Sunday, February 28, 2010

Preaching a sermon on wealth today from James 1:9-12

Preaching on wealth today at First Congregational Church of Waseca - looking at James 1:9-12 - The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. 12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

I. Wealth in the OT
A. The perspective of the OT as a whole
1. God is the owner of all things
a. Genesis 1–2
b. I Chr. 29:11
c. Psalm 24:1; 50:12; 89:11
d. Isaiah 66:2
2. Humans are stewards of God’s wealth for His purposes
a. Deut. 8:11–20
b. Leviticus 19:9–18
c. Job 31:16–33
d. Isaiah 58:6–10
3. Wealth is an aspect of worship
a. the two tithes
(1) Numbers 18:21–29; Deut. 12:6–7; 14:22–27
(2) Deut. 14:28–29; 26:12–15
b. Proverbs 3:9
4. Wealth is seen as a gift from God for Covenant fidelity
a. Deut. 27–28
b. Prov. 3:10; 8:20–21; 10:22; 15:6
5. Warnings against personal wealth at the expense of others
a. Proverbs 21:6
b. Jeremiah 5:26–29
c. Hosea 12:6–8
d. Micah 6:9–12
6. Wealth is not sinful in itself unless it becomes the priority of one’s life
a. Psalm 52:7; 62:10; 73:3–9
b. Proverbs 11:28; 23:4–5; 27:24; 28:20–22
c. Job 31:24–28
B. The unique perspective of Proverbs
1. Wealth is related to personal effort
a. slothfulness and laziness condemned (cf. Prov. 6:6–11; 10:4–5, 26; 12:24, 27; 13:2; 15:19; 18:9; 19:15, 24; 20:4, 13; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30–34; 26:13–16)
b. Wealth is related to hard work (cf. Prov. 12:11–14; 13:11)
2. Poverty versus Riches is used to illustrate righteousness versus wickedness (cf. Prov. 10:1ff; 11:27–28; 13:7; 15:16–17; 28:6, 19–20)
3. Wisdom (knowing God and His Word and living out this knowledge daily) is better than riches (cf. Prov. 3:13–15; 8:9–11, 18–21; 13:18)
4. Warnings and admonitions
a. warnings
(1) beware of guarantying a neighbor’s loan (surety) (cf. Prov. 6:1–5; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26–27; 27:13)
(2) beware of getting rich through evil means (cf. Prov. 1:19; 10:2, 15; 11:1; 13:11; 16:11; 20:10, 23; 21:6; 22:16, 22; 28:8)
(3) beware of borrowing (cf. Prov. 22:7)
(4) beware of the fleetingness of wealth (cf. Prov. 23:4–5)
(5) wealth will not help on judgment day (cf. Prov. 11:4)
(6) wealth has many “friends” (cf. Prov. 14:20; 19:4)
b. admonitions
(1) generosity advocated (cf. Prov. 11:24–26; 14:31; 17:5; 19:17; 22:9, 22–23; 23:10–11; 28:27)
(2) righteousness is better than wealth (cf. Prov. 16:8; 28:6, 8, 20–22)
(3) pray for need, not abundance (cf. Prov. 30:7–9)
(4) giving to the poor is giving to God (cf. Prov. 14:31; 19:17)
II. Wealth in the NT
A. The perspective of Jesus
1. wealth creates a unique temptation to trust in ourselves and our resources instead of God and His resources
a. Matt. 6:24
b. Matt. 19:23; Mark 10:23–31
c. Luke 12:15–21
d. Luke 12:33–34
e. Matt. 13:22
f. Revelation 3:17–19
2. God will provide our physical needs (cf. Matt. 6:19–34; Luke 12:29–32)
3. sowing is related to reaping (this is true in the spiritual realm as well as the physical)
a. Matt. 6:14; 18:35
b. Luke 6:36–38
c. Mark 4:24
4. economic exploitation condemned
a. Matt. 23:25
b. Mark 12:38–40
5. repentance affects wealth
a. Luke 19:2–10 (Lev. 5:16)
6. end-time judgment is related to our use of wealth
a. Matt. 25:31–46
B. The perspective of Paul
1. a practical view like Proverbs (work)
a. Ephesians 4:28
b. I Thess. 4:11–12
c. II Thess. 3:8, 11–12
d. I Timothy 5:8
2. a spiritual view like Jesus (things are fleeting, be content)
a. I Timothy 6:6–10 (contentment)
b. Philippians 4:11–12 (Heb. 13:5, contentment)
c. I Timothy 6:17–19 (generosity and trust in God, not riches)
d. I Corinthians 7:30–31 (transitoriness of things)
C. The perspective of James
1. wealthy Christians, like poor Christians, must glory in their relationship to God through Christ, not worldly conditions (cf. James 1:9–10)
2. wealth is transitory (cf. James 1:10–11)
3. be careful of favoritism (cf. James 2:1–13)
4. be careful of worldly plans (cf. James 4:13–17)
5. be careful of exploitation of the poor and righteous (cf. James 5:1–6)
III. Conclusions
A. There is no systematic biblical theology concerning wealth.
1. In the OT wealth and health were seen as blessings from God for covenant obedience (cf. Deut. 27–28). However, Job and Ps. 73 show that this simple answer does not always fit reality.
2. In the NT wealth is neither condemned nor advocated; however, wealth is often a barrier to trust in God.
B. There is no definitive passage on this subject. Therefore, insights must be gleaned from different passages. Take care not to read your views into these isolated proof-texts.
C. Proverbs, which was written by the wisdom teachers of Israel (sages), has a different perspective than other biblical genres. Proverbs is practical and individually focused. It balances and must be balanced by other Scripture.
D. Our culture needs to analyze its views and practices concerning wealth in light of the Bible. Our priorities are misplaced if capitalism or communism is our only guide. Why and how one succeeds are more important questions than how much one has accumulated.
E. Accumulation of wealth must be balanced with true worship and responsible stewardship (cf. II Cor. 8–9). Wealth is to be used for God’s glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Add this to the list of things that will NEVER happen at my church

