Friday, June 30, 2006

Spiritual Uniqueness...

Unity within the Body of Christ is achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit and not through uniformity. It's amazing how many Scriptures I'm discovering that emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in the unity of the church. For example, in my quiet time this morning (it's anything but quiet!), I saw in Philipians 2:1, "Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose" (NLT). Included in Paul's call to unity is a rhetorical question, "Is there any fellowship in the Spirit?". The obvious answer is, "Yes!--there is fellowship in the Spirit!". There is unity in the Spirit! Uniformity is all about conformity and leads to legalistic exclusivity. True unity is all about spiritual diversity and leads to gracious inclusivity.

I will be preaching 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 this weekend emphasizing that, "God wants you to be you!" Here is a quick overview of the text:
  • Collectively, we are the whole Body of Christ (v27).
  • Individually, we are members of the Body of Christ (v27).
  • Strategically, we are placed in the Body of Christ (v28).
  • Uniquely, we are used by the Body of Christ (v29-30).
  • Motivationally, we build up the Body of Christ (v31).
  • Ideally, we love the Body of Christ (v31).

Don't forget that all of this is in the context of Spiritual Giftings. Our unique abilities are blended together in the Holy Spirit to produce a really tasty spiritual smoothy. Even though God wants you to be you--it's still not about you!

Here's a good idea of what it means to allow God to build up the body through love. Dr. Walter Lacey in a book entitled, "Empowering Church Volunteers...To Develop A Passion for Service" says that we empower others for service in primarily four ways:

  1. We empower by letting someone who may be less-skilled do a job that we are very good at.
  2. We empower by recognizing potential and allowing skill development.
  3. We empower by intentionally spending time with others.
  4. We empower by letting go of control and authority.

Your greatest ministry may in fact be the ministry that you give away! To be sure--they will not do it the way that you would. Can you love enough to give up control? Are you filled with the Spirit in order to be able to love? Don't forget..."The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace..." (Galatians 5:22-23).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Extra Innings?

This one's hard to believe...but it seems that you can now get your favorite Major League Baseball team's logo on your casket when you die. According to Eternal Images, Inc's website, "Eternal Image is authorized reproduce the names and logos of all 30 major league teams on a new line of caskets and urns. The products are in the development phase and delivery is planned for 2007. . . This new line of team-specific funeral products opens a whole new market for our company – a market that is just waiting for a way to make team loyalty a ‘final' statement of a great passion in their lives." Amazing! If you go to the trouble of getting a MLB casket than it seems to me that you might want to plan to die in October--might as well make the World Series on your way out!

You can check out the website for Eternal Images at

I first saw this story at Tim Ellsworth's blog located at

Good News for Colorado Baptists!

I spent a very productive morning yesterday at the Colorado Baptist General Convention office meeting with four others, as part of a Task Force, discussing the form and function of our CBGC Executive Board. After more than three hours of discussion, I made the journey home from Denver feeling very energized and excited about the future of our state convention. Be encouraged Colorado Baptists--we have glorious future before us!

The Task Force was put together to take a look at the possible need to reorganize our Executive Board for better stewardship and effectivness. We currently have 46 board members who meet three times a year at a cost $28,237.30. We have one of the largest boards of any of the state conventions in the West. Keep in mind that many of our board members have to drive more than a days journey just to be at the meetings. The convention provides mileage, housing, and food for the board members during the meetings. Are we making the best use of convention dollars in terms of effectiveness? Probably not. Is the time of our board members being used effectively? Probably not.

The Task Force is working on an extremely positive recommendation that will be brought to the Executive Board in September and then on the state convention in October. Work is still being done on the recommendation but "right-sizing" the board (a Navy term for downsizing) is very likely to be included as well as transitioning into a "Carver model". The idea is for the board to focus on the big picture (ends) and to allow the staff to focus on the details (means). You can read a brief overview of the Carver model here: It actually provides higher accountability for the state staff than we currently have (eliminates rubber-stamping) and brings true function to the board. Ok...I can see that your eyes are starting to glaze over...

