Tuesday, February 28, 2006

On Leadership and Calling: Ravi Z Pt. 2

Click HERE for the first part of this interview.

JC: How important do you feel character is in the realm of leadership?

RZ: Definitive. I think if character is not there, you are not only destroying the role that you are called to, but the message that you are carrying. You are in effect becoming a counterpoint to what it is you are propagating. When I think of character, I think of not only behavior, I also think of motive. Motive is key, that which drives a person to do this.

You see, the pulpit can become quite the show window for a person and it can become a big ego thing. You see it happening again and again, much more than you would want to or even thought it would happen. When I think of character, I just don’t think of obedience or of simply being aligned with the claims of God upon your life. I think of it as the very motive: What it is that drives you to serve and do what it is that you are doing?

I really think that today, as Christian apologists, that the biggest challenge to the faith is not an intellectual question. In fact, I have not heard an intellectual question to the faith that has disturbed me. I am more convinced than ever of the message of the Gospel. But the biggest challenge to the Christian faith is this: If the message that we have lays claim to a supernatural regeneration, then why is it that we do not see that regeneration more often? No other religion claims a supernatural regeneration. They may claim ethics and morality. Hinduism does. But we are the only ones who claim a new birth. Born of the Holy Spirit, our hungers have changed, our disciplines have changed, our behavior has changed. If it is a supernaturally engendered thing, why do we not see it more often? And if that is true of the common person in conversion, how much more true it must be of ones in leadership. So I believe character is essential, and without that, you cannot serve.

JC: Where does competence play out in this area of leadership? You’ve talked about the calling, you’ve talked about the character formation that needs to be in place. What about the competence level of leadership?

RZ: This obviously is very important. I think Billy Graham made a very simple statement years ago when he said it was a great day in his life when he learned that God can use good organization. We sometimes are haphazard. Sometimes we are ill-equipped. Sometimes we are ragged in our planning and doing. Competence is very important, especially in the gifted situation. You have the calling to be an expositor of the Gospel. You have that gift within you; it is there. The competence is shown by somebody who works at what it is that he is gifted and called to do. If a leader is not competent, many things will fall by the wayside. In the organization that he works with, there will be ripple effects of failure. The disciplines that are needed for sermon preparation and delivery will be taken for granted.
I think this whole idea of organization building—of the process that has to be taken on when you are moving from point A to point B—the vision and the passion in you wants to take you in that direction. However, the passion and the end will not automatically come together because it takes competence to get you there. Competence is a big word. It is important. I almost want to nuance it with the idea of giftedness because sometimes you can teach a lot of skills on exposition but a person may not have the competence or the giftedness to do it. Therefore, it is very important to have that.

JC: We added a word: community. We discussed the importance of leadership in the community that a person is engaged in and the type of impact that is needed in order to make change possible. Do you see community as being an important part of leadership?

RZ: Very important. I am more and more convinced, as the seventies and eighties have brought to our attention, you cannot have lone horses out there. There are dangers to it. That’s one of the reasons why our organization is a team. It would have been very comfortable in a self-serving way to be the lone member of this organization and carry on with all of the privacy and all of the privilege of funding, etc. and keep going that way, but I never wanted it that way. I keep telling members who join the team: “You need to be part of a community. There is a fraternity that we all must have. Fire begets fire. Iron sharpens iron.” And not only that, if the church is a community, then how can you in your own life not be part of one and expect to build community while you yourself are in isolation? Many entailments come from the concept of community.

In this postmodern era, one of the few redeeming factors is that there is still hunger for community. It is important that we understand how God has so fashioned us. The starting point of good apologetics is Trinitarian, and God Himself is a being in relationship. He has fine tuned us that way. So community is an essential part of what I do as a leader and what I do in my leadership.

JC: That is so very true. You spoke about your calling, and this is a personal question: Was there anything that came as a confirmation of your calling to do this type of work more than anything else?

RZ: Yes, there were several things. Most important are the people God brings into your life. John Stott played that early role when I was looking for a seminary and he directed my paths to Trinity. It became the school where I needed to be and with members of the faculty: Walt Kaiser, J.I. Packer, John R.W. Stott, John Montgomery, Norm Geisler, John Gerstner, Carl Henry, and Kenneth Kantzer. There were some fine men and women teaching in that seminary at that time. That was the first thing; God took me there.

But before RZIM was formed, I was a professor at Nyack, the Alliance seminary, and I had just spoken for Billy Graham in Amsterdam in 1983. I was flying back from there and I thought to myself, Apologetics… How desperately it is needed. All of my evangelism, as I heard it then, was geared to the unhappy pagan, as it were. And I thought, What about the happy pagan? What about the person who has questions and feels no need? What about that type of person? They are more lost in a sense, and desperately in need of finding the Savior.

I wanted to start an organization and I said to Margie, I wish we had $50,000 to get a ministry like this going. She sat back in her seat and chuckled and said, “That’s a lot of money.” I was a seminary professor. I said, “If God were to bring that in, I would build an organization to reach the thinker and train men and women to do Christian apologetics all over the globe and to do it well.” That was in August. I came back and resigned. I gave one year’s notice, really believing that the Lord was leading us. She was uneasy with this. I was uneasy too, and we made one agreement: We would not tell anybody what we were thinking.

In November of that year, two months after that, I was speaking in Ohio to three hundred laymen, and after my last message I made this comment: “As you are driving back to the airport, would one of you in each car pray for God’s leading in my life? I am seeking Him and his wisdom in a certain matter. I cannot tell you what it is, just pray for us.” They did not even know that I had resigned from the seminary, effective one year after that. I went back to my room and picked up our bags. Margie and I were walking out, and there was a man standing there. He said, “Can I talk to you for a minute?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I don’t know what it is you are seeking God for, but I went back to my room and got on my knees and said, ‘God, what is it that that young couple is seeking wisdom for? Is there a role you want me to play?’” The man said, “I have no idea what it is you are seeking wisdom for, but I just got off my knees with God impressing me to give you a check for $50,000.”

