Monthly Archives: February 2009

Dangerous detours

Deuteronomy 1:2-3 makes a revealing statement in an editorial comment. It provides insight as to why many people never arrive at spiritual maturity.

“It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-Barnea. In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them,” (ESV)

According to this passage, it normally took 11 days to travel from Horeb or Mt. Sinai, which is in the south near the border of Egypt, to Kadesh Barnea in the north, which was located on the doorstep of the Promised Land. Yet it took Israel 40 years to make the journey.

At Mt. Sinai, the nation received instructions how to live and worship God. They received directions how to find and enjoy God’s best in the land promised to their ancestors. Yet due to pride, sin, rebellion, disobedience, and lack of faith, many never made the journey, let alone arrived at the destination. Rather than follow God’s directions, they turned off their GPS unit and headed off on a series of dangerous detours.

How many of us wander in the wilderness because we choose not to obey God’s instructions? Like Israel, we know the truth. We have been well taught. We’ve memorized Scripture verses and can quote promises. Yet we have never chosen to believe the promises and obey the instructions. Consequently, we never enjoy God’s blessings. We never grow in our faith and become mature.

Far too often, we are like the school teacher who taught for 40 years and wondered why he had never received any awards or promotions. When he asked his principal about the oversight, he was told that while he had taught for 40 years, he did not have 40 years of experience. Instead, he had one year of experience repeated 40 times. He had never grown in his knowledge of his subject or improved his skills beyond the minimum.

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Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Personal growth, Scripture


Loving those for whom Christ died


“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48, ESV)

This poster was created by the folks at The Plow. Since they provided a link for a free download and permission to use it, I took advantage of their offer.

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Posted by on February 26, 2009 in Photos, Scripture


Good news for Seattle commuters

Seattle makes most congested cities list” – Oh, joy! And this is before they begin a year of construction on I-5.

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Posted by on February 25, 2009 in News stories, Seattle


The death of common sense

(Note: This was sent to me by a friend and is reported to have been an editorial in the London Times. While it seems to be making the rounds on the Internet, I have not been able to find the original source. Still, it is humorous and too close to the truth to be ignored.)

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

– Knowing when to come in out of the rain
– Why the early bird gets the worm
– Life isn’t always fair
– Maybe it was my fault

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun tan lotion or an aspirin to a student, but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot – she spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers:
– I Know My Rights
– I Want It Now
– Someone Else Is To Blame
– I’m A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

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Posted by on February 25, 2009 in Culture, Fun


When did Christianity become a spectator sport?

On Saturday, I was watching the University of Washington men’s basketball team play the USC Trojans. When the Huskies were pulling away from the Trojans at the end of the game, the fans at the Galen Center in Los Angeles began streaming for the exit. I remarked to my wife, “Typical L.A. fans. Once the team falls behind, let’s head for the exit and get on the freeway before everyone else.”

I wonder how many church goers are more like fair-weather sports fans than committed Christians. When the worship team plays my kind of music; the pastor gives encouraging, and of course short, messages; I can park close to the door; my friends sit close by; the coffee is hot and the donuts are fresh; and I’m not asked to usher or teach; I’m in my favorite seat at church. But when the worship team is too loud; I don’t like the music; the pastor starts meddling and stepping on my toes; I have to park in the north 40 of the parking lot; they run out of coffee and donuts; the nominating committee keeps asking me to serve as a Deacon; or the Christian Education workers keep pestering me that it is my turn to serve in the nursery; well, it’s time to find another church.

Last summer, a family clan started attending our church. The pastor of their church had recently passed away and the family was concerned about some of the proposed changes on the horizon. So, they started looking for a Bible teaching church and landed at our place. Week in and week out they faithfully sat in the same pew and absorbed everything that was taught. They proclaimed us solidly biblical and evangelical. But they never connected with the congregation and/or got involved in the life of the church. In January, I preached a series on 2010 Vision and tried to raise the bar of expectations regarding each of our responsibilities in the areas of outreach, connecting, and service. We have not seen the family since.

As it turned out, I guess we were too biblical for their tastes.

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Posted by on February 23, 2009 in Church, Ministry


Do without Facebook? Are you kidding?

This is one of those news stories that should come under the heading of “Signs of the Apocalypse” — “Facebook fast: Dad wonders if he can last all of Lent without Facebook.” The author provides a fascinating look at the addiction that is Facebook. She quotes one user who logs on as many as 20 times a day as saying, “It’s my candy.”

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Posted by on February 20, 2009 in Culture, News stories


The danger of a little knowledge

Numbers 13-14 provides a sad case study and a stern warning of the danger of knowledge, or rather a little knowledge without application. Knowledge without obedience leads to pride and disaster.

In Numbers 13:2, God instructed Moses, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan.” The twelve men Moses chose shared the same characteristics. Each man was a leader in their respective tribe (13:2). Each man had seen God’s glory and the display of his power (14:22). Each of the men had witnessed the 10 plagues in Egypt. They saw how the Red Sea parted and they walked through on dry ground. They were present at Mt. Sinai when the cloud covered the mountain and God gave the Law to Moses. When they were hungry and thirsty, they saw how God provided water from the rock and manna and quail in the wilderness.

