Friday, December 30, 2005

Poker Ministry? is probably innocent. It appears that the gambling is gone and just the card game remains. Yet something rings up oddly about the idea of a "poker ministry." I did a google search using that term and found several other sites for christian (or, at least, church) poker clubs and/or ministries. This site claims that the fellowship is important, and that "it was never our intentions for this group to be some sort of ministry, but then again our intentions are not God's intentions. Paul said,"...Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings." (1 Cor. 9:22-23) It was easy to see that God was working in this group." I can't judge whether God is at work in the group or not. I wonder if maybe the focus is getting a bit skewed. Then again, maybe it isn't poker that is my concern. There are plenty of christians who have little time for Jesus and plenty time for golf, or tennis, or computer gaming, or .... Well, I'm not sure what to make of this. I'm sure that those who began the ministry are sincere, but I wonder if this might be a bit off the target? Next we'll be seeing hula ministry ... no, that's already here isn't it? Dick Staub comments on Authentic Inauthentic Ministry today. I'm thinking that maybe the poker ministry and the hula ministry might be better than some of the youth ministry of our day.... At least they don't pretend to be something other than what they are. While I'm not sure that I can figure out the relative value of this kind of stuff, I do remember the words of one of my mentors from way back: "Jesus plus 'anything', is usually poor theology, ineffective methodology, and the 'anything' loses too."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Morning Musings

So … here I sit waiting for folks to arrive for our Christmas morning worship service. I figure only a few will be here, but I’m still glad that we decided to hold at least the one service. Christmas Eve, as expected, was packed twice. Driving in this morning it appeared that most were holding worship, but there were those with notices that there was nothing. Of course, the press has made the cancellation of Christmas Worship Services a huge story. I think that more than how many attend I am pleased that we demonstrate a value to our world. Sunday, the first day of the week, is a fifty-two-times-a-year reminder of the resurrection. How sad is it that some (who knows how many) churches chose not to have Sunday worship as it might conflict with important family traditions. As important as family is, I’m not sure that the church should change its core to accommodate Christmas tradition. Maybe we would teach greater family values if we reminded people that meeting with God is of great value … something we sacrifice to do at times. I wonder if the persecuted church around the world cancelled their worship today? American Christmas is often more about things other than Jesus. Well, even if Jesus is the only one to show up today, I’m prepared to worship.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Short Day

December 21 -- the shortest day of the year. Of course, here in the Northwest it was grey skies and rain all day so it seemed even shorter! The nice thing is that every day from now on gets longer … and soon it might even be Summer. My daughter in Glasgow was observing the same thing today. I just worked and dealt pretty much non-stop with the administrivia that builds up in my job; she seemed to have some interesting times - even when they aren't all that interesting. Whether we like the days short or long we still only have to live one day at a time (Matt. 6:34: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.) It also helps to remember that "this is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it -- Psalm 118:24. I'm rejoicing. And I'm reminded that we'll soon have summer.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Mark Dever - Someone Worth Hearing

This post on Sharper Iron provides me with a spur of the moment opportunity to introduce to my 3 readers a very challenging and provocative preacher - Mark Dever. This post is an interview that begins with preaching and evangelism and wanders through some points that have become quite controversial in Christian church circles. Dever is the point person for 9Marks website and author of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church and co-author of The Deliberate Church (which I hope to read this month!) I like Dever's commitment to church health rather than church growth. He rightly understands that we do not grow the church - Jesus does. He understands that we do not convert people - God does. We are called to be faithful to the revealed will of God in the Scriptures and to proclamation of that Word and to holding believers to high standards of living out that life for their own good as revealed Scriptures. Dever is a great example of one whose practice comes from his doctrine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Doctrine - Is it Really Necessary?

