Monthly Archives: January 2013

Why We Support our Crisis Pregnancy Center

Here are just a few of the reason the Eagle Heights Faith Family supports our local pregnancy (SLS):

  • SLS services 1000 to 1200 clients every year.
  • The majority of SLS clients are between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • In 2009, just over 50% of the abortion-minded clients chose life for their babies.

In the United States alone, the richest country in the history of the world that spends $13 billion a year on pet food, there are 3,700 abortions a day and 1.2 million abortions every year. Since 1973 our country has aborted over 50 million little persons. Mark this: We have aborted around one-seventh of the population of our country, and the crisis of abortion is even more daunting when you consider that every year there are 42 million abortions world-wide.

What then can we do? What can you do? It is such a massive problem and we have so little control over laws and the personal decisions people make. The answer is simple. With God’s energy and strength, we must do what we can – with what we have –  where we are. Doing nothing is doing something, and it is the worst something we can do.

We don’t need to start a ministry because one already exists. What we can do is join those who are already making a difference and help them help mothers, fathers and unborn babies. SLS offers us that partnership opportunity and we should join them in serving our city.

Here are some websites that you can look at to be further educated about life and abortion. I  do however warn that the Abort73 website is very graphic.  I insist though that the images need to be seen to understand what is really going on. I’m convinced that one of the reasons so many people have abortions or don’t take the time to care about the abortion issue  is that they just don’t know the truth about what is really going. I’m not saying the truth is easy or makes life less difficult, but ignoring it must be a crime of its own kind that leads to greater crimes against God and people. Look prayerfully:

The Local Church is not Just….

As is true with all organizations, it is easy for the church to drift from its purpose. The purpose of the church is to train and equip believers (Ephesians 4:9-16) to make disciples who proclaim Jesus and teach others to observe (obey) all that He commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). These disciples will have a certain flavor. They will be:

  • Transformed and Saved (2 Cor. 5:17). They will be different.
  • In process; fighting sin and growing in holiness (1 Peter 2:4-12 and 2 Cor. 5:14-21).
  • God centered and other-oriented. They will live for God’s glory and the good of others (Matthew 22:36-40).

This is what they church is to be about. This is what we should be after and long for as the local church.

In contrast, the local church must not just be a:

  • A pep club. “I feel good.”
  • A social club. “I feel connected.”
  • A country club. “I feel entitled.”
  • An event club. “I am involved.” But in what way and to what end?
  • A comedy club. “I feel entertained.” I like this. I don’t like that.
  • A book reading club. “I feel informed.”
  • A confessional club. “I feel better.” Conscience relieved.
  • And there are other incomplete ideas of what the church is about.

Please read me clearly on this; I’m not saying these things are bad, I’m just saying they must not be the ultimate standard of success.

Suppose being a part of a healthy church is like committing to a road trip: If you commit to climb in and buckle up for the journey you will likely experience a lot of sights, sounds and feelings. But if you get in and find a pile of CDs in the car, it doesn’t mean the car exists to play music. The car exists to reach a destination. It’s for transport, not entertainment – though you might be entertained along the way.

So it is with the church. We may in some form experience many of the notions above, taking on many topics and acts. We should care for others, disciple parents and a do many other good things. And experiencing these things may cause us to: feel good, be connected, involved, entertained and informed. But these are not our goals. These are not the purpose of the church.

We must be governed by God’s word, not our likes or feelings – however hard that may be.

A Prayer For Gospel Growth

Our Heavenly Father –  through Jesus the Son –  by the power of the Holy Spirit, I ask that You would:

  • Transform and Save people from their selfish sin by faith in Christ alone (2 Cor. 5:15, 16-17, 21; 1 Pet. 2:9-10; Eph. 2:8-9). 
  • Continue to transform into the likeness of Christ those whom you have saved (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Pet. 2:11; Eph. 2:10).
  • Grant boldness to go into the world and proclaim Jesus to others, fulfilling the Great Commission (2 Cor. 5:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9, 12; Matt. 28:29-20).

Lord, do what you want to do in me and through me; for your glory, the good of others and my joy! Amen!

8 Action Steps for 2013

I’ve been stewing on some 2013 resolutions for several weeks now and I have decided to make some of them known for the help of public accountability and perhaps to help others take needed action steps. Additionally I want to put into practice some ideas I recently blogged about (Being Intentionally Consistent).

You will notice that these “action steps” are things that will either be done or they will not. There are no statements like: “I want to pray more.” There’s nothing wrong with expressing a desire to pray more, but what does that mean? So here are some concrete goals that I will either do or I won’t.