Yet, for 10 of those men, that knowledge of God and his wonders made absolutely no difference in how they lived their lives. They did not make the connection between what God did in the past and how they were to live in the present. Though they remembered how God delivered them from Egypt, they quailed in fear at the sight of the giants in the land (13:32). Though God prevailed over the supposed gods of Egypt, they viewed themselves as mere grasshoppers compared to their next challenge (13:33). While they could answer every question of Bible trivia, they stopped short of obedience (14:22).

The two exceptions were Joshua and Caleb. They acted in faith and believed God’s promises. While they too saw the giants, they also saw that God was with them and would deliver the giants into their hands (14:9). In their minds, the conquest was as good as done (14:8). Because of their faith, they chose to follow God wholeheartedly (14:24).

When Bible knowledge stops at the head and never makes it to the heart, all kinds of problems can ensue. The smartest theologian can cuss the bluest streak when he doesn’t get his way. The one who reads “a chapter a day to keep the devil away” can still react with road rage when someone cuts them off on I-5. A Bible College graduate can stun his friends by leaving his wife and having an affair. A pastor can quit at the first sign of opposition. A missionary can sink into deep depression when no one responds to his ministry. The Bible scholar can think he is impervious to temptation.

A little knowledge (alone) can lead to BIG problems. Don’t become educated beyond your level of obedience.

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Posted by on February 19, 2009 in Personal growth, Scripture, Theology


Why the church matters

In their book, Comeback churches, authors Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson give 10 reasons why the church matters (pp.32-33):

  1. The church is the only institution that our Lord promised to build and to bless (Matthew 16:18).
  2. The church is the gathering place of true worshippers (Philippians 3:3).
  3. The church is the most precious assembly on earth since Christ purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 1:20; 1 Peter 1:18; Revelation 1:5).
  4. The church is the earthly expression of the heavenly reality (Matthew 6:10; 18:18).
  5. The church will ultimately triumph both universally and locally (Matthew 16:18; Philippians 1:6).
  6. The church is the realm of spiritual fellowship (Hebrews 10:22-25; 1 John 1:3, 6-7).
  7. The church is the proclaimer and protector of divine truth (1 Timothy 3:15; Titus 2:1, 15).
  8. The church is the chief place for spiritual edification and growth (Acts 20:32; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:1-2; 2 Peter 3:18).
  9. The church is the launching pad for world evangelization (Mark 16;15; Titus 2:11).
  10. The church is the environment where strong spiritual leadership develops and matures (2 Timothy 2:2).
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Posted by on February 18, 2009 in Books, Church


Fantastic Machine

A friend sent me a link for a video of a Fantastic Machine. Fascinating and very creative.

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Posted by on February 17, 2009 in Fun, Videos


Who marked your life?

On different occasions, I have been asked the question, “Who are the people who have had the greatest impact on your life today?” Outside of my parents, wife, and children, the following people have had a positive impact on my life and ministry:

John Miller – John was my youth pastor while I was in high school. He challenged me as to who was lord of my life. He taught me the importance of the Spirit-filled life.

Tony Brittin – Tony was my youth pastor while I was in college. He saw potential in me for ministry and would feed me opportunities to serve.

Faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary – During my time as a student at DTS, I learned how to think theologically.  I developed skills for studying the Bible.

Dr. Howard Hendricks – Prof taught me how to do inductive Bible study and the importance of observation.  Through classes, tapes, CDs, conferences, DVDs, and online courses, he helped shape my understanding of teaching and leadership.

Dr. Don Sunukjian – Don taught me much of what I know about preaching, first as one of my professors at Dallas and later through conferences, preaching courses, and a book he wrote on preaching.

Bruce Wilkinson – Bruce impacted my philosophy of teaching, especially as it relates to style and delivery.  He shaped my commitment to include application in my preaching/teaching and to always teach for lifechange.

John Hoover – John was the Dean of Faculty and V.P. of International Ministries for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries.  He encouraged me to think through my philosophy of ministry.  During a trip to Russia in 1992, he had a huge impact on helping stretch and develop my heart for the world.

Kent Hughes – During my time at College Church, Kent modeled what it meant to be a hard-working pastor.  I appreciated his commitment to blend exposition with application in his sermons.  He introduced me to the concept of the church maintaining three priorities-Upward to exalt the king, Inward to equip his servants, and Outward to expand his kingdom.

Tim Jack – During numerous staff meetings, lunches, conversations in the hallway, and countless discussions, Tim and I talked through and developed the strategy for leadership development that I still use today. We continue to meet together as friends for encouragement and sharing.

Jack Fender, Mark Grote, & Daniel Adent – These men took courses that I taught on a variety of subjects and allowed me the privilege of teaching and mentoring them. They challenged me to “stay one step ahead of the hounds” and to keep learning and growing myself. We have since moved from teacher/student to friends and collaborators. They encourage me probably more than I encourage them.

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Posted by on February 14, 2009 in Leadership, Mentors