I thought to myself, This is unbelievable. I mean, I have never received anything like that in my life. I looked at him and said, “Sir, I don’t even know you.” He said, “I’m going to trust you.” I said, “You know, that is a lot of money to take from a stranger. I cannot do it. But if you tell me where you live, I will fly in sometime in the next two months to see you. We can talk, and then if it is still on your heart, we can move forward with that.” He said, “You’re a busy man. I have a plane. Tell me where you live; I’ll fly in to see you.” And he flew to New York where we lived, to White Plains. My wife and I shared with him the vision to reach the thinker and he had tears in his eyes. He said, “I’m not an educated man, but I know how to make money and God has blessed me. You stay faithful and you stay honorable. I’ll take care of you. I’ll support your ministry because God has his hand on your life and you are reaching a segment of society that needs to be reached.” That was 1983. In January, we called together fifty friends, and this ministry was born in August of 1984.

That was just one link, but there were a series of links from John Stott directing me to the seminary to the man, Mr. D.D. Davis. He passed away very suddenly two years ago. Also, the wife God gave me, who affirmed and reassured me. There are so many things to affirm that this was of God.

JC: That is quite a remarkable story. Here is an interesting question: Is there a relationship between your conversion and your call that is more than just incidental?

RZ: I think to me there is a very clear relationship. Sometimes it may not always be that evident. God raised Moses in a palace in order to use him in a desert. He raised Joseph in a desert in order to use him in a palace. God always works in some marvelous and mysterious ways. Although that theme in many ways is a bit of a cliché, God did prepare Moses to stand before kings and leaders. I think in my conversion, there are two or three things.

First, in my ancestry. My ancestors going back four or five generations were of the highest caste of the Hindu priesthood. They were priests in South India, the top rung of priests. They were officiants at ceremonies; they were Nambudiris. The Nambudiris are on the top rung of Hindu priesthood. And yet, they came to know Christ. I now look at my family tree and think it is remarkable. My great-grandfather and my grandfather were linguists. They translated the first Malayalam-English dictionary, which is one of the most difficult languages in the world. It’s the Webster’s of the Malayalam language. It’s spelled front and back the same way. It’s a very tough language. They were into languages. My great grandfather translated the works of Shakespeare and Arabian Nights; he was a linguist. When I think of my life as being so involved in words, I think of God putting in that DNA right from the beginning.

The second thing is that my conversion was on a bed of suicide. I was empty, purposeless. Those are the issues I address today and people sit up and listen. When you talk about life’s meaning, everyone wants to hear your answer. People are looking for that. I was raised in the Anglican Church, and I never knew Christ. But now as I look back, the Anglican prayer book is a masterpiece—the hymns, the liturgy. I now think of worship as the clue to the meaning of life. So all of this, being raised in India, living in the West, connecting now between East and West, there is no doubt in my mind that my calling, my upbringing and conversion, there is a very real strand tying it all together.

JC: You have certainly given us definition of your calling. Has there been any time over the past in which you felt your calling has changed to some degree?

RZ: Not in the recent past. But twenty years ago when this ministry as an organization was formed, I moved from being an itinerant evangelist to an itinerant evangelist-apologist. Apologetics became the seasoning in the main course that I offered, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Apologetics does not dominate our message; it undergirds our message. Argument doesn’t save people, but it certainly clears the obstacles so they can take a direct look at the Cross. The change came when I recognized that I needed to be in hostile and adversarial areas because those are where the people are that need to be rescued. That was a big change for me, moving from the comfort zone of church evangelism, where I cut my teeth. However, I’m still licensed and ordained by the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I’ve covered the globe for them. I’ve covered the country for them—little churches, country churches, big churches. I miss some of that; it was wonderful.

But God moved me away from my comfort zone. That is why we turn down ninety-nine percent of our engagements. I take very few within the Christian world. As much as I want to be there, I take a few for my need so I can be replenished and blessed, but my primary ministry is in adversarial settings.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

On Leadership and Calling: An Interview with Ravi Zacharias Pt. 1

Ravi Zacharias and Major John Carter
2005 - Fall

Ravi Zacharias was interviewed in April 2005 by Major John Carter of The Salvation Army for a leadership class at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte, NC branch).

Major John Carter: In our leadership class, Dr. Zacharias, we discussed metaphors or images which guide leaders. Do you have a metaphor or image which has guided you in your life?

Ravi Zacharias: I think the best description I would give is that of a “privileged servant.” That would be the best description. There are different types, of course, but the Son of Man came to seek and to serve. I remember a number of years ago being a part of a conference in Wales where the theme on Christ was “The Servant King.” If the King Himself came as a servant and to serve, then that should be the model we have for ourselves. So I see it as a privileged servant. Coming from the East, where we had trusted, household help, trusted servants in the home, my father would trust them with the entire household, the children, etc., doing all types of things. This is our role, being a real servant of the King.

JC: That’s a wonderful metaphor and image of what we should think of, when thinking of our role, in Christianity. What biblical leaders are most important to you, perhaps in defining your own leadership?

RZ: There are several of them actually. In the earliest days, when I first looked at my calling, Jeremiah was the one, as the weeping prophet. The one who had such a tender heart towards so many things and yet had to be taken into such tough situations. One of the things God has fashioned me with is a tender heart. I have never been able to deny this or speak in laudable terms or in less than laudable terms than just to tell you the way I am or who I am. When I see a need, my heart is touched. I think that comes through my mother, who was a very tenderhearted woman. Looking at Jeremiah and the demands God placed on him, with all of the questions that he had, he was always raising questions before God, Why, why, why? And yet he had such a tender heart. Being told at one point that he was not going to be able to marry, and here was a man that needed that type of support, but didn’t have it.

Then, as time went on, because of the reluctance in my own heart, I would say Moses became a model for me: “Here I am, send Aaron.” I always felt unprepared and ill-prepared for this. I’m not comfortable in front of people. I do not like the attention that it brings. I love my anonymity. I’m not necessarily comfortable as a speaker; I’m more comfortable writing. I do not like leaving home and yet half of my life is spent on the road. I would rather step back and let somebody else do it in the forefront, so Moses became that model leader that I looked at. I could see why Moses questioned whether or not he should go and whether or not he felt prepared.

But in the last few years, I think the one who has best represented my calling is the apostle Paul. Abnormally born as it were, wrenched from the womb (in terms of calling), the convergence of various cultures into his life—the Greek, the Hebrew, the Roman, and now speaking to the Christian. The one who was a traveling missionary; the one who reasoned with the Epicureans and the Athenians. His apologetic especially given to Felix, is, I think, absolutely marvelous. He reasoned with Felix of righteousness and self-control and the things to come—the judgment and points of relevance, points of reference, points of disturbance—which is what apologetics is all about. So I would say in these last few years of my ministry, Paul has become that person.

