Thursday, August 29, 2013

Check out this testimony from my friend's church - marriage related

My friend Brian pastors Bay Area FBC, one exit south of Heritage Park.  He's a great guy who has been doing yeoman's work in getting that church where it needs to be and it's obvious God is moving there.  Check this powerful testimony out about how a praying wife changes a husband's life...

P.S.  If you're looking for a great church in the area and Heritage Park isn't it, check out the folks over at Bay Area First Baptist.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miley Cyrus and why the culture is hypocritical

This is the one thing that gets me about the Miley Cyrus hubbub.  The culture that created her is now berating her.

A no-restraints, no-limits, do-what-feels-good, uber-sexualized, Blurred Lines kind of thinking and non-thinking acceptance of the narrative that whatever we want is what we're entitled to is the water we swim in.  And Miley too.  And then when she does something that is no restraints, no limits, do-what-feels-good, and uber-sexualized, the same culture that grew her excoriates her.  Boo to the hypocrisy of it all.

To be clear, I think what little I saw of what Miley did when I watched the CNN headlines was shameful, tasteless, artless, and desperate.

But culturally, we tend to want it both ways...because that way we're not accountable to anything or Anyone.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Good Lord. Literally. We have a Lord who is Good!

Seriously.  Just watch.  5:28 worth of your day, I promise.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Egypt - something to think about

I had a friend and church member ask me about Egypt and whether or not we, as a church, were going to speak to it.  I mentioned it yesterday and gladly bring it up again here.  Persecution against Christians by any majority group has proven to do two things through church history.

First, it purifies the church.  Those who are there because there are family pressures or ethnic pressures or "this is the way we grew up" get the heck out of there when they have to face persecution.  Indeed, the root that doesn't go deep doesn't support the plant during hardship (Mark 4).

Second, it grows the church.  Because those who are serious about their faith endure persecution well, the church grows.  Because they love their enemy and pray for persecutors, the church grows.  Because they tend to die well when they do die, the church grows.

Pray for Egypt.  And remember that religious persecution against Christians exists, and it's not far away.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

P.S. As a great reminder that Jesus has Egypt on the brain, check this link out: The Holy Family in Egypt.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday 8.25.13 on Ephesians 6:10-13

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday on Ephesians 6.10-13.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio on our website,  You can also get the sermon audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 26 – Standing Amid the Battle
Ephesians 6.10-13

Three Realities for Us:

We live in a Spiritual Battle
·      You may not know it or want it, but it’s the reality of our lives
·      Don’t fall for the lie that it’s invisible
·      Don’t fall for the lie that it’s not physical

We have a Clear Enemy
·      His name is Satan, the Deceiver and Accuser
·      He uses Temptation to Deceive us
·      He uses Condemnation to Accuse us
·      Don’t let him deceive you into thinking he doesn’t exist
·      Don’t let him distract you from the true enemy

We must Engage
·      Through our presence, we push back the darkness
·      When opposed, we stand in His strength and with His supply
·      He gives us armor for protection

Friday, August 23, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Keep Yo Business off of Facebook

So, if you have a choir who sings about Facebook and how you "act like a saint but by your Facebook we know you ain't," I think it should qualify for a blog post.  Ironically, I'm going to link to this post on Facebook.

HT:  22 Words

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

From the Queen: How will you change the world?

This is from my wife.  The original post is found at:

It's too good not to share...

I try to get regular alone time with my each individual kids where we go on a special date and just talk about them.  Last night I took Jack back-to-school shopping and to dinner at his favorite restaurant.  Conversations with Jack look a lot more like conversations with a college student than conversations with a 10-year old.  He wanted to talk about Edward Snowden and if his actions served our country or jeopardized our security.  We talked about racial profiling and then finished with the China One-Child policy.

Then it got personal.  I felt prompted to ask him how he was going to change the world as a result of his physical challenges.  My little computer nerd told me that he wants to be a surgeon and he wants to help other children with physical needs to be more functional.  That warmed this mom's heart.  I hate that my little guy can't run or keep up with his friends but I can honestly say that I would rather have a compassionate, God-fearing, spiritually called child who is physically challenged than a selfish, world-loving athletic one.

I explained to Jack that when my mom died, there were several women who stepped in to care for me and make sure that I knew I was loved.  That struggle of growing up without a mom and their willingness to step up and take care of me formed in me the heart I have for orphans today.  I may not have changed the world, but I have changed Ruthie's world, DJ's world, and the world of any other orphans who come into our home.

