Being more firm on your blog than in person. If you are a, for example, a hard-core KJV-only, anti-Rick Warren, Dispensational Fundamentalist that wants to burn Southern Baptists for heresy on your blog, don't be nice to me at lunch.

6. Being squishy on your blog when you're firm in public. Have some integrity. Don't come 'love is everything' the net world, when you're not that way in public.

7. I defended somebody on this from debate blog, but seriously: spell check. And grammar. If you do things like the sentence fragment before, blend them with real sentences. And watch for the run-on sentences. It's not perfect formal writing, but for the love of @Carpe_Comma, get it closer to right. And use a browser with spell-checker, or type it in a word processor first.

8. Sharing inside jokes without explaining them. Just don't. Unless it's a cult film or internet meme. For example, "Inconceivable!" or, as I searched for a bush Saturday, "Ni!" are okay. Some people miss the jokes (Princess Bride, Monty Python), but they'll be alright. On the other hand, if you and 3 people are the only ones that get it, than either parenthetical an explanation or even just (well, me and boB are the only ones who know that).

There's my list for tonight. I need to get to VBS.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 12 2009

Proverbs 12:5(HCSB) ->Be wary of whose guidance you take.

Proverbs 12:10(HCSB) ->Do cats count? Is that really "my animal" since she doesn't acknowledge my ownership?

Proverbs 12:11(HCSB) ->Lord, let me not chase fantasies, but instead to focus on obedience to you!

Proverbs 12:16(HCSB) ->Needs to be memorized by NASCAR drivers. And lots of other people too.

Proverbs 12:25(HCSB) ->Let me cheer up hearts!

Galatians 6:4 ->Boast objectively. Are you, personally, as obedient as you should be? Are you as faithful as you should be? This is where being a band nerd in school is helpful compared to competitive athletics. We called it "Marching Contest" and "Concert Contest" but ultimately, the evaluation was whether or not the judges felt your band had done the best it could possibly do. You weren't seeing who was better, but rather who had taken on a hard challenge and accomplished it. Which is much more akin to what Paul is saying here than seeing who wins the playoffs.

1 Peter 1:23 ->Completely made new: because when you've been born, you don't go back. The power of God in our lives! Live your new birth in obedience.

Revelation 12:8 ->the dragon is no match for Michael, one of God's servants. Why do we fear? Overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony: That through Christ's death on the cross, through his resurrection, you are a child of God.
Moving toward the Horizon,

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 10 2009

Psalm 142:7 ->The righteous should be with each other, protecting and guarding.

Proverbs 10:8(HCSB) ->Are you wise enough to follow instructions?

Proverbs 10:19 ->Even in print or blogs!! See also Proverbs 10:18

Proverbs 10:23 ->Do we enjoy righteousness and wisdom? Or do we act like we are enduring it?

Proverbs 10:32(HCSB) ->How aware of the perverse are you?

Galatians 6:15 ->Heritage and tradition following, or lack of heritage and tradition ignoring, do no good without Christ.

1 Peter 1:22 ->Purified for a sincere love: We cannot love one another if we are not His.

Quote:"Life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds a man down or polishes him up depends on the stuff he's made of" -Josh Billings.

Thought #1: I thought life is a highway?

Thought #2: What happens to us reveals what is within us.
Moving toward the Horizon,

July 8 2009

Psalm 142:11 ->All for His glory, not for ours.

Proverbs 8:5(HCSB) ->You can get sense. You do not have to live with nonsense!

Proverbs 8:8(HCSB) ->Deception is not the act of the wise.

Proverbs 8:10(HCSB) ->Take knowledge, not to gain wealth but because it's better than wealth!

Proverbs 8:36(HCSB) ->Again, there is no neutrality. You are either for wisdom or death.

Galatians 6:16 ->"Follow this rule" ->See, there are some rules!

1 Peter 1:21 ->Our faith and hope are only in God!
Moving toward the Horizon,

Bible Verses

I have two Bible verses I'd like to share with you today. Here's the first:

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.--Proverbs 14:4

Why this verse? I'd like you to think about this one for a minute. I'd like you to consider what areas of your life are you more worried about cleanliness than abundance?