Over the past 3 days I've had 3 discussions about the role of doctrine in the church -- especially it's place in the preaching of the church. The gist of each was whether there was too much emphasis on doctrine and not enough on practical living. These were not contentious talks, just a bit disconcerting because they reflected the idea that doctrine and practice are distinct and separated from each other. We seem to have lost the "doctrine" of doctrine in the church. Paul told Timothy to "... preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, ".... (2 Ti. 2:2-3; NASB). When writing to Titus about the work to be done in the church in Crete he bluntly says, "But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." This doctrine is to have a very practical result ... men and women will live well ordered lives. What we believe shapes how we live ... our doctrine shapes our practice ... so how can we teach practice (i.e., practical things) without first making clear our doctrine? Yes, we often need to demonstrate how to live out truth. Sometimes we need to illustrate how something is applied. There is the responsibility to teach clearly enough so that an audience can understand what is required in their lives. Yet it is vital that we have sound (healthy) doctrine at the core of our ministry. That's why I was pleased with Pyromaniac's returning guest today. John MacArthur nailed this topic as one would expect from one of the foremost Bible teachers of our day. Teaching sound doctrine is not a ministry fad. It is the core of the ministry. It is not something that can be taken for granted. Here we are in the 21st century America with the ability to hear 100's of preachers, books galore, online resources, and more - yet it appears the few Christians - even leaders - can wrestle through basic biblical understandings for action.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Is that lion the King of Kings?

The anticipation is growing for Narnia. Even USA Today is extremely positive about the film. This surprising article on page 1A is very open about the Christian elements of the story and makes it clear that Lewis' made no apologies for his "supposals" about redemption and belief. Lewis may not have wanted a film made, but I think that this movie may actually have a powerful impact on lives. Maybe a more powerful film that Mel Gibson's Passion of The Christ. The story of Aslan seems to speak about THE STORY of Jesus in ways that catch people off guard and could provoke some very interesting discussions. Hopefully, believers will be well prepared to add their story of being found by the sovereign God to the discussion.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


LibraryThing Catalog your books online is a website I find intriguing ... though I'm not sure exactly how I might use it. I could see it as a place to keep a backup list of my library that I can view from anywhere. The use of tags might help me keep track of what topics I have in books. I might event use them to tell me where the book is. There is ability to add reviews to books, but few were actually available. The different views, like the author "cloud", are interesting and might be helpful in finding interesting books to read. Maybe I could discover some folks with similar libraries ... and interests. It's in beta still so it will be interesting to see what develops ... or if Amazon buys it! My problem? You can upload books to a personal library by entering ISBN or keywords. The program will look up and add any books with valid numbers. I have a library that is upwards of 8,000 titles - at twenty a pop it's gonna take a long time. It costs $10 annually to add more than 200 titles ($25 for eternal use). My imported ISBN data was rejected as "wrong" way too often. Maybe I'll just use it to enter books I'm reading or books I'm thinking about reading. Then again, maybe I'll see if I can find out how to get Challies simple book list software to do that. Or maybe I can get all my friends (virtual and "real") to upload their books and we can see what is shaping our lives and minds. By the way, I have been using Ministry Notebook to manage my library ... an older, clunky, program that is never upgraded, but I haven't found anything else yet.

Finally ... Time to Visit

I finally had some time to really visit Just about every blogger I read regularly links to Tim Challies so, since it’s a holiday tomorrow, and I’m planning on major vegetation, I have time to leisurely blog-surf. This is a great site! I particularly liked his reading list and book reviews though it cost me some buck$ at Amazon – I discovered a couple of books that I just had to add to my to-be-read-someday bookshelf. Apparently Challies has been a long-time reviewer of Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven marketing juggernaut – a recent post summarizes some key thoughts. You don’t have to guess at his worldview … he’s pretty up-front about it. This is a site I can highly recommend. I know I’ll be back often.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Eddie Gibbs in Leadership Next brought a new term to my vocabulary - Apatheism. Defined on Wikipedia as a portmanteau neologism (a haplology combining apathy with either atheist or theist) for the position that God may exist but is of no real importance to one's daily life. Gibbs says that today's church leaders need to train God's people to reach this growing group. They are not theists, nor athiests, but apathetic about either side - they just don't care what you think ... and some of them may even be "christian." The wiki listing goes on "Apatheism is not synonymous to atheism, but is rather a particular form of agnosticism, in the sense that it holds that the question whether or not God exists may be meaningfully asked, but is not worth asking." I think we are going to have to train Christians in new ways of evangelism. The old arguments won't work with these postmoderns. They may grant us the argument ... it doesn't mean they'll believe. Hopefully we have lives that demonstrate something worth considering. What a challenge for the future!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Breakout Churches: Thom S. Rainer

