Friday, February 20, 2009


I had a very interesting coversation over lunch today concerning the topic of discipline in the church setting. I have a suspicion that the church (the term "church" here is being used very broadly to reference all protestant churches in our society) has lost its touch with the need for church discipline. What I mean is that our churches are slap full of members who are not fulfilling their mandates as believers. This could manifest itself in habitual absence from the local assembly, immoral behavior, failure to tithe adequately, or other circumstances. My opinion is that members who demonstrate their unwillingness to fulfill their mandates are wrongly treated by the church leadership. The leadership of the church is responsible for addressing such issues in a biblical manner. When questionable behavior is swept under the rug by the leadership members are sent a very strong message about their lifestyle - live however you please and you will not face any consequences. This message is then passed on to those outside the body of believers. Translation: The Christian church is nothing more than a group of people who call themselves righteous, but live life very much the same way as unChristian people.

Maybe I am taking this too far. Maybe I'm not taking it far enough. What if the reason that so many "Christian" men and women have such difficulty living holy lives is because deep down they know that they will not have to answer to Christian leaders. Paul took this problem very seriously during the era of the early church. He explained very explicity an outlined procedure for how to deal with members with questionable behavior. If the church practiced this procedure more what would the demographics of the typical church look like? Would they be any different? Probably.

I propose that one reason our churches lack the zeal to pursue disciplinary actions when they are deemed necessary is because they realize that the person receiving the discipline will withdraw their membership. And this creates a mountain of problems: the disciplined person maligns the local church, takes his tithe, takes his family, and joins another local body.

On the flip side, however, taking disciplinary action could prove very fruitful. One could hypothesize that members who are taken seriously by their church leaders will also take their church, and hopefully their personal faith, more seriously. Not only so, but also the unchurched population may view the church with more respect.

Or maybe I'm just naive.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Winds Will Blow

There are moments, days, weeks, or possibly even longer periods of time when life has a tendency to get tough. One person has said, "In life we can't determine the direction of the wind - we can only adjust our sails." How true! Life can be marked and measured with the trials and hardships a person encounters. Some have suggested that actually it is the rough times that need to be embraced, not spurned. Case in point: The Holy Spirit led Christ into the wilderness. He purposely led Him into a time of difficulty and testing. After 960 hours (40 days and nights) of intense focus He wasn't merely relieved of His wilderness experience. Instead, the tough got tougher as He was severely blindsided (if God can be such) and battled by the nemesis. And through all of the trials, hardships, tests, and battles God the Father was glorified. Jesus adjusted His sails, so to speak, to ensure that His ship stayed the course. We must do the same. The course is narrow and frought with its share of wild - but what good what a life be if it were only filled with smooth sailings? As another man has said, "Smooth seas don't make skilled sailors." The winds will blow - how will you respond?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Taken, Human Trafficking, and Christ

Last night Claire and I got together with some friends to see the movie Taken. It was a fairly intense movie with plenty of action, which I am a sucker for. But the movie also had a couple of themes that have been turning over in my mind for a while. For starters, the plot has a lot to do with illegal human trafficking. I am becoming more and more aware of this horrendous practice and every time I am exposed to it I can't stop thinking about it. In college I watched a documentary that dealt with illegal sex trafficking of young mothers and their daughters in Middle Eastern Countries. Stories from the rescued are very similar. The mothers and daughters are kidnapped during the day when the husband/father is working. He arrives home to see his family gone - usually never knowing what has happened. Some children, on the other hand, are purposely granted to "employers" who convince the parents that their children will be working honest jobs for decent wages. This, however, turns out to be a lie and the children then enter the underground sex market. It's heartbreaking to mentally trade places with victims like these. The movie deals slightly with these types of issues which is great because it continues to raise awareness about an issue that is growing on a global scale. The other, more positive, theme that I latched on to is the idea of a father pursuing his child at all cost. Liam Neeson portrays the father of the kidnapped victim and, without using too much detail for fear of spoiling a good film, demonstrates certain Christ-like qualities. The concept of a father going to such lengths doing whatever he deems necessary to free his child mirrors rather vividly the model of our Heavenly Father. It was a great reminder for me and I hope that you will see the same Love given the opportunity. The movie struck a nerve in me and I am now interested in learning more about the ruthless act that has become known as human trafficking. Without doubt this a problem that needs to be taken more seriously and more proactively. Dilemmas like these must not be swept under the rug. Instead, the people who truly possess hope should rally together in hopes of putting an ending to such an evil trade. You can learn more here: .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Summit: Open House

Well, last night our youth group hosted our first Summit: Open House. The reason for this event was to give the "young at heart" a taste of our weekly program. It allowed us to minister to the adults in a pretty fun and creative way. The concept of purposely putting these groups of people together was very intimidating to me, especially given the topic of our discussion. Our students definitely proved themselves to be huge contributers. They brought a certain spice that only they can. The topic of the discussion was basically the idea of youth and mature teaming up to achieve one common goal: Becoming disciples, creating disciples, and glorifying Christ.

The crisis is that we are faced with young boys and girls who are crying out to be taught how to be become Godly men and women. We, as the Church, have dropped the ball and so allowed our youngsters to walk through life with little to no guidance. Thus we have, in John and Stasi Eldredge's words, a world full of un-intiated men and women. These folks are left to figure out life on their own. Mom and Dad have exited the highway many miles ago. Others have determined that they needn't overstep their boundaries. Hey, "The school system can handle it," or "Why not let our government step in," we reason. Unfortunately this mindset may prove to be a major downfall for our youth. Instead we must take a more proactive approach. We must engage.