One of the most exciting aspects of the reorganization that we discussed is the possibility of having the elected convention officers serve as officers of the Executive Board. Currently the conventions officers are hardly more than figure-heads with little authority. Wouldn't it be great if the President of the convention actually led the convention? I don't want to say too much because we don't have a final recommendation yet. Just be encouraged that some great ideas are being discussed.

Please feel free to post a question or make a comment. The Task Force is very interested in the thoughts of Colorado Baptists.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Spiritual Vitality

I am recovering "people-pleaser" who has spent much of his life in search of the affirmation of my peers. A giant scar was carved into my heart when I experienced sexual abuse by a neighbor when I was just a small boy. Off and on throughout my childhood I experienced various periods of being picked on and bullied. The result has been a hunger within my heart to be accepted and approved. Unfortunately, the church is not always the best place to find unconditional acceptance...especially as a pastor. The temptation to perform and to please those I serve is a constant temptation for me. Critical words shoot through me like a powerful weapon blowing away whatever confidence I may have gained. My journey with Christ has involved much healing and the journey continues...

I say these things so that you will understand how hard it is for my heart to really believe that I am VITAL to the kingdom of God. All that I am, the good and the bad, has come together to make me useful in Kingdom service. And you are vital as well! Your importance to the Kingdom is outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:14-26.

Every believer is a VITAL to Kingdom effectiveness. You are . . .

V-ariety (v14-20): Read the text and you'll discover that the church is not made up of only one member (gift) but rather a variety of members, each of them uniquely gifted. The text declares that we don't choose our giftedness or the body to which we belong, but rather God places the gifts into the body. The potential of the body is obviously diminished when gifts are not used. You are vital to the kingdom's effectiveness because of your unique God-given gifts and abilities.

I-nspired (v18): God has placed you into the body just the way that He desires. You are a gift from God to your church. God has equipped you to do what perhaps no one else could. God has intentionally placed you in the church that He wishes to serve the people that he has chosen.

T-eam (v21-22): One gift cannot effectively serve individually without the other gifts that God has grouped together in the church. The weaker (unseen) gifts are often the most needed. Some commentators believe that Paul is speaking of internal organs (essential yet unseen). Some of the most important people in terms of kingdom effectiveness are quietly serving God behind the scenes. The greatest pastors are perhaps those nameless men who are sacrificially serving God in obscure places.

A-dorable (v23-24): The word "adorable" means to be worthy of adoration or honor. You are vital to the kingdom because God is choosing to honor those members (gifts) that are lacking honor. The unseen members receive the greatest honor by God precisely because they are hidden and unseen. If you are serving without honor...congratulations! God will honor you!

L-ove (v25-26): You are vital to the kingdom because of your love. Your love eliminates division within the body and your love provides care for the body. Your love allows you to rejoice with those who rejoice and to suffer with those who suffer.

Yes, as believers in Christ, bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus, you and I are VITAL to the kingdom. People-pleasing will always be problem for me but it's less of a problem when I remember my identity in Christ.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The SPIRIT Defined...

I began a quest sometime back to discover a good book to refer to a friend of mine who had cessasionist tendencies. In my internet search for a strong fundamentalist who believed that the sign gifts were still active--I made an amazing discovery. None other than John R. Rice--one of the fundamentalist fathers--had written an amazing work on the power and person of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Rice not only insists on the presence of the gifts but he rallies the church to seek to experience the evangelistic effectiveness that the gifts bring. Early in the book, he quotes Jesus from John 14:12, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father". Read Dr. Rice's commentary on the text:

"Here is a promise so great that few will believe it. Jesus Himself did all His mighty works in the power of the Holy Spirit. Now He tells the disciples that they may do exactly the same kind of work as He did. He does not make a single exception. He does not say that some of His miracles were too stupendous to be done by the hands of others. He does not say that the raising of the dead or the healing of the sick or the cleansing of the leper or the conversion of the drunkard and the harlot and infidel were too much for these disciples. No, He said plainly, 'He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.' And then He
added that they should do even greater works. Here is a startling teaching, but it is true. Jesus promised that the marvels, the power, the wonder of His own ministry might be repeated in the lives of multitudes of all who believed in Him. . . Oh Christian, believe it! God has for you blessings you have never claimed, power you have never used, an enduement you have never sought and found! And lest one should think that this promise was only for the twelve, or only for the Christians of apostolic times, Jesus made the promise clear. It is to him ' that believeth on me' that Jesus promised, 'The works that I do shall he do also.' (John R. Rice, The Power of Pentecost, 1949, Sword of the Lord Publishers, pp20-21).

