Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ten Reasons Why I Swear

Todj Ondrick of the Ted Ondrick Company LLC gave me a business card he keeps around his office that addresses the subject of profanity. On one side is a tongue-in-cheek look at “Ten reasons why I swear.” On the other side is the biblical opinion of swearing and how to stop. I share it here with his permission.

Ten Reasons Why I Swear

  1. It pleases mother so much.
  2. It is a fine mark of manliness.
  3. It proves I have self-control.
  4. It indicates how clearly my mind operates.
  5. It makes my conversation so pleasing to everybody.
  6. It leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind as to my good breeding.
  7. It impresses people that I have more than ordinary education.
  8. It is an unmistakable sign of culture and refinement.
  9. It makes me a very desirable personality among women and children in a respectable society.
  10. It is my way of honoring God who said, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

“SWEARING IS JUST A HABIT WITH ME.” Sure, like beating your wife, robbing banks, or poisoning babies. Your favorite excuse is –

“I DON’T MEAN ANYTHING BY IT.” Tell that to the judge next time you’re arrested for speeding! Explain to him, “It’s just a habit with me.” Try coming into work drunk for a month. Remind your boss that “I don’t mean anything by it. It’s just a habit with me.”

YOU CAN’T FOOL GOD! If you can’t kid the judge, if you can’t fool your boss: how do you think you can fool God? – It is written, “Swear not at all” (Matt 5:34). God says, “Be not deceived. God is not mocked.” (Gal. 6:7). “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Ex 20:7).

HOW TO QUIT. Pray, right now. Ask God to forgive you for your wickednes. Open your heart to the Son of God. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Ask him to cleanse you, to save your soul, and make you a real Christian. Read your Bible daily and urge others to give their hearts to Christ.

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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Character, Personal growth, Scripture


Soul Surgery

medicine_surgical_theatre-PP-inkoutlineIf you are diagnosed with cancer, you don’t want a doctor who recommends you be tolerant of the disease. You don’t want a doctor who tells you the cancerous cells have a right to exist. No, you want a surgeon who will cut you without shedding a tear; one who will ruthlessly eradicate the cancer in your body; one who will use surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, any and every means possible to promote good health.

In the same way, the apostle Paul instructs us to perform surgery on our souls. We are to allow the scalpel of the Word of God to cut away and remove the sin in our lives. In Colossians 3:5-11, Paul tells us to exterminate all types of sexual sin (5) and to eliminate all types of social sins (8-9a).

Like a surgeon who removes cancerous cells from a body, like a gardener who pulls weeds from a garden, we are to remove sin from our lives. In verse five, Paul does not say we are to put sin in time out and give it a stern lecture. We are not to make it sit in a corner until it learns to play well with other. He instructs us to be downright intolerant and put sin to death.

Paul progresses backward from the evil act to the underlying motive. Immorality, the evil act, takes place because of impurity. Impurity comes from perverted passion and evil desire, which in turn come from the root sin of greed. Ultimately, they all represent idolatry—a worship of ME rather than God.

DSC_0151DSC_0153Two years ago, I discovered dry rot and insect damage in the deck on the front of my house. I could have filled all the holes with wood putty, slapped on a new coat of paint, and pronounced it good. However, that would have been foolish because the deck would eventually fall down. Instead, I tore down the old deck and rebuilt it from the ground up using new, pressure treated lumber.

To remove the sexual sins from our lives, we may need to unplug our TV. We may want to ask Sports Illustrated not to send us the annual swimsuit edition. Perhaps we need to install filters on our computers to keep us from straying to pornographic websites. Whatever it takes, we are to treat sin the same way we treat a field of dandelions. Dig out the roots and utterly destroy it.

In addition to exterminating sexual sins, we are to eliminate social sins (8-9a). Like taking off a dirty garment, we are to strip off hot tempers (anger, rage), sharp tongues (malice, slander, obscene speech), and deception (lying). This is a challenge in today’s world because we are so accustomed to anger, critical attitudes, lying, and coarse humor, even among Christians. We would be shocked and heartbroken to hear of a church leader who is addicted to pornography, but if they lose their temper in a church business meeting, we call it righteous indignation.

Rather than these social sins, our speech must be kind, pure, and true. Before speaking, we should ask ourselves, “Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?”

Paul gives three reasons why we should perform soul surgery. The first is that there are severe consequences for those who continue to practice these sins (6). While people want to believe that God is only loving and kind, Scripture is clear that God also judges sin, even in Christ followers. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul portrays God’s wrath as his turning sinners over to themselves, allowing them to receive the just consequences of their actions. As C. S. Lewis said in The Great Divorce, “There are two kinds of people in the world—those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Thy will be done.’”

