Saturday, September 30, 2006

Getting Along: Why & How

Achieving Unity: Why?

I heard a good message in church recently about “achieving unity.” Seems like a fitting follow-up to recent posts about disharmony among Christians. Here are some excerpts from a sermon by Ross Sawyers (referencing Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker):

We find our united purpose in Philippians 2: 1-4:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The Bible calls for unity and a singleness of purpose.

But when you get more than one person together, you are going to have the potential for conflict.

We look to scripture to find healthy ways to resolve conflict.

(Photo by Daload, see for restrictions on use.)

Achieving Unity: How?

How does the world resolve conflict?

• Manipulation
• Control
• Avoidance

How are Christians to resolve conflict? Ken Sande’s “4 G’s”:

Glorify God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

This should be the ultimate goal.

Get the log out of your eye. (Matthew 7: 3-5)

Ask God to search your heart! Ask friends to speak the truth to you (versus
empathize). Find someone who is like iron to sharpen you.

Gently restore. (Galatians 6:1)

Mend what is broken (versus hammer or attack). How? See Matthew 18: 15-17.
Also, seek wise counsel and avoid gossip. Seek facts, avoid emotion. Become
listeners (versus talkers).

Go and be reconciled. (Matthew 5: 23-24)

If you’ve sinned against someone, or they have sinned against you… go and fix it. (Ephesians 4: 32, Romans 12:18, Proverbs 9:8)

We need eyes that are fixed on Jesus... not diverted and locked on disruptive relationships.

Settle conflict under the guidance of love. As Christ followers, the Spirit gives us a common bond of love… an affection deep within that moves toward an outward common purpose.

Conflict is a reality. It's in marriage, families, friendships, work relationships... and the church. But our relationships should be stronger on the other end... if we do it right.

The full sermon is available on CD. Visit for more information.

(Photo by Christof Wittwer, see for restrictions on use.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Getting Into the Bible... It's Easy!

I attended a wonderful luncheon this week featuring Professor Howard Hendricks of Dallas Seminary who talked about “How to Study the Bible.”

I can remember a time (not too long ago) when Bible study seemed threatening and mysterious. Where do I start? How do I understand this? Somebody call a professional!

Dr. Hendricks gave us an amazingly simple formula for getting started. It’s the same approach taught in journalism school. It begins with six questions:






Wherefore? (i.e., “So what?”)

How does this work? Look at Mark 4: 35-41.

Who: Jesus is talking to His Disciples.

What: They are leaving a large crowd and preparing to cross a lake when a violent storm hits. The Disciples awaken Jesus, who was sleeping, and accuse Him of not caring about their welfare. Jesus uses three words to calm the storm then questions the faith of His students. The Disciples are terrified and astounded.

When: It is evening. Can you imagine the amplified terror of this scene in darkness?

Where: (We go back to the beginning of the chapter (4:1) to learn that the crowd was so large, Jesus took a boat out onto the lake to make room for more people on land.) The Disciples have joined Jesus in boats. They are preparing to go from one side of the lake to the other.

Why: What can we deduce? Is this a story about boating? Or storm preparedness? Or is it more likely a message about faith?

So what: What’s the take-away? What are we to learn in 2006 from God's scriptural revelation? Are there furious storms in your life? How do you respond? Do you worry? Are you anxious? Or are you stepping out and abiding by faith?

(Photo by stobor, see for restrictions.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Need a Speaker?

Contact me at:

(Photo by Ben McLeod, see for restrictions.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Enduring Life... By the Grace of God

Excerpt Chapter 1: Freefalling

It was the day before Thanksgiving 2004. The week before had been brimming to overflow with children’s holiday parties. My three young boys and I had soldiered through a full spate of elementary school celebrations. I was overcooked and wilted, but now that the Pilgrim plays and chicken nugget banquets were behind us, I had family festivities to plan. I opened my refrigerator that morning to a cavernous hole I’d carved out for the annual turkey. Twenty pounds of plucked and butter-blobbed bird were nowhere to be found. Uh-oh! I forgot to buy a turkey!

We’ll be cranking out the Banquet frozen entrees, I wearily mused.

What’s the chance of getting a fresh turkey at this point… and how would I thaw a frozen one?
I shook my head in mild disgust. Disaster! I’ve really blown it this time!

Just then the phone rang shortly before 9:00 o’clock.

Hello, I said.

Is this Sarah, a woman asked?

Yes, I replied.

