Friday, September 28, 2007

How Far Is Too Far?

We're participating with a group (Faith Comes By Hearing)that's trying to get the Bible into places where even written languages haven't come yet. They use technology to take the spoken word to people groups that haven't yet been reached by the worthwhile efforts of Wycliffe or SIL translators.

Their September 12th press release said that:

Faith Comes By Hearing is releasing Audio Bibles in seven additional languages, bringing the total number of languages with Bible recordings to 260. Faith Comes By Hearing and its partners are working to offer Audio New Testaments in 2,000 of the world’s 6,809 languages by the year 2016.

I'm convinced those folks are like the offensive linemen of evangelism, getting the Bile into the "heart language" of people so they can hear of God's love for them. It costs $948 to translate one book of the Bible and get it into MP3.

This morning, I get an email from Thomas Nelson publishers touting their newest offering...... drum roll please!

The Nelson Designer Series Giant Print Bible

Now there is a Giant Print Bible that is a perfect gift for the women in your life. This Designer Series New King James Bible has center-column references, self-pronouncing text, topical running heads, messianic prophecies with stars, 8 pages of maps, and a concordance.

And it's only $39.95 in the Thomas Nelson exclusive New King James Version.

While I have nothing against Thomas Nelson, the NKJV, or even "women's versions", at what point will we realize that getting the Bible to people who don't have it is far more important than another design on the cover?

The marketing of Bibles in this way is approaching the gagging point.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


It was Monday, the day when we catch up on everything we didn't have time for during the weekend and oh yeah, rest. Bunny and I were out and about - in Destin, then across to Ft Walton Beach, winding up at a craft store. We bumped into a lady who was parked in front of the wall of yarn, which happened to be on sale. She had a dozen or so skeins of yarn in her arms and was looking like she needed help, so I offered to go get her a buggy.

"No, if I have a buggy I will fill it. I'm trying to limit myself."

We had a good laugh over that, and true to her word, I saw the same lady at the check out with no more yarn than she could carry.

Don't you do that too?

I've seen (and been) people who limit their food intake by saying "I'll only get one plate full", and then defy all the laws of physics in attempting to get a metric ton of food on that platter.

I wonder if we do that with love too.

Set limits, I mean.

One of the things I love most about Jesus is that He never did that.

The rich young ruler comes up and smugly insists that he has kept ALL the commandments since he was a young boy. Yeah, right.

21 Jesus felt genuine love for this man as he looked at him. Mark 10:21 (NLT)

Jesus then asks him to live those commandments out, not just observe them, by giving everything he owns to the poor and come follow.

22 The man's face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go. Mark 10:22 (MSG)

The young man had decided beforehand just how much he would love Jesus. When Jesus saw what the man needed in order to unleash a real love for God and for others, His words pegged the man's limits.

What about you?

What if the place God has you now is what He would use to expand your limits?
What if those people you cannot stand to be around are there precisely because God wants you to drop your rights for His righteousness?
What if all those "hateful" people you see on TV are there to help you realize that God will tolerate no hate in you?

Are there limits to your love?


David Wilson

Monday, September 24, 2007

Well, it _is_ the blues

"Yes, I'm gonna get me religion, I'm gonna join the Baptist Church/ You know I wanna be a Baptist preacher, just so I won't have to work" — Son House, "Preachin' the Blues"

uh, don't know when that was true

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Can You Reach Seekers and Be Missional?

One of the great concerns as I lead our folks out from the mother ship and into those strange new worlds of our neighborhoods, the offices, and the places we live is whether or not the emphasis on pushing the main thing away from the Sunday morning gathering and into everyday life will decrease our effectiveness at reaching seekers.

Yes, I do lose sleep over things like this.

My however many years I have left mission is to reach people for Christ. If I'm not seeing our church being more effective in that, no matter how many disciples we have becoming more mature, we've missed the point.

