Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dave Ramsey's Success Reads

Dave Ramsey is a nationally syndicated talk show host, specializing in finance. He is also author of "The Total Money Makeover", and "Financial Peace University". He recommends the following books for success life, money, and relationship with Jesus Christ.

I wanted to post them here for your reading pleasure, and to elicit any comments or reviews you may have concerning these titles.

1.) QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability in Work and in Life

2.) The Go Getter - Peter Kyne

3.) Rhinoceros Success

4.) The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant: Principles for Successful Living

Just wanted to alert you all to these potentially valuable resources. I recently added "Rhinoceros Success" to my collection; I will give you a review when I complete it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Virginity, $3,000,000

This is an interesting and troubling article, about a girl who is auctioning off her virginity to the highest bidder (to pay for a Masters Degree in Family and Marriage Therapy...irony!)...

Student auctions off virginity for offers of more than £2.5 million
A student who is auctioning her virginity to pay for a masters degree in Family and Marriage therapy has seen bidding hit £2.5million ($3.7m).

Your reaction?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hello, Goodbye

From How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else , Michael Gate Gill writes about his last day, before he goes to work at a different Starbucks location.

One of his regular customers, Ella, a two year old and her father, tell him bye...Gill write, "...I willed myself to take Ella's positive attitude. "Hi" and "Bye" were equally exciting to her. And should be to me."

You see, "Bye" is not a negative, its as positive as "Hi". "Bye" is leaving one thing (whether loved or hated), and "Hi" to another. A new experience, another chapter of life.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prosperity Praise

Something fun for Saturday...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ted Haggard, Lessons to the Church

What Ted Haggard can still teach the church

Posted: January 14, 2009
1:00 am Eastern

By Alan Chambers
© 2009

Ted Haggard is having his say. The former pastor of a Colorado megachurch who admitted to a sexual relationship with a male escort in 2006, is now sharing his story in a documentary called "The Trials of Ted Haggard." On Jan. 29, the film premieres on HBO and will follow the life of the former pastor and re-examine the scandal that rocked the evangelical world. While the film is bound to bring up old wounds and raise more questions, there are some important lessons that the church can learn from Ted Haggard.

When the story broke in 2006, I, along with thousands of others, was shocked. I had brief contact with Ted Haggard in his role as leader of the National Association of Evangelicals at various meetings. His deception grieved me as did the media's portrayal of him as the worst kind of hypocrite – a two-faced man who preached the Gospel of Christ by day and engaged in homosexual activity and drug abuse by night. People asked how it was possible for someone to oppose homosexual sin while indulging in it.

As he himself wrote in his confession, "There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life." If you had asked the thousands that attended his Colorado Springs church, I imagine most would have said they had no idea their pastor struggled with homosexuality. The same could be the said for our own churches. It might be easy for us to judge the outside world, but how often do we recognize the broken and hurting in our own pews? For every gay activist that shouts in the parades, I'm willing to bet that there's someone in our congregations who painfully struggles with homosexuality, but is afraid to reach out for help. I know because I was that person.

(Column continues below)

As a teenager, I was in church every Sunday and harbored my own secret – a battle with homosexuality. Like Ted Haggard, I, too, was molested at a young age and found myself dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction. I gave in to my feelings and found gay life fun for a season, but eventually realized it would be lonely for a lifetime. More importantly, I was living in deep conflict with my own Christian beliefs. I felt like a hypocrite, and I went searching for help. At the time, it seemed no church would touch the issue and thus I found Exodus International, a ministry that helps those dealing with this particular struggle. Godly men and women walked beside me as I began to deal with underlying wounds and discovered my true identity in Christ. They demonstrated the bold love of Jesus Christ when I needed it most, and now, 18 years later, I am blessed to do the same for others.