Now, I'm not completely against cleanliness. I have gotten over the guy's dorm mentality of Conger Hall, Ouachita Baptist University. For example, I no longer leave pizza out overnight since it will be good for breakfast. I recognize that socks should hopefully be worn only one day before being washed.

And I think hospitals should be quite clean, as well as restaurant kitchens.

But I think we have an obsessiveness with cleanness in our Christian life. Let's think about it.

In our churches: We spend a lot of money to keep churches clean. To paint them when the walls get scuffed. To polish metal, to clean carpet. And we don't like to mess with that, do we? We establish cleanup crews for everything. VBS is coming, make sure we get plastic down. We'll have to have the youth event outside, it might get messy. We can't have people like that in here, they won't fit with our clean image.

In our family lives: Ever think about the fact that family life can be unclean if your actually accomplishing things? I'm reminded of the old quote that, since I've seen it attributed to many people, will get attributed to none: when the kids went out to play in the yard, the father worried they would mess up the grass. The mother gently reminded, "We're not raising grass. We're raising children." I've seen it that the father reminded the mother. Any way you slice it, your goal as a family isn't to be able to eat off the floor. It's to sometimes eat on the floor while having a picnic. It's not to have nice bookshelves neatly organized. It's to have a family that will pursue learning to follow God, even if they leave their Bibles on the couch.

In our personal lives: I like a nice, organized day. More than that, I should like a day that produces something, though. How many times do we miss our opportunities to live our faith because it doesn't match our schedule? I'm not talking about skipping work. I'm talking about our plan to be at the gym by 5:15, the movies by 7, and so we can't take time. That our 'personal time' is so sacred that nothing dare intrude. That we must keep ourselves perfectly ordered.

I'm just suggesting that we stop confusing useless cleanliness with a good thing. Buildings will survive, schedules can be reordered, homes can be cleaned later. Are we more concerned with keeping things outwardly clean that they are of no use whatsoever?

The next is Nehemiah 6:3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

I do, sometimes excessively, involve myself in SBC politics, in ABSC situations, and in my local association. I get caught up in American politics, and pick on my Congressman fairly regularly. However, the Holy Spirit nudged me on this verse today. We have VBS this week at our church. (July 12-16). Beyond that, I have sermons to preach, a flock to feed and shepherd, and a family to be a parent and not a picture for.

So, there are more times I need to look at situations and remind myself, Nehemiah 6:3. How about you? How many times to do you get deflected onto trifles, when you have a great work to be doing?

I wrote this not to discourage or attack, but I have actually found them both encouraging today. Is the house clean? Are you involved with all levels of your denomination? Do you find that somethings just don't fit?

Such is life. Be productive, to bring in a crop to the Lord Jesus Christ. Be focused, and let yourself not be distracted. If we spend all of our time bickering with the world, we'll never do what we're supposed to be doing. Nehemiah could have decided he wanted to be relevant to the lost people around him, and gone, met, discussed. Instead, he saw the task God had for him. To rebuild the city. To strengthen the people of God. Fellow preachers especially, focus on the task of strengthening the people of God. Don't spend your time chasing after each meeting the world demands of you. Do the great work you have. Fellow believers, do the great work you have.

The world has enough of its own people. They don't want to see that Christians are just like them. They want to see Christians are like Christ.

related to this, I'll post the link over to Thom Rainer's blog. Brother Rainer shows in his life that not only can a child overcome a strangely spelled version of a common name, but that child can become president of Lifeway Christian Resources. He's written an article on "What the Unchurched Don't Like About Christians." Very eye opening, especially in the things not mentioned.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book Review: 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs

My next book review for the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program is 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs. The stories are crafted by Stephen Elkins, with illustrations by Tim O'Connor. Here's the cover:

So, what about it?

