Sunday, October 08, 2006

Captivated by God through the Gospel

Tonight I decided to watch a video I recorded on my video camera from the US Staff Conference back in '05. It was from a great talk by John Piper called "Captivated by God through the Gospel"

He divided his talk into 5 sections, and so I will give these notes in the same fashion.

  1. What is the Gospel?
  • 2 Cor 4:3-7
  • What makes the gospel good news?
  • Justification by faith? Forgiveness of sins? Propitiation? Liberation from sin? Escape from hell? Entrance to heaven? Eternal life? Deliverance from pain?
  • These things are not the highest, final good. In fact they are useless, unless they give us the ultimate good.
  • The gospel is the glory of god in the face of Christ treasured and seen as all-satisfying increasingly forever
  • Justification by faith? So what! Unless it gives us the glory of God in the face of Christ!

  1. What is Lostness?
  • 2 Cor 4:4 - God of this world has blinded unbelievers
  • Lostness is then blindness to glory of God in face of Christ!
  • When we share the true gospel and people respond with blank faces, it is because they are blind to spiritual truth, not because there is something wrong with the message.

  1. What is Conversion?
  • 2 Cor 4:6 - God said let light shine out of darkness…to give light of glory of God in the face of Christ
  • Conversion is opening of eyes to see light of knowledge of glory of God in Christ
  • Conversion is a miracle!
  • God has to do for all of us what he did for Paul on the Damascus road. It does not have to be as dramatic, but it is just as miraculous!

  1. What is the Role of Humans in Conversion?
  • Acts 26:17
  • We are to open eyes!
  • God sends us to do what he alone can do!
  • God will not do it without us.
  • People get saved through the preaching of the gospel
  • This is why God uses CCC!
  • As long as we are faithful to preach the gospel, God will continue to use us
  • 1 Peter 4:11 - let the one who serves, serve in the strength that God supplies so that in all things God will get the glory

  1. What is the Role of Teaching in Conversion?
  • 2 Tim 2:24 - The Lords servant… should be able to teach, correcting with righteousness and God may grant repentance leading to knowledge of truth.
  • We keep teaching, and if the Lord wills, he will say into their life "let there be light" and they are broken and they are broken, and the light goes on and the devil flees!
What a great message! These 5 points are so key for all beleivers to understand! I will look forward to listening to the other message he gave, and giving the report!

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World

This afternoon I listened to the first talk from Desiring God's National Conference Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. At one point I had hoped to go to this conference, but it just happened to fall on the same weekend as C4C's Summit retreat. But one of the great things about Desiring God is that they have so much free stuff. Fortunately for all who weren't able to attend the conference, the mp3's of the messages are available for free!

The first talk is by David Wells, who wrote the book Above all Earthly Powers which was the motivation behind this conference. He has an English accent (which is cool), but speaks really slowly (which makes him a little harder to follow.

This was a quality talk though. The central message was that Jesus is in a league of his own. There is no equal to him in all of history. He was fully God and Man. He atoned for sin. He lived a perfect life. No one can match him. These are things we need to hear more!

He then goes onto say that the book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers tempted to fade back into the woodwork. The message of Hebrews is the uniqueness of Christ, and so the author of Hebrews thought that speaking of Christ would be the best way to encourage believers in the face of trial.

Wells goes onto say that our culture is in a similar situation. We are not being persecuted like 1st century believers, but there are many things trying to pull us away from our faith., who did live blogging at this conference blogs Wells saying, "We are so distracted by so many things that it is hard for us to sustain a focus upon the supremacy of Christ in our world and our lives. This is why people come to church looking to have psychological needs met. But sermons only addressing these matters are exercises in futility if the supremacy and centrality of Christ has been lost. In an entirely different way, we in our churches seem to be shrinking back from Christ."

Wells then goes onto show from Hebrews how Christ is separate from everyone else in many ways. He then closes of the message with this key point: Christianity is only about this kind of Christ - Christ reigning supreme and unchallenged and unchallengeable over all of life's enemies. Any other Christ that we offer the world does them no favours. We need to offer the Christ of the Bible, who is above all earthly powers, or no Christ at all.
You can see Challies summary of this message here
You can listen to the mp3 of this talk here

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A New Blog

Just an update on a new blog that I am part of. Myself and some of my C4C staff friends have started a book review blog.

You can find it here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

O-week begins

Today was the first day of Orientation week. I'm pooped. A day of handing out Real Life Kits and Sno-Cones. But it was good. We got a lot of people to follow-up who showed interest in our club. Lots to do on that front.
On Sunday night it was the pep rally. It was amazing sitting across from all the first years as they were cheering and chanting and doing all their dances. There had to be a 4000-5000 of them, and we are asking God that 80 would be involved in our movement. It seems so small when you are thinking of only 80 out of a couple thousand. But anyways, things are good and I'm happy to be on campus full-time again for a full year!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Desiring God now updated!

Great new everyone! has been updated! Take a look for yourself! It is easier to navagate, and now all of Piper's sermons from the past 25 years are availible on the site! Also, you can watch his current sermons on a video player right on the site! So cool! Now there is no reason to ever leave the site! :)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mark Dever on Evangelism

Mark Dever is Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church and Executive Director of 9Marks. On the Together for the Gospel Blog, he wrote this:

"One part of clarity sometimes missed by earnest evangelists, however, is
the willingness to offend. Clarity with the claims of Christ certainly
will include the translation of the Gospel into words that our hearer
understands, but it doesn’t necessarily mean translating it into words that our
hearer will like. Too often advocates of relevant evangelism verge over
into being advocates of irrelevant non-evangelism. A gospel which in no
way offends the sinner has not been understood.

Look at Peter at Pentecost in Acts 2. He wanted to be
relevant. But that relevance gave his words more bite, not less. How
did Peter witness to those he wished to see saved? He said to them, among
other things, “let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus,
whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ,” (Acts 2:36).

Relevant? Yes. Pleasing? No. Clear? Undoubtedly.

Be clear about the fact of sin (Isa. 59:1-2; Hab. 1:13; Rom. 3:22-23; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; I John 1:5-6). Be clear about the meaning of the cross (Matt.
26:28; Gal. 3:10-13; I Tim. 1:15; I Peter 2:24; 3:18). Be clear about our
need to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ (Matt. 11:28-30; Mark 1:15;
8:34; John 1:12; 3:16; 6:37; Acts 20:21). What would it mean to evangelize
without being clear about what the Bible says about these issues?"

