Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Andy Stanley's 45-hour work week

Here's a great blog post by Tony Morgan about how Andy Stanley made this deal with God to not work more than 45 hours per week:
God, I don't have time to build a ministry and take care of my family. I'll give you 45 hours per week as a church planter. If you can build a church on 45 hours, I'm your guy. I'll let you build has big a church as you can with that 45 hours, and I'll be satisfied with that. But I'm not going to cheat my family.
These are some of the leadership ramifications of his decision:

1. It forced him to play exclusively to play to his strengths.

2. It forced him to prioritize the success of the church over my personal success.

3. The value has forced the organization to say no to many things and maintain a sustainable pace.

4. This value elicits incredible loyalty from the staff.

Burma intends to wipe out Christianity

Check out this article. Here's a blurb:
The military regime in Burma is intent on wiping out Christianity in the country, according to claims in a secret document believed to have been leaked from a government ministry. Entitled "Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma", the incendiary memo contains point by point instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state.

The text, which opens with the line "There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practised", calls for anyone caught evangelising to be imprisoned. It advises: "The Christian religion is very gentle – identify and utilise its weakness."

measuring church growth

I just received an article entitled Measuring Church Numerical Growth is Not as Easy as it Seems written by George Bullard. It describes how considering demographics will gain a better understanding of what church growth looks like in particular ministry settings.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

a new false messiah

"Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect."
- Matthew 24:23-24

A friend of mine sent me this Newsweek article story about a man who claims to be Paul, Jesus, and the Antichrist all rolled up into one! Needless to say, don't send him any money!

redemptive movies

I'm always looking for positive movies to watch. I'm thankful for this list of the Top 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2006 given by Christianity Today. And since I've only seen 2 of them, there are now 8 more on my list of movies to watch.

good Rob Bell interview

I just watched this interview with 30-something megachurch pastor Rob Bell. He shares his thoughts on the state of evangelicalism, Jesus, preaching, and the beginnings of his 10,000+ person church.

(P.S. I do not share many of Rob Bell's views.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

great book for any public speaker

I finally read Andy Stanley's book on preaching. I'd been wanting to for a long time, and finally got to it. I recommend it to all. The main point of the book is that every sermon should be boiled down to one point.

He says that there are five questions that preachers always need to keep before them as they are preparing their messages:
1. What do they need to know? (INFORMATION)
2. Why do they need to know it? (MOTIVATION)
3. What do they need to do? (APPLICATION)
4. Why do they need to do it? (INFORMATION)
5. How can I help them remember it? (REINTERATION)
Coldplay - The Hardest Part

I'm a big Coldplay fan, and I love this song. But since I don't watch much TV, I never saw this video until today. Strange and wonderful and a little eerie...? The hardest part of the video for me was the Speedo that the male dancer was wearing.

Friday, January 26, 2007

not by chance

Last night, my wife and I watched the 60-minute video called The Privileged Planet. It was utterly astonishing. The main point of it is this: Earth is strangely and uniquely suited not only for human life but also for scientific discovery. The film is based on the book by the same title which came out in 2004. Read this short synopsis of the book, then order the movie and show it to everyone you know, especially your teenagers.

Thanks to Bandlady for sharing it with us.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Akiane Kramarik - Spiritual Young Artist

Check this out. Most bizarre of all, I found this at the Richard Dawkins website.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

moral fences

Dr. James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel and Walk in the Word ministries publicly sets up these 5 moral fences to hold himself accountable:

1) I will not, under any circumstances, ride alone in a car with a female other than my wife or an immediate family member.

2) I do not counsel women in a closed room or more than once.

3) I do not stay alone in a hotel over night.

4) I speak often and publicly of my affection for my wife, when she is present and when she is not.

5) Compliment the character or the conduct - not the coiffure or the clothing.

Read the rest of the article to learn about the rational behind each of these. I admire the way he has chosen to publically hold himself accountable.

Monday, January 22, 2007

marks of a growing church

Something made me think of an article I read a couple of years ago about the marks of a growing church. The marks were found by Adrian Rogers, a pastor in Memphis, Tenn., and Ed Young, a pastor in Houston. Here are the marks they found:

1) They were strongly led by their pastors.

2) They were strong Bible churches.

3) They were good-time churches.

4) They were churches in unity.

5) Each church had an indomitable spirit of conquest.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

1 year & how I feel about the Bible

This is the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my blogging career. This post is my 410th one.

