Monday, June 21, 2010

called or driven?

Today I read this helpful excerpt from Jack Arnold, pastor and missionary (who baptized me), on the distinction of being called in ministry, or driven in ministry:

A driven person : (1) is gratified by accomplishments; (2) loves power; (3) loves success; (4) compromises integrity for success; (5) is project and goal oriented to the exclusion of people; (6) is highly competitive; (7) becomes angry at opposition, (8) is obsessed with and gives the impression of being busy; (9) seeks to control everything; (10) has a large ego but is inwardly insecure.

A called person (1) knows God has called him; (2) senses he/or she is a person of destiny; (3) knows who he is in Christ and does not have to be somebody he is not; (4) understands everything has been given by God and can be taken away by God; (5) serves God for the praise of God, not men; (6) grasps he is not indispensable to God’s work; (7) longs to do his best for God and does not conform to man’s whims; (8) is committed to do God’s will at all cost, even if it diminishes his own glory; (9) is content in his ministry; (10) has a sense of joy and peace in doing ministry.

Many of Dr. Arnold's texts are available at http://cleartheology.com/

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

humiliation leads to possession

"You will find that you survive humiliation
And that's an experience of incalculable value...
The destination cannot be described;
You will know very little until you get there;
You will journey blind.
But the way leads towards possession
Of what you have sought for in the wrong place."

(T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party, 1949)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

isolation and destruction

Here's a lesson from my good friend Joe Jones...

"Several years ago I went on an elk hunting trip in Colorado and the Lord had a lesson for me I had not anticipated. At about 10,000 feet on open pasture above the treeline I met a Basque shepherd who was watching over 3500 sheep with just himself and three Australian shepherd dogs. I was really curious about why the sheep would be up in such an isolated area on BLM land and not near any ranch.

"As he was really lonely , he invited my brother in Christ, Ward, and me to join him in his shepherd tent for a cup of coffee. He actually wanted us to stay with him for a few days while we were hunting but we had backpacked in with our tent and wanted to 'rough it' for a few days.

"Sometime later while we were standing on the edge of the flock and talking with the shepherd, we heard a pack of coyotes with a lone sheep that sounded very close but too far away for the shepherd to be able to help. In the midst of all the barking, we could hear the plaintive sound of the sheep in distress.

"That led to a discussion with the shepherd of how many sheep he lost in the two months he spent by himself on the mountain. He said that he only lost a handful -- those that wandered off from the flock where he could not protect them. He said the dogs also did a great job of keeping the sheep together.

"Going back in my story to the lonely sheep that was surrounded by the coyotes: It seemed to me the sheep was being driven by the coyotes as the barking and sounds from the sheep was moving away from us. It was quite a commotion. I asked the shepherd what was happening. He said the coyotes actually drove the sheep away from the flock and when the sheep was far enough away, the coyotes would kill it. He said that if the sheep would stay in the flock they are protected, but alone and by themselves they are vulnerable and eventually will be destroyed by coyotes or wolves.

"This situation brought back to me the reality of Christ the Shepherd and us as sheep. So much is said in the Scriptures about this. It made me realize that when we as sheep go astray, off by ourselves -- when we stay out of fellowship or feel we don’t need it -- that is when we are vulnerable to Satan (the wolf) and we can be destroyed spiritually.

"Don’t leave the protection of the flock (God’s people). Psalm 23:1 says, 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want….' and 1 Peter 2:25...'For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd.'"



Monday, June 7, 2010

we are inept

David Warren's column on... well, our incompetence which leads us to believe the superstition that underlying every problem is malice and that the state must have the solution...

Let me mention in passing that President Barack Obama was in no way responsible for the [BP oil] catastrophe, and that there is nothing he can do about it. He is being held to blame for "inaction," as wrongly as his predecessor was held to blame over Hurricane Katrina, by media and public unable to cope with the proposition that, "Stuff happens."

In a sense, Obama is hoist on his own petard. The man who blames Bush for everything now finds there are some things presidents cannot do. More deeply, the opposition party that persuades the public government can solve all their problems, discovers once in power there are problems their government cannot solve.

Alas, it will take more time than they have to learn the next lesson: that governments which try to solve the insoluble, more or less invariably, make each problem worse. ...

In so many ways, the trend of post-Christian society today is back to pagan superstitions: to the belief that malice lies behind every misfortune, and to the related idea that various, essentially pagan charms can be used to ward off that to which all flesh is heir. The belief that, for instance, laws can be passed, that change the entire order of nature, is among the most irrational of these.
His article can be read here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

the decline of close male friendship

I was sent a very interesting article in Touchstone. Here's an excerpt and link...

