Saturday, December 31, 2005

new year

From Dan Wilt:

On the precipice of the New Year, I’d like to pose a question, for you, for me and for the emerging generations:

“Who, in the past year, has been bettered, encouraged, strengthened, healed – by the life that you live?”

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horace

Horace quotes
Quotes by Horace (Ancient Roman Poet 65 - 8 BC)
 

“Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.”

 

“No man ever reached to excellence in any one art or profession without having passed through the slow and painful process of study and preparation”

 

“Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it.”

 

“Cease to inquire what the future has in store, and take as a gift whatever the day brings forth.”

 

“Nothing's beautiful from every point of view.”

 

“Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans; it's lovely to be silly at the right moment”

 

“Rule your mind or it will rule you”

 

“Anger is a momentary madness, so control your passion or it will control you.”

 

“Your own safety is at stake when your neighbor's house is ablaze”

 

“The one who cannot restrain their anger will wish undone, what their temper and irritation prompted them to do.”

 

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god around us

Selective sensory perceptive is the thing that keeps our brain from overloading. There's an over abundance of information coming at us. This built in "filter" is what let's us focus and not become overwhelmed. It is what allows you to read this text and not be bothered by all of the other distractions on your screen. It is what allows us to say, "he came out of nowhere" after being in a car crash. It is how we are able to be hit in the face by a ball when we simply need to duck - we just don't see it coming. SSP can be good and bad, helpful and not so helpful.
 
So it is not that something is not there - it is often simply that we don't notice it or it doesn't fit our thinking (i.e., worldview). In science, data can be ignored or misinterpreted if they do not fit our paradigm. As we relate that to God, this is how the lost can wonder where He is while the redeemed can see Him in everything. The famous "slip of the tongue" by experimental social psychologist Thane Pittman sums it up,“I’ll see it when I believe it.”
 
This is how we can honestly state the paradox that God's invisible qualities can be clearly seen (Ro 1.20). No one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and of the Spirit (John 3.1-21). To see the King we must believe differently. To believe differently, we most be made alive by His effectual grace.
 
For more, read Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul (or read the Bible - any version will do).
 

Friday, December 30, 2005

qumana trick

My biggest frustration with Qumana was relative to making my blog links open in new windows (or tabs). I typed the text and then inserted the link using the "link" icon. Then I posted the blog and went to the blogger editor. In addition to it being a two step process, the font(or whatever) was a mess and I couldn't type target= "_blank" . I typed this on a notepad and then had to copy and paste to the blogger editor.

But I just found that when I drag the original link into the Qumana drop content box (not the editor), it will be set to open in a new window. Then I simply type the text I want over the link and it works fine.
 
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not photoblog

Sorry for the confusion - I started thinking this was a photoblog...it's not. It will not happen again.
 
:-)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

weihnachtsmarkt

Photos taken from our trip to Nuremberg and Rothenburg.

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html school

W3 schools - they're right, the best things in life are free.
 
Now all I need is to learn how to get Qumana to allow me to set (or better yet default) with links opening to a new window.
 
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

just passing through

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. — Psalm 33:11

Did you realize that in the next ten minutes, some 1,200 people will die? But, you won’t hear any special news reports about these deaths. You see, the CIA’s world fact book (2003) estimates that in the world, two people die every second. We hear, read or see a lot about deaths due to violence, war, disease and accidents. Yet, it amazes me to consider just how many people die of all causes. Approximately 56.7 million people die every year! There’s just no escaping the fact that everyone dies sooner or later from one cause or another. These statistics bring to the forefront of our thoughts just how temporary we all are.

At this writing, I’m currently in my mid-40s. For me, time seems to be moving faster and faster and it is strange to think that based on an average lifespan, I have fewer ticks of the clock left than those that have already gone by. I’m also reminded, however, that our time on earth is not the entire story. God’s story – His plan for the world, if you will – is continually unfolding. And, everyone – believers and unbelievers alike – have a role to play. Make no mistake about it: You are part of God’s story! God has chosen that people be given temporary charge of the planet. Further, Christ-followers are given temporary charge as God’s ambassadors – His personal representatives to be His messengers to enlarge His place in the hearts and minds of people. With these “charges” also come responsibility and accountability.

According to the Scriptures, there really will be a judgment day where we will have to give an account for our stewardship. In a world of 6.4 billion people, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that in God’s story, every person matters. You may feel sometimes like just another lemming in the crowd on the way to the end of the cliff! But, I believe that what God said to Jeremiah applies to each person, “before you were born, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5).

In God’s story, you matter! We may not be able to see beyond the current chapter of how our lives play out in His story. But as Christ-followers, I do know this: Our most important tasks involve doing the necessary things that lead to growth in our relationship with Jesus so that we may – in ever-increasing fashion – reflect Jesus in all we do. In this way, we pass-on this unfolding story of what God has done and what He is doing in the world. Then, at the end of our days, we can rest assured that we have kept the plot moving along.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

empowering leadership

From Wolfgang Simson, Houses that Change the World,

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christmas or god's days

I waited until after christmas for this post. There is much written against the practice of christmas (and easter); here is a sampling:

I have found much ugliness and contradiction in this season. I was recently confronted for use of an image in an advertisement for a church event. The image contained a photo of the astrological clock in Prague - a site visited by many without a thought of it's "evil" origins. Yet on Sunday I God's people worship in the presence of a larger than life tree with all of the traditional trimmings and practices. The speaker even asks the children what they got for Christmas. I wonder how the kids of those that do not celebrate Christmas feel.

Some years ago my family and I made an agreement that we would "celebrate" the season, i.e., we would have traditional decorations, etc., but we would do it only to invite someone that was alone or in need into our home. We would use the season to reach out and touch other lives. This year we failed. We did it all simply for ourselves. And so I write this post not to convince you to stop celebrating christmas but to encourage you to ask yourself why. Be careful when you answer that you are honest with yourself and God. And then, be aware how easily sin ensnares us so that even when we start with good intentions we do not always end that way. I am more determined than ever to not have this happen to me again. In addition, I will begin a study of the Biblical festivals. We've learned the way of the world but have lost sight of the feasts that God commanded. I look forward to bringing these into our family tradition.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

merry christmas

The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. (The Message)
Jesus said "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near." and then he went around "preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them."
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Co 4.20)

Merry Christmas - experience the presence and the power of the King!