Thom Rainer really likes Jim Collins' Good to Great. So much so that he applied to the church. The book is helpful in determining what might be wrong in some churches, and encouraging in that he sees God doing great things in churches. The main issue is knowing what you are all about ... having a clear sense of pupose ... knowing why you do what you do ... having deep passion that drives the entire church. One of the key insights is at the end of the book. His research team came to the conclusion that the best churches didn't often let the "tail wag the dog." Then one of the researchers pointed out that most of the not-so-great churches didn't really even have a dog ... just a bunch of tails. This is an interesting book worth the read - especially if you liked Good to Great. He's not talking about every church that seems successful. And he's not talking about just mega-churches. The research is pretty scary ... The huge majority of churches - large and small - are plateaued, which is a nice way of saying they are in slow erosion. And most of those think they are doing very well. Mostly because they have no "dog" to wag.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Brutal Reality

Brutal Reality Jim Collins was the first to popularize it as a leadership practice in Good to Great. Thom Rainer picks up the same theme and applies it to church leadership in Breakout Churches. Andy Stanley makes it a main theme of his Next Generation Leader, where he says that a vital practice of leadership is the courage to face current reality – even if they are “the brutal facts” per Collins. Earlier writers like Max DePree spoke of the same concept when they indicate that the first job of a leader is "defining reality". Stanley says there are seven things the leader who wants to confront “real reality” (or the brutal facts) must NOTdo:
  • No pretending.
  • No blind eyes to truth.
  • No exaggeration.
  • No shooting bad news bearers.
  • No hiding behind numbers.
  • No ignoring constructive criticism.
  • No isolating self.
Of course this has to come from recognized leaders – all others will just sound like cranky people.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Quotes from Really Old Guys

"If you is, what you was, then you ain't.": (John Jasper) is the quote that captured my interest and led to looking deeper at this web page. This is a site full of great reminders of what it means to serve as a preacher and teacher of the Word. It isn't about being "cutting edge" or relevant. It is about God and His Word clearly taught.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Power of Simple Affirmations

We don’t always realize the power of simple affirmations of truth. I once wrote an article for a church newsletter entitled “No Compromise.” I’m pretty sure that it was an rip-off of Keith Green’s album by the same name, but it felt right. It was something a 26 year-old, arrogant, Christian leader would write. It was about my commitment to a high call. My commitment to obey God, to not sin, to be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and never bend to the demands of culture. Of course, I almost immediately proved that I could not live up to the words – though I’m sure I had a pretty good exterior. It was the inside that was messed up. Through a series of interesting “coincidences” a former mentor and youth pastor was led to drop me a note affirming my commitment but ending with some wise words – “If you do compromise, don’t forget the grace of God!” Wise words to an emerging leader because he knew I would fail and he wanted me to still know God loved and valued me. He knew it wasn’t about performance, but dependence. I’ve not forgotten his words written almost thirty years ago. For some reason I often recall this simple note. I am still committed to the slogan – but far more aware of my weaknesses – and the kindness and grace of God! Sadly I have compromised – sometimes no one knew and sometimes it was very evident. In every case the grace of God has become far more real. I can only hope that I might have the same opportunity to speak long-lasting truth that will have long-lasting impact in someone’s life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The New Gospel: Marketing Purpose & Passion

Marketing is one of those issues that seems to have taken the evangelical, baby-boomer dominated church by storm. I guess that I find myself skeptical about the reliance on the formulas and techniques. It feels like manipulation. To some degree, all churches “market” – we make things as comfortable as possible, we clean the bathrooms, carefully monitor the temperature. We also make every effort to communicate well and keep the message understandable and interesting -- but we don’t need any of these to really communicate the message. Didn’t Jesus say something about people knowing what we are about as followers of Jesus because of our demonstrated love for one another? Dick Staub brings to light the marketing machine that seems to be taking the christian world by storm. Sounds like we might soon be able to do away with the Holy Spirit. Yeah, I’ve heard the admonition that “God is using it so just be quiet”, yet it still feels like manipulation and I wonder about the purity of motives. Staub links to a disturbing article - it seems that it may be sooner than we think that we will need to have a marketing background to be a shepherd of Jesus' flock.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Random Quotes I Wish I Could Practice

Learn to say no. It will do you more good than Latin.” – Charles Spurgeon. A hard lesson for many of us to learn. A harder lesson for some in the church to let us learn. Amazing how often we can operate out of “should” and “ought” and therfore say “yes” to things that may add little to our lives. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. I find it highly instructive that Jesus walked away from crowds of need in order to spend time alone (Mark 1:39).

