Monthly Archives: January 2014

Change your perspective

Many of us go through life with a self-centered, self-focused point of view. “It’s all about me,” is the unstated philosophy of our lives. “Get Service” is a powerful video produced by Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, AR, that will change how you view other people.

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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Personal growth, Videos


Champions with correct priorities

For those who want to bash the Seattle Seahawks because of the Richard Sherman interview at the end of the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, perhaps you’d reconsider your opinion after listening to several of the ‘Hawks share what Jesus means to them.

Jesus is better than the Super Bowl” is an interview conducted by Pastor Mark Driscoll with four players—Russell Okung, Chris Maragos, Clint Gresham, Russell Wilson—and one coach, Rocky Seto. Mark asked the question, “Who is Jesus?” and each one shared their perspective about what Jesus means to them.

The making of a champion“The Making of a Champion” is a video several of the Hawks produced and distributed at a home game last October. It contains the testimonies of six players and coaches—the five mentioned above plus running backs coach Sherman Smith.

Testimonies such as these give a few more reasons to root for Seattle in the Super Bowl. Go Hawks!

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in NFL, Seattle Seahawks


Put the cookies on the lowest shelf

“How do you make things so clear?” is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received for my preaching. A woman asked me that question as she was leaving the worship service yesterday. She went on to say, “I come so worked up with so many questions and I leave understanding what it means. How do you make it so clear and easy to understand?” Her husband added, “That’s why we keep coming back.”

As a student, I was trained to “put the cookies on the lowest shelf” when preaching. Don’t make the text seem simplistic was the reasoning, but make it clear and easy for all to grasp and understand.

Compliments like this one encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing. At least one of my teacher’s lessons seem to have sunk in.

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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Preaching


On to the Super Bowl!

The field is set for Super Bowl XLVIII.

2014 Super Bowl

Denver Broncos versus Seattle Seahawks. #1 Offense against #1 Defense. My hometown team versus the team  in the city where I spent 1/3 of my life. A savvy veteran, Peyton Manning, against an up and coming star, Russell Wilson. Let the hype begin!

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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in NFL, Seattle Seahawks, Sports


So you want to be a leader

When it comes to choosing leaders, we vacillate between wanting people of strong character and someone who can get the job done. We are torn between wanting those with ethical standards and those with a charismatic personality.

In the pressure to fill leadership positions in the community, the world focuses on the outward signs of success—charismatic personality, business skills, wealth, and influence. However, we cannot use the same criteria to choose leaders in the church. As the apostle Paul explains, the church will rise and fall according to the character of her leaders.

In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, Paul lays out the qualifications for leaders in the local church. He explains what to look for in a prospective candidate for elder.

Timothy is pastoring an older congregation in the city of Ephesus. Titus is trying to establish a new work among the people of Crete. One is in a big city while the other is on an island outpost. Yet Paul tells both to look for the same character qualities in a prospective elder.

These two passages describe 21 character qualities that an elder is to demonstrate. Some are straightforward and self-explanatory while others require some explanation. At the top of the list is the overarching quality of “blameless” or “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6, 7). He’s not perfect, but there is no obvious defect in his character. There is no sin that taints his character or puts his reputation into question.

The rest of the qualities fall into four broad categories—personal life, family life, spiritual life, and social life.

Personal life

  • He should desire to lead (1 Timothy 3:1). Rather than being forced into leadership, it is something he strives after and reaches for.
  • He must demonstrate self-control (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). He is to be temperate, well balanced, calm, careful, and steady; not self-indulgent. He is to avoid excess so that he can see things clearly, and that clarity of thought leads to an orderly, disciplined life.
  • He must be sober minded (1 Timothy 3:2). He is to be prudent, serious about spiritual things, not frivolous.
  • He must be well-organized (1 Timothy 3:2). He is to be respectable and live a well-ordered life, free from behavior or habits that would embarrass and discredit Christ’s reputation.
  • He must be free from the love of money (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). He is not to have his attention fixed on monetary rewards; or to be preoccupied with amassing material possessions or involved in “shady” business practices.
  • He must not be self-pleasing (Titus 1:7). He is not to be self-willed, arrogant, or overbearing. He is not to be a headstrong, stubborn man who demands his way without regard to others.
  • He must love what is good (Titus 1:8). He is to be devoted to all that is good and beneficial. He avoids what is questionable and evil.