 

 
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Saturday, December 24, 2005

café

Earlier in the week I hid out in a warm café with Angela and Isaiah as Barb ran store to store shopping in Nuremberg.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

more kingdom of god

In the Wikipedia link for the Kingdom of God, it was noted that this theology was “popularized” in the 1950’s. Whenever talking Scripture, I love things that are refreshing but get nervous if I hear something that is new. I found comfort in Ac 28.23, 30-31.


We also find the Kingdom of God mentioned 43 times in Matthew, 14 times in Mark, and 32 times in Luke. But it seems John's focus is on eternal life and Paul's is on salvation in Christ. We can however find an interpretive key in Lk 18.18-29 that helps. Here we see that Jesus saw eternal life and salvation as synonymous to the Kingdom of God. Eternal life is literally life in the age to come and that life begins right here and now. We have a foretaste of what is coming (He 6.5) which is why Jesus tells us to pray that His Kingdom would come to us here just as it already is in heaven (Mt 6.10). So good news - it's not new, just refreshing!

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more web 2.0

Marlin commented that with web 2.0, “it is only leaders / self-starters that mingle there. Most people still prefer f2f. But for lonely leaders that strive for like-mindedness that they often don't find in church, web 2.0 is a great place to connect.” I agree yet there’s more.


For me, I like the web community more and more (google, gmail, del.icio.us, firefox, blogs - especially photoblogs - etc. - not myspace). I think Marlin’s statement regarding who will value web 2.0 will always be true but less so if the technical knowledge gap many of us have could be closed a little. For example, I typically do not read my own blog so I do not always notice comments. Is there a notifier? How do I reply and how would the commenter know I replied? Other examples are simple composition items such as; I cannot figure out how to post my picture. I've added a jpg url in settings but I suspect that I have previously modified the template source code so that now the picture does not show. Plus simple things like indenting, bullets, etc.. Lack of easy control of these things hinder the desire to use this form of community. Yet as Marlin notes, the determined will press on – and I’m determined.

In the end, I suppose that's why so many Christians prefer the public space, i.e., going to "church" on Sunday rather than small group or things of that nature. The public space allows connecting yet maintains a sense of safety through anonymity with the added bonus of requiring the least amount of effort. As a church leader, the challenge for me is to value that but also work to (1) break down barriers in the other spaces and (2) affect the culture in a way that passion for these spaces increases. So I guess it is good that I am struggling with technology; it reminds me daily of what others feel as they attempt to connect through forms that seem foreign to them.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

tv quotes

I'm scraping the bottom today...these are from some recent unhealthy television watching...

Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Winslow Crane on men, "How can we possibly use sex to get what we want? Sex is what we want!"

And just in time for the seasion, Bart Simpson, “Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ” and “Aren't we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know, the birth of Santa.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

web 2.0 community

I picked this up from emergent-us. It’s from Kester Brewin, author of The Complex Christ."It's my hunch that the reason most people go to church is not because of a theological foundation of belief, but because of an emotional need to connect and belong. And I also don't believe that this is wrong. Our message should be one of 'God says you belong', and if they then work out the theology of why they belong, that's great. But if they don't, they should still be allowed to be loved and enjoy belonging."Joseph Myers, in The Search to Belong, developed sociologist Edward Hall’s theories that link physical space and culture. He defines four “spaces” in terms of distance to others in that space. Myers adds the social aspect.
  • Public (12 feet+); people may want anonymity but they do not want to be strangers.
  • Social (4 – 12 feet); I want to know you but at a safe distance. Here we share snapshots of who we are. It provides a safe place for the selection process if I want to become more intimate with someone. In this space I can share a little of who I am as well as the process which got me here – but I do not have move to full disclosure. I could choose to create an illusion.
  • Personal (18 inches – 4 feet); this is friendship but not full naked disclosure.
  • Intimate (0 – 18 inches); one-on-one relationships that involve full disclosure of much of life. Relative to church ministry, I don’t think there is a ministry equivalent of this. I think it is a healthy product of the above.
In all four spaces:
  • we connect
  • we are committed and participate
  • we find the connection significant
Building community entails allowing people to grow significant relationships in all for spaces. As we help people with their lives, we need to allow them to live in the spaces they choose. We can encourage them to belong in the space that is comfortable for them at the time, treating them as a significant part of the “family” in whichever space they choose. It is about giving people the room to decide how they want to belong.In light of Brewin’s work, I wonder if Web 2.0 needs to be added as a fifth space.Regardless, the summary is well put by Brewin. “As our thoughts and opinions buzz around the blogal village, as news and views from very strange and different places are piped into our consciousness, as we log off and turn to our neighbors, it’s this truth that we must hold dearest…you are the Body of Christ (1 Co 12.12-30)!”

Sunday, December 18, 2005

2 days off...

I'm overdue for time with my family. Tomorrow we drive to Nürnberg to enjoy the Weihnachtsmarkt. It is the oldest in Germany dating back to 1628. We plan to spend the night there and then drive back through Rothenburg ob der Tauber via the Romantisches Strasse (Romantic Road). My goal is to enjoy the sites, enjoy my wife, and attempt not to use these two days as time to lecture them on my expectations for their lives...pray for me. For you, if you are not listening to Erwin McManus for inspiration and Rich Nathan for theology, you are missing out.I am looking forward to getting my iTrip (black of course) so that I can listen via FM in the car. My only hurdle now is that I cannot sort out how to play at higher speed. The iPod plays audio books at fast speed but I cannot see how to play podcasts that way - oh well, still an improvement from pre-iPod days.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

lego versus play-doh

Erwin McManus of Mosiac, teaches us to think of our lives as "Play-doh" rather than "Lego". When we approach God as Lego we ask him to add more pieces, i.e., to continue to build us up. When we come to Him as Play-doh we are yielded and moldable in His hands. As Christian’s our desire is to become like Christ.Phil 2.5-11; Christ, who was the very nature of God, did not consider that something to be used but rather humbled Himself to the point of death. I doubt very much that most of us have considered that this is what we should be desiring as we say that we desire to be like Christ.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

giving

Reinforcing the definite link between our spiritual conversion and our relationship to money, I read a hard saying this morning from Mt 25.14-30. In this parable, the servant didn't misuse the resources given by the master. He didn't use these for sinful or selfish purposes. But by simply not using the resources for good, he had them taken away. Somehow our hearts allow us this much. But the hard saying is this, the servant is referred to as "wicked and lazy". Moreover, the master instructs, "throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." This is everlasting separation from our God and Father. To be truly born again means to have the spirit of God radically change us. If this change is not manifested in outward behavior, we must discern if there was any real inner change. Our relationship to money is one of the greatest challenges we face and an excellent plumb line by which to gage our spiritual health.

