Friday, April 28, 2006

Moving Day...

To the like, two regular readers of this blog (and I'm including myself in that count) I wanted to let you know the obvious, I'm moving over to

I'm guessing once in a while I'll post something or other up here, probably nothing significant, just random I've got to get it out musings that aren't quite appropriate for the other blog.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I don't do counseling...

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that or at least a statement like that from accomplished pastors. I just recently for example read of a pastor who doesn’t meet with people from his church for counseling because those kinds of meetings “drain” him.

Now, I’d be the first to tell here for rest of post

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Click for Information On...

Potential Crisis in East Africa ...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Making Your Preacher Better...

If you want to learn what you don't know about teaching, I would suggest signing up to work at a high school for a couple of years. That's what I have had to do this past year, and wow, I'm pretty sure I'm learning more than my students.

One of the big things I've learned is the...(click here for rest of article)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Are you interested?

I don't think being a people person pastor has anything to do with personality. I think being a people person pastor has something to do with being interested in people.

What I mean by that is people besides yourself ... (Click for rest of article)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Can A Pastor Not Be A People Person?

I remember in seminary someone once asking the question:

Can you be a pastor and not be a people person?

Obviously, it is physically possible to be a pastor and not be a people person. I've met a lot of pastors that didn't seem all that interested in people. But I don't think that's really the question.

Can you do the work of a pastor and not be a people person?

Personally, I'd have to say ...(Click for rest of article)

Monday, April 17, 2006

I will survive...

I want you to think about one fact that could change your life. And by change your life, I mean completely change the way you look at everything in your life.

Like, say perhaps finding out you were going to die. You can't tell me finding out you were going to die in like two weeks wouldn't change the way you went about living your life. It would change the way you looked at everything, your marriage, your work, your hobbies.

Or how about even better, finding out you weren't going to die. This one obviously takes more of a stretch of the imagination but I've got to believe finding out you weren't going to die would have a pretty major impact on the decisions you went about making.

I say that because I wonder if we always get that is a big part of what it means to be a Christian.

Obivously I need to modify that a bit.

It's not that we don't die or that we can't die. The reality is better.

Quoting the Apostle's Creed:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

We believe that we are going to die, our bodies will be buried, our souls will go to heaven, and then one day in the future Jesus is going to return, and our bodies will be literally rise from the grave, reunited with our souls and be transformed into something much more glorious and powerful than they are right now, a body like Jesus Christ's.

That's pretty awesome stuff.

I mean, have you ever looked at your body and said to yourself, I believe this body is going to survive death. Only better. That's part of what Easter's about. Paul calls Jesus' resurrection a kind of firstfruits.

No question, that's one fact that should completely change the way you look at life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What Am I Going to Do About It?

(*See previous post "Do Something")


I know that on my own apart from God's grace I can't keep any of the following resolutions. I make these resolutions crying out to my Savior Jesus Christ for help.

