I learned some important lessons about courage last
weekend while I was dangling in midair.
am not a daredevil. I have never bungie-jumped off a cliff, parachuted out of
an airplane or spent any time in a shark cage. But when my friend Michael Cole
from Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI) asked me
to speak at a leadership retreat in Ohio—and he informed me that we would be
participating in a high ropes course on Saturday afternoon—I said to myself, Bring
on the challenge! I thought it would be fun!
Two elderly missionaries inspired me this week to
value character so I can finish well.
You’ve probably never heard of Hobert and
Marguerite Howard. They didn’t write best-selling books. They aren’t rich. They
don’t preach on television or pastor a megachurch. Fame was the farthest thing
from their minds when they both surrendered their lives to serve God on the
In 1951 this Pentecostal couple boarded a
steamship and sailed for 50 days to India, where they built orphanages, schools
and churches and trained Christian leaders. This week the Howards officially
retired, and I had the privilege of attending a special reception to honor them
for 60 years of service. read more
Many Christians today can’t
distinguish between the sweat of the flesh and the dew of heaven.
Gideon is one of my favorite
Bible characters because I relate to his struggle with inferiority. God pulled
this runt of a guy out of a hole in the ground and called him to deliver
Israel. Gideon’s classic “Who, me?” response reminds me of conversations I’ve
had with the Lord. None of us feels qualified to do God’s work, but we know
from Gideon’s example that reluctant wimps can be transformed into valiant
I’ve heard people criticize
Gideon because he laid out a fleece of wool on the ground and asked the
Lord—not once but twice—to confirm His promise (see Judges
6:36-40). But the Bible doesn’t say God was mad at Gideon for wanting
assurance. In fact, God answered Gideon both times with moisture from heaven.
The dew was a sign of God’s favor and blessing. read more
Many young adults today are abandoning biblical
faith or mixing it with other religions. How should we respond?
Since the Wild Goose
Festival was held in North Carolina’s mountains, you might be tempted to think
it was a typical bluegrass festival. Think again. The organizers of this event,
which attracted 1,500 people in late June, say their quasi-Christian conference
“is going to grow into the largest, best run, most dynamic religious happening
in the U.S.”
If a slick-haired TV
evangelist had made such a pompous statement we would have rolled our eyes and
laughed the guy off the stage. But the founder of Wild Goose, a peace activist
from Northern Ireland named Gareth Higgins, is convinced his movement will
capture the hearts of young Americans who are questioning their evangelical
faith and exploring other options. read more
If you or someone you know is battling sexual
temptation, take these five steps toward GRACE.
This week my wife and I
ministered to a group of 115 Russian teenagers at a youth camp in Virginia.
Part of our job was to separate the guys and the girls and facilitate honest
(and sometimes awkward) discussions about sex, dating and guy/girl
relationships. They put their anonymous questions in a black box (“How do I
know if she’s the one for me?” or “Is it OK to use condoms?”), and we answered
while the kids giggled nervously.
I spoke to the guys on the
first night about what I call the Porn Monster, using the description of the
adulterous woman in Proverbs 7 as my text. In this passage the writer recounts
the sad story of a vulnerable young man who wanders into the wrong part of town
where a harlot seduces him. The story concludes with these haunting words: “Do
not let your heart turn aside to her ways … for many are the victims she has
cast down” (Prov. 7:25-26). read more
“not guilty” verdict made a lot of people mad. But before we vent any more
anger we may need an attitude check.
were you on July 5 when the Casey Anthony verdict was released? Just before the
2:15 p.m. announcement, I was in a restaurant in Orlando with my family—and our
waitress was so anxious to hear the outcome of the trial that she brought up
the topic after we ordered our lunch. Not since the 1995
O.J. Simpson trial have Americans invested so much emotional energy in a
I live near Orlando where the trial was held, I’ve grown weary of the
never-ending local news coverage, which included stories on how much Casey was
allowed to spend on toiletries every week at the Orange County jail and how
long out-of-town visitors waited in line to get tickets to the trial. I
remember when 2-year-old Caylee Anthony went missing in 2008. I remember when
her decomposed remains were found six months later in some woods near her home. I
listened to the blur of reports about duct tape, the suspicious odor in the
trunk of the car, the chloroform, and her mother’s partying habits. read more
The church has had enough
spin, denial and closed-door settlements. Leaders must demonstrate humility and
A few years ago a minister
in my city went through a divorce, and the messy details of the settlement
between the pastor and his wife were reported in our newspaper. But when the
divorce was finalized there was no public statement. The man’s wife disappeared
from the stage, her photo vanished from the church website and nothing further
was said. Zip. Nada. No comment.
The message: It’s none of your business what happened
between the pastor and his wife. He’s the anointed messenger of God. Just
follow him. read more