Never. Never ever ever.

Clothing Optional Church
You can come as you are to Whitetail Chapel in Ivor, Virginia. But, clothing is optional for everyone, from the pastor to the congregation.

Pastor Allen Parker says that the chapel — part of the Whitetail Nudist Resort — is family-oriented and very involved in helping others. He considers it a "gift and a privilege" God has given him. "Some of the biggest moments in Jesus' life, he was naked. When he was born, he was naked; when he was crucified, he was naked; and when he arose, he left his clothes in the tomb and he was naked. If God made us that way, how can that be wrong?"

"I really don't think God cares what you wear when you worship," said Richard Foley, a member of the congregation. "The thing is worship." []

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Focus on the Family Ad Yanked

A new banner ad — provided to the Web sites as part of the original contract between Focus on the Family and CBS — has been removed from the sports organization's site. The ad shows a father holding his son, the title "Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life.", a caption that reads "All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing," and the Focus on the Family Web site address and phone number.

National Collegiate Athletic Association® spokesman Bob Williams said the decision to pull the ad was not based on the message, but on the messenger. The ad was originally approved by all CBS reviewers, but when hostile gay and lesbian groups began to complain, it was removed because of the perceived identity of Focus as portrayed in the liberal media, not the ad's message. Activists claimed Focus was too controversial for being pro-life and in favor of one-man, one-woman marriage. They said that runs counter to the NCAA's policies, despite the fact that it does strongly reflect the beliefs of a significant majority of Americans.

Pat Griffin, a retired University of Massachusetts Amherst professor who is a consultant to the NCAA® on gay and lesbian issues, said the slogan's reference to "life" is anti-abortion, and "celebrating families" does not extend to all families, but "a very specific kind of family — heterosexual married families." She continued on her blog, "It's not the right image or role for the NCAA to be endorsing an organization that has such an extreme right-wing Christian political mission."

Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger said that, if such material were "all of a sudden labeled hate speech, we have deeper problems in our country than we even know. ... Have we really become a society where it's considered distasteful and controversial for a dad to hope the best for his son? If so, we have a lot of soul-searching to do as a nation." [The Associated Press,,]

Dr. James Dobson Steps Aside

It is funny to see Focus on the Family trying to save face after a less than smooth last few months in their relationship with James Dobson.

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder and chairman emeritus of the board for Focus on the Family, is stepping down today (Friday), 33 years after he began the organization that has helped countless families. Focus has paid tribute to its founder on its daily radio broadcast all week.

"As many people know," said Jim Daly, current president and CEO of Focus, "this week marks the completion of a transition period that probably started more than 10 years ago. ... It's an amazing testimony, these past 33 years, how many people have been touched by Dr. Dobson and the ministry of Focus on the Family."

Dobson will begin a new ministry endeavor called Family Talk, with its first radio broadcast, "Family Talk With Dr. James Dobson," on May 3.

