Monday, June 29, 2009
Their latest album, In The Hands of God, continues in this vain, particularly with the remake of their version of Lead Me to the Cross. Right now you can download the new album from Amazon for $3.99 in MP3 format.
As a side note, Michael Tait, formerly of DC Talk, is now the lead vocalist for the band.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Like many people, as I grow older and gain more experience as a parent, I appreciate my parents more and more. This appreciation is in both the big and little things. For example, I took my boys fishing the other day and came away with a new appreciation for my dad for all of the worms he put on hooks and fishing lines he untangled.
My parents aren't perfect, of course, but they did, and still do, get a lot of things right. And most significantly, they get the most important things right -- faith and family.
My parents led me to faith in Christ at an early age and have nurtured that faith ever since -- including up to the current moment. That's another thing I am learning to appreciate -- parenting doesn't have an expiration date.
My dad and mom have different ways of nurturing my faith -- for my mom it has been words and service, for my dad it has been quiet presence and prayer. Different methods, but the same positive effect.
My parents have also taught me how to be a husband and father and continue to assist me in carrying out these roles. Their love for my family is evident and they daily model for me how to care for my children and (hopefully) future grandchildren.
I realize that I don't know how blessed I am......it will likely take eternity t0 truly reveal that. But for today I want to thank my heavenly Father for what I do know -- the wonderful grace He has shown me through Willie & Melinda Carr.
Friday, June 26, 2009
The summer of 2009 was supposed to be a good one for Michael Jackson. The pop-music superstar was to perform the first of his 50 widely publicized comeback concerts in London in July, sell-out shows that would mark his triumphant return from more than a decade of scandals.
Instead, he died of cardiac arrest at the age of 50, leaving fans and pundits to wonder whether, given his reputation for physical and emotional fragility, he could’ve pulled off his comeback after all. (The majority of the concerts had already been postponed until 2010).
Read the full article here.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I think relevance in preaching hangs very little on watching movies, and I think that much exposure to sensuality, banality, and God-absent entertainment does more to deaden our capacities for joy in Jesus than it does to make us spiritually powerful in the lives of the living dead. Sources of spiritual power—which are what we desperately need—are not in the cinema. You will not want your biographer to write: Prick him and he bleeds movies.
If you want to be relevant, say, for prostitutes, don’t watch a movie with a lot of tumbles in a brothel. Immerse yourself in the gospel, which is tailor-made for prostitutes; then watch Jesus deal with them in the Bible; then go find a prostitute and talk to her. Listen to her, not the movie. Being entertained by sin does not increase compassion for sinners.
Read the rest of the article here.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I have quite the extensive movie collection. Actually, my husband says I have an extensive “chick-flick” collection. I remember in college when my girlfriends and I would try to borrow each other’s movies. It was often a useless exercise because we would discover we already had all the same titles. The women will know some of the ones I speak of . . . “Pride & Prejudice,” “Sense& Sensibility,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Ever After,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” . . . you can likely name your own list of must-have romantic classics.
But why does Hollywood know how to make a movie that most women will not only love, but want to own -- and then (this is the part that perplexes my husband) be willing to watch countless times, sighing or tearing each time at the same sappy endings? Could it be that these movies strike an emotional nerve -- a nerve that longs for the bliss of falling in love with the perfect manor the rush of romance that will replace our emptiness and loneliness?
Read the full article here.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
When we come to Jesus, he offers us rest. As I meditate on this passage, I believe that our Savior is offering us rest from at least these three things:
1) Rest from trying to do things on our own (including ministry, job, husbandry, fathering (daddying?), and life in general).
2) Rest from worrying about results.
3) Rest from pride (he is meek and lowly in heart, and those who follow him can and should be as well).
What area of life do you need the rest that Jesus offers?
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
1. Do not overproduce. You only have so much in you to give.
2. Steward your energy. I had to learn to invest my bursts of energy more intentionally, and in doing so, I would be able to extend my ministry "shelf-life."
3. Rest well, my friend. We are never more vulnerable to burnout and depression than when we are totally fatigued or overtired.