I will:

  1. Ask daily that God will give me the wisdom and strength to live for His glory and not my own by observing all that Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:20).
  2. Exercise by running at least 3 times a week.
  3. Pray for President Obama weekly. The Bible tells me I should, and I would want him to pray for me if I were in his shoes (Matt. 7:12).
  4. Read an average of one chapter of a book per day.
  5. Go over the New City Catechism at least five days a week with my family.
  6. Meet with every Core Group Leader at least twice to listen, encourage and help.
  7. Explain the gospel at least once a week, in various ways, to my sons.
  8. Write at least five handwritten notes to people in our church every week.

I’m sure this will grow, as I am currently considering others, but I don’t want the list to become too large and unmanageable. I think 10 goals or fewer is a good beginning.

I remember someone saying once that plans without goals……. Well I forgot exactly what was said, but you can finish the thought. I think it might have been: “are dreams that are never fulfilled.” Or, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”  Danny Chambers

I hope this inspires others to pray about what God would have them do and then write it down, share it with someone and do it. Most of us need all the help we can get.

Why Did We Show the Obama Video and 40 Years

We have received mixed reviews on the Obama video (above) that was shown this past Sunday as a part of our Sanctity of Life emphasis. Some suggested that it was confusing. Some were concerned that we took his words out of context. Some may have only read politics into it.

Fair enough on all points, and others that have not yet come to my attention.

I must admit that I sometimes fail to anticipate how people might interpret. This is a good reminder that people filter through the lens of their worldview and knowledge, or lack thereof. I have learned a valuable lesson from this video that I thought I already knew – don’t assume. If I had it to do over again, I would still show the video but I would explain the purpose for showing it. I received an email this morning asking the question, “What was the purpose of the Obama video?” And it is a fair question and here are the answers:

  1. The video was intended to show the inconsistency in thinking of many in our country. Obama contends that we need to do more to protect our children, but what about the unborn children that are not protected. I mentioned on Sunday morning that the majority of Americans think that abortion is morally wrong, but 63% believe that Roe V. Wade should not be overturned. Now I confess that I made the assumption that most people would know that President Obama is not an unborn, pro-baby president (and in all seriousness, let’s pray for him with great intensity that he will change his mind on this issue). Some of his statements to the contrary are shockingly deplorable. But again, I should never assume that anything can be assumed. I was hoping the video would vividly display the inconsistency of any person’s thinking by taking the very emotional event of Newtown, Connecticut and President Obama’s comments about it and show we are not even close to protecting every child. Now for those who were concerned that some might take from the video that president Obama is pro-life, if there is any consolation for you it is this; he’s won’t be up for reelection.
  2. The video was intended to get people talking. And it did. I have had several comments and questions. However, here is a concern: I hope that the point of the morning was not lost on any uncertainty about the meaning or intent of the video. After hearing Leah speak about her own story and  the work of SLS, I hope we can all agree that we want to help hurting mothers, babies and fathers. But it is clear that many talked about the video and even about why it confused them. I hope there was somebody who was a voice of reason and saw some benefit of the video. I’m okay with stirring the pot on occasion.

Some Final Thoughts and 40 Years

  • I should never assume. 
  • I should explain intent. If I could do it again I would have come up after the video and prayed for President Obama and our country and said something like, “President Obama is not a pro-life president, but I pray that he will become a pro-life president so he can be consistent toward all children in relationship to the comments he made about the Newtown tragedy. We should protect all children, including the unborn.” The plan to show the video is a decision I stand behind, however, the execution was lacking. Pray for me that I will grow in wisdom and be a better communicator next time. Won’t you?
  • People are catching on to the idea of context. I was actually encouraged that some objected to the video because they felt President Obama’s words were taken out of occasion. It means they are thinking about context when it comes to the reading the Bible and that is right and encouraging.
  • Today (January 22, 2013) marks 40 years that abortion has been legal in our country (Roe V. Wade). Over 50 million mothers have made the painful choice to abort over 50 million babies. The pain is unthinkable and the damage is beyond our understanding. May we use every means possible to love others so they don’t add to these staggering numbers.

Intentionally Consistent

I, like most people, mean to do well, but often my actions are inconsistent with my intentions.

How then do I keep from being inconsistent? I want to accomplish things but even a well-meaning intention often doesn’t get much done, or at least not for long.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, says: “The signature of mediocrity is not the inability to change, it’s chronic inconsistency.”

Consistency is a huge problem for most people but for people who excel it seems to be a life fixture. Think of the professional basketball player and how many times he/she has taken a jump shot? Consider the accomplished father or mother of several children who has persistently taken every opportunity to speak and model the values they cherish.

