Monday, February 27, 2006

warren's tips for preaching

Here's an excellent summary of what preaching is all about from Rick Warren in Christianity Today's Leadership Journal.

It's OK to Preach Repentance
Rick Warren's preaching has a purpose. He expects people to turn from their old ways. Here are some of his principles on preaching for life change:

1. All behavior is based on belief. If somebody gets a divorce it is because they have a belief behind that: "I think I'll be happier" or whatever.

2. Behind every sin is a lie of unbelieving. You think you are doing what's best for you, but you have been deceived. The Bible tells us that Satan deceives us.

3. Change always starts in the mind. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). The Bible teaches clearly that the way we think affects the way we feel, and the way we feel affects the way we act.

4. Change beliefs first. Trying to change behavior without changing beliefs is a waste of time. Say I have a boat on auto pilot headed north. If I want it to head south, I have two options: I could wrestle the steering wheel or (the better way) change the auto pilot.

5. I don't change people's minds, God's Word does. "We speak words given to us by the Spirit using the Spirit's word to explain spiritual truth" (1 Cor. 2:13 NLT). Both Word and Spirit elements are in preaching, and often we leave out the Spirit element. Spiritual warfare is tearing down mental strongholds. Our weapons have power, pulling down every argument, every pretension.

6. Changing the way people act is the fruit of repentance. Repentance is not behavioral change; it results in behavioral change. Repentance happens in your mind. That 's why John the Baptist says to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. "I preach that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds" (Acts 26:20).

7. The deepest preaching, bar none, is preaching for repentance. Many preachers are great at interpretation, good at application, but not willing to call for repentance. I preach repentance every Sunday. I talk about "changing your mind" and "paradigm shift." But every message comes down to two words: Will you? "Will you change the way you're thinking?" If you are not preaching repentance, you're not preaching.
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you are righteous

Good news! In Christ you are righteous!

2 Co 5.21, Phil 3.9, 1 Co 1.30, Ro 8.1

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

barb in an elevator

Don't ask me...Barb just thought it would be fun to do some exercises in an elevator (lift for you Brits) in Paris...

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

not getting better in nigeria

From Michelle Malkin: SLAUGHTER IN NIGERIA
And now the press reports, "Anti-Muslim riot in Nigeria turns deadly." (Interestingly, when the original violence by Muslims against Christians broke out on Saturday, the AP did not run the headline "Anti-Christian riot in Nigeria turns deadly.")
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Monday, February 20, 2006

bud light

Now how can I get work done with this kind of funny stuff coming in?

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christian persecution

Pray for our brothers in Nigeria. At least 15 have recently died in protests there.
Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings.

It was the first major protest to erupt over the issue in Africa's most populous nation. An Associated Press reporter saw mobs of Muslim protesters swarm through the city center with machetes, sticks and iron rods. One group threw a tire around a man, poured gas on him and set him ablaze...

...Thousands of rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri [Nigeria] in a three-hour rampage before troops and police reinforcements restored order, Nigerian police spokesman Haz Iwendi said. Iwendi said security forces arrested dozens of people in the city about 1,000 miles northeast of the capital, Lagos.

Chima Ezeoke, a Christian Maiduguri resident, said protesters attacked and looted shops owned by minority Christians, most of them with origins in the country's south.

"Most of the dead were Christians beaten to death on the streets by the rioters," Ezeoke said. Witnesses said three children and a priest were among those killed...
Michelle Malkin pulled this data from

April 22, 2003 - A pastor and six of his family members were killed in Kano in a house fire which was believed to have been set by Muslim militants. Pastor Sunday Madumere was known as a powerful preacher who even converted many Muslims. Madumere's wife and three children were killed in the fire as well as two other men believed to be relatives. (Compass Direct)

April 7, 2003 - Armed insurgents attacked Wereng village near the Vom suburb of Jos. (CSW/ANS)

April 4, 2003 - A group of armed Muslims attacked the village of Fobur in Langtang. One woman was killed and several homes were set on fire. The same group is also believed to have burned down 30 homes in the village of Zambwar. (CSW/ANS)

March 18, 2003 - Up to 2,000 white clad jihad warriors attacked the town of Kardako in Wase Local Government Area (LGA) shouting "Allahu Akbar." Using sophisticated weaponry, the Hausa Fulani Muslims killed at least 22 people and injured 16. Over two dozen others were reported missing after the deadly attack. (CSW/ANS)

February 19, 2003 - Extremists from the National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations attacked Christian schools in Ibadan in an effort to force the schools to require women to wear Islamic head coverings. Hundreds of students and teachers were injured before police could intervene to stop the attacks. Fifty-one people were arrested in connection with the attacks. (Compass Direct)

Ongoing - In their application of strict sharia law, Nigeria's northern states have been nullifying rights given to Nigerian citizens by the Nigerian Constitution. Thus far two women have been sentenced to death for adultery after having children out of wedlock. Both were sentenced at Arabic trials where they did not fully understand the charges against them. The fathers of the children were acquitted because of insufficient evidence. According to the law, at least four men must testify that they witnessed the adultery for a man to be charged. For the women, however, having a child outside of wedlock is sufficient proof. One of the women, Safiya Hussaini was later acquitted. The other, Amina Lawal, is scheduled to be executed by stoning once her baby is weaned. Both of these cases prove the Islamic state governments have no regard for the Constitution, which confirms the sanctity of human life. The rights of Christians and those who choose not to adhere to Islamic law are being violated. (ANS)

