Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review

I recently finished Building Leaders the West Point Way by Retired Major General Joseph P. Franklin. I will just come out and say it: it is hard to get past the fact that the guy is full of himself.  But if you can look past the lapses of humility, you just might go through an entire highlighter... I know I did.  There are some real pearls in this volume, no question about it.  In fact, the chapter on honor is worth the price of the book alone.
Talking about honor Franklin write: "Think about it: in order to live a life with meaning and purpose... you have to acknowledge and accept that you are not the center of the universe." (p 39)
In his masterful chapter on duty, the author states: "Warfare changed, people changed, the world changed, and culture changed.  But [West Point] didn't.  That was a huge mistake."
Though not his intent, Franklin offers the church a well thought out rational for discipleship in his chapter on courage: "War is terrifying, gruesome business, and no one walks through it unscathed.  But I found that the training I had received gave me the tools to act when and how I needed to."
All in all, this is an outstanding work.  Franklin tackles ten characteristics / traits of an effective leader:
  1. Duty
  2. Honor
  3. Faith
  4. Courage
  5. Perseverance
  6. Confidence
  7. Approachability
  8. Adaptability
  9. Compassion
  10. Vision
I would not be doing you justice if I did not bring to your attention what Franklin constantly reinforces... these ten characteristics are not independent.  They, much like the military he serves, are very much INTERDEPENDENT. 
Having said all that, I would recommend this book to anyone who has any influence over people.  You might be thinking, "I have influence over people...".  Great!  I'll see you at the bookstore.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Not all days are the same. (obviously)  Almost every day of the week I leave the house before my family wakes up.  Today was no exception.
After a great early meeting I stayed at the office.  I decided to take a break and head on over to the house for a cup of coffee and some family time.  
As I was walking out the door I said, "Bye." in my normal inside voice, which as many of you know is not that different from my outside voice.  What I heard coming back at me was a barrage of "bye daddy"s.  As I walked back to the office I couldn't but help think of the millions of people at any given moment talking to God the Father.
It should bring you great comfort in knowing that He always has the time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A bigger plate?

There is a saying that you might have heard.  It goes something like this:
"God will never put more on your plate than you can eat."
If I were to take a guess, I'd have to say that this comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says:
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
I challenge you to consider what the text actually says... God will not allow you to be TEMPTED beyond what you can endure. 
He will allow circumstances to weigh on you... He allowed the stoning of Stephen.  And what did we see result?  The spread of the Gospel and the advancement of the glory of God through His church.  Paul suffered from his "thorn in the flesh" which proved to be the means God used to drive Paul into a deeper relationship with Himself.
I think a contemporary of mine was right on target when he wrote:
It does not imply that God won't let you be stressed beyond what you can bear. Or challenged beyond your ability. Or pushed beyond your threshold. In reality, God gives you more than you can bear all the time. On purpose. It's only when you can't bear the load that the strength of Christ kicks in…and He becomes everything you need and more.
He's got it.
Brethren there is so much we can say about tempting and trials but remember that the trials you go through are temporary, but the goal is to refine you and produce in you Godly and permanent change.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stand your ground

As a man, I have an innate desire to create... or tackle a bear... or scale a mountain.... Ok, maybe not mountain climbing.  (He says knowing perfectly well that he's afraid heights)
The truth is that everyone I know wants to be known for something. A great dad. A missionary to their community. An employee that honors Jesus by honoring her boss. These are all good things and I certainly do not want to diminish the importance of them. But if you are like me there is something inside you that says, "I must he different. I must stand out in a crowd."  But the gospel compels us, however, to look at ourselves differently.
We must come to the point where we say, along with John the Baptist, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
This does not mean that we cower down when we need to stand up.  It means that the world needs to see less of us and more of Jesus in us.
Think on these things.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Our will be done?

During this morning's devotions I was struck with the notion that so many times I want my will to be done. That is, unfortunately,
natural. But what does God want? I think anyone who is honest with the Biblical record will come to the conclusion that God is in charge.

Jesus taught us how to pray in Mathew 6:9 - 15. The centerpiece of the lesson is in verse 10: "Your will be done." Jesus said in John 6:38 that His will it to do the will of the Father who sent Him.

But there's the issue... there is the problem. I want to compromise... I want to barter with God. I want there to be some give and take in this whole, "Whose will will be done?" But that is not on the table is it?

You see friends, the simple truth of the matter is this:

God doesn't have to use any of us.

That He does work in and through His people is an act of grace and should be greeted with a sense of awe on ours.

I came across this quote today:

Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame. (Erica Jong)

I hope, like Jesus, we can all say from a heart that yearns for God:

Thy will be done.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Review

I have a confession.  I go through cycles of devouring books for weeks and then spending several weeks reading practically nothing outside of the Bible.  Confessions of a Reformissional Rev. by Mark Driscoll is rather on the shortish side (just under 200 pages).  But do not let its brevity fool you, Driscoll packs a lot of content into such a short volume. 


I'm just going to come out and say this:  I am not only a fan of Marshill Church in Seattle, but as a young passionate pastor-teacher, I was jealous of their success for a long time.  I repented of this a long time ago but the fact remains… God uses cracked vessels (and praise His Name for that!)


One of the reasons the Lord has seen fit to bless the work at Marshill is their senior leader.  God is allowing Mark Driscoll to lead and influence an entire generation of conservative and passionate evangelical Christians.  The reason is simple:  Mark is a broken record.  He honestly believes in the Jesus of the Bible and is both passionately in love with his Savior and, at the same time, scared of offending his God and King.  Here is a short except from page 144:

In the end, I realized that every person, every dollar, and every other resource belonged to Jesus and that he did not give us those treasures to bury them.


This book, though peppered with less than appropriate jesting, details the short history of one of the fastest and influential churches in America.  Mark really lays his heart out for the world to see and I honestly believe that the church at large is better for it.  If you are a church planter, you need to read this book.  If you are an experienced pastor in an established church, you need to read this book.  If you find yourself somewhere in the middle… do yourself a favor and read this book.


As in normally the case with well written prose that honors the Lord, I am sorry to say that I only have two thumbs to put up in favor of this book.  But once you read it, there will be two more.



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review

I just finished 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley and let me say this upfront: The guys at North Point Ministries really have their act together.
To be frank, I put off reading this book after reading the table of contents. The long narrative section was a real turn off for me and delayed my reading for months.  I am so glad i decided to revisit this book!  If you decide to pick it up, you will share my gladness.  Here are the 7 Practices... just in case you were wondering:
1.  Clarify the Win
2.  Think Steps, Not Programs
3.  Narrow the Focus
4.  Teach Less for More
5.  Listen to Outsiders
6.  Replace Yourself
7.  Work On It
Now, I have to warn you... this book is LOADED with baseball analogies, but don;t let that frighten you if you are not a baseball fan.  The content is explained and non-baseballic illustrations are plentiful.
I think the opening words of Andy's epilogue not only capture the essence of this short work, but say everything I want to say about it:
Your ministry is perfectly designed to achieve the results you are currently getting.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who takes ministry seriously.  And anyone who does not take ministry seriously needs to read this book twice.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Too busy to blog?

Have you ever felt like you were too busy to do the things you
normally do... and some of the things you take pleasure in doing?

I really enjoy writing and blogging. This week has proved to be busier
than I anticipated. I haven't had the time to write very much... in
fact, I am writing this while riding my stationary bike in my living

It's easyto say "I haven't had the time to write to you." but what
about your prayer life? Do you find yourself thinking "I am too busy
to pray?" !!!

Something to think about.

Your never too busy to stop and seek the Lord's leadership, humble
yourself in repentance, or praise Him in prayer.


(Sent from a mobile device... sorry about the spelling.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I got one...


Looks like I got virus on my laptop. It was only a matter of time
before it happened. The Lord has blessed me with pc health for many

But I was thinking about something. But before I tell you what I was
thinking, I need to tell you where I was thinking it.

This week is VBS week at Bethany Baptist and much of our campus looks
like 1st century Rome. Because I couldn't do my normal studing on my
computer, I decided to head over to the church library. As I passed
the Roman handywork, I could not but help feel overjoyed!

"but you computer, the one you use all day everyday, is messed up."

Yes, it is. But not only is God still on the throne, He has chosen to
bless His people. I am a very blessed man.

There is an old hymn that came to mind not that long ago:

Count your blessings name them one by one. . .

Why not try to count them an, as the hymn writer says, see what the
Lord has done.

(Sent from a mobile device... sorry about the spelling.)