This is the doctor's office, the woman continued. The doctor has asked that you come into the office as soon as possible… and you need to bring your husband.

I could feel my heart begin to drum and a flood of fright as the words penetrated. All I could do was parrot back.

The doctor has asked that I come into his office… as soon as possible… with my husband, I echoed.

There was a small pause as both of us, perhaps, wondered if it was possible to just hang up and rewind.

That doesn’t sound good, I said, breaking the silence.

The woman simply re-drilled the instructions. You need to come in to see the doctor as soon as possible… with your husband.

OK… when?

How about 1:30 this afternoon?

We’ll be there.

That phone call lasted no more than a minute. No one ever said the word “cancer.” Both caller and receiver maintained a professional and detached clinical calm. Yet I knew that I was about to receive the abject worst news of my life. I knew I would be told that I had cancer. That cancer kills. And there was the potential for three little boys—all of 4, 6 and 8—to grow up without a mother.

I stood for a moment in my kitchen just shaken and needles-and-pins numb. Two minutes before, my biggest worry was what we’d have for dinner the next day. Now I am certain I am in a battle for my life.

My eyes locked onto a small figure in the next room sitting at a table stacking wooden blocks. It was my four-year-old son, Daniel. He was softly singing a song about a turkey named Tom. Just yesterday it seemed he was getting so big. But today he seems so very small…

(Sad Lady by Schizo o'23, see for restrictions.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Where Are Your Assets?

Our financial seminar leader talked about "risk" as it relates to stock market dealings. How it's safer to invest in businesses with "hard assets" to avoid going down with companies like Enron, whose "assets" were largely on paper.

Made me think of what we have in Christ. Look no further than scripture to learn who He is... God who took on human form to bring eternal life to those who trust in Him. Beyond the Bible, you can look to history, which affirms His existence and supports the events described in scripture.

Jesus was God incarnate and He was real. And the good news is... He not only was... but He is. There was a tomb... and it was empty.

(Photo by Nicole, see for restrictions.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Easy Chicken Pot Pie!

When Tammy told me I could make a delicious chicken pot pie with four ingredients, I couldn't believe it. But she was SO right! Check out the original recipe and an alternative for any vegetarians out there!

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Baked Chicken
Campbell's Chicken Soup (or Chicken/Mushroom blend)
1 regular-size bag frozen mixed vegetables
Frozen pie crust (2 per bag)


Cube baked chicken and mix with one can of undiluted soup and frozen vegetables. Spoon into slightly thawed pie crust bottom. Place second crust on top. Crimp edges together. Make 3-4 "vents" with a knife.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Heat an additional 15 minutes if necessary.


Alternative Vegetarian Recipe

Q'uorum Naked Cutlets (or other soy-based product)
Campbell's Chicken & Mushroom Soup*
1 regular size organic frozen vegetables
Whole wheat frozen pie crust (sold at Market Street)


Bake and cube "cutlets" and mix with one can of undiluted soup and frozen vegetables. Spoon into slightly thawed pie crust bottom. Place second crust on top. Crimp edges together. Make 3-4 "vents" with a knife.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Heat an additional 15 minutes if necessary.

*Check sodium content if this is a concern!

Photo by snapblitzbycarms, see for restrictions.

Scripture Comes to Life in a Pension Plan!

Todd and I spent two days at a financial planning seminar and God jumped out of an actuary table! Not literally, of course. But here’s what happened:

Somewhere between how to plan for college and how to pay for your funeral, there was a section on “pensions.” There’s a little “twist” for men or women who have, ahem, a much younger spouse. I know I run the risk of getting clobbered for this post. But I found it rather interesting… and we're talking actuary facts… so here we go:

For some pension plans, the amount of money you and your spouse draw in retirement is based in part upon “mortality” tables that predict, on average, how long people will live. In pension disbursements, a retiree and his/her spouse will get a certain amount of company-paid money every month. The amount of this money is determined by a number of factors, including age of the retiree and his/her spouse. Take the case of two couples. One couple is close in age. Say a 60-year-old retiree has a 59-year-old spouse. The other couple has more of a spread. Say a 60-year-old retiree has a 40 year-old spouse. Who gets more money each month? Couple number one! Why? Because the company makes the assumption, based upon mortality statistics, that the 40-year-old will live longer and require extended pension funding. So the younger the spouse, the less the monthly pension money!

“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Proverbs 5:18

How's that for some practical application of scriptural truth!