December 26, 2002 - An armed Muslim mob attacked Christians concluding a Christmas celebration in Bauchi. The Celestial Church of Christ and many Christian homes were burned as Christians fled to police and army barracks for safety. Police were able to intervene and stop the attack. (Compass Direct)

December 14, 2002 - Four Catholics were killed and eight others were injured when federal police officers stopped a bus returning from a crusade and all-night prayer vigil. The bus driver was shot at point blank range after refusing to give the police officers a bribe. Three passengers were also shot as they tried to calm the situation. The rest of the passengers fled on foot. The Enugu governor was appalled by the killings and demanded that federal troops be withdrawn from the state. (Compass Direct)

December 12, 2002 - During an attack on Christians in Rim, Plateau State, Rev. Bitrus Manjang, his son, daughter-in-law and their six-month old child were shot to death outside their home. At least 20 houses were burned and many more were injured in the attack by Hausa-Fulani Muslims. It is also reported that there is a gas shortage in the area. It is feared that Muslims are hoarding gas for future attacks on Christians. A similar shortage was experienced just prior to a major attack on Jos in September of 2001. (CSW/ANS)

November 20-21, 2002 - Angry Muslims went on a rampage in Kaduna after an article in the This Day newspaper suggested that the prophet Muhammad would probably have married a contestant from the Miss World pageant scheduled to be held in Abuja. Muslim mobs ransacked the newspaper's office and then began to attack Christian targets, damaging up to 20 churches. Over 200 people were killed and 1,200 were injured in the attacks. Non-Muslims were reportedly singled out and stabbed, bludgeoned, or even burned to death. (Barnabas Fund, CSW)

October 31, 2002 - A clash over student elections at the Federal College of Education in Zaria ended in the death of 20 Christian students. Fifty other Christians were injured. Muslim militants are believed to have helped Muslim students during the violence. (Compass Direct)

October 24, 2002 -Forty Christians were killed when a mob of about 2,000 Muslims attacked the town of Fajul in Plateau State. Mercenaries from Chad and Niger were believed to be among the group, which burned down homes, raped several women, and ambushed 17 policemen sent to stop the attack. (Compass Direct)

September 11, 2002 - A bomb exploded at the Church of Christ in the Laranto suburb of Jos in Plateau State. No one was injured, but there was some structural damage to the church building. (CSW)

August 13, 2002 - The government of Kano State told a church delegation that half of the churches in the state must be closed because of Muslim complaints about "too many churches." Church leaders refused to consent to the government's demands. At least 20 churches have been destroyed in Kano over the past 3 years. (Compass)

August 2002 - The governor of Zamfara announced that the Arabic language must be spoken by all residents, including Christians, to enhance the Islamic faith. The governor had previously introduced the sharia law code as well. (Compass Direct)

June 6, 2002 - A Christian police officer in Katsina state was clubbed to death by a mob of Muslims after being accused of trampling a Koran. The police officer had warned a Muslim preacher to stop inciting violence against Christians. Afraid of being arrested, the preacher fabricated the Koran story to provoke the crowd. (Compass)

June 2002 - Christians in Plateau state have become targets of Islamic extremism in recent weeks. Several villages have been attacked, including Yelwa Shendam, Wase, Berakin Ladi, Vom and Miango. Four people were killed and 20 injured in one village near Jos. Christians in Wase were forced to flee their homes and it was reported that no church building was left standing. At least 1,000 Christians have become refugees as a result of these attacks. (CSW)

May-June, 2002 - At least 75 Christians were arrested in Niger state for opposing the state's Islamic sharia law. (Compass)

May 2002 - The whereabouts of two Christians being charged with apostasy is unknown (see April 2002 below). Lawali Yakubu and Ali Jafaru disappeared after a judge refused to sentence them to death. It is believed that an Islamic monitoring group has decided to take the law into their own hands. (Compass)

April 8-22, 2002 - At least seven churches in Kano State were destroyed by authorities. There is a growing trend in states that have accepted Sharia law to destroy Christian churches on the pretense that the churches have violated building codes. Christians believe it is a step toward wiping out the Christian faith in northern Nigeria. (Compass)

April 2002 – Two Christians in Zamfara State are being tried on the charge of apostasy, converting from Islam to Christianity. According to Islamic law, the penalty for apostasy is death, though it is unclear whether state law makes this applicable or not. However, the two Christians, Lawali Yakubu and Ali Jafaru, claim they were never Muslims to start with. The two belong to a sub-division of the predominately Muslim Hausa ethnic group that has practiced Christianity for many years. (Ananova)

March 7, 2002 - Gunmen stormed a Christian prayer meeting in Enugu, leading to a stampede that killed at least 12 people dead. It is believed the gunmen were targeting Roman Catholic priest, Ejike Mbaka, who regularly led the prayer meeting. (Charisma)

February 27, 2002 - Muslims in Ilorin turned violent while celebrating Eid-el-Kabir and began attacking Christians. Three Christians were killed in the violence. The Muslims demanded the implementation of Sharia in Kwara State. (Compass)

February 2002 - The Kano state government revealed that they had closed down 122 Christian schools for failing to meet state requirements. The requirement in question is the compulsory study of Islam. Christian schools have refused to allow Muslim clerics in to their schools, thus risking closure. (Compass)

February 24, 2002 - Christian Esther Bulus was kidnapped from her school by four Muslims who slit her throat and left her to die. Esther had refused to marry a politician in Gombi because he was Muslim. The man is believed to have arranged her murder. (Compass)

January 2002 - Two churches in Zamfara state were closed after the state government decided there were "too many churches." The first state to introduce Islamic Sharia law, Zamfara has also marked out 14 other churches for future closure and destruction. The churches already closed were the Anglican Church in Kaura Namoda and the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Anka. (Compass)