From my perspective, as a parent and a pastor: It's a children's Bible story book. It's not a Bible. Given that, the stories will be shortened and simplified. Some of the facts will be omitted, some glossed over. One example that a different reviewer pointed out is the book refers to Moses being happy when he saw the people march into the Promised Land. Well, if you read the Bible, you know Moses has died before the Israelites enter the Promised Land. I don't take it as a mistake, rather that the writer assumes that Moses sees what's happening from heaven and is happy. This is, of course, assumption on the writer's part, and assumption on my part that the writer thinks this. However, it's a child's Bible story book. So, there are some shortcomings with the details. If you want all the details, use an actual Bible. Which is where I found a strength in this book: Each Bible story has the foundational passage cited at the beginning. That shows me two things. One: the author used a Bible to generate the stories. You might think that's a given, but some Bible story books honestly read like they have been written from memory. Second, it shows that the author wants you to refer to the actual story. I think this works well for a read-to, read-yourself situation. Read the Bible passage to your child, then let them read the storybook part.

On the music, I'll just say it's children's music. It's one of the reasons I am so grateful to own an iPod, because I can import these 100 songs, put them in a mix, and not have to listen to them constantly. The singing is good. There are no dominant personalities involved, which for some kids may be a problem. My 5-year-old doesn't mind, but my 2-year-old is a VeggieTales fanatic, and was disappointed not to hear Bob and Larry. He got over it, and did enjoy the music. My 8-year-old daughter was excited to hear a few familiar songs that she's heard at various children's activities over the years but that we didn't have. All in all, the music is acceptable children's fare.

From a child's perspective: My 8-year-old daughter wasn't overly impressed with this book, but she's been reading from a real Bible for over a year now. She thought the illustrations were cute, but she's currently 8 and going on 'grown-up' so they were little kid-like for her. Note, though, that when her kid sister wasn't looking and she thought Mom and Dad weren't looking, she slipped off to her bedroom to read the rest of the book.

The 5-year-old daughter really likes it, and is upset that I have this book with me at the office today and she can't read it. The short stories work for her, because she grabs a book anytime she can, and no matter how much time she has to read, she doesn't have to stop in the middle of a story. She has read through the whole book at least twice, and thinks the illustrations are funny.

The 2-year-old son has enjoyed having the 5-year-old daughter read it to him, and has enjoyed the music after he got over it not having VeggieTales. I guess we've created a Veggie monster in him, but he'll be ok.

One final note: this book has been in my house nearly a month (slow on the review). It has survived 3 kids, 2 cats, and me tripping over it in the night. So, the printing/binding seems very durable.

I'd rate this a good buy for a family, and an excellent value for a church nursery.

(reminder: I got this for free as a member of Thomas Nelson's Book review bloggers. Click the link to join up. Book is free, all they want is an honest review.)

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers


Ok, today's opening post is political in nature. Actually, it's just some links worth taking a read at:

Some of the arguments for a government mandated health care system include that "it works in Massachusetts." Ok, but watch this video and consider whether or not that's true.

And then there's this for all you environmentalists. Let's not consider the environmental impact of shipping banana sheaves to Colorado. Or of transporting the caskets to wherever you are. After all, why cut down a local pine tree and make a casket that will last any longer? Even though timber's a great renewable resource.

10,000 Pennies is worth a watch on Youtube.

Now, am I against health care reform? Do I believe in the slogan "Earth First! We'll Strip-mine the other planets later." No. However, the US Government is $11 Trillion dollars in debt, not counting the retirement payment obligations. We cannot continue to spend money we do not have. Period. Our economy is showing the effects of individuals doing that.

As to the environment--the science is still debatable. And there is evidence that global warming is, and isn't, happening. So people need to make sensible decisions. Government regulations require a lot of pollution to enforce, so they're not really the answer, are they?

There might be some good solutions here. And there might not be. But Congress has got to slow down enough to read legislation before they vote on it. Anyone voting for a bill they haven't read should be impeached for dereliction of duty. They have placed politics above their Constitutional duty, above the people they represent. If they aren't impeached, they should not be re-elected. Their own party should see to that.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 7 2009

Proverbs 7:5(HCSB) ->Another warning about adultery.

