April 29, 2005

I Call You to Discomfort

Man, I am comfortable. I'm sitting at my desk in my heated office. My wife just called and informed me that soup is on the stove, even though I'm still a little full from lunch. My car runs quite well. I have a paycheck coming every two weeks. My health is great. I have enough outfits in my wardrobe to last me for quite a few days in between laundry loads.

What a Disneyland America is.

It is comfortable, isn't it? We are so "blessed." God has been working me over about this recently. I am so comfortable, yes. But, what risks am I taking for His kingdom? I am preaching a series on Matthew 5-7, and I am laying out the ways to be truly blessed. More and more I find, that we are most blessed when we are most uncomfortable on earth for Christ's name sake. Think about it, when I am uncomfortable with my sinful wicked condition (poor in spirit), I am blessed. When I am so uncomfortable I weep (mourn), I am blessed. When I am uncomfortable with my strength, living in God's infinite ability (meek), I am blessed. When I am uncomfortable with what I can get from the world, and I hunger and thirst after righteousness, I am blessed. The list goes on in the same pattern. It closes with, when I am in the most uncomfortable place for my faith, persecution, I am happy, blissful, blessed. Wow.

I need some education on what a comfortable Christian is. I need some serious learning on what God expects of my life. It's time to take up my cross. God has called us to a life of denying our comfort for His Name's sake. Of course, it is totally worth it. The pleasures of living in the presence of God are fullness of joy forevermore! The joys are the kingdom of heaven! The life that is uncomfortable here on earth longs for the hope of glory!

What discomfort are you allowing yourself to be vulnerable to for the gospel sake? Are you sharing your faith and opening yourself up to mockery and shame or even pain? Are you sacrificially giving to others not knowing what may happen to God's money? Are you opening your life in hospitality not knowing if the carpet will get stained and the dishes chipped? Is your life transparent enough for you to show that you struggle and depend on God, or is your fascad up and running, decieving others into a high view of you? God calls us to a life of risk for His sake. But the joy is that in that discomfort there is a great comfort. The hope of glory. Fellowship with our Savior.

So, God, I throw my emotions and pride and self-reliance onto the cross and take it up. For it is there that I see you. And in that I hope to say with Paul . . . I rejoice . . . for I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. (Colossians 1:24)

If you are interested in more along this line, I came across this Fresh Words by John Piper. He says it much better than I could...and in a different way.

Call for Christian Risk
John Piper
The Original Article

By removing eternal risk, Christ calls his people to continual temporal risk.

For the followers of Jesus the final risk is gone. "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). "Neither death nor life . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 3:38-39). "Some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair of your head will perish" (Luke 21:16, 18). "Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).

When the threat of death becomes a door to paradise the final barrier to temporal risk is broken. When a Christian says from the heart, "To live is Christ and to die is gain," he is free to love no matter what. Some forms of radical Islam may entice martyr-murderers with similar dreams, but Christian hope is the power to love, not kill. Christian hope produces life-givers, not life-takers. The crucified Christ calls his people to live and die for their enemies, as he did. The only risks permitted by Christ are the perils of love. "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" (Luke 6:27-28).

With staggering promises of everlasting joy, Jesus unleashed a movement of radical, loving risk-takers. "You will be delivered up even by parents . . . and some of you they will put to death" (Luke 21:16). Only some. Which means it might be you and it might not. That's what risk means. It is not risky to shoot yourself in the head. The outcome is certain. It is risky to serve Christ in a war zone. You might get shot. You might not.

Christ calls us to take risks for kingdom purposes. Almost every message of American consumerism says the opposite: Maximize comfort and security - now, not in heaven. Christ does not join that chorus. To every timid saint, wavering on the edge of some dangerous gospel venture, he says, "Fear not, you can only be killed" (Luke 12:4). Yes, by all means maximize your joy! How? For the sake of love, risk being reviled and persecuted and lied about, "for your reward is great in heaven" (Matthew 5:11-12).

There is a great biblical legacy of loving risk-takers. Joab, facing the Syrians on one side and the Ammonites on the other, said to his brother Abishai, "Let us be courageous for our people . . . and may the LORD do what seems good to him" (2 Samuel 10:12). Esther broke the royal law to save her people and said, "If I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:16). Shadrach and his comrades refused to bow down to the king's idol and said, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us . . . But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods" (Daniel 3:16-18). And when the Holy Spirit told Paul that in every city imprisonment and afflictions await him, he said, "I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course" (Acts 20:24).