Focus on the Family will continue in the tracks laid down by Dr. Dobson. "The pillars will remain the same," said Tom Minnery, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs. "Our devotion to the notion that life is sacred, to the notion that marriage is one man and one woman, those will never change." Neither will Focus' history of standing in the gap for hurting families around the world. It will continue "Helping Families Thrive" in the manner established by Dr. Dobson. Focus on the Family can be reached at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Changes in Tweens' and Teens' Attitudes and Views

The results of a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the Girl Scouts of the USA, Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today, show that many more teens and preteens are accepting of homosexual relationships and far fewer find them unacceptable than was the case in 1989.
The research revealed that:
  • Fifty-nine percent of teens and preteens now feel that "gay or lesbian relations are OK if that is the person's choice." In 1989, only 31 percent believed that "homosexual relations are OK if that is the person's choice."
  • Only 30 percent of 7th-12th graders now believe that homosexual relationships are never acceptable because it is unnatural, compared to 56 percent who felt this way about homosexual relations twenty years ago.
  • Twenty-five percent of teens and preteens believe that "abortion is all right if having the baby will change your life plans in a way that you will find hard to live with." In 1989, 33 percent felt this way.
The survey was based on a nationwide sample of 3,263 students in grades 3 through 12, of whom 1,833 are in grades 7 through 12. Click here for the complete report, which also deals with attitudes about such topics as smoking, sex before marriage and suicide.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Church Attendance by State

A new study released by Gallup has found that self-professed church attendance levels by state did not change significantly between 2008 and 2009. Nine of the top 10 states in self-professed church attendance are in the South (the only non-Southern state is Utah). States at the bottom of the church attendance list are in either New England or the West.

Respondents were asked how often they "attend church, synagogue or mosque — at least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom or never." Nationally, 41.6 percent of all Americans in 2009 said they attended either "at least once a week" or "almost every week."

Top 10 States % Attending weekly or almost every week
Bottom 11 States % Attending weekly or almost every week


New Hampshire
S. Carolina





N. Carolina



Rhode Island


One explanation Gallup suggests is that states are characteristically different, which often includes religious identity and behavior. Southern states have high proportions of residents who identify as Protestant, non-Catholic Christians — faith traditions with high average church attendance levels. Residents of New England, the Northwest and other Western states are more likely to have no religious identity, usually associated with low church attendance.

The majority of Utah residents are Mormons, who have the highest average church attendance level of any major religious group in the country. Black Americans have the highest church attendance averages of any major racial or ethnic group.

The survey was based on telephone interviews with 353,849 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted across all 50 states and the District of Columbia during 2009 as part of Gallup Daily tracking. Click here to review the entire report.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Francis Chan and the Big Red Tractor

I love Francis Chan - not quite man-crush level - but pretty strong. This video is a great starting point for discussion in our churches. The video below piggy backs on Fracis Chan's newest book and DVD - Forgotten God (and there is also a workbook).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad

As of last Wednesday, the following statistics — gathered from Feb. 7-10 — represent the traffic that the Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad generated:
Traffic Stats:
  • Unique visitors to all major Focus websites — 1,250,498 in four days (normal traffic is approx 1.8M per month)
Online Media Views:
  • YouTube Tebow commercial views — 766,802
  • Yahoo Video Tebow commercial views — 1,195,358
  • Super Bowl ad views (FOTF) — 453,425 (Total Tebow commercial views —2,415,585)
  • Tebow Interview views (FOTF) — 1,005,887
The first link below features an interview between Jim Daly and Mr. & Mrs. Tebow. The second will be helpful if you minister to someone with an unwanted pregnancy or past abortion.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Giant Cell Tumor

For more than you ever wanted to know about the minor surgery I had a couple of weeks ago on my finger to remove a Giant Cell Tumor of the Tendon Sheath check out the in depth write up on Emedicine Orthopedic Surgery. If you read the whole article you'll see a guy's finger filleted open like mine would've been, as well as some removed masses, both of which are a bit gross looking.

From Emedicine:

Giant cell tumors of the tendon sheath are the second most common tumors of the hand, with simple ganglion cysts being the most common. Chassaignac first described these benign soft-tissue masses in 1852, and he overstated their biologic potential in referring to them as cancers of the tendon sheath.