4. Exercise you way to recovery. Putting on your sneakers and going to the gym may seem like the least important thing on your list. But it's a fact: Exercise is important for both your physical and mental health.
5. Eat your way to a good life. Often it takes a brush with death to get us to rearrange our diet and opt for better nutrition. Food and mood are intricately connected.
6. Recharge daily. My goal for daily devotions is not to study the Bible for an hour each morning. Rather, it is to let the Bible study me!
7. Fight for your family. The darkest place of any lighthouse is always at its base. The same can be said of too many ministry families. Let it not be so! Fight for your family. If you miss that home base, you will have nowhere to go when your ministry days are over.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Read World Mag's full article here, and while you are at it, consider a subscription to this excellent magazine.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
We live in a day characterized by the multiplication of man's machinery and the diminution of God's power. The great cry of our day is work, work, work, new organizations, new methods, and new machinery; the great need of our day is prayer. It was a master stroke of the devil when he got the church so generally to lay aside this mighty weapon of prayer. The devil is perfectly willing that the church multiply its organizations, and deftly contrive machinery for the conquest of the world for Christ if it will only give up praying. He laughs as he looks at the church today and says to himself: 'You can have your Sunday Schools and your Young People's Societies, your Young Men's Christian Associations and your Women's Christian Temperance Unions, your Institutional Churches and your Industrial Schools, and your Boy's Brigades, and your grand choirs and your fine organs, your brilliant preachers and your revival efforts too, if you don't bring the power of Almighty God into them by earnest, persistent, believing, mighty prayer.' Prayer could work a marvelous result today as it ever could, if the church would only betake itself to it.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Ten years ago this month I moved my family from Tallahassee, Florida to NW Indiana to become the principal at my high school alma mater. I have been asked many times over the years why I would move from Florida to Indiana ....and during the first year my response was often "good question."
Over the past nine years, however, the answer to that question has always been "Bethel". This wasn't the initial reason for the move (at least in our minds), but it has become clear that this is what God had in mind all along.
Upon moving back to Indiana my wife and I determined that we were going to search diligently for a church. But when we attended Bethel the first Sunday night we were here, that was it. After that, we never went anywhere else.
The first year of our time at Bethel was spent being fed by great preaching and getting to know the church; during that time the Lord began to confirm for us things that we had always desired in a church but had never quite experienced, primarily the focus on the centrality of Jesus Christ and expository preaching.
At the end of our first year I was given the great privilege to come on staff at Bethel in a part-time role. Three months later I moved into a full-time role and have been a part of the staff now for nine years. There is much I could write about my time as a pastor at Bethel, but perhaps I can summarize by saying that I consider serving at Bethel as one of the greatest privileges of my life.
Over the last ten years the Lord has blessed my family tremendously through the ministry of Bethel Church. Once again, much that could be written, but let me just mention four of these blessings:
1) Wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who love me, my family, and most importantly Jesus Christ.
2) Great lay leaders who have faithfully cared for us spiritually, physically, and financially.
3) The best church staff, anywhere, period. This includes a Senior Pastor who faithfully preaches the Word and leads with integrity.
4) A great children's ministry that has faithfully ministered to my children and helped to lead all four of my children to Christ.
Father, thank you for a decade at Bethel, and another two or three would be great as well!
- Leaders can't be recruited from the platform. We have to challenge them one-on-one. It requires a personal invitation.
- Leaders won't be fulfilled by performing tasks. We need to give them real responsibility.
- Leaders don't follow doers. We need to make sure they're connected to another strong leader.
- Leaders don't want to be micromanaged. We have to eliminate the tendency to control the process. Instead, hold people accountable for the outcomes.
- Leaders won't commit to ambiguity. We need to offer a clear vision. And it better be big.
- Leaders just don't show up. We have to be intentional about leadership development.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Yesterday I took my girls to the new, Disney pixar movie UP. Let me say up front (pun intended) that I loved it. It ranks right up (oops, did it again) there with Finding Nemo as my favorite pixar movie to date. I am amazed at the stories these people from Pixar write and put on the big screen. It truly is an experience for the whole family to enjoy and get something out of. In other words, it’s the first must-see movie of the summer.