Proverbs 7:19-20(HSCSB) ->Husbands, stayhome! Let your heart be at rest with your wife!

Psalm 143:10-11 ->Teach, then, revive ->You don't get revival without knowledge, without the Word.

Revelation 12:8 ->satan is not strong enough. Never has been.

Galatians 6:14 ->The world should be dead to us! We should not allow ourselves to be attracted by it!

1 Peter 1:20 ->Christ has always been going to be the Redeemer, even before human understanding of it.

1 Peter 1:20 and Revelation 13:8 ->He was foreknown as the Redeemer, we as the redeemed.

Quote: "Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit; that is reserved for belief, principle, and morality" Dee Hock

Thought: How do you seek to motivate? And do you realize that you must build into people the belief, principle and morality? That it must come from the total environment, not just from a few seminars?

Prayer: For Poland team: safe travel home, quick readjustment back to time zone!

Lord God, drive us today to do Your work instead of our own. And help me to do and not just blog. Amen.
Moving toward the Horizon,

SBC Controversy of the Month-July

The Southern Baptist Convention's Controversy of the Month for July is brought to you by:

So, what is our Controversy of the Month?

It's the sudden resignation of Clark Logan, Vice President of Administration and Finance for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. So, why is that a big deal?

First, background: The Executive Committee is funded by Cooperative Program gifts, and has, as I understand it, these responsibilities: study things related to the whole SBC, divide up the Cooperative Program checks that come in, make the Annual Meeting happen, and promote the Cooperative Program. The Executive Committee employs people to accomplish these tasks. These folks are full-time employees of the SBC, and should be understood to be there to serve the churches that make up the SBC. The Executive Committee are actually elected representatives. They meet occasionally to make sure the staff are doing what they ought to do. It's fundamentally the same as a Board of Trustees with a University.

Morris Chapman is the President of the Exec. Committee (from here out, EC). Clark Logan was a Vice President of the EC, and was actually the man who did most of the organization of the annual meeting. There are additional vice presidents and staff, plus administrative staff at the EC offices in Nashville. In theory, all of these people are hired by the actual EC. In practice, they're hired by their direct report. So, Clark Logan would have been hired by Morris Chapman. Also, in theory, apart from a demonstrated moral failing, the EC is who has the power to fire. In practice, though, things get mushy.

This is where we get to the Controversy of the Month. Morris Chapman asked Clark Logan to resign. Right now, there's some fussiness over Chapman not being up front about that when he was first asked about it, but this is the SBC. We were the home religious group of the President of the United States who wanted to argue what the meaning of 'is' is. He didn't learn that just in school. We've been exemplifying hedging and politicking in our churches for a long time. Chapman was answering a question, but the news sources don't give the question. Note to news media: if you want to give us the quoted answer, give us the quoted question. His answer was "It is not the practice of the Executive Committee to respond to rumors." Now, if the question was a very direct "Did you ask Clark Logan to resign?" then implying it was a rumor and refusing to answer was inappropriate. But, if the question was "What do you say to the rumors Clark Logan was fired?" then the answer is acceptable. And even when dealing with religious news media, you have to be careful volunteering information. So, it's actually important, as whether Chapman was being deceptive or not is relevant to his credibility.

Now, what made this big enough to be Controversy of the Month? These things:

1. Suddenness. Logan had just managed the annual meeting. And done well. Why is he quitting now?

2. Chapman's opposition to the Great Commission Resurgence movement in the SBC. While we don't have a public statement from Logan on the GCR, it's possible they were at odds over it. Logan would have needed to not publicly bicker with his boss over this issue. So, soon we may know. We do have public statements from Drs. Mohler and Moore at SBTS expressing support and kinship with Logan. As these two men remain leaders in the GCR movement, there's a strong likelihood Logan and Chapman differed here. The controversy side is that 95% of messengers at the annual meeting supported the GCR-related motion. The EC staff works for us, and, at this point, Morris Chapman needs to be for the GCR, because his bosses, the people of the SBC, have said we're doing it. To fire a subordinate for agreeing, privately, with the directions of the SBC is not good leadership.