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kingom of god

In preparation for our upcoming conference with Richard Maybery, I submit this link for orientation to Kingdom theology.Or for a more complete understanding, read "The Kingdom and the Power" by Greig, Packer, and Springer. And if one really wants to understand it, there is always the Bible.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

giving

Rich Nathan, VCF –Columbus, OH, teaches two kinds of Christianity; grapefruit versus chocolate milk. In grapefruit Christianity we have our lives in sections. Perhaps we have completely given over one part to Christ but there are other areas where He is not invited or has little impact. With chocolate milk Christianity, Christ is mixed in and affects the whole of life…it is radically changed. This is the message I want to communicate as I preach in January regarding our relationship to money. Our relationship with Christ must result in a radical change in our relationship to money. We cannot separate the two. Billy Graham said, "Every person's checkbook is a theological document. It tells you who and what they worship." Hundreds of years ago Martin Luther said, "People go through three conversions: their heads, their hearts, and their pocketbook. Unfortunately, they do not go through these three conversions at the same time."

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Friday, December 09, 2005

old versus new

My sermon will be on the topic of giving. There’s constantly the tension between the popular tithing message, the principle of sowing and reaping, and the concept of cheerful and generous giving. I think I may use St. Augustine’s help, “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed. The New is in the Old contained, the Old is in the New explained. The New is in the Old enfolded, the Old Testament is in the New unfolded.”

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sermon podcasts

A friend recently asked what podcasts I like. Here’s who I’m listening to (or considering listening to):

Vineyard Church – Columbus, OH – a lot of scripture and often unique insight. Rich Nathan is solid. I’ve met him several times and he has truly made an impact for the Kingdom.

Vineyard Church – Cambridge, MA – Dave Schmelzer is contemporary and well organized. I haven’t listened to much of his stuff yet but I suspect I will continue. A downside is this is not available via podcast – must manually download from site.

Vineyard Church – Champaign, IL – I used to know Hap Lehman and back then he was very motivational and spiritually challenging. I have not had a chance to listen to him recently.

Mosiac – Los Angeles – Erwin McManus, like Schmelzer, is contemporary and presents the message well. I haven’t listened to much yet but expect that I will like him more and more over time.

Desiring God Radio – I haven’t checked this out yet. I also have never listened to Piper live but I covet his written material. He is the best reformed theology preacher (at least in written form) today. Desiring God Sermons (Audio) (Resource) (email subscription) – same as above; I haven’t listened to the audio of his sermons but use his resource library regularly and receive his emails.

Grace To You – Ah, John MacArthur, the paradox…brilliant teacher but hater of anything that comes close to charisma. His detest for charismatics (and similar streams) color his teaching so much that it is often hard to keep tuned in. But if you can manage, there’s some gold in there.

Vineyard Church – Cincinnati, OH – probably my home fellowship starting in August. Dave Workman is contemporary and challenging. A downside is this is not available via podcast – must manually download from site. Net – the best theological speaker is Rich Nathan at Columbus (but his speaking mannerisms are tough for me). If his spoken message is well delivered, then I expect John Piper to become tops in that category. In terms of speaking style, Nathan and Piper are not at the top but the jury is still out on who is.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

preaching prep

I preach in a few weeks and in preparation I am reminded of Karl Barth’s (not recommended) words, “As theologians, we ought to speak of God. We are, however, human beings and as such cannot speak of God. We ought to recognize both our obligation and our inability – and precisely in that recognition give God the glory. This is our affliction [Bedrängnis]. Everything else is mere child’s play.” Scott Black Johnston builds on that in Theology for Preaching; Authority, Truth and Knowledge of God in a Postmodern Ethos, (also not recommended) by saying, “The preacher’s predicament ... requires that an attitude of humility infuse faithful proclamation. For ultimately, the truth of our preaching is not dependent on our rational ability to uncover and dispense the gospel, but on the promise and activity of God.” I am trying a new approach as I prepare. I am spending less time developing the material and more time asking God to simply show up and manifest His power.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

living life together

Last night we studied 1 Thessalonians 2. The more I read Scripture the more clearly I see the role of small groups in the life of the body. I’m amazed by proponents of various other ministries in place of small groups. While I value these expressions of service, none of them can compare to the value of small group participation nor find their root as clearly in Scripture.

In Thessalonians we looked at how Paul “delighted to share with [them] not only the gospel of God but [his life] as well.” I love the principle. My amazement with Paul (and my struggle with myself) is that Paul is able to share life, showing up at the appropriate time as mother, brother, and even father. My “toolkit” is not as diverse. I pray to put on the fullness of Christ, to be able to be all things to all people, and to be useful for the Kingdom in every way God places before me.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

missional

Today in a meeting I used the word “missional”. Not only did Microsoft not like the word, but it also felt a little foreign to the group. Interestingly, I later read “Becoming God’s Missional People” in Cutting Edge. Here are a couple of quotes from that article:

“As a missional people, we are not commissioned to go out and do what we think God wants done, but we are to do what He is doing.”

Isaiah 49.6, "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

“When talking about what God is doing in our lives and what the purpose of our life is, we have to remember that we are on a mission with God. He’s on a mission; therefore, as his people, we are on his mission.”

I’m praying for ways to reach those outside the community. I seem to have allowed work within the body to consume me and limit my exposure outside of the body. This is not healthy.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

suffering

Jim Meredith on why accept suffering?

1) Suffering softens the human spirit. There is so often an indefinable fragrance which wafts around people who have suffered. Their fragrance is the aroma of the suffering Christ. It is meek, gentle, and infectious. I hope I exude this fragrance; I desire it for you as well.

2) Suffering gives opportunity to worship. We noted this past summer in studying Job, that after receiving the calamitous news of the death of his sons and the loss of all he possessed, he fell on his knees and worshipped God (Job 1). Focus on that for a moment; is it not indescribably poignant?

3) Our suffering allows us to identify with Christ, and experience the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death (Philippines 3). In death and suffering emerges victory. Life emerges from the pain of death; it can be no other way; God planned it so.

4) Suffering aids self-examination. God does not mind our asking why. ‘Whys’ of His children lead to deeper truth and trust. We are often given the cup of suffering to learn firsthand our responsibilities of stewardship and the dire consequences of living life, humming, ‘I did it my way’.