Read the rest of the article here.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Is the capture of Osama bin Laden the greatest hope for peace in the world? Some seem to think so. Would his imprisonment or death free billions of people to live with hope for their future? Not really.
Read the rest of the article here.
Matthew 5: 3-11 (ESV)
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
We respect Billy Graham for many things, including his financial integrity. Yet we can easily think that was more or less automatic for him—that he just handed off the responsibilities to businesspeople with a charge to be honest. But financial integrity is never simply a given. It is hard fought and hard won, and in today's wrenching economy, dangers and temptations loom larger than ever.
Early in his ministry, Billy was concerned about integrity in all areas. In Modesto, California, he and his team discussed the issues that were often the downfall of evangelists, and made a series of resolutions. The very first on the list was to maintain financial integrity. Billy knew that for many evangelists at the time, "there was little or no accountability for finances. In Modesto we determined to do all we could to avoid financial abuses."
Read the full article here.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I spent a few minutes yesterday reading about the new iPhone—the iPhone 3G S. It sounds spectacular. With every generation of the phone the wizards at Apple get one step closer to what people wanted the iPhone to be from the outset—an amazing, innovative, gizmo that does so many things so well. Watching the videos, reading the descriptions, I can feel my heart begin to long for that phone. I know that if I don’t watch myself, if I don’t guard my heart, I may just find myself dedicating way too much time to pursuing that phone and rationalizing all the reasons I need it. Of course the problem is not with the phone, but with my heart—a heart that longs for what it does not have. Idolatry, it seems, is alive and well.
Read the full article here.
Monday, June 8, 2009
In the past year Twitter has exploded in popularity. A USA Today article I read this week said its membership increased 3,000% in the last year. This year at Next 2009 a number of attendees (along with the team at Next) used Twitter to share ongoing reports about the conference (you can read these posts by doing a search for #thisisnext.) Last year people blogged about the conference, this year there was hardly any blog activity--Twitter's micro-blogging had essentially wiped out "traditional" blogging.
Lately I've been hearing the question of whether Twitter has a place during a church's worship services. If people use Twitter to comment on every aspect of their life during the week, should they continue the practice while their pastor is preaching? TIME magazine did an article entitled "Twittering in Church, with the Pastor's O.K." that described several congregations that are actively encouraging their congregation Twitter during church. One church had training sessions and even has a feed of Twitter comments projected on the screen.
Read full article here.
Always Singing One Note - A Vernacular Bible
William Tyndale - A Life Transformed by God's Word
For other great biographies by Piper, click here. Note the special Father's Day offer.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
My favorite scene from the final flick, The Return of the King, involves Elrond giving Aragorn the re-forged sword of Elendil and telling him to "become who you were born to be."
If you haven't seen the movie or read the book, you might be very confused right now -- but stick with me for a minute. The point is that Aragorn was from a royal line and the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. He was born an heir, but for numerous reasons had never asserted that fact and become the leader he was born to be.
As I reflect on this I can't help but think of so many Christian men today -- men who by spiritual birth (regeneration) are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Gal. 4:1-7). Yet many of these same men, for numerous reasons, fail to "become who they were born to be." One of the biggest problems we face today is apathetic men -- men who call themselves followers of Christ but show little or no interest in being spiritual leaders, both in the home and in the church.
Men, for those of us who call Christ our Savior, it is time for us to "become who we were born to be" -- men who understand that God has called us to be leaders, and who live out that challenging truth -- in the home, in the church, and in the world.
Friday, June 5, 2009
You may know from first-hand experience that conflict among Christians is costly. But just how costly is it? I admit that it is difficult to quantify the spiritual cost of conflict—how do you measure the pain, suffering, and diminished witness caused by Christians who fight one another? Yet as I've looked at several studies in the United States, I think that it is possible (and reasonable) to estimate the more tangible costs of conflict. I believe you will find it both eye-opening and sobering.
- Born again Christians in the U.S. file 4 to 8 million lawsuits every year, often against other Christians, costing 20 to 40 billion dollars.
- There are approximately 19,000 major, scarring church conflicts in the U.S. each year (an average of 50 per day).
