Monday, December 30, 2013

C.T. Studd: Cricketer and Pioneer

A friend of mine dedicated his life to missions over ten years ago when he read this book.  After waiting patiently on the Lord, he and his family are now embarking on a life of missions.  They have sold everything and are but a few days from being deployed.   Watching them shed their earthly possessions has been extremely exciting and I know that God has great things in store for them.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and am stirred to do more as a result.  If a 22 year old C.T. was not special enough to stay in his father's hugely successful dye business or follow his rapid rise to the top of the cricket world by holding that top spot for many more years, then I can hardly declare I am special enough as a cog in my company, a good citizen of a great community, a member of a wonderful church, or even as a fantasy football owner that finished in the top half of a meager league to stay where I am and not go at the age of 48.

C.T. has many famous quotes, but one that drove him to missions for the third time at the age of 53 was at the tip of his tongue for him to reply to his many doctors, consultants, partners and friend that questioned his foolish decision:

  • If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.



I have known a few athletes, missionaries, hikers and bikers but to put them all together in a single life that moves from England to Australia to China to India to America to Africa.  He started as a boy swinging a cricket bat evenly against a reflection of a carpet seam line.  A straight swing as a boy was unstoppable when placed in the frame of tall athlete with long arms and large wrists.  Simple straight talk was unstoppable when placed on the tongue of a man that preceded in prayer and dedication.

Here are some more quotes that jumped off the pages:
  • "Cursed is he that trusteth in man" does not make a very good pillow for a dying man. "Blessed is he that trusteth in the Lord."
  • Christ does not want nibblers of the possible but grabbers of the impossible.
  • Some wish to live within the sound
    Of Church or Chapel bell,
    I want to run a Rescue Shop
    Within a yard of hell.
  • All God wants is a heart; any old turnip will do for a head. So long as we are empty, all is well...
  • A lost reputation is the best degree for Christ's service.

As he and his wife founded and fostered organizations and methods for sharing the gospel with unreached places of the world, he also jotted down a few flow charts that helped to define a sustainable and repeatable process for teaching truth.  We all have time to do that, we just have to start.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Jesus + Nothing = Everything


As a long time fan of the Apostle Paul and student of Colossians at several critical points in my life, I was thrilled that Tullian Tchividjian helped me see the message of Colossians with even more clarity.  Paul was clearly obsessed with the gospel as he wrote the inspired letter.

If I had to wrap up the point in one sentence it would be this: "Grace is the root of the gospel, and peace is the fruit of the gospel."

For those that know the teachings of Bob Warren, I like to relate these two important aspects of the gospel to illustrations that can go a little deeper:


  • Grace is about identity in Christ and life defined by Christ and work done by Christ which is rigidly communicated with the "Law of the Buttons" and the many illustrations within the Romans study.
  • Peace is a result of living in the grace of God in Christ and understanding that there is nothing that can be added to Grace. The "Law of the Circles" communicates this very well.



Here is another great line of thought from the book that hits the reader hard.


  • We Christians have a remarkable tendency to focus almost exclusively on the "fruit" of the problem.
  • We do this as parents with our children, pastors with our parishioners, husbands with our wives and wives with our husbands.
  • The gospel, on the other hand, always addresses the "root" of the problem. And the root of the problem is not bad behavior.
  • Bad behavior is the "fruit", death chosen in the garden of Eden is the "root"
  • To address behavior without addressing death is to perpetuate death. The Pharisees were masters of this, and Jesus called them "white washed tombs"
  • I am often guilty of making this same mistake.
  • The fact is, Jesus came first to effect a mortal resurrection, not a moral reformation.



As Christians, it is embarrassing to focus on the short term fruit if the root of the problem has not been dealt with.  When digging down deeper into any problem, if you keep on digging you will get to the original sin resulting in death.  The answer is always God's love resulting in life.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

not a fan


Sometimes I think I am too pragmatic and focused on work and discipline. There is a danger of depressing the people that you work closely with when you place great focus on agile disciples that know the Truth and how to handle it.

I have found in business, family and life that Jesus was wise to not mislead anyone by painting rose colored pictures. Kyle Idleman describes that leadership style of Jesus in "not a fan" very well.

Most of us focus on the "Come to Jesus" experience where we realize that we need a savior. That is very important, but when Jesus choose and made disciples he spent a lot of time on the "Come after Jesus" experience.

When His fans chose to crucify him on a cross, His followers chose to use the cross as a symbol for all that He taught them about being a follower.

  • a symbol of humiliation
  • a symbol of suffering
  • a symbol of death


After deciding to follow Jesus, the stuff that is left behind does not matter.