This is a great quote. I think this is a message that needs to be heard by all who wish to be earnest evangelists. The Gospel is offensive, and we don't do anyone any favours by attempting to take the sting out. If you take the sting out, you take the saving power out!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Thoughts on Mark Driscoll's "Missional Ministry"

Tonight I listened to a sermon my Mark Driscoll called "Missional Ministry". This sermon addressed how to reach different groups of people with the gospel. One of the things I took away from this is that we don't need to reject making the gospel culturally relevant. We don't change the gospel, but we can change the way we present it. For example, if a person going to minister in China got dressed up in a traditional Chinese outfit, and sang a Chinese song to share the gospel, no one would have a problem with that. However, there seems to be a trepidation in the church about becoming relevant to postmoderns. In many ways, I am one of them. I am scared that in trying to reach postmoderns, we will may compromise the purity of the gospel. But is it any worse compromise the gospel, than it is to completely ignore them by not sharing it at all? By the grace of God we need to find a way to reach ever increasing new groups of people with the True gospel of the Bible.

New Desiring God Website and book I am reading

Here is an exciting note for everyone.....

The New Is Coming Soon
Watch for our redesigned website,
providing more content, improved access to all of our content, and many other
improvements, to be released this week.

So check back at soon for the update.


Also, I am reading a book called No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology. It is slow to start out with, but I am trusting that it will get better as it goes along. I figure that it will be a good disipline to continue with it and not just give up on it after the first chapter. Too often in life we give up on things to early!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Reaching out without selling out

I have recently been enjoying the writings and ministry of Mark Driscoll. For those of you who don’t know who this is, Mark Driscoll is the founding Pastor of a church in Seattle called Mars Hill Church. He is very straight-up, and doesn’t hide from making bold statements. For a introduction to some of his quotes, take a look at Vanessa’s blog where she lists some of them from his book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev.

Most recently, I have been reading his book called The Radical Reformission: Reaching out without selling out. The book is basically about how to reach the culture you live in. There is a great chapter in this book called "The Sin of Light Beer: how syncretism and sectarianism undermine reformission. " He goes on to say how when it comes to engaging culture, we often fall into one of four camps: Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots and Essenes. Pharisees separate from the culture, Sadducees blend into the culture, Zealots try to rule over culture (through changing the culture by Christian politics whether it be left or right), and Essenes who ignore culture. Furthermore, Pharisees and Essenes would be sectarians (who stay out of the culture), and Sadducees and Zealots are Syncretists who go too far into the culture.

Both sides fail Jesus's command from John 17:13-18:
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may
have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world
has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from
the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify
them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have
sent them into the world.

Jesus said that we are not of the world, but that we are to go into the world. How we find this balance is the difficulty. When you go into the world, you will get "christians" who bring you down for being too worldly, but when you try to take a stand against the world there are "christians" who say you are being to harsh or legalistic.

I think the key is for each individual Christian to be convinced in their own mind what is right for them, based on Biblical principles and their God-given conscience. These two gifts from God are the keys to making our way through grey areas. I pray that God would give our generation a hunger for His Word, and sharpen our conscience so that we would be effective in reaching our culture without selling out to syncretism or sectarianism.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A word from Piper...

I decided to swing by today and read a fantastic quote by Piper.

Piper Quote of the Day
"The day you hear that you have cancer, or that your child is blind, or that a mob is coming, you turn away from light books to the weighty ones that were written on the precipice of eternity where the fragrance of heaven and the stench of hell are both in the air."(The Hidden Smile of God, pg. 61-62)

In a day and age where the light books are so easily found in Christian bookstores and the weighty ones are found as easily as a needle in a haystack, the quote rings so true. It is such a reflection of our Lackadaisical christianity. Things are fanciful and pleasant, and so are our books.

So what is an appropriate response? Read a weighty book "that (was) written on the precipice of eternity where the fragrance of heaven and the stench of hell are both in the air."

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Lion and the Lamb

  • “A lion is admirable for its ferocious strength and imperial appearance. A lamb is admirable for its meekness and servant-like provision of wool for our clothing. But even more admirable is a lion-like lamb and a lamb-like lion. What makes Christ glorious, as Jonathan Edwards observed over 250 years ago, is ‘an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.’”
  • “For example, we admire Christ for his transcendence, but even more because the transcendence of his greatness is mixed with submission to God. We marvel at him because his uncompromising justice is tempered with mercy. His majesty is sweetened by meekness. In his equality with God he has a deep reverence for God. Though he is worthy of all good, he was patient to suffer evil. His sovereign dominion over the world was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission. He baffled the proud scribes with his wisdom, but was simple enough to be loved by children. He could still the storm with a word, but would not strike the Samaritans with lightning or take himself down from the cross.
  • “So Christ is a lamb-like Lion and a lion-like Lamb. That is his glory— ‘an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.’”
  • Part of what makes Christ so glorious is the tension between his powerful lion-like qualities and his meek lamb-like qualities. In that balance we see the fullness of all that is to be admired.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Chapter 2 – Jesus is the Glory of God

  • “Christ does not exist in order to make much of us. We exist in order to enjoy making much of him. The assumption of this book is that to know the glories of Christ is an end, not a means. Christ is not glorious so that we get wealthy or healthy. Christ is glorious so that rich or poor, sick or sound, we might be satisfied in him.”
  • “There is no “before” God and no “after” God. He is absolutely there, no matter how far back or how far forward you go. He is the absolute Reality. He has the honor of being there first and always. To him belongs this singular glory.”
  • “Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Jesus Christ, the Person, never had a beginning. He is absolute Reality. He has the unparalleled honor and unique glory of being there first and always. He never came into being. He was eternally begotten. The Father has eternally enjoyed “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3) in the Person of his Son.”
  • “Seeing and savoring this glory is the goal of our salvation. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me” (John 17:24). To feast on this forever is the aim of our being created and our being redeemed.”
Jesus is fully God, and the purpose of all creation was to bring glory to God in the face of Christ.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God

Here are some quotes and thoughts from Chapter one of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. I hope they will encourage and minister to you as they have done to me.

  • “The created universe is all about glory. The deepest longing of the human heart and the deepest meaning of heaven and earth are summed up in this: the glory of God. The universe was made to show it, and we were made to see it and savor it. Nothing less will do. Which is why the world is as disordered and as dysfunctional as it is. We have exchanged the glory of God for other things (Romans 1:23)”.
  • “The Christian Gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ” because its final aim is that we would see and savor and show the glory of Christ. For this is none other than the glory of God.”
  • “Therefore, in the Gospel we see and savor “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). And this kind of “seeing” is the healing of our disordered lives. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).”