It is much harder to spot the sin of inaction than almost any sins of action” – Paul Coughlin, No More Christian Nice Guy.  Why is it that I far too often sin by not doing something? I don’t step into a battle that cries out to be fought. I don’t speak truth into a situation out of fear? I don’t say “no” to activity when it is best. I don’t pray when I need to. I don’t love. I don’t care sometimes. Coughlin’s point is well taken – few people will point out these potential sins which may damage my soul (and others) more than I know.

Paul Coughlin also says “Confusion is not always a problem to be solved”. Yet, almost everytime I’m in the midst of confusion I will try to solve it. He goes on to say, “it can be a detour that eventually leads to a better life.” Been there done that…why do I so quickly forget?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Criticism Quote

The great theologian Steve Martin once said “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.”

Monday, October 10, 2005

A Moratorium on Activity?

I have wondered for several years about the activity level of the church - especially growing churches. Being a pastor I know how important and helpful ministry programs can be. I also know that sometimes we get so busy that it is hard to actually spend time with the Lord of the Church. I once talked with a church leader that cancelled every activity in the church for a week. The staff spent time individually and corporately seeking God's guidance and his perspective. Today, one of my co-laborers sent me a quote from A. W. Tozer: "Sometimes I think the church would be better off if we would call a moratorium on activity for about six weeks and just waited on God to see what he is waiting to do for us." I couldn't locate the source but I did find this site that gets close and reminds us of the need to slow down and listen. Words for a different day, but words that deserve consideration today. The leadership team of Crossroads Bible Church had a brief retreat this last weekend. We had the opportunity to see what happens when we intentionally come apart and allow our agenda to be set by the Holy Spirit. It was hard. Some want to get on the "real" decisions, the "important" discussions. Yet others found the experience adventurous. We stayed the course and hopefully found insight as a team. I know I was surprised and sensed God's presence. I'm not sure what is to come from our time, but I sense God is in it! Just another reminder that maybe we need to quiet our activity. Psalm 46:10 is true - “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NASB).

Friday, September 30, 2005

Help for the Cultural Clueless Leader

PyroManiac continues his great service to church leaders. I don't know how our church leaders would know how to communicate to our younger generation without all these specialized Bibles! Think of all the great youth ministry talks that will grow out of Phil's spark of an idea. Think of the magazines and articles that will emerge in the next weeks all because of ideas generated by Phil and other pyro-friends. Where might the brainstorming lead? New marketing opportunities for Christians like Vashti's Secret? Maybe a Christian take on Abercrombie clothes? Oh, wait, we already have that don't we? I can't imagine how the church ever communicated the Gospel without witness wear.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Shades of the Old Door?

The old Wittenburg Door edited mainly by Mike Yaconelli used to be known for its satire of some of the “beloved” and accepted church fads of the day. One of the most controversial was their sardonic riffs on the big glass church in Garden Grove that cost $10 million to house a preaching ministry that proudly claimed it would not talk about sin. You wouldn’t want to ruin someone’s self esteem that Jesus died to reform. The old Door is long gone, but this post on Fide-O on things he learned at a large church in Southern California brings back the memories.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Now here is a very interesting site with a single theme - getting rid of stuff. Discardia seems to be more about having a better life by simplifying than it is about getting rid of trash. Could be a very helpful and encouraging site for anyone looking to get a handle on their stuff. I'm not sure how it happens but is seems like our stuff reproduces! It also seems that the more I have the more time it takes even when it is just in a mess somewhere. As someone said, "things take time." Time to go. Think I'm going to discard some papers in my files ....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

jenny jack

A new blogger with a great insight ... even if it is my daughter. Jenny reminds us to think about the litttle things that really matter. I'm looking forward to more insights as she learns new things with NieuCommunities ministry in Glasgow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Hats We Wear

The Hats We Wear is a pretty rough draft of a paper I thought might help our Church leadership team get a handle on the various roles that Elders have to play. I borrowed the basic idea from a friend (and I think he ripped it off another church). I'm pretty sure that few people actually visit my pages but I put it on my special home page in order to force myself to review the material and maybe re-write it. Or, maybe just shred it!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Another season of "reality" shows began tonight with Survivor: Guatamala. Yeah, it is something of a casual guilty pleasure -- I probably miss as many episodes as I might catch, and I really don't feel compelled to watch. I have to admit that I find it kind of interesting just not a passion. (Now the Amazing Race is a different story -- for another time). Anyway I've often thought about what it might look like for a group of christians to play this game. How would you make decisions? Who do you vote off? And how would you do it as one trying to emulate Christ? Deceit seems to show its face in every show ... would it become part of the Christian tribal plan as well? I find it encouraging that most tribal members understand that it is a game and many seem to truly wrestle with having to vote someone off. I know that some of the participants have been Christians and they seemed to try to demonstrate Christ-like principles and character and they seem to have been treated well. I'm not really critiquing the show here. Just wondering. How would Christians play the game? Would they default to getting rid of the weakest or the strongest? Would God really care who won? Would the team pray for God's direction? Would they seek God's will? Just a really odd and random thought today...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

To Quote

Some quotes that provoke my thinking from my recent reading: Regarding Church growth as a focus: "The seduction is in believing that God is as impressed with crowds as people are" - Richard and Henry Blackaby, Spiritual Leadership, p. 126. It is amazing how we make the goal of growing the church large in size the idol we must all pursue. "When individuals tie their identity to a program they've created, they lose the objectivity that is necessary to evaluate its effectiveness" - Stanley, Joiner, Jones, 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, p. 104. What a danger to the church when we, as leaders, become enamored with our own creations! "The thrusts of our verbal sword cut deep and have the power to kill reputations, destroy ministries, and sever friendships." - Dan Allender, Bold Love, p. 100. Great reminder that I must be careful with my words ... not only words that might be intended as cutting, but also gossip and words spoken in a "knowing whisper" can destroy.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mudhouse Sabbath

I just read Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner. Lauren is a young woman with an honest, authentic heart who writes about the things she misses from her spiritual beginnings in the Jewish faith. This is not a deep theological reflection, nor an exhaustive historical defense of how the rabbi's developed their Talmudic practices. It is, however, a creative, provocative, and interesting reflection that added some insights to how I might find some greater meaning in my Christian faith. In fact, I used some of her thoughts on keeping kosher in our last communion service at Crossroads Bible Church. I also learned some great stuff about Hebrew tradition that I had missed in my seminary studies many moons ago. Should be helpful as I interact with the Executive Rabbi at the synagogue just up the street!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Imagination Prompt Generator: Writing Inspiration at the Press of a Button

So ... why don't I blog more? Mostly because I am busy ... but also because it is hard to quickly think of things to write. I don't particularly want to "journal" my life here ... that is still a bit private (though I just read about students who feel that no one should be able to look at their very personal musing on blogs without their permission - guess they haven't gotten the word that the web is really wide open!). This site looks like it could be a help to those of us who seem a bit slow in the creativity department. Hopefully everyone will choose different topics each day or we might find blogging to be a bit boring.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Word from A Mentor

PyroManiac has a great post from a guest blogger ... one of my mentors and favorite Bible teachers. John MacArthur, Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church, addresses a real concern the church should have in these days of advanced technology. First, are we being careful with the message we teach. Are we speaking the truth and doing it with excellence? Second, are we being good stewards of the great technology we have to spead that message? As MacArthur says, to whom much is given, much is required. It would be great to see John drop by Pyro's site every now and then. Or, maybe he could begin his own blog ... get a cool blogger name and enter the fray.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

CalvinBall: Nostalgia for an Era Past

At our church staff meeting this morning we took a fairly random trip down memory lane laughing at the great games we used to play with our youth groups at Crossroads Bible Church (back in the old days when I was still a youth pastor). As always, the trip was covered with a misty veneer that seems to wrap itself around most memories of the "way-things-used-to-be" - the mist that makes things look better than it really was. But it does seem a bit sad that there really is no longer any "risk" to much of what we do and it that play now has to be absolutely safe ... if anyone even plays anymore! Maybe its the insurance companies, maybe its parents, or maybe its just common sense but play has eliminated some great games. We used to create take offs of classic CalvinBall or Official 43 Man Squamish (of course we rewrote and codified all sorts of new rules for this one - including the mandatory non-binding pledge to play the game with all seriousness). I remember, as a kid, being able to make up games on the spur of the moment and getting all of the Ratner Street gang to join in. I'm not sure that kids in my neighborhood today could do that. I'm not sure parents would let them? Maybe I've just become old... but that's a discussion for later.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Book for Understanding the Emerging Church