Life is hard.  It's not fair and no one ever said it would be.  We can sit around and feel sorry for ourselves or we can take our experiences, seek the Lord in them, and let Him use them to change the world for someone else.

How will you change the world because of your life experiences?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MLJ interview and comments on Preaching

Here is one of my preaching heroes.  He's asked the question on whether or not he thought he would become a successful preacher.  He answers profoundly:  I never worried about that - I only worried about what to preach.

Listen to the relevant part, from 2:40 to 3:40.  The rest of it's terrific too!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Romans 16 and all those names

You even wondered why Paul includes all the names at the end of his letters?

In my yearly Bible reading plan, I just crossed over Romans 16.  It's a chapter which is, quite literally, full of names.  "So and so says hi."  "The folks we do life with from Such and Such town send their best."  On and on he goes.  Almost droning on (if I can say that about an inspired text).

Here's what I know and appreciate, though.  He's talking about real people.  He's talking about people with whom he has lived and breathed and ate and drank and suffered and rejoiced.

He expressed to the Romans that he was looking forward to coming to see them so he could impart a gift to them.  He was also looking forward to being encouraged by them (see 1.11-12).  Paul had real people in his life and took real encouragement from them.  It wasn't fake.  It wasn't professional.  It was personal.

Good enough for Paul, good enough for all of us, right?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 8.18.25 on Ephesians 6.5-9

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 8.18.13, on Ephesians 6.5-9.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 25 – The Spirit and your 40 Hours
Ephesians 6.5-9

Slavery passages:  are they an embarrassment to the NT?

Comparing Old World and New World Slavery
1.     Some OWS was voluntary and not all sought freedom
2.     No racial overtones in OWS
3.     Education and skills were valued in OWS and often led to significant power and influence
4.     There was little or no sense of permanence in OWS
5.     Personal contact in OWS was high

Then why doesn’t the NT demand freedom?
1.     It recommends it and models it
2.     The worldview included both the corruption of society and the conquering of Jesus
3.     Transforming hearts in individuals leads to systemic transformation in society

His Imperative:  Responsiveness expressed in Obedience (v.5)
·      For those employed, honor the authority of your employer
·      A major context of expressing your faithfulness to God is your diligent work
·      Objection:  I’m a Christian, shouldn’t I get grace?
·      Objection:  There is eternity at stake, why work?
·      Objection:  I’m not really contributing to anything

Our Motivation:  More than a Paycheck (v.6-8)
·      Eternity:  not to please man but God (v.6)
·      Integrity:  doing the right thing because it’s the right thing (v.6-7)
·      Prize:  our reward will come from Jesus the King (v.8)

His Imperative:  Be Christian in your Management (v.9)
·      Specifically, stop motivating by fear
·      Even in your tough decisions, be Christian by thinking how you would want to be treated

Our Motivation:  A Common Lordship
·      Remember, you are not the ultimate boss
·      Remember, judgment is coming for everyone

Work happened in the Garden – toil is the curse, not work

Friday, August 16, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Love me some pizza

But I'm not sure I want THAT pie after it came so dangerously close to his armpit...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Walking up to the Red Sea

Please feel free to ponder, wonder, correct, cajole, or otherwise harass...

If you don't walk up to the Red Sea, you will never see it part.

I've been thinking about that in light of some of the challenges that my family faces and others who we love face.  That sea is so imposing.  So impossible.  So devastating.

It's deep and wide - and not the kind in the cute little kid song.  It's not a fountain flowing.  It's a chariot-swallowing, soldier-drowning abyss.

But if I choose the safer route, I may very well miss the miracle.  You too.

Anything God has asked you to do lately that might find a toe wet but deliverance at hand?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Your Identity (and His)

I've done a little bit of thinking about this recently in light of preaching at a conference in a few weeks.  I've been thinking about how our identity in Christ is portrayed in the Bible and how we often experience it.

Let me get to the 'splainin (as Desi used to Lucy).

Here's the way I've heard the Identity issue taught:  we are who God has made us to be.  Satan will come along and say differently.  He's a liar and we shouldn't listen.  We are the righteousness of God in Christ.  We are a new creation.  We are completely forgiven.  We are under zero condemnation.  We are conquerors and victors.  We are sons of God.  And on and on we could go.