Dr. Rice's book includes endorsements on the flyleaf by such powerhouses as, Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. Robert G. Lee, Dr. W.A. Criswell, and Dr. Oswald J. Smith.

Now with that said, I want to share a tool with you that I have taught my church concerning the Holy Spirit. I think that this acronym pretty well covers the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life.

The Holy Spirit is the . . .

S-eal of your Salvation (Ep. 4:30). The Holy Spirit is all the evidence that you need!

P-erfector of your Heart (Jn. 16:8). That why He is the "Holy" Spirit.

I-ntercessor (Rm. 8:26-27). Could there be a better prayer partner?

R-esource (1 Co. 12:7). The Spirit can do through you all that God can do.

I-nspiration (Jn. 16:7). He comforts and revives the downcast.

T-eacher (Jn. 14:26). Need to know something?--Ask Him!

"And in the churches today we might have the same wonderful manifestations of the power of God--the gifts of the Holy spirit to equip men for service, with prophecy and miracles and healings, as promised--if all God's people were taught to seek God's face and meet God's requirements to be filled with the Holy spirit in Bible fashion" (John R. Rice, p175).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Are You Going to Hell?

An interesting survey was recently conducted at Beliefnet to find out just what people thought about their eternal destiny. Of those surveyed, Just 55% of "born again" Christians believed that there was "no chance" that they would go to hell. The number are slightly worse for Roman Catholics with only 21% of them sharing the same convition. There are some humerous trends in the survy like the fact that liberals are more likely to believe that they are going to hell than conservatives. You can read a brief Newsweek article on the survey at

Now here is my problem: How is it possible that only 55% of Evangelical Christians are confident that they will not be going to hell? In other words, how can 45% of "born again" Christians not be sure of their eternal destiny? Have they never read, 1 John 5:13?, "I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life." I'm in the 55%--what about you? If you are not sure....check this out:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My Personal Prayer Guide...

I thought I would post something that has been very helpful to me in the area of personal prayer. Many years ago as a college student, I read Dick Eastman's, The Hour That Changes the World. It's a small book that outlines a prayer strategy that will allow you to be in prayer for an hour. I have tinkered with Eastman's system over the years and my own prayer guide has evolved. This is a great system that incorporates 12 different focuses of prayer. By spending 5 minutes on each area of prayer, you will pray for a total of an hour. I would encourage you to begin with just a minute or so on each prayer aspect and work your way up. Eventually you will find yourself very easily spending hours in prayer when you are able. It's just a system and it may not work for you. I have found it to be extremely beneficial in my own personal journey of prayer. Feel the freedom to linger longer in a segment or to move quickly on to another based on the Spirit's leadership. The goal is to intimately interact with God. He is in charge! Follow His lead! In addition to Eastman's book, I have also been greatly influenced by Richard Foster's book on Prayer, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home. I'm sure that you will find his thoughts included in the outline.

PRAISE--Begin your prayer by standing, lifting your hands and declaring all that God is. State outloud every name, description, and character trait that comes to mind. Personalize it! Get Excited! Shout and cheer!

WAITING--Get as comfortable as you can and bring your mind and spirit into a time of complete silence to the world. Think no thoughts but thoughts of love to God. Concentrate full attention on loving God with your whole being.

CONFESSION--Confess any specific sins you may be guilty of, either against God or your fellow man. Then invite the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal to you unconfessed sin. Listen carefully and then quickly repeat back to God everything that He brings to your mind.

SCRIPTURE PRAYING--Find a brief passage and begin to pray it back to God over and over again. You will probably memorize it. Personalize it for yourself. Apply the verse to situations in your life that God brings to mind.