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church : Understanding a Movement and Its Implications by D.A. Carson is the latest book I'm reading. An insightful and helpful book for understanding the newest church trend -- the Emergent Church movement. The Emergent Church is essentially a post-modern revolt against what is labeled the "modernist" church that has spawned the megachurch, seeker church, and the like. Carson evaluates where the post-modern church brings needed correctives and points to some encouraging signs in the movement. He spends the bulk of the book exposing some of the weaknesses in the movement. We, as pastors and church leaders, ARE going to have to deal with a post-modern world. Understanding this "emerging church" is going to be vital to getting our message out clearly to today's world. Both modernist and post-modernist views have flaws and failures and are marred sin. God's eternal truth must be made evident to both kinds of thinkers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Another Cool Tool for Wasting More Time

This little widget toy looks to be lots of fun and a certified waster of valuable time. But just think of the cool factor when the office staff looks at your screen!Information | Konfabulator

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Pyromaniac on Harry

PyroManiac, one of my favorite bloggers, has an insightful post on Harry Potter (and fiction in general) from a Christian perspective. Go Pyro.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Harry Potter?!!

As a Christian pastor, I should probably NOT admit that I actually enjoy reading the Harry Potter series of books. I know that if anyone ever reads this blog I'll probably get some negative comments, usually from fellow believers that haven't read even one of the books. While I do have a couple of ministry friends that enjoy the books as great stories (which they are), and J.K. Rowling as a creative author, I know at least one who would consign those who read the books to one of the lower rings of Dante's Inferno. He hadn't read the books, but knew someone who had. "Magic" was the issue. I found JOLLYBLOGGER: Harry Potter is Heating Up Again to add some interesting thoughts.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

An Interesting Thought

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller is a very interesting book. The style is more like Annie Lamott, the theme is somewhat eclectic, but the sentiment is a deep spirituality that pursues being real, honest, authentic. I especially liked his comments about our culture - even our church culture - being passionate about "nothing." Miller says on page 111: "A friend of mine, a young pastor who recently started a church, talks to me from time to time about the new face of church in America--about the postmodern church. He says the new church will be different from the old one, that we will be relevant to culture and the human struggle. I don't think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. it is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing." All those seeking to be relevant would do well to consider thoughts like this . . . .

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Looks cool! Lots of fun! No Productivity!

Stardock Object Desktop and Wincustomize lets you redesign your Windows environment in some very cool ways. It costs a bit, but it is fun. There are 100's of nicely designed suites you can apply with a simple interface. Stardock updates the program elements regularly. You can even make your interface look like a Mac. You will appreciate it a bit more with a higher end graphics card ... it might even give you an excuse to upgrade! Windows XP Themes, XP Skins, XP Visual Styles, Icons & Wallpapers for your ultimate desktop experience!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Real-life motivations?

The Demotivators Collection - from is not really "politically correct" so maybe that's what I like about it. Of course I like to have some encouraging poster and promos, but maybe we have become so "slogan-ish" in our approach to life that we have lost sight of the reality of life. So ... that's my philosopical comment for the day.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Looking for Sun

OK! I'm ready to head back to the Caribbean and another cruise. Won't happen for a long time but memories of warmth and not-all-that-expensive luxury on the Celebrity Century pop into my mind on weekends like this ... rainy rather than sunny in the great city of Sammamish. Of course that happens every year in Washington it seems. I've been here for 20 years now and it still seems odd that it's cool on July 4 and wet and gray and ... you get the picture. Enough whining for now. My sermon last week was about rejoicing always, praying always, and thanking-God always. Guess it's time to do that with little things like the weather.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Foolish Husbands

Over the past year, I've been involved in an ongoing dialogue with friends, co-workers, my wife, and others over the issue of domestic violence in Christian homes -- especially when husbands are cruel, abusive, angry, or otherwise sinful in their behavior. How is a wife to respond? One of the threads we have had to deal with involves the nature of submission and authority in the home. Some of the husbands I'm talking with say submission is absolute, that is, no matter what, a godly wife will submit even to her hurt ... even if the husband is being evil and sinful. A truly godly woman will trust God with her life, it is said. I'm pretty sure that it is a very small percentage that hold that extreme view, but there is certainly strong disagreement among conservative, Bible-believing Christians about how Christian wives should handle verbal, emotional and/or physical abuse. I liked much of Nancy Wilson's insights in this article of Credenda Agenda. Nancy seems to have a very strong, conservative view of submission. She also seems to have a reasonable and biblical approach to a husband who sins against that wife. Her conclusion is: "A wife is to be a helper to her husband not a blind follower, and this sometimes includes going past him to get help. God blessed Abigail when she did this. In her case it was abundantly clear what was necessary. In other cases it might require pastoral oversight. But obedience and submission to a mere man is never absolute. God governs all of us. We demonstrate that we serve Him above all others when we realize that our submission and obedience to our husbands is always to be lived out within the boundaries God has wisely set for us." Read the whole article, especially the part about Abigail. I'm sure the dialogue will continue. I find 6-10 new web articles on the topic every day (using Google Alerts). There's other themes that come into play as well and there's lots of disagreement about what action a wife might take. Is it OK to leave if you are beaten? What does that look like? When do you come back? Lots of other questions inhabit our discussion as well: Is the abuse merely a symptom of something deeper -- power and control? Isn't this just a psychological construct; or part of the feminist agenda? Is verbal abuse as damaging as physical abuse? Some seasons of pastoral ministry are harder than others.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