5) Our suffering leads us to consider the impact of our lives on others. We are not always the oppressed; we can oppress others. Columnist George Will said recently, ‘This is an age of social autism, in which people just can’t see the value of imagining their impact on others’. God help us! Deliberate or unconscious infliction of suffering on the unprotected and undeserving is cruelty of the rankest order.

6) Mutual suffering can build longterm relationships and enhance community. Suffering shared is half the pain quite often. Walking in another’s shoes promotes understanding, steers honest criticism, and bonds suffering saints together.

7) Suffering often uniquely advances the kingdom of God.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

iPod

I forgot to mention - I'm in Cincinnati this week and I made my own personal step, albeit a small one, into the world of Mac...I got an iPod 60G video. Black - - - way cool!

And I had a little bit of a personal victory – I resisted buying a new computer that I have been coveting. Another time I guess…

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reading

“When I read a good book I wish that life were three thousand years long.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. Again as I reflect on characteristics of leaders, I find that they all yearn to grow through reading. When looking for future leaders, one of the questions I listen for is, “What are you reading lately?” The following is by Dr. Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship.


Some years ago, George and Alec Gallup undertook an exhaustive investigation as to what makes some people more successful than others. Using the polling techniques that have made them famous, the brothers researched and wrote a book titled, "The Great American Success Story". One of their conclusions: Successful people read.

George Gallup found that reading was essential because it "makes a person ready to converse…these people have a broad knowledge…and more information with which to make evaluations and decisions."Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Books are minds alive on the shelves. By taking up one of these books, and opening it, we can hear the voices of people far away in time and space. By reading we can hear great people of long ago speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.

If it was announced that Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon or David Livingstone was speaking at a particular church, Christians from all over the world would show up. But we need to remember that when we open up a book by one of those authors, we can hear them speak and learn from them in a greater way than you could if you just heard them at a single meeting.

A man is known by the company he keeps. It is also true that a person's character is to a large extent developed by the books he reads. A man is known by the company his mind keeps. A book is good company.

"The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries." Descartes.

"In books lies the soul of the whole past time." Thomas Carlyle.

Mark Twain observed: "The man who does not read good books, has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."

Abraham Lincoln commented: "The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who will get me a book I have not read."

Walt Disney said: "There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island…and best of all you can enjoy these riches every day of your life."

"In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot, or will not, read…it is not true we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish." S.I. Hayakawa

"If we encounter a man of rare intellect we should ask him what books he reads." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Charles Spurgeon counseled his students: "Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and re-read them…digest them…a student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by 20 books he has merely skimmed."

Daniel Webster recommended that it is better to master a few books than to read indiscriminately. It was his contention that to master a few great writers was preferable to skimming a multitude of lesser works.

C.S. Lewis recommended: "If one must read only the new or only the old, I would advise them to read the old. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow one self another new one until you have read an old one in between."

Inferior books are to be rejected in an age and time when we are courted by whole libraries. No man's life is long enough to read even those which are good and great and famous. Why then should one waste ones time with lesser works when some of the greatest are available?

Francis Bacon wrote: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."

"Read the best books first, or you may not have the chance to read them at all." Henry David Thoreau

"Many times the reading of a book has made the future of a man." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for." Socrates.

"Next to the Holy Scriptures, the greatest aide to the life of faith may be Christian biographies." A.W. Tozer.

"The reading of good biography forms an important part of a Christian's education. It provides him with numberless illustrations for use in his own service. He learns to assess the true worth of character, to glimpse a work goal for his own life, to decide how best to attain it, what self denial is needed to curb unworthy aspirations, and all the time he learns how God breaks into the dedicated life to bring about His own purposes." Ransome W. Cooper.

"Biography transmits personality…who can gauge the inspiration to the cause of missions of great biographies like those of William Carey, Adoniran Judson, Hudson Taylor, Charles Studd…" J. Oswald Sanders.

"History is but the lengthy shadow of great men." Emerson.

Those that love reading have everything within their reach. For a small price one can visit other lands and great periods of history, learn from some of the greatest minds and world shapers, grapple with great issues, learn in a space of a few hours what others grappled with, researched and studied for their whole lives.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

how can we help the suffering of others?

A stirring by Dan Wilt…

Guiding Idea: You can’t heal everything; and some things are not ready to be healed yet.

We can build bridges of kindness.

We can empathize - imaginatively enter into the perception of another.

Community can heal - practical acts of love are more powerful than we’ll ever know. It can offer support and accountability in practical ways.

To intercede for others in prayer is a way we can alleviate suffering that we ignore to our peril.

The prayer ministry pattern that is from the ancient pattern for baptism is confession, forgiveness and renunciation of evil. We can be a priest to each other, and lead each other, in this way. It’s an excellent way to cleanse the soul, both of yourself and others, along the journey.

These are all ways to care for the suffering of others. A commenter added, “to ‘be’ with those who are suffering.”

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lead by example and give god the glory

Today I lead our church council meeting. This is a team of all ICF ministry leaders. As the team leader, I must instill a sense of vision. I am motivated by Charles Kettering, “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.”

I find myself frustrated with the sacrifice of time, energy, and money in the congregation (not unique to ICF). It seems we are falling short of the greatness we believe God intends.

As I reflect on my frustration, I am reminded of 1 Chr 29.1-20 and realize that I have not demonstrated the same. That is, to give wholeheartedly and then stand before God and His people to proclaim His goodness.

My intent today is to do that. Lord be with me.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

learning

From John F. Kennedy, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” I find this absolutely true. Every good leader I know is hungry to learn more. They are consistently reading. They eagerly listen to others – and make their circle of friends as diverse as possible. They find themselves writing or speaking their thoughts to bring clarity.

I often teach small group leaders that a characteristic of a future leader is that they are the ones hanging around after a meeting asking more questions. Personal growth marks their life.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

giving

Today I am off to Moscow. I have been there only once before. This trip is for business but I hope to find some time for sightseeing – or at least get to the Hard Rock Café.


Barb and Angela are back from shopping in London. It’s great to have them back. I had a wonderful time with my son Isaiah but our house did not seem the same without these two “angels”.