(Photo by Planetina, see for restrictions)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

To Blog Or Not To Blog...

September 30, 2006

Three months ago, I thought a "blog" was a heart condition. Now I am blogging away. I can bring this to you at no cost to me and no cost to you. But does it serve a purpose? Does it glorify God? Does it help you? Should it keep going?

My academic advisor says "yes." And I have a little inner "tug" whispering that it might be a mistake to quit.

So... here I remain for a time in blogland...

You can still help by:

1. Forwarding the link
2. Engaging in dialogue

Also, if you have any topics you'd like me to consider writing about, e-mail me at:

Thanks & Peace!


Hi All!

This site will be up and running until September 30, 2006 at which point a decision will be made as to whether or not there's a need for this blog. If you think it serves a purpose in reaching and teaching people for Christ:

1. Forward the link to others.
2. Engage in dialogue by posting in the “comments” section. You can post as “anonymous.” Neither I nor anyone else will know who you are. Or you can create an identity by simply establishing a free “blog account” and following the prompts.

Thanks to those of you who've sent e-mails and posted comments. We'll see what happens over the next couple of weeks, OK? If you want to reach me by e-mail, here's how:

God bless and may you encounter God today in the simple things!


(Photo by stungeye, see for restrictions on use.)

Friday, September 15, 2006

The World Wants To Know...

(Photo by gak, see for restrictions on use.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Times They Are a Changin'...

1959 Academy Award Winning Song:
High Hopes, sung by Frank Sinatra

Writer: Cahn/Van Heusen

Next time you're found, with your chin on the ground
There's a lot to be learned, so look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant can't
Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your gettin low
'stead of lettin go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

When troubles call, and your back's to the wall
There's a lot to be learned, that wall could fall

Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he'd punch a hole in a dam
No one could make that ram, scram
He kept buttin' that dam

Cause he had high hopes, he had high hopes
He had high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your feelin' bad
'stead of feelin' sad
Just remember that ram
Oops there goes a billion kilowatt dam

All problems just a toy balloon
They'll be bursted soon
They're just bound to go pop
Oops there goes another problem kerplop

(lyrics from

2005 Academy Award Winning Song:
It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp, by Djay f/Shug

You know it's hard out here for a pimp (you ain't knowin)
When he tryin to get this money for the rent (you ain't knowin)
For the Cadillacs and gas money spent (you ain't knowin)
Because a whole lot of xxxxxxx talkin xxxxxxxxx (you ain't knowin)
Will have a whole lot of xxxxxxxxxx talkin xxxxxxx (you ain't knowin)

In my eyes I done seen some crazy thangs in the streets
Gotta couple xxxxxxx workin on the changes for me
But I gotta keep my game tight like Kobe on game night
Like takin from a xxxxxxxx don't know no better, I know that ain't right
Done seen people killed, done seen people deal
Done seen people live in poverty with no meals
It's xxxxxxxxxxx where I live, but that's just how it is
It might be new to you, but it's been like this for years
It's blood sweat and tears when it come down to this xxxxxxx
I'm tryin to get rich 'fore I leave up out this xxxxxxxx
I'm tryin to have thangs but it's hard fo' a pimp
But I'm prayin and I'm hopin to God I don't slip, yeah


Man it seems like I'm duckin dodgin bullets everyday
xxxxxxx hatin on me cause I got, xxxxxx on the tray
But I gotta stay paid, gotta stay above water
Couldn't keep up with my xxxxxxx, that's when xxxxxx got harder
North Memphis where I'm from, I'm 7th Street bound
Where xxxxxxx all the time end up lost and never found
Man these girls think we prove thangs, leave a big xxxxxx
They come hopin every night, they don't end up bein dead
Wait I got a xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
You xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
That's the way the game goes, gotta keep it strictly pimpin
Gotta have my hustle tight, makin change off these women, yeah

(lyrics from

Question: How do Christians navigate culture today? Should we run from it? Or, should we engage it?

Comments sought...

(1950's pic by Noktulo; Guy in green by Dizz. See for restrictions on use.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Who's a Hypocrite?

I realize there may be non-believers reading the most recent posts. You might say it’s a picture that depicts some familial kinks. You also might be inclined to say “’Aha! One more reason why I think Christians are a bunch of hypocrites!”

