Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Marriage is Good for Your Brain

We’ve known for some time that married people live longer. Now a new study suggests matrimony may also help keep the mind sharp—warding off age-related issues like memory loss or dementia. Finnish Researchers reported in The British Medical Journal that individuals with the greatest risk of Alzheimer’s are those who are widowed or divorced at midlife and remained so. Being single at midlife is also a risk factor. The researchers suggest having a partner might provide additional mental and social challenges that somehow stimulate the brain and delay the onset of dementia. But getting a complex disease like Alzheimer’s is not dependent simply on lifestyle.
- Parade Magazine 08/09/09

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Membership Matters

Here is a great post by Kevin DeYoung giving six reasons why church membership is important.

With Calvin In The Theater of God

This past Friday and Saturday Desiring God held their annual national conference. This year the them was the work of John Calvin. You can view all of sessions here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Meeting with Tom

This morning at the archery range I crossed paths with young man (let's call him Tom) who was doing community service. As we struck up a conversation (he did 90% of the talking), it  quickly became apparent that he was deeply troubled and had lived a very difficult 19 years.

After we said goodbye and I drove away, a few realities came to mind:
  • The importance of fathers. Tom blamed of his problems -- relationally, legally, educationally -- on the fact that his father walked out on him when he five years old. I listened as he shared how he planned to find his dad and let him know (perhaps violently) of all the pained he had caused. It was easy to see the huge hole that Tom had in his life that a father was supposed to fill.
  • A failure to take responsibility for your failures prevents you from moving forward. Tom blamed all of his problems on someone else -- never recognizing what he needed to do to change. This will likely result in a continued struggle to break free from his difficulties.
  • The image of God in every human being. During our brief time together, Tom shared a couple of raps with me that he had written. Although I can't repeat more than a few words in the either of them, his creativity was undeniable.
  • The disconnect for many between 'faith' and belief. From the questions I asked, Tom quickly discerned my occupation. When he did, he was quick to express his deep faith and knowledge of the Bible. However, the life that he described did not resemble in any way the 'new creation' that Paul describes in 2 Cor. 5.
  • There are lots of  hurting people who need us to love them deeply and find a way to reach them with the gospel. I don't need to elaborate on this.
  • There is no simple formula for leading someone to faith in Christ. I looked for a number of different openings to share the gospel with Tom, but I came to realize I would need many more meetings, a genuine relationship, and lots of prayer to in order to effectively do so. This isn't to say that seeing someone come to faith can't be quick and easy, but it doesn't seem to me that it is normally that way.
In the end, I prayed with Tom, told him about Bethel, and told him perhaps I would see him later this week. In the meantime, I have a lot to think about and consider. Perhaps we all do.

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest of days on the Jewish calendar. Justin Holcomb has a post on the significance and relevance (quite a lot) of this celebration for Christians.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Son's First Hunting Trip


This weekend I took my oldest son deer hunting for the first time. I will summarize the experience with a play on the Mastercard commercials:
  • Youth hunting license: $7
  • Hunting equipment expense: not going there
  • Times he was told to be quiet: inumerable
  • Deer seen: 0
  • Introducing my son to my hobby: priceless
My dad first took me hunting when I was nine years old, and I still vividly remember that experience.To this day my times in the woods with my father are some of my favorite memories.

While Bryce's first experience was unsuccessful from a harvest perspective, I couldn't ask for more than to spend two great days with my son outdoors, enjoying God's creation together. Hoping for many more days to do so!

Adopted and Adopting?

Here is a short, thought-provoking post by Jeremy Carr regarding God's adoption of his children and the implication this might have for human adoption.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Reason Not to Play the Lottery

There are many reasons to avoid the lottery, but here is one that might suprise you: even when you win, you lose. Here is a quote from Callie Rodgers of Cumbria, England:

"Winning the lottery ruined my life."

Rodgers won $3 million six years ago and is down $32,000 after spending most of her fortune on designer clothes, cocaine, and breast implants.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Most Important Doctrine Many Never Think About

Kevin DeYoung makes a great (and I believe very important) point about the Trinity in this post:

If any doctrine makes Christianity Christian, then surely it is the doctrine of the Trinity. The three great ecumenical creeds—the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed—are all structured around our three in one God, underlying the essential importance of Trinitarian theology. Augustine once commented about the Trinity that “in no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.” More recently, Sinclair Ferguson has reflected on “the rather obvious thought that when his disciples were about to have the world collapse in on them, our Lord spent so much time in the Upper Room speaking to them about the mystery of the Trinity. If anything could underline the necessity of Trinitarianism for practical Christianity, that must surely be it!”

Yet, when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity, most Christians are poor in their understanding, poorer in their articulation, and poorest of all in seeing any way in which the doctrine matters in real life. One theologian said, tongue in cheek, “The trinity is a matter of five notions or properties, four relations, three persons, two processions, one substance or nature, and no understanding.” All the talk of essence and persons and co-this and co-that seem like theological gobbledy-gook reserved for philosophers and scholars--maybe for thinky bookish types, but certainly not for moms and mechanics and middle-class college students.