We still have the word “friendship,” and we still have something of the reality, but it is distant, dilute, bloodless. For modern American men, friendship is no longer forged in the heat of battle, or in the dust of the plains as they drive their herds across half a continent, or in the choking air of a coalmine, or even in the cigar smoke of a debating club.

That is partly because our lives, for better and for worse, no longer involve the risk and the sweat that was the cement of deep friendship. No man will help hew the oaks for our cabin, because we no longer live in cabins. No man will stand by as we jump overboard to set the trawling net, because we have no boat and set no net; we live too comfortably for that. Under such fortunate circumstances, we need all the more the camaraderie and intellectual risk of the club.

But gentlemen’s clubs have vanished or have been sued out of existence. (The Citadel is not the Citadel, as the woman lawyer who sued it to death herself admitted, unwittingly and with amazing intellectual amnesia; on Monday arguing that her client wanted the same experience the young men then enjoyed, and after her victory on Tuesday crowing that a student’s experience at the Citadel would now be forever changed.) More than ever do men need to come together to eat and drink and argue and think, because more than ever their work separates them from each other; but now they are virtually forbidden to do so.

It is but more of the devastation wrought by the sexual revolution. That we fail to see it as such is no surprise: Naturally, when we think of that recrudescence of paganism, we think first of its damage to the family and to relations between men and women. We think of divorce, pornography, unwed motherhood, abortion, and suicidally falling birthrates. But the sexual revolution has also nearly killed male friendship as devoted to anything beyond drinking and watching sports; and the homosexual movement, a logically inevitable result of forty years of heterosexual promiscuity and feminist folly, bids fair to finish it off and nail the coffin shut.
Read "A Requiem for Friendship: Why Boys Will Not Be Boys & Other Consequences of the Sexual Revolution" by Anthony Esolen


Friday, June 4, 2010

The Al and Tipper we didn't know

Psychology Today blogger and marriage therapist William J. Doherty writes,

"They were the baby boomer couple who could. At first sad, I became mad when I read their non-explanation of the divorce: they had come to a 'mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration.' ... Is this little whimper all that a 40-year marriage with children and grandchildren is worth? Sports teams and their home cities show more grief and anger when teams leave for better stadiums and tax benefits."

His article is worth reading: "Al and Tipper: We Hardly Knew Ye"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

prof-isms

Howard Hendricks has retired after 60 years of classroom teaching at Dallas Seminary. This Kindred Spirit article includes many of the "prof-isms" I heard from him too...

"You are able to do many things. But be sure you find the one thing you must do."

"There’s no one without significant creative potential."

"You never graduate from the school of discipleship."

"If God had said to me, 'I’ll give you another course,’ I would have said, 'Let’s make it an elective.'”

"Heaven is a person: Jesus."

"If you’re just like someone else, we don’t need you."

"How big is your God? The size of your God determines the size of everything."

"There’s no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking. Creativity takes risk. The people who are most secure in Jesus Christ shouldn’t be scared to try new things."

"You cannot impart what you do not possess."

"The teacher has not taught until the student has learned. "






Nehemiah cared about the poor

Here's a good post from Brigada's Back Page...

In addition to this role of advocacy, which was mainly a ministry of words, Nehemiah also followed through with action for the poor. For example, because of his position of power (as acting governor), he must have been provided with quite a dinner spread. In fact, the Bible says that in those days, the governor of Jerusalem was typically served a meal hearty enough for 150 hungry eaters!

Rather than gorge on the feast at what was left at the Jerusalem palace, he would typically invite 150 common folks over for dinner each day. These were hungry people. They would enjoy a fine spread, fit for a king, and — all the while — Nehemiah would apparently just quickly pack up a sandwich and head back to the work on the wall, his driving dream (vs. 14-16).

With his head and heart in the right place, and his hands and feet at the right work, it’s no wonder that Nehemiah led his volunteers to finish the work on the wall (6:15-16). There really isn’t a lot of fanfare.

Apparently, Nehemiah didn’t even organize the proverbial ribbon-cutting. Instead, he just helped everyone focus on the fact that it was only due to God’s power that they had overcome the odds. He talks the townspeople into returning to rebuild their homes (Chap. 7), then organizes a big worship service (Chap. 8). What a fitting end to a challenging project! The people confess their sin (Chap. 9), then sign a covenant for purity and focus, thereby rededicating themselves to God. Nehemiah turned a hands-on project into heart-on worship.

And after all this… the successful rebuilding of the wall, the refocusing of the city of Jerusalem, and a grand re-dedication for Israel the nation-state, how does the book of Nehemiah close out? With Nehemiah still praying, “Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services” (13:14). It closes with him still advocating for purity and holiness (13:15-22). It closes with him standing up for what was fair and honest (13:23-31). It closes with Nehemiah praying one, simple, one-line prayer: “Remember me with favor, O my God.”

Somehow, I have a hunch that He did.