JC: Are there any leaders outside of the Bible or outside the church that may have influenced you in a specific way?

RZ: Yes. They do in terms of their writing. I love reading some of the great authors of our time. I think John Piper is clearly one of my favorites. He plumbs the depths of the Scriptures and keeps God always as God before us and we as his creation. English writers have also helped me greatly. In terms of leadership, I have learned a lot from the life of a man like Joseph Stowell, [former] president of Moody. I’m just a few months younger than he is, but Joseph has modeled a lot for me. My pastors I worked under while I was a young man. My professors were very influential in my life in the early days—people like Norm Geisler, his impact on me. And prior to that in my undergraduate studies, from a methodology point of view, there were people like John Montgomery in the early days.

In terms of the leadership model, I also learned by observing fine pastoral men. Going back to India, just after my conversion, there was a man named Sam Kamaleson who became the vice president of World Vision. He led their pastoral conferences. There was John Tiebe, who was a Canadian and was a Youth for Christ Director in Delhi under whose watch I really came to know Christ. There was Sam Wolgemuth, who was also the great Youth for Christ International Director. In reference to these men, there’s something you borrow, not always specific, but an impression that is left in your mind. That impression begins to grow, nurtured by your reading and your studies. Observing the kind of men I worked under, they left me with this impression and a desire to be like them.

JC: In our leadership class, we discussed the paradigm from Jeremiah in the third chapter that related to calling, character, competence. We then we added a fourth word that could also be included, which was community. Dr. Zacharias, do you feel called to do this type of work?

RZ: Absolutely. And I don’t use that word lightly. Yesterday, as I was driving my wife to the airport (she was going to see her father who is not well), I said to her, “You know, if it weren’t for the call of God, this is not what I would do.” It demands a type of mental mindset, especially the travel side of it. It takes its toll physically and emotionally. I’ve never wanted to be away from my wife and kids for any period of time, and yet that’s what I have to do in my itinerant world. I think to know that you are called is a seal within your heart. I might also add—this is one thing that is not stressed for many who go into the ministry at this time. Today it is almost a manufactured profession. John Stott’s comment years ago was very appropriate when he said that the pastor’s study is replaced by the terminology “pastor’s office.” He said the study is where you learned and understood and heard from God and then went and spoke to the people. The office is where you manage a group of people. And without pushing it too far, the point is still well taken.

A calling is a beckoning. It is something like Samuel Wesley dying and telling his son: it’s that inner witness. There is something in your heart that God seals, and when I look at the way it has happened, the steps one after another, I could never have engineered any thing like this. I wouldn’t have wanted to or had the capacity to. It’s the calling of God that prepares your heart and prepares the place for your heart. No doubt, I am a hundred percent sure in my heart that God’s calling is on my life to do this work of a Christian apologist.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Toro's former CEO to speak on servant leadership...

Toro’s Ken Melrose to discuss ‘leader as servant’ at March 16 breakfast

Ken Melrose, executive chairman of the board of Toro Co., will give the next breakfast talk in a series co-sponsored by St. Olaf Catholic Church and the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought at the University of St. Thomas.

The ecumenical Faith and Work Breakfast will be held from 7 to 9 a.m. Thursday, March 16, in Fleming Hall of St. Olaf Catholic Church, 215 S. Eighth St.

Melrose is retired as Toro’s CEO and is the author of Making the Grass Greener on Your Side: A CEO’s Journey to Leading by Serving. He will speak on “The Leader as Servant: A Path to Spiritual, Personal and Business Growth.”

While serving and leading appear to be opposites in the world of work, Melrose will discuss how servant leadership is key to helping employees grow and contribute in ways that support the company and community. He also will explain how the leader-as-servant concept works in the competitive world of business, just as it does in the areas of health care, education and nonprofits.

Now in their 12th year, the Faith and Work Breakfasts deal with the personal challenges of faith-and-work integration and are designed for professionals from all faiths. The program has received recognition in Excellent Catholic Parishes: The Guide to Best Places and Practices by Paul Wilkes.

The cost of each Faith and Work Breakfast is $18, which includes a continental breakfast. Pre-registration is encouraged. To make a reservation or for more information, call St. Olaf Catholic Church, (612) 767-6204, or e-mail jmiltenberger@saintolaf.org. Information also is available on the Web at http://www.saintolaf.org/events.htm.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

26 ways in which doing IT Support is better than being a pastor

by Dan Phillips on the Pyromanics blog

Unusually emphatic disclaimer: This is satire (săt'īr' -- "A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit"). One hopes that every item is ponderable; the only thing I don't mean at all is the title -- and I really, really don't mean the title. All clear? Tongues in cheek, then. Here goes:

For the most part:

1. People come to you for help -- instead of assuming that, if you really knew your job, you would intuitively know they needed help, and come to them without being asked.

Everyone immediately tells you, to the best of his ability, what his or her actual issue is.

Everyone who asks you a question really wants to hear the answer.

Everyone who asks you for help really wants to he helped.

5. Everyone who calls you really does want his/her computer to work the very best it can.

6. You and your callers agree that computer bugs and problems are bad, and should be done away with.

7. When you identify viruses, spyware, unwanted popups, and crashes as "bad," and target them for elimination, the folks you help don't accuse you of being harsh and judgmental.

8. Nobody who calls you is actually in love with the computer problems and misbehaviors they're experiencing.

9. When you identify a computer malady you want to eradicate, nobody can wave a book or point to a Big Name who argues that it is actually the latest, greatest "thing" in computers, and should be earnestly sought after, cherished, cultivated, and spread abroad.

10. Nobody who calls you for help thinks that he's hearing a little voice in his heart telling him that what you're saying is just so much smelly cheese.

11. Everyone to whom you give sensible counsel will hear, heed, remember, and follow that counsel -- they won't insist on "feeling an inner peace" before doing it.

. Everyone thinks you do crucial, important, and respectable work; nobody assumes that it is because you can't get a "real job."

13. Everyone assumes you’re well-trained, know what you’re doing, and know at least some things they do not already know.

. While you are expected to be knowledgeable and competent at what you do, you are not expected to be perfect.

. Most times, you know immediately when you’ve helped someone; you don’t have to wait six months, six years, or six decades, to see whether your fix has “taken” or not.