This chapter is classic Piper. It seems like a mini God is the Gospel (another great book by Piper) toward the end. Ultimately, the gospel is that God gives us himself. The other things are good, but not ultimate.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

As I prepare to go to Florida for some seminary classes this summer, one of the books I have the pleasure to read is Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, by the man, John Piper. I think over the next couple days I will post some of my thoughts and favourite quotes from each chapter.

In the Preface, Piper says he is not going to try and prove that Jesus is worthy of "seeing and savoring" by refering to outside sources. He is going to show it by showing who Christ is, and when we see that, we will know that he is worthy of seeing and savoring. Here is how he puts it:

“There is another path. It’s the path I am following in this book. It starts with the conviction that divine truth can be self-authenticating. In fact, it would seem strange if God revealed himself in his Son Jesus Christ and inspired the record of that revelation in the Bible, but did not provide a way for ordinary people to know it. Stated most simply, the common path to sure knowledge of the real Jesus is this: Jesus, as he is revealed in the Bible, has a glory – an excellence, a spiritual beauty – that can be seen as self-evidently true. It is like seeing the sun and knowing that it is light and not dark, or like tasting honey and knowing that it is sweet and not sour. There is no long chain of reasoning for premises to conclusions. There is a direct apprehension that this person is true and his glory is the glory of God”

I would say that this is his thesis for the book... the point he is proving. So stay tuned for some great quotes and personal reflections in the days to come!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

CCC ad banned from theatres

With the Da Vinci Code set to release in theatres tommorow, there is a lot of hype going around. The latest has hit close to home for me, a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ. I recently found out that Cineplex Odion has banned an ad from CCC. Here is a quote from the webpage, :

"The group behind this blog had planned an in-theatre ad campaign to encourage
The Da Vinci Code movie-goers to come online and discuss what they had seen. In
an unexpected move, Cineplex Odeon decided today the ads were too
and has pulled the spots from theatres in Vancouver,
Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto."

You can see the ad that was banned by going here. I find it hard to beleive that this ad was too controviersial.

You can see the press release from CCC regarding the situation here.

Lastly, the Toronto Star also got in on the action writing an article about what they think. You can read this "intelligent" piece here.

Personally, I think this is really dumb that CCC has had their ad removed from the theatres. This really is an attack at freedom of speech. The whole movie they are allowing in the theatres is pure junk historically, yet they will not allow a 10 second ad in the theatre that points people to a website to discuss the film. This is the world we live in though. Anything goes unless is saying that Jesus is the person that the Bible says He is.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Regaining a Wonder for God's Creation

This morning I was reading McManus and this paragraph stood out to me:

When your heart is full of gratitude, life paints itself in far brighter
and more vivid colours. The aromas, flavours, and textures of life are so
exhilarating that they take you to places of indescribable pleasure. Life
becomes an endless celebration. Your laughter and joy is the applause of your
soul as you marvel in the goodness of God and the wonder of His creation. There
is always something that fills you with joy and unleashes hope and inspiration.
Gratitude doesn't lead to monasticism; it leads to hedonism, not a hedonism
absent of holiness, but one that erupts out of wholeness.

I originally thought of this stuff when reading The Pleasures of God by John Piper, but was reminded that I need to appreciate the things in life that I often take for granted. Like say trees, or the sky... things that I don't notice or appriciate very often, but if they were taken away, I would be willing to pay anything to bring them back.

I think this quote also spoke to me because it is so John Piper-ish. It is like I was reading Desiring God, but this time written from a different angle and in a place that I did not expect it.

So, when you are out and about today, take time and appreciate and marvel at the things that you usually take for granted, and give glory to God for them.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Da Vince Deception, Part 1

I recently finished reading The Da Vinci Code, so I also thought I should read a book that looks at the historical claims of the book, so I could know what is what. The book I am reading is called The DaVinci Deception by Erwin Lutzer. So far, it is full of great stuff on real history.

For those who have read The Da Vinci Code (probably a few), and more for those who will see the movie (probably most of you), here are some facts about some of the events that the book calls into question. I think it will be helpful to know some of this, first, for confidence in your own faith (if you are a Christian), and secondly in evangelism (also if you are a Christian). Enjoy!

Constantine converted to Christianity in AD 312. This was at the time he was fighting Maxentius for the absolute rule of the Roman Empire. The night before the battle, he saw a vision of Christ, and so during the battle he fought with the banner of the Christian Cross and won. Shortly after this, he issued the Edict of Milan which stated that Christians should no longer be persecuted.

Early in Constantine’s rule, there were many disputes about Jesus (i.e. God? Man?, Equal with the Father?, Created?, Etc). At the same time, Arius was teaching that Jesus was a created god, lower than the God the Father. The Church Bishops labeled him a heretic, but his ideas gained popularity. In order to unite the Empire, Constantine called the Council of Nicea to answer these questions. Constantine cared little for doctrine, but more for unity of the Empire. Over 300 Bishops met, and overwhelmingly declared Arius a heretic. The Council also affirmed the divinity of Christ based on Scripture (Col 1:16, John 1:1, Rom 9:5, Heb 1:8, etc). Theologian Athanasius was present, although uninvited, argued that Christ was not similar in nature to God the Father, but the same and equal. The Council agreed and today we have the Nicene Creed. Of the 318 Bishops present, only 5 protested, and in the end only 2 refused to sign the document. Arianism continued to have followers, but from that point on, orthodox Christianity held that Jesus was “God of very God”.

It is debatable though whether Constantine’s conversion was true, since he continued on in Sun worship and used Christianity for political gain. There no evidence however to suggest that before Constantine, Christians believe that Jesus was only a man. In fact the evidence overwhelmingly points the other way:

In AD 110, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch wrote of Jesus being “God”, “Son of God”, “Christ God”, etc.

In Addition, Polycarp (approx AD 112-118) who was a disciple of the Apostle John, Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (AD 177), Tertullian (AD 150-212) were all recorded as believing in Jesus as the Son of God, equal to God, and in the Authority of Scriptures. These men lived 150-200 before Constantine converted to Christianity.
Furthermore, many years before Constantine, many Christians were regularly killed because they would not say that Caesar is Lord. This shows that they believed that Jesus was more than just another god, since they were willing to die for that belief.