1.) I am committed to finding ways to remind myself and others of the needs that do exist in this world on a regular basis.
2.) I am committed to asking myself what sins lay behind my materialism. Is it because I don't believe God can really take care of me? Is it because I don't believe what Jesus says about God's attitude towards me? Is it because I've made my own personal comfort more important than the kingdom? Is it because I am acting as if I am Lord of my life and not Jesus? Is it because I feel like I have a right to spend my money the way I want? When I see better the sins beneath my materialism - to repent immediately.
3.) I am committed to taking Paul's words in 1 Timothy 6:10,11 seriously "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness."
4.) I am committed to asking God for help on a regular basis that I would put my trust in Him and not what I have.
5.) I am committed when I begin to complain about what I don't have to imagine myself as a Christian living in a place like Sudan and to pray for them instead of complaining about myself.
6.) I am committed to reminding myself that everything I have belongs to God - and to be ready to gladly give it up if it is needed. I am committed, if there is something that I am not willing to give up to God - to ask myself why? And if needed, to be radical and give that up quickly.
7.) I am committed to thinking of other Christians like family and being willing to sacrifice for family.
8.) I am committed to take Jesus' words about what it means to be a disciple seriously and not to allow the example of others or the way that some downplay those words to distract me.
9.) I am committed to finding good examples of people who are sacrificing for Christ and learning from those examples rather than using the bad examples of many as a guide.
10.) I am committed to asking other people to help me figure out what we can do specifically about the needs we see in the world around us. I am committed to getting small groups together to ask the question - how can we better help those who are hurting in this world?
11.) I am committed to coming up with at least one specific plan to put into action in the next year.
12.) I am committed to enjoying what God has given me with thanksgiving. I am committed to believing the gospel and not to give in order to earn God's favor but because I have God's favor. I am committed to believing that if I gave up everything I had and lived in the poorest parts of the world, I would not be any more worthy of salvation than I am now - that my only hope in both cases is Jesus Christ. I am committed to believing that God is for me because of what Jesus did - and that because of that there is really no risk in obedience.
13.) I am committed to examining what I think are my needs and asking if they really are needs or if they simply are desires.
14.) I am committed to going to serve God with my family to help and serve the poor if He allows.

What about you?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Do Something

I'm imagining two brothers, both given I don't know, let's say an inheritance from their father.

Perhaps it was sheep.

For some reason one brother's flock does well, I mean the guy makes money like crazy. The other brother's flock though, dies off.

He's starving.

In my mind, the brother who is doing well has an obligation to the other brother. Before he goes and spends his money living it up, he should try to help his brother survive.

I mean, obviously that would have been the father's desire.

I was thinking about that, because I was reading a book about life in the times of Christ. Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs or something like that. Apparently the religious leaders in Jerusalem, financially were making a killing while the peasants were struggling to survive.

And I thought, that's just wrong.

In a nation, for one group to be buying bigger houses, spending their money on needless things, while their brothers, are barely surviving. To me, that's evil.

Which led me of course to think about me, about us, about America.

What are doing? What are we thinking? Seriously, do we have a clue?

Spending our money on like 2000 square feet that we don't need, on our gardens, on our cars, on whatever we can think to spend it on, when there is a whole world out there, struggling just to survive.

I'm convinced if we could see things the way they really are, we'd probably puke from the evil of it all. At least, I would puke on my own materialism.

It is not a trivial issue.

This world is filled with amazing need and we have, an amazing opportunity. We can't just like hole up in our houses, clutching our money, saying me, me, me all day long.

We can do something extraordinary.

And the thing is, it's not like it even takes that much of a sacrifice.

Quoting Doug Nichols from Action International Missions:

1 dollar gives supplementary feeding for a child in Zambia for one month.

90 cents fully clothes an orphan in Malawi or Zambia.

6 dollars provides a set of commentaries for a needy pastor in Africa or Asia.

50 picking bucks will support a pastor in Cambodia, the Philippines, and India.

I have to be careful here, to use gospel motivation. The purpose here is not to guilt me or you into giving.

I'm just wondering though, are we forgetting what Jesus has done for us? Are we forgetting the grace we've been shown? Are we forgetting who all this stuff belongs to? Are we forgetting that there is a heaven? Are we forgetting that there is a judgment?

Do we even remember what Jesus told us he would being saying to some on that day,

"Depart from me, you cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, I was naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me! Then they also will answer, saying 'Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them saying, 'Truly I say to you, as you did not do it ot one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sitting down and shutting up...

Why we need to stop thinking we are so smart and start listening and learning from others*

1.) Thinking of yourself as better than others is a pretty big sin.

In fact, one old saint calls that attitude the mother of hell. (And you know what I say, if hell has a mother, she must be one nasty momma...)

2.) If you are pretty smart, it's only because God has gifted you. And if you are going around trusting in your intelligence you are taking that gift from God and using it in an absolutely perverted way. You are being a little like a kid who gets a bee-bee gun and aims it right at his foot.