So in a few hundred words let me try to explain what the doctrine of the Trinity means, where it is found in the Bible, and why it matters.

Read the full article here.

Free Hymns

For those of you who love hymns, here is a free download from Christians in Context you might want to check out.

An Overview of the Gospel

The Gospel Coalition has uploaded Mark Dever's brief overview of the gospel from the ESV Study Bible.

View it here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Recycling Bibles

If you have an extra Bible or two (or more....) that you would be willing to share, the Bible Foundation is kicking off their October Bible Drive next week.

According to their press release, "People around the world are begging for Bibles. Even damaged and parts of old Bibles have use and value."

For more info, visit their website.

Charles Simeon's 250th Birthday

Today marks 250 years since Charles Simeon's birth on September 24, 1759. You might very well be asking 'who is Charles Simeon?' If so, I am pleased to introduce you to him.

Simeon was a great English evangelical preacher at Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge. Two things stand out about Simeon's life and ministry: his whole-hearted devotion to expository preaching and his perseverance (54 years as pastor at Holy Trinity) in the face of trials that would melt nearly anyone else.

I encourage you to get to know Simeon through one or more of these resources:

The Simeon Trust
Between Two Worlds blog post
John Piper's biographical message

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Final 10% Relationally

Here is a great post by Craig Groeschel on his lifechurch.tv blog:

I’ve noticed that when it comes to relationships, it is easy for me to rationalize giving 90%.



 In my marriage, I might believe that when I serve Amy with 90% of my heart, I’m still offering her more than most men do.


 In my friendships, if I’m giving 90% of my best, most would be satisfied with my commitment.


 In my ministry relationships, if I serve pastors with 90% efforts, that is probably way better than most.


Jesus taught us to go the “extra mile” or give our coat as well as a shirt. If I stop serving others when I’ve given 90%, I haven’t given my best.


I’m writing this post on a plane after being at an out of town funeral. Normally, I would have flown home on an earlier flight. Today I booked a later flight to spend a little extra time ministering to the family.


Even though I’m very tired as I type this and I miss my wife and kids dearly, I’m still thankful God gave me the chance to give my final 10% to a family in need.


How have you recently shown the final 10% relationally? How have you not?



Monday, September 21, 2009

New Gospel Coalition Website

The Gospel Coalition is a great organization and their new website is a great resource. For an intro to TGC, watch this video.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Finally Alive

John Piper's book on regeneration, Finally Alive, is now available for free online.

Download the book here.

Watch the sermon series that inspired the book here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above declares his handiwork. Psalm 19:1 (ESV)

These beautiful images from the recently repaired Hubble Telescope reflect this truth in a stunning way.

Read Al Mohler's post regarding these pictures.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Socialnomics Summary

Here is a fascinating video on the impact of social media and the fact that it is here to stay.

How might this effect our future ministry strategies?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Christian Couples Share 1 e-mail Account to Prevent Infidelity

Here is an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about Christian couples who are sharing one e-mail account to prevent online infidelity temptations.

Introducing a New Blogger: Charles Spurgeon

The Resurgence is introducing their newest blogger: Charles Spurgeon. You can read him here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

John Piper on President Obama's Speech to Schoolchildren

Here is a follow-up to my previous post on President Obama's speech. Once again, good words for us all to consider, politics aside.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

President Obama's Speech in Our Schools

John Piper has some good words regarding the outcry over President Obama's planned speech in our public schools. Read the article here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Helpful Review of The Shack

Trevin Wax has written a very helpful review of the popular book The Shack by William Paul Young.

Read the review here.

For more thoughts on The Shack, watch this video with Mark Driscoll.

Training Kids to be Thankful

Here is a good article on by Ann Dunagan on teaching our kids to be thankful:

Hey, that's not fair! You already got one-and-a-half more pieces than me!" Our 11-year-old gave her brother a mean-looking glare, as he proceeded to "stake his claim" by grabbing for the butter and syrup.


This morning, as I was working on yet another batch of French toast for breakfast, I realized our family was definitely needed more than food on their plates. My kids needed a fresh lesson in thankfulness and gratitude. Their petty bickering was really bothering me, especially in light of several stories I had read only a few hours earlier.

So, while the kids sat on their stools at our kitchen counter, waiting (not so patiently) for our next round of toast, I gave them a spontaneous lesson:

"You know, kids, you need to be thankful for what you have - and you've been given a lot! In the Bible, God tells us to ‘give thanks always for all things' (Ephesians 5:20)."

Just this morning, I had been reading a recent Voice of the Martyrs magazine, about how a minister, Richard Wurmbrand, had endured persecution while being imprisoned for his faith. He had spent over 14 years in Romanian prisons, including long periods in complete solitude - with no one to talk to, no Bible, no books, no scrap paper, and no pencils. Even during this horrible time, this man still found ways to be grateful. The article shared how Rev. Wurmbrand meditated on scripture he had memorized, and how he (along with other Christian prisoners) kept his mind active by praying fervently throughout the night for various needs from around the world. Yet the example that had most deeply touched my heart was reading about how this man of God learned to rejoice.