"but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:31

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mailmen, not Editors

I am realizing that it is going to take me a while to completely unpack all that God taught me last week at “Together for the Gospel”. I feel extremely privileged to have been there. Going to the conference, I knew that I was in for a treat with MacArthur, Piper and Sproul being there. But the other four guys, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, and Albert Mohler, I didn’t really know too much about.

Mark Dever is the Pastor in Washington at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and also the founder of 9 Marks Ministry. His talk was on “The Pastors Understanding of His Own Role”. The main thing I took from this message was the fact that we are supposed to spread God’s message. We aren’t supposed to pick and choose our own things to share, but simply share God’s message. Dever explained that we are God’s messengers, or mailmen, just delivering the mail that God has sent. Mailmen aren’t supposed to get the letters and then change them to their own fancies. They are just supposed to deliver the goods! The Pastor/Evangelist is the same. God has given us a message in his Word, and we are just supposed to pass it on. It is simple but profound.

In today’s Christian world, too often we are trying to make the message more attractive. But it isn’t ours to change.

Let’s move forward giving the goods that God has given, no more, no less.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Holiness of God

I had the privilege this week of hearing R.C. Sproul speak at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary while I was in Louisville for the Together for the Gospel conference. Sproul spoke on the Holiness of God. His talk was so good, but one thing stood out most to me. In 2 Samuel 6, the Israelites were transporting the Ark of the Covenant. . They had placed it on a cart pulled by oxen. At one point, the oxen stumble and the Ark was about to fall to the ground, so Uzzah reached out to stop it from falling. At that moment, the LORD’s anger burned on Uzzah for his irreverence, so He struck Uzzah down and he died.

In his talk, Sproul pointed out that the Lord struck Uzzah down because of two things. One, he broke the command from Numbers 4:15 that if anyone touched it who wasn’t supposed to, they would die. But secondly, Uzzah was arrogant to touch the Ark, even if trying to save it. The reason only certain people could touch it was because they had been set apart by God to do so. Uzzah was unclean (sinful), and therefore it was not right that he touched something that was so Holy. In Uzzah’s eyes, it was worse for the Ark to touch the ground than to touch him. But why is it wrong for the Ark to touch the ground. The ground is just there by God’s will, doing its thing in obedience to God. Although the ground (dirt, mud) is dirty to us as humans, it is beautiful in God’s eyes because it is His creation! To Uzzah, it was worse for it to be touched by the ground, but to God it is worse to be touched by sinful man.

As humans we think far too highly of ourselves. Uzzah did, and he paid the price for it. We also think too highly of ourselves, but for some reason God holds back his wrath. If I was Uzzah, I probably would have tried to be a hero as well.

I pray that God would teach me know see myself more accurately, so that I can fear the Him appropriately. I take too Gods grace for granted far too much, because I because I think I deserve it.


I have so much more to share from this conference. Hopefully I will process it and get a chance to blog more.

I also just realized you can hear the message from Sproul here:

Friday, April 14, 2006

What is God's Will for My Life?

In my reading today, I came across a great quote by McManus about "the search to know Gods will for our lives". Enjoy:

"The problem is not that we don't know what to do, but that we don't do what
we know... The key to the future is not revelation, but obiedience. When we
submit our lives to what God has made known, the future becomes clearer to us.
When we neglect to do what we know, we begin to live as if we were walking
through a fog. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves condemning God for
being silent, when in fact we have condemned ourselves for refusing to

I find this quite true in Christian circles that people are looking all around for the will of God for their lives. If we just followed what we know without worrying about what we don't, God could use us so much more. But we over-analyze and before we know it, many oppourtunities are passing us by while we are waiting for them to come to us on a silver platter.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Does Absolute Power Corrupt Absolutely?

I have heard it said many times that "absolute power corrupts absolutely". For a long time I have bought into it, believing it to be true. It seems that in many situations that a seemingly good person gets to a position of authority, and then all of a sudden, they turn into a bad guy.

Tonight I was reading "Uprising - A Revolution of the Soul" and McManus (the author) made a good point. He said that absolute power reveals absolutely. A person who seemed to be good, but then got power did not all of a sudden turn into a bad guy, he all of a sudden had the power to do whatever seems best to him. It is more an insight into human depravity that so often when people come to power they become jerks.

But now look at God. He is the only one with true absolute power. And what does He do with it? He serves, and He is good.

So in humanity 'absolute' power shows us to be corrupt, while in God it shows Him to be good.

So to answer the question the title of this post asks... No, absolute power does not corrupt, it reveals.

Sometimes I just Don't Know Why I Love Them so Much...

Like many Maple Leafs fans these days, I am at a loss for what to think. In their last 8 games they have got 14 out of a possible 16 points. They are one of the hottest teams in the league. Yet because of shoddy play during Jan-begining of March, they are out of the playoff picture.

Herein lies the issue. If they do not make the playoffs, have they at least proved that the core of this team should stick together next year, since they have shown they can win? Or is it too late for that, and it is time to just blow the team apart and start from scratch?

With the Maple Leafs, I am ever the optomist, predicting for years now that this is the year they will win the cup. So in line with the optimistic thinking, I say, lets keep the major components of this team together, and grab a handful of free agents, most of all, a legitamate number 1 goalie, ranging in age from 25-34. Is this too much to ask?

And one last tidbit, I definatly think that as long as they test his wrist and it is all good, they should bring back Lindros. During those games in October when Sundin was out, he was our best player on many nights. Bring back Lindros!

Oh yah, and here's to Mats Sundin, who last night took the team by the scruff of its neck and said we are not losing this game, and scored four goals and 2 assists for a 6 point night.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

God is Good

Well, well, well... its been a while.

I have so much going on right now. So much to be thankful for. I will start with being at 100% of support. It has been a while in the coming. I am thankful for all the people who we have met with and who have decided to partner with us in our ministry. As I look over the names on our list of supporters I am humbled and greatful to God for his goodness. God has privided.

I am also very thankful that there will be a Stint to Tanzania this year. I am so pleased that there will be a team of men and women who will spend a year of their life pouring into the ministry at the University of Dar es Salaam. In many ways I am sad that I won't be going with them. I have such a heart for that country. But I know that in God's Providence that it is for the best. For one, it will give Vanessa and I another year to develop as leaders on campus here in Canada. In many ways I am still just begining to hit my stride as far as being an effective staff member with Campus Crusade. Secondly, it will mean that since Vanessa and I are still commiting to going Aug/Sept 2007, there will be a team to follow up the team that is going this year. There will be at least 2 solid years of building a movement there. God has a plan for Tanzania and He cares far more for the people there than I do. I will let Him make the decisions.