The truth is that most Christians struggle with a particular sin in their lives. It might be an uncontrolled temper. Maybe it's substance abuse or even a secret grudge harbored toward someone. Or maybe, like Ted Haggard and me, it's a struggle with lust and sexual brokenness. While there is freedom through the power of Christ, the sad truth remains that there is still something terribly wrong in many of our congregations, something that all of the marriage protection laws and constitutional amendments cannot fix. Many of our churches are not safe places for us to be vulnerable and seek help and so many continue to suffer in silence. The choice of committing sin and disobeying God has always been our personal responsibility, but we in the church desperately need each other. And yet, in many churches, people are still donning masks and ignoring the very hurts and struggles that God instructs us to be open about. If we are to make any progress in reaching a hurting world, our churches need to be a place of healing and accountability. This starts by every one of us, including our leadership, admitting to our struggles and asking fellow Christians for help.

In the end, however, it is the loving and redemptive nature of God to take our messes and even our most tragic circumstances and use them for something beautiful. Often, the villain in our movies and news stories "gets his," and that's the last we ever hear from them. But the grace of Jesus Christ isn't content just to leave things at that. God wants to reach out to all who have fallen, even the villains in the world's stories. Convicted Watergate criminal Chuck Colson is a perfect example of how God can take a disgraced public figure and bless him with a fantastic and far-reaching ministry. The Apostle Paul was one of the early church's most feared persecutors before God intervened and made him one of Jesus' most zealous supporters. No one is beyond the same redemptive power. Christ came to the world to set captives free, and no one is exempt from that promise. So, while Ted Haggard is having his say, it is far better to know that in the end, God will always have his.

This article taken from Exodus International Ministries.

I thought this was a great article...would love to hear your responses.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Divine Work (pt.4)

I am in the process of reading the book, "How Starbucks Saved My Life". It is the memoir of Michael Gates Gill. A man who was raised in a lap of luxury, went straight from an Ivy League university, into a high paying advertising job. After more than 25 years with the company the "let him go".

He then started his own advertising firm and after another 10 years of that he lost all of his clients, and around the same time was divorced from his long-term wife, and mother of his three adult children. His life of luxury was falling apart. He finally landed a job at a local Starbucks.

He relates to a story from his past, while contemplating his new work philosophy...

"...Fitzgerald wrote, "She realized too late that work was dignity."
Work is dignity, I repeated to myself. That could be my mantra.
Why had it taken me so long to realize this essential truth? Fitzgerald had written his daughter thhis key perception, yet I had fought my daughter Elizabeth, whom I called 'Bis', when she had wanted to go to work. When she was just twelve years old, she had been offered a sumer job helping the tennis pro with scheduling and teaching and I had turned down the job offer- without even talking to Bis about it.
"How could you do that, Daddy?" Bis had cried, tears cascading from her eyes.
"But I want you to have a chance just to enjoy yourself this summer."
"But I like to work," Bis had angrily replied.
For me, work was something one had to do, not what one should do. I admired those who never had to work... and lusted after the huge trust funds of some of my richer friends. I thought I was doing Bis a favor by protecting her from having to work. How wrong I had been."

His bio on the back cover sums up his new work philosophy "...(he) has no plans to retire from what he calls the best job he's ever had."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Speaking Engagement

I will be speaking Sunday (1/18/09) at Community Wesleyan Church, in Intercession City, Florida.

My topic is "God, Our Refuge", using a text from Deut. 19:1-13 (Cities of Refuge). I will be using illustrations from my experience in the fire service.


1. Refuge is within easy reach.
- Illustration- New Years Eve Bangkok Fire; Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire.
- Clear way of escape.
- Rev. 3:20
- I Cor. 10:13

2. Refuge is open/available to all, no one is turned away.
- John 3:16, "whosoever"

3. The one in need will have life.
-Romans 3:23

4. Refuge is the only alternative, without it, total destruction.
- House of Refuge, Hutchinson Island, FL
- Psalms 46:1

5. The accused is protected with the boundaries of the city only. Outside of city means destruction.
- Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, FL
- SCBA mask, firefighter's life-line

6. Full freedom comes only with the death of the High Priest.
- Jesus as High Priest
- Hebrews 2:17-18

I will post the video recording of the message here within the week. Thank you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spiritual Formation Tour

Saturday I attended a Spiritual Formation seminar (by the Wesleyan Church). It was a wonderful time of refreshing the spirit, and learning methods of developing spiritual formation in ourselves and those in our churches. It was good to be reminded of the fact that the most important spiritual formation to maintain is our own. We must follow spiritual discipline, and take care of our own spiritual formation before we can train/develop others.