December 30, 2001 - Armed Muslims attacked the Christian community of Vwang in southern Jos, killing five people and destroying property worth several thousand dollars. In retaliation Christians from neighboring communities began to attack Muslim villages. As a result of the clashes at least two dozen people died and many were displaced from their homes. (Compass)

December 24, 2001 - Muslim army soldiers from the 23rd Armored 7Brigade in Yola City, Adamawa State, burned a Christian church building, which was constructed in the army barracks. They justified the act by saying it was an illegal structure. However, the army officially allows both Islam and Christianity to be practiced in the barracks. The church is being rebuilt. (Compass)

December 10, 2001 - Truck driver Uche Nwama was killed for allowing the exhaust from his truck to drift into an open-air Islamic meeting. Islamic militants claimed the exhaust had desecrated the Quran. (Compass)

October 14-18 - As a result of anti-American protests in Kano, 600 Christians are missing and another 350 were killed. At least five churches were burned during the resulting riots. (Compass)

October 7, 2001 – Muslim youths assaulted three churches and 10 Christian-owned shops outfited with gas bombs, in the city of Kaduna, setting fire to the buildings. (CWN)

September 7-17, 2001 – Seven churches have been demolished, six churches set ablaze, fifty-four churches given demolition notices, and seventeen churches demolished by the government, in the Kano state, northern Nigeria. The government stated all churches in Shagari Quarters of Kano city were “illegal structures,” probably due to the religious conflict in Jos and the rumored future adoption of Shari’a law. (Compass)

September 12, 2001 – In the city of Jos, more than 500 have been killed in violence between Muslims and Christians since September 7, 2001. 900 were injured as rival gangs of Muslims and Christians roamed the streets and attacked members of other communities, burning both mosques and churches. James Alalade, a pastor of a burnt church in Kano, told Reuters, “They (youths) just came in with their weapons and petrol in cans and asked everybody out before setting the church ablaze. Nobody could stop them, they were heavily armed.” (Crosswalk)

August 5, 2001 – According to the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), the government of Bauchi state has been using Muslim mercenaries to attack Christians in the Tafawa Balewa and Bogora areas, on two occasions, June 18th and August 5th. COCIN said, “Three vehicles have been intercepted, loaded with warriors and weapons entering the conflict areas… This has resulted in many deaths and widespread destruction.” The attacks have left more than 100 dead and 5,000 refugees. (Compass)

bullet August 2001 – Ambrose Lar, a Christian worker at the Ahmadu Bellow University in Zaria, Kaduna State was arrested and detained for seven days because of a prayer. In a union meeting, Lar was asked to pray about the problems of the institution. In the prayer he asked for God’s wrath on those who denied Christians basic religious rights. Abdullahi Mahdi, the vice chancellor of the university ordered the arrest of Lar. Lar was released after the university workers went on strike on his behalf.

bullet June 2001 – Fifteen churches and 14 pastor’s residences were burned down in Gawaram, Jigawa state. No one was hurt in the fires, but the pastors and their families are now homeless. A similar attack on 11 churches occurred earlier in the year in the Hajaya governate. Jigawa state is one of many northern Nigerian states that has implemented Sharia law.

February 24-25, 2001 – A visit to Gombe state by an Israeli ambassador sparked a riot by Muslim youths. During the riot at least 4 people were killed, 50 were injured, and two churches were damaged. The Calvary Baptist Church and the Bishara Baptist Church were both robbed and pews from the latter church were ripped out and burned.

November 2000 – Christians showing the Jesus Film in Kebbi state were warned not to continue showing the film. Kebbi also plans to adopt Sharia law on December 1, 2000.

September 7-9, 2000 – In Bambam, Gombe state 25 people died as a result of clashes between Muslims and Christians due to the possible implementation of Sharia. Property damage was estimated in the millions of dollars.

August 2000 – Another three northern states declared Sharia law, in direct contradiction to Nigeria’s current Constitution. These states are Katsina, Jigawa and Borno.

July 10, 2000 – In Sokoto state an 80-year-old Christian woman was sentenced to six months imprisonment for brewing an alcoholic beverage. Drinking and selling alcohol is contrary to the state’s Sharia law.

June 21, 2000 – Kano state adopted Sharia law. Sharia will officially be implemented on November 26, the first day of Ramadan.

June 2000 – Mrs. Laraba John, a widow, was the first Christian to receive punishment under Sharia law in Niger state. Mrs. Johns was sentenced to 3 months in prison for brewing a local alcoholic beverage. Though she has seven children and no husband, the court refused to grant leniency.

May 2000 – Christian women in Zamfara state say they were harassed and wrongfully accused of prostitution.

May 29, 2000 – Sokoto state declared Sharia law.

May 25, 2000 – Several days of violence in Kaduna have led to the death of at least 150 people. Homes, shops and churches have also been destroyed.

May 22, 2000 – Muslim youths torched the First Baptist Church and Christian homes in Kaduna, leading to retaliation by Christian youths. At least 11 people died and many others were injured in the incident.

May 16, 2000 – Muslim youths destroyed the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Kaduna only hours after peacekeeping troops left the area.

February 28, 2000 – The bodies of Christians killed in Kaduna (see Feb 21-22 below) were returned to southern Nigeria, setting off more violence. At least 50 people in Aba and another dozen in Umuahia were stabbed or clubbed to death.

February 21-22, 2000 – Riots began after a Christian march opposing the implementation of Sharia law in Kaduna, northern Nigeria. Christian and Muslim gangs armed with sticks set up roadblocks to hunt down rivals. Travelers were killed as they tried to escape their vehicles. More than 1,000 people died in various clashes.

December 18-19, 1999 – Islamic extremists vandalized or destroyed 18 churches in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State in north-central Nigeria. Christian leaders have threatened to retaliate if the state government does not stop the violence.

October 8, 1999 – Zamfara State is the first state to impose Islamic Sharia law. The House of Assembly approved legislation to implement Sharia beginning on October 27.

July/August, 1999 — The government in Kano state announced its plans to destroy around 150 churches that it claims were built without government permission. Christians protested this decision towards the end of July claiming discrimination, as Muslims don’t have to undergo the same treatment. Hostilities between the Christian and Muslim communities in this state have resulted in more than 100 deaths and the destruction of millions of dollars of property.

Ongoing – Christian victims of religious clashes that took place in Kaduna in February and May of 2000 are living in squalid conditions in refugee camps across the state. The camps have inadequate medical care, sanitation, and food. The state has done little to help the victims and claims they will not be compensated for what they lost during the two bloody clashes in which an estimated 875 Christians were killed. Many people have already died in the camps due to poor conditions.

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been busy

It has been a busy weekend but filled with the kind of things I like doing. Saturday evening Paul G. went with Barb and me to VCF-Mainz. It's a small but beautiful community that meets at Kai's place. I love going to this kind of intimate community setting because people like this typically haven't lost focus on what we are really about. Their eyes are on Christ rather than organizational structures and buildings.

Anyway, it was a wonderful time of expressing love toward God. We looked into His Word and discussed what it really means to go do the stuff of the Kingdom. Of course the first premise was "go" and the second was "do". The point then was that if we were following Jesus' model, this will result in either a need for explanation (proclaim the Gospel) or defense against persecution (proclaim the Gospel).

Barb's heel has been hurting her for three weeks and we were discussing going to the doctor. God decided to demonstrate His Kingdom power while we prayed and her heel stopped hurting. Two days later still no pain. I laughed as I typed this trying to avoid saying healed her heel...and then I had to go back to fix the spelling.

Oh - and of course we started by having a little dinner at a nice little Italian place in Mainz.

Sunday morning I tought Middle School at our morning service for ICF. We looked at forgiveness based on Mt 6.14-15. This is a hard saying for any age group. I think it went ok. There is so much to unpack in the area of forgiveness. I tried to focus on (1) typically we have issue with someone based on much less than fact and more on our own perceptions and paradigms and (2) the nature and conditions of forgiveness we receive from the Father is the mainspring and model for which we are to forgive others. The good news is that since these were Middle Schoolers, I didn't have to "dumb it down" like I do for adults...

Then Sunday evening was our small group meeting. This group is great and we have formed some wonderful bonds of love. On the other hand the Bible discussions are growing more complex. The group is mostly comprised of intelligent people that are very familiar with Scripture but we come at it from an amazing variety of angles. This makes for great conversation but in the space allowed, it is hard to feel that any conclusion is drawn. I guess that's my "organizational" weakness. I feel a need to summarize and conclude rather than simply value the process...sigh, another area to grow in...

Anyway, we looked at Eph 1.3-14, 22-23. I love God's multi-layered plan. We talked about redemption at the individual level, we talked about the formation of the Church (our role in it and it's role in redemption), we talked about restoration of Israel, we talked about God's overall plan for mankind, and we talked about all of the cosmos in this. Wow - that's a lot for a 30 minute discussion...

Anyway, a busy weekend. Today I need to get some work done. I'm not sure how much I will be able to blog this week. I leave tomorrow for Amiens (nice little town in the Normandy region of France). This is a two day business trip but Barb will come with me. After that we will spend a couple of romantic (hey, don't bother, that link is just a joke) days in Paris.

Jami from Youth Compass will stay over to make sure the kids don't cause too much damage. So I guess everyone will be happy. They have been spoiled and thoughts of visiting the Louvre just doesn't interest them.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

why the change in blog template?

I changed the layout because I think this looks cleaner. I hope you agree. And if you are reading between the lines, you realize I am only writing this as a test post.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

ancient albums found

Ok - now they have found pottery from ancient Pompeii that can be played like records...I wonder if they hear anything Satanic if played backwards?

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i don't understand...

I love reading but I have no idea why. Ninety percent of what I read causes no positive feeling or thought. I either read something that I disagree with, something that angers me, something leaves me completely befuddled about humanity, etc... You get the picture.

Here's one in the news the other day. I don't get this at many levels, perhaps someone out there can help me.
  1. Two guys with a 30 year age gap are just fooling around...I don't get that. I love my dad but we don't usually hang out and engage in horseplay. Am I the only one that finds this odd?
  2. They were at work when this happened...I don't get that. Why weren't they busy working? Should Waffle House sue them?
  3. Leo accepts a dare from Wilson to drink poison and somehow it's Wilson that's the bad guy - he may even go to jail for a year...I don't get that. It seems Leo is not the brightest crayon in the he going to the stupid farm?
  4. Rex Leo and Quinton Wilson...I don't get that. The first guy has two first names and the second guy has two last names. Odd?
  5. $5 dare...I don't get that. It has been a long time since I dared someone but it was for a quarter. Has inflation gone up that much or is it based on the stupidity factor of the dare?
  6. Waffle House is being sued...I don't get that. For creating an environment that allows this kind of idiocy? For having cleaners on hand? Personally, these guys shouldn't be suing Waffle House, I should be! How could they hire such morons to be preparing food for hungry guys like me?
Sorry but I just do not understand the world very much these days...

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Friday, February 17, 2006

work out your salvation

I am not able to work out my own blog post so I'll simply refer you to Phil Johnson's post on working out your salvation on Pyromanics.

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isaiah's band

Isaiah's band (Free Parking) will play tonight at the FIS Middle School formal dance. Here's Rachel tuning up her vocals with Isaiah on piano before the show...

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bible software

Me, I like Logos, but if you are an "on-line kinda guy" with a need to get your resources that way, here's one [Blue Letter Bible] that will make you look and sound like a scholar. Thanks to Nick for sharing it with me.

I have to admit though, with Logos, I'm only Pastor's Library level (with add-ins and other supplements of course). I can only pray that one day I graduate to Original Language Library. The coveted Scholar's Library Silver Edition seems unattainable and the Macintosh version, sigh, is just a dream...

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

macarthur shot

Thanks to Randy for bringing the Hinn/MacArthur incident to my attention. Please, please, I pray this does not cause rioting and burning of embassies, etc..

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Monday, February 13, 2006

naked leadership

The guys at Out of Ur caught some crap negative feedback for their cover photo. I know how they feel. Hardly a day goes by without opposing criticism. I remember years ago when I was a soundboard guy. It didn't matter what I had the volume set at. I knew that in any given meeting, there would be some number of people telling me it was too loud and some number telling me it wasn't loud enough. As I have taken on other roles in the church over the years, the one amazing constant is that there is always someone that is unhappy.

Lord - come soon...

jealous of worship

Is it ok to be jealous of someone else's worship experience?

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I don't know why I continue to try to read some authors. I find I have to read their writing multiple times to ensure I don't get caught up in the poor logic and harsh judgments. In the latest article, there's an excellent warning against worldliness in the church. The clear warnings are that we should:
  • be careful to not tone down the offense of the cross
  • not allow unbelievers the choice of a minister and entertainments and amusements in which they can assist
  • fight the notion that we do not need a distinct church (i.e., separated from the world)
All excellent warnings - but they are prompted by something in the heart of the writers that brings a greater problem. The greater problem is the division, anger and bitterness incited in the reader. This article (reinforced in the larger body of work by these authors) leads one to believe these charges are the motives of the "Seeker Movement" and the "Emergent Church". While I won't say these issues are unknown in these movements, I cannot say it is true of all leaders involved.

There is also very poor logic involved. For example, the charge is that if, as Paul, you try to be all things to all men, you must automatically be toning down the offense of the cross. There is no allowance that one can maintain the integrity of the Gospel and still work to ensure that that is the only offense. It also leads to other bad logic which flows something like this;
  1. group A tones down the Gospel
  2. group A has drama as part of the liturgy
  3. if you have a drama, you must be one that tones down the Gospel
I think this is very sad and frankly, this teaching is doing more damage to the church than anything I've seen come out of the movements being accused.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

kingdom of god - again

  1. All that we say and do is based on the once and for all achievement of Jesus. He brought to us (in terms of accessibility through the Church)  the Kingdom of God - He didn't just live it.
  2. Just as the foundation is the model (or template) for the rest of the building, likewise Jesus is for us. Jesus brought the good news of the Kingdom to Israel. The Church is to do the same to the world.
God's future for the world came through Jesus. As prophesied by Isaiah (particularly Isa 55.13), the Kingdom of God returns what was lost in Genesis chapter 3 to what is seen in Genesis chapters 1&2. When Jesus proclaimed "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near", He is saying more than "be impressed and turn from your sin". He is saying and doing the work of the Kingdom and He is saying to the Jew, "change the way you are thinking about your redemption, the time is now for you to come out of exile. Your King is here, enter into His Kingdom. And here, this is what it looks like." The crowds and religious leaders pressed in to Him to get answers.

Have our lives been so radically disrupted by the Kingdom of God that people come to us for explanation? Do our neighbors, family, coworkers, etc. press in and ask, "where do your find your joy?" or "how is it that that lame man can now walk?"

Lord God, give birth to my spirit that I may see and enter into your Kingdom. And then, for the time that you require me to remain here, let me live your Kingdom life.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006


Unbelievable, I came all the way from Germany to Cincinnati and the group I'm with wants to go to dinner at the Hofbrähaus...oh well.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

cartoons evil?

I can always look to John Piper to bring clarity along with the heart of the Gospel. Here are his comments regarding the current events triggered by cartoons of Muhammad.

Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ’s Work, Not Muhammad’s

What we saw this past week in the Islamic demonstrations over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad was another vivid depiction of the difference between Muhammad and Christ, and what it means to follow each. Not all Muslims approve the violence. But a deep lesson remains: The work of Muhammad is based on being honored and the work of Christ is based on being insulted. This produces two very different reactions to mockery. [read more]

The question for me is how well am I living this out? Am I sharing in Christ's suffering? Do I respond to attacks as one who has died to self? Answer - not really.

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I do not have meetings until later today so I decided to break routine and go to Bob Evans for breakfast. The "Homestead" with sausage patties, country fried potatoes, two eggs (over easy), and biscuits and sausage gravy did not disappoint. I cannot figure out why this kind of thing hasn't caught on in Europe - I blame the French.

Seriously, the food was wonderful albeit fattening. I engaged in some conversation with the busboy. Ok, bus "man" ... he was easily 55+ years old. A real nice guy but unfortunately feeling a lot of financial pressure. This winter has been particularly hard on him and he has not been using the heat in his home due to the cost. We talked about the condition of the economy and how people seem to feign happiness by purchasing things they really cannot afford. I tried to hide my jewelry and my new Ralph Lauren overcoat.

Last night at TGI Friday's, I was talking to a financial planner about the same sort of thing. He sees people connecting happiness to their possession of material things. Subsequently, debt is increasing in an effort to find happiness - simply because ultimately it cannot be found in things.

Our move to Europe has been good in terms of releasing us from debt. Now I pray that God has changed our hearts and we do not return to our "old nature" when we move back to the US this summer.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

peace in conflict

As I press for unity, I found this post in Men of the Vineyard to be a good reminder for what to do when we cannot align...

Reflections by Don Follis: The conflict that led to Separation!

I wrote about the importance of forbearance in a recent post, and someone responded saying, "Sometimes forbearance does not work. It's not as easy as it sounds." [read more]

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beatitudes and the kingdom

There are some things in the Bible that I just haven't taken enough time to really understand - common and in your face things. I guess I just let myself get too busy and don't take time to reconcile what the Scriptures are really saying. As I continue in The Divine Conspiracy, Willard helped clarify for me what is being said by Jesus in the beatitudes.

Alfred Erdesheim, in The Life and Times of Jesus Messiah,

The Sermon on the Mount's "great subject is neither righteousness, nor yet the New Law (if such designation be proper in regard to what in no real sense is a Law), but that which was innermost and uppermost in the Mind of Christ - the Kingdom of God. Notably, the Sermon on the Mount contains not any detailed or systematic doctrinal, nor any ritual teaching, nor yet does it prescribe the form of any outward observances... Christ came to found a Kingdom, not a School; to institute a fellowship, not to propound a system. To the first disciples all doctrinal teaching sprang out of fellowship with Him. They saw Him, and therefore believed; they believed, and therefore learned the truths connected with Him, and springing out of Him. So to speak, the seed of truth which fell on their hearts was carried thither from the flower of His Person and Life."

The beatitudes are not instructions to live a certain way but rather a pronouncement for all that were there that the Kingdom of God is readily available. Willard says, Christ's "teaching in the Beatitudes is a clarification or development of his primary theme in this talk and in his life: the availability of the kingdom of the heavens." He "used the method of show and tell to make clear the extent to which the kingdom is on hand to us." And therefore, as an example, the poor in spirit are blessed as a result of the kingdom of God being available to them in their poverty and not that they were blessed because of their poverty.

Willard further clarifies, "precisely in spite of and in the midst of their ever so deplorable condition, the rule of the heavens has moved redemptively upon and through them by the grace of Christ." The beatitudes are "explanations and illustrations, drawn from the immediate setting, of the present availability of the kingdom through personal relationship to Jesus. They single out cases that provide proof that, in him, the rule of God from the heavens truly is available in life circumstances that are beyond all human hope."

Yesterday on the flight to Cincinnati, I was able to share with the man in the seat next to me the reality of God's presence. God is not far off. His rule and reign is here in our midst. Now this may seem obvious but the more I see it, the more I see it. I'm looking forward to even more tomorrow.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

complex christ

I read Kester Brewin's, The Complex Christ: Signs of emergence in the urban church on the flight to Cincinnati today. At first I thought Brewin was too smart for me and found myself skipping paragraphs as I read (not good given the book is under 200 pages including endnotes). I just didn't understand what he was saying. Is there really an emerging church? Is there really one coming? Should there be an emerging church? Those were the questions on my mind...I'm not sure if Brewin was speaking to that or not.

But then it got interesting (ok - understandable at least) in chapter 4 in which he describes the characteristics of the emergent church. For me, I think these could have be better titled the characteristics of the church (I found no need for the "emergent" word).
  • Emergent systems are open systems - it is constantly engaging with its environment and changing it.
  • Emergent systems are adaptable systems - as it engages with the environment, it also changes (I'm choosing to assume Brewin does not mean compromising the message).
  • Emergent systems are learning systems - to adapt in the proper manner, it must learn.
  • Emergent systems have distributed knowledge - the learning and growth is happening from within. It is not centralized, top down information but rather the whole benefits as individuals and groups grow.
  • Emergent systems model servant leadership - no heroes and leaders that lead by "lording".
The book got better but only in the sense that I began to understand it more (now I wish I payed more attention in the beginning) and that it was thought provoking. But I don't think it ended up being good. Brewin quotes Johnny Rotten in Sounds, 1976: "I hate shit. I hate hippies and what they stand for. I hate long hair. I hate pub bands ... I want people to see us and start something, or else I'm just wasting my time." I like the point. It's the same with the church. If we are not representing Christ to the world in a way that they are disrupted by Him, we waste our time doing what we do? On the other hand, it seems that there could have been a "nicer" quote for this.

This was the mildest of several of Brewin's anecdotes that I felt uneasy with. He explained the use of Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" in a worship-like event to convey God's coming into contact with the real dirt (he used more graphic language) of humanity. Again, I got what he was saying but I am not convinced this was the best method. Sorry, that's not strong enough - I didn't like it at all.

Net - don't run out and buy this one. I'll keep it on my shelf as proof that I try to read views outside my comfort zone.

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relevance v. purity

Here's another example of my problem with some of my "brethren". In a blog I read daily, this guy does a great job of quoting Spurgeon to remind us of the centrality and timeless nature of the gospel. But then he adds his conclusion:

He likewise [Spurgeon] would have little sympathy with "postmodern Christians" who think the gospel needs an overhaul to make it relevant today. Spurgeon was singularly unimpressed with the arrogance of new perspectives and emerging paradigms that demanded wholesale revision of the gospel message, the atonement, or the doctrine of justification by faith, or other fundamental doctrines of Christianity.