Read the full article here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Book on the New Testament by Mark Driscoll

Crossway is now offering a new book by Mark Driscoll on the New Testament. The book, which can be read in an hour or less, answers nine common questions about the NT:

Who wrote the NT?
Can books of the NT be written today?

Does the NT contain any errors or contradictions?
How were the NT books chosen as Scripture?
Why are there different Bible translations?
Why should I trust the transmitted manuscripts of the NT?
What is the central point of the NT?
What principles can help me interpret the NT?
How did Jesus interact with the Scriptures?
How should I come to the Scripture?

As the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture is a foundational truth of our faith, this book addresses some of the most important questions that can be asked.

Read the book online here.

Order the book here.

ESV Study Bible Sale

CBD has the ESV Study Bible on sale today for 50% off ($24.99). This is an incredible price for the best study Bible available, hands down.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Don't Spend What You Don't Have

This SNL clip is humorous and simplistic -- but imagine the result if everyone followed this advice!


video

Obedience or Expedience

Here is a great article on leadership by Jim Killgore, my colleague at Bethel Church, as made available by thechristianleader.org:

I was driving from Columbia, SC to Raleigh, NC with my father-in-law. Not relishing time in a closed confine with one's in-laws. But this three hour trip with Ben proved to be a great leadership lesson. I had just moved back from overseas to become the leader of a struggling non-profit. Ben was a leader of some repute in his field (having served in the Reagan administration). Feeling proud to be the "Pres" in my new position, and feeling for once on equal footing with my father-in-law, I asked a peer level question.

"Ben, what would you say is the key to effective leadership?"

I was not prepared for his godly wisdom. "Jim, leadership is not as great as people think. I couldn't wait to 'climb the ladder' and finally be in a place where I could create lasting change without interference. Instead I found that the higher I went the more responsible and accountable I became. Today, I have more 'bosses' than I did on the lower rungs."

Over the years, I've played that video in my mind many times. Ben was right, the higher we go in leadership, the more responsible to others we become.

David faced that principle in I Chr. 13. He had just become king. His heart for God was passionate as he worked out a plan to return the Ark of the Covenant after Saul had let it be captured by the Philistines (I Sam 5-7).

The new king followed a great leadership principle. He consulted with his leaders and the people to get their buy-in for bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. Everyone agreed this would be a great way to show their passion for God. They had a great spiritual encounter as they transported the Ark; (I Chr 13:6) they worshipped the Lord with all their might.

Then the unthinkable happened. One of the oxen pulling the cart stumbled, causing the Ark to shift. Uzzah was walking alongside of the cart. Out of instinct, he reached out to steady the tipping Ark. Then something reminiscent of Spielberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark" - the Ark "blazed" and Uzzah died.

What was supposed to be a celebration turned tragic. David's joy in the Lord turned into anger directed at God (vs. 11). He must have thought, "God, I was doing this for You! What were You doing?"

David's heart was right, but his methods weren't. In his exuberance to bring back the Ark he failed to follow the details. As a result, a man under his care died. Those details had been clearly given by Moses in Ex. 25 and Num 4. God said that the Ark was to be moved by poles (not an ox cart). It was to be carried not by any Levitical tribe, but by the Kohathite clan. David should have known this.

Many times I've said, "It must be OK, I'm doing this for God." Earnestness is important, but so is method. It's not just "that" something is done - it's also "how". Motives and methods are both imperative to God. Yet, many leaders choose expedience over obedience. It's easier to "just do it." At some point in time, expedience becomes a higher value.

Leaders should be asking "Lord, show me what to do and show me how to do it." God is a God of details. They matter to Him - that is why we have a book full of worship details called "Leviticus" and a book given over to particulars called "Numbers". If it matters to God, it should matter to His leaders. David learned a hard lesson - leaders are more accountable; more responsible. People's lives depend upon us.

Later (I Chr 15), David decided to bring the Ark back again. This time he tells the Levites to follow the details, "because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the Lord burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it in the proper way. . . then the Levites carried the Ark of God on their shoulders with its carrying poles, just as the Lord had instructed Moses." (vss. 13-15 NLT).

Ben was right, the higher we go in leadership, the more responsible to others we become. Let's be careful to choose obedience not expedience.

Free Audio Bible

Christianaudio.com is offering a free audio Bible for download this month. Get it here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Facebook Exodus?

An interesting post by Owen Strachan following up on a recent New York Times article entitled "Facebook Exodus".

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Family Worship Guide

For those of you who are looking for a "curriculum" for family devotions, here is a new site that provides everything you need -- http://www.familyworshipguide.net/.

The website provides a guide every day that includes a Scripture passage, discussion questions, a guided prayer section, a memory verse, and even a couple of catechism questions.

Search

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About Me

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.