Below is an article I wrote for our church newsletter. It shares a little bit about how I feel about the importance of God's Word.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I recently attended the Saturday night service of a church near Chicago that is reading through the entire Bible together in 2007. I’ve heard of churches doing this and I think it is such a wonderful idea.

There is nothing more important for a follower of Jesus Christ than to be reading and thinking about God’s Word on a regular basis. I would venture to say that unless a Christian is in the Word of God on a regular basis that he/she has no idea what God would have them do.

Here are some Scriptures that speak about the importance of God’s Word in the life of believers:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105

But [Jesus] answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

[Jesus prayed],“ Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” – John 17:17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. – II Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:12-13

I came across this touching story about the preciousness of God’s Word at www.bible.org: A man in Kansas City was severely injured in an explosion. Evangelist Robert L. Sumner tells about him in his book The Wonders of the Word of God. The victim’s face was badly disfigured, and he lost his eyesight as well as both hands. He was just a new Christian, and one of his greatest disappointments was that he could no longer read the Bible. Then he heard about a lady in England who read Braille with her lips. Hoping to do the same, he sent for some books of the Bible in Braille. Much to his dismay, however, he discovered that the nerve endings in his lips had been destroyed by the explosion. One day, as he brought one of the Braille pages to his lips, his tongue happened to touch a few of the raised characters and he could feel them. Like a flash he thought, I can read the Bible using my tongue. At the time Robert Sumner wrote his book, the man had “read” through the entire Bible four times. (taken from The Wonders of the Word of God, by Robert L. Sumner.)

As many of us as know how to read, let us read God’s Word daily!
As many of us as have eyes that see, let us use them to study God’s Word!
As many of us as hands that work, let us use them to open up the treasure chest of God’s Word!

Friday, January 19, 2007

clay pots and common sense

I just came across a great and simple article explaining how science shouldn't be aloud to forbid us to use common sense! Here's a blurb, but you should read the rest:
Archaeologists will say that a clay pot is solid evidence that a civilization once lived there. No one believes that the ground, or wind, or chemicals randomly assembled to form that clay pot and accidentally painted a design on it. People made it. If a simple clay pot shows human design, what do we conclude about an object whose make up is far more complex? Like, the human eye. It can distinguish among seven million colors. It moves 100,000 times each day with automatic focusing. And the eye handles 1.5 million simultaneous messages.1

Are we to believe that though a clay pot did not arise from natural means, the human eye just came about from elements in the atmosphere? Some would say that science demands such a conclusion, because to believe in God is not scientific. How is that different from finding the clay pot and starting with the assumption that people didn't exist in that location, so scientists must now find out how that clay pot developed from the elements in the ground or air.2

fatal flaws of evolution

A couple of days ago I read the brief but powerful book Fatal Flaws: What Evolutionists Don't Want You To Know by Hank Hanegraaff.

Here's a blurb about Darwin's thoughts on the complexity of the eye:
In his landmark publication, The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, Darwin avowed, "To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree possible." He labeled this dilemma as the problem of "organs of extreme perfection and complication." (43)
Here's a blurb about the complexity of a fertilized egg:
Through a process of incredible precision, a microscopic egg in one human being is fertilized by a sperm cell from another. This process not only marks the beginning of a new life but also marks the genetic future of that life. A single fertilized egg (zygote), the size of a pinhead, contains chemical instructions that would fill more than five hundred thousand printed pages. The genetic information contained in this "encyclopedia" determines the potential physical aspect of the developing human from height to hair color. In time, the fertilized egg divides into 30 trillion cells that make up the human body, including 12 billion brain cells, which fom more than 120 trillion connections.

In Darwin's day, a human egg was thought to be quite simple - for all practial purposes, little more than a microscopic blob of gelatin. Today, we know that a fertilized egg is among the most organized, complex structures in the universe. In an age of scientific enlightenment, it is incredible to think that people are willing to maintain that something so organized and vastly complex arose by chance. As Dr. James Coppedge, an expert in the science of statistical probability, puts it, "Chance requires ten billion tries on the average in order to count to ten." (46-47)
On the religious ramifications of evolution:
With pomp and ceremony [, at the Darwinian Centennial Convention, which celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the publication of Darwin's The Origin of the Species by Natural Selection,] Sir Julian Huxley, the great-grandson of Thomas Huxley, Darwin's Bulldog, boasted, "In the evolutionary system of thought there is no longer need or room for the supernatural. The earth was not created; it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves. So did religion. Evolutionary man can no longer take refuge from his loneliness by creeping for shelter into the arms of a divinized father figure whom he himself has created." (5-6)

good flicks

If you are a Christian who loves movies like I am, you're always hunting for good clean movies that are well produced and have a good story line. I thank God that the quality of Christian entertainment continues to increase every year.

