Friday, December 11, 2009

Ir@n at a Crossroads?

In today's Opinion page on Yahoo, by an experienced Iran-watcher.
This is not a simple moment[in Iran], and it would be a terrible tragedy not to grasp it with intelligence and nuance. For this could mean the beginnings of a real turnaround in the entire Middle East. This could signal the rise of the modernized Turkeys and the beginnings of the ends to the revolutionary "Islamic republics" and to Islamic terrorism.

This well-written article is intriguing. But it only tells part of the story.

What makes this more intriguing?
Conservative data and reports that indicate in the last 2-3 years over 1 million people in Iran have given up on Islam and its false promises in exchange for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church is experiencing its harshest persecution since 1980 as well as its most explosive growth ever. (sources protected)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Should Persecution Matter to Us


Thanks to advanced technology I've been able to talk to some friends of mine behind the Muslim curtain.

It's not easy on them. Some have been jailed, others harassed. They worship with the awareness that they could be beaten or jailed.

But the surprising thing to me, as an American whose biggest discomfort is self-imposed exercise, is that they don't think persecution is abnormal for the Christian life.

Suffering is normal to these former-Muslim believers.

I'm beginning to wonder if our lack of suffering weakens our faith in Christ.

I'm starting to think that my prized convenient, efficient life may actually be killing my spirituality, stifling evangelism and creating idol dependency in the US.

I'm wondering if our lack of persecution should matter more.

Especially when I hear conservative estimates are that over one million people have converted to Christ in Ir@n in the last three years.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reproducing Churches Video


We're part of a regional network that starts churches. Lots of churches and hundreds of people helped us get started. Couldn't have done it without all the help. As one friend pointed out to me, 'Jim, you're just not that good.'

So we're very deeply honored to continued to help others start churches, like Jose Mateo at Emmanuel, Hector Guzman at Encuentro, Walter Henegar at Atlanta Westside and Matthew Armstrong at East Atlanta Village.

This 4-minute video here captures some of the dynamic of reproducing churches. It was shot by Perimeter (our mother church) for Exponential '08 last April.

Thanks to all our supporters!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I Wrote My Congressman about Health Care Reform


This health care debate needs our attention NOW. I am not a Republican. Nor am I a Democrat. I'm a well-educated Independent voter who isn't telling you how to vote. I'm telling you to communicate to your representatives!

And I am for health care reform, but I think the current plan is a RUSH job.
So I asked my congressman (whom I have met and even prayed with in his Smyrna office) to SLOW DOWN the process.

I urge you to email your congressional rep to do the same thing. If you don't know who your congressman is, this link below will tell you and even send the email.

Click on this link https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml or type it in, follow the directions.

Write your own letter or use mine as a template. It will take you five minutes or less.
Dear

I'm writing to express my concern over the mishandling of the current health care bill in both procedural issues and content issues.

Procedural:
I am strongly against rushing into any decision that does not provide adequate time for voters and leaders to actually read, understand and forecast the effects of such legislation.

President Obama promised that we the people would be able to view legislation on the internet prior to our representatives voting on it. This is not happening.

Such sweeping changes need to be studied carefully!

Please note, I am in favor of health care reform, but this appears to be a rushed decision on rushed legislation while there is a Democratic majority.

I urge you to do everything you can to SLOW DOWN the process.

I STRONGLY disagree with this procedure. I will not support you or any member of congress who rushes this legislation through.

Content:
Secondly, due to the rush, we are in the dark about the actual content of the legislation. Based on my convictions as a Christian:

I will not support a bill that funds abortion. (Exodus 20:13)
I will not support a bill that adds another government agency. Our Federal government is too large already. The government's role is to protect and punish criminals (Romans 13:1-7) not engage in daily management of individuals lives. The church and the private sector are supposed to take care of health related issues.
I will not support a bill that increases the tax burden or would likely increase the already enormous deficit and indebtedness to other nations. ("The borrower is slave to the lender." - Proverbs 22:7).

Please speak out to your Democratic leaders and slow down this discussion so we can enter into a wise dialogue.

Honestly, I cannot in good conscience support yours or anyone's re-election if you vote for a bill rushed into unexamined and with any of these unbiblical provisions.

It is an honor to pray for you and our nation's leaders. You are in my prayers.

Christians believe in citizenship! Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, but many of us have the duty to participate in the USA's political process.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gospel Friendship Video

I love telling people about Jesus. His good news or 'gospel' is the best. Nothing is more fun than meeting people, asking questions and striking up a conversation about Christ. Click here to watch the video.

A few years ago I met Jeff at a local speaker shop. Both being former rock musicians and with a common 'audio guy' view of things, we hit it off and ended up forming a pretty cool friendship.

Over the course of the next year, Jeff really understood the gospel for the first time. I guess some would say he 'got saved' or became a Christian. I'm not big on walking the aisle and don't put a lot of stock in decisionism, but Jeff has been transformed.

And now he's telling his friends. It's pretty cool.

So About the Video

We don't have a big money video department, but by God's grace, some friends of Jeff's put his story into a 25-minute video. It's totally pro. It's called A Song of Thanksgiving.

I think it serves too as a good illustration of the process all Christians should follow to make 'gospel friendships' or what some might call the process of evangelism and discipleship.

So thanks to Kevin and the guys for making it happen. My prayer is that 1000s more people make a gospel friendship this year and 1000s more hear and receive the good news of Jesus. Click here to watch it on our church website. It's in three smaller parts.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Christian Vocabulary Taken Out of Dictionaries


I typed 'Reformation Day' into Tweet Deck and it gave me that squiggly red line under 'Reformation'. So I retyped. Still there. This is odd.

Evidently it isn't an accident. Quick help from my buddy Steven F uncovered this article in the Telegraph.

It seems to some that not enough people who speak English go to church. So Oxford University Press took unnecessary Christian words out of dictionaries for children to make room for more important words, like 'MP3 player' and 'blog' (and 'multi-culturalism'?).

Other word categories got canned - mostly rural plants and animals kids in the city seldom see. The head of Oxford's childrens' dictionary section states:
Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don't go to Church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as "Pentecost" or "Whitsun" would have been in 20 years ago but not now.