The study in small group last night was challenging. We looked at 1 Chr 29.1-20 and discussed the concept of free and wholehearted giving. I love the sequence in the passage, i.e., God had given instructions to David regarding what needed to be done. David in turn gave sacrificially. Then the other leaders did the same. Then there was great worship. And then the people gave. It seems they gave cheerfully and they gave significantly. David did not take time to teach them about the tithe or outline the budget. Rather he proclaimed God’s providence.

The application is that all that we have in terms of time, energy, and money – any resource – comes from our Father above. He has provided and will continue to provide all that we need to accomplish what he has put before us. Out of that grace (2 Cor 8.1-9, 9.6-15) we must give cheerfully and sacrificially.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

seven constants of church planting

My dear friend Marlin just posted this article from John Wimber. I found it a timely reminder as I wrestle with what church is and why we do it.


The Seven Constants of Church Planting

By John Wimber

This article is adapted from a talk John gave to church leaders in the Spring of 1994 at a church planting conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Rather than changing the format significantly, we've retained John's basic speaking style throughout as he delivered the talk. We wanted to include this as our lead article because, as we gratefully reflect on John's legacy, it was he who established the Vineyard as a church planting movement from the very outset. Few people today speak to these kinds of essential issues with the kind of candor, humility, and pragmatic wisdom John brings. The following words are vintage John Wimber.If I had to boil it all down and talk in terms of essentials, I would suggest that there are seven constants to church planting and these are constants that come out of years of experience! I think they are crucially important, not only for new church plants, but for old church leaders, as well.

1. Constantly Tell Your Story Constantly. Guys come to me and say, I'm going a particular town to plant a church. Do you have any advice for me?" I say, tell everyone why you are there. And once you've told them ten times -- tell them five hundred more: "Here's my story. This is why I'm here. This is the vision God has given me for planting this church, and this is how he's brought me to this point. We're the Vineyard and this is what we're about. This is the Bible, this is Jesus. God loves you; I want to tell you about him. That's why I'm here. You constantly tell your story, and you do it over the long haul, as well.As a pastor I still do it. I tell parts of my story in sermons all the time with my people. Some of you have heard me do that and didn't know why. You've got to understand that I'm not trying to exalt myself -- I'm trying to bring new people on board! Here's who we are, here's where we've been, here's where we are now, and here's where we are going." I constantly tell the story about what we're about and what we're doing. It's like an atomized can; I just spray it on everybody because you don't know who is going be sitting there listening to you and thinking, ``This what just what I've been looking for!"The problem is many pastors get bored of telling their own story-- so they quit telling it. And then they wonder why their church quits growing. Telling your story is a major part of vision-casting and leadership. Not telling your story can be a contributing factor to lack of church growth, because people lose focus when you're not consistently telling who you are and where you're going. And they lose their reason for existence. For many people, their sense of mission and reason for existence rightly comes in part out of being a part of this thing -- advancing the Kingdom through the local church. And so people need to be constantly reminded of where we've been and where we're going with the vision that God's given this church. And you do that by constantly telling your story.

2. Constantly Tell His Story I'm putting them in that sequence because that's kind of the way it works. Of course, that's not the true priority. The true priority is his story. Constantly tell his story. Every occasion ought to have his story in it. Jesus is the Son of God. It's always in there, always wrapped up in the midst of any exchange with people.

3. Constantly Explain the Mysteries of Life What's important in life? Well, escaping the big one! Heaven or hell. That's a big one isn't it? I elect, I'm going to heaven. It's a better deal than hell. Now, the next big priority is, Do you want to get there first class or tourist? First class. That means commitment: commitment to Christ, commitment to his church, and commitment to his cause.All over the world there are people who have committed themselves to Christ in the sense that they have prayed the prayer, bowed the head, or raised the hand. They want an insurance policy for the life hereafter -- but they are not committed to the church! They disdain the church. Watch out for those. You don't want those people around you. Call them to commitment to the church. Our movement is full of people who are uncommitted to the church. They see it as something to merely accommodate them, to meet their needs. They do not see the church as the vehicle for the mission of Jesus. The first and foremost question isn't, What's in it for me and my family?" but rather, What's in it for Jesus? What is he going to get out of this?" It's his church.And it also means commitment to his cause. There are a lot of people who are committed to Jesus, and even to his church -- but they are not committed to his cause. How do you know that? By looking at the measurements of how they spend their time, energy and money. They don't give any time to evangelism, to ministering, to caring for the poor, to looking after widows. Look at their calendar. Look at their check book. Who are they serving? It looks to me we are often serving everything but Jesus, when we look at where our money goes. Where are you really focused? Most people are not focused on Christ and his cause. So you need to tell them that, over and over again: "Alert! SOS! Wake up! You're not where you want to be! You're not where you are supposed to be! You're not committed!" Measure it!We have to have ways of measuring where we're at in ministry. Most people play church like guys playing basketball without a ball and without a hoop. They play without the very things which provide a measurement, or standard, for who's winning the game. So long as you're playing basketball without an actual ball, anyone can appear to be graceful. Or if you don't play with actual hoops, everyone looks like they're a high scorer. But it's not real. You're playing a game without the very elements that tell you if you're winning or not! So when it comes to church leadership, I keep putting in the ball and the hoops. I keep bringing out things that are concrete ways of measuring how you're doing: Is the church growing numerically? Is there tangible fruit? Are people getting saved and assimilated into the church? How many of the poor are you caring for? How many new leaders have you developed? Is the quality of ministry and body life and love amongst people growing? Those kinds of questions make some people mad. That don't want you introducing those kind of elements, because if you start actually measuring, things don't look so good. Some would rather appear to play than actually play.Now, listen: The Vineyard is no exception in this regard. Sometimes when I'm one-on-one with pastors, they get scalded because I start asking them those kinds of questions and it just infuriates them. "He doesn't like me." I like him fine. I'm just trying to get him to wake up and smell the coffee. Because he has the illusion that he's successfully serving God, but he has no measurement. I can tell you the specific measurements of how we're doing in our church here in Anaheim: I know that we had over five thousand street decisions last year. People that prayed the prayer. I know that by actual Bibles distributed and actual cards turned in. I also know how many of those people were actually discipled and assimilated into the church. I know how many people we baptized last year. I know how many new home groups were started. I have a system that reports that. Sometimes the system defaults, and I'm not always on top of it, but I know generally. And I know who to call if I don't have the numbers. You've got to have ways of measuring where you're at.