New Google Resources

Holidays are nice ... not in the least because I get some time to just hang around the internet and explore some new stuff. Today's finds? Google Scholar - a new beta from the most excellenct Google team. All Google's search power directed at the huge intellectual resource that exists. I found several new and helpful informative resources on topics I'm researching. Google Scholar About Google Scholar There's also Google Print which is a work in progress indexing material from publishers and libraries ... much of which hasn't made it to the web yet. Google Print I'm looking forward to some long hours of online research using both these resources. Long live Google!

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Palm Application that Rocks

I've been a Palm user for years ... starting with the original Palm Pilot. I like that it does a few things very well and tends to be a pretty bullet-proof machine/software combination. Like most, I use it for maintaining my calendar, to-do list, contacts and a huge array of information through the memo feature. I've now moved up the the Tungsten T5 which has lots of great features but runs very slow ... hopefully a fix will be coming. Seems that they have some problems with the new flash memory. Anyway, the killer app for me on this platform has been Iambic Agendus for Palm coupled with Agendus for the desktop. The latest version (I've been with them for the last 4) can be used to sync with Outlook or the Palm Desktop. If you don't need to use Outlook, the Palm desktop is less quirky. What does this product do? First, it lets you look at your data in a variety of ways ... adapting to your style. You can use a straight 1-5 number system, or arrange your tasks through a Covey-like matrix. Add Icons to every task or meeting. Include pictures for your contacts, add colors and rearrange views on the fly. It is primarily a "front-end" for Palm or an addin for Outlook that rearranges the view. A very cool program -- on the desktop and on the palm. The thirty day trial makes it very easy to test everything out and if you find you don't like it you can delete the program but all your info stays intact in the originating program. I rarely recommend software. This is one of the few exceptions.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Character development and intentional training for life in ministry is something that I have long thought has been missing from much of our church and mission leadership processes. NieuCommunities looks to help change this. A small, intentional community (located in English speaking cities) comprised of deeply committed spiritual leaders who will live together with those seeking to find and understand God's call in their lives. Since my daughter Jenny is going to join the Glasgow team in September I'll pass on more as we discover the inside scoop. I know we'll be interested in how it might help us as we develop our own missionary training at Crossroads Bible Church NieuCommunities Home

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Magazine that Makes Sense

I've read newsmagazines for years, includingTime and Newsweek . I'm intrigued by the news they contain, but frustrated by the bias against evangelical Christianity and the conservative side of the news. Thats why I'm so pleased with World Magazine ... without being preachy they write the important news from an evangelical and biblical worldview. A bit pricey, but then again they don't have the subscriber base or ad revenue of the big boys, but the magazine is worth the extra few bucks. World Magazine - Weekly News | Christian Views

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Plumbing and Me

I hate plumbing. It is one of the few things that can drive me to using words that I never use. No matter how easy the box says the installation of a brand new faucet will be something always goes wrong. Of course,the easy part doesn't seem to include the removal of the old fixture (which is normally rusted completely immobile), nor does it include the fact that the new fixture has to be connected from under the sink and requires significant contortions. Ah well, I actually got this one installed without removing any skin, saying any words I regret, and not one drip! So, while this means little to most men, it is an accomplishment for me and I now have a place to brag about it. Doesn't matter if anyone actually reads it. I'm happy. Thank you Price Pfister!