What Christian words got the axe?
abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar

Not sure what to say here... seems my profession, my mortal enemy, my place of work, my vocational objective and my personal human rebellion have been taken out!

What a relief I can still blog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How to Find a Trustworthy Pastor (and Church)


Finding a church is hard. Finding a reliable teacher of God's Word is vital!

I meet a lot of people who say they are looking for the right church. (And no, I don't try to persuade every one of them to join Crosspoint.) Finding a faithful preacher of God's Word is the key to finding a good church. Brilliant music, krankin' kid's programs and a great facility won't cut it if your heart isn't fed God's Word.

This strikes home often as I read one of my favorite blogs - I'm Speaking Truth- written and moderated by my good friend (who must blog anonymously so as not to suffer threats to his life and family). He exposes false teachers. He tries to get people to leave what he calls "pulpit pimps" and the "clubs" for the sake of saving their souls. He takes on the false prophets. He names names and says things only a man who was 'come off the plantation' could say. He's one of my heroes.

Highly recommended reading, especially for my evangelical Anglo brothers and sisters who don't get out of their theological circles much.

Two Resources for Finding a (True) Church and a (Reliable) Pastor

The topic of finding a church comes up frequently on IST. Chances are slim in our transient modern era that an adult Christian will never have to search for a church. So how should one go about finding a true church and a faithful pastor? You shouldn't just follow the crowd or take your friend's advice. Listen discerningly to sermons and examine church government (and accountability).

One resource for what to listen for is here in this article by a classmate of mine from grad school. It's a list of qualifying questions and description of what to look for in a biblical preacher or teacher. Solid stuff about sermon content and personal character.
"The Bible makes it clear that there are many unreliable carriers of so-called truth. Satan masquerades as an angel of light seeking to deceive. So we need a lot of biblical discernment here. Just because a teacher or preacher comes in Jesus’ name with a Bible under his arm doesn’t automatically mean he is reliable.

"Thankfully both the Bible and church history give us some direction here. So I want to provide you with a brief list of five questions (based on the five sola’s of the Reformation) that can help you discern the reliability of a particular teacher or preacher."
The second resource is part of a reply I made to a recent post on IST. It has to do with the importance of church government and pastoral accountability in finding a pastor. Here is an edited version:
_____________________
Many of the concerns you all bring up about specific pastors can be addressed and answered by good pastoral peer-level accountability.

1.God ordains church authority (all authority in fact - see Romans 13:1).

Church government is like the engine and transmission that runs a church. You don't see how the power train works, but it's there. You had better check under the hood before you invest!

Many of the posts and comments on this blog (I'm Speaking Truth) have been leveled at so-called pastors who have NO peer-level accountability. They are the sole authority in their church. In some cases they personally OWN the church property purchased with offerings! They are self-authorized. They have usurped church ‘authority’ by only being authorized by another false teacher. That engine is bound to be a lemon.

Biblical church government is important.

What is Church Government?
Church government refers to a)how authority is applied b) how decisions are made and c)how discipline is carried out.

How Authority is Applied

In reference to finding a pastor, ask, "Is he under the authority and accountability of a biblically sound authorizing group?"

Some authorizing bodies are a sham. Some people get their pastoral credentials over the internet in 10 minutes, some from institutions of suspect quality. And yet other authorizing bodies require a pastor to be a trained professional with preference to graduates from accredited theological institutions. In my denomination, a pastor is required to pass rigorous exams similar to what a lawyer or accountant must pass in order to practice.

How Decisions are Made

A personal illustration. I wanted to plant a church after going to seminary. I had been ordained and served on staff at a biblically sound but independent church (yes there are a some, but they are rare). If I planted a church associated with this independent church, I would be independent in all decisions and only accountable to the level that I desired to be accountable.

I didn’t trust my sin-sick heart to lead an independent church.

I don't trust myself to make wise, biblically sound decisions all the time - all by myself. I don't think anyone should be put in that position of power and authority. Even if you can go faster with a church leadership structure like that, you are just asking for transmission failure while you're going 70mph!
So I sought and found a denomination that has not only high training standards but also high accountability for pastors and requires shared decision-making. I am not the ONLY person with a vote - and that is a good thing for me and for the people of our church!

How Discipline is Carried Out
What happens when someone sins so significantly that they should no longer lead a church? Does anything happen?

Actual, functional grace-driven church discipline must remove people from office, lead them to repentance, seek to reconcile them and restore them. If it is to be biblical.

Another personal observation.
Prior to joining this church association, I heard stories and later met people who have been disciplined. And they were grateful, humble after being led through the process of church discipline. I am impressed. Matthew 18 can be done. Pastors can be protected, shepherded and disciplined if needed. Wow. I wish I could say more. But I can't because we don't gossip about discipline situations.

All that to say, you should look at each pastor's accountability (not just the names of their schools and associations on a website) and church government. Ask the following:
- Where did he get his or her credentials?
- To whom is he accountable in the church and above the church?
- Who gets a real vote on church decisions?
- Are godly people supervising the pastors? Do they have actual, hands-on biblical authority to address the problems you may see and comment on in a blog?

Here is a hard fact.
No one who looks on from a distance or sits in the pews of a church can (or should) exercise direct authority over any pastor. Properly done, biblical authority comes from God, to a governing/authorizing ecclesiastical body, to a pastor for a local church. This is God's design to promote His glory and lead His people.

Church folk are called by God to submit to authority (Romans 13:1) even if authority is a Roman emperor or a pastor you don’t particularly care for after you get to know him.

Some church members have the privilege of voting on some church decisions. If you just attend, all you can do is pray and comment appropriately (There is a difference between confronting sin and gossiping. 2 Corinthians 12:20-21).

YOU are responsible to God and your family for the one under whom you place yourself. Actual church authorities have to enforce accountability.

My reaction to one sermon can't be the end of my homework.
Part of searching for a good, solid church is to check out whether the church government above the church is trustworthy too. Look under the hood before you enter into a covenant relationship with a church and its pastor.

I'm working and praying for the day when biblically-oriented folk join in with churches that have biblical authority and biblical discipline in addition to biblical doctrine in the pastors' sermons. Then the wolves in sheep's clothing will have much fewer sheep to deceive!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Jerious Norwood and Stonewall Jackson theology


This guy can RUN!

