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 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's not. It will not happen again.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


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


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,, 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


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


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


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