If anyone is excellent at what they do it is because they were intentionally consistent. Coupled with time, the two are powerful together. Though I suspect many people are forced into various kinds of consistency – like work, diaper changing, talking to their spouse or paying the mortgage. We should want to do those things but I am talking about doing things beyond the scope of what must be done. It’s one thing to breath and walk, it is another thing to be alive and healthy.

So how might a person be intentional and consistent so as to avoid scraping by (mediocrity). Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Know what it is that you want to accomplish (goal). “I want to exercise this year.”
  2. Know why you want to accomplish it (motivation). The Bible and praying should have a lot to do with both one and two so as to avoid self-dependent, idol-making. “I want more energy and I want to live long enough to raise my children to grow up and live for God’s glory.”
  3. Take the time to write down what you intend to do (actions steps). I find this clarifies what needs to happen and why it needs to happen. Additionally, if the time has been invested to do this then it probably means your serious about it. “I will run 2 miles three times a week.”
  4. Invite others to help you by sharing your goals and action steps (accountability). Invite those who will hold you accountable to be honestly confrontational. “Spouse or friend, here are my goals and actions steps. Will you encourage me to act consistently?”
  5. Review weekly and reorient as needed (follow-through). “I am or I am not doing what I said I would do. I watch too much TV. I need to cut out 90 minutes a week so I can run.”

I don’t think it is a stretch to say that most people are only consistent at being inconsistent. We must plan to act on our good intentions but we must plan to be consistent with what we intend. May God give us each the ability to be intentionally consistent for His glory in whatever we do.

Pointers for Using The New City Catechism

NCC_coverWe have invited our church family to join us in using the New City Catechism as a Gospel-Centered equipping tool for the home because the home should be ground zero for gospel training (Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 78:1-8; Eph. 6:4).  But what is a catechism? A catechism is simply a tool that uses questions to teach biblical truths in an orderly way. For instance, the first question was: “What is our only hope in life and in death?” The question for week two is: “What is God?” You can view the catechism or download the catechism App at www.newcitycatechism.com.

Now I suppose the thought of leading any kind of biblical instruction in the home can be intimidating, and I imagine that fear is one of the primary reasons that so many people don’t ever try to have a family devotional time. If this is true of you, don’t talk yourself out of trying this before you give it a chance. Here is some encouragement to go along with some practical pointers.

  1. Pray before leading. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who will convict, guide, glorify and change hearts and minds. Don’t make this into a godless and therefore, fruitless task.
  2. This is not an easy and  quick-fix. Our minds wonder. Our children seem to have ants in their pants. The result: We wonder, “Is this doing any good?” Don’t give up. I have found that if you stick to it, your children will start to expect it and even ask to do it.
  3. If leading, be patient with yourself.  No one should expect that you are going to deliver a wonderful sermon or lecture. Let the catechism do the bulk of the work and just concentrate on doing it consistently and being an eager facilitator.
  4. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Usually five to ten minutes will suffice. But then again, if your family is engaged, run with it and see what the Holy Spirit does.
  5. Repetition is a key learning component so don’t move on too quickly. The goal is not to cover material and move on, but rather to do it several days a week so that the truths begin to sink into the mind and heart. This is why there is one question for every week.
  6. Helpful questions will bring life to the discussion. The beauty of the catechism is that you don’t have to prepare much but you will need to breathe some life into it. Ask simple follow up questions like: “What does this mean?” “Why should we think that?” “How should we live because of this truth?” One of the byproducts of this time should be that it helps you become a better teacher.
  7. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t know. If you don’t know an answer, just admit it and find someone who does know. Or learn together by using the scripture and ponder the question together as a family.
  8. The App is better if you are able to access it. The printed copy is enough, but the app has a video, commentary and a prayer of response that could be done on separate days.
  9. This should not replace your daily Bible reading and prayer. If it is a catalyst to helping you read and pray – great, but you need to be feeding yourself and then leading your family.
  10. Carve out the time and do it consistently. “The signature of mediocrity is not the inability to change, it’s chronic inconsistency.” – Jim Collins – We had to ban the TV, the IPad and the Computer in the morning so we could make this a priority and have the attention of our children, but it has been worth it to create the expectation that we will consider divine and eternal truths together at least five times a week. As an individual or as the leader of a home, if  you don’t discipline yourself to carve out the time, you have no one to blame but your own person. This responsibility of truth in the home is eternally serious. I hope you use this as a means to a God-glorifying end.