. On the worst day, if you do even a half-decent job, you can go home knowing for certain that you’ve really helped 5, 10, 15, 20 or more people.

. If you don’t know the answer, it’s probably on Google. Somewhere.

. When you discover a new, better, more effective way to accomplish the goals you share with the folks you help, they're happy -- not angry at you because it's different from "the way we've always done it."

. The people you help don’t care how you’re dressed.

. The people you help don’t care how many committees your wife does or doesn’t head up.

. The people you help don’t hold your children to standards their children couldn’t even spell.

22. The people you help don’t periodically form secret committees and whisper-campaigns to get you ousted.

. The people you help don’t all assume they know how to do your job better than you do, while actually knowing next to nothing about it.

. Everyone is fairly clear on what your job actually is: fix their computer so they can get back to work, or work better.

. The people you help evaluate you by whether you do or do not do your actual and well-defined job effectively -- not by how you "make" them "feel."

. The people you help aren't judging you as inferior to a beloved support technician who died ten years ago.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Irrelevance is Irreverence

(exerpt of an article written by Mark Batterson of National Community Church)

I agree with Mark's assessment, how about you?

The key to unforgettable preaching is packaging truth in ways that are biblically sound and culturally relevant. Let me borrow from the parable of the wineskins. Think of biblical exegesis as the wine. Think of cultural relevance as the wineskin. If you have one without the other, you’re not going to quench anybody’s thirst. You need the substance (biblical exegesis) and the container (cultural relevance).

If we divorce Biblical exegesis and cultural exegesis we end up with dysfunctional truth. It doesn’t do anybody any good. Either we answer questions no one is asking. Or we give the wrong answers.

National Community Church has a core value: irrelevance is irreverence. God isn’t just omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He’s omni-relevant. He knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows every need before we verbalize it. And He speaks more than six billion dialects. No one is more relevant than God. So anything less than relevance is irreverence! Relevance = Reverence. Cultural relevance doesn’t mean dumbing-down or watering-down the truth. It’s about incarnating timeless truth in timely ways.

Youth Group Kids Drop God in College

Is there life with Christ after high school?

Think that passionate teen who loves Jesus is immune from the world’s influence? Think again. When youth group “graduates” go off to college, high school is not the only thing they leave behind. As they start their freshman year, studies show that many Christian young people abandon their faith.

In Youth Worker Journal, a youth worker shares about one such student from her small group:

For the first few months after Nicole graduated from high school, we stayed in touch. But by that fall, she had stopped returning my calls. She had stopped coming to our church, claiming that the college ministry was boring…

Three years later, I ran into Nicole at a mall near our church. She wasn’t alone. She was pushing a stroller. After we hugged, she somewhat timidly introduced me to her nine-month-old son and told me she’d lost contact with her son’s father. When I asked her if she ever went to church, she said she wasn’t into that God stuff anymore…

We’d shared four years of life together. We’d talked about Jesus at church and at coffeehouses, talked about what it meant to follow him…

We all have our students who graduate from our youth ministries and seem to graduate from following God. We all have our students who walked the narrow path in high school but somehow made a U-turn and stumbled, or maybe even sprinted in the opposite direction.

Unless Christian young people are firmly grounded in their faith, college may be the starting point of a life away from God.

Current trends should leave parents and youth workers uneasy. According to various studies, between 69%-94% of Christian youth leave the church after entering college. And based on a UCLA study, 52% of college freshmen say they frequently attended a religious service before attending college, but by their junior year, that number is down to 29%.

If that isn’t enough, data uncovered by The Center for Youth and Family Ministry (CYFM) at Fuller Seminary offers troubling information for any concerned Christian adult. In 2004, CYFM sent a survey to 234 students who graduated from the same youth group. Out of the 69 who responded, 100% of them had consumed alcohol, 69% had been involved in a sexual encounter (oral sex, sexual intercourse, or hooking up), and 20% reported having 40 sexual encounters (with the same or multiple partners) in the last 12 months.

Obviously, something drastic is happening after students graduate from high school. Why these unsettling trends? Comments made in the CYFM survey help shed light on the situation.

Leaving home for the first time places a lot of stress on a young person. The most difficult aspect of transition that students described involved relationships, specifically the loss of friendships, loss of community, and not knowing how to make new friends. Second was being alone for the first time and facing the responsibilities of living away from home. Third, in spite of student’s desire for a spiritual community, they didn’t know how find and get plugged into a place where they felt welcomed and spiritually fed. Without a solid foundation in their relationship with God, these young adults don’t have much else to turn to.

A second glance at student’s responses shows that the three hardest parts of the transition can be prepared for. Just as in a hurricane, the storm itself cannot be stopped, but many steps can be taken to prepare, protect, and limit the damage done. The determining factor: The more mature students were in their faith, the less likely they were to get involved with alcohol and sexual encounters.

Tony Arnold, Director of Media Relations for Campus Crusade for Christ, said, “We need to be preparing our children for going out into the world, where everything they believe may in fact be challenged.”

For Katie, a Christian and college student, her first year away was a very real challenge. “I went to college feeling totally ready, excited to just get away and do something new and exciting, not realizing that I was entering into the most intense battle I’ve experienced yet in life. Spiritually, mentally, relationally…in every aspect…my freshman year was a battle.”

Fortunately, college does not have to be the end of students’ relationship with God. Students can still stand strong after the storm.

Take Action

As a parent, youth leader, senior pastor, or concerned adult, you can do more than send students off and hope that they will be alright. By preparing them for college, you are setting them up to win in their walk with God for the rest of their lives. Here are several things you can do: (Follow this link for the full article)

Read youth culture news, youth ministry articles, and join the fight for America’s young people at http://www.battlecry.com.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Christian Counseling Resources...

The team at Mongergism.com have assembled a fantastic page for Christian Counseling resources. Along those same lines, Peacemaker Ministries is coming to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area September 21-23. If you are a pastor, someone with a heart for reconcilliation, or just someone who wants to know more about Biblical counseling and dispute resolution, this is a resource without peer. Also, read Ken Sande's book The Peacemaker. If your pastor doesn't have a copy, buy them a copy too!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Motorcyclists roll to soldier funerals to drown out protesters

Below is an article from today's Star Tribune. While I am not a fan of the Trib and it's liberal bias, it occassionally slips up and prints/publishes something good beyond the weather. I appreciate the Patriot Guard Riders and what they are doing, whether you agree with the War in Iraq or not, the soldiers should be respected and honored for their (and their families) sacrifice.