One great series of movies that we have stumbled upon is Love Comes Softly series. We saw the first one a year ago or so, and we watched the second one, Love's Enduring Promise, a couple nights ago. There are a couple more that we hope to see soon. The third is called Love's Long Journey, and the fourth Love's Abiding Joy. They are all based on a series of books by Janette Oke which my wife read when she was younger.

Don't get me wrong. These movies are definitely a little Little-House-On-the-Prairie-ish (What would you expect when the director is Michael Landon Jr.?). However, you've probably experienced what I have more often than you would like to admit. You've gone to the movie store, picked out a movie that looks like it won't put sexy or destructive thoughts in your head, only to find out that you were duped! Even prime time TV is full of harmful stuff!

If you want a safe and well done set of movies that you can watch with your wife and/or family check these out. I think they're good.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

maybe it is about the numbers...

I just received an interesting article, written by Lovett H. Weems, Jr. I think he has a good point. Here's a blurb:
Have you ever said, “It’s not about the numbers” or “We don’t want just numbers”? I have. But not anymore. I have decided it is about the numbers. A pastor’s tongue-in-cheek parody helped me see the point.

Pastor Tim Stevens tells about going on vacation when his three children were quite young. The entire family was standing in a crowded hotel lobby in a big city when, to his surprise, he saw one of their children, a three-year old, in an elevator going skyward, her nose pressed to the glass with fright on her face. “What am I to do?” the pastor thought. “Nothing,” was his reply. After all, two out of the three children were still there. And, after all, there were many things he and his wife had not yet done with the remaining two children. Maybe they should focus more on having a deeper relationship with the two remaining children. In fact, this pastor had never really been a numbers person. He was not the kind of pastor who, if he came to the end of a vacation with fewer children than at the beginning of the vacation, would feel guilty about the negative numbers. “I’m just not into the numbers game,” the pastor insisted.

As I thought about this story, it struck me that when we end a year with two children fewer on our Sunday School roles, those are someone’s children. Or when a campus ministry adds numbers to its participants, each of those students is someone’s child. The world is full of children alone on elevators. They are the numbers we seek.

they are proud of him

The last couple of days the main thing I've put myself into was preparing for and officiating at the funeral of my friend Mac McCoy. Mac was married to the same woman for 60+ years, he had 5 children, 14 grandchildren, and 17 great grandchildren. Its always pretty awesome to look at an older couple and see the large family that God has generated from their coming together. The theme that kept re-emerging for the last few days has been how proud they all were of Mac.

This morning I was reading Proverbs 17 and came across a verse that seems to describe what I've been observing the last couple of days among the McCoy family:
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.
- Proverbs 17:6

Monday, January 15, 2007

maximizing the message

Saturday evening we met my sister in Rolling Meadows and attended Harvest Bible Chapel. James MacDonald preached a convicting message from Acts 8:4-25. It was called "Gospel: Maximizing the Message." His outline was:
1) Keep Stagnation Out - Spread the Gospel vv.4-8
2) Keep Distortion Out - Confirm the Gospel vv.9-17
3) Keep Deception Out - Protect the Gospel vv.18-25
Listen to it here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

good prayer advice

Brian Bill blogged about Ray Pritchard's blog posting about J.I. Packer's new book on prayer. Pritchard's article was very helpful. He pointed out this specific advice for prayer that I want to put into effect:
When you pray, pray audibly. They mean even when you pray alone, pray out loud, or at least speak under your breath, mouthing the words, which some writers call “lipping” your prayers. They note that praying aloud helps you to concentrate and keeps your mind from wandering. “The idea that private prayer should always be made in total silence is quite recent, just as it is quite silly” (p. 287). They also advise punctuating your prayers by singing your favorite hymns or songs of praise.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Intelligent Design primer

Here's a great article written by Nancy Pearcey which details some of the basics of the Intelligent Design viewpoint. It is provided to help parents deal with their children's questions about evolution.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

farewell Mac

I got a call this morning about 5:30am telling me that one of the great men of our town had passed away. Mac McCoy was hands down one of the classiest, most positive, encouraging people I've ever known. Mac will be greatly missed in our church family and in the town of Pontiac, where he invested so much.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

change

I heard someone say this recently and i find it liberating:
"People always say that change hurts, but what they forget is that staying the same hurts too."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

evolution is not as popular as it used to be

In the past year, I have read two significant works authored/co-authored by Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? and Total Truth. I have become convinced that the issue of the origin of human life is one of the most critical, if not the most critical, issues that people living in the 21st century must face.