So I look for people who are successfully pulling off both and shamelessly steal from their ideas. Here, Bob Roberts Jr. gives great insight into pulling it off. Read the article. Print it out and give it to your leadership. Put his ideas into practice along with your own.

Then write me and tell me what they are so I can steal them too.

We distributed the New Testament on CD Sunday morning to everyone who would take a copy. The idea behind it is to spend the next 40 days going through the NT. If a person devotes just 28 minutes a day, the goal can be reached. So I started the Mp3 in iTunes yesterday as I studied for tonight's teaching.

Listening to the way Matthew paints his picture of Jesus and His ministry was really interesting. Not pouring over the text in a Bible like I usually do, I was forced to slow down and listen. It played all afternoon.

I love hearing about Jesus - what He did, and especially who He is. And listening as the disciples tried to figure Him out and understand His Kingdom mission was cool too.

So I'm rolling along, enjoying the scenery, and I get to this:

21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem, and he told them what would happen to him there. He would suffer at the hands of the leaders and the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and he would be raised on the third day.

22 But Peter took him aside and corrected him. "Heaven forbid, Lord," he said. "This will never happen to you!"

23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God's." Matt 16:21-23 (NLT)


Ah, Peter. As we say in the South, "God bless him." He wanted to do right, but it just wasn't in his nature to do right for too long. He just couldn't grasp the concept of living life with God at the core.

I was reading about computer hard drives yesterday, comparing features, speed, etc., then I came across a pretty important measurement that I had forgotten about.

Mean Time Between Failures

Yep, every hard drive is going to fail. Not a question of if, but when. So the manufacturers rate the average time each hard drive goes between a catastrophic failure and let you know up front. Obviously you want to choose one that's expected to go a long time before it crashes.

Peter's mean time between failures was pretty short back then. But turn over to the book of Acts and you'll see a different person emerge - a man of boldness and purpose, who is firmly in the center of God's will. Sure he still has "glitches", but he's God's man, looking at life through the eyes of the heart of God.

The difference? The Holy Spirit.

Friends, a life totally surrendered to God - living in the wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit - will reduce your "mean time between failures" just as it did for Peter. Won't you decide right now to stop living for yourself and turn everything in and about your life to Jesus?

I can't wait to see what great things God is going to do. (And hear about what He did!)



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

They listened to his heart.
Little - less - nothing! - and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

(from Out, out, by Robert Frost)

It's the anniversary of one of the worst events to befall my generation. The attacks on America that beautiful day in September were a shock to our collective soul. For a while, we rallied - uniting as a people against the hate that would drive some to spend their life's blood as casually as a coin tossed in a fountain. For a time, we cared - cared about those killed, cared about those wounded, cared about doing something about the evil that spawned such hate.

For a while we stepped back and considered just how brief a life we have.

We even thought about God.

Then, since we weren't personally affected, we went back to the mall, back to you tube and MySpace, back to our American lives.

Because life goes on.
Because that's what we do.
Because it's hard to focus on what really matters and exclude the trivial.

That's not a new development.

19 As they left, a religion scholar asked if he could go along. "I'll go with you, wherever," he said. 20 Jesus was curt: "Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know." 21 Another follower said, "Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father's funeral to take care of." 22 Jesus refused. "First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life." Matt 8:19-22 (MSG)

Harsh, isn't it?

You'd have to look further into the culture to realize that what's happening here is that the religion scholar wants to place a down payment on salvation rather than putting himself fully into Jesus' care. His father almost certainly wasn't dead - grieving people did not go to public gatherings like this one. His father might have lived for 10-20 more years.

Jesus was challenging the man to decide right now to follow Him - no hesitation - nothing held back. He wanted the man 100% personally invested in a changed life.

Jesus first today. Jesus first tomorrow. Jesus first everyday of your life.

Can you do that?

It goes against everything this culture tells you - against everything you've learned. You've been trained to be superficial.

Decide to follow Him. Not just one time down the church's aisle, but everyday.