Giant cell tumors of the soft tissue are classified into 2 types: the common localized type and the rare diffuse type. The rare diffuse form is considered the soft tissue counterpart of diffuse pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) and typically affects the lower extremities.1 Its anatomic distribution parallels that of PVNS, with lesions most commonly found around the knee, followed by the ankle and foot; however, the diffuse form occasionally affects the hand. Typically, these lesions, like those of PVNS, occur in young patients; 50% of cases are diagnosed in patients younger than 40 years. The diffuse form is often locally aggressive, and multiple recurrences after excision are common.

Click through for lots more reading.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Radicalis Conference 2010 - Day 1 notes

Rick Warren, Perry Noble, and Andy Stanley

Radicalis- Session 1
Latin: Radicalis = from the root
“Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in
obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from
him” Col. 2:6-7 (NLT)
“ May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you
have the power to understand …how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love
really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never
fully understand it. THEN you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that
comes from God.” Eph. 3:17-19 (NLT)
“They don't have deep roots, so they don't last very long. As soon as life gets hard or
the message gets them in trouble, they give up.” Matt. 13:21 (CEV)
"BLESSED are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and
confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep
into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of
drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.”
Jer. 17:7-8 (NLT)
“The surviving remnant of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit
upward.” 2 Kings 19:30 (NAS)
“Sink your roots in him and build on him.” Col. 2:7 (GW)
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of
them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the
greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with
ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind and ALL your
strength.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love
your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two
commandments." Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV)
"I don't want your sacrifices – I want your love! I don't want your offerings – I want
you to know me!” Hosea 6:6 (LB)
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…You have persevered and
have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this
against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you
have fallen! Repent and DO the things you did at first.” Rev. 2:2-5 (NIV)
“Today I am stepping across the line. I’m tired of waffling, and I’m finished with
wavering. I’ve made my choice; the verdict is in; and my decision is irrevocable.
I’m going God’s way. There is no turning back. I will live the rest of my life serving
God’s purposes with God’s people on God’s planet for God’s glory. I will use my
life to celebrate his presence, cultivate his character, participate in his family,
demonstrate his love and communicate his Word.
Since my past has been forgiven, and I have a purpose for living and a home
awaiting in heaven, I refuse to waste any more time or energy on shallow living,
petty thinking, trivial talking, thoughtless doing, useless regretting, hurtful
resenting, or faithless worrying. Instead I will magnify God, grow to maturity,
serve in ministry, and fulfill my mission in the membership of his family.
Because this life is preparation for the next, I will value worship over wealth, “we”
over “me”, character over comfort, service over status and people over
possessions, position and pleasure. I know what matters most and I will give it all
I’ve got. I will do the best I can with what I have for Jesus Christ today. I won’t be
captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by praise, frustrated by
problems, debilitated by temptation, or intimidated by the devil. I’ll keep running
my race with my eyes on the goal, not the sidelines or those running by me. When
times get tough and I get tired, I won’t back up, back off, back down, back out, or
backslide. I’ll just keep moving forward by God’s grace. I’m spirit-led, purposedriven
and mission-focused, so I can’t be bought, I will not be compromised, and I
shall not quit until I finish the race.
I’m a trophy of God’s amazing grace so I will be gracious to everyone, grateful for
every day and generous with everything that God entrusts to me. I am a radical in
the original sense of the word: rooted in Christ, rooted in love, and rooted in his
I hereby declare my supreme allegiance to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I say
however, whenever, wherever, and whatever you ask me to do, my answer is yes!
I’m ready. Anytime. Anyway. Whatever it takes Lord; whatever it takes! I want to
be used by you in such a way that on that final day I’ll hear you say, “Well done,
good and faithful one. Come on in and let the eternal party begin!”

Perry Noble – Radical Devotion

Acts 26

How radically devoted are we to Jesus? The more devoted we are the less likely we are to run from things that can’t hurt us but might scare us.

1. Radical devotion begins with an accurate view of Jesus
-we don’t have a resource problem, we have a devotion problem

2. Radical devotion calls us to action
-when the alarm goes off, you can’t pretend the alarm isn’t going off.
-you can’t just pray it away
-Acts 26:12 – Paul get up on your feet!

4. Radical Devotion will lead to the supernatural.
-Acts 26:17
-The church has become too dependent on the strategic at the cost of the supernatural.
-There’s not a formula that will grow your church, you focus and teach on Jesus and beg God for what only he can do.