Well, that is where I am at. Sorry it has been a while, but hopefully this will get me back into the swing of things.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

MacArthur on Self Discipline

Today I read an article (sermon manuscript I believe) on Self Discipline by John MacArthur. It was fairly long, but the more I read and hear MacArthur, the more I enjoy him. It isn't because he is cool, or hip, or parachutes to the pulpit, or does cool videos, but simply because he knows the Word of God, and preaches it, unabashedly. This is what I want for my own life.

I won't get into the practical advice, because you can get that anywhere. The real things that hit me were the Biblical reasons for self discipline. There are three main principles that make-up the foundation of a biblical view of self discipline.

1. Remember who owns you. You are not in charge of you. In fact, not only are you not in charge of you, but you are a slave. You are a bondservant and slave of Christ. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Cor 6:19-20) This is where we need to start. MacArthur goes on to say, "I'm convinced that until to understand that you don't own you, that somebody else has complete mastery and right over your life, you will not have the motivation to be a self-disciplined person."

2. Remember the covenant of your salvation. When you were saved, it wasn't just a one-sided thing. You asked Christ to come into your life and cleanse you from your sins, and become LORD and saviour of your life. Too often we fall in love with Jesus as our saviour... We sin and he saves... Which is true, but that is only part. We committed to living for Christ and dying to self. I don't believe that Jesus is your saviour if he isn't your Lord.

3. Obedience is part of faith. When Christ called to you, "repent and believe" you obeyed. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10). We were created for good works. This means to obey. Faith without works is dead. MacArthur says, "If there aren't any of those good works, if there's no obedience, then there's no true saving faith".


This really challenged me as I am naturally very undisciplined. But face it Jamie... you are not in charge. You have been bought by Christ's blood. I need to preach to myself a lot!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mothers Sues Over Unsuccessful Abortion

I was reading Justin Taylor's blog today, and came across a post that made me sick in my stomach. A mother is suing because she attepted to abort her twins, but one of them lived, so she wants compensation for having to raise the daughter that wasn't murdered:

This has to be one of the saddest stories I've read in a while. The BBC reports that a woman in Scotland sought to abort her twins. Unbeknownst to the mother or to the doctors, one of the babies survied the attempted murder. So now the mother is suing the hospital for compensation, seeking damages for the "financial burden" or raising the child.

"I have got a child now that I wasn't planning to have and I believe the hospital should take some responsibility for that," she said.

"They should have known, or at least warned me, that I might still be pregnant when I left. It has totally changed my life and my parents' lives.
(My emphasis.)

"I still don't know if, or what, I am going to tell Jayde when the time
comes. Maybe when she is nine or 10 I will sit her down and explain it to

Try to imagine that conversation. Then weep at the depravity. Then realize
that we would act in such a murderous, self-centered way but for the grace of
God. May we cling to the cross, and cry out to God for both mercy and justice.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

This story is so sad on so many levels. Abortion is so wrong, and an article like this just shows that the problem is selfishness, and not taking responsibility for one's actions. It is more convenient to murder the unborn child than to raise him/her. I pray that one day soon our society would see the evil of abortion and end it, in the same way we saw the evils of slavery in years past and ended it.

From "Good to Great" to "Built to Last"

This is the final chapter of Good to Great. It is about taking a company that is great to the stage where it will continue to be great. The author of Good to Great, Jim Collins actually co-wrote a called Built to Last based on this concept. It was actually written before Good to Great. Good to Great, he says, is more of a prequel to Built to Last.

This chapter I suppose then is a summary of the concepts in Built to Last.

  • Enduring Comapanies don't merely exist to make money. In truly great companies, profits and cash flow become like blood and water to a healthy body: They are absolutely essential for life, but they are not the very point of life.
  • Enduring companies have core values that drive what they do. They preserve this core values while endlessly adapting their strategies to a changing world. Strategies change, values remain.
  • Enduring companies set BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) in front of themselves that fit within the Hedgehog concept. Like the 1960's NASA moon mission, a BHAG captures the imaginationa and grabs people in the gut.
  • To remain great over time requires, on one hand, staying squarely within the three circles while, on the other hand, being willing to change the specific manifestation if what's inside the three circles at any given moment.
  • Greatness doesn't necessarily mean more work; it means more work doing the right things.


I may read Built to Last sometime down the road as I have enjoyed reading Good to Great. Who would have known that I would enjoy a business book? I did though, and found that I could apply many of the concepts from the business world to my own life, and my ministry. Between this book and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I have read 2 books that I would have never thought that I would enjoy, but have. Its good to read widely, I am learning.... but as long as it doesnt come at the expense of the other theology type books!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop

This is the second last chapter in the book, Good to Great, and it was actually one of my favourites. I enjoyed the concept. The concept being:

  • Good-to-great (g2g) transformations often look dramatic, revolutionary events to those observing from the outside, but they feel like organic, cumulative processes to people on the inside.
  • No matter how dramatic the end result, the g2g transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, not miracle moment.
  • Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of build-up and breakthrough. Like pushing on a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.
  • The comparison companies tried to create a breakthrough, instead of slowly generating momentum. They lurched back and forth, failing to maintain a consistent direction. This was the Doom Loop.
  • Those inside the g2g companies were often unaware of the magnitude of their transformation at the time. Only later, in retrospect did it become clear. They had no name, tag line, launch event, or program to signify what they were doing at the time.


I learned from this chapter to just keep going in doing the right things, instead of being worried about creating some sort of quick program to become great. Just keep pushing on the flywheel and let its momentum build up!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Technology Accelerators

Another chapter down in Good to Great, this one called "Technology Accelerators". Here are the main points:

  • Good-to-great (g2g) companies think differently about technology than do mediocre companies.
  • G2g companies avoid technology fads and bandwagons, but are pioneers in carefully selected technologies.
  • The key question is whether or not a specific technology fits into your Hedgehog Concept. If yes, then you need to be a pioneer in it; if not, then you can settle for parity or avoid it altogether.
  • G2g companies use technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.
  • G2g companies react to technology change with thoughfulness and creativity, driven to turn unrealized potential into results. Mediocre companies react, motivated by fear of being left behind.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Culture of Discipline

Today I read the chapter in Good to Great titled "A Culture of Discipline". Here are some of the main ideas:

-Sustained great results depend upon building a culture full of self disciplined people who take disciplined action, fanatically consistent with the three circles.