3. Logan's involvement with Moore and Mohler, alongside his graduating from and working for Southern Seminary gives a decent hint he leans towards the Calvinist side of Southern Baptist life. He might not, but as Bob the Tomato said once, it's highly probable. Chapman doesn't understand how a Calvinist leaning fits with the missions and evangelism drive in Scripture and Baptist life. He showed this in his speech at the annual meeting that was interpreted as a rant against Calvinism. He actually didn't describe any Calvinists I know, but rather attacked the caricature of Calvinism that's easy to dislike. If he thinks that's what Southern Baptist Calvinists actually believe, he's wrong. See my thoughts here. If Logan and Chapman were at odds over theology, then that could be a problem with their working relationship. However, Chapman should have said so.

4. A lack of information. This thing brewed up over 4th of July weekend, with no information. There were tweets back and forth, but they lacked substance or links to substance. Simply statements of "I stand with Clark Logan." Logan was trying to respect the organization and get out of the limelight. Chapman was trying to protect the organization and his leadership and say nothing. So, you had people getting all riled up with no information. That may have worked 30 years ago. Even 20 years ago. You can't do that these days. If you start the tempest, you need to provide information to substantiate it, and soon. Otherwise, hold on to striking that match. By Saturday, there were people twittering that Morris Chapman needed to go as President of the EC. Maybe he does. But you couldn't be making that call Saturday. For all the information that was publicly available, Logan had quit because he wanted to. We copied our pattern of whispering from churches into this. It's bad in church too, but we do it. All we had was "Mohler said there's more to this" and "Moore says there's more to this" being retweeted. Well, I find no reason to distrust Mohler and Moore, but I still see no reason to distrust Chapman, either. I actually get more suspicious when someone says "you should be angry about this, but I won't tell you why." I don't respond as a pastor to the "I can't tell you who, but there are people upset about _____" comments.

5. A lack of understanding of the Trustee/Board system for our denominational life. The EC meets occasionally, though they also confer via phone, email, and other means between meetings. But they cannot take any action without being in an official meeting, even if they have to call one to make it so. Then, since it's a personnel issue, they would have to confer with legal counsel and personnel involved before they could publicize much of their actions. In other words, there are people who can, should, and will deal with whether this was done right. But it takes time. I think some of the twitterers were hoping to see Friday bring an announcement that Morris Chapman had resigned and Clark Logan was taking his place. It won't happen for a while, if at all. Logan will not starve, I assure you. If he gets through this month without being employed at either SBTS or SEBTS, the next month will find him with a church staff or pastorate role. Contact your state's representative on the EC, and ask them to investigate and act appropriately. Ask them to get the permissions necessary to publicize the decisions and process.

On that note: spend the 2 quarters to buy a stamp and mail them a letter. Really. Don't mass email the EC. None of them are full-time EC staff. They have jobs and lives, and many are church pastors. How many mass emails do you read? Wait until you have enough real information to write a letter and then mail it. Also, do your own research. I don't know if Internet Explorer has it, but I know Firefox 3.5 and Safari 4 both have this nifty box in the upper right corner for easy searching! Type "SBC Executive Committee" in the box. You'll find their website, and then click on the "Officers and Members" section. You can find the names yourself! And there's enough info there to find out how to contact them. Don't expect somebody to post a listing of all of their emails. You don't broadcast yours that much, do you? Just how much spam do you want to serve them? This isn't like searching old books for stuff. If you can tweet, blog, Facebook, then you should know how to search the internet! It's likely that some of the 'old guard' probably already knew who to contact and how to contact them by keeping such things written down.