Ryan Lenz, Associated Press
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Wearing vests covered in military patches, a band of motorcyclists rolls around the country from one soldier's funeral to another, cheering respectfully to overshadow jeers from church protesters.

They call themselves the Patriot Guard Riders, and they are more than 5,000 strong, forming to counter anti-gay protests held by the Rev. Fred Phelps at military funerals.

Phelps believes American deaths in Iraq are divine punishment for a country that he says harbors homosexuals. His protesters carry signs thanking God for so-called IEDs — explosives that are a major killer of soldiers in Iraq.

The bikers shield the families of dead soldiers from the protesters, and overshadow the jeers with patriotic chants and a sea of red, white and blue flags.

"The most important thing we can do is let families know that the nation cares," said Don Woodrick, the group's Kentucky captain. "When a total stranger gets on a motorcycle in the middle of winter and drives 300 miles to hold a flag, that makes a powerful statement."

At least 14 states are considering laws aimed at the funeral protesters, who at a recent memorial service at Fort Campbell wrapped themselves in upside-down American flags. They danced and sang impromptu songs peppered with vulgarities that condemned homosexuals and soldiers.

The Patriot Guard was also there, waving up a ruckus of support for the families across the street. Community members came in the freezing rain to chant "U-S-A, U-S-A" alongside them.

"This is just the right thing to do. This is something America didn't do in the '70s," said Kurt Mayer, the group's national spokesman. "Whether we agree with why we're over there, these soldiers are dying to protect our freedoms."

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a daughter of Fred Phelps and an attorney for the Topeka, Kan.-based church, said neither state laws nor the Patriot Guard can silence their message that God killed the soldiers because they fought for a country that embraces homosexuals.

"The scriptures are crystal clear that when God sets out to punish a nation, it is with the sword. An IED is just a broken-up sword," Phelps-Roper said. "Since that is his weapon of choice, our forum of choice has got to be a dead soldier's funeral."

The church, Westboro Baptist Church, is not affiliated with a larger denomination and is made up mostly of Fred Phelps' extended family members.

During the 1990s, church members were known mostly for picketing the funerals of AIDS victims, and they have long been tracked as a hate group by the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project.

The project's deputy director, Heidi Beirich, said other groups have tried to counter Phelps' message, but none has been as organized as the Patriot Guard.

"I'm not sure anybody has gone to this length to stand in solidarity," she said. "It's nice that these veterans and their supporters are trying to do something. I can't imagine anything worse, your loved one is killed in Iraq and you've got to deal with Fred Phelps."

Kentucky, home to sprawling Fort Campbell along the Tennessee line, was among the first states to attempt to deal with Phelps legislatively. Its House and Senate have each passed bills that would limit people from protesting within 300 feet of a funeral or memorial service. The Senate version would also keep protesters from being within earshot of grieving friends and family members.

Richard Wilbur, a retired police detective, said his Indiana Patriot Guard group only comes to funerals if invited by family. He said he has no problem with protests against the war but sees no place for objectors at a family's final goodbye to a soldier.

"No one deserves this," he said.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Life gets in the way of blogging...

Yesterday my wife and I visited Wooddale Church, in Eden Prairie, MN (Leith Anderson's church). We did our pre-marital counseling there with Chad Erlenborn last Spring. Their newly-married couples Sunday school class is covering the subject of intamacy and we thought we might learn something. It was an excellent class, taught by a professor from Bethel College.

I spent the rest of the day working on papers that were due today. One paper was a long and difficult paper evaluating the church I have been part of for the past 3 years in how they are led and communicate. The church is a mess, and it was a difficult paper to write.

I have been applying to a couple of churches this past week. I sent in my resume to another local church, Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper's church) earlier today over the lunch hour. I'm not sure what my chances are at any of the churches I have applied at, but I'm stepping out in faith and trusting God to place me where He needs me.

One of the things that has been on my mind the past few weeks as I submit my resume to some local churches is that it’s not about pride and position, it’s about giftedness. I may want a certain position, but it might not be what God has created me for, nor what He intends for me. I think that thought needs to be examined deeply by all of us who are part of the body of Christ. Sometimes it's tough to come to grips with, but if we are serving in our giftedness we will be more effective.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ten Shekel Shirt - Great...

Ten Shekel Shirt

I have always wanted to be somebody who is great

To be great in, great in your eyes, is my dream
To be the one who makes you smile is everything

To love my enemies
To serve others until I become the least

To be great in, great in your eyes, is my dream
To be the one who makes you smile is everything

Greatness in this world is different than greatness in your eyes

To be great in, great in your eyes, is my dream
To be the one who makes you smile is everything

To be genuine in my love for others and for you is to be great

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Marriage - One Man and One Woman

(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Time for Prayer and Action

The US Senate is slated to take up the Marriage Protection Amendment on June 5. The amendment would constitutionally define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Pro-family leaders say it's time for prayer and action.

The first major hurdle will be the cloture vote to end debate. "We still need seven more votes," said Amanda Banks, federal issues analyst for Focus on the Family Action. "It's important for everyone to contact their senators — no matter how they may have voted last time." If the MPA is approved by Congress, it would then go to the states to be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures before becoming law.

Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage says Senate consideration of the MPA is made all the more important at this point because two states, Washington and New Jersey, are poised to impose gay marriage upon their citizens by court decision. "The Senate vote is critical to placing this issue back in the hands of the people, where it belongs," said Daniels. "The Washington state Supreme Court adheres to the false theory that marriage, as the union of male and female, is a form of discrimination on par with racist bigotry. This theory is rejected by most Americans and overwhelmingly rejected by African Americans and communities of color." If that happens, Daniels said the fallout will have "broad repercussions for America. Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose, but they don't have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society."

Jim Weidmann of the National Day of Prayer Task Force says, "The thing we want to do is make sure that the hearts of our legislators are aligned with God's heart, whatever the issue is. So what we want to do is pray that God may move and use them to take a stand for His principles."

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Anne Lamott: feminist Christian pro-abortionist?

I was browsing the Star Tribune early this morning and ran across this editorial from Anne Lamott that first made print in the LA Times. I'll just give a few quotes that struck me as her having a signficant disconnect with what it truly means to be a Christian. When I have a bit more time I'll interact more with this, but I think you'll quickly see some disconnects from these snippets. The bold highlights are my doing.