"Every Christian," said Stephen Neil about the early church, "knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life" (A History of Christian Missions, Penguin, 1964, p. 43). This was normal. To become a Christian was to risk your life. Tens of thousands did it. Why? Because to do it was to gain Christ, and not to was to lose your soul. "Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:25).

In America and around the world the price of being a real Christian is rising. Things are getting back to normal in "this present evil age." Increasingly 2 Timothy 3:12 will make sense: "All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Those who've made gospel-risk a voluntary life-style will be most ready when we have no choice. Therefore I urge you, in the words of the early church, "Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:13-14). When God removed all risk above / He loosed a thousand risks of love.

Pastor John
The Original Article
©Desiring God

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April 26, 2005

Weird Street

They come in threes.

1. Read this story. Now realize, that I live within 50 yards of that house.

2. A few nights ago, I heard a scary noise in my backyard.

3. Now this . . .

"Is your house on fire?" our church treasurer asked.

Beth and I were working in the office at church Saturday afternoon, and Mr. H startled us with a pretty uncommon question. He passes by our house on his way to our church, and because of fire trucks and ambulances in front of our house, he had to take a different route.

"I don't think so," I joked.

It's not everyday that someone asks if your house is on fire, so we hurried and finished off our stuff to check out what was happening on our street. There were some police cars blocking the road about 200 yards from our house, so we explained the situation to the officer, and he let us pass through. The first thing we were glad to see was that there were no flames anywhere near our house. But, there were the fire trucks and police cars. One glance to the left, and we discovered the commotion. Buried in a grove of bushes and trees was a mangled Saturn. A large tow-truck was winching it out of the ditch, and all our neighbors were watching the show. We met some of them for the first time. A regular block party. The driver was not in the car. We found out later that he had escaped from the car which burst into flames right after the collision. He had been taken away in an ambulance before we got there--no injuries, just wanted to check him out.

“This is quite the neighborhood. We got the dead guy over there, we got the burning car over here…whats next?” my neighbor asked.

We found out from talking to our neighbors that a teenager, who we think Beth knows from the High School, was flying down our 25-mph road. I say flying, because as you can see from the pictures, he traveled out of control for quite a while before his car finally came to rest across the street from our house. One neighbor who was working in his yard when it happened said the car was traveling around 90mph when it left the road. Amazing. I offer you my humble assessment of the situation. Please feel free to call me Sherlock Holmes after reading the following case: the driver missed the curve in front of my house, ran off the road in my yard, overcompensated for the turn, crossed over the street, skidded through two yards, sheared a 6” diameter tree off, and landed in a heap in our neighbors front yard.

The tow truck after much strain and nearly flipping twice managed to roll the mangled beast up the hill to his waiting truck. I managed to snap a few shots of the evidence. As I was surveying the damage to my neighbor’s yard, I spotted something that caught my eye. It was the shiny plastic oval from what appeared to be a Saturn rear-view mirror. I looked around some more and to my glee I discovered the rest of the rear-view mirror assembly. I fulfilled my civil duty by handing my find over to the good men in the red tow truck. Job well done.

Nothing like a strange situation to add some excitement to a Saturday afternoon. We met some neighbors, got a story to tell, and found a rear-view mirror. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What a day.

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April 25, 2005


When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey; speak about Dr. Carey's Saviour.

on his deathbed

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April 24, 2005

The Treasure Principle


Randy Alcorn

A gift book on a call to live The Treasure Principle,which says, “You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” This book contains 93 pages of a full exposition and application of Jesus' teaching on giving from Matthew 6:20-21. “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Alcorn takes six principles and lays them out. This book is peppered with hard-hitting passages of scripture. You will be hard pressed to find a page without a reference or scriptural phrase tied in. Great illustrations of others joy in giving color the message of the book. The idea is to say at the end, “I really want to live this kind of life!”