My take on this:

1. The "young" leaders movement just burnt a lot of its credibility with me. You can't throw a fit without information. It smells fishy, but we didn't know. And yet we started screaming for someone's job and head without knowing. Oddly enough, some of these same folks were agitated 2 weeks ago at the SBC Annual Meeting over the Driscoll motions, and wanted people to trust the trustee processes to deal with those problems. Ok, shoe's on the other foot now. You wanted people to trust the trustee process to deal with their disagreements. Is that how you handled this? Not until I saw a retweet of Ronnie Floyd's statement to contact the EC yourself did I see people in the net sphere going that direction. We can't have it both ways. Also, on our credibility: I watched parts of the movie Crimson Tide on TV this weekend. I think Bravo channel was running it every 3 hours or something. Anyway, plot of the movie: Gene Hackman is Captain of a nuclear missile sub, Denzel Washington is his second in command, or XO. They receive a message to launch the sub's missiles at a group of rebels that have taken over an old Russian nuclear launching area, because the rebels are threatening to launch their captured missiles at the US. To launch, the Captain and XO must agree that the order is valid. In the movie, receiving the order is interrupted, and the two disagree. The whole movie is their battle for control of the sub. Eventually, Denzel is proven right to not launch, but the whole thing is a mess. He could have been proven wrong. The issue is that while the ends were right, the means were wrong.

We run the same risk. If we jump automatically to people's defense, to the point of attacking someone else, we run the risk of being proven wrong. We won't what-if Clark Logan's reputation to death, but there have been pastors and denominational leaders before that were quietly asked to resign to save their own embarrassment. Do we want to stake our reputation the next time Morris Chapman asks someone to resign? What happens when that guy was living in sin or derelict in his duty? It's fine to 'Stand with Clark Logan' but you don't have to automatically stand against Morris Chapman to do so.

2. I'm not Ed Stetzer, so I don't have the research handy, but I think it's safe to say that every month, if not every week, a pastor loses his livelihood in the SBC through no fault of his own, but because sometimes people with power in church can be petty, bitter, and do foolish things to others. Do we throw a fit for all of them? No. Many of them wake up on Monday or Thursday not knowing what they'll do for insurance, housing, meals, or work. They even lose their church family. And it happens to the whole family of a fired pastor. Some states, Arkansas is one of them, recognize this problem and do what they can to help. But to some, the funds held onto by states to do this fall under the "bloated bureaucracy" in the SBC they want to get rid of, and that Morris Chapman wants to keep. My point is not the Clark Logan deserved being asked to resign, my point is that week-in, week-out, faithful pastors get treated that way and worse by churches in the SBC, and very few people "stand with" them. I have no doubt that Logan will land on his feet from this, but what happens to many of those pastors? They end up selling insurance or taking whatever job they can find, because we won't help them. It's aggravating that we'll get this upset over a denominational employee but won't over a normal pastor.

3. If we're headed down this path because of the GCR movement, then count me out. First of all, just because someone opposed the document or the motion doesn't make them against the Great Commission. This is bad logic, but statements to that effect have been made, and they qualify as dumb. To look at people who spend their lives trying to spread the Gospel and say they're against the Great Commission because they didn't want an extra committee? On the other side, if Morris Chapman asked Clark Logan to resign because Logan was for the committee, that's wrong too. At this point, the SBC bus is forming a committee to discover why we're inefficient with the Great Commission.

4. At this point in SBC life, we need to have an openness policy with anyone that's a "Vice-president" or equivalent, like "Special super-consultant" or above, that personnel decisions regarding them will be openly discussed. And that people in those roles may not be asked to resign, fired, nor resign on their own without written documentation processed by the Annual Meeting elected board. In other words, Morris Chapman can ask Clark Logan to resign, but he's got to document why to the EC, and it will be published.

Yes, I know we like the idea of allowing superiors to hire/fire at will, but then we light the world on fire when they do it. So, we need that check. At some point, we've got to stop acting like we have so much to hide.

All told, we have now taken a positive momentum for the SBC and run it into the ground. And by next year's meeting in Orlando, we'll have a whole controversy to deal with, won't we?

Let's pray for wisdom for our denominational employees, for Logan as he seeks employment, and for Chapman as he is one of the day-to-day faces of the SBC. And pray for your church to become the force of the Great Commission.


(just for clarification, Despair, Inc. does not sponsor Southern Baptist Controversies. They do, however, provide excellent products related to them.)

Historical Thinking for June 18 2024

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