- 32% of born again Christians who have been married have gone through a divorce, virtually the same percentage as our general population.
- 1,500 pastors leave their assignments every month in the U.S. because of conflict, burnout, or moral failure, costing the church at least $684 million each year.
Read the full article here.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
Read the full article here.
Here are some things to remember when something you attempt fails:
Failure is an event, not a person.
Failure isn’t final.
Failure is often the first step toward success.
A ministry that has stopped failing has stopped growing.
Failure is not an option, it is a necessity.
If you fail and don’t learn from it, you’ve failed twice. Don’t waste a failure.
The antidote to the fear of failure isn’t success, but small doses of failure. (Credit to Mark Batterson for a similar quote.)
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Nearly one in ten children and teens (three million kids) who play video games show behavioral signs that may indicate addiction, finds a Harris poll. The study found 8.5% of those who played had at least six of eleven addictive symptoms, including skipping chores and homework for video games, poor test or homework performance and playing games to escape problems. "This study shows there are a substantial number of kids…taking damage to multiple areas of their life," states Iowa State researcher Douglas Gentile. 12% of boys exhibited at least six symptoms vs. 3% of girls. Other symptoms included excessive thinking about games and planning the next opportunity, trying to play less and failing, restlessness or irritability when trying to reduce or stop playing, lying about play time, stealing a game or stealing money to buy a game.
Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter says, “You are the Christ of God.”
Most people have a shrunken, domesticated Christ who is safe, easy and manageable instead of the real Christ. The closer you get to him the more you love him and the more you fear him. God is calling you to stop playing games and to stop making excuses and to open your eyes to see Jesus as the Christ. He is more glorious and loving and gracious and powerful and more wonderfully terrifying that any of us can ever imagine.
I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others.
One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So
boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.
The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.
Read the rest here.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Download all of the plenary sessions here -- their great.
Monday, June 1, 2009
In 2003 a research group discovered 64% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die, but less than 1% think they might go to hell. Not only are there plenty of people today who don't believe in the Bible's teaching on everlasting punishment, even those who do find it an unreal and a remote concept. Nevertheless, it is a very important part of the Christian faith, for several reasons.
1. It is important because Jesus taught about it more than all other Biblical authors put together. Jesus speaks of "eternal fire and punishment" as the final abode of the angels and human beings who have rejected God (Matthew 25:41,46) He says that those who give into sin will be in danger of the "fire of hell" (Matthew 5:22; 18:8-9.) The word Jesus uses for 'hell' is Gehenna, a valley in which piles of garbage were daily burned as well as the corpses of those without families who could bury them. In Mark 9:43 Jesus speaks of a person going to "hell [gehenna], where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' " Jesus is referring to the maggots that live in the corpses on the garbage heap. When all the flesh is consumed, the maggots die. Jesus is saying, however, that the spiritual decomposition of hell never ends, and that is why 'their worm does not die.'
Read full article here.
Abortion is murder. What goes on in those clinics is institutionalized homicide, often for financial profit. Abortion is a moral scandal and a national tragedy and a blight upon the American conscience.
But violence in the name of protesting abortion is immoral, unjustified, and horribly harmful to the pro-life cause. Now, the premeditated murder of Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of his church is the headline scandal -- not the abortions he performed and the cause he represented.
We have no right to take the law into our own hands in an act of criminal violence. We are not given the right to take this power into our own hands, for God has granted this power to governing authorities. The horror of abortion cannot be rightly confronted, much less corrected, by means of violence and acts outside the law and lawful means of remedy. This is not merely a legal technicality -- it is a vital test of the morality of the pro-life movement.
Read the entire article here.
- Chris Carr
- I am a husband to Eva, father of 4, pastor, and most of all passionate follower of Jesus Christ. The focus of my life is to make the most of every opportunity God gives me to bring glory to Him. Outside of the time spent in my role as a pastor, I spend most of my time with my family -- a good deal of that coaching various sports teams that my children are involved with. Every fall and winter you will find me rushing to the woods of Indiana and West Virginia in search of a monster whitetail buck.