Praise the Lord for Randy Alcorn. This little book has been sitting hard on my heart ever since I started reading it. Beth and I have been looking at houses, and these questions have been hitting us pretty often recenty...What kind of house? How much? How big? How new? How flashy? Etc. Oh, how I've been influenced by the American culture. Whether I say it or not, my thoughts are, what will others think? Will I have enough? It makes me sick to think that I would even think of hording the blessings God has been entrusted to me in the names of my comfort, security, ease or peace. Ouch. God has really blessed us. I have been reaching the conclusion that I cannot stretch myself financially to buy myself comfort. My stretching must only come when I am comforting the nations for the gospel's sake. Alcorn laid that out when he mentioned 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 and the 6th treasure principle, “God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”

Needless to say, this book has been a life-changer in the area of my finances. God used much of this book to work me over about what I value in this life and what I value in the next. Because as treasure principle #3 says, “Heaven, not earth is my home.”

Matthew 13:44
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

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April 21, 2005

Spotlights and Tigers and Apple, oh my!!

Uhm. This all sounds really really cool. The future of the new spotlight and Mac OSX. Rumor? Maybe, but who cares. It sounds really cool.

Click here: The future of Spotlight and OS X

PS . . . Its coming out soon.

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April 19, 2005


I deserve death, but I have life.

I deserve nothing, but I have truth.

I deserve hell, but I have heaven.


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April 15, 2005

randomly favorite iphoto pic picks

Here are my three randomly favorite pictures of the minute from my iphoto gallery. Favorite for the following reasons: strapping young boys, perfect, and lovin' life. You guess where they fit . . .

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April 14, 2005

Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry


Doug Fields | bio | site | book site

As the title suggests, this book is a how to guide for the new youth minister. It lays out the difficulties and struggles that you may face and how you should deal with them. Everything from how to deal with discouragement to building effective relationships, and from dealing with parents to leading a team. The author, Doug Feilds is a 25 year veteran of youth ministry. He has been through a lot, and he shares personal examples tendered with encouragement and advice from his heart for the "rookie" youth minsiter.

Fluffy. I kinda expected that coming into this book. It is written by Rick Warren's Youth Pastor after all. So, yes, true to line, this one was fluff. I felt the book gave me great practical advice for how to deal with the emotional difficulties of staff, parent, and personal conflict, but not much beyond that. The book spent more time on how to make yourself feel good, than connecting with the Savior. I didn't hate the book, by any means. The personal examples and illustrations were perfect. Doug really opened up and shared some failures and mishaps. Hilarious, but also encouraging. I mean, if Rick Warren's Youth Pastor did that, I don't feel so bad. Hah. Overall, I really enjoyed the read. But it is much more practical, than passionate spiritual.

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April 12, 2005

designs for the poor

Here is what I've been up to recently . . . design-wise, that is.


This last week, I designed a logo for our church' outreach ministry, T.E.A.M., together everyone attempting ministry. I brainstormed for concepts, and came up with this design that incorporates the ideas of total involvement (upper and lower case letters,) movement (circular arrow surrounding the design,) sending (arrows going out from the t and m,) and unity (all tied together by a circle.) Posters were hung up all over the building, and a powerpoint presentation was shown to promote the ministry kickoff for Sunday night, April 10.

TEAM meets every Sunday night after the evening service. We strive to finish the service by 7:00pm, to allow light and time for people to go out. Booths are set up at various exits around the building, and families are equipped with a new birth basket to deliver to a new mom, a followup contact from a recent service to meet, a neighborhood watch friend to visit, or an inhome member to deliver service tapes to and encourage.

For our spring kickoff, we had 57% of our attendance that night make a visit.


This week, I put together a t-shirt design for my brother Josh's student body volleyball tournament at Bob Jones Academy. 16 teams will compete in a fundraiser tournament on Saturday, April 23. The shirts will go to the winning team. Quick design, crazy fun. I love designing t-shirts.

Not many guidelines were given, so I went for an edgy look. I wanted it to appear old and used, yet exciting. The final product will be screen printed on a long-sleeve white t-shirt.

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April 11, 2005

comfort check

I needed this today. To my shame, I have been growing comfortable. The joys of this world have been looking very desirable to me recently...a big house, nice clothes, comfortable relationships. Yet my Savior died that I would not be held in by the cares of this present world. He paid His life, that I might be as uncomfortable as He was.

Recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property . . .

. . . since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

Hebrews 10:32-34

The Cross.Quote fits perfectly with this.

May we all be strangers and pilgrims desiring a better country for our Great Savior.

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He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what He cannot lose.


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April 01, 2005


I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all.
But whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess.


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