June 16, 2009

What I'm Reading

A lot of my students are amazed that I read. I know it sounds weird, but there is a whole generation who has sort of been turned off to books. As a result, I've found myself becoming a champion of reading for these students. I encourage them to frequent blogs (the good ones, not just any old blog) as well as actually picking up a book & reading it. So I get asked a good bit about what I'm reading, so here's a list of what I'm reading now & what I've recently finished.

From the Bible, I'm currently reading through Judges & Proverbs. I just finished reading through Luke. Luke has some amazing attention to detail in his Gospel.

Otherwise I'm reading through a couple of books. I just started The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis yesterday. Like a lot of stuff by Lewis, I'm having to take it slow & really digest what he's saying, but it's a timely read. Much of it focuses on how education is eroding, sometimes intentionally, sometimes inadvertently, values that were once considered universal. I'm also doing some reading in a little book I found called The Daily Sacrifice by H.A. Ironside, a pastor, teacher, & author from the early 20th century. The book is a simple devotion book for each day of the year. It caught my attention because I remember my pastor referring to Ironside when I was a kid in church. I just finished reading 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. Good stuff from the leadership guru. I also just re-read Visioneering. I read this book every year; it's that pivotal.

In the blog world, there are a few people I read practically everyday. First, Mark Batterson. Mark's blog is a good mix of personal stuff, spiritual insights, & leadership tips. Mark is a voice that I listen closely to. Also, Perry Noble. I always know I'm going to get unfiltered, honest opinions & insights from Perry, & we all need someone like that. I also regularly check in with people like Anne Jackson, Steven Furtick, & Tony Morgan.

If you haven't picked up these books check them out. If you're not gleaning from others through blogs, start checking out the web for people from whom you can learn.

What are you guys reading? What blogs do you follow? How do you discipline yourself to learn from others?

June 15, 2009

Is Our Biggest Missions Target Already In The Church?

We just returned from camp with our students a little over a week ago. One of the great things that God did during our week at camp was to reveal himself to many of our students as well as reveal to them that while they had "walked an aisle & prayed a prayer", they did not understand the Gospel. I heard this phrase over & over: "I got baptized because I knew I was supposed to." Thankfully, God got the attention of these students & helped them really understand the Gospel & their desperate need for a Savior.

That got me thinking though. I wonder how many people are in our churches who are in the same boat as these teenagers were. How many adults sit in our churches & serve in our churches, yet they are not believers? Yes, they've been baptized but they have not been saved. This reminded me of what Perry Noble has said many times. Perry reminds us that a big target of Jesus' teaching ministry was the "church crowd". I'm afraid Perry is more accurate than he even knows. I'm afraid that many of our church members are not members of the body of Christ. And like the Pharisees & other religious people of Jesus' day, they are too proud or embarrassed to admit it to themselves, to God, or anybody else. I'm thankful that these teenagers were humble enough to admit their need & to run to Christ with it. It's my prayer that they will be a witness to the ones who fill our churches each week who do not know Christ.

What can we do in our ministries to address this problem within our churches?

June 10, 2009

The Unlikely American Idol

Because of summer camp for our students & our teaching focus for the summer, I've been doing a lot of reading in the book of Judges. Yes, the book of Judges. In the story of Gideon we see God asking Gideon to tear down the idols of his father's home & village & to replace them with an altar. The question that obviously comes to mind is this: "What idols do you & I need to tear down?"

As I thought about that, I came to the realization that for many Americans their idol(s) is their children. That may sound out of left field, but I stand by that observation. The thing about this idol is that it takes on multiple forms. On one end of the spectrum you have parents who have idolized their children by making their life goal the happiness of their children. That usually leads to spoiled, obnoxious teenagers who quickly become spoiled, obnoxious adults. The other end of the spectrum is the parent who has idolized their child by mapping out every detail of the child's life. In the process they fail to lay their child on the altar asking God to bless the child & to lead the child into the plan that God has for the young man or woman.

In Gideon's story, the destroyed idols become a part of the sacrifice on the new altar. In my life & in the life of many American parents, we need to place our children into God's hands & allow Him to lead them. As parents, we want a safe, secure, predictable future for our kids, but following God always involves faith & therefore, risk. We must take the thing that we've made an idol, give it back to God & allow Him to work out His will in their lives.

What are the idols in your life that need to be torn down? How could those idols be re-prioritized in a way that God could actually use them for His glory & Kingdom?