Rick Warren
-Isaiah – God says “My word will not return void.”
1. The basis for radical preaching is the Great Commission

Andy Stanley

Radicalis- Session 2
“My word will not return void” Isaiah 55:11
1. The BASIS for radical preaching is: the Great Commission
A Great Commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission
will grow a Great Church
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and TEACHING THEM TO OBEY everything I have commanded you."
Matt. 28:19-20
2. The GOAL of radical preaching is: obedience
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
THAT the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
2 Tim. 3:16-17
"For…for…for…for… SO THAT!"
3, The RESULT of radical preaching is: A serving disciple
"(Christ) gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and
BECOME MATURE, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ!”
Eph 4:11-13
-you only believe the parts of the Bible you do.

o Jesus ALWAYS expected people to act/change as a result of his preaching
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you DO them.” John 13:17
"Jesus told him, "Go and DO likewise." Luke 10:37
“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into PRACTICE
is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” Matt. 7:26
“For whoever DOES the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
Matt. 12:50
“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only he who DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 7:21
"If anyone loves me, he will OBEY my teaching…” John 14:23-24
"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and OBEY it" Luke 11:28
“Do the things that show you really have changed your hearts and lives.” Matt. 3:8 (NCV)
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
James 1:22 (NIV)
“What's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions?
James 2:14 (NLT)
“It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth.” 1 John 3:19 (NLT)
• You only believe the parts of the Bible you do
“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives
forever.” 1 John 2:17 (NIV)
“Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.”
1 John 3:18 (NLT)
“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands”. 1 John 2:3
“For though once your heart was full of darkness, now it is full of light from the Lord, and
your behavior should show it!” Eph. 5:8 (LB)
Paul’s Instruction for a Young Pastor:
"It is for you to preach the behavior which goes with healthy doctrine." Titus 2:1 (JB)
“You must tell everyone what to do to follow the true teaching.” (NCV)
“Tell believers to live the kind of life that goes along with accurate teachings.” (GWT)
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” Pr 4:23 (TEV)
“Out of the mind come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual sins, stealing, lying,
and speaking evil of others.” Matt. 15:19 (NCV)
2. BEHIND EVERY SIN IS a lie that I am believing
"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds
of passions and pleasures." Titus 3:3 (NIV)
“For you are the children of your father the Devil, and you love to do the evil things he
does. He… has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies, it is
consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 (NLT)
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -
his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Think… Feel… Act
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV)
-question the lie.
BELIEFS IS a waste of time
“What people say with their mouths comes from the way they think; and these are
the things that make people unclean.” Matt. 15:18 (NCV)
Changing the Autopilot vs Willpower
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” Gal. 5:16
metanoia = "to change your mind!"
“I will teach you to respect me completely, and I will put a new way of thinking inside
you. I will take out the stubborn hearts of stone from your bodies, and I will give you
obedient hearts of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 (NCV)
7. YOU DON'T CHANGE PEOPLE'S MINDS, the applied word of God does
"We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain
spiritual truths." 1 Cor. 2:13b (NLT)
"The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.” 2 Sam. 23:2
“’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord.” Zech. 4:6
“Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy's strong places.
We destroy people's arguments and every pretension that raises itself against the
knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and OBEY Christ.”
2 Cor. 10:4-5 (NCV)
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matt. 3:8 (NIV)
“I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance
by their deeds.” Acts 26:20b (NIV)
9. THE DEEPEST PREACHING IS preaching for repentence
Repentance: the central message of NT preachers:
John-B "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matt. 3:2
Jesus “From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent…" Matt. 4:17
"Repent and believe the good news!" Mark 1:15
The 70 “They went out and preached that people should repent.” Mark 6:12
Peter "Repent and be baptized, every one of you…” Acts 2:38
Paul “I preached that they should repent…." Acts 26:20b
John “Repent!” Rev. 2-3
“Jesus told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on
the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all
nations…’” Luke 24:46-47 (NIV)
10. TO PRODUCE LASTING LIFE-CHANGE YOU MUST enlighten the mind, engage the emotions and challenge the will – that is radical preaching.
Every message comes down to 2 words: will you?
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare." Prov. 29:25 (NIV)
"Where there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled…" Prov. 29:18 (NCV)