And does Atlanta Falcons running back and return specialist have some good theology in this interview too?

Yes. He's taking risks. Risks that make you cringe a little.

Generally, Americans want life safe. Really safe. It shows in the 'avoid-pain-at-all-costs' mentality. I don't even want to be inconvenienced is a corollary. The core motivation of the health care debate is fear of what may happen - and we better avoid it!

But Norwood implies that he plays professional football without fear of what could or might happen.

And he plays football at risk of another concussion - which would be his fifth. Risky? Yes, but wow, do I like the way he plays. He is full out, leave it all on the field and if I get hurt, it is what the Lord had planned for me.

We should, like Stonewall Jackson, put our bodies and schedules and money at risk for our mighty King.

Any Christian who desires to be stronger than soggy bread, has to aspire to and admire a warrior mentality. A fight's attitude that his cause is worth it.

If your life has no cringe-factor, are you living by faith to please God? Or are you living by sight to please yourself?

Whatever you think of the Civil War (and I have a LOT of mixed thoughts on that one - my great grandfather from Tennessee was a corporal in the Union Army) General Stonewall Jackson has to get your attention too.

His faith in God's providence (God's control over every detail of life) was strong. His faith was in God's ability.

He went into every battle secure in the knowledge that he could not die from a 'stray' bullet or an 'unlucky' shot. He was sure that he could leave it all on the field. So when bullets were flying, he stayed on his horse, fighting. Risky? Sure.

Oh, LORD, raise up an army of men and women who will risk, get uncomfortable, cringe, sacrifice. And start with this broken pastor who needs to believe you are in control and that I can lead men and women into spiritual battle confident in You.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prepared for Persecution in Ir#n


I do not know these women, but I met some very much like them in my travels to the Near East a while ago. Pray for them as the Lord leads you.

Prepare Your Children. And then tonight over dinner share their story. Prepare your children and/or grandchildren for a day when they may be faced with this sort of situation.

Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, were arrested and sent to Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. The two women did not rob a bank, kill a man or beat up someone.

Their crime? Loving Jesus. And it is for this reason alone they are still imprisoned.

In August during a court hearing, the two were questioned repeatedly about their faith. They were told to return to Islam.
"We love Jesus," was their reply. Prosecutors asked the women, who had already spent five months in prison, if they regretted being Christians.

"We have no regrets," they said. "We will not deny our faith." The judge sent them back to Evin Prison - notorious for its brutality - to "think about" their decision.
"We have already done our thinking," they told him.

Maryam and Marzieh are among dozens of Iranian Christians arrested, detained or interrogated in Iran in recent months. The harassment is the radical Islamic government's response to an Iranian revival that has thousands of Iranians coming to Christ each month.

from Voice of the Martyrs

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Power for Gospel-Centered Ministry

Pitfalls and Parodies of Gospel-Centered Ministry by K. Edward Copeland.Excellent sermon. Give a listen broken pastors and people who 'do' ministry. The Gospel is the Power. Ministers are the Reporters.

Great application in light of the high number of false teachers and itchy-eared religionists.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reformed Pastors Dialoguing with Secular News Reporters

Reasoned dialogue between Reformed Christians with news reporters about the distinctions between Reformed evangelical views and practices compared to broad evangelicalism. No Rush Limbaugh, no Glenn Beck, no James Dobson.

These are my tribe. I love it.
(Please pardon the sizing problem. I don't know how to correct it.)


from Desiring God one of my favorite resources on the web.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fined $10K for Anger


Has Serena been reading my journal? Taking lessons for the Jim Moon School of Anger Mismanagement?
"I used to have a real temper, and I've gotten a lot better," Williams said later. "So I know you don't believe me, but I used to be worse. Yes, yes, indeed."

Her profanity laden tirade cost her $10,000 at the U.S. Open. My outbursts cost at least that much. Mine are not captured and replayed on national TV, but my wife and kids feel just as threatened. And I pay consequences - door repairs, replacement shovels, rebuilding trust and public embarrassment. (Did you notice the guy's face in the middle of the picture? sort of funny. sort of)

But Someone has already paid my fines and taken all the punishment. Priceless.

Am I saying that Christ's death, burial and resurrection doesn't pay the penalty for my sin? No. He did pay for my guilt.

But sin still costs consequences (cue replay of King David's sin, forgiveness and consequences). And I'll gladly endure the LORD's kind discipline. He's making me better. Free to confess. Free to be free!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Pray for My Persecuted Friends (Keep on Praying)

This time last year a friend of mine from I**n, the son of a martyr, was unjustly arrested and detained for some time. News has been slow reaching me, but R was released months ago.

This is good news for him to be reunited with his family and for the Kingdom of Christ to expand through his network of house churches.

But suffering continues outside the cell.

Imprisonment has left deep emotional (and perhaps physical) scars. He is withdrawn and will not talk to his family about what happened during the ordeal.

I can not imagine what he suffered at the hands of the Islamic terrorists - his own countrymen - who likely tortured him.

I can not imagine what he must keep secret. How he must feel cut off and isolated even outside the cell.

I can not imagine how this effects his marriage, his family, his church ministry or his own soul. But it makes me mad!

And I groan and ache for my friend.

Pray for R, his wife, his children, his mother and extended family. The churches under his care.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Am I Saying God Will Give Me All Things?


A friend asked me a really good question today on Facebook.

I had Tweeted this verse (yes, I joined the dark side this week - follow me @brokenpastor and yes the verse is my own translation):
The One who didn't spare his only son, but gave him up for us all - won't he also grace us with all things? Romans 8:32

So here was the good question: "So you are saying God will give you everything there is? Where's it say this?"

I love good questions. I think they deserve as good an answer as I can give. Here's my answer to my FB friend.

You asked two questions. Good ones. And Margie spoke well for me [another comment]. But my answer looked ridiculously long on my wall... I wasn't fishing to preach or hit anyone with my faith. You can delete this if you don't want to hear it. But its really cool to me and means a lot to me. That's why I posted the one verse.

To answer your question C___y, Yes, God will give me (and all believers) everything there is - but in the future. Not now. Not even here on earth. And certainly not by anything I've done to deserve it. I deserve damnation. (and evidently some bacon if that little girls poster is right) [FB reference to friends wall post]

Based on the context of that passage (see Romans chapter 8 verse 18 and following) 'all things' refers to the surpassing value of inheriting Christ's eternal life in a new heaven and new earth. I will share in Christ's inheritance - again not bc I earned it. He's giving me rights to it. Crazy I know.

Verse 18 says '...our present sufferings [now] are not worth comparing with glory that will be revealed in us.' Verses 19-31 then posit this: Both Christians and creation wait and groan in this life. It's bad and broken here and now. But God's powerful to work everything out for the ultimate good.

I'm getting all things in the future through Christ and not because I'm good or deserve it. I'm an ass. But for some crazy reason God is giving this to me (and anyone who will receive it). It's only by faith in what Jesus accomplished through his death, burial and being raised from the dead. Really worth reading.

Thanks for the good question. How's that for an answer?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mondays are for Fighting: A Gospel Reader


Repent, Believe and FIGHT!
What do I read and study to learn how to fight? Found a great starter list.

My friend Matt Adair from Christ Community in Watkinsville posted a great set of links to articles and sermons that shape who we are and what we do. Some of the authors are profs I had in grad school, pastors I respect, scholars I study and folks I hadn't heard of until I read their stuff here.

These 24 resources provide a good foundation for personal reading, small group discussion or understanding Crosspoint's mission and my personal vision. Issues we all face. Click here to find the live links.

1. Gospel Coalition Foundation Documents
2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration
3. Together for the Gospel Statement (PDF)
4. The Centrality of the Gospel by Tim Keller (PDF)
5. The Biblical Gospel by D.A. Carson (PDF)
6. Gospel-Driven Sanctification by Jerry Bridges (PDF)
7. The Transforming Power of the Gospel – Steve Childers (PDF)
8. The Gospel and the Poor by Tim Keller (PDF)
9. Fight Clubs: Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson (PDF)
10. The Gospel Centered Life by Bob Thune (study)
11. Gospel-Centered Ministry by Tim Keller (PDF)
12. How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself by David Fairchild (Sermon MSS)
13. The Gospel: Key to Change by Tim Keller (PDF)
14. God Strengthens Us by the Gospel by John Piper
15. Advancing the Gospel in the 21st Century Part 2 by Tim Keller
16. Gospel-Centered Preaching by Steve Childers (not online)
17. Gospel Christianity (1.0) (2.0) (3.0) by Tim Keller (studies)
18. The Gospel in Its Many Forms by Tim Keller
19. How Does the Gospel Save Believers? (Part 2) (Part 3) by John Piper
20. Gospel-Centered by Joe Thorn
21. Being the Church in Our Culture by Tim Keller (PDF)
22. Preach the Gospel to Yourself by Tim Challies
23. What Do I Mean by a Gospel-Driven Life? (Part 2 | Part 3) by John Fonville
24. The Gospel-Driven Life by Harry Reeder III

Monday, August 17, 2009

Broken Accounting for What I Cannot Earn


I think I'm really good with counting. I consistently save up my goodness in accounts in my head. I add the matching funds from affirmations from others I respect. I gladly throw in the profit I see from my plans. All in hopes that I'm in for a comfy retirement on my own merits.

And God continually messes up my counting!

God gives. He doesn't pay back. God gives me opportunity to trust in Him. He won't let me earn what Jesus Christ has already paid for and grants to me by faith alone. That is the good part of brokenness. Not so good for counting my own righteousness.

So I'm hoping in Jesus' rich, glorious inheritance that is already bought and paid for - and already in me. His accounting is far better than what I can ask or imagine.

Today I'm going to count like God counts (one excerpt below). And see if God doesn't just heal up some of this brokenness.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which [God] has called you [Broken Pastor], the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints [including you], 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power [that is already in you] is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms... Ephesians 1:18-20

Saturday, August 08, 2009

My Hope-er Broke


Over two cups of coffee this morning I was talking to my friend Chanders about how my heart has been unsettled lately. Trying to talk it out. Trying to preach the gospel to each other. I think my hope-er is broke and I need it repaired.

Some of my restlessness is coming down off the mountain top of a great mission trip to Pearlington MS for Katrina rebuilding. Partly I'm scattered, covered and smothered because I have an important job that requires a lot out of me. Part of the struggle is that this world is very broken.

But mostly I think its from putting my hope in things other than the LORD.

Things I put my (breakable) hope in:
-raising godly children
-preaching good sermons
-getting all the way out of debt
-leading this awesome church to my definition of 'significant in the Kingdom'
-helping people solve their problems
-being friendly and accepted by everyone
-keeping comfortable
-leading my friends to Christ
-having enough time for myself
-developing 'Restore Life' mercy ministry
-one day getting a PhD
-never messing up beyond what I can clean up myself
-not offending anyone so they will a)join our church or b)not leave
-loving my wife and keeping her happy

My Dashboard for Performance

Yeah, I didn't have to think about that list. It's all right there - right on the dashboard of my life. Telling me how well I'm keeping up expectations, how well I'm doing, how significant I am.

All good things. But none of them are the LORD Himself. I need to hope in the LORD alone. Why?

Because HE is worth all my trust (Psalm 131). He is my only deliverer. (Exodus 15) And partly I not business thinking more highly (or lowly) of myself than the LORD thinks!

Good things that I trust in
are just good things (Romans 1:18ff). But an idol is an idol. Putting my hope in even good things will hammer me if I worship and serve them.

Maybe I'm going to trust Him. He's a better God than all those gods. Maybe I will put my hope in Him alone. Yeah, that'd be good, er the best.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The More I'm Broken the More I'm Doing the Gospel


Early on I was mostly talk and no do.

I didn't have much of a heart for the poor or those who didn't have their act together. Frankly I was judgmental, contemptuous. Deep in my heart afraid that if I took time to care about someone who couldn't pay me back somehow, it would cut into my plans to be secure, important and respectable.

See, I wanted to be better than 'those' people. Then God keeps on breaking me.
And keeps on proving to me that I am no better than anyone else.

Now I'm doing more that matters. And I find that when I go pray for a sick person, or help build or restore a house or teach an alien to speak English I'm glad. The Kingdom of heaven comes here as it is in heaven.