A second reason for getting rid of sin is that we have a new identity (9b-10). Sin was a part of our old life. But now we have been renewed. We are to build a life that reflects God’s image.

The final reason for putting off the evils of the old way of living is that our renewal is so radical it transforms all human relationships (11). It breaks down racial barriers (Greek or Jew), religious barriers (circumcised or uncircumcised), cultural barriers (barbarian or Scythian), and social barriers (slave or free).

Slide 1Richard J. Ferris, former chairman of Allegis Corporation, said, “Undeniably, some people in this world walk around with chalk on their toes because they stand too close to lines in life that must not be crossed.”

As Christ followers, we are not to have chalk on our toes. Because Christ changed our life, we are to change our lifestyle. We are to ruthlessly eliminate anything that does not reflect the image of Jesus Christ.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 17, 2013. It is part of a series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Winter’s coat

We received a brief dusting of snow overnight that left the branches of the trees with a fresh coat of snow.

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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Chicopee, Photos, Winter


Don’t squeak your way into trouble

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, or so the American idiom goes. Journalist Vic Gold added his own unique twist when he commented, “The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced.”

The latter statement was certainly true when the brakes on my car started squeaking. No amount of grease would silence the noise. In fact, if I added a liberal amount of grease it would mean I couldn’t stop the car at all. My brake pads and rotors were worn out. They didn’t need grease, they needed to be replaced.

We are taught that if we have a problem, if we don’t like something, all we have to do is complain and do it loudly. By calling attention to the problem, it will be fixed to our satisfaction. After all, we are entitled to have our way.

However, if we keep on squeaking, we can also become known as a crank and a whiner. Rather than receiving attention, we may find ourselves replaced.

I must say I like the American idiom better than the Japanese version. It says, “The stake that sticks up gets hammered down”, or “The nail that stands out gets pounded down.” I would much rather be greased by hammered and pounded.

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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Culture, Quotes



Calvin & Hobbes - academic wordsmith

Maybe I should let Calvin become my muse and pattern my blog after his book report. That might make me sound more profound and add needed depth to my wordsmithing efforts. Then again, nah!

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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Fun


Don’t waste time polishing your halo

In chapter 12 of his book, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the unique challenges of pastoral ministry, author Paul David Tripp warns of the danger of thinking we’ve arrived. In his opening paragraph, he points out the danger of self-glory.

Pastoral ministry is always shaped, formed, directed, and driven by worship. Your ministry will be shaped by worship of God or worship of you or, for most of us, a troubling mix of both. Perhaps there is no more powerful, seductive, and deceitful temptation in ministry than self-glory. Perhaps in ministry there is no more potent intoxicant than the praise of men, and there is no more dangerous form of drunkenness than to be drunk with your own glory. judgmentalIt has the power to reduce you to shocking self-righteousness and inapproachability. It will make you someone who is hard to work with, and it will make it nearly impossible for those around you to help you see that you’ve become hard to work with. It will make you look down on people who are more like you than unlike you. It will cause you to surround yourself with people who too often say yes and too frequently are ready to agree. It will leave you spiritually unwise and morally unprotected. And all of this will happen without your notice because you will remain convinced that you are perfectly okay. When confronted, you will remind yourself of your glory. When questioned, you will defend your glory. You will deny your complicity in problems and your participation in failure. You’ll be far too skilled at assigning blame than shouldering blame. You’ll be better at controlling than you are at serving. You’ll resist work that you think is below you and take offense at those who would presume to tell you what to do. You’ll constantly confuse being an ambassador with being a king.

Being overly obsessed with polishing our own halo is a dangerous distraction indeed. halo-eggResisting that temptation requires two key components. One is someone to lovingly tell us the truth—we’re neither as bad nor as great as people tell us we are. The second is to follow Paul’s example in acknowledging our need to keep pressing forward to become who God wants us to be.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14)

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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Books, Ministry, Personal growth, Quotes


What if Israel attacked Iran?

Damascus CountdownBook Review: Damascus Countdown, by Joel C. Rosenberg

What would happen if Israel launched a massive preemptive military strike against Iran? That question is posed in the opening chapter of Damascus Countdown, the thrilling and final installment of Joel C. Rosenberg’s Iran/Israel trilogy begun in The Twelfth Iman and continued in The Tehran Initiative.

The book continues the story of David Shirazi, the CIA operative sent to Iran to disrupt that country’s nuclear weapons program. As the story begins, Israel launches a preemptive military strike again Iran. It is initially successful until David discovers that two nuclear warheads were moved just prior to the strike and are now unaccounted for. David and his team of operatives are tasked with finding the warheads and preventing them from being launched against Israel.