4. Constantly Disciple How many of your people are actually in the army? That is a crucial question. Now, some of the people in the army are actually in the hospital at the same time. (Remember: the church is supposed to be an army, a hospital, and a family.) Sometimes more people are hospitalized than not. People get shot up. Or some people are back in school getting retrained because something happened that blocked off their ministry. They are out of the army -- but that's okay. They aren't absent without leave. They're being retooled to go back in. You need to know that. And they need to know that it's okay to be in the hospital or to just be in the family. But its not okay to live there permanently! Eventually we have to get you fielded because the measurement is not, I'm hanging out here indefinitely," but rather, "Here are the sheaves, here are the results, here are the works done in your name and in your service." I've read the Book pretty carefully and that's what I think it's all about. We work with people to get them in the army. Constantly disciple.

5. Constantly Expand the Infrastructure Discipling produces the people to fill the infrastructure -- but you have to constantly expand the infrastructure for the people you're bringing in. Different things need to be developed. Now, if you are a specialty shop (which is what a church plant is), then for the first six months you don't have much infrastructure to put people in because you don't need it. You may be a few years into the church before you need a lot of infrastructure. (Of course, it's possible that you should need more infrastructure, but don't, because you're not multiplying or discipline people. Sometimes that's because you yourself are not a disciple. The first person we often have to disciple is ourselves. You'll reproduce in kind. Some of you are in the process of planting a church and are wondering why it isn't happening. It could be one of a thousand variables, but one may be that you are not actually yourself doing the very things you want reproduced in others.) But if you're doing that if you're discipline and bring people in you need to constantly expand the structures of your leadership teams, your small groups, and your ministries to accommodate and assimilate and train up those who are coming in. Expanding the infrastructure is a constant task needing our attention if the church is to grow.

6. Constantly Live in Brokenness The New Testament description of a Christian and the church suggests a very high level of godliness, and character, and constraint, and ministry, and compassion, and blessing, and spirituality. Then you look at the church we live in and it's way below.The church is represented in my life. I'm not all that Jesus wants me to be. I'm not all that he's provided for me. I'm not walking in all that I know. I'm trying, but I'm not doing all that well some days. Are you? That leaves me in a broken state -- an awareness of, ``O God, O God, except for your mercy and except for your grace." I think it's designed to be that way. I think we are supposed to live in the constant reality that we are not measuring up. Even in his righteousness, even under his mercy, even as a recipient of his grace, I can't walk like Jesus does. I touch on it every now and then. I visit it. That gives me hope and encouragement for more. But the reality is that we have to constantly live in brokenness. The way we do that is by not developing some sort of external religious thing that hides us and puts us in a denial process by which we pretend to be more than we are. Rather, we just learn to live constantly with the awareness that we just don't measure up. But that's good news, folks. If you don't measure up -- if you can't measure up then you're constantly asking for Jesus to make up the difference. That's good news! It's pretty hard to act overly religious when you know you don't measure up, and that he's paying the difference. I'm not sure that we ever get incredibly better or stronger or mightier, becoming these great men and women of God. I think we always live with the awareness that we are serving the great God of men and women. Jesus came down to earth. I didn't go up to him. He came to the world. The world didn't come to him. I got saved by a merciful savior. Didn't you? And he's still merciful toward me. Everyday of my life I live in a constant awareness of that.

7. Constantly Reevaluate and Be Flexible in What You Are Doing No program, however lovely, isn't ready to measured and inspected from time to time. Continually look things over. Don't fix things that aren't broken. That's not valid. But be aware that something you did two years ago that did so well may not work this year. You had better look at it. What can we do to adjust it to make it work? Sometimes it's minor. Sometimes it's major. Sometimes some of the same leaders who were pulling your cart five years ago maybe can't pull your cart now. So you need some new leaders.But whatever you do, don't hold onto things for their own sake. Programs are means to an end. Evaluate their effectiveness. Keep what works; get rid of what doesn't. Do whatever is necessary to help the church of Jesus Christ to advance.

John Wimber (1934-1997) was the founding pastor of the Anaheim Vineyard and leader of the Vineyard movement, which now numbers over 750 churches worldwide. He authored several books, including Power Evangelism, Power Healing, and The Way to Maturity

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getting older

Today I celebrate my 44th birthday. Psalm 90.12 instructs us to number our days so that we may gain wisdom. I have now lived 16,071 days. Verse 10 suggests I could live to 70. If so, I have 9,496 left. If I live to 80, then I have 13,149. The US average for white males is 73.

So thank God for the days I have had and I pray that I make maximum use of what I have remaining – be it 1 or 100,000. I want every moment to count for Christ.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

deliberate acts of kindness

"When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people." Abraham Joshua Heschel

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." Aesop

"The ideas that have lighted my way have been kindness, beauty and truth." Albert Einstein

"Only a life lived for others is worth living." Albert Einstein

"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate." Albert Schweitzer

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." Aristotle

"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." Benjamin Franklin

"Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much." Blaise Pascal

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can." John Wesley

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?"" Martin Luther King, Jr.

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light over dark

"Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself." Desiderius ErasmusDutch priest, humanist and editor of the New Testament, 1469-1536 I must learn to stop fighting with the dark and focus more on shedding light...this is the only way to overcome.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

life together

Today was a reminder that life is more than a blog. A few days ago I was asked to do something by a godly man. I took issue with the request, not on biblical or spiritual grounds but simply because I saw the situation differently. Marlin gently reminded me that to submit and prefer another was the higher ground…and in fact, my resistance would only be perceived as pride and stubbornness – which of course it was (I like Marlin’s love for me). I yielded but begrudgingly…that is, I did what was asked but did not control the “fire” in a series of emails.

As God would have it, I saw this man today and the tension was high. Together we spent quite some time acting out our old natures. But praise is to God! We both saw the ugliness in us and forced ourselves to talk it through, understand the other’s perspective, and even more – ask for, give, and then receive forgiveness.

Today the kingdom of darkness was dealt a blow as two people who have no other reason than Christ lived together in love and forgiveness. We never really came to alignment on the triggering issue but it doesn’t matter – our unity in the body of Christ is of eternal importance, this issue was not.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

dads

Today my dad emailed me and indicated that he liked one of the posts on this blog. That felt real good to me. I realized that even at 43, I still enjoy my father's approval. Initially that bothered me. But then it became ok - I love my father and knowing that I somehow please him feels good - and I'm ok with that! So dad - I hope you read this and please - feel free to continue to let me know I'm ok to you.