Andy Stanley
If we aren’t careful, our approach to preaching will trump our goal in preaching.
-the 18 to 35 year olds in our country have abandoned the church – do you know why? They went to one.
-My goal is for people to live out their lives as if God is with them.
-On Sundays I want to lure people into the Scripture and then rub their noses in it, roll them around in it, and then take one sticky statement and jam it down into their heart and then send them out and set them loose.
5 questions Andy Stanley asks every week
-Who is this about…really?
-about me and it will fail.
-What is my burden?
-Dig until you find it
-Build everything around it
-Make it stick
-Where is the tension?
-most communicators miss this and it is why they are boring.
-What is the question this message answers?
-What is the tension this message resolves?
-What is the mystery this message solves?
-What is the issue this message addresses?
-Do I own this?
-Have I internalized this message?
-How hard will I have to think when I give this message?
-The best way to internalize a talk is to memorize pieces, not points
-Am I allowing the text to speak?
-I want my congregation to love the Bible.
-Bring your energy to the text
-Uncover the energy in the text

N.O.W. show yet again it is out of touch

From Justin Taylor:

John McCormack writes:
The LA Times reports that the president of the National Organization for Women is still outrageously outraged over the incredibly tame Focus on the Family/Tebow ad last night:
NOW president Terry O’Neill said [the Tebow ad] glorified violence against women. “I am blown away at the celebration of the violence against women in it,” she said. “That’s what comes across to me even more strongly than the anti-abortion message. I myself am a survivor of domestic violence, and I don’t find it charming. I think CBS should be ashamed of itself.
The “violence against women” O’Neill refers to occurs when Tim Tebow tackles his mom Pam in an attempt at slapstick.
The offending ad is below. No word yet on whether or not NOW is equally outraged by the hyper-sexualized objectification of women in many of the other Super Bowl ads. Or whether or not they are bothered by the actual violence that is done to women who are just being born.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Francis Chan on Suffering in Ministry

The following is Francis Chan of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA thoughts on suffering from his talk at the Verge Conference:

Good ministry is full of suffering. Yet we are surprised when we suffer.
Do not be surprised when people persecute you 1 Peter 4:12. In fact, you should be concerned if people speak too well of you because that is how the false prophets were treated. At the end of the day, it is all about the Holy Spirit and what He has called you to do.

Jesus did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10). Blessed are you when people hate you because of Jesus (Luke 22). The world hated Jesus before it hated you (John 15). The apostles rejoiced at the opportunity to suffer for the cause of Christ (Acts 5). We are heirs of Christ provided that we suffer with Him (Romans 8). For the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in Him but suffer for Him (Philippians 1:29). Share in the suffering (2 Timothy 1:8). Let us bear the reproach that Christ endured (Hebrews 13:12).

If you are not suffering, there is a problem. Imagine how close you’d be with Jesus and how safe you would feel had you suffered alongside Him. Then you would know this is real.

You must learn to love people who betray you. The highest form of love is to love people who betray you.
If we really are serious about wanting Christ - to experience Christ, to know Him - we must be ready for suffering.

 HT: Kent Shaffer

Love and War: Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed Of by Stasi and John Eldredge

Love and War: Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed Of at

My Thoughts:
From what I have read of John Eldredge previously I knew two things - he is a very gifted writer, and theologically I don't fully jive with him at times, especially how he is prone to proof texting.  With his popularity and influence I would love to see him do a better job of handling scripture.  His Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul being my primary exposure to his writing.

I found this book generally enjoyable and useful, though there are a few quibbles I have with it.  First the author(s) rely upon stereotypes a bit much.  Granted, I fit the stereotype of men that they put forth, but still they could probably have done with fewer instances of relying upon that crutch.  Second, I think at times they have an unfairly critical view of marriage and in a sense they chastise you if you don't share that same view.  I'd agree that all marriages have shortcomings because there are broken sinful people involved, but I would explain it quite differently and less negatively.

My biggest gripe about the book is that there is a lot that seems to be recycled from Wild at Heart - taking away some of the freshness of this book for me.  But, and this is the big but in the review, I suspect that they are hoping this book is a first exposure to John Eldredge for many of their readers.  So while I didn't get personal benefit from some of that, I can see the reason for inclusion at least.

What I do really like about the book is that they are truthful in their view that every marriage needs work, that we are all broken and all regularly do things to screw up our relationships.  Marriage is indeed hard work, but it is worthwhile work.  I think they do a good job of arguing that we cannot expect our spouses to complete us or heal us.  While it sounded good in Jerry McGuire, you don't really complete me.

From the Publisher:


What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we'll find our way through.