Family life

  • He must be a one-woman man (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). He is solely devoted to his wife. A single man is not excluded, but the qualification speaks of his moral purity.
  • He must maintain a godly family (1Timothy 3:4-5; Titus 1:6). He must be able to demonstrate spiritual leadership in the context of his family before he can lead in the church. He is to have an exemplary home life, with his children being respectful and under control.

Spiritual life

  • He must be deeply devoted to a growing walk with God (Titus 1:8). His words, actions, and spirit exhibit a character that is holy and devout.
  • He must not be a new convert (1 Timothy 3:6). Rather, he must be a mature believer.
  • He is committed to the Scriptures (Titus 1:9). He bases his life on the truth of the Bible.
  • He must be able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9). He must be skilled in communicating God’s Word and have the integrity to make his teaching believable.

Social life

  • He must be hospitable (1Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). He is to show kindness to strangers; to be generous and caring toward others, using what he has to serve them.
  • He must not be given to wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). He is not to have the lifestyle of a drinker or be characterized by a belligerent, negative attitude that is associated with drunkenness.
  • He must not be a fighter (1Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). He is not to be quick-tempered or resort to verbal and physical abuse. He must be able to handle things with a cool mind and gentle spirit.
  • He must be gentle (1 Timothy 3:3). He is to be patient, considerate, genial, forbearing and gracious. He must not seek to domineer others.
  • He must not be quarrelsome (1 Timothy 3:3). He is to be a peacemaker, not contentious or argumentative. He is not to be insistent on his rights. He is to keep his temper under control.
  • He must be well respected by non Christians (1Timothy 3:7). His character is to be certified by the testimony of those who are not in the church. He should have a reputation for integrity, love, kindness, generosity, and goodness among those in the community who know him.
  • He must be just (Titus 1:8). He is to be upright in his dealings with men. His conduct in relation to others must conform to the standard of right.

Based on the list of leadership qualities, I think there are two major implications for churches and Christians today. One is that we need to be intentional about training leaders. The second is that we need to live with a sense of intentionality if we aspire to leadership.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 19, 2014. It is part of a series on 1 Timothy. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


How firm is your faith?

Confident faithBook Review: Confident Faith: Building a firm foundation for your beliefs, by Mark Mittelberg

How confident are you in your spiritual beliefs? Are you intimidated by doubt? Does a strong objection send you off course? Can you defend your faith?

Those questions lie at the heart of Mark Mittelberg’s book, Confident Faith, a softcover revision of his 2008 book, Choosing your faith. His goal is to help a person develop a wise, spiritual faith, “a commitment of trust based on solid, though incomplete, evidence that we’re believing in the right things and moving in the best direction.” He advocates developing a

confident faith—which is belief and action based on good logic and evidence, trustworthy revelation, and sometimes substantiated intuition, credentialed authority, and tested tradition. Confident faith moves in the same direction indicated by the facts, though it’s a commitment or step that takes you further than the evidence alone can carry you.

The book starts out with a “Faith Path Questionnaire” designed to help the reader discover his/her current approach to faith. He then devotes several chapters which explain the six basic approaches to faith, or “faith paths.” They are relativism—whatever works; tradition—what we’ve always been taught; authoritarian—what we’ve told to believe; intuition—what we feel; mysticism—what we think God said; and evidential—what logic and evidence point to. The next section explains “twenty arrows of truth” or twenty reasons why science, logic, the Bible, history, and experience all point towards spiritual truth. He concludes the book by analyzing ten barriers which stand in the way of confident faith.

The book would be a helpful resource for a seeker or a young believer. It would help them take an honest look at what they think and believe.

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 January 17, 2014 in Apologetics, Books


Turn your resolutions into habits

How do you turn a New Years resolution into a life-changing habit? That is the question posed by the folks at the Disney Institute in a helpful article entitled, “Habits, Not Resolutions: How to Break the New Year Cycle.”

Every year, Americans resolve to do something new, different, better in the upcoming year. Yet, only 8% succeed. Why? Maybe we tend to treat our resolution as another item on an already full to-do list.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with to-do lists, lets try something different this year. Lets turn just one New Year’s resolution into a habit.

The focus of the article is on how to make creativity a daily habit. But it got me to thinking, “What if we adapted the approach to spiritual growth? How could we use the principles to promote Bible study and prayer, giving, service, sharing our faith, or any other spiritual discipline?”

It is a good question to ponder, and hopefully will prompt some life changing thoughts and habits.