DELIVERANCE--Become spiritually alert! Watch for the methods Satan may try to use to hinder your growth as a Christian. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal further spiritual facts about your needs. Ask for God's deliverance.

INTERCESSION--To intercede is to stand in someone's place. Get emotional about the people and things that you are concerned about. Feel their pain! Ask God for guidance as to how to pray for each specific need.

PETITION--Pray for your own needs.

THANKSGIVING--Thank God for everything that comes to mind. Move beyond words into an attitude of thanksgiving.

SINGING--Sing a hymn or a chorus outloud unto the Lord. Don't be shy! Sing loudly with a joyful heart.

MEDITATION--Consider in your mind what God is doing in your life. Ask God to show you the purpose of the events of your day. Ask God to accomplish His purposes.

LISTENING--Ask a question and then listen for an answer. What would you ask God if you knew that He was listening? He is listening--Ask! Be aware of scriptures that may come to mind in answer to your question. Write down any impressions that you may have so you don't forget them.

PRAISE--End your prayer as you began with joyful praise!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Valedictorian's Speech Censured

Brittany McComb intended to share her heart and her faith with her fellow students during graduation exercises at Foothill High School. In the 750-word unedited version of Brittany's speech, she made two references to the lord, nine mentions of God and one mention of Christ. School officials edited the speech to eliminate the "religious" references and warned Brittany that her microphone would be turned off if she deviated from the edited version of her speech. And that's exactly what happened! Brittany felt convicted to share the truth of her biggest influence--Jesus Christ, and consequently her mike was silenced.

Aren't we way across a line somewhere? The school district claims that they have the responsibilty to protect the audience from hearing religious talk and thus believing somehow that the school district is endorsing a particular religion. Come on! We all know that a speech by a student at graduation reflects their own personal views. Let's assume a worst case scenario....a satanist is giving glory to satan during a valedictory speech. Would I think that the school district is endorsing satanism? Would I try to silence the speech? I don't think so! I would feel pity for the student who is so obviously deceived but I would defend their right to speek their view during their speech. A student is not the school district.

Let's review for minute. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says this, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." It doesn't take a lawyer to figure this one out...congress is not allowed to make laws establishing a religion or restricting religion. So how do we get all the way from congress to a Nevada school district censuring a graduating senior? It seems to me that the Nevada school district in question crossed the line in censuring Brittany McComb. Her free exercise of religion has been prohibited and her freedom of speech has been abridged. What do you think?

See for more information on this story.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

An Incredible Father's Day Story...

I copied the following true story off of written from the pen of Stephen Saint:

For years, I'd thought Timbuktu was just a made-up name for "the ends of the earth." When I found out it was a real place in Africa, I developed aninexplicable fascination for it. It was in 1986 on a fact-finding trip toWest Africa for Missionary Aviation Fellowship that this fascination became an irresistible urge. Timbuktu wasn't on my itinerary, but I knew I had to go there. Once I arrived, I discovered I was in trouble. I'd hitched a ride from Bamako,Mali, 500 miles away on the only seat left on a Navajo six-seater air-plane chartered by UNICEF. Two of their doctors were in Timbuktu and might fly back on the return flight, which meant I'd be bumped, but I decided to take the chance. Now here I was, standing by the plane on the windswept outskirts of the famous Berber outpost. There was not a spot of true green any-where in the desolate brown Saharan land-scape. Dust blew across the sky, blotting out the sun as I squinted in the 110-degree heat, trying to make out the mud-walled buildings of the village of 20,000. The pilot approached me as I started for town. He reported that the doctors were on their way and I'd have to find another ride to Bamako. "Try the marketplace. Someone there might have a truck. But be careful," he said. "Westerners don't last long in the desert if the truck breaks down, which often happens." I didn't relish the thought of being stranded, but perhaps it was fitting that I should wind up like this, surrounded by the Sahara. Since I arrived in Africa the strain of the harsh environment and severe suffering of the starving peoples had left me feeling lost in a spiritual and emotional desert. The open-air marketplace in the center of town was crowded. Men and women wore flowing robes and turbans as protection against the sun. Most ofthe Berbers' robes were dark blue, with 30 feet of material in their turbans alone. The men were well armed with scimitars and knives. I felt eyes were watching me suspiciously. Suspicion was understandable in Timbuktu. Nothing could be trusted here. These people had once been prosperous and self-sufficient. Now even their land had turned against them. Drought had turned rich grasslands to desert. Unrelenting sun and windstorms had nearly annihilated all animal life. People were dying by the thousands. I went from person to person trying to find someone who spoke English, untilI finally came across a local gendarme who understood my broken French. "I need a truck," I said. "I need to go to Bamako." Eyes widened in his shaded face. "No truck," he shrugged. Then he added,"No road. Only sand." By now, my presence was causing a sensation in the marketplace. I was surrounded by at least a dozen small children, jumping and dancing, begging for coins and souvenirs. The situation was extreme, I knew. I tried to think calmly. What am I to do? Suddenly I had a powerful desire to talk to my father. Certainly he had known what it was like to be a foreigner in a strange land. But my father, Nate Saint, was dead. He was one of five missionary men killed by Auca Indians in the jungles of Ecuador in 1956. I was a month shy of my fifth birthday at the time, and my memories of him were almost like movie clips: a lanky, intense man with a serious goal and a quick wit. Hewas a dedicated jungle pilot, flying missionaries and medical personnel in his Piper Family Cruiser. Even after his death he was a presence in my life. I'd felt the need to talk with my father before, especially since I'd married and become a father myself. But in recent weeks this need had become urgent. For one thing, Iwas new to relief work. But it was more than that. I needed Dad to help answer my new questions of faith. In Mali, for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who didn't share my faith, who were, in fact, hostile to the Christian faith, locals and Western relief workers alike. In a way it was a parallel to the situation Dad had faced in Ecuador. How often I'd said the same thing Dad would have said among the Indians who killed him: "My God is real. He's a personal God who lives inside me, with whom I have a very special, one-on-one relationship." And yet the question lingered in my mind: Did my father have to die? All my life, people had spoken of Dad with respect; he was a man willing to die for his faith. But at the same time I couldn't help but think the murders were capricious, an accident of bad timing. Dad and his colleagues landed just as a small band of Auca men were in a bad mood for reasons that had nothing to do with faith or Americans. If Dad's plane had landed one day later, the massacre may not have happened. Couldn't there have been another way? It made little impact on the Aucas that I could see. To them it was just one more killing in a history of killings. Thirty years later it still had an impact on me. And now, for the first time, I felt threatened because of who I was and what I believed. "God," I found myself praying as I looked around the marketplace, "I'm in trouble here. Please keep me safe and show me a way to get back. Please reveal Yourself and Your love to me the way you did to my father. "No bolt of lightning came from the blue. But a new thought did come to mind. Surely there was a telecommunications office here somewhere; I could wire Bamako to send another plane. It would be costly, but I could see no other way of getting out. "Where's the telecommunications office?" I asked another gendarme. He gaveme instructions, then said, "Telegraph transmits only if station in Bamako has machine on, message goes through. If not,"he shrugged, "no answer evercomes. You only hope message received." Now what? The sun was crossing toward the horizon. If I didn't have arrangements made by nightfall, what would happen to me? This was truly the last outpost of the world. More than a few Westerners had disappeared in the desert without a trace. Then I remembered that just before I'd started for Timbuktu, a fellow worker had said, "There's a famous mosque in Timbuktu. It was built from mud in the 1500's. Many Islamic pilgrims visit it every year. But there's also a tiny Christian church, which virtually no one visits. Look it up if you get the chance." I asked the children, "Where is Eglise Evangelique Chretienne?" The youngsters were willing to help, though they were obviously confused about what I was looking for. Several times elderly men and women scolded them harshly as we passed, but they persisted. Finally we arrived, not at the church, but at the open doorway of a tiny mudbrick house. No one was home, but on the wall opposite the door was a poster showing a cross covered by wounded hands. The French subscript said, "and by His stripes we are healed." Within minutes, my army of waifs pointed out a young man approaching us in the dirt alleyway. Then the children melted back into the labyrinth of the walled alleys and compounds of Timbuktu. The young man was handsome, with dark skin and flowing robes. But there was something inexplicably different about him. His name was Nouh Af Infa Yatara; that much I understood. Nouh signaled he knew someone who could translate for us. He led me to a compound on the edge of town where an American missionary lived. I was glad to meet the missionary, but from the moment I'd seen Nouh, I'd had the feeling that we shared something in common. "How did you come to have faith?" I asked him. The missionary translated asNouh answered: "This compound has always had a beautiful garden. One day when I was a small boy, a friend and I decided to steal some carrots. It was a dangerous task. We'd been told that Toubabs [white men] eat nomadic children. Despite our agility and considerable experience, I was caught by the former missionary here. Mr. Marshall didn't eat me; instead, he gave me the carrots and some cards that had God's promises from the Bible written on them. He told me if I learned them, he'd give me an ink pen!" "You learned them?" I asked. "Oh, yes!" he exclaimed. "Only government men and the headmaster of theschool had a Bic pen! But when I showed off my pen at school, the teacher knew I must have spoken with a Toubab, which is strictly forbidden. He severely beat me." When Nouh's parents found out he had portions of such a despised book defiling their house, they threw him out and forbade anyone to take him in; nor was he allowed in school. But something had happened: Noah had come to believe that what the Bible said was true. Nouh's mother became desperate. Her own standing, as well as her family's, was in jeopardy. Finally she decided to kill her son. She obtained poison from a sorcerer and poisoned Noah's food at a family feast. Noah ate the food and wasn't affected. His brother, who unwittingly stole a morsel of meat from the deadly dish, became violently ill and remains partially paralyzed. Seeing God's intervention, the family and the town's people were afraid to make further attempts on his life, but condemned him as an outcast. After sitting a moment, I asked Nouh the question that only hours earlier I'd wanted to ask my father: "Why is your faith so important to you that you're willing to give up everything, perhaps even your life?" "I know God loves me and I'll live with Him forever," he replied. "I know it! Now I have peace where I used to be full of fear and uncertainty. Who wouldn't want to give up everything for this peace and security?" "It couldn't have been easy for you as a teenager to take a stand that made you despised by the whole community," I said. "Where did your courage come from?" "Mr. Marshall couldn't take me in without putting my life in jeopardy. So he gave me some books about other Christians who'd suffered for their faith. My favorite was about five young men who willingly risked their lives to take God's good news to stoneage Indians in the jungles of South America." His eyes widened as he continued. "I've lived all my life in the desert. How frightening the jungle must be! The book said these men let themselves be speared to death, even though they had guns and could have killed their attackers!" The missionary translator said, "I remember the story. As a matter of fact, one of those men had your last name." "Yes," I said quietly, "the pilot was my father." "Your father?" Nouh cried. "The story is true?" "Yes," I said, "it's true." The missionary and Nouh and I talked through the afternoon. When they accompanied me back to the airfield that night, we found that the doctors weren't able to leave Timbuktu after all, and there was room for me on theUNICEF plane. As Nouh and I hugged each other, it seemed incredible that God loved us so much that He'd arranged for us to meet "at the ends of the earth." Nouh and I had gifts for each other that no one else could give. I gave him the assurance that the story that had given him courage was true. He, in turn, gave me the assurance that God had used Dad's death for good. Dad, by dying, had helped give Nouh a faith worth dying for. And Nouh, in return, had helped give Dad's faith back to me.