But before you go there… please consider this. There is sometimes a disconnect between what we say and what we do. That’s part of our fallen condition. Christians can be hypocrites. So can Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists. If you are human, you will at one time or another do something that is not consistent with what you have said. Webster’s uses the word “insincerity” to define hypocrisy. And this plays out just about everywhere, doesn’t it.

I was reminded of the time one of my friends and her husband joined another couple for dinner at a nice restaurant. The other woman put the cook and wait staff through hoops to ensure that not a hint of unnecessary oil or fat crossed her lips. The fish had to be cooked a certain way. The vegetables had to be steamed. The house dressing was not satisfactory. The woman had a small laundry list of demands that had to be met to satisfy her special dietary needs. When all the orders were issued, she sat back in her chair and smashed a blob of Grade A butter on a white dinner roll and ate it all up.

That is hypocrisy.

There’s a service station down the road that posted “No more pre-pay! We trust you!” on the pump. Just below this posting was another sign:

This station is under SURVEILLANCE!
We will prosecute ALL theft!
We will prosecute ALL credit card fraud!
We will prosecute ALL criminal activity!

That is hypocrisy.

So hypocrisy isn't just a Christian problem. It’s a human problem. It’s at the gym, the supermarket, the classroom, the workplace, and the mall.

Don’t let this issue keep you from having a relationship with Jesus! If you are one whose actions consistently align with your words… perhaps the church needs you.

(Photo by seekaltroutes, see for restrictions on use.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Let's Get Along

My “chat room” experience seared an impression on my heart. As I logged off the computer that night, I was profoundly saddened by the spectacle of Christians fighting Christians over issues that don’t even represent doctrine.

In my first semester of seminary, I’d picked up just enough knowledge to be foolish. I remember going to the mat with someone over an issue of church tradition. It was a rather insignificant interpretation issue that seemed important at the time. Looking back, it now strikes me a bit like staring at a dead stump in a lush forest. It was the wrong focus and hardly worth a debate, let alone grist for a fight.

The Bible tells us “All Scripture is God-breathed…” (2 Timothy 3:16) In theological terms, this is known as "inspiration"... the process by which God moved men to capture and convey divine revelation. From this inspiration, then, we can deduce that the word of God is inerrant.

The interpretation of God's word, however, is a human endeavor. I may hold views about certain areas—baptism, end times, etc.—based upon my understanding of scripture and the historical study of scholars to whom I have aligned my beliefs. But we all respond to God’s revelation with cultural and historical bias. We'd be wise to keep our dialogue and debates around scripture constructive and avoid emotional attacks over differing opinion. And maybe we should grow humble hearts, recognizing that we are human and, unlike God, we make mistakes.

I had a professor once who said “pick your battles,” with respect to taking on issues with other Christians. “You don’t defend the use of electric guitars the way you defend the Trinity,” he said. Yet it seems even the peripheral areas can be a minefield of controversy and emotion. Friends split up. Ministries rupture. Churches are torn apart. By fractious matters that make the point of division (versus unity) the mascot for our faith.

“What is important enough to break the unity of the body of Christ?” my professor once asked.

Is it views on the rapture? Methods of baptism? Raised hands? Potluck supper on Sunday?

In his epistle to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians), the Apostle Paul encourages a body of believers to grow up and unite in their love of Christ and one another. His letter urges order and discipline and humility to override bickering, divisiveness and pride. It’s a letter about achieving unity and love toward a common, guiding purpose.

A friend once summed it up quite well. “As Christians,” she said, “there’s a lot more that we agree on. Why not focus on that, instead?”

Last post on this subject coming up... Who's a hypocrite?

(Photo by Zen, see for restrictions on use.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Chat Room

(Photo by Striatic, see for restrictions on use)

You could say I was curious. It was late one night and I couldn’t sleep. So I quietly slipped into the computer room and tapped out a midnight path into cyberspace. I knew as soon as I arrived that I should just shut it down and go back to bed. But I was transfixed and wouldn’t leave.

There were others out there. Chatting and lurking. The words on the screen were ascending so fast I couldn’t blink without missing something. Before long, the “talk” turned ugly. Incendiary remarks were exchanged and lines drawn. There was an escalating parry of words as someone raged out of the “room.” I don’t know his name, but I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t answer to the name he was called.

It is with a sense of shame that I tell you where I went that night:

It was a Christian “chat room.”

To be continued…

If you are a seeker or non-believer... come on back... there's more to the story.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ponder this...

"All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and others avoiding it, it is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."

Blaise Pascal

"The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."

John Piper
Source: Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist