Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scatter Shooting 2.28.12

Justin Taylor has a link to a message delivered by David Powlison - a Biblical counselor who I respect deeply - on suffering and the grace of Christ. Check it out.

The Importance of Exercise for the Brain

I am a book lover so one of my dreams is to have a library like one of these.

Evaluating Movies in Light of Scripture

7 Marks of Humility

Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, has written an interesting article on Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum and "the fate of conservative candidates and conservative convictions in the public square."

Well What About ...?

In Luke 20:20 we find the Pharisees trying to catch Jesus in a quandary, by asking him questions where they can get him to say something that would be out of biblical bounds. In verse 21 they try to set him up by complimenting him so as to take down his guard as if He ever needed one. Then in verse 22 they hit Him with the big million dollar question "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Ceasar or not?". Jesus slaps them with "Why do you test me?", and He then closes them out with the genius line of "Render to Ceasar what is Ceasar's , and to God the things that are God's." Boom!!! The Pharisees marveled at Him and kept silent.

Here is what I believe is an application for our lives. 1st of all is don't try to play games with God, it's not productive to try to negotiate with Him. God isn't some dictator who we can barter and make trades and compromise with, He wants all of us not some piece. When we try to negotiate it only points out our rebellious nature and the fact that we refuse to completely surrender our lives because we worship control. This is acted out in my life when I knowingly sin and lean on the fact that God is forgiving and merciful. That action and process will just lead me into more sin and walk me farther off the protected path to where the enemy can distract and kill me.
The 2nd application ties in with the first and its to keep things simple. Have you ever heard the question, "Can God make a rock big enough that He can't lift it?" This is a ridiculous question, if there was a definitive answer to this question what good would it do? Nothing... this question just points back to our rebellion and how we are constantly trying to find easy street to live and operate on. The Christian faith isn't easy, matter of fact it's a grind at times and if it was easy our world wouldn't be so broken. so back to the point, we need to keep things simple and get back to basics to continue to sharpen the foundation of our walks. It's not productive to get into philosophical debates with nonbelievers who are obviously stuck in their rebellion. I'm not saying never to do it but I am saying we need to guard ourselves and our faith because the enemy will use their words to try to lead us astray.

In closing, keep pressing in, praying, reading our bible's, fellowshipping, reading the posts here, and staying in conversation with Jesus throughout the day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hang Time with Lecrae

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16 ESV)

Last night, I got to witness a sold out US Airways arena in Phoenix worship and sing praises to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Several great bands performed on stage last night, but one man and his team highlighted the evening - Reformed Hip-Hop artist, Lecrae. His unashamed performance directed the hearts of thousands to the One True Artist worthy of praise. If you are unfamiliar with Lecrae then look him up (here's a start: http://reachrecords.com/artists/show/Lecrae). For those of you already familiar with Lecrae, I'm hear to proclaim personally that the man behind the music is exactly the man you would expect from the content.

Blake and I were graced with the opportunity to hang with Lecrae for a good part of the afternoon before the show. This hang-time was actually not pre-arranged. It just kind of happened that way, but I feel blessed that it did. It's always encouraging to hang with men who share your love for Jesus and want to use their God-given gift to the best of their ability all for the honor and glory of the One who gave them the gift. Through the Spirit, Lecrae is redeeming hip-hop and restoring it to its proper place as an instrument of worship to the One who created it. Praise Jesus for His power displayed in the life and leadership of a humble artist named Lecrae. Thank you Lecrae for your devotion and love for our King. May God continue to grant us all wisdom and discernment regarding our stewardship of His gifts and deliver us all from the temptations that come with the territory.

With peace and unashamed thanks to Jesus,


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Leadership Corner: Map or Compass?

Seth Godin has given us a little nugget of truth when it comes to the priorities of a leader in this changing, technological age:

The map has been replaced by the compass
The map keeps getting redrawn,
because it's cheaper than ever to go offroad, to develop and innovate and remake
what we thought was going to be next. Technology keeps changing the routes we
take to get our projects from here to there. It doesn't pay to memorize the
route, because it's going to change soon.
The compass, on the other hand, is
more important then ever. If you don't know which direction you're going, how
will you know when you're off course?
And yet...
And yet we spend most of
our time learning (or teaching) the map, yesterday's map, while we're anxious
and afraid to spend any time at all calibrating our compass.


- T Durham

What's More Important - Winning or Honoring God?

Jim Hamilton, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a lover of sports, answers the question: "is it more important to honor God or win in sports?"

"If athletics are going to be anything other than a training ground for
thuggery, athletes have to know that it’s more important to honor God than to
win. For kids to accept the bodies they’ve been given and refuse
performance-enhancing drugs, they have to know that it’s more important to honor
God than to win. For us to be able to honor our opponents whether we win or
lose, we have to know that it’s more important to honor God than to win. For
sports and competition to bring out the best—rather than the worst—in us, we
have to go at it like it’s more important to honor God than to win."

Read the whole thing here.

- T Durham

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are Sports Values Contrary to Christian Values?

I found an interesting article in the New York Times this week. David Brooks, using the rise of Jeremy Lin as an example, argues that there is a contradiction between the values of sports and Christian values. He argues that sports values are courage, pride, self-exultation, and win at all costs, while Christian values are humility, self-denial, others-centeredness, and gentleness.

You can read the article here. What do you think? Can a sold out Christian achieve greatness in sports, while not compromising his or her Christian values?

- Durham

Action to Permanent Change

After reading a recent post I thought of my life and in thinking of that I thought of my business (my business has replaced baseball in terms of what occupies my idle mind). What popped into my head is my interactions with clients and how many people won't change their behaviors until they can feel the pain of what they are doing and how that will ultimately affect them in a way that doesn't line up with who they want to be. Sometimes people get it right away but most people need to be informed and given details, agonizing details before they will make a change that they know is an obvious good move (we're not selling snake oil here). Many times the person has found many ways to rationalize their reasons for not changing and it's alarming to here what they'll say. They've grown comfortable in their ways even though they are leading them into a bad place.

So here is the correlation, my bible says this- "for the wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord". Roman 6:23

My question is "do you have something in your life that is beating you slowly where the repercussions could be deadly?" Is now the time to make change? This could be something big or small, the bottom line is what will it cost you not to take action an kill this sin that has grown so comfortable in your life? Better yet, what will you gain by crushing this issue and freeing yourself from its bondage. Personally I don't want to be a slave to laziness anymore, I'm tired of not waking up to knock out some reading, exercise, spend time with Jesus being grateful for Him, and spending time with you all on this blog. I want to live and live abundantly but if I don't press in and tap all these resources I'll live with regret. This is too painful to think about so I'm changing. So to run it back; what is it in your life that needs action, that needs change? Are you in, is the pain of not taking action enough to launch you into action? Something that puts me into action is to think of myself and what my life would look like in 10 then 20 years if I don't make this change.

Let me share a quick story about a friend of mine who I played against a few years ago. He had come to a place where he no longer wanted to be a slave to chewing tobacco, it had dominated him for too long. His wife had asked him to change and with a look of disappointment, that was enough for my friend. He launched into action and the first week of change he was exposed to a tough environment but fortunately he had some Christian brothers to hold him accountable. This past January we celebrated a year of being dip-free and he feels as though some chains of bondage has been dropped. God is amazing because that couldn't have been an easy hurdle.

Be blessed everybody, I appreciate you reading.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Christian Hip-Hop Track of the Week

Spring Training

Spring Training. One of my favorite times of the year. Baseball, beautiful Florida weather, tons of time spent on the beach and in the pool with my family, dinner with the family every night.... lots of good stuff going on. Also, Spring Training, in years past, has been a time where I grow considerably in my faith. When we get down here we get on a good church going routine to a great church that's Bible based and has a great kids program (something that our family is blessed to have in all 3 places we spend time). Also, we get on a good Bible study routine. Big leaguers, minor leaguers, wives, kids... everybody is catered to and there is a real sense of serving going on there. So this time is not just a Spring Training get ready for baseball type of thing. It's also a Spring Training of our walks with Jesus type of thing. Then, inevitably, we leave for the season. And what happens? Slowly but surely we lose a lot of that momentum that we gained during our time in Florida. And, every year, the same promises to keep the ball rolling during the season fizzle out. And, every year, the same regret at the end of the year for all the lost and wasted time. So, here's my question... why do we allow this to happen every stinkin' year? Before you start saying "Aw, you poor guy" stop and think if I might be relating to you too. If this doesn't pertain to you then read on or read something else. But, I bet if you're honest, you'll at least admit there have been times when you were slipping and needed a boost. I've figured out that sometimes in order to grow I have to be a good self evaluator. So... why do we let it happen? Why do we ride a spiritual roller coaster that seems to never end? Here it is.. you ready?..... WE DON'T KEEP CHRIST IN THE CENTER OF OUR LIVES!
It comes down to that age old question of what are your priorities. Here's the most common answer... "God, family, job, friends, hobbies. I'm close anyway. But, here's how I think we should amend that answer. Let's make Jesus the center of everything. Lets have Jesus be the rock of our family, lets let our God dictate how we do business, and allow His Holy Spirit to shine over our friendships. There's a great book that hits on this concept amazingly called "Lead...For God's Sake". If you are a coach please, for God's sake, read that book. Here's the deal. When we place God at the center of everything, His greatness shines in everything. We are called to be lights in a dark world. Let's get over ourselves and let God light us up from the inside out. Anybody feeling me here?


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Prayer Requests of the Apostle Paul

I just finished a short essay for a class that I am taking. The essay is on the prayer requests of the apostle Paul found in Romans 15:30-32, Ephesians 6:18-20, Colossians 4:2-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:25 and 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2. It would definitely help to read those few verses before reading the post below.

Instructions for My Prayer Life from the Prayer Requests of the Apostle Paul

The apostle Paul’s prayer requests for himself illustrate what is truly meant by praying in the name of Jesus. In each of the five verses studied, Paul’s central concern of his requests is the advancement of the gospel. He makes no request for any material provision and expresses no concerns about his own personal health despite being imprisoned at the time that he records a couple of these requests. Paul asks for deliverance from unbelievers and the wicked, but even this was because of his desire to spread the gospel without hinderance. The Christ-centered focus of this “ambassador in chains” serves as a powerful testimony of one who presses on toward the eternal goal knowing that his citizenship is not of this world.

Meditating on the prayer requests of the apostle Paul encourages and instructs me on how to truly pray in the name of Jesus. Jesus consistently prayed in accordance with the will of God. We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but we do know that if we ask in accordance with God’s will, He hears us. And although we can have confidence that the Spirit helps us in our weakness, we can also consider the heart of Paul in his specific requests for prayer. Prayer in accordance with God’s will is prayer that seeks first the glory of God. Paul’s intense focus and passion for the advancement of God’s glory challenges me to break these chains of self-centeredness and to embrace a life of complete dedication to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

All too often throughout my journey with Jesus, I have remained idle in the face of conviction. This must stop. I have grown tired of allowing my heart to be stirred while my feet remain still. This examination of the heart of the apostle Paul will change my posture before the Lord. I desire to remove my attention from myself and fix my eyes upon the advancement of God’s glory. Is my comfort and the safety of my family more important than the glory of God? My mind knows the correct answer, but my heart seems indecisive. Paul’s prayer requests demonstrate unity of heart, mind and soul. Such harmony is the trademark of true worship. My desire going forward is to pray in such a way that seeks first the kingdom of God trusting the promise that all other things will be added to me.

With peace thanks to Jesus,


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Leadership Corner: Leaders are Learners

I think that every book I have ever read on leadership has emphasized the importance of being a learner. They say when you stop learning, eventually you will stop leading. Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward in their book, Launching a Leadership Revolution, said "it is a fact that most of the greatest leaders throughout history have been avid readers" (127).
For me, books have been the most important means of growth in my life as a leader. I was released by the Cardinals in 2004 and up until then my whole life was devoted to baseball. A year later I was in the ministry as a youth pastor and felt like I was way behind the curve. At that point my only responsibilities were on Wednesday night and Sunday's so I had a lot of time to read. It was during this time that I really began to see the benefits of reading and grow as a leader.

One leader said that you can tell who someone will become in five years based on the books they read and the people they hang out with. I believe him.

Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Church in Chicago, said that "leaders have a responsibility before God to constantly get better, and one of the most reliable ways to do so is to read. Great leaders read frequently. They read voraciously" (Axiom, 196).

Very few people read and those who do normally read for entertainment, not growth. What about you? What books have you read recently? Are you reading books that stretch your thinking or do you just read books that are easy? Do you read a wide variety of books or do you just read the latest bestseller?

Wherever you are in life become a reader. Make it a priority to read at least a half an hour a day. I promise it will help you stretch and grow as a leader.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Scatter Shooting

Great Article from Peter Gammons on Hamilton Relapse: Allison Understands Hamilton's Struggles

Free Audio and Video from John Piper's Latest Conference on God, Manhood, & Ministry: Building Men for the Body of Christ.

How Jesus Chooses and Uses Our Failures

Interesting Article Titled "Can We Trust the Contemporary Worship Music Industry?"

The Top Ten Blog Posts from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF). These blogs deal with topics like depression, anger, anxiety, fear, and many more.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Leadership Corner: Charisma and Serving Others

"How can you have charisma? Be more concerned about making others feel good
about themselves than you are making them feel good about you" - Dan Reiland
(Vice President of Leadership Development, INJOY)

"In humility count others more significant than yourselves." - Philippians 2:3

Focusing on others is a very difficult thing indeed. Nonetheless, this is a necessary attribute of an effective Christian leader. Whoever it is that is under our leadership must know that we have their best interests in mind; in fact, they must feel that we consider them more significant than ourselves.

This week focus on serving those who work for you. Be intentional about making them feel significant.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

George Washington Prayer

Reading some interesting books and stumbled across this tonight. It's from President George Washingtons Prayer Journal. Mostly written in his early twenties. Imagine if he was running our Country now?

O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and hast given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul. Direct my thoughts, words, and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb, and purge my heart by thy holy spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, &direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more &more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends &kindred unite us all in praising &glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed saviour, who hath taught us thus to pray, our Father.

George Washington 1752. Age 20