Heaven is for the broken, the sick, the weak and the alien.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

What We Should Do for Ir*n


A 4th of July note from a pastor friend in country to me and our church.

Hi Jim
I hope this mail finds you doing well.

Congregation, I hope we will have the same day (4th July) in our country in the future. I appreciate your understanding and helping me & my people in the most difficult time of our lives. My desire is to know the Lord and His will and serve Him as the Holy Spirit directs me. I am confident that you will continue to pray for me & my country. Many thanks in advance and best wishes for whatever you do in the name of Our Lord, and for the strengthening of His Church.
Yours in the Master’s service,
R**n

Most Difficult Time

This from a man who was recently jailed for no reason other than his faith and whose own father was martyred by the Isl@mic Republic.

He is a broken pastor. He asks for prayer? We pray.
Prayer is the highest and best thing we can do.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Why We Shouldn't Mess with Ir*n (or Cuba either)


With the recent unrest after the presidential election in Iran making news in the US, I thought a comment in order.

We American Christians have an odd approach to government participation. Compared to most of the rest of our Christian brothers and sisters alive today, WE think (or I feel) we should engage and argue and even boycott governments for the sake of the gospel. We think activism is good. Political liberty = spiritual liberty.

Christians in Ir*n and Cuba that I have met approach things differently. (I guess the same is true in China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other nations, though I've never spoken to believers there personally.) They tell me "Inactivism" is better. Political oppression = spiritual liberty.

Why?
The Holy Spirit uses the persecution and pressure against the Church to spread the gospel to thousands, even millions AND proves to the people the inadequacy of inferior types of political governance. It's not dissimilar to the Ancient Near East in the biblical era.

So I say, Do NOT write our government to try to muster support from the USA for change in these nations. If you work in our US government, work for justice and freedom. But the rest of us (me) should not meddle in the affairs of the King of kings except in prayer.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to convert and disciple SO MANY people in these persecuted nations that political change happens from within - as a result of the hand of the LORD at work.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Marxism - A Prickly Difficult Word


The following exchange was posted on my old friend Mike S's wall on Facebook. I know its startling that a thread is worth blogging. At least I think it is anyway.

Mike posted this thought:
Mike is confused about the current love fest for Marxism and the misbelief that it is a compassionate approach to poverty. Everywhere I have been it has left a sad record of universal poverty (except for the politicians), a lack of initiative and personal responsibility, and corruption. Productivity is not criminal behavior.

To which a friend also named Michael asked, 'How many Marxists do you know?'

Mike responses are good and prickly and wise.

"Back in the olden days we senior citizens (I think Mike is 55?) had to take classes on Marxism, Capitalism and Socialism, etc. I have been to the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan (a Soviet satellite, Ethiopia (communist until '91) and have heard people speak who are involved in trying to rebuild their cultures in Eastern Europe in the aftermath of Marxism.

"I have spoken to people who witnessed the overthrow of the Afghan government in '73. The students there were saying many of the same things that spring from Marxist ideology and sound frightening similar to presuppositions blindly accepted as true in post-modern American culture.

"Labels [like Marxist] are not popular today, making it easy to propose ideas without anyone evaluating the source or the people who said the exact same things in the past and the fruit of what they said.

"I am deeply concerned about the way emotions are being played to lead people to conclusions that are Marxist--without themselves knowing what it is they are adhering to.

"I didn't answer your question Michael. I can't say that I know any Marxists personally, but I do have a limited understanding of Marxist ideas (as far as my IQ will take it). When I hear those ideas proposed by politicians, newscasters, theologians, and "20 something's" in the church, they would not accept the label--but if they walk like a duck, sound like a duck . . ."

Another comment by David mentions that 'pure Marxism' is like 'true Christianity'.

Mike replies spot on. "David, I'm afraid I can't follow either of your assessments. Pure Marxism is an oxymoron in the truest sense. There is nothing pure about an ideology built on a structure of lies. Just a few off the top of my head:

"1. Atheism. "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." Since it is a philosophy life dependent on the non-existence of God, it s... Read More nothing more than the ideas of a fool.

"2. No absolutes--"the end justifies the means." The is Marxism at its purest, and explains the corruption that permeates every Marxist system. The Law of God is written on all our hearts, there is absolute right and wrong. To believe otherwise is to believe a lie.

"3. Peace--absence of resistance to socialism. This explains why all Marxist governments outlaw freedom of speech, and only tolerate "correct" speech.

"4. Redistribution of wealth. This idea was tried by the early settlers of North America. They nearly starved to death trying "communalism." Forced redistribution of wealth punishes responsibility.

"David, I have seen pure Christianity--it is everywhere. People who admit their guilt before a holy God, and trust in Jesus alone as the one who took God's wrath for our guilt upon Himself and valuing Him above anyone or anything else cleanses the heart and begins a life-long process of transformation.

"This transformation reveals itself in an individual as he/she loves God and loves others and grows in that ability. Religious institutions come and go, but Jesus who is alive continues to call people to Himself in loving relationship--I have met thousands on that journey. It is a narrow door--so it is no surprise that few find it. If you look carefully, pure Christianity is alive and well."

Well said Mike S. I'm glad God put you in my life in 1977 (when I was 11 and Mike was 22) for all those out there trying to guess how old is 'old'

What do you think? Is Marxism real? Is Mike S a crazy old man?

Are you a Marxist and don't know it?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Busyness is from Hell


In our series through Exodus, we are beginning to uncover a major theme - rest. Rest and celebration as a product of God's Great Deliverance from Slavery.

Slaves never get to rest. I'm thinking we don't rest because we are functionally slaves. For slaves, busyness is hell.

Paul Tripp is a very wise man to whom we should listen in this problem of busyness.
Enjoy. And slow down. And Rest!

From an interview with Paul Tripp on Desiring God blog

"I read a book on stress a few years back, and the author made a side comment that I thought was so insightful. He said that the highest value of materialistic western culture is not possessing. It's actually acquiring.

"If you're a go-getter you never stop. And so the guy who is lavishly successful doesn't quit, because there are greater levels of success. "My house could be bigger, I could drive better cars, I could have more power, I could have more money."

"And so we've bought an unbiblical definition of the good life of success. Our kids have to be skilled at three sports and play four musical instruments, and our house has to be lavish by whatever standard. And all of that stuff is eating time, eating energy, eating money. And it doesn't promote community.

"I think often that even the programs of a local church are too sectored and too busy. As if we're trying to program godliness. And so the family is actually never together because they're all in demographic groupings. Where do we have time where we are pursuing relationships with one another, living with one another, praying with one another, talking with one another?

"I've talked to a lot of families who literally think it's a victory to have 3 or 4 meals all together with one another in a week, because they're so busy. Well, if in that family unit they're not experiencing community, there's no hope of them experiencing it outside of that family unit.

"We have families that will show up at our church on Sunday morning with the boys dressed in their little league outfits, and I know what's going to happen. They're going to leave the service early. Now what a value message to that little boy! Do I think little league is bad? I don't think it's bad at all. I think it's great. But they're telling him what's important as they do that.

"You can't fit God's dream (if I can use that language) for his church inside of the American dream and have it work. It's a radically different lifestyle. It just won't squeeze into the available spaces of the time and energy that's left over.

"And I'm as much seduced by that as anybody. We have sold our four-bedroom house because our kids are gone, and we've bought a loft in Chinatown, Philadelphia. And we're amazed at how simple our life has become. We're grieving over how we let our life get so complicated.

"Last year, for example, I put almost $2,500 worth of gas in my car. This year, I've put $159 in the first quarter. It's because we're walking places, and that slows our life down, and we're near the people in our church because we're within walking distance of the church. And we've had so many natural encounters with people because of that.

"We're living in a much smaller place. We got rid of most of our stuff. As we went through it, we laughed about how we just collected stuff. All that stuff has to be maintained. It grabs your heart, it grabs your schedule, it grabs your time. It becomes a source of worry and concern and need to pay.

"So we've just been confronted with how all of those things that aren't evil in themselves become the complications of life that keep us away from the kind of community that we need in order to hold on to our identity."
__________________________
To actually rest in Christ is to experience the in-breaking of heaven on earth. I believe LORD, help my unbelief!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What are We (Supposed to be) Doing Here?


I'm a big picture thinker. An iNtuitive on the Myers-Briggs. This causes me to drive my wife and teenagers crazy and probably some of you too.

Some would say I have too many deep thoughts or that I need to take up drinking. I'm never ever satisfied. I'm working and thinking almost all the time. Some people listen to music as background noise, I multi-task on big questions like:

Why are we here?
What are we supposed to be doing?
What does God want from us?
Where are we as a church going?
How are we going to reach more people with this awesome good news about Jesus?
Where is the Church going? What is happening to America?
How are we to live productive lives in this culture?
Shouldn't we be doing more for the rest of the world?

And sometimes I get over-whelmed by it all. So much is SO BROKEN!

In the last three weeks I sat with someone who broke off a 3-4 year engagement, another who turned in a family member for child abuse, heard confessions of adultery, crumbling marriages, crushed finances and failed health.

And as a broken pastor, I am almost always frustrated that I'm broken and can't fix or address or solve any of these questions.

So I needed to be reminded of this:
[God] is committed with all His infinite and eternal might to display [His] glory and to preserve the honor of His name... He remains faithful.

So would you pray that I will pray and wait for the Holy Spirit to empower me/us with whatever He wants FOR HIS NAME?

I'm pretty sure that He is able and faithful to lead for His glory.

Maybe I'm just trying to lead for my glory not His?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Predestination - A Concept We Misuse


I had a big piece of leftover sermon I didn't get to yesterday in week eight of our Exodus series. Thought I'd post it here.

According to Scripture, God predestines. Let that get under your skin for a minute. Don't like it do you? In some ways I don't either but in some ways it's a favorite teaching. Let me take a minute to lay out some of what I've learned from wrestling with this issue for 30+ years and in my study last week.

Arguments Against Predestination
- Argument One goes something like this: "God only foreknew what is/was going to happen - people have an inviolate freewill - and God doesn't decide what happens to people until we chose." Tried that on for years. Sort of cut into God's being all-knowing and all-powerful. Major problem.

- Argument Two says, "Since God predestines everything, I don't have to chose anything (especially things like getting a job, being responsible or all that messy evangelism and missions stuff)." Tried this for a while. It cuts into God's commandments to 'Go into all the world and make disciples...' and makes God seem pretty passive. Major excuse for doing whatever I want.

- Argument Three says, "This whole God thing is bull. I can't believe in any God that would damn innocent people to hell without giving them a chance." A very popular viewpoint. Tried it on with some friends, but by disdaining and dismissing God as an option, fails to engage in a worthwhile dialogue.
Sort of like telling your parents or spouse, 'I disagree with you so I'm cutting you off completely.' Do we really want a god or a spouse or a friend to never disagree with us? Not going to have many friends. Not that I haven't done that before.

Questions Worth Discussing
Do you hope there is a reasonable, plausible option that answers those objections? I think there are a few.

- Would a God whose worthy of following not have a plan that's a LOT bigger and more mysterious than many people want to admit? Do you want to follow a weak or a Strong God?
It helped me to learn that my mental luggage is just too small to put God inside. So it is good that I have some things sticking out the sides. Predestination is one piece that I can't cram in or completely figure out.

- Wouldn't it be a good thing for me (and others who disagree) to get bigger mental luggage? Thinking and reading about it really helped. And I'm talking hard, old books. Long conversations with fellow truth-seekers in my church and with folks who don't follow Christ. Both helped immensely. The best remedy? The preached Word of God (1 Corinthians 1:21). Predestination is one teaching that fits into a whole body of gospel teaching.
Podcasts, blogs, one sermon or two are too limited. It's like getting all your news from talk radio or the Most Popular listing on Yahoo News. Come on, you can dig in.

- Ask, 'What, if any, part of predestination can I experience or control? It helped me get a plausible answer to this conundrum when I recognized that predestination is something we can NOT experience. We can only anticipate predestination.
We can argue about it theoretically all day and night. We can 'What if' till we fall over. We can make fun of it, yell and curse and scream. But I can't experience predestination in this life.

Fact: We are time-bound. We do not know who or what is predestined. From our perspective, every decision is 100% free, human choice. (I am not arguing against the thorough effects of sin in each person - I am describing human experience.)

Fact: Only the God of the Bible knows His decrees. From His view, everything is running 100% according to plan. Even when Christ was on earth, he said he didn't know the time or season of his return (Acts 1:7).

Fallacy: You can't or shouldn't say, 'Well I know I'm predestined to salvation. Or she's so bad, I'm sure she's predestined to damnation.' Really? Isn't that is a statement reserved for a being with total access to God's mind? Careful about overreaching with your theology.

Fallacy: Predestination isn't in the Bible. Scripture says God chooses, predestines. Can't get around that. Quick sample of the top of my head.

'For he [God] chose us in him before the creation of the world...in love he predestined us...'Ephesians 1:4-5. See also Romans 9-10.

I preached yesterday from Exodus 11, where Scripture says, 'the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart' and he wouldn't let the Israelites go. Seems pretty harsh to damn a whole nation when God hardened Pharaoh's heart! But there it is. Talk about uncomfortable and politically incorrect. Whew!

Two So Whats?
1 - You have to choose. All of us. All the time. If you feel convicted or guilty or angry, you have to choose how to act. If you or a friend is prompted or convinced to turn their life around or believe in Christ, you have to choose to turn and believe.
NB: I'd even argue that Pharaoh wasn't aware that God hardened his heart. His experience was to chose to harden his heart 100%.

2 - If you believe in Christ and what Scripture teaches, predestination should make you both fearless and humble about your own salvation and telling EVERYONE else about the gospel. Why? Because the gospel tells you that you aren't any better than anyone else. God chose you because He loved you, not because you deserved to be chosen. NOBODY deserves to be chosen. If you believe in Christ, it is an utter miracle and you should be very grateful, very humble.

And very bold. We don't know who is predestined to what eternal state. (Consider a guy named Saul in Acts 6-9 - now that was a surprise to alot of believers.) We have been given power and authority from Christ to take this good news to Smyrna, metro Atlanta/Southeast and the ends of the world (Acts 1:8). Let's do it!

What to read?
Martin Luther: The Bondage of the Will
John Calvin: The Bondage and Liberation of the Will
These are books, not blogs. If you want a read-along discussion, we can do that if you are in Smyrna.
What to listen to? A faithful preacher of God's Word in the community of a local church.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Should I Judge or Not?


'Don't judge me!' 'You are just looking down on me - who are you to judge?' Thorny issues. What to do?

There are at least two ways folks, like a strict soccer ref, pull out the 'you are judging' card.

Public Speaking
I speak in public for a living. I study and tell people what God says in His Word. At least I am supposed to speak for God. But every time I speak, my personality, opinions and values show too. Its the nature of the task.

I find it worth listening to my critics and checking my motivation, no matter how mad they may make me. Often they are right! MY judgment and personal bias counter to God's Word is showing like my pants are hemmed too high. For this I do need to repent.

But if the judging card gets leveled against the content of God's Word of Truth - then who I am to try to change God's Word?

Lots of times people are so upset by God's Truth (me too!) that they lash out at the one who is saying it out loud. This is one of the lumps you take as God's servant.

Personal interaction

Often times when someone accuses me of being judgmental, they are right here too. I am guilty of judging when it is the Lord's place to do so. I AM NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE - a lesson I need to learn over and over.

When I am wronged He promises that He will judge and set everything straight but many times I want Him to judge NOW! This shows me my need of continual mercy! O me of an arrogant and judgmental heart! Lord have mercy on me!

So if the interpersonal matter is not urgent (i.e. no one's physical life is in danger) as a spiritual discipline I am learning to withhold my immediate judgment and let the Lord season it with His loving kindness.

Most Dynamic Way Anyone has Ever Spoken to Me
Then opportunities to speak the truth in love open up. This is what I'm aiming for as a broken pastor. The truth in love has been the most dynamic way anyone has ever gotten through to me.

Doesn't always happen. Lots of time there isn't a prior trust built up. So out of deference to others I am learning to not defend myself and let the Lord defend me if He wants.

Maybe that will build trust and lead to personal transformation. Mine and anyone to whom I have the honor to speak.

One last lesson learned
As a thinking, broken pastor who seeks to have significant influence in the marketplace of our culture, I just don't use the word 'judge' very much. It has been kidnapped and infused with meaning that confuses the the biblical context.

I more often tell people that we should seek to 'discern' - which connotes the similar idea, but takes some of the edge off such a loaded word in modern culture.

Am I kowtowing to our culture by altering my language? Should I be more bold and brash? I'd be interested in your reply.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Mexico on the Verge of Anarchy?

This isn't what you'd hear on the news. While news outlets report some kidnappings, murders and such in Arizona and Texas due to the 'spillover' violence from the drug wars, what is really going on?

One former executive of a major Atlanta-based delivery company that promotes one specific color asked this question of our elders yesterday. He recounted only one horrific story that neither the US nor the Mexican governments wants publicized.

A truck full of computers travels under highest security then disappears while in the custody of Mexican border patrol. The driver shows up naked 4 days later in the middle of nowhere. This is repeated over and over. Quite a delivery route!

So let's add that to what gets reported: President Calderon sends thousands of troops to border town to quell the violence, but it only intensifies.

A decade ago 1000 pesos was so worthless, the federal government just produced new money with less zeroes on it.

Is Mexico coming unhinged?
Some think so. I fear FOR our neighbors to the South. Some of my best friends are Mexicans. I had no problem with them moving to the States to become part of our nation and now I know more. Plus I think it is foolish to be hostile to aliens seeking asylum among us (seeing as what Scripture has to say about such matters.)

Can you blame them when their government can not protect them?

What is the Christian response? to such horrible news and the threat of the instability of a neighboring nation?

I received a support request letter from an Anglo family seeking to get back to Juarez - one of the most violent cities in North America - to help train Mexicans to live and preach the gospel.

Line up to go joyfully and preach the good news to Mexicans so THEY can influence their country at the deepest roots! Risk all for the kingdom to come!

Welcome people who are HERE! Help them assimilate into our church and culture. Help them come in legally - instead of making our laws punitive to those who seek to move here! Help them learn the love of God that will compel them back home in the name of Christ Jesus.