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah and can be purchased from them as well.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Pastor Quits — Church Remains Affiliated

Members of First English Lutheran Church in Wausau, Wisconsin, have voted to remain affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. However, in the midst of the turbulence surrounding the issue of gay clergy, Rev. Scott Mann, the church's pastor, will resigned Friday, February 5th. Mann said he disagreed with the ELCA's decision last year to allow people in lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as pastors and other leaders. He will be forming a new Lutheran congregation in the area with others who reject the ELCA decision. []

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pastors Sue Over Hate Crimes Law

A federal lawsuit was filed this week against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of three Michigan pastors and the president of the American Family Association of Michigan — challenging the constitutionality of the 2009 "Hate Crimes" law. They allege it violates their civil rights.

The complaint was filed by the TMLC in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of Pastors Levon Yuille, Rene Ouellette, James Combs and Gary Glenn, the president of AFA of Michigan. The complaint states that Christians now can become the target of federal investigations, grand juries and even charges for no more than opposing the activism of homosexuals who want not only public endorsement of their life choices, but to halt any criticism of those decisions.

"On account of ... the Hate Crimes Act, plaintiffs are targets for government scrutiny, questioning, investigation, surveillance, and other adverse law enforcement actions and thus seek judicial reassurance that they can freely participate in their speech and related religious activities without being investigated or prosecuted by the government or becoming part of official records because of their Christian beliefs," the lawsuit explains. [,]

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Porn-Free Hotels

The January/February edition of the National Geographic Traveler features an article about Clean Hotels, a web-based directory of hotels that do not carry pornography on demand. The Web site is an invaluable tool for families and business people who travel and spend time in hotels to avoid the hard-core pornography that pops up on the TV sometimes. []

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Effect of Porn on the Brain

Your Brain on Porn: A Neuroscientist's View

Have you ever wondered why pornography seems to hypnotize the male brain, or why it can override all logic, sometimes to the point of ruining a guy's life? William Struthers has the answers. A neuroscientist and professor at Wheaton College, Struthers has researched what goes on in the mind of a man when he looks at pornography. His findings are enlightening. Our conversation with him hit on a variety of topics, such as why porn seems to be worse for Christians than non-Christians and how single men can find hope. Don't miss this interview.

New Man: What goes on in a man's brain when he's looking at pornography?

Struthers: I think even before you answer that question you have to know a little bit about how a man's brain is built. Obviously it starts developing in the womb. The critical part in making a masculine brain is testosterone. It causes the brain to develop along a certain pathway. That's what makes little boys different from little girls. You'll notice that a baby boy likes to look at things, but a baby girl likes to look at faces more.

The next big chemical changes take place during puberty, when the brain becomes cued in to sexual maturity. Every brain has certain parts that are more masculine or feminine. What you find during this time is that the masculine parts of the brain are really triggered by visual stimuli. This goes back even to the example of babies—the boys are more interested in looking at things. This visual preference shows up very clearly with pornography.

In tests, when men are placed in brain scanning devices and look at stills of naked women or video of couples engaged in intercourse, the visual parts of a man's brain light up more than a woman's. The example I use in the book is that, to a man, pornography is like a high definition television. For whatever reason, it tends to draw in men reflexively and maintain hold over them. Just like when you're looking at TVs in Best Buy, the HDTV is going to grab your attention more than the standard definition. To a woman's brain, it's all standard definition. So pornography lends itself to a man's brain.

Another critical thing for a man's brain when looking at pornography is that many men will use pornography to masturbate. Once again, when you look at what goes on in the brain around an orgasm, it is the parts of the brain that are involved in reinforcement. They are the same parts that activate when a person eats or drinks or takes addictive drugs.

So when you start pairing the visual image of pornography, which men see incredibly well and are almost hypnotized by, and if you combine that with the reinforcement of masturbating or acting out sexually, you're laying down a powerful neurological habit where the orgasm reinforces the response to pornography.

Within our larger Christian worldview, the purpose of the brain reinforcing the response to an orgasm is to bind a man to his wife. This response ties you to whatever is sanctioned with it. In the context of marriage between a husband and a wife, this binding is a good thing. If, however, this sexual response is bound to something else, like a pornographic image, you are bound to it and you develop an attachment to it. This is a neurological process as much as a spiritual one.

Read the whole article HERE.

Do Sermons Really Have Impact?