Thursday, June 02, 2005


A great blog in the making. Phillip Johnson is always provocative, biblical and sincere ... and often funny to boot. PyroManiac

The Purpose Driven Church - An Appraisal

The Purpose Driven Church - 9Marks: "Yet as much as we want to see Warren's work enjoy continued success, we cannot help but be lovingly candid about our concerns. While his passion for biblical fidelity and evangelical commitment are obvious and infectious, we fear that his interpretive methods lead to applications that do not always represent the intention of the text he's using to support his model. While his evangelistic zeal is exemplary, his evangelistic methods tend to make genuine repentance unlikely and can have the effect of rounding off the naturally sharp edges of the Gospel. Sharing his desire for numerical growth, we are reticent to use numbers as a barometer of God's blessing. Realizing the relative safety of rooting his model in the biblical purposes of the church, the tendency of purpose to replace the primacy of the Gospel has implications for the life of the church that we are confident Warren would not intend. " I found this review of Rick Warren's book of church growth and found it quite insightful. Like others (maybe only a few it seems), I find myself concerned with the uncritical acceptance of this church growth model. I think that Rick is totally and sincerely commited to the methodology as a biblical one and implements it consistently. There is no doubt that it is behind much of the growth that he has seen, but I find myself somewhat troubled by the faddish nature of the churches adopting it around the world. When we adopt "church growth" as the goal we often fall into the law of unintended consequences that take a toll on our biblical integrity. This article is one of the more reasoned and respectful critiques I've found. Quite helpful in clarifying my thoughts.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Pocket Quicken for Palm - A Favorite Program

I find that I use this little Palm program much more than I thought I would. After 3 years I can't imagine not having it on my PDA and now it has been improved -- the Desktop is not required for significant functionality. If you use Quicken, this upgrade is going to worth it. Pocket Quicken for Palm OS

Friday, May 20, 2005

Star Wars: Episode III -- It works!

Finally saw the movie! Yes! It works just great ... answers the questions, cleans up the plot and explains how Anakin becomes an evil Sith Lord with a bit of a twist. Easily one of the best of the six films (Empire Strikes Back being the other). Great scenes, special effects, a sense of story that means something ... though the cheesy dialogue between Padme and Anakin remain. Worth seeing more than once! Star Wars: Episode III Episode III

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Amazing Race

I admit it! I've gotten hooked on the Amazing Race - easily the best "reality" show on television. I avoided it for a long time until my wife kept telling me about how much she enjoyed it and entertaining the different couples and situations could be. Add in a bit of luck, mix in skill, and then some quirky personalities, along with great locations and it is a great hit. I found this site when trying to figure out how much the "also-rans" got. I still don't know, but this is a great site for explaining most of the rules. The Amazing Race: Information From

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Logos Bible Software

Logos Bible Software is phenomenal! With the release of Personal Book Builder it is even better. It is now possible to take sermons, Bible Studies, church manuals, etc. and produce them in Logos format. This allows for linking your work with any other book in the program. I can see some very productive uses. For example, I have sermons that I wrote/preached years ago and may forget that I've actually dealt with a topic in them. With Logos I should be able to search for those uses and be able to more effectively communicate to my audience. Logos Bible Software Logos Personal Book Builder

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Helpful Source for Movie Information

I'm always looking for good information about movies ... not so much what the critics think, but what kinds of elements I might encounter in viewing. is very helpful internet site in making those decisions. Using a helpful grid the reviewers catalogue everything from sex & nudity to the type of music used. Not a Christian site perse (at least that I can determine), but it is helpful to Christians as they try to make wise decisions about entertainment. Free access if you are willing to deal with advertising. A nominal subscription eliminates the ads. SCREEN IT! ENTERTAINMENT REVIEWS FOR PARENTS

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A Great Place for Researching Books

I love books and spend way too much on them. I'm always looking for better ways to research books. I love finding the best prices on books too. The clerk at the local used bookstore told me about this site for comparing book prices on the web -- including new and used sites. A very helpful place with tons of links to information and prices on just about any book published., for Books: Compare Book Prices at Bublos and Buy Books Cheaper

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Great Search Site

I love Amazon's A9 search tool. Powered by Google, they have really figured out a way display the results in a far more helpful manner. And it is very customizable with single click buttons to display information the way you want it. Home Page

Friday, May 06, 2005


We just returned from two weeks in Hawaii. Great condo right on the beach in Maui. Very hard to return home to Sammamish where is is 25 degrees cooler and overcast! Yet it is always good to be home.

A New Attempt

Just decided to get back into blogging. Maybe I'll be more diligent. I have no intentions other than just laying out my thoughts as I move through the e-world. Maybe add some thoughts from a biblical worldview.