Joe White, who has been regarded as knowing more about teenagers than anyone in North America, has much to say on this topic. First and foremost, we must realize the power of parents. The roles of the mother and father must be taken with much seriousness and responsibility. They are on the front lines, so to speak, in the battle for creating disciples of youth. When they embrace their God-ordained responsibility families become stronger and youth develop more maturely.

But the local church also has a responsibility. And perhaps this role isn't necessarily as clear as it needs to be. The local church should be pooling its resources to provide families with the knowledge and the ability to develop disciples in the home. When the "church family" takes priority over the family at home then our vision of what's truly important becomes skewed. Rather than parent's realizing their responsibility to develop disciples in the home they forfeit that job to the local church's youth program. This only becomes the job of the church when, sadly enough, children are orphaned and have no other parental figures to show them the way. No, I don't believe the local church was designed to raise kids properly. The local church is far more than that (perhaps a topic for another discussion). By equipping families properly the local church offers a service that will indeed help fulfill its mandates, thus glorifying Christ and making disciples.
Hear my heart on this: I am not attacking family or church. I am only delivering my perspective on a possible cause to the given crisis coupled with a possilbe (and I think highly probable) solution. Whatever it takes, though, my prayer is to see people becoming disciples, creating disciples, and glorifying Christ.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Well, I'm supposed to be studying hard for my Greek class, but I am too interested in this website I just learned about that is on a mission to change the world. The company designs and makes shirts which are sold to raise money. The money then goes to create clean water for people who are without one of life's most essential needs. The coolest thing about this website and company is that is was founded by a guy who is still in high school! That blows me away! He is certainly a dude who is seeing things properly and actively working to make things better. I am definitely impressed. I can't wait to get my shirt and help an amazing cause. Well done Mr. Miller. Check the link on the side to find out more!


Father, I am incredibly thankful. Who am I that I should receive Your miraculous love? Who am I that I should receive Your blessings? I have so much that comes directly from Your loving hand: devoted wife, supportive parents and siblings, encouraging friends, dedicated church family, physical health, and the prayers of your saints. Why should I receive these blessings from You? I have no answer Lord. Only out of the abundance of Your mercy, kindness, compassion, and love. You are so loving, Father. You show us how to live with perfect love because You are perfect love. I am blessed with countless intangibles. Your love is good. Your love is beyond compare. You are God. Thank You for watching over my family. Thank You for meeting our needs. Thank You for peace, joy, and prosperity. Thank You for being patient with my stubborn soul. Thank You for this nation and its leaders. Thank You for medicine and healthcare. Thank You for food, clothing, shelter, and all the extras. Thank You for blessing me with laughter and fun. I have much for which to be thankful.

Lord, I pray for the people in my life who are experiencing turbulent circumstances. I ask that Your Holy Spirit would drench my friend who is struggling with a spiritual crisis. She is regularly bombarded with numerous philosophies of life and I can tell that she wants Truth. I am asking for You to guard her heart against Satan's arrows. Protect her from the influence of her society and worldly friends. Replace her fleshly thoughts with Holy Truth and make her see the Light.

Jesus, please tend to the needs of my friends who are undergoing a family health emergency. Use this time to solidify their family and their faith. Draw them together as one as they have united in Your Name. Guide the thoughts and actions of the medical team as they address the physical needs of their loved one. Give them Your peace and joy - regardless of what may come of this trial . Love them in a way that they can sense Your Spirit.

And Father, please continue to develop me as Your son and servant. I have far to travel in this process, for sure. Let me refuse complacency. God please instruct me on the right ways to honor You and glorify You to this world. I pray that Your message of selfless love would permeate my being and pour out of my life onto all that I encounter - through word and deed. I pray that I would "set myself on fire and burn for the world to see" as Wesley prayed. May Your fame be the concern of my life. Teach me to use the influence and resources I have from You to meet the needs of others in a God-exalting fashion. You are worth my life's devotion. Help me to live in You.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Busy Busy

I can't say enough about how refreshing DNow was for my heart last weekend! Physically though, it was draining! And because of all the energy I put into the planning process I am now a little behind in some other areas - like school. Seminary is probably one of my favorite things right now, but often it can become very overwhelming. No one ever said it would be easy. I am extremely thankful to have this excellent opportunity to be a student of DTS - even in the difficult times. It will be interesting to see how hard of a time I have playing catch up over the next few days. With prayer and discipline I think I can do a decent job, but we'll see. I've been listening to the Hank Murphy Band and to Lecrae today - good stuff. The message presented through their music is phenominal. It's impressive to know that God is using so many different means to spread His gospel. It's a great reminder that my goal shouldn't necessarily be to become a good student, good pastor, or good husband. Rather I need to become a servant of the One who served me in the greatest way possible. All the other responsibilities will become easier when I get my focus established properly.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Disciple Now 2009: GameTime

What an incredible experience for me! I thoroughly enjoyed DNow and I am very thankful for the way I was refreshed spiritually. I am certainly drained physically, but my spirit is encouraged. Planning the retreat was intimidating, to say the least, but all in all I'm thankful for the way everything came together. The church family of the Crossing thoroughly impressed me as I watched them work together with the attitude servant. Everything they did was above and beyond the call of duty. Our guests, Hank and Nathan, were right on. Hank never ceases to hit home with my heart through his ministry of music. His lyrics, talent, and passion combine to create moving music. Nathan was well studied and very relational in his discussions. All of his stories and illustrations brought home his Biblical teaching. I am very thankful for the work God has performed in their lives.