Then, when I was asked to answer the next question, I paused, and returned to the topic of abortion. There was a loud buzzing in my head, the voice of reason that says, "You have the right to remain silent," but the voice of my conscience was insistent. I wanted to express calmly, eloquently, that prochoice people understand that there are two lives involved in an abortion -- one born (the pregnant woman) and one not (the fetus) -- but that the born person must be allowed to decide what is right.

But then I announced that I needed to speak out on behalf of the many women present in the crowd, including myself, who had had abortions, and the women whose daughters might need one in the not-too-distant future -- people who must know that teenage girls will have abortions, whether in clinics or dirty backrooms. Women whose lives had been righted and redeemed by Roe vs. Wade.

Then I said that a woman's right to choose was nobody else's god damn business. This got their attention.

Maybe I could have presented my position in a less strident, divisive manner. But the questioner's use of the words "murder" and "babies" had put me on the defensive. Plus I am so confused about why we are still having to argue with patriarchal sentimentality about teeny weenie so-called babies -- some microscopic, some no bigger than the sea monkeys we used to send away for -- when real, live, already born women, many of them desperately poor, get such short shrift from the current administration.

But as a Christian and a feminist, the most important message I can carry and fight for is the sacredness of each human life, and reproductive rights for all women is a crucial part of that: It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.

During the reception, an old woman came up to me, and said, "If you hadn't spoken out, I would have spit," and then she raised her fist in the power salute. We huddled together for a while, and ate M&M's to give us strength. It was a kind of communion, for those of us who still believe that civil rights and equality and even common sense will somehow be sovereign, some day.
Pray for Ms. Lamott. And if you see her, give her a Bible, she's apparently not all that familiar with it's teachings.

The following cartoon was penned by Dan Lacey of Faithmouse.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A busy life...

Sunday was a great day. My wife and I started the the day by attending a worship service at Eagle Brook Church. Pastor Bob Merritt preached a very good sermon on laughing, joy, and how that relates to our Christian walk. The message was greatly influenced by a sermon Ed Young gave a few weeks back to his congregation Fellowship Church in the Dallas, Texas area. One thing I appreciate about Bob Merritt's sermon prep is that he spends time listening to other good communicators. He doesn't think that he knows it all, and is continually learning from other people how to communicate the gospel more effectively. The sermon had some great video clips interspersed with the message. The worship was outstanding, with fantastic integration of multimedia during the worship segments. If you want to see how a church successfully utilizes multiple screens (3), lighting to set and change moods or match tempo with songs, then check out what the team at Eagle Brook is doing. Bob did mention the article in the Pioneer Press I referenced a few posts ago, and took the chance to clarify why it is that Eagle Brook Church exists and why they do (some) things the way they do. The message concluded in a way I wasn't really expecting, but in a way that is always appropriate. Bob closed and spoke about having Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, and invited people who need prayer, or who need to know more about taking that next step of faith to come up to the stage area following the service (where EBC has a team of volunteers waiting). I appreciate that they are not so caught up in the fantastic growth they are experiencing that they miss out on opportunities to help people to step over the line and make a committment to Christ. Bob was clear that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, and I hope it hit home with some people who needed to hear that.

Later Sunday afternoon, my wife and I hit the road. We took Pastor Bob Merritt's advice and decided to have a day of fun. We started by going to downtown St. Paul, and visiting CANDYLAND. 435 WABASHA ST N ST PAUL MN 55102 1124 (651)292-1191. We got a nice sample of chocholates, and a small bag full of the best almonds I have ever had (fresh roasted, candy coated and dusted with cinnamon)! From there we drove down to Hastings, MN and went for a hike along the Vermillion River. It was very cold, and we concluded our trip just as the sun was setting on the horizon. We thawed out by going to Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant 2100 Vermillion St. Hastings, MN 55033-3653 (651) 480-0048. My wife had eaten here previously, but this was my first experience. I intially didn't think I was hungry (because of the sweets earlier in the afternoon) but after watching (SMELLING!!!) a nearly continuous stream of fajitas come out of the kitchen my stomach rumbled. I had some excellent tamales (the masa could've been better), some of the best I have ever had. The service was a bit slow, but they were quite busy. Banana had a platter with 3 or 4 things buried under a mound of lettuce, sour cream and cheese. She really enjoyed her meal as well. It was a great day with my favorite person, my wife.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Abortion and Mental Health...

(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

New research of out New Zealand, linking abortions in young women to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, is being criticized by such pro-abortion groups as the New Zealand Family Planning Association. They and other groups claim that abortion does not lead to depression, but rather, women who are already dealing with mental health issues tend to have more abortions.

The longitudinal study tracked 1,265 women for the past 28 years, beginning at birth in 1977. Of the 1,265 participants, more than 500 had become pregnant at least once by age 25 and, of that group, 90 chose to have abortions. Of the 90 who had an abortion, 41 percent reported subsequent mental health problems which included such symptoms as depression, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies.

Professor David Fergusson, who headed the study, and who describes himself as "pro-choice," said that this rate is 35 percent higher than for those who did not have an abortion, and almost double the rate of those who had not been pregnant.

Fergusson plans to interview the women again at age 30 to further explore the extent to which abortion does lead to adverse reactions. The results of the research were printed in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Applying for a job...

Yesterday afternoon I sent out my resume and a cover letter to a church in the area (Eagle Brook Church). I have long wanted to be a part of what is going on there on a day to day basis, but I've been waiting for what I felt like was a job that fits me well, and one that I am well qualified for. I don't want to just take a job that falls mainly outside of my gifting and what I feel is my calling. This job is exactly what I have been hoping would come along. There are a few things I would like to do, and among them are to be a Sr. Pastor, and Executive Pastor, and a Pastor of Small Groups. These are the things I feel most passionate about, and feel the most gifted in. There are other things I would also love to do, and the opportunity to be an Associate Pastor is also interesting. Now I have to wait and see what happens. For 3 years I've been praying for an opportunity, and while I don't know if this is what God has in store for me, I can be hopeful can't I? I trust in the end God's will is accomplished if I am not the person for the job, but it sure would be wonderful if this is where God has laid plans for me to be. Honestly, I'd be happy to be the janitor at Eagle Brook if they offered it to me (I actually enjoy physical labor of this sort), but I think God has trained me and shaped me for something else. If you have room on your prayer list, add a prayer for me that God's will would be done, and that if it pleases God, that this might be where he would have me serve next.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Eagle Brook Church is now the largest Church in Minnesota!

This just hit my inbox from Eagle Brook Church.

A Note From Pastor Bob

Dear Eagle Brook Friend,

Jesus said, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. What a miracle it is that with the addition of our Lino Lakes Campus and the reopening of our White Bear Lake Campus that nearly 8,000 people have been attending Eagle Brook Church on the weekends! Remarkable things are happening, and with that buzz is coming some attention that I can't say we ever wanted or sought out. As you may have read in yesterday's Pioneer Press, Eagle Brook is now the largest church in Minnesota, based on attendance. If you missed the article, click here to read it: http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/13808038.htm.

This is good news because it is one signal that our growing, thriving church is fulfilling its mission to reach people for Christ. But it also means we may get more attention than in the past, both from the media and from friends, family, and neighbors. As we noticed on the comments forum after the article, many Eagle Brookers stepped in to tell how God has worked in their lives through EBC. On the flip side, the article generated some misconceptions and criticisms about our church.

First of all, I want to say that as we experience great growth and heightened attention, it becomes more and more important to constantly stop and remember that everything we do from the music, to the message, to the kids programming is an example of God working through us. The life change we see in our church body every day can only come from God. This is His church; we didn't create it ourselves, and we need to be humble in giving the glory back to the One who did. The minute we become prideful or take the credit, we risk losing God's favor on our church.

I also want to take a moment to respond to the questions posed yesterday, as well as some other ones that we often encounter, and to remind each of you to give the glory back to God the next time someone asks you about the church you call home. Thanks for reading and I'll see you this weekend!

Is Eagle Brook more about entertainment than worshipping God? Is it just a show?

At Eagle Brook, we take God's truth and show people how to apply it to their lives right away. We use tools like dramas, video clips, and stories to present this information in a wide variety of ways. Some may mistake this focus on relevance for entertainment, but we do it for an important reason. We want any person to be able to walk into our church and feel welcomed by real people, inspired by excellent music, and challenged by biblical messages that give answers to everyday problems.

Does Eagle Brook really not have any Bibles?

We want to break down the barriers that keep people from attending church, and have found that by putting Scripture on the sidescreens and printing it in the program, it becomes accessible to everyone even to those people who may have never picked up a Bible before, and would have a difficult time finding a certain verse or passage. With that said, biblical teaching is at the foundation of everything we do, and Scripture is at the center of every weekend message we preach. We regularly encourage people to delve into the Bible on their own, and offer reading plans. In addition, we also encourage people to participate in small group Bible studies, where they can dig deeper and grow in their faith together, just as the early Church did.

Is Eagle Brook all about the money?

One of the core values of this church is good stewardship, and we are very careful in managing the money and all of the things God has entrusted us with. Much of the expense of our new campus in Lino Lakes is related to technology, which is an important part of staying relevant to our culture. What many people don't often see is how much is given away to support local food shelves, worldwide missions, and relief efforts such as those for Hurricane Katrina. That's because we don't do it for a pat on the back we do it because God has called us to do it.

Are numbers the primary evidence of God's blessing?

While this "Pioneer Press" article was written from an angle that focused on numbers, that is not how Eagle Brook looks at it. We don't see growth as a competition, but do welcome it because God has called us to reach people who are far from Him. Once they are part of EBC, Jesus alone can change them to become more Christ-like. EBC is not interested in shuffling sheep, that is, attracting people who are already connected to another prevailing church. That's why we work regularly with other churches, local and otherwise because we want other churches with a heart for reaching those who are far from God to prevail, too.

Is this really Christianity? Where is God in all of this?

Jesus Christ is at the center of everything we do, and anytime a marriage is healed, a family is restored, or a person is drawn into a relationship with God for the first time, we give all of the credit to Him. To read our core beliefs, click here: http://www.eaglebrookchurch.com/about/beliefs.html

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bono of U2 to speak at 2006 Willow Creek Leadership Summit

Bono, TIME Magazine's 2005 "Person of the Year" and charismatic lead singer for the multi-platinum U2, will join a host of other speakers at The Leadership Summit 2006, August 10-12. Bono, who has become an outspoken advocate for Africa's plight with AIDS and poverty, will be interviewed by Bill Hybels via a video-taped interview.

The Leadership Summit will originate from the South Barrington, Ill., campus of Willow Creek Community Church and will be beamed via satellite and videocast to 160 locations worldwide. More than 70,000 are expected to attend.

The rest of the Summit's confirmed 2006 speaker lineup consists of:

* Bill Hybels - Senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church and author of several books, including Courageous Leadership

* Andy Stanley - Senior pastor of Atlanta's North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, and Browns Bridge Community Church. Each Sunday, more than 15,000 adults attend worship services at one of these NPM campuses

* James Meeks - Illinois state senator and senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church, a 20,000-member congregation on Chicago's south side

* Peg Neuhauser - Management and organizational consultant, specializing in the areas of conflict management, organizational culture and avoiding burnout

* Patrick Lencioni - Founder and president of The Table Group, Inc., a specialized management-consulting firm focused on executive team-building and organizational health. He has been described by The One-Minute Manager's Ken Blanchard as "fast defining the next generation of business thinkers"

* Wayne Cordeiro - Senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii. Wayne is a church planter at heart and has helped to start 80 churches in the Pacific Rim and beyond including Hawaii, Montana, the Philippines, Japan, Myanmar, as well as Helsinki

* Ashnish Nanda - a member of the Negotiations, Organizations, and Markets faculty team at the Harvard Business School, teaches the executive education programs Leadership in Professional Service Firms and Changing the Game. For many years, he has been teaching the Willow Creek case study at Harvard with Bill Hybels

Don't miss this year's Leadership Summit, as it promises to be one of the best ever! Register your team today by clicking here. (I'll be attending at the Eaglebrook Church satellite location)

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Megachurches growing in number and size

By Jessica Kourkounis, AP

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A new survey on U.S. Protestant megachurches shows they are among the nation's fastest-growing faith groups, drawing younger people and families with contemporary programming and conservative values.
Members of the Lakewood Church worship at the grand opening of their megachurch in Houston. Members of the Lakewood Church worship at the grand opening of their megachurch in Houston.

The number of megachurches, defined as having a weekly attendance of at least 2,000, has doubled in five years to 1,210. The megachurches have an estimated combined income of $7.2 billion and draw nearly 4.4 million people to weekly services, according to "Megachurches Today 2005."

The study, released Friday, based its findings on 406 surveys from megachurches. It was written by Leadership Network, a non-profit church-growth consulting firm in Dallas, and the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, which did a similar survey in 2000.

Leadership Network's clients are large churches in the U.S. and Canada looking to grow or maintain growth with new ideas and methods. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research is part of the non-denominational Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

"When you add up all that megachurches are doing from books to video to the networks of connection across the nation, you can't say this phenomena of more than 1,200 megachurches is anything but really one of the most influential factors of American religion at this point in time," said Scott Thumma, researcher for the study and sociology professor at Hartford Seminary.

The South has the most share with 49%, including Texas with 13%. California led the nation with 14% but is part of a declining western region with 25%, seven percentage points lower than five years ago.

While large churches have flourished throughout history, early records show that the U.S. had about six large churches in the early part of the 20th century. That number grew to 16 by 1960 and then in the 1970s, they began to proliferate and draw public attention.

Megachurches founded since 1990 have more growth from year to year than any others and have the highest median attendance at about 3,400.

Oak Hills Church in San Antonio draws up to 5,200 weekly. Visitors have a special parking lot, are greeted there and inside the church by volunteers and invited to sip coffee at its "Connection Cafe" where video and print materials are presented about church programs.

"The main thing we work really hard at is having a good program for every age group," said Jim Dye, executive minister at Oak Hills. "We want the affluent to feel welcome and the hardworking, labor person, living payday to payday, to feel as welcome as anyone else."

The growth of megachurches in recent decades has come about because of a common historic cycle in U.S. religion: faith institutions reinventing themselves to meet the consumerlike demands of worshippers, said Paul Harvey, American history professor at the University of Colorado who specializes in U.S. religious history.

"We have a market economy of religion," he said. "Megachurches just show the instant adaptability of religious institutions. They reflect how Americans have morphed their religious institutions into the way they want them to be. Religious institutions have to respond to that."

Well-stated goals for growth, including orientation classes for new members, and a slew of programming for many demographics were a pattern for megachurches in the study. They also commonly have contemporary worship services with electric guitars and drums and frequent use of overhead projectors during multiple services throughout the week.

Their emphasis on evangelism, propelled mostly by word of mouth from enthused members, has been a constant, said researcher Dave Travis with Leadership Network.

"These large churches have figured out how to address the needs of people in a relevant, engaging way that is actually making a difference in their lives," he said.

The study also provides information about the age of megachurches, specifically that one-third reported they were founded 60 years ago or more. It also countered the notion that they are all independent congregations: 66% report belonging to a denomination — although most downplay this aspect in their church names and programming.

Other findings:

• 56% of megachurches said they have tried to be more multiethnic and 19% of their attendance is not from the majority race of the congregation.

• The average yearly income of megachurches is $6 million, while they spend on average $5.6 million each year.

• The states with highest concentrations of megachurches are California (14 percent), Texas (13 percent), Florida (7 percent) and Georgia (6 percent).

• The average megachurch has 3,585 in attendance, a 57% increase compared to five years ago.

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Chris Tomlin's Kindness...

I have found the following song to be very powerful and meaningful. Plus, I really like Chris Tomlin!

Chris Tomlin

Open up the skies of mercy
And rain down the cleansing flood
Healing waters rise around us
Hear our cries Lord let 'em rise
Open up the skies of mercy
And rain down the cleansing flood
Healing waters rise around us
Hear our cries Lord let 'em rise

It's your kindness Lord
That leads us to repentance
Your favor lord, is our desire
It's your beauty Lord
That makes us stand in silence
Your love
Your love
Is better than life

We can feel
Your mercy falling
You are turnin our hearts back again
Hear our praises rise to heaven
Draw us near Lord
Meet us here

It's your kindness Lord
That leads us to repentance
Your favor lord, is our desire
It's your beauty Lord
That makes us stand in silence
Your love
Your love

It's your kindness Lord
That leads us to repentance
Your favor lord, is our desire
It's your beauty Lord
That makes us stand in silence
Your love
Your love
Is better than life
Is better than life

Your love

Open up the skies of mercy
And rain down the cleansing flood
Healing waters rise around us
Hear our cries lord let 'em rise

We stand here,
As the desperate people
Hungry for the things of you
Come quiet the storms,
That rage all around us
So that we hear
The passion that
Beats through your heart
Spirit put healing in our hands
Put life in our words
And drive a passion
For the lost deep
In the hearts of your people
Inhabit the praises of us
Through children
And father send us out
With a reckless passion
Deliver us from evil
And set a standard of unity
To break down laws
And to heal your people
Unity is the cry of your church, Lord
Reckonsile the children to the fathers
And with forgiveness and mercy
Rush through the hearts of our land
We cry out our deep need for you Jesus
Oh God come in power
And bring glory to your name

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Superbowl after thoughts...

10 points wins few games in the NFL, especially in the Superbowl. Between the botched punts into the end zone and the dropped balls the game was lost. Big Ben’s arm looked like it was over/on the front edge of the white end zone line before he was hit, so that seemed to be to me tough to over turn. The push off in the end zone probably didn’t gain him an advantage, but the fact is it was done directly in front of a ref, he clearly appears to push against the defender, and he makes the catch with 4-5 feet of seperation when a fraction of a second prior they were body to body. The ref called what he saw. If DJax had kept his hands to himself, it would’ve been a touchdown, that can’t be blamed on anyone else. The defense broke down on a few key points, and it cost the Seahawks the game. The hail mary prayer throw Big Ben made to the 1 yard line should NEVER have been a completion. That ball was in the air for a very long time and yet the defense didn’t make the play. The DB also bit just enough on the end around pass to allow space for the receiver to get open. The line backer simply missed the tackle on Parker’s TD run. Pitt could’ve had another touchdown on the pass that was intercepted had Big Ben led the receiver who was open, but instead he under threw it and it almost resulted in a Seattle defensive touchdown. So I don’t buy the ref’s cost the game. Seattle had more than it’s fair share of chances. Holmgren/Hass blew it big time at the end of the first half, and then the 2 missed field goals also really hurt. If those two kicks go in, you play the last 4 minutes to win. Seattle lost this game quite well on their own, and tomorrow they will have to look in the mirrors and realize that. Congrats to Pittsburg.

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