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the kingdom of god

“While the miracles served as signs, they were not performed in order to be signs. They were as much a part and parcel of Jesus’s ministry as was his preaching – not … seals affixed to the document to certify its genuiness but an integral element in the very text of the document.” F.F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus. The Kingdom of God has come, is here, and is yet to come. The demonstration thereof is simply a part of our lives in the Kingdom. God is here to redeem us from all the enemy has stolen and in doing so, executes the will of His Kingdom. This is what He does.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

community and mac

This just in from Dan Wilt, “Community is us. Community covers us in our weakness, and at the same time humbles us in our strength. The strength of community gives us a context for our strength to help the whole, and usually frustrates us until our strength is broken on the rock of real relationships.” This just in from Marlin Watling, “Life almost always comes down to a mac.” I love both!

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the company of friends

In The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends, Richard Lamb explains, “…Jesus is the tangible incarnation of God, and his manner of inviting people into deep relationship with himself is the manner we have available to us today. Jesus gathered a group of people together, some good friends and brothers, some complete strangers and natural enemies, and eventually he told them that by their love for one another people would know that they had been touched and changed by God incarnate. In fact, this kind of friendship, inexplicable apart from God, was the apologetic by which he demonstrated his power to the world (Jn 13.35; 17.20-21). He told his disciples that their friendships would either make or break the mission of the church, his mission in the world.”

“What would it be like to pursue – and find – God in the company of friends? What would those friendships look like? The process we call discipleship, and the context we call community.”

Lamb later provides some definitions for friendship by citing Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics 8; “…qualities enjoyed by friends that continue to be apt and helpful today: friends (1) enjoy one another, (2) are useful to one another, and (3) share a common commitment to “the good”.

I no longer feel awkward about having relationships for purpose. My passion for pursuing God now leads me to connect with those that are useful and share the same passion. My compassion for the lost now leads me to connect with those that I perceive God is working in. While I care for the “crowd”, I am selective about time spent building relationship without one of these purposes.

The Word became flesh and blood,
     and moved into the neighborhood. (The Message)

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Friday, November 11, 2005

over russia

I’m at 38,000 feet right now somewhere north of Jekaterinburg, Russia on my way back from Japan. I was able to use google talk to not only message a friend but we were able to have a voice conversation. Cool!

“Jesus then came into Galilee announcing the good news from God. ‘All the preliminaries have been taken care of,’ he said, ‘and the rule of God is now accessible to everyone. Review your plans for living and base your life on this remarkable new opportunity.’” Mark 1.15

“We are, all of us, never-ceasing spiritual beings with a unique eternal calling to count for good in God’s great universe.” Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy I trust I counted for good while in Japan. He has been so good to me, I want to represent Him well.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

kobe beef

WOW!!! It doesn't get better than Kobe beef. These guys are beer and sake fed. They get a daily massage. The result - the best beef in the world! I wonder what the other cows think when they look across the pasture and see that going on? I suppose they are like me watching MTV's Cribbs or The Fabulous Life of ... oh no ...

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Monday, November 07, 2005

jesus and the kingdom

“God’s care for humanity was so great that he sent his unique Son among us, so that those who count on him might not lead a futile and failing existence, but have the undying life of God Himself.” John 3.16 “Jesus’ good news, then, was that the Kingdom of God had come, and that he, Jesus, was its herald and expounder to men. More than that, in some special, mysterious way, he was the Kingdom.” Malcom Muggeridge, Jesus: The Man Who Lives


How can I demonstrate more of Jesus, which is more of the Kingdom of God, in my everyday living? As I sit here in Japan with these wonderful people, how can I express to them the love of God? Lord help me to see people with your eyes of love and compassion so that I might be the ambassador that you called me to be.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

traveling today

Today is a difficult day for me. I travel a lot – too much actually. But when it’s planned I tend to cope better spiritually and emotionally. This trip to Kobe, Japan however came up only Friday. I was really looking forward to spending some time with my beautiful wife and precious children.

Additionally, it is a long trip. I leave today (Sunday – cutting into our normal weekend routine) and come back Friday.

Oh well, the comfort I take is that they are in God’s hands…but I still miss them terribly. God has really blessed me with a wonderful family. I am truly the most fortunate man on earth.

Before I leave today I have the pleasure of presenting lesson 3 of the Becoming a Contagious Christian class that I have been leading. This is such great material. It is a wonder that the great and awesome God not only chooses us, but then He includes us in His plan of redemption for others. Amazing! Today’s lesson is about initiating spiritual conversations. Such simple concepts - but for people unfamiliar with the material it can be really freeing. I guess some people just need a seed of idea or perhaps permission to just be themselves.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

spiritual leaders

A spiritual leader is one who is moving back into relationship with God and taking others with him (or her). Spiritual leadership will involve influencingand serving others. It will reflect a blending of natural abilities and spiritual gifts, but if effective, it will be distinguished always by spiritual empowerment outside of oneself. True spiritual leaders are never self-made, they are God made. Men of God, who are exemplary spiritual leaders, are men of priority, of power, and of passion.An absolute truth in spiritual leadership is the undeniable fact: One cannot take others where he or she has not been.

Jim Meredith

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the law of the minimum

Justus von Liebig, generally credited with being the "Father of the Fertilizer Industry", propounded the "Law of the Minimum" which states that if one crop of the nutritive elements is deficient or lacking, plant growth will be poor even when all the other elements are abundant. Any deficiency of a nutrient, no matter how small an amount is needed, will hold back plant development. If the deficient element is supplied, growth will be increased up to the point where the supply of that element is no longer the limiting factor. Increasing the supply beyond this point is not helpful, as some other element would then be in a minimum supply and become the limiting factor.


The concept of the law of the minimum has been modified as additional elements have proved to be essential in plant nutrition. It has been extended to include other factors such as moisture, temperature, insect control, light, plant population and genetic capacities of plant varieties.

The yield potential of a crop is like a barrel with staves of unequal length. The capacity of the barrel is limited by the length of the shortest stave (in this case, nitrogen), and can only be increased by lengthening that stave. When that stave is lengthened, another one becomes the limiting factor.As I consider the productivity of my life, what are the limiting factors? What is it that keeps me from maximum potential? Is it time to revisit the Celebration of Discipline?

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

principles

- The Principle of Effectiveness: Learning to do the right things. [Priorities]

- The Principle of Excellence: Learning to do the right things in the right way. [Excellence]

- The Principle of Efficiency: Learning to do the right things, in the right way at the right time. [Time Investment]

- The Principle of Exaltation: Learning to do the right things in the right way at the right time and for the right reasons. [Values]

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

giving

"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them." C.S. Lewis "The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all of your money."