For without Jesus, you are dead.

Harsh isn't it.

But oh so true.



How we're seen, how do we see?

There are so many people I love, who don't love Jesus. They range from folks I admire from afar who may be standouts in their field of work, to people I bump up against as I go my way, to people I'm close to and know me intimately.

And as I pray, and as I ache for them to know Jesus, I am vaguely conscious that not only are we inhabiting parallel universes - me in the Christ-centered life(with all my flaws and failures in following it) and they in theirs, and not only are we at times talking past each other - but when I look at the church and they look at the church, we see radically different things.

An article today in Relevance examines a recent Barna Group survey of how the church is viewed (particularly by young unchurched Americans, but it also lists other group's reactions).

For me, it makes me want to lead New Hope to be even more outwardly focused and to try to infuse within the DNA of every NewHopian a keen understanding of the role of grace in the life of a follower of Jesus.

The questions the article ends with are valid, and I repost them here.

The church needs to stop being “in your face” and start focusing on service, sacrifice, humility, and grace.

Ask yourself these three questions:

1. Are we cultivating a heart for outsiders?
2. What kind of Jesus are we to outsiders?
3. How can we become know as true Christ followers?

My greatest fear in this life is that I would let my representation of Jesus be so twisted from His example of grace and truth that someone might turn away from a relationship with God because of me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Searchers

It's been five days now, since adventurer Steve Fossett took off from a private airstrip near his home and disappeared. The area in Nevada that it's presumed he may have crashed in is so remote and so rugged that the only way to really search it is from the air. So planes, helicopters, and even satellite imagery are being used in an effort to find Steve.

Last night, I got an email from Amazon asking me if I'd like to help. Since I'm a tech geek, I signed up for their "Mechanical Turk" program that essentially keeps you in the loop on new technical advances. So I guess since Steve Fossett is someone who has contributed greatly to those advances, the folks at Amazon are counting him as one of their own and enlisting everyone they can - even people thousands of miles away - to find the lost by pouring over Google maps images of the search area..

Whatever it takes. Reminded me of another search party.

1 By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. 2 The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, "He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends." 3 Their grumbling triggered this story.
4 "Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? 5 When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, 6 and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, 'Celebrate with me! I've found my lost sheep!' 7 Count on it— there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue. Luke 15:1-7 (MSG)

They can count me in.

I come from a long line of people who know what it's like to be lost, and who are trying to follow the example of Jesus, who left everything to find sinners like me and bring them home.

Grace and peace,


Friday, September 07, 2007

Moses Has A Bad Day

There was a book I read a few years ago, a children's book called " Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" . In it the authors presented a day in the life of Alexander, a young boy whose day just turned out badly.

It happens to all of us.

And how we react can help us get a grip on just how much we reflect the character of God.

1 In early spring the people of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh. While they were there, Miriam died and was buried.
2 There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people blamed Moses and said, "We wish we had died in the LORD's presence with our brothers! 4 Did you bring the LORD's people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? 5 Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, figs, grapes, or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!"

Num 20:1-5 (NLT)

Moses buried his sister Miriam at the place when his greatest disappointment as a leader had taken place. Kadesh was where the people of Israel refused to trust God to deliver the promised land to them. So God sent them away, into the wilderness for 38 years.

During that time frame, Moses has heard an unending murmur of criticism and rebellion from the people. He had interceded with God again and again for them. And today was just another Groundhog day, as the people complained like they had the day before. At least he could go to God and know that God would be mad at the people too.


Moses and Aaron went to meet with God. His glorious presence appeared and instead of wrath, God granted the people's request. Instead of affirming Moses, God told him to go and bless the people with water for themselves and their livestock. Moses wasn't pleased. He did as he was told, but can you tell anything about his attitude from what he said once he assembled the people?

"Listen, you rebels!" he shouted. "Must we bring you water from this rock?" Num 20:10 (NLT)

Uh, Moses. "We?"

