The best work is always done with a few

disciples

“We should not expect a great number to begin with, nor should we desire it. The best work is always done with a few. Better to give a year or so to one or two people who learn what it means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime with a congregation just keeping the program going.”

Robert Coleman,  The Master Plan of Evangelism

Getting to know Gosnell

I hadn’t heard anything about the Gosnell trial until yesterday. When I caught up with it, and learned about the dude and what he’d been doing, I was sickened. And what’s even more sad is that the major media outlets aren’t making a peep about it. Here are the numbers:

gosnell by the numbers

 

Instead of writing my own piece about the horrors that have been going on, I’ll just link to all the articles I’ve seen floating around. This is an outrage, and people need to know about it.

Here’s an article from the Atlantic: Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front Page Story.

Here’s Trevin Wax’s blog on the Gospel Coalition website: 8 Reasons for the Media Blackout on Kermit Gosnell.

Russell Moore wrote a piece called Kermit Gosnell and the Gospel.

Joe Carter writes 9 Things You Should Know about the Gosnell Infanticide and Murder Trial.

 

 

All preachers must meditate and study

One meets on occasion, among students who are starting to preach, the idea that, after a time, if they walk faithfully with God, sermons will begin to come naturally, and the need for special preparation will grow less and less. Preachers in the Puritan tradition have not thought so, nor found it so. There were plenty of mid-seventeenth century zealots who thought it needless to prepare their sermons, but the Puritan leaders rejected this idea. ‘Whereas some men are for preaching only extempore and without study,’ says Thomas Goodwin, ‘Paul bids Timothy meditate and study.’

J.I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life

Challenge yourself

Last month I posted a TED video by Matt Cutts called “Try Something New for 30 Days.”The idea is to pick something new– not something hard, necessarily, just new– and do it consistently for 30 days, rain or sun. Give yourself small sustainable challenges, and see how it stretches you. Last month I tried it. I did 30 push-ups every day from July 19th-August 19th. It wasn’t that hard, but it was good. I did something I would not have done if I hadn’t challenged myself.

1. Practicing discipline is always good. There is no other way to grow in life than to do things that are hard. Anytime we practice self-discipline– even in the small things– we are cultivating the soil of life-growth.

2. He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much. The gateway to big life-change doesn’t necessarily start with huge aspirations. High goals and big dreams are very, very good– as long as they don’t minimalize the small and necessary steps to growth. For example, I’d rather see the high school kids in my youth ministry be faithful in daily Bible study than mistakenly believe that there are bigger, more important things to do. It starts with the little things.

3. 30 days is long enough without being too long. I’m sure you’ve heard that it takes 21 days of repetition to establish a habit. I don’t know how true that is, or how universal that is, but 30 days seemed plenty time to build a new habit. So I found 30 days to be plenty long. On the other hand, I know that lofty goals can be intimidating and sometimes work against productivity– so if that’s your problem, 30 days is a good number because it’s not so undoable. The light is always visible through this short tunnel.

Try it. If you’re nervous, try something small. Something small and new for 30 days will be a challenge. And then make sure you do it.

 

Emma’s 1st Birthday

This is one of my favorite pictures of Emma. Every time I look at it, it cracks me up.

We were in a small town north of San Francisco called Sausalito, eating outside where people were walking by. Every time someone walked by, Emma would start talking to them. Yelling is probably a better word.

This shot is right after she finished talking to one friendly couple, and now she’s looking for the next unsuspecting person to engage in conversation.

She seems to be thoroughly enjoying herself.

Anyway, today is her first birthday. What a joy she’s been. I still can’t believe it’s been one year since this.

I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I am a happy, happy man.

Happy Birthday, Emma.

Take Your Pick 6/22/11

Haven’t done this in a while, but I came across too many good blogs this morning that were worth linking to.

Here’s a link to Russel Moore’s article on Midnight in Paris, the latest Woody Allen flick that has some good thoughts that Christians should ponder. Ashley and I saw it on our 3rd year anniversary Monday– I liked it, and Ashley wasn’t too sure about it.

Josh Etter’s post at the Desiring God Blog had a great quote from David Powlison on how the omniscience of God should motivate our holiness and purity.

Blaise Pascal, a mathematical genius that lived in the 17th century, after fleeing from God in his early years, finally came to Christ at age 31. This little post from John Piper reminds me that no heart is too obstinate to resist the overwhelming grace of God found in Christ, and that at the heart of Christianity is a eye-opening miracle that enables sinful men to be reconciled to the God of joy.

Also, as I have said before, Ray Ortlund’s blog is a gospel goldmine. Read it. This recent post, which simply quotes from Arnold Dallimore’s biography of George Whitefield, makes me long for God to raise up these “certain young men.” And for me to be among them.

And lastly, watch this creative video about how to stay creative. It’s fun and has good ideas.

29 WAYS TO STAY CREATIVE from TO-FU on Vimeo.

Two Mentors: One Dead, One Alive

I have found that one of the most inspiring devices God uses to spur on his people to live like they should is a mentor.  And though there is nothing as good as a physically present mentor, there is great benefit in learning about the great men of God who have set examples for us.  In my life right now, I am purposefully letting myself be mentored by two people who don’t know me, one dead, one alive.

I’ll start with the living mentor.  He’s 63 and he lives in Minneapolis.  He’s a father, a grandfather, and an incredibly passionate man–with special gift to preach and teach.  He has a passion for God’s glory, and is widely known for his rhyming couplet:

God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him.

By now you might know I’m talking about John Piper.  For a more official biography, go here.

I was first became intrigued in his life and ministry after reading his most famous work, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. There a few books in my life that have changed the my perspective on life– but this is one of them.  It was the beginning a quest to understand the relationship between my joy and God’s glory.  He affirmed my hunger for happiness and joy, and pointed me in the direction of God to find it.

One thing I’ve noticed about Piper is that he’s quick to jump on to any kind of technology to use it to magnify God.  Piper (maybe not Piper himself, but definitely his ministry) was a pioneer in using the internet as a new way to get his resources out there.  In the early days of the internet, as Piper’s ministry was becoming more widely known, DesiringGod.org was launched– a website dedicated to “God-centered resources from from the ministry of John Piper“.  Most websites dedicated to a certain pastor’s ministry had a small fee to download sermons, videos, books, etc; but Desiring God was free.  Even when you choose to buy a book online, there is a as much as you can afford policy for those who cannot pay full price.

When I discovered Desiring God, with full free access to 30 years of articles, books, sermons, conferences, and videos, I became a mentee of John Piper.  I thank God for men like him, who can boldly say to a younger generation, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”

My other mentor is dead.  He has been dead for 111 years.  He was a Prussian who spent most of his life in Bristol, England.  He primarily worked with orphans. His name is George Muller.

If you haven’t read George Muller’s autobiography yet, put it on the list.  Reading an autobiography is like living in the same house as the man.  You see strengths and weaknesses; struggles and victories.  You have a first-hand account of how he feels about things; how he consoles himself in despair; how he motivates himself in ministry.  It is window into his habits and his discipline.  It’s a testimony to how God works in a man’s life that is dedicated to the Lord.  In the Muller’s case, it is specifically a testimony to the power of prayer.

For the next few weeks, I am going to let him mentor me.  I’ll be reading through his book, Releasing the Power of Prayer, and his biography by A.T. Pierson.

The best mentor is one you can talk to– but men like Piper and Muller are examples of the incredible grace of God, and we can learn much from them.  I always think it’s a good for us to “think the thoughts of great men after them.”