If the postmodern Christian does overhaul the gospel, then the comment is right on. The problem is that the reader picks up the implied meaning which is that the postmodern Christian does overhaul the gospel. As I've noted before, any thing that doesn't look or feel like the way these guys do church is bad. Yet they don't dress like Spurgeon, they run air conditioning in their buildings, they have real comfortable seating, good lighting, etc..

I do not understand why they don't stick with the pure truth that is contained in their excellent teaching over their penchant to venture into speculation and venomous attack.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006


The guys Antony Hanson over at Thoughts On the Way to the Abbey have posted a couple of great prayers. A life changed by this kind of prayer resembles one described in the tag line they quote from St. Augustine, "Let us sing a new song not with our lips but with our lives."

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time with my wife

I really like attending the afternoon church service. This morning my best friend (Barb) and I went to lovely Bad Homburg where I enjoyed her beauty, some cappuccino, and an excellent piece of Sacher Torte. Life with this lady is really good. God has blessed me with a wonderful woman that is way out of my league. I am truly thankful.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

salvation comes to IE

Wow - apparently those that use Internet Explorer are the elect...I never should have switched to Firefox. See here to see what I'm on about.

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the church is a people

NT Wright said, "The church is a people. A people on a mission together. A people who together reveal, reflect and witness to the presence of God. A people gathered by God in a particular place to 'be Jesus for the whole world.'" Let's continue to press in to our King. To experience the fullness of His Kingdom. Do not seek signs and wonders but seek the King and His Kingdom. His Kingdom redeems us from the effect of the Fall. I eagerly desire all that that means. So while I will not seek signs and wonders, I understand that this is part and parcel of His Kingdom.

Demonstration and proclamation of the Kingdom - that's what Jesus did, that's what He instructed His disciples to do, and that's what I expect to do by His grace. And I intend to do it all in unity and in love with those that share in this journey toward our King.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

more unity

Twenty-one people went into a room last night representing about 30 different views (exaggeration mine) regarding the theology of the work of the Holy Spirit today, the practice of the work of the Holy Spirit today, the appropriateness of the style/words of Richard Maybery, etc.. Several hours later twenty-one people left the room agreeing that the Holy Spirit brings unity in the body of Christ for the glory of God and demonstrates His power by changing lives - certainly at least by bringing an unlikely group as us together in love with one head, Christ Jesus.

I don't think we changed our thinking on the differences that we had going in, but we agreed that we must press on toward Christ in unity and love. In this, we agreed that the Holy Spirit is still at work and thank Him for this fruit in our lives. I look forward to more.

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a right evangelical

I have been accused of being an evangelical that might be right...and perhaps even a bit Catholic. Praise God. Thanks to Joseph at Catholic Interest for the compliment.

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DanWilt posted this great piece today: The Yarn Network

Speaking of the emerging Church – last night I led a group of 8 Junior Higher’s in our freshly budding youth group in a visual lesson. The tool? A ball of yarn.

We took a ball of yarn, then we all got into a circle, shoulder to shoulder. One person held tightly to one end of the yarn, and tossed the ball to another. They held that length taught, while the new person tossed the ball to another. Then another. Then another. And so on.

We all had to say something or someone we were thankful for whenever we received the ball, before we could “pass it on.” By the time we were done, it was a beautiful network of threads, extended between our closely “knit” group. We kept it taught, and made it three-dimensional, stuck our heads through it, went underneath it, tilted it, etc.

Then, some of us were assigned to become official “whiners,” ungrateful and cynical. I asked one person to drop their strings. The beautiful network sagged into distortion. The others all had to step back to make the strings taught again, mishaping the design we had attained together. Another, then another became “ungrateful.” By the time we were done, two people stood far across the room from each other, holding a sparse tangle of threads and considerably less enthused about the exercise.

Emerging Church Reality Check: While I love the emerging Church discussion, I hear alot of whining out there, and it gets tiring to me. The threads are being dropped, as intellectualism and its sometimes-dance-partner, cynicism, rule many of the words and attitudes in the conversation. There are many great hearts saying what needs to be said in a way it needs to be said, but the skepticism of Church-beaters darkens the door all too often. That’s what a teenager does, I know, when in transition. “All is lost, and everyone’s an idiot.”

I choose to hold onto the thread, change where I’m grabbing it, and stretch it in new places to make the whole more beautiful and expansive. To drop, or slacken the threads is to damage our community – and we are inevitably separated, both from one another, and possibly, the maturest of truth. Some of us may need to drop our threads for awhile, I suppose. My suggestion though? Stay in the orbit of the community and grab some threads, singular and insignificant as they may seem, as you can. We need you for the most beautiful result, and not just an “accurate” result.

As my friends and I wrestle with the Biblical accuracy of Signs & Wonders for today, I pray that we remember that in addition to being truthful, the result must be beautiful. If we purpose to be united and work in love, I believe God will reveal truth in His time. If we press for truth alone, we lose both the truth and the beauty.

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Gary Waller writes an excellent review in Allelon of George Barna's book "Revolution".

George Barna’s latest book, Revolution, is causing quite a stir. Blogs are all over the map. Opinions vary from those who really like what he has to say to those who see him as having lost his mind. The biggest value of Barna’s new book is this buzz of discussion that it has generated. Whether an individual agrees or disagrees with Barna, he certainly has captured the attention of the Western Church, particularly the church in North America.