In the recruiting and interviewing stages, Jesus directly and explicitly informed candidates that they can not be His disciple if they were worried about the stuff you leave behind. To follow Jesus, we need our full attention on Jesus.

It is true that future glory can not be compared to present sufferings and it is also true that after shedding all the stuff, Christ bears the load for our yoke. However, if your motivation is not a commitment to follow Christ, those things may seem elusive and distant like a carrot on a stick. In fact, future glory and easy loads are just another example of stuff that can get in the way of our commitment to Him.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Radical


My nephew recommended this book to me. I appreciated the perspective of a megachurch leader that follows a minichurch leader. I'm thankful that David writes this stuff down...

Here is a thought from the book that helps to convey what American Culture has done to the gospel:

We have taken the infinitely glorious Son of God, who endured the infinitely terrible wrath of God and who now reigns as the infinitely worthy Lord of all, and we have reduced him to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for us to accept him.

Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance?

The cross is not about what we did to Christ or how painful his death was, but what God did to Christ and what Christ accepted for us.

If you don't know the gospel, or have someone with you that does, the challenges at the end of the book could prove dangerous in that it may compel you to perform before you understand your identity...   but then a good kick in the seat of the pants is sometimes what helps us understand.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dangerous Wonder


Mike Yaconelli does an excellent job of teaching that God wants life for His children rather than for us to be right. He uses the universally observable faith of a child to illustrate that point. As we, especially the educated, responsible and successful pursuers of our cultural dreams, develop an "adult" mind that distinguishes our own definition of right from our own definition of wrong, we are so tempted to serve our own mind instead of God.

Quotes that compelled me:

  • Most of us spend our lives "impersonating ourselves" --- Eugene Peterson
  • Culture is putting out the light in men and women's souls. --- A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Coming Back Stronger


My youngest daughter gave this to me for my birthday and I am thoroughly enjoying this book. Injuries, defects, mental breakdowns and mistakes are some of the best ways to learn how to keep pressing on toward a goal.

A pure heart, talent, support and blessing are rare in professional athletes because of the way we Americans worship them. It takes great love and discipline for God to develop character in a super bowl quarterback from Texas.

Reading about athletics and humanity has its limitations, but this is inspiring.  I recommend this book and have given it to a few friends to read when it seems like everything is going bad and the potential is there for it to get worse.

Favorite Quotes from Drew in the book:

  • The road to success is usually a pretty bumpy one. And there are no shortcuts. 
  • The painful things we go through have a way of teaching us things we can't learn any other way.
  • It's not always the first-round picks who rise to the top. It's often the journeyman, the ones who persevere through trials. 
  • I believe that when you fear God, you don't need to fear anything else---no man, no task, no obstacle or challenge.
  • My goal for each year is simple: to be better than I was the year before.... by digging deep and evaluating yourself. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

25th Anniversary

Jackie and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this week.  It is really hard to believe that it has been 25 years. Time doesn't really seem to matter much anymore as it passes so quickly.

A friend from Japan just contacted me this week and I realized that he had taken me on a tour through the southern part of Tokyo before Jackie and I were blessed with our oldest daughter.  That tour seems like it was just yesterday, another reminder that time passes quickly.

A friend from work was married just this past Saturday reminding me that the duration of a marriage is not nearly as significant as the foundation of the marriage.

As I am writing this, our three children are all at youth camp in Hardin, KY.  They are spending time with some people that we have known and trusted for many years to teach absolute truth from an eternal perspective.

I am proud of all three children as they are making choices that will affect the rest of their lives, just like Jackie and I do every day.

In the scope of all things eternal, 25 years is really just a fleeting moment.  My prayer is that our children will be able to understand holy matrimony way better than we do one day.  Jackie and I have friends that can appreciate this without ever being married to anyone but Jesus Christ.

Jackie and I were blessed to have been raised by families that understand words like love, faith and hope and how a relationship with Jesus Christ and accountability within a community can make 50th Wedding Anniversaries as achievable as 25th Wedding Anniversaries.

As we celebrate for a few days looking back 25 and forward 25, the  time that seems most significant is now.  That has always been the case for the two of us, for better or for worse.

We are planning to meet our children in Louisville at a wedding that is significant to all of us.  As Josh and I have been meeting this past few months, we have been touched on the difference between the titles of bride and wife.  They are both significant.

Approaching a wedding or an anniversary or just another day, a marriage has just as much need for bride and groom as it does man and woman or husband and wife.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Your God Is Too Small

When Jackie and I left Charlotte, NC for the opportunities that awaited us in Lexington, KY, my Sunday School teacher gave me a book that he thought I would enjoy.  I read it immediately and appreciate Tommie Mull for giving it to me.

