Monthly Archives: May 2010

The simplest commands are the hardest to obey

Love one another. Three simple words. An easily understood command. One half of the great commandment (Matthew 22:34-40). Yet, it is one of the most difficult commands of all of Scripture to practice on a regular basis.

In his first letter, the apostle John talks about the importance of loving one another on three separate occasions (1 John 2:7-11; 3:11-18; 4:7-21). In chapter 4 alone, he gives the instruction three times and rephrases it for a fourth emphasis (4:7, 11, 12, 21). It was so important in the first century that John taught, retaught, and emphasized it repeatedly. Tradition says that in his latter years, the apostle would be carried into a room and he would give the simple instruction over and over again, “Love one another. Love one another.”

Sadly, not much has changed in almost 2,000 years. We need to be reminded of the instruction today. Christians snipe at each other in the blogosphere. Churches are split over petty issues. Christian couples divorce over conflict and differences. People harbor grudges and refuse to acknowledge the person across the aisle who may have inadvertently hurt them years ago. Gossip is spread under the guise of “pray about so-and-so.”

The ability to love one another does not come as standard equipment on anyone born into the human race. It is the optional equipment package none of us ever chooses. We can only accomplish this task when we submit our lives to God, receive forgiveness of sins, and receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, when we love others we demonstrate the reality that we have been transformed. Because God loves us and lives in us, we can and should love one another. That is the gist of John’s argument in 1 John 4:7-21.

Love one another. A simple command but not one we can obey in our own power. We can only accomplish it when the God who is love works in and through us.

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Posted by on May 21, 2010 in Church, Personal growth, Scripture


Preaching + Prayer = Power

E. M. Bounds was a Civil War era pastor and chaplain who is known for his prolific writings on prayer. In an essay entitled, “Prayer and the house of God,” in The complete works of E. M. Bounds on prayer,  he describes how prayer enhances preaching.

Here then is the scriptural definition of preaching. (He had previously described how Ezra read the book of the Law.) No better definition can be given. To read the Word of God distinctly–to read it so that the people could hear and understand the words read; not to mumble out the words, not read it in an undertone or with indistinctness, but boldly and clearly–that was the method followed in Jerusalem, on this auspicious day. Moreover: the sense of the words was made clear in the meeting held before the water gate; the people were treated to a high type of expository preaching. That was true preaching–preaching of a sort which is sorely needed, today, in order that God’s Word may have due effect on the hearts of the people. This meeting in Jerusalem surely contains a lesson which all present-day preachers should learn and heed.

No one having any knowledge of the existing facts, will deny the comparative lack of expository preaching in the pulpit effort of today. And none, we should, at least, imagine, will do other than lament the lack. Topical preaching, polemical preaching, historical preaching, and other forms of sermonic output have, one supposes, their rightful and opportune uses. But expository preaching–the prayerful expounding of the Word of God is preaching that is preaching–pulpit effort par excellence.

For its successful accomplishment, however, a preacher needs must be a man of prayer. For every hour spent in his study-chair, he will have to spend two upon his knees. For every hour he devotes to wrestling with an obscure passage of Scripture, he must have two in which to be found wrestling with God. Prayer and preaching: preaching and prayer! They cannot be separated. The ancient cry was: “To your tents, O Israel!” The modern cry should be: “To your knees, O preachers, to your knees!”

When I read Bounds, I am continually reminded and challenged to spend more time in prayer. I need to heed his cry.

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Posted by on May 15, 2010 in Books, Prayer, Preaching, Quotes


We’re #1!

In an article entitled, “America’s Most Miserable Sports Cities,” declares Seattle to be the top of the list. The opening line says it all, “With its lone title 31 years in the past and Kevin Durant turning into a star elsewhere, it’s gloomy in Seattle.” The accompanying slide show doesn’t help.


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Posted by on May 13, 2010 in News stories, Seattle, Sports


What’s your favorite pastime?

“A company named DDI did some fascinating research that showed that the average American spends fifteen hours a month criticizing or complaining about their boss. Since I didn’t do this research myself, and let my own ego get in the way, I chose to believe that they were wrong. When I conducted a similar study of two hundred employees, my results were exactly the same as theirs. They were right!

Many of us bash the boss at work, after work, even on weekends when our only audiences are our partners or captive family members. That fifteen hours is more time than Americans devoted to watching baseball, which suggest that our real national pastime is bashing the boss.”

Marshall Goldsmith, Mojo: How to get it, How to keep it, How to get it back if you lose it

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Posted by on May 10, 2010 in Books, Quotes


Electron Boy

Electron Boy’s amazing power felt worldwide” and “Local boy with cancer turns into superhero for a day.”  Great stories about the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to transform a 13-year-old boy into a superhero for a day. Very cool story and video too.

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Posted by on May 9, 2010 in News stories


Cutting edge churches

Want to be a cutting edge church? Want to learn the secrets of the big boys but can’t afford the seminar and don’t want to read the book? Then watch the video! “Sunday’s coming!” is a tongue-in-cheek account of the latest in cutting-edge-churches designed for all of us wannabes. Practice these simple strategies and you too can be a cutting edge church. ;-}

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Posted by on May 9, 2010 in Church, Videos


If you think your team is bad

For every sports fan who cringes and wails after their team’s pitiful performance on the field (yes, 2010 Seattle Mariners, you are sadly included), watch this rant from Bruce Drennan about a recent game played by the Cleveland Indians. It is a hilarilous classic! It will give you a few moments of laughter before your team takes the field for its next debacle.

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Posted by on May 8, 2010 in Sports, Videos


Where’s Jiminy Cricket when you need him?

1 John 3:20 contains an rather intriguing phrase, “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” The phrase is found in the midst of a section, verses 19-24, that describes how a person can have confidence about their relationship with Jesus Christ. John seems to be saying that when we love God by loving other people, we can have a clear conscience, and come confidently into God’s presence to present our prayer requests to him. Most commentators seem to think John is using the phrase, “whenever our heart condemns us” to describe how God works through our conscience.

One writer suggested that there are three types of  people in the world.

  1. Those whose conscience is silent. When Pinocchio stopped listening to Jiminy Cricket, Jiminy stopped talking. And Pinocchio turned into a real ass.
  2. Those whose conscience is too finely tuned and overly sensitive. These folks often labor under the burden of false guilt. A sideways glance leaves them in tears and headed for the confessional booth.
  3. Those who listen to their conscience, confess their sins, and then rest in the fact that God knows their heart. They strive for holiness, but don’t expect perfection. They trust that God is a just judge.

In thinking about these issues this week, I began to wonder, “How many people have given Jiminy Cricket the boot out of their lives? How many stopped listening to God’s voice through their consciences? How many people live defeated lives because they are harboring secret sins? How many people are spiritually weak and prayerless because they won’t admit and/or confess their sins?”

I don’t know the answer, but I think Jiminy needs to get back to work.


Battle Stations!

Work. Sleep. Eat. Work. Sleep. Eat. WEEKEND! Work. Sleep. Eat.

The monotony and routine of life can lull one to sleep. You begin to lose sight of what is most important. E. M. Bounds provides a wake-up call as to the true nature of the Christian life.

It cannot be stated too frequently that the life of a Christian is a warfare, an intense conflict, a lifelong contest. It is a battle, moreover, waged against invisible foes, who are ever alert, and ever seeking to entrap, deceive, and ruin the souls of men. The life to which Holy Scripture calls men is no picnic, or holiday junketing. It is no pastime, no pleasure jaunt. It entails effort, wrestling, struggling; it demands the putting forth of the full energy of the spirit in order to frustrate the foe and to come off, at the last, more than conqueror. It is no primrose path, no rose-scented dalliance. From start to finish, it is war. From the hour in which he first draws sword, to that in which he doffs his harness, the Christian warrior is compelled to “endure hardness like a good solider.”

What a misconception many people have of the Christian life! How little the average church member appears to know of the character of the conflict, and of its demands upon him! How ignorant he seems to be of the enemies he must encounter, if he engage to serve God faithfully and so succeed in getting to heaven and receive the crown of life! He seems scarcely to realize that the world, the flesh, and the devil will oppose his onward march, and will defeat him utterly; unless he give himself to constant vigilance and unceasing prayer.

From “Prayer and vigilance,” in The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer

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Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Books, Prayer, Quotes


A sense of anticipation

“Is God about to do something? in my life? in my church?”

I find myself asking that question a lot lately. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I feel more distracted, more discouraged, more overwhelmed, more puzzled, and more under pressure these days. If not for God’s plans, why would the enemy bother with me?

I feel a greater sense of inadequacy. I feel a greater need for prayer. I realize how weak I am, how little strength, stamina, wisdom, and resources that I possess. I begin to sense how utterly dependent I am upon God. If anything good is going to happen in and through me, God must show up and accomplish it. 

Is God about to do something?

I don’t know the answer, but I wait and pray with a sense of anticipation.

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Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Passion, Personal growth


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