Friday, June 16, 2006

What is the Secret to Unity?

What is the secret to a unified church? How can we keep disagreements from ruining our peace? The answer is in verses 12 and 13 of 1 Corinthians 12.

"For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."

To begin with...understand that unity is not uniformity! The human body is one and yet reflects many different and unique parts. No, unity does not begin with begins remarkably...with diversity! A baseball team is made up of different positions who play together as a team. Their unity develops when they learn to appreciate the differing position skills that each of them possesses. They learn to depend upon each other and their unique skills in order to succeed. It wouldn't make sense for the pitcher to throw the ball home and then quickly run home to catch it. A pitcher needs a catcher! Unity needs diversity! Unity in the church, in the family, and even in the denomination requires something quite different than simply uniform doctrine, gifts, or worship style. We need the Holy Spirit!!

Our differences (Jews, Greeks, Slaves, Free, Old, Young, Calvinits, Armenian, Baptist, Methodist, etc) are insignificant once we are baptized by the Spirit into the Body. It is the Holy Spirit that distinguishes between a believer and an unbeliever and gives us a common union. Our unity is not found in common doctrine but in common Spirit! That doesn't mean that doctrine is not important--just not essential! Unity based solely on doctrine morphs into legalism. They'll know we are Christians not by our beliefs (after all, we know only in part) but by our love. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. Paul said, "You think that everyone should agree with your perfect knowledge. While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church."

What is the secret to unity? Invite the Holy Spirit to saturate your life...and then find a catcher to throw the ball to!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A New Day in the SBC...

The Southern Baptist Convention has been meeting this week in North Carolina and it has been quite different from previous conventions. The national SBC has gradually developed sort-of-a status quo inner circle that has maintained control of the organization for many years. In the past pre-selected nominees are put forward for key leadership and are rubber-stamped by the convention. This year, due in large part to SBC bloggers, the convention has passed over the "official" nominee and has elected a relatively unknown pastor to serve as president--Frank Page. It's always refreshing to bring new leadership and perspectives into an organization like the SBC. In recent years, our national denomination has not been accomplishing its purpose quite as effectively as it might and it has become pretty political some of its leadership seeming to be primarily focused on keeping a strangle hold on power. Several bloggers have done a wonderful job of reporting about the convention. If you are interested you can read more about the convention at Art Rogers blog: All of the convention sessions are archived at It would be well worth your time to go and watch the Wednesday morning session when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice spoke to the convention. I found her speech to be extremely inspiring. There is some music at the beginning of the clip that you can fast forward through to get to Dr. Rice's comments. Following the applause at the end of the speech...the crowd breaks out into "God Bless America".

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What I'm Reading...

I am always reading several books at any time. Here is what I'm reading right now:

The Power of Pentecost or the Fullness of the Spirit, John R. Rice, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1949. This is a surprisingly strong treatment of the Holy Spirit by one of the fathers of the fundamentalist movement. The surprise is that John Rice is neither a dispensationalist nor a cessassionist.

The Mystery of the Holy Spirit, R.C. Sproul, Tyndale House Publishers, 1990. I picked this one up at the bookstore because I am soaking up anything that I can get my hands on concerning the Holy Spirit right now and because my good friend Ken Datson is enamoured with R.C. Sproul.

The Search for Significance, Robert S. McGee, W Publishing Group, 1998. This is my second time through McGee's book. I'm a recovering "people-pleaser" and I am always in need of a reminder of the fact that I'm accepted by God and that His is the only opinion of me that matters.

Leadership. This is a journal with a focus on leadership within the church. The articles are always practical and relevant but the best thing about Leadership is the cartoons. You can check out articles (and cartoons) for free at their website:

The Two Year Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, 2001. This is the absolute best way that I have ever found to be in the Word every day. Each day contains biblical passages from the OT, NT, Psalms, and Proverbs, spread out in such a way as to get you through the entire Bible in two years. There is also a One Year Bible that I have used for many years but I have found the Two Year Version to be much better for people like me with "ADD".

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Welcome to My Blog...

Welcome to my blog. This is a brand new form of communication for me that I'm very excited about. Blogging is sweeping the world as a new way to communicate effectively beyond the restraint of normal media. One advantage of blogging is that it is limitless in terms of who and how far it can reach. Anyone...from anywhere in the world...can stumble upon this blog and read the posted thoughts. A second advantage is the ability that I have through this medium to share personal thoughts that I would not normally be able to share as a pastor. For example...I cannot endorse political candidates as a pastor...but I certainly can as a personal blogger. A third benefit is the ability to dialogue about absolutely anthing that may come up. Through the blog we can have conversations and learn from each other. It will take me awhile to figure how to utilize this medium in the most productive way so be patient with me.