In 1989, I thought the perspective was timeless because J.B. Phillips was writing down truths in 1961 that were relevant to the events and technology of 1989.

On a recent hiking trip in NC, I decided to re-read this book and have determined it still to be timeless in 2011.

C.S. Lewis wrote the Screwtape Letters to help us see how demons are restricted, limited in scope, and how their tactics to speak to us from time to time in the first person as though they were us.  A fictional piece that aligned with the truth.

J.B. Phillips works from a different direction.  He lists several destructive views of God that we have created in our own finite minds that keep us from understanding the limitlessness of God.  Those views are often a result of good experiences with people that have been inspiring and helpful to us.

I'll list a few of those destructive associations that we have made between a limitless God and a limited image of God.
  • Resident Policeman
  • Parental Hangover
  • Grand Old Man
  • Meek and Mild
  • Absolute Perfection
  • Heavenly Bosom
  • God-in-a-box
  • Managing Director
  • Second-Hand God
  • Perennial Grievance
  • Pale Galilean
  • Projected Image
  • Assorted

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Myths of Innovation


A friend at work recommended I read this.

Enjoyed the first chapter that suggested that epiphanies are things we look for, hope for and believe in but are rare, and usually embellishments of reality because people want to believe them, and therefore not a good source of innovation.

I have to respect an author that is emphatic about getting his readers to put down all books and make something with their hands in the same book that includes a 100 book bibliography rank ordered by frequency of reference.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A God Sized Promise

Dustin and Mindi were married in a beautiful ceremony that represented a God sized promise.

Pastor Dave shared an encouraging charge about the details of accessories, recipes and life together as family.  Details tie us all together as they are woven together and prepared in a tasteful manner.

No one can know what God has in store for us as His children.  The Martins and the Matterns certainly have traveled a path that no man expected for them even though the final destination is clear and full of lots of joy.

In addition to the ceremony, it was good to see so many people from the community that I had not seen in a very long time.

It was also good for our family to be able to all go together to the wedding.  Lots of details there to be woven.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

MC Escher: Waterfall

One of my hobbies is to put together 1,000 piece black and white MC Escher puzzles because it just seems like a hard thing to do.  MC Escher's work has always intrigued me because of his ability to tie two dimensional art with engineering and physics and visual trickery.

A friend sent me this video and I am so disappointed with myself for not having tried something like this before....



To make up for not thinking about this on my own, I'm thinking I need to do this in a larger scale.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Favorite movies we all watched in 2010

In order to make this list, all five Ebys must have seen this movie during the year it is nominated. Half the movies that were nominated by individual Ebys were disqualified because they were not viewed by all of us.


Here is the list for 2010:
  1. Unstoppable ( One #1 vote )
  2. Toy Story 3 ( One #1 vote )
  3. Knight & Day
  4. Bounty Hunter
  5. The Tourist
  6. Shutter Island
  7. The Box
  8. Eat, Pray, Love
There were five disqualified movies that were ranked higher than any of our qualified movies.

  • ( Receiving #1 votes )
    The A-Team, The Book of Eli, Date Night
    We all know that Adam would have liked A-Team, but he didn't see it...
  • ( Receiving #2 votes )
    The Social Network, Secretariat
    Adam thinks we all would have liked The Social Network, but none of us saw it..


The Tourist was the movie with the greatest spread of votes ranging for #4 to #14.

The worst movies tend to get seen by all of us since Red Box has made it so cheap to watch movies.   We are watching these movies at least 28 days later than all of our friends that are watching better movies sooner with Netflix, Cable or Satellite.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some birthdays provide gifts for everyone

The kids are growing up so fast and this week I had to just step back again and admire how God has used trials to grow us all.  It was Carmen's birthday, but we all enjoyed the evening together more like a reunion than a dinner or a birthday.

I picked up Carmen up at her dorm on the way home from work and we enjoyed a great birthday dinner even though Adam was at work and not able to join us until later.

Carmen is a private person and not much into her birthday, but she allowed her mother and her sister to shower her with gifts, stories and pictures.  It was a fun night just to sit back and watch them interact.

I was also impressed with Becca's desire to make this a special evening for everyone else.  For many years, it has been a tradition for me to get the camera out and take pictures of the kids as they grow up.  At each birthday, I think the kids have grown up enough that they don't want a rigid picture by a cake, but we do it anyway.

This year was different, Becca already had the camera out and was excited about getting pictures of her sister's birthday.  She took a lot of great pictures and avoided the rigid picture by the cake.

Carmen got a lot of books and devotionals and a coat and some other stuff to keep her warm going to class, but we were all blessed with her presence.