Tuesday, February 28, 2006

So You Want A Ministry?

1. What can I say or do today that will bring glory to God?
2. What can I do to develop a deeper and fuller understanding of Christ and His love for me?
3. What are three physical needs that I can meet in my church?
4. What are four spiritual needs that I can meet in my church?
5. If I can't think of any, what can I do to change that?
6. Have I studied Scripture today? Do I have a regular Bible study plan?
7. Who can I pray for? What spiritual need can I pray for them about?
8. What needs are there in my church that I can pray for?
9. Do I love God? What great truth can I meditate on?
10. What lusts am I waging war with today? What areas of my life am I compromising in?
11. What can I do to help my children understand the gospel? What do my children need to learn about God?
12. Who is there in my life that I can share the gospel with this week?
13. Who can I call this week? What questions can I ask to get to know them better?
14. What specific ways can I encourage someone else in the church this week? When am I going to do it?
15. What does a good friend look like? Do I match my description?
16. What am I doing to seek the unity of the church?
17. Is there a card I can write to someone else to encourage them?
18. Is there any sacrifice in the way I love others? If not, why not? How can I sacrificially love others this week?
19. How can I prepare myself for worship on Sunday?
20. How can I humbly honor someone else above myself?
21. Who do I have a difficult time getting along with in the church? What can I do to encourage that person?
22. What are five ways that I can show my wife or husband that I love them? How about my children?
23. What have I learned this week? Who can I share it with?
24. How can I show mercy to someone who is not part of the church? What can I give up for someone else's good?

Monday, February 27, 2006


I'm still kind of stunned.

I watched Grizzly Man on The Discovery Channel last night. If you haven't seen it, I'm not recommending it, but its about this guy who spends thirteen years living up with Kodiak bears up in Alaska and eventually gets eaten by one.

It's crazy.

He comes on screen and he actually, truly thinks he's protecting the bears. He talks to them like they are his friends. He finds such joy in these bears, I mean, he expresses an almost embarrassing amount of delight in them. He makes sacrifices to be with them. Lives by himself, lives in a tent, poor as all get out.

And you know, I just went away thinking that's such a picture of the way we as human beings are with our sinful lusts.

Our sinful lusts are like wild animals.

It is their nature to destroy.

Yet all too often we go around pretending like on our own, we are in charge. That we can play with them. We can be their friends. We call them by nice little names. We find joy in them. We make sacrifices for them.

And then, one day if we don't wake up and repent and run, our sinful lusts come into our tent and eat us alive.

You can't cuddle up with a Grizzly Bear and expect to last that long, and you can't play with sinful lusts and think it's all going to turn out well.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Arguing with our eyes closed...

It is so easy to just see what we want to see.

Consider the following argument I recently read in a teacher's magazine:

"The bicycle would seem to be a good argument for intelligent design...But in fact, the bicycle makes a convincing case for evolution. In its dinosaur period, its front wheel was enormous, its rear wheel a tiny, spinning afterthought. The rider had to mount from a stool, and in those helmetless days, a fall from the bike's great height could be calamitous. To become the lightweight, multigeared, fast and friendly creature we know today, countless mutations took place, and some iterations turned out to be more fit than others. And so it goes today..."

I'm hoping the writer is kidding.

And perhaps he is, I mean does anybody really think those 'mutations' took place randomly?

But my point is this, if a person can look at a bicycle and act like it was an argument for evolution we have to acknowledge it is very, very easy to just see what you want to see.

In other words, there's no such thing as a neutral fact.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Time to Get A New House...

2nd time in two months for our neighbor...

Monday, February 20, 2006

You are Needy

(*If you come to Grace and like being surprised on Sundays, I wouldn't read the following posts until next week!)

I don't want to go all Abraham Maslow on you, but I think common sense and biblical thinking make it obvious we as human beings have needs.

Like, say food. We have a need to eat.

Or air. We kind of have a need to breathe.

But we also have other needs. For example, one need that is as real as the need for food or the need for air is the need for friendship. It's not a weak person that needs food to survive, it's not an especially needy person that has to have air to live, we all do - it is part of being human. And likewise, it's not because of some deficiency in us that we need friends, it's part of the way God designed us.


Pre-fall Adam. Adam in the Garden of Eden, the perfect human being in the perfect place.


"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone...'"

If a person doesn't eat, he's going to get weak.

If a person doesn't have air, he is going to die.

And if a person doesn't have companionship, friendship, he is in just as dangerous a position, spiritually.

You see a guy walking around saying he doesn't need air to live, you don't say wow, isn't he really something. You say, man you are strange.

You are not strong if you don't think need friends, you are deluded.

That's the way God made us.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Power of Preconceptions

I’m at the gym yesterday, overhearing a couple people talking about Dick Cheney’s announcement. It was the usual…

‘How could he wait so long?’

‘It was all spin, I mean, did you notice the way he kept saying, ‘my friend’?’

I have to tell you I never thought any of that stuff.

I actually thought if I had just shot my friend I would be kind of bummed about it. I don’t think I would really want to go right out and talk to a group of people that I know are going to have a field day with it.

But my point here doesn’t have to do with Dick Cheney.

It has to do with preconceptions. A preconception is a powerful thing. Two people can hear the exact same message and come away with two absolutely opposite ideas of what was being said.

This makes it hard to communicate. Sometimes, honestly, it makes it feel almost impossible.

You've probably been in a situation where no matter what you said and how you said it, the other person wasn't going to hear it.


I personally don’t think the answer is to have no preconceptions. Instead, I think the answer is to make sure that we have biblical preconceptions.

Some of us are a bit too naïve. (I tend to be like that.)

We need to understand that the other person we are talking to is a sinner and that their sin has affected them deeply…probably more deeply than they even know themselves. We also need to remember that we are sinners and that our sin has affected us deeply…probably more deeply than we even know ourselves.

One way it has affected us is in the area of preconceptions. Some of us are way too cynical. It’s almost like we want people to be wrong. We go into conversations already convinced of the worst possible outcome. We look at the other person and treat them as if all they were was sin. We need to remember there is such a thing as grace. God really does transform people all the way down to their hearts.

Either way, we always need to make sure all our preconceptions fit the rule of love. I’ve met too many people who interpret everything people say in the worst way possible – and part of the reason they do that is because they haven’t allowed their preconceptions to be dominated by love.


“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Gifts and The Gift Giver

You ever sing "The Sands of Time are Sinking"?

We did just this past week at church. It's a great song. I just have trouble with one line.

It's verse number 4.

"The bride eyes not her garment
But her dear bride-groom's face
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel's land"

It sounds funny to save I have trouble with this line because in many ways it is great. I mean, the Lamb is all the glory of Emmanuel's land. We should primarily long to be with Him. Jesus is more beautiful and more wonderful than all the gifts He gives.

But my question is this: what's wrong with gazing at glory? Is there a problem with looking at the crown He giveth?

Personally, I don't think it's either or. I don't think looking at the crown necessarily means you aren't looking at the crown giver. Instead, I think just the opposite. The more I look at the crown, the more I look at glory, the more amazed I am by the One who purchased all this for me. In fact, I'm convinced that one of the reasons we aren't more amazed by Jesus Christ is because we haven't fully appreciated all that He is going to do for us throughout eternity.

In other words, I NEED TO GAZE AT GLORY.

If I weren't supposed to, why would there be all the descriptions of heaven throughout the Bible? On top of that, all the talk about our rewards?

Jesus Himself goes so far as to make direct admonitions about behavior on the basis of the rewards we will receive in heaven. (Or won't.) Just one example: Matthew 6:1: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your father in heaven."

The clincher of course is the fact that we are commanded to think about these things...just check out 1 Peter 1:13.

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I will believe...


Have you ever read something and thought to yourself, that's what I've been trying to say? Well, I've been trying to say this for the past five weeks.

"But imperfectly may the doubting Christian be aware what dishonour is done to Jesus...by every unbelieving fear he cherishes. It is a secret wounding of Jesus...it is a lowering, an undervaluing of Christ's obedience and death, that glorious work of salvation with which the Father has declared himself well pleased, that work with which Divine justice has confessed itself satisfied, that work on the basis of which every poor, convinced sinner is saved...that work, we say is dishonored, undervalued, and slighted by every doubt and fear secretly harbored, or openly expressed by a child of God.

The moment a believer looks at his unworthiness more than at the righteousness of Christ, supposes that there is not a sufficiency of merit in Jesus to supply the absence of all merit in himself before God, what is it but a setting up of his sinfulness and unworthiness above the infinite worth, fulness and sufficiency of Christ's atonement and righteousness?

There is much spurious humility among many of the dear saints of God. It is thought by some, that to be always doubting one's pardon and acceptance, is the evidence of a lowly spirit. It is, allow us ot say, the mark of the very opposite of a lowly and humble mind. That is true humility that credits the testimony of God, that believes it because He has spoken it, that rests in the blood and righteousness, and all sufficiency of Jesus because he has declared that whosoever believeth in him shall be saved. This is genuine lowliness- the blessed product of the Eternal Spirit. To go to Jesus just as I am, a poor, lost, helpless sinner - to go glorying in my weakness, infirmity and poverty, that the free grace and sovereign pleasure and infinite merit of Christ may be seen in my pardon, justification and eternal glory. There is more of unmortified pride, of self-righteousness, of that principle that would make God a debtor to the creature, in the refusal of a soul to fully accept Jesus, than is supsected. There is more realy, profound humility in a simple, believing venture upon Christ as a ruined sinner, taking him as all its righteousness, all its pardon, all its glory, than is possible for any mortal mind to fathom. Doubt is ever the offspring of pride: humility is the handmaid of faith."

Octavius Winslow

Monday, February 13, 2006


I want you to think like a demon for a minute.

O.k., not really but at least think about demonic strategy. Say you were a demon and you had a specific goal, you wanted to make Christians listless, apathetic, sleepy; you didn't mind if they said they were Christians - you just didn't want them to be excited about it...what would you attack?

I don't know what your answer is, but I think I'd attack their hope.

Hope is like fuel...without it, we're not going anywhere!

I mean, I'm no evil dictator and I've never known an evil dictator, but if I were an evil dictator and I wanted to make sure that I didn't have any uprisings, that my people weren't passionate about changing things one of my goals would be to keep any images from the outside world from getting in. I wouldn't want my people to know that there was anything better out there, because once they know that, they are going to have hope and once they have hope, then they start getting ideas. But if they don't have that, they are going to be much easier to rule.

Say I wanted to be a little trickier though, and I didn't want people to be listless. I wanted them to be energetic, passionate...I just wanted them to be energetically working for me. What would I do?

I'd try to give them a false hope.

Think about it. You are a guard in a concentration camp and your inmates aren't working. What could you do to get them to do what you want with great zeal? Start making them promises you don't intend to keep. Hope has great power.

Which is why it is no surprise that in his war against Christians, Satan keys in on attacking our hope. Whatever you do, don't let him get to it. Guard your hope. Refuse to throw away your confidence in what God is going to do for you and refuse to trade it for something so much less valuable, a false hope.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Da Balogna

You don't usually think of education and ignorance going together, but I think this article by Mark Hughes is a pretty powerful reminder that it is definitely possible.

To be a bit more charitable, either he's a bit ignorant or I am.

But I mean I've been a Christian for a long time, I've grown up in the church, I've gone to Christian school, in other words, I know alot of Christians; and yet I've got to say I don't know the people he is talking about.

This is in the Philadelphia Daily News. This is a person who teaches at Penn talking supposed about Christians and yet I mean, these people that he's talking about don't look like very much like anyone I've met.

I mean what Christian would really care more about bashing Catholics than he would the inerrancy and infallibility of Scriptures? He writes, "Conservative American Protestants will look past the speculations about Jesus and Mary Magdalene (many will even find them neat to ponder, though probably not with their children) and will instead revel in the anti-Catholic bigotry the story appears to justify."

If he's right that's really pretty sad, but I for one, and maybe I'm optimistic, but I don't think he's really even close. For some reason, I just don't think many Christians will find it very neat to ponder the gospels being a lie, Jesus getting married to Mary Magadelene, their very faith being false.

Speaking of bigotry, could this instead be more a case of the pot calling the kettle black?


Sharper Iron posts a helpful article on one of Spurgeon's heros!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

No Boast Boasting

I'm thinking alot this week about a verse tucked away at the end of 1 Corinthians chapter 1. Paul's talking about our salvation and he's saying that God specifically designed our salvation "...so that no human being might boast in the presence of God..."

It just seems to me (and I know I'm going out on a limb here) that if God went to the lengths he did to design our salvation in such a way for the express purpose of keeping us from boasting in ourselves, He probably doesn't really like it when we boast in ourselves.

Yet, here's where I start crying, isn't the exact thing many of us are spending much of our lives trying to do? God saves us so that we wouldn't boast in ourselves, and then we go out and try to find ways to boast in ourselves.

Sick, isn't it?

Instead of getting all freaked out about our nothingness and looking at our lack of importance as a big old negative, can we just start resting in it - it is actually a positive because it helps me remember that it's not about me - it's about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I'm not saying that we go around our whole lives with our heads hung low, muttering poor old me to ourselves. I'm just saying that we stop thinking that doing this or doing that or becoming this or becoming that is the solution. It's not.

Jesus is.

Bernard of Clairvaux explains, "Now when I reflect upon my soul - which by the grace of God I sometimes do - it seems to me that I discover in it, so to speak, two opposite aspects. If I consider it in and of itself, I can say nothing more truly of it than it is reduced to nothing. What need is there now to enumerate the individual miseries of the soulo, how it is burdened with sins, enveloped in darkness, enslaved to pleasure, itching with lusts, subject to passions, filled with delusions, always prone to evil, bent to every sort of vice...in a word, filled with shame and confusion...Man is nought.

Yet how can he whom God magnifies be nothing? How can he upon whom God has set his heart be nothing. Brethren let us take heart again. Even if we are nothing in our own hearts, perchance something of us may be hidden in the heart of God. O Father of mercies...O Father of the miserable! How canst thou set thy heart upon us...For where thy treasure is, thine heart is also. But how are we thy treasure if we are nothing? All the nations are as nothing before thee, they will be accounted by thee as nothing. So, indeed before thee, not within thee: so in the judgment of thy truth, but not so in the intention of thy faithfulness. So indeed thou callest those things which are not as though they were. And they are not, therefore because it is the things that are not that thou callest, and the are at the same time because thou callest them. For although, as regards themselves, they are not, nevertheless with thee they are; but as the apostle says, not of their works of righteousness, but of him who calls...If we diligently examine what we are, under these two considerations, or rather if we examine how from the one point of view we are nothing, and from the other how magnified...I believe our glorying will be appear moderate, yet will be greater and better founded than before, so that we glory not in ourselves but in the Lord."

Monday, February 06, 2006

What are you about? Seriously...

If you had to figure out what someone's life-purpose was, but you weren't allowed to ask them what it was directly - what kinds of things would you want to know about them?

What kinds of questions would you ask to help you figure it out?

Perhaps you'd start with time. What do you do with your free time? Maybe after that, you'd move on to money. How do you spend your money? What about talk...what do they talk about? Or how about, what do they get upset about?

We could go on and on...

What do they get excited about? What do they think about? What do they want? What do they wish for?

I'm just wondering, walk with me here, many of us know that our life-purpose is supposed to be the glory of God - when asked, we 've got that answer down "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever" next question please; but if someone looked at our life, the way we spend our time, our money, what we talk about about, get upset about, would the way we live and what we confess match?

At all?

This is really kind of scary. I mean, which is a worse position to be in: to do wrong and know that what you are doing is wrong or to do wrong and actually think that what you are doing is right? They are both bad, but I say the second is worse because at least in the first case you have a chance to repent.

Yet I'm afraid that's where many are at when it comes to the fundamental question of what they are about.

Can I just shout it out?

We're not living for the glory of God simply because we say we're living for the glory of God.

We've got to ask ourselves the tough questions.

At the end of a day - ask yourself what did you talk about? If you look back and you see that you spent most of the day complaining - what does that say about your life purpose? It tells you though you might say your purpose is the glory of God, that day at least it really was the comfort of you. And whenever got something in the way of that, you got upset.

How do we make decisions? Do we ever make a decision that is difficult on the basis of what the Word actually says? Do we even ask what the Word says when we go to make a decision? Do we ever go beyond I feel like this is what the Word might say - to actually having a verse that we've studied and can explain why we are making that decision on the basis of that verse?

Friday, February 03, 2006

No True Leadership Without It


It seems to me that one of the differences between worldly leadership and biblical leadership is that biblical leadership requires constant self-denial. Maybe I should be more specific, self-denial for the good of others and the glory of God.

That's one reason why I'd suggest if you want to be a godly leader, to look at any opportunity for self-denial as an opportunity for biblical leadership training. When I'm saying no to something I want for the good of others and for the glory of God, I'm learning how to become a better leader. On the other hand, if I'm primarily making decisions on the basis of personal comfort, while I might end up being a good worldly leader...being controlled by that particular motivation is going to end up taking me the exact opposite direction of godly leadership.

"You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many."