-A culture of discipline involves duality. On the one hand, it requires people to adhere to a consistent system; yet, on the other hand, it gives people the freedom and responsibility to do their job within the larger framework

-The most important form of discipline for sustained results is fanatical adherence to the Hedgehog concept and the willingness to shun opportunities that fall outside the three circles.

-The fact that something is a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" is irrelevant, unless it fits within the three circles.

-The purpose of budgeting in a good-to-great is not to decide how much money each activity gets, but to decide which activities best fit within the Hedgehog Concept and should be fully funded and which should not be funded at all.

-"Stop doing" lists are more important than "to do" lists

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Hedgehog Concept

This concept was one that I had heard of before reading this book. Our staff team in McGuelpherLoo was interested in implementing it to our ministry. So I will now explain what it is:
The Hedgehog Concept is a simple concept that flows from the deep understanding about the intersection of the following three circles...
1. What you can be the best in the world at (and what you cannot be the best at.)
2. What drives your economic engine,
3. What you are deeply passionate about.
The reason it is called the Hedgehog concept is because of a trait that a hedgehog has. Everytime the hedgehog is attacked by a predator, it just rolls up into a little ball, and it is completely covered with spikes so that nothing can harm it. It doesn't try to learn new ways to protect itself; it doesn't need to. It has an effective way to protect itself and it sticks to it.

For ministry, the economic engine circle does not really apply. We would look at the concept in as far as the other 2 circles. For Campus Crusade for Christ, we find that our Hedgehog concept is Spiritual Multiplication. For those out there that don't know what that is, you will have to ask me later, or else I will head off in a huge tangent!

All in all, I think this is an effective tool for thinking about what your focus should be. I think it applies to not only companies, but ministries, and also individuals. Think about what you are passionate about, and what you can do really well, and do that! It seems simplistic, but in order to enjoy work and be effective over the long haul, it would seem to me that these 2 criterion are necessary.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)

I read another chapter of Good to Great today. It was a good one, and by chance (who am I kidding, I don't believe in chance) one of my fellow CCC staff referred to this principle in a conversation we had today.

Here are some key points from the chapter:

All good-to-great (g2g) companies began their process to greatness by confronting the brutal facts about their current reality.

When you make the effort of confronting the brutal facts, the right decisions often become self-evident

g2g companies create environments where people have the opportunity to be heard, and so by default, the truth is heard

Creating a climate where the truth is heard involves four basic principles:

  1. Lead with questions, not answers
  2. Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion
  3. Conduct autopsies (analyze a situation), without blame
  4. Build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored (allow people to bring up shortcomings before they leave because the situation hasn't been addressed)

G2g companies faced adversity, but they faced it head on, and then emerged from the adversity stronger

The Stockdale Paradox: Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Charisma can be a liability as well as an asset in leadership, as your personality can deter people from bringing you the brutal facts.


An interesting chapter... The key point from this seems to be the Stockdale Paradox. Being able to hold both faith and brutal facts at the same time. Sounds like a spiritual lesson as much, if not more than a business one.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Biblical Call to Pursuing Godly Wisdom

I got back to reading When I Don't Desire God by John Piper today, after feeling the urge to read some good book after reading a post by Albert Mohler, who is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (with such famous students as Uche Anizor, Chris Shipley, and the recently graduated Arvind Balaram). His post was basically responses to questions about reading. It is a great post, and if you want to read it click here.

Anyways, I found this chapter I read today very helpful. It was practical advice about "How to Wield the Word in the Fight for Joy". I was struck by many things, but this stood out as something that needs to be trumpeted to our generation:

I have the profound sense that many people who complain of not being able to
rejoice in God treat the knowledge of God as something that ought to be easy to
get. They are passive. They expect spiritual things to happen to them from out
of nowhere. They don’t grasp the pattern of the Bible expressed in Proverbs

"If you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with
you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to
understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for
understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden
treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge
of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and

Look at all those aggressive words: “receive . . . treasure up . . . make your ear attentive . . . incline your heart . . . call out . . . raise your voice . . . seek . . . search”—if you do these, then knowledge of God will be yours. Not because you can make it happen. The giving of the knowledge is still in the hands of God: “For the LORD gives wisdom.” No, the pursuit of the knowledge of God is not because you can make it happen, but because God freely chooses to bless seeking with finding. The pattern is seen in 2 Timothy 2:7 where Paul says, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” You think. The Lord gives. Our thinking does
not replace his giving. And his giving does not replace our thinking.
I think we have a tendancy to be passive in our pursuit of God. We are used to being spoon-fed spiritual truths at church in Sunday, through a well packaged sermon (or maybe even a video...). But this passage from Proverbs states that we need to "seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasures". If our only pursuit of the knowledge of God comes from a sermon on Sunday, and maybe the odd scripture reading and a 5 minute devotional, then we have failed the scriptural call to pursuing Godly wisdom. I count myself as an offender.

I hope that I can turn the corner in my own walk. One of the ways I want to do this is by memorizing Scripture. I will begin by doing a verse a day until I have memorized Romans 8. I hope that through this I can see and love and worship God in fresh and life changing ways, as well as be an encourgement to others to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely" and pursue Christ with all we have!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

First Who...Then What

I finally got back to reading Good to Great. Today I read chapter 2 - First Who... Then What. I won't give a chapter summary as much as I will report what I think can be applied in my life.

Good to Great (g2g) leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it. The key point is not necessarily to just get the right people, but to ask the 'who' questions before the 'what' questions.

The comparison companies often used the "genius with a thousand helpers' model - getting one person to come up with the ideas and enlist capable helpers to make the ideas happen. As soon as the genius leaves, however, the model fails.

The g2g leaders were rigorous, not ruthless. They made tough decisions when needed in order to help the company and the individual, not just for the sake of a shake-up.

When in doubt, don't hire - keep looking.
Only grow as big as you have capable people to lead the growing number of employees.
When you need to make a people change, do it!
Before firing, make sure the employee isn't just failing because they are in the wrong job.
Put your best people in the biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.

G2G management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet unify behind decisions.

Compensation/rewards should not be used to motivate good things from the wrong people, but rather to get and keep the right people.

People are not your greatest asset. The right people are.

Whether or not someone is the "right person" depends more on their character than their skills or knowledge.