I attended the youth ministry track. Their were many valuable things discussed. However, the most important thing was the emphasis of mentoring; the importance of a one-on-one relationship with the students in our youth groups. Students will come to churches were they are accepted and loved. As we strive to develop spiritual formation in the lives of our students, mentoring becomes essential.

In my youth ministry experience the most valuable times of ministry were the times outside of church/youth group. They were the times at McDonald's after church. They were the times of taking a student along to perform some task, nothing really planned, just spending time with these students.

They gave a staggering stastic: 90% of Christians today are converted before the age of 14. Youth spiritual formation/ministry is more important now than ever.

We dsicussed 5 steps to establishing youth groups:

1.) Pray (for God's annointing on the ministry, spiritual strength, teen leaders).

2.) Develop a teen prospect list (write the names of teens, known or not known, and their hangouts, develop rapport).

3.) Have a start-up meeting (with whatever students you may have, what do they want the ministry to look like, what's important).

4.) Plan a big kick-off event (develop importance of youth ministry, outreach, promote).

5.) Stick to it (develop long-term goals, plan to stay for the long haul, youth pastor turnover rate is probably the #1 killer of youth groups).

Their are many youth ministry resources available at...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bondage to the King

1 Samuel 8:6-22 is the story of Israel's request for a king.

v. 6 "...give us a king to judge us..."
v. 7 "...they have not rejected you; the have rejected Me as their king."
v. 9 "...warn them..."
v. 11-18 "These are the rights of the king who will rule over you...he can take your sons...he can take your daughters...he can take a tenth of your grain and your vineyards...he can take your male yourselves can become his servants."

Israel was pleading with the prophet Samuel, for a king. Samuel "considered their demand sinful", so he brought it before the Lord. The Lord replied with, give them what they want, but it will be bad for them.

The Israelites up to this point had only God to lead them. But, they began to look around at other nations, and those around them, they felt like they were missing out on something. It looked like the neighboring nations had something great! They asked for a king.

They no longer wanted to be under the sole leadership of Christ. They rejected him for a king. The Lord, through Samuel, warns them of the troubles they will face with a king.

It is sad to say that everyday those around us are behaving just as the Israelites. They are rejecting the King of Kings, for other "kings" in their life. They look around and feel like they are missing out on something. Maybe they are a Christ follower, however, they are turned from the way of Christ for their desire of following the world. Or, perhaps this is what keeps a soul from turning to Christ, they are afraid of all they will "lose". They see the life of unbelievers (pleasurable for a season), they don't want to miss out!

Under Christ's lordship, the Israelites had complete freedom. They operated in the parameters of God's Word. However, they looked around, they saw something "better".

The Lord warns them of the trouble they will face. He will utilize their family. They will lose their sons and daughters, the king will put them to work. He will use them as he sees fit, not according to the purposes of God.

The king will take their possesions. He will take their land, vineyards, and fields. They will be his to use as the king wishes.

The king will take their servants, and donkeys (essential "tools" for the agrarian culture of the day). Any fields left that the Isrealites have would not be able to be worked to their full potential.

The kind will take their flocks, and they will become his servants. The king will finally take their freedom. With little fields, no tools to work them, with their flocks (source of meat) taken, they are left with no choice but to become fully in bondage to the king.

Family (that which we are closest too), purpose, possessions, potential, freedom....the king would take that which Satan is till trying to take from God's people.

Under Christ we have complete freedom. We have closeness with God (closer than a brother), we can only fully understand relationships with others after we have a relationship with Him, we have freedom to pursue God's purpose for our lives, when in need we still possess Christ (He possesses us), we are enabled to reach our full potential in Him.

People everyday, however, are looking around, they freak out because they fear that God is going to mess up, their lives they have planned for themselves can never happen with God. So, they choose to follow a different king.

Satan comes in, things may go good for a season, but eventually it all falls apart. Satan works the same way, attacks our relationships, robs us of purpose, dispossesses us of Christ, defeats us from reaching our full potential.

[relationships, purpose, possessions, potential, freedom]