Completely biblical.  Every word.  And that's exactly right.  Every word.

If there's a weakness in this line of thinking and teaching, here is where it is (in my humble opinion).  I think it leads us to think about us too much and about God too little.  We apply this teaching like salve to hurt feelings, souls, or thoughts.  It's dangerously close to becoming a biblical version of positive self-talk (which is good) without God in the picture (which is not good).

Here is the way I think would be more helpful:

We are sons of God and He is our Father

We are a new creation and He is our Creator

We are completely forgiven and He is our Forgiver

We are under no condemnation and He is our Judge

See what happened there?  We're not thinking about ourselves except in relation to God.  For what it's worth, I think that brings Identity out of the realm of mere self-talk and roots it in relationship.  David spoke to himself in Psalms 42-43 - "Why are you downcast, O my soul?" - but didn't stop there.  "Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him."  Did you see the relationship in that last phrase?  I think that's the most biblical way to think about it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kids' Success Depends on Grit

I mentioned this TED Talk by Dr. Angela Duckworth in my sermon on Sunday.  In it, she explained the main characteristic of success among kids she studied:  Grit.  The biblical word for that is perseverance or endurance or steadfastness.  It's that quality of Grit that leads to proven character.  Consider...

"Perseverance leads to proven character..." (Romans 5.3-5)

"Let steadfastness have its perfect effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1.2-4)

"[supplement] to your steadfastness, godliness..." (2 Peter 1.5-8)

You see the connection?  Godly character is formed by Grit.  Of course, you find out how much Grit you have by walking through tough times.  Sometimes we rescue our kids too quickly from those.

Somebody somewhere described the future as the amplification of your character.  I'm not 100% sure that's 100% accurate, but there's enough truth in it to pay attention.  If that's even mostly true (which I agree that it is), then character development is like oxygen to a drowning man - desperately needed.  For us.  For our kids too.

Enjoy these 6 1/2 minutes of goodness...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fighting for your Marriage - a poetic lesson from The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars may be the best group you've never heard of.  If you have, then you know they're out of touch with one another right now but still managed to put out a new album.

One of the songs on the album is called Same Old Same Old, and is a great call for modern marriages.  The idea:  I can't stay in this "same old same old" marriage, but instead of jumping ship I'm going to fight for it to become what it can.

Press play on this video.  They lyrics are below.  If your marriage needs your fighting to make it, don't settle for the Same Old Same Old.

I wanna leave you 
I wanna lose us
I wanna give up
But I won't

I wanna miss this
I want a heartache
I wanna run away
But I won't

'Cause do I love you
Oh, I do
And I'm going to 'til I'm gone
But if you think that I can stay in this
same old, same old
Well, I don't
I don't

I'm gonna break things
I'm gonna cross the line
And make you wake up
'cause you won't

I'm gonna name names,
I'm gonna call us out
I'm gonna say it
if you won't

'Cause do I love you
Oh, I do
And I'm going to 'til I'm gone
But if you think that I can stay in this
same old, same old
Well, I don't

Oh I don't wanna fight
But I'll fight with you
if I have to, If I have to

'Cause do I love you
Oh, I do
And I'm going to 'til I'm gone
But if you think that I can stay in this
same old, same old
Same old, same old
Well, I don't
I don't

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 8.11.13 on Ephesians 6.1-4

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 8.11.13, on Ephesians 6.1-4.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio on our website,  You can also get the audio on iTunes via our podcast.


22 – The Spirit and Parents 
Ephesians 6.1-4

The Spirit fills us to parent – the Kingdom is present and powerful for moments like this

Honor is a posture of the heart

Take our cue from the responsibility of kids: responsiveness.
That’s what we’re training them to do – be responsive to us so that they can
be responsive to God

If we’re training kids to respond to the voice of God, how do we do that?

The Positive Path of Training
  • Train them in the Gospel via your words and actions
  • Train them to respect authority
  • Train them to work
  • The biblical picture is of an arrow: drawn back and then released
  • Draw them back for nurture, instruction, training
    Let them go for experience, purpose, impact

The Negative Path of Warning
  • We have to disabuse ourselves of the notion that our kids are to be our friends.
  • We live in a culture that never wants a child to be angry:
  • The biblical picture is an heirloom: a family treasure