The greatest value of the book is that it is an attempt to say something that many others have been saying for a few years. Barna’s highly respected, well known, mainline evangelical voice lends credibility to what others have sought to introduce for some time. Whether one believes that Barna proves his case at least he fosters discussion. Andrew Jones says, “I would recommend it as a first base book for those wondering what the emerging church is all about, and for those trying to explain these new forms of church to their superiors and are looking for someone recognizable and authoritative to quote.”

See here for the complete article. I agree with Waller's sentiment that we discover how to be revolutionaries within the church not by leaving it. Tod Bolsinger reminds us of a great principle in It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian.

“If you desire a transformed life, you must be transformed within the church. If you desire to be changed people, you must change the church. If you would find your life, you must lose it within a redeemed and redemptive Community that together lives the manner of abundant and exceptional life that God intended for us.”

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I went for a nice walk tonight with my son and friend Isaiah. We enjoyed a couple of Cohiba's and he gave me some wise counsel about trusting God to complete what He promises. I still get frustrated when I cannot influence people the way I like. Isaiah confronted me by reminding me who is in control and that I only need to be true to do what God is calling me to - complaining about others is not it.

In my frustration I tend to think about moving on. Poet and author James Oppenheim said, "The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet." God has put me in this place for a reason. As I do what He calls me to do here, then I will experience the fullness of His presence. Seeking to find peace elsewhere only brings discontent in both places.

On another note, I read this humorous yet true axiom today...“Church-less Christianity is like sex-less marriage—it can only last one generation.” I like that. As imperfect as our church structures may be, we are called to be in community and without this, we cannot be all that Christ died for.

The quote is in reaction to George Barna's book, Revolution. I haven't read it but would be interested in feedback. Some reviews indicated he is applauding the move away from the local church. Based on history, I would expect that he is simply reporting a trend and writing to help today's leaders make corrections to help believers understand and value belonging to the body. Let me know if you have read it and what you think.


"Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes." - Peter F. Drucker.

Are you increasing knowledge and exercising wisdom?

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fruit inspectors

This timely reminder just in from HomeWord's Robin Dugall, What Fruit Are You Growing?

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down. Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
— Luke 13:6-9

According to Jesus, there is only one way to see if something is alive – check its fruit. I don’t know where we got this misconception, but many of us really don’t expect much to happen in our lives as Christ-followers. We “signed up” for a relationship with God. We said “yes” to Jesus, but for many of us, we expected that would be the end of the deal. We would receive forgiveness of our sins and a ticket to heaven when we die, but anything beyond that was not part of our plan. Unfortunately, the Bible is clear: Not only does Jesus want to give us the promise of heaven and spiritual blessing, He wants to get involved in our lives. He wants to plant something within us that is going to take root and begin to change the way we live, impacting the actions, decisions and character of our lives. In other words, Jesus expects to see something grow within us as a result of His presence in our lives.

If you garden or are in the habit of planting things, you know that once you plant something, you expect it to grow. In fact, you expect a specific plant or fruit to come from your hard work. If you plant corn, you expect to see corn eventually. If you plant tomatoes, you expect to see tomatoes within a few months. That’s natural. Things that are alive grow and produce fruit. If your planting yielded nothing or something different than you expected, you would take decisive action. It is the same way with spiritual fruit. Jesus expects that once His Spirit has taken root in our lives, fruit will be developing and growing. Remember, things that are alive, grow! If the fruit of the Lord – traits such as love, joy and peace – are growing in you life day-by-day and year-by-year, something good is going on! If not, something is wrong. And according to Jesus’ parable quoted above, things are going to have to change! To fail to produce fruit is to fail to provide the people around you a witness to the presence of God in the world. Do you know you have huge fruit-bearing potential? You do! Once you believe this and allow God to do His gardening work in your life, slowly, but surely, you will see your life bear a steady crop of spiritual fruit.

Two key reminders here:
  1. if you don't like the fruit in your life (or community if you are a leader), then check what you are sowing...that stuff you don't like didn't come out of nowhere.
  2. be careful when you are sure it is the fruit you are evaluating and not the appearance of the tree
I have a lot to learn in both areas...

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more to worship

My friend Randy pointed me to Nancy Beach's article on More to Worship than Music in Christianity Today. The first three points (choose singable songs, no need to repeat so much, and we don't always have to be standing) are practical. The last two (stretching lyrics and worship is more than singing) are Biblical.

Our song lyrics should reflect our theology and they should be words that we really mean. They should be (like the "preaching") adoration, proclamation, declaration, etc. - and they should be instructive in that they teach and challenge us. I continue to wrestle with the right name for that part of our liturgy.

We call it worship but the whole meeting should be worship. We think of the message as formative, yet shouldn't the songs be formative? The whole meeting should have some elements that are consistent and I think we have wrongly separated the meeting into sections and then assigned purposes to these that are much less than what they could be.

I had dinner with David last night and we discussed worship. We sing about giving God our all, I wonder how often we understand what we are saying and if so, do we mean it. I have found it very helpful when the band leader finds the appropriate time to read the words to the song and then to pray or challenge the congregation with those words. It's even better to link these to Scripture.

I'd love to see us figure out how to break our patterns of song singing for this kind of thing. I would really like to see us add time for contemplative reflection, perhaps actually get down on our knees, etc.. I love the arts and other creative would be so cool (and glorifying to God) if we could allow more space for that.

Marlin does a cool thing at the Heidelberg Vineyard. They open the meeting with just a couple of songs, then bring the message, and then close with a time of songs. This allows for worship and praise based on the Word brought through the speaker and flows nicely into time for ministry (prayer, repentance, contemplation, etc).

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