If evolution is the "creation story" we believe, then not only has the human race evolved gradually, but the thoughts and ideas are all results of like evolutionary processes. If evolution is true, then the idea of God is something that evolved by natural selection processes. This makes no one view of God superior to any other, because they are all just human inventions. This results in the pluralistic worldview that plagues post-modernism.

If biblical Creation is the "creation story" we believe, then God created the world and created human beings in the image of God. We did not create him, he created us. We can trust our abilities of perception because they are due to the fact that we have created in God's image to accurately perceive the world that God created. This means that all views of God are not equal, but the Truth is available through the correct perception of God's revelation.

When Darwin came up with the evolutionary scheme he desired to come up with an origin story that would explain the existence of life without God. Because so many have bought into his theory, tolerance and relativism have become the religious consensus of post-modernity.

Strangely enough, as the impact of Darwinism continues to swell within the ranks of philosophy and academia, members of the scientific and medical communities are no longer blindly accepting Darwinian dogma.

Two websites to check out are A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism
and Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity.

Both of these sites have lists of doctoral level professionals who have signed a signed a statement saying: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

Encourage your physician to add his/her name to this list.

Truth with a capital T

John MacArthur has a new book coming out this Spring called The Truth War. Here's a brief excerpt:
What is truth? We began with that question, and my earnest hope is that the answer would be clear: Truth is not any individual’s opinion or imagination. Truth is what God decrees. And He has given us an infallible source of saving truth in His revealed Word.

For the true Christian, this should not be a complex issue. God’s Word is what all pastors and church leaders are commanded to proclaim, in season and out of season—when it is well received and even when it is not (2 Timothy 4:2). It is what every Christian is commanded to read, study, meditate on, and divide rightly. It is what we are called and commissioned by Christ to teach and proclaim to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Is there mystery even in the truth God has revealed? Of course. “ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). In 1 Corinthians 2:16, Paul paraphrased Isaiah 40:13–14: “Who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?”

But then Paul immediately added this: “We have the mind of Christ.” Christ has graciously given us enough truth and enough understanding to equip us for every good deed—including the work of earnestly contending for the faith against deceivers who try to twist the truth of the gospel. Although we cannot know the mind of God exhaustively, we certainly can know it sufficiently to be warriors for the cause of truth against the lies of the kingdom of darkness...

And we are commanded to participate in that battle. God Himself sounded the call to battle when His Spirit moved Jude to write his short epistle and it permanently entered the canon of Scripture...

In other words, the Truth War is a good fight (1 Timothy 6:12). So let’s wage good warfare (1 Timothy 1:18)—for the honor of Christ and the glory of God.

Thanks to Brian Bill for the link.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Darwinism destined to die

Here's a list of Access Research Network's Top 10 Darwin vs. Design stories for 2006.
David Lee Roth Performing Jump - Bluegrass Style

Speaking of Van Halen... I wonder if this makes other old school Van Halen fans as uncomfortable as it makes me.

van halen


My mom just sent me an email telling me that Van Halen just made it into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Its about time!

Other than Jesus probably no other person has had a bigger impact on my life than Eddie Van Halen (sad but true!). From ages 12-21, most of my energy went into learning to play guitar like Eddie. I even earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Guitar Performance during my undergraduate studies.

Its been a huge disappointment to me to see how Eddie's life has turned out. While I think that his incredible ability shows forth the glory of his Maker (though he probably doesn't see it that way), his horrible struggle with addiction shows from the power of the Deceiver and Destroyer (that's Satan, not Rock N Roll).

Pray for the salvation of Eddie Van Halen.

Congratulations on the induction into the Hall of Fame!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

a strangely tailored universe

I just read this article that Nancy Pearcey wrote in 2000 about how scientists are finding that the universe is strangely tempered precisely for the existence of life. Check it out.

back from Mexico

Got back from Mexico. Had an excellent trip. Good to be home. Got to get ready for worship! To God be the glory!