I was struggling internally reading some of it, thinking about whether Christ would have looked at it this way. I think things like looking for character over skill is something Jesus would agree with. I also think that choosing the right people is generally a good concept. Jesus selected the 12 disciples out of many others who He didn't choose. We just have to watch our motives. I think that as a Christian leader I have to be concerned with the development of the person as much as if not more than picking the right person to do the job best. It is interesting that in the Discipleship group I lead a Guelph we are reading "The Masterplan of Evangelism", and just looked at the chapter on selection on the same day I read this chapter from "Good to Great".

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Rob Bell - Hip Dude with Cool Videos But Be Wary!

Today I came as I was checking out a blog I frequent, I came accross a book review of Velvit Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell. I was quite interested to see what it said because I had seen one of Rob Bell's videos and saw his book in a store. For those of you who do't know Rob Bell, he is a the kind of guy who puts the 'hip' in discipleship. He's got the bleached blond hair, the post-modern coffee house intellectual glasses, etc.

Anyways, the book review brought up 5 problems with Bell's writing. All 5 being in conflict with what the Bible says.

1. His View of the Bible as metaphor
2. His Understanding of the Christian Faith
3. His View the Nature of Sin
4. His View of God’s Faith in Man
5. His view of the Nature of the Atonement

The most scary was Bell's view of God's faith in man. Here is is a quote from the book review with the Bell's words in italics:

The self-ward bent of Bell’s teaching continues when he speaks of God’s
faith in man. Bell adopts his self-professed rabbi Ray VanderLaan’s teaching
that Jesus chose his disciples just like every other rabbi of his day - because
he believed in their innate abilities. In one of the most painful parts of the
book, Bell reminds us of the story found in Matthew 14:22ff. where Peter rushed
out of the boat to meet Jesus walking on the water. Peter began to sink and
Jesus rebuked him for his lack of faith.

“Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; he is doing fine. Peter loses
faith in himself. Peter loses faith that he can do what his rabbi is doing. If
the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes that you can actually
be like him. As we read the stories of Jesus’ life with his talmidim, his
disciples, what do we find frustrates him to no end? When his disciples lose
faith in themselves.....Notice how many places in the accounts of Jesus life he
gets frustrated with his disciples. Because they are incapable? No, because of
how capable they are. He see what they could be and could do, and when they fall
short if provokes him to know end. It isn’t their failure that’s the problem,
it’s their greatness. They don’t realize what they are capable of....God has an
amazingly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing
things. I’ve been told I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But
what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me....God has faith in me.”

In fact, according to Bell, God has such great faith in the abilities
of men that Jesus “left the future of the movement (the church) in their hands.
And he doesn’t stick around to make sure they don’t screw it up. He’s gone. He
trusts that they can actually do it.” This is a shocking reinterpretation of the
Christian faith. When the gospel becomes the message of God coming to earth and
dying on a cross to help men believe how great they really are--something is
horribly amiss. This has the stench of blasphemy.

I completely agree that this has the stench of blasphemy. According to the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 1:26:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise
by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak
things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world
and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that
are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in
Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God that is, our righteousness,
holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast
in the Lord."

With all this in mind it must be said that when I first saw the video with him, I enjoyed it. I think it had a great message. I guess this just shows that we need to be careful. Just because a guy has a cool video or two doesn't mean that we should listent to his every word.

Another thing that came to mind was that because the video I saw was cool and hip and had emotional music, it had more effect on my emotions as opposed to my head knowledge. For instance, if a 60 year old preacher in a suit on Sunday morning gave the same message, it would not have had the same impact. Maybe guys like John Piper and D.A. Carson should give their sermons with cool music and just casually talking while walking towards the camera and more people in the post-modern mindset would appreciate it. I guess this goes to show that the medium has a large effect on the message.

If this has interested you I encourage you to read the whole review, which is linked at the top of this post.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Level 5 Leadership

"You can accomplish anything in life, provided you do not mind who takes the credit" Harry Truman

As I read the chapter, I was underlining key points, and was ready to summarize it all for this entry when I found that the author had a chapter summary at the end. I figure that the author can summarize his point better than I can, so I am just re-writing some of his key points. I think they get the general message of what I learned from this chapter. The only thing you miss is the many examples of where these points were actually found.

Another quick key point is that "Level 5 Leadership" is a term the research team came up with after analyzing the 11 CEO's, as oppose to a fixed ideology that they are applying to these leaders. These are the things that stood out in the good-to-great CEO's from the comparison CEO's (CEO's from companies that were in the same industry and time as the good-to-great companies).

Here are the findings:

  • Every good-to-great company had Level 5 leadership during the pivotal transition years. "Level 5" refers to a 5-level hierarchy of executive capabilities, with Level 5 at the top.
  • Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves.
  • Level 5 leaders set up their successors for even greater success in the next generation, while egocentric Level 4 leaders often set up their successors for failure.
  • Level 5 leaders display a compelling modesty, and are understated in value. In contrast, two-thirds of comparison companies had leaders with large personal egos that contributed to the companies demise or continued mediocrity.
  • Level 5 leaders are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable desire to achieve results. They are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the company great, no matter how big or how hard the decision.
  • Level 5 leaders display a workmanlike diligence. They are "more like a work horse than a show horse.
  • Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror, and blame themselves, taking full responsibility. The comparison CEO's often did just the opposite - they looked in the mirror to take credit, while looking out the window to assign blame for disappointing results.

I like a lot of the qualities mentioned here. The only one that I am cautious of is the "doing whatever it takes to make the company great". I guess I just need to watch out for being pragmatic, letting the end justify the means. As a Christian leader I need to make sure that all steps along the way are honouring to God. I don't think what the author was talking about contradicts this, but it is just something to watch out for.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Moving from "7 Habits" to "Good to Great"

As I mentioned when I began blogging about the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I was asked to read 4 books on leadership by CCC, in order to develop in that area. I just finished reading 7 Habits and so now I am moving onto a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins. The subititle of this book is, "Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't"

The general theme of this books seems to be contained in the opening lines:

Good is the enemy of Great. And that is one of the main reasons why we have so
little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we
have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have
good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is
so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of
companies never become great, precisely because the vast
majority become quite good - and that is their main problem.

The first chapter outlines the process the author took in making this book. He wanted to study various companies that became great, and how that happened in order to squeeze out some principles that could be applied elsewhere. He ended up finding 11 companies, that after 15 years of being good, made a jump to become great, and then have lasted at least 15 years being great. He also found 11 other companies for direct comparison, meaning that they are in the same field of business as the corresponding good to great company, and had similar resources, etc, but never made the jump to great. He also found 6 unsustained good to great comapanies, which after a year or two of greatness, fizzled back down to being good.