"Nearly 100 percent of churchgoers look forward to sermons, but only 17 percent think preaching changes the way they live," according to a recent study from the CODEC Research Center at St. Johns College in Durham, U.K. The CODEC report, "The View from the Pew," is based on interviews with 193 Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists and Baptists from 16 different churches.
The research also discovered that:
  • Many Anglicans wanted the sermon to last less than 10 minutes, but up to 20 minutes was fine if there was no "waffle."
  • Baptists were happy to sit through a 75-minute sermon.
  • Catholics wanted the sermon to be completed within 10 minutes.
  • Sermons were seen as being very good at teaching about God, the Bible and "being comforting," but needed to do more to "motivate and challenge" people to look at the world differently.
  • Sermons seem to encourage Christian reflection, but not Christian action.
  • Nearly 17 percent felt sermons did actually change the way they lived.
Click here to view the article.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Why plant new churches?

From the Desiring God Blog:

Why plant new churches in America? You may be surprised by the statistics.
  1. There are about 200 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the four largest "unchurched" nations in the world.
  2. Each year about 3,500 churches close their doors permanently.
  3. Today, of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, four out of five are either plateaued or declining.
  4. One American denomination recently found that 80% of its converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old.
Each church has her weaknesses—and strengths. In planting new churches, we pray not for replications of already existing churches with all their weaknesses, but more and more of incarnations of biblical vision and gospel theology without the same limitations and imperfections. What the world needs is not the multiplication of our imperfections and limitations but new sets of imperfections and limitations. Multiplying churches with different strengths and weaknesses means coming closer to meeting the crying needs of the world.

Mark this well: Jesus does not promise that he will build his school, or that he will build his co-op, or build his medical clinic, or build his university, or build his social service agency—as good as those are. He promises with absolute authority: "I will build my church."

Some of my church planting friends:

Tony Rambo - The River Community Church in Stillwater, MN
Michael Behm - Real Life Church in Waseca, MN
Brad Kindall - Gallery Covenant Church in the Grand Ave./Selby area of St. Paul
David Sorn - Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
Daniel Gutierrez - Bloom Church in St. Paul, MN
David Tilma - A New Church in Madison, WI (to be named at some future point)

Angels: Who they are and how they help by David Jeremiah

My thoughts: 
Count me among those who find it frustrating just how ignorant the average Christian (let alone the average non-Christian) is about Angels.  Some of it comes from the over-sensionalization by authors, movies and TV shows.  Touched by an Angel didn't help matters much. 

When we die, we DO'NT BECOME ANGELS! < /rant>

So to have a highly respected pastor, teacher and author like Dr. David Jeremiah tackle this subject is a real breath of fresh air and clear thinking.

Dr. Jeremiah's take on this is as always, rooted in scripture.  He explains clearly all that we know about angels, but wisely doesn't press beyond that into extra-biblical areas that makes angels glorified faeries.

The book serves as a great reminder that there is more than us, another realm, just outside of us, a realm where followers of Christ will someday belong.  David Jeremiah does a great job of making this clear, yet remaining Christ centered in his approach.

My main issue with the book is its length.  There were places where I felt shorter would've been better, without sacrificing the main point(s).  It is a 222 page book about angels, where there isn't nearly that much in scripture to base it from.  But nonetheless, it is a good and quick read.

 If you or someone in your life is confused by who and what angles are, start here and you will gain some real clarity.

Summary from the publisher:

What are angels? What is their role in God’s plan? Are they present? Do they appear? Do they give us personal insight about our work, our worship?

Many contemporary beliefs about angels are based on misconception and myth. Dr. David Jeremiah uses scripture to unveil the remarkable truth about these agents of heaven, and their role and work in our world—and lives.

More than 60,000 units of this powerful book have sold in two past editions. This repackage of the original 1996 paperback will surely capture the attention of readers of all ages who seek a broad and thorough survey of scripture that clearly separates fact from fiction as it relates to angels. The book will appeal to the thousands who follow Dr. Jeremiah’s books, and radio and TV broadcasts.

Relevant, little known biblical facts help readers sharpen their knowledge and sensitivities toward the spiritual reality of angels. Dr. Jeremiah’s enlightening findings are supported with illustrations and insights from Billy Graham, Corrie ten Boom, C.S. Lewis, and more.

Author Bio:

Dr. David Jeremiah is senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, and founder of Turning Point Radio and TV Ministries. His radio program is carried on over 2,500 stations worldwide, while the TV broadcast is received by 500 million homes via cable and satellite. The recipient of numerous awards for broadcast excellence, his books have garnered Gold Medallion awards and become bestsellers with The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the New York Times. He is a sought-after conference speaker by organizations nationwide.

This book is available for purchase from or Random House Publishing.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.