As with Rosenberg’s other novels, this one reads like it was snatched from the headlines of the daily news. The plot is entirely plausible, the tension between the Middle Eastern countries is palpable, and the characters realistic. While the book is a work of fiction, it is close enough to reality to be believable. Rosenberg grabs your attention from the opening paragraph and does not release it until the final one.

Rosenberg follows a similar pattern in this series as he did in his Political Thriller series. The initial book weaves together politics, sociology, and psychology. Save for its description of Islam and Israel, it is not overtly religious. As the books get deeper into the series, the characters become more religious and speak of their faith.

Damascus Countdown is the most evangelistic of all the novels written by Rosenberg. Several of the characters speak openly of their faith and clearly share the gospel with other characters. Rather than appearing forced, the conversations feel natural. As one character heads into harm’s way, he appears truly concerned about a colleague’s eternal destiny. Another character discusses prophetic teaching about Iran and Syria with two men he is discipling.

The book will challenge you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as you realize how much the other Middle Eastern countries hate Israel. It will encourage you to read the Scriptures to better understand what Scripture teaches about the end times in general and the various Middle Eastern countries in particular. And like me, the book may inspire you to reread the entire series in order to remember the characters and details that were previously forgotten.

Good book. Definitely another best seller.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Books


Preaching that soars

My friend, John Musgrave, recently taught a seminar at the House of Grace in Tsibanobalka, Russia, where he explained the principles of good preaching to Russian pastors. He used the illustration of a jet to explain the parts of the sermon:

  • Rev the engine (catch their attention)
  • Get to altitude (teach the entire passage – context)
  • Know where you are going (focus on the main idea)
  • Land the plane (application should be clear and concise – don’t circle the airport).

I thought it was a very creative idea, and one I will have to “borrow” the next time I teach on the subject.

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in House of Grace, Preaching


Change your perspective about life

Dan Jansen is an Olympic Gold Medal speed skater. You may remember him as the man whose sister, Jane died of leukemia just before the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. He desperately wanted to win the gold medal in honor of his sister. He failed in Calgary. In the 1992 games in Albertville, France, he again came away empty. Two years later, at the 1994 Olympic games in Lillehammer, Norway, he won the gold in the one thousand meters and set a world record. It was an emotional moment when he skated his victory lap holding his nine-month-old daughter in his arms. Her name was Jane.

After the Olympics, Jansen was asked how he had overcome so much adversity and kept going. He reflected back to a time when he was twele years old and had lost a meet. His father drove him home, and Dan pouted all the way. His father was silent until they arrived home. Then, as Dan was going to bed, his dad came into his room and said, “Son, life is more than skating in circles,” and walked out. Jansen said that one comment changed his whole perspective on life.

lifeEver feel like your life is just skating in circles? The drudgery of the same old routines can make life seem like that. With an earthbound perspective, the repetitive cycles of infancy, adolescence, and old age; work, rest, and more work; marriage, children, and grandchildren; diapers and dishes; progress and regress can seem awfully ordinary and terribly tedious.

God, however, does not want us simply to endure the tedium. In Colossians 3:1-4, the apostle Paul explains that God wants us to live in light of eternity. As Christ followers, we are to have a new motivation (1). We are to seek heaven. We are to have a new mindset (2). We are to think heaven. We are also to have a new perspective (3-4). We are to remember that we died with Christ in the past (3a), we are hidden with Christ in the present (3b), and we will appear with Christ in the future (4).

To develop an eternal perspective, begin with prayer. Ask God to help you see life from his point of view. Remember that our mind-set is a deliberate act of the will. We can choose what to focus our attention on. In addition, we need to hold loosely to our possessions. It is also helpful to memorize Scriptures which have to do with a heavenly mind-set, such as Colossians 3:1–4, Ephesians 1 and 2, or 2 Corinthians 12:1–4.

This is a synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 10, 2013. It is part of a series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Nemo was a whale of a storm

Winter Storm Nemo turned out to be more a montrous whale than a cute little clown fish. We received two feet of snow on the front lawn, or three and half feet if you count the berm left on the driveway by the snow plows. The bear by the front door was ready to hibernate. Thank goodness for a snow blower. Clearing the driveway by shovel would have been a month’s worth of cardio workouts.

Here’s a few pics of our morning activity. As you can see, the day started out gray and lightly snowing. But now the sun has come out. It is pretty, but still quite cold.

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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Chicopee, MA, Photos, Winter