The goal of reading this book for myself is to find and apply some of these principles that the author finds, in order to become greater in ministry, as well as life in general. Again, as with the 7 Habits, I hope to blog about some of the key things I am reading. I know what you are saying... Boring... but what can I say...It'll help me remeber what I am learning, and if I am just reading without applying, then I am not taking heed to the words of James 1:22-25:

22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who
looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself
and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks
into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer
who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing

I know the author is refering to the law, but I think there is definatly an applicable principle here for us all.

Anyways, I will leave it at that, here comes "Good to Great"!

Ramsey Clark, What are you doing with your life?

As most of you know, Saddam Hussein is on trial for various things including war crimes. What you may not know, however, is that the person representing him is a man named Ramsey Clark. Ramsey Clark is a former U.S. Attourney-General under the Democratic Lyndon Johnson Government.

Now if you are thinking, how did this poor guy get stuck representing Saddam Hussein, think again. This guy wanted this case, and actually makes a living of representing people such as Saddam. A few years ago, he represented war criminal Slobadan Milosevic, former president of Yugoslavia who was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of many Albanians. Prior to that, Mr. Clark represented Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a leader in the Rwandan Genocide. In addition to these people, he also has represented lesser known war criminals, as well as some involved in the Nazi concentration camps.

I am not completely sure why Mr. Clark wants to represent these types of people. I know that he is anti-Bush, anti-war in Iraq, etc, but I don't think that would be enough reason. But I do think that there might be something wrong with him. This guy went as far as even claiming that some of the killings Saddam ordered were justified. This is from an online encyclopedia: "Clark claimed that the massacre of 148 Iraqi Shi'ite men and boys in 1982 during the Iraq-Iran War was justified, as: "He [Saddam] had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt".

My thoughts are... what are you doing with your life? I mean, what sort of pleasure can you get from defending, and giving council to these sorts of people. This doesn't mean that I think they aren't entitled to recieve legal council, but you think that it should be hard to find people who would even want to represent these sorts of humans, let alone one person who wants to represent them all.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Going through life with Christ

One of the cool things about being a Christian is that you can begin the day knowing that God created the Universe. After that, everything else just falls into perspective. I mean, as a Christian I believe that God loves me, and has a plan for my life, including the small details.

I can’t imagine waking up believing that the world came from a big bang or random molecules coming together to form this universe. I mean, the reason I know that the sun will rise tomorrow is that God made it to do so. The sun rose yesterday, it rose today, and I am certain that it will rise tomorrow. Now if the world came from random chance, then why is the world so ordered? I don’t mean that we will always feel like or lives are in order, but that there are many examples (including the sun rising every day) that show that this universe couldn’t have came from random chance, but instead intelligent design.

Also, if the universe did happen to come into existence by some random chance, then what is the purpose of life? As humans, we are just accidents that just happened to be smarter than all the other living creatures? We hope to live until 70 and then die, and then what? One person said it like this: “If there is no God, than life is as meaningful as arranging furniture on the sinking Titanic”. I mean, it might be nice to fluff the pillows, but this ship is going down!

Or what value does it give to our day-to-day lives? We go to work for 8 hours a day, working for a company so that the CEO gets big bucks, go home, watch TV or go on MSN, go to sleep, and then go back to work. That doesn’t sound so good to me.

But getting back to waking up and knowing that God exists created the universe, and loves me makes all the difference. I know God created me to have a relationship with Him, and that I can make a difference in this world by introducing other people to this God, and then when I die, I get to spend eternity with Him. Knowing these truths makes the little things in life that bother so many people, fade away and seem insignificant in view of His glory.

Just think, this is how God looks at the earth...

How hard can it be for him to manage my problems? God is good.

Habit 7 - Sharpening the Saw

Habit 7 is taking time to sharpen the saw. We can labour for hours trying to cut down a tree, but if we take 5 minutes to sharpen the saw we can do it in minutes. Sharpening the saw is investing time into the greatest asset you have – you. It is renewing the 4 dimensions of your nature – physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional.

The Physical Dimension

This involves taking care of our physical bodies – eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Most of us think that we don’t have time to exercise. But if we think about it, 3-6 hours of our week out of 168 in a week is a worthwhile investment, especially if we consider the tremendous benefits we would gain in the rest of our 162-165 hours of the week. A good exercise program doesn’t have to be with a gym, but should allow us to grow in three areas: endurance, flexibility, and strength.

One of the greatest benefits we will get from exercising is the experience of developing habit 1 – Proactivity. Many times we won’t feel like exercising, but if we can overcome that by looking at the benefits of exercising, and follow through in doing it rather than wimping out, we will see ourselves grow.

The Spiritual Dimension

This dimension involves who you are deep down, and renewing that centre in order to keep focused on what is most important. Spiritual renewal involves an investment of time, and it is a quadrant 2 activity that is important, but rarely gets done because it is not urgent. Martin Luther said, “I have much to do today, so I need to spend an extra hour on my knees”.

The Mental Dimension

Most of our mental development comes from our schooling. But once we graduate, does that mean we are done learning? It shouldn’t. Proactive people find ways in order to develop in this manner, whether they are in a class taking a course or not.

One great way to continue growing in this dimension is to read. You can go into the minds of the smartest and brightest in all of history. The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who can’t read.

Another way is to write. Journaling or blogging is a good way of keeping track of what life is teaching you. Also, writing letters or emails to people that go beyond the shallow and into the deep allows us to grow and learn from others.

The Social/Emotional Dimension

This dimension focuses on habits 4-6 and dealing with others. In order to be effective in this avenue, we must be in line with our principles so that we can be free to let others see into us. When this happens, we are able to be open, which in turn allows others to be open, and we can all be more effective.

We can also help others by seeing their potential, even if they are not currently meeting it. We can help them in becoming proactive. When this happens both you and they can get more done.

In all these 4 area we need to practice balance. Ignoring one area hinders the others.

The Upward Spiral

Renewal is the principle that empowers us to move on an upward spiral of growth and change, of continuous improvement. Moving in an upward spiral requires us to learn, commit, and do on increasingly higher planes. If we are learning a lot, but not committing to it and applying it, we are fooling ourselves if we think we are becoming more effective.