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

manifesto on christian community

There are a host of “one-another” scriptures dealing with what might be described as the building blocks of authentic Christian community life: The Gospels distinguish between the Kingdom of God and earthly kingdoms, between a life nourished within a Christian community and a life lived apart from caring, faithful friends. There are significant differences in these two realities: differences in leadership style (John 13:12-17); differences in interpersonal relationships (John 13:34-35); differences in unity (John 17:11-23); differences in the expectations of discipleship (Luke 14:26-33); differences in finding life through personal sacrifice, even death (John 6:53-57). As the years passed, and the early church spread through Asia Minor and further west, there was some falling away from the revolutionary intensity of the life-principles taught originally by Jesus. This helps us understand why the New Testament Epistles are concerned with reinforcing the qualities of Kingdom-living affirmed by Jesus. Much of the New Testament is a kind of manifesto on Christian community, addressing relational concerns among faithful members of the Body of Christ – the church. Here is the briefest of outlines:Devoted to One-another (show visible love): The basis of all the authentic relationships is being devoted to one another in love. And, since this love is to be a mark of the Christian, it must be visible to those outside the community. It must be demonstrable.

“…Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all…will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)“…over all ... virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col. 3:14 NIV)“…let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Heb. 10:24)

Accepting One-another (be open): Accepting one another involves: greeting, being open and honest, and not judging, envying, showing favoritism or being selfishly ambitious, and it involves faith or trust.

“I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” (John 13:20 NIV)

“Accept one another...just as Christ accepted you,...to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7 NIV)

Serving One-another (give more than you take): Serving one another involves: honoring, avoiding any wrong or offense, acting in the other’s best interest, doing good, helping, sharing, bearing burdens, being kind. Our gifts are used best in serving one another.

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be...the servant of all.” (Mark 9:34-37 NIV)“Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10 NIV)“...serve one another in love.” (Gal. 5:13 NIV)“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:1-2 NIV)

Encouraging One-another (reassure and refresh): The word used in the New Testament, “parakleo,” means coming alongside to help, encourage, comfort, and exhort.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15 NIV)“See to it,... that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart... But encourage one another daily,... so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Heb.3:12,13 NIV)

Being Accountable to One-another (live with integrity): Being accountable to one another includes submission, confronting and disciplining in love. This also includes the calling out of giftedness, and being accountable for using wisely both gifts and other resources.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives... Husbands ... Children ... Fathers ... Slaves ... masters.” (Eph. 5:21-6:9 NIV)“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)
Forgiving One-another (experience joy): C.S. Lewis reminds us that: “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
“’Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors...’ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:12-15 NIV)“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32 NIV)
Agreeing with One-another (embrace unity): Agreeing with one another includes seeking peace, harmony, and unity.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3 NIV)“Live in peace with each other.” (1Th. 5:13 NIV)

The seven keys to the life of a Christian community are adapted from Norman Lea’s unpublished paper, “Christian Community” (1992), as drawn in part from the 4th chapter of John Stott’s One People: Laymen and Clergy in God’s Church. Inter-Varsity Press (1968).

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

shackles

What Shackles Are Holding You Captive?, by Kelly McFadden What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer…For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. — Romans 6:1-2, 6, 11

When a captive elephant is young, its handler will place a shackle around its leg and chain it to a tree so that it will not escape. At this age the elephant is too small to pull the tree over. Try as it might, the baby elephant cannot get away. However, when the elephant is full-grown the handler can chain it to a stick in the ground and it will not escape. The elephant still thinks itself to be chained to an unmovable tree.

Think for a few moments: Is it possible that a “shackle” of some kind of habitual sin is tied around your leg? What is it that holds you back from experiencing the freedom found only in Christ? Perhaps the problem is your eating habits, your prayer habits or your thought life. It might be that your priorities are all messed up, or you are caught in an unhealthy relationship. It might seem like you are tied to an unmovable tree. Yet, I’d like to challenge you to consider that instead, that “thing” that holds you might only be a small stick in the ground. If you become comfortable with your captivity, you may be just like an elephant that was trained to believe it could not break free.

Even as Christ-followers, we’re still susceptible to sin and its natural consequences. But according to the Apostle Paul, the truth is that, by our relationship with Christ, we have died to sin. The fact is that the old shackle around your ankle can no longer hold you, if you will just recognize that you are a new creation and are no longer a “slave to sin.” While Christ can and has miraculously changed lives and immediately “set captives free” from habits and addictions, for most of us, old habits die hard. It takes a lot of work and prayer to accomplish change. But if you find yourself struggling, understand that you can break free. Christ’s death and resurrection has made it possible. In Christ, your old self is gone, your spirit has been made alive, the new has come, and freedom is within your reach.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

humility defined

This just in from Dan Wilt...

Humility is an accurate perception of your strengths and weaknesses, given in submission to God for the benefit of others.

True humility builds community; humility is made to go somewhere.

We die to our own I sense of right and wrong, for the sake of developing us.

We are called to live in a subversive humility — a humility that is an affront to the self-absorption of the age.

The secret motive behind so much of our chatting and talkativeness is a hidden attempt to glorify ourselves. Humility is our fight against this.

What more could I possibly add?

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thoughts on community

“…much grace was upon them all..” Acts 4.33

“Truth is sought and found only in community”, from the preface to Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh’s book, Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age. The authors then add, “…we experience truth most fully, not as solitary individuals, but through healthy relationships with others, and supremely, when we live intimately with God.”

In his VineLine article, The Quest for Community, Gregg Finley writes, "In these circumstances, we tend to give more, and take less. Life-in-community means we are more available to others; we are free to be honest, free to confess our mistakes, open to be encouraged, edified, even inspired by friends. I am persuaded that finding the truth about ourselves and the world around us happens best when we are surrounded by people we care about and who care for us. I know this idea is neither new nor astonishing. But let it “hit home,” and it has a special poignancy about it. Happy is the person whose life is renewed daily because she belongs to a genuine community of faith.”

I continue to be amazed by the unity found in the Bible regarding the topic of community and even more amazed at how the organized church continues to miss it. We work to counter paradigms built on old structures by implementing new structures - leading only to frustration on both sides. When will we learn?

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

angela cookies

Angela did some baking today. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful, creative daughter - and funny too!

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reftagger