Got a frog in your pocket? Big Queen Elizabeth fan? Too big for the little people?

God is the author of miracles, not Moses. He alone deserves the glory. Then Moses compounds his error by not speaking to the rock, but striking it with his staff. The people never realized Moses had sinned. They got their water and God got the glory. But Moses knew that he had deliberately disobeyed God.

Because of Moses' actions that day, he was prevented from going with his people to the promised land. Sounds harsh, doesn't it.

But really, Moses left God's presence that day and decided he'd do what God told him, but he'd do it his own way. Did the people deserve God's grace? NO. They were classic gripers and complainers sired by a previous generation of gripers and complainers.

Here's the deal though.

Where God gives grace, we cannot decide to "fix things" and deal with the people who don't deserve it - our way. There's only one way to obey God, and that's to obey His instructions.

When we have a bad day, when we are stressed, stretched and strained to our limits - we do NOT get a free pass from God. He expects us to obey when every thing's going well, and obey when everything is not.

And even though people might see us doing things that would seem to say that we are a person following Jesus closely, our heart and attitude may very well reveal that we aren't doing them for God at all, but for the praise of people.

Moses had an opportunity that day to show that God was Holy, set apart, beyond all human ability. Instead of pronouncing God's grace, he shouted in his anger, and assumed credit that wasn't his.

It was a bad day for Moses.

So how do we guard against such behavior?

On those days when you are being pushed to your limit, by work, by people, by whatever - pray!!! pray for God's peace, for His heart, for His wisdom. If you look at the situation and see it as beyond your ability to bear, then confess that weakness to God and let His strength flow through you.

Moses was a person just like we are, with a faith that had to fight it's way through everyday life. He had lots of successes in his walk with God, but on this one day he let his own emotions lead him out of God's will.

Guard your heart friends. Guard your heart.



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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Butterfly Effect

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. 17 This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us...

1 John 4:16-17 (MSG)

Chaos theorists (yes there really are people like that, academically, and then there are parents of multiple children) see the universe as a series of random occurrences that form a whole. The "Butterfly Effect" is the idea that one event, though insignificant by itself, can effect change due to its impact on other events.

I see that happen all the time.

When one person cares.

Today I saw a young Mother who was putting her infant into the baby seat in the rear seat of her SUV. As she moved her baby from stroller to seat, she paused and for a good 10 seconds, kissed it again and again, all the while smiling and telling the baby "do you know how much Mommy loves you?" Well it may be early for the baby to completely grasp that concept, but I'll bet he or she is well on the way - and this observer is there already. I doubt either will remember that brief interlude, but assuming it's only one of many that have occurred and that will occur - it will make a difference. It will influence change. It will have an impact far greater than that Mom ever imagined.

Her child will grow up knowing he is loved.

I got back to church, and I was still thinking about that incident as I'm walking out to change the sign. And how if everyone could just grasp how much God loves them - How He longs to have a relationship with them based on His love and our trust and obedience - oh what a difference it would make! There are so many little events around us that point to His goodness and His grace.

But too many are too busy to care, or too invested in the cult of self to ever admit they need a Savior. Still, people like ours here at New Hope, and other Christian churches throughout the world will keep on loving God and loving people, hoping that on some days, something we do will literally change the world.

Walking back from the sign, a Monarch butterfly flew by.

Made me smile.

First one I've seen this year. But it won't be the last, because this is the time of year when thousands of Monarchs are migrating to South America and come through here. So when you see one, you know - you can be sure - that many, many more are on their way.

What if random acts of kindness - of small acts done with great love - are like that?

What if your extra effort to care, or my going the extra mile to love could be the first of countless other expressions?

What if people got the idea that people who follow Jesus are loving, and kind, and what if they wanted to know why? We could tell them about Jesus and invite them along on the journey with Him.

Decide to be part of God's grand design - change the world.

Do something tomorrow, big or small, with great love.