And pray for the church in Mexico!
The word I hear from my Mexican friends is hard. Pastors are quitting their calling, church members disillusioned, seminaries shrinking. God's people are there, so let's pray for courage in the brokenness, persecution and hardships.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why Keep On Preaching if You Aren't a Mega-Church Pastor?


Why am I preaching when there are SO many better preachers on the internet? Can you name the one pictured here? If you go to his mega-church, how is he as a pastor?

I'm in Atlanta, land of 100 mega-churches. Why DON'T we all just give up and download Andy? Or go to a satellite location? (Or any one of the other 99 mega-pastors?) Why should I keep on preaching?

Here's Why:

I think Andy is wrong and a young pastor friend is right on.

My buddy out preaches most preachers. But has a problem Andy doesn't. He's bright, insightful, great connection with his people. He started a church about 15 months ago and now has 'too many people.'

Why would ANY preacher say THAT?!
Because he believes that a preacher is supposed to actually pastor and evangelize, care for and train up the people to whom he preaches.

He doesn't want to be a mega-pastor. He wants to reach all the people in his parish in Atlanta - and plant more churches with real actual pastors who preach, evangelize, care for and train their flock until the whole city is filled up with local pastors locally ministering locally training and living with people until everyone loves Jesus.

I'm with this guy. You can keep your two-dimensional relationship with a screen.

I want to be one of 1000s of pastors who preach and love the people into the Kingdom of Christ - all over Atlanta - face-to-face until JESUS is the most famous preacher in Atlanta.

- 10 churches of 100 people will reach more people with the gospel than one church of 1000.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Angry Protester 'Death to What?'


Angry people who can't spell crack me up.

Can you just imagine the conversation between him and the guy behind him?

OBVIOUSLY, I do NOT agree with the sentiments of either his intended message or what he actually says on his placard. I am quite fond of both!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Where Are the Bright Christian Leaders in the Middle of this Crisis?


So is it better to:

a) limit a corporation's ability to attract talent or

b) keep businesses from using government bailout money to pay executives?

I read this article about President Obama's decision to limit pay to executives in companies who take loans from the government with mixed thoughts.

On the one hand I'm against corporate executives taking government money and cashing in big salaries.

On the other hand I'm against hamstringing freedoms to attract the smartest people to solve the problems of a big corporation and pay them what they are worth.

So I'm thinking there has to be another solution, right?
O yeah, it's called 'free market economy' where companies that stink go out of business and others who can do a better job take their place. Yes, people lose their jobs and pensions. It's terrible. I must be a heartless har dass to want people to loose their jobs!

Who will help them out then? Nobody - but the government. Or will the Church step up?

What is worse, for a man to lose his job or his soul? What is more terrible than joblessness is this: people are putting their faith in jobs and government to give them life. And it won't work.

Where is the church in the middle of this? What do we have to offer people? What am I doing to alleviate the suffering of those who do not trust in God but in the plans of man? I'm praying. And teaching our men how to lead their family and their coworkers to faith in Christ. I need some laser sharp men to take the lead here. Only a community of men and women applying Scripture and wisdom is going to lead this nation out of its depression - both economic and spiritual.

Where are our bright, educated Christian leaders to lead this nation to repentance and a solid economy? Believers should be leaders in the midst of this crisis! We are all created in the image of God to transform the world in which we live!

Get off you asses Christians and let's get to work transforming this mess!

Monday, January 26, 2009

a momentary epiphany of profundity


Is this what I am aiming for? A moment of profundity? My 15 minutes in the spotlight? In many ways, I'm afraid so. Deep in my heart I am shallow.

I read this line 'a momentary epiphany of profundity' in a posted review of Lauryn Hill's 'Miseducation' on Reformed Blacks of America and the poignancy of the phrase struck home.

See I had been subtly been shaking my head at this young woman's deconstructionist patchwork of ideologies and personalities when it struck me that I do the same thing. I try to cobble together the cool and appealing ideas and positions along with my version of Christianity to make up my persona. I am wooed by our cultural tide even as I try to fight it. Like a boogie board alone in the surf, I lurch and jump when I am loosed.

YET God's law and the Holy Spirit are good and right to point out my sin so clearly. I am so judgmental. I think I know it all. Then I want justification so I speak and write and blog mostly so just maybe at some point someone will think I'm profound. At least just for a minute. I try to get my life from what people think - EVEN though He's convinced me that He is my Rock.

I sell out my Rock and my Deliverer for a patch of gravel on the sand. And then wonder why it hurts when I land on reality beach.

Thank You Lord for your mercy and long suffering with me. Thank you for revealing Your Word to my broken yet prideful heart. You are my Rock and my Deliverer and my Only Comfort in life. In You will I trust.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Holy Hip Hop Help

A godly man discussing godly music. Originally posted on John Piper's Desiring God blog.



I'm old school and out of touch musically, but I hear high commendation for these artists from Troy Coons and the staff at Impact Movement. People I respect. And you know, if the Lord is in it, He'll bring on this revival!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Prosperity Idol Worship

Found this on I Speak the Truth and it brings tears to my eyes. Tears of anger and deep sadness. This is bondage and slavery to which hundreds of thousands are enslaved in our nation and around the world.


And this sort of teaching is the most visible face of Christianity to a lost and dying world. Is it wrong to pray imprecatory prayers against this shit?

Oh wait, I am no better. I want money and ease more than I want You oh Lord! Who do I think I am? Just because I seek money in more 'appropriate' ways, am I better when I worship an idol? Oh Lord My God Have Mercy on Us!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Have a Sword Because I am in the Killing Business


Yeah, that's right. Swords are for killing. That's why I have a real battle-ready sword just like this one. And I almost always have a knife or a blade within reach as a reminder that we are in a dangerous business. Church is a life and death business. Don't be fooled.

John Piper wrote a great short article about swords and dying here. He says stuff so much better than I do.

Here's to the King who's killing my sinful desires with the Truth of His Blade!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dangers of Bling

Well you never know when or how the effects of wealth will turn sour.



Now you know.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blessed Brokenness in 2008

Thanks be to God for His mercy and generosity. I am deeply honored and humbled that the God of all gods would chose a wretched rebel like me to be His servant. I am shocked that He would make me His son and heir through His Only Faithful Son Jesus Christ.

Thanks for reading my blog in 2008. Many broken blessings to you and yours in 2009.