3.) You are not as smart as you think you are anyway. Think for a minute about how little you know, say in comparison with the devil. The devil is crazy, but he's smart. Are you going to tell me you are smarter than the devil? If you really believe that, watch out. If you don't believe that, how in the world can you be so proud about how smart you are when you are not even as smart as the devil?

4.) You don't know so much more than you know. Take the thing you think you know best, and consider how little you really know about it. Even geniuses like Einstein would look at the universe around them and say, man I'm just touching the edges. Actually, Einstein supposedly put it like this: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."

5.) You are not going to grow much if you think you know so much more than everybody else. You'll end up looking a little like a precocious four year old in a suit who goes around using big words and acting like he knows much more than he really does. At first, it might be kind of cute. But after a while, if he really does think he is as smart as everyone else in the room you feel a little bad for the guy.

6.) You are probably not even going to be a very good teacher. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule because I think I made it up, but have you ever listened to someone teach who obviously really, really thinks alot of himself?

If they aren't very smart, they are completely boring.

And if they happen to be pretty smart, the knowledge they do impart has like a bad taste to it. If it's math they are teaching, o.k. it still might help you a bit but if they are trying to impart spiritual knowledge with that kind of attitude, it's very difficult medicine to swallow.

Thomas Watson puts it like this, "The more one values himself, the less God and angels value him. Let a person be eminent, yet, if he is self-conceited, he is loved by none. He is like a physician who has the plague. Though he may be admired for his skill, yet none care to come near him."

7.) You are cruising for a bruising. If you don't humble yourself, you can be sure God will.

*Adapted from Thomas Watson's "The Duty of Self-Denial"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Talking about me...

I've always been taught not to tell your own story as a preacher.

I think it was Martyn Lloyd Jones who really stressed this, don't talk about yourself, talk about the text.

And I get that. I really do.

The sermon is not about me. I don't want to get in the way. I don't want people to leave looking or thinking about me but about Jesus Christ. And I definitely don't think I'm all that exciting anyway.

That said, I'm just wondering...

For one thing, I'm wondering whether or not we might be missing out on a wonderful, God-given teaching tool.

Look at the apostle Paul. There is a lot of his life in his letters. Why? I think one reason is because it helps us see the truth lived out. Isn't that one of the points of having elders in the church? To show the church what it looks like to live for Christ.

Whether or not we talk about ourselves in our sermons, I'm convinced we need to talk about this - we need to not only tell our people what the text says, we need to show them how to interact with Scripture in a real way in real life.

We need to give them real, living breathing examples of how the truth we are preaching plays itself out at work, when they are struggling, when they are doing well.

For another thing, I'm wondering if talking about telling our stories is missing the point anyway. Our story is God's story - our individual lives are examples of how He is accomplishing His sanctifying, redeeming, saving work. If we talk about our stories as if they were our stories, then we are missing the point. But what if we did at least every once in a while pepper our sermons with illustrations of how God is working out His story in our lives?

I for one, think that's more than acceptable.

I think it is desperately needed.

Monday, April 03, 2006


I'm a small group guy.

I want you to know that.

By temperament and by theology, I'm all for small groups. By temperament, I mean, I like listening to people share. I like being around other people. I like interaction. I like it when people ask questions. By theology, I mean I believe one of the primary ways God changes people is through relationships and that small groups are a smart, common sense way of helping people form those kinds of life-changing relationships.

I'm a small group guy.

That said, I'm just wondering something.

I'm wondering if sometimes (not all the time - sometimes) the emphasis on small groups has something to do with a de-emphasis on preaching. And I'm wondering if the de-emphasis on preaching has something to do with the fact that most of us would rather hear ourselves talk than someone else.

I taught Sunday School with a group of four year olds a couple weeks ago. And man, when they were talking about themselves they were so into it. But the moment, and I mean, the moment someone else started telling a story - they checked out.

Like many of us.

Small groups are great - go for it. But be careful the motivation is right. If we're going to really learn, we can't just listen to ourselves. We've got to learn to listen to other people just as well.