Come Away Little Man!

Stain Glass of Anselm

Tuesday is for Devotion

Anselm is one of my favorite saints.

Here’s a great quote I just unearthed that is in perfect sync with my heart. Let’s pray together that this will continue to be the beat of my heart and the beat of your heart until our seeking-heart’s last beat and we see Jesus face to face.

Come now, little man, turn aside for a while from your daily employment, escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside your weighty cares, let your burdensome distractions wait.

Free yourself for awhile for God and rest awhile in Him. Enter the inner chamber of your soul, shut out everything except God and that which can help you in seeking Him, and when you have shut the door, seek Him. Now, my whole heart, say to God, “I seek Your face, Lord, it is Your face I seek.”

Anselm (A.D. 1033-1109)
Source: Eerdman’s Book of Favorite Prayers


It’s Advent Season. Rejoice!

Monday Reflection

Everything the World Needs Right Now

I love this post from my internet friend, insanitybytes22. I love her wit and I love her perspective on life. This particular post struck a chord in my soul. I too have a visceral distaste of whiners. But she is not just venting here. She is pointing us to the way of gratitude, to the way of worship.

I confess this issue I have with whiners because I don’t want this post to sound too harsh, but I grew up within militant atheism and was not allowed to read a bible. I could not go to church or worship. I literally had to pray in secret. Ever taken communion alone? That’s a real oxymoron.

People don’t always understand how privileged they are, how much freedom they have until they lose it. Every single time I walk into a church or even a bible study, I never forget where I came from, how blessed I am today to have the freedom to worship. It never leaves my mind, it is that burned into my brain. My faith has been a real struggle, so every time I see other Christians engage in worship or praise or prayer, it feels like Victory to me. I don’t even have to know you, I just need to see you, somewhere, anywhere, giving praise or praying. Heck, I’ve been known to follow cars down the road just because they have a “Jesus is Lord” bumper sticker on them. Those crosses people sometimes put up on their houses, those matter to me. My eyes never stop scanning and seeking evidence of people’s faith and every time I spot it, I think of Victory, Jesus Christ’s victory on the cross.

My own struggles are nothing compared to what some people in the world are going through right now. There are atrocities happening that I cannot even bear to think about. Even right here safely at home there are people suffering grief and loss and the storms of life that threaten to swallow us all up. None of us really get through life unscathed and none of us can do it alone.

Indeed. None of us can do it alone. We need one another. We need our flawed and irritating church friends, even the whiners. So this Christmas season, make sure that you are looking up to the One who took on flesh so He could lay it down in sacrifice for you. He came. He lived. He died. He rose. He ascended. He is coming again. And because of all that He did, everyday till He does return is a victory, no matter what battles might be fought today. Remember that.

The Substitution of Complaint for Lament

Sunday Evening Musing

lament 3

These are times when we should cry out our laments to God. Times when the heart is so raw because of the evil of this world, the heartache and brokenness of this world that nothing but a mournful, tear-filled shout at God can be both relief and the path to health.

The book of Habakkuk records one of the moments. The psalms are filled with these moments. There are places in the psalms where the writer has exhausted all resources,

has lost all hope,
is surrounded on every side,
is filled with confusion and sorrow,
is broken over abandonment by friends,
suffering under debilitating disease,

where all he can do is cry out to God in an anguished lament for help and rescue.

It is cathartic. It is biblical. And it is hebraic.

lament 2 verticalIn Israel, I met a Jewish man who reminded me of the difference between Judaism and Islam. Islam means submission. There is no relationship with the Allah. There is only submission to his will. But Judaism is different. God is personal. Jacob wrestles with God at Bethel and gets a name change.  “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Gen. 32:28) “Israel” eventually becomes the name and the character of a people–a people that strives with God. To “strive with God” means many things but among them is this simple fact, to strive with God takes effort.

And that effort often takes the shape of thanksgiving, and praise, and worship but also questioning, and doubting, and believing, and conversing, and weeping. At times, it  involves lament.

Lament is defined as the expression of grief and deep sorrow and pain the travels the ridges of despair.

One of the debilitating effects of the new age of Twitter™, FaceBook™, Instagram™, Snapchat™, LinkedIn™, etc. is that it makes it possible for all of us to pour out our complaints to one another rather than to God. Instead of crying, I mean really crying out to God (with tears and agony of soul), we take the short cut and cry out our frustrations and fears and anxieties to one another and end up short circuiting our own spiritual development and our own path to wholeness.

Instead of taking our pain to God, we take the relief valve of horizontal complaint through various social media platforms and get a momentary release but ultimately no real help. But real help, real relief can only come from a vertical direction. We must look up. We must look to Him.

But we don’t.

Social media is too immediate, too everywhere, to easy, and so we truncate our own spiritual development by leaning on media rather than the everlasting arms of our God and Savior.

Note, I’m not pointing the finger at you. I’m guilty of this too. I think it is a systemic problem in the internet age. And its something I think we, the Church in America, need to recognize.

Recently, a friend recommended a book that I think is going to help me on my journey. If you would like to read along with me, I am going to read The Joy of Missing Out by Christina Crook, beginning January 1. Maybe you could get it for Christmas for yourself and join me in the journey.

(1) say What?

Saturday Musings

We might call these quotes, “Evidence of a Culture in Decline” or we just might scratch our heads and say, “say what?!”

raquel-welch“Seriously, folks, if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it’s gotta be pretty bad.”

—Actress Raquel Welch
(“It’s sex o’clock in America”, 5/9/10)

“Some educators are concerned that it would be hard to find teachers willing to recite it.”

An Arlington, MA, school committee on why they don’t say the
Pledge of Allegiance anymore in the town’s public schools.
(, “Banishing God from Our Classrooms,” 7/1/10)

Kooky“It is interesting but very complicated. I felt something violently surging up from within me that had been held down until then.”

—An ex-traffic policeman in Siberia thinks he is the Messiah.
The man, now called “Vissarion” (formerly Sergei Torop), experienced his
“Awakening” two decades ago when he lost his job in 1989
as the atheistic Communist regime was unraveling.
(, “Jesus of Siberia: an ex-traffic cop turned Messiah,” 8/30/09)

The Gospel Makes Hated Enemies into Brothers

Friday is for Heart Songs

Puting Church Planting on the MapToday I was reading the most recent DCPI (Dynamic Church Planting International) newsletter and ran across this great story from a church planting training that just occurred in Cambodia. I have said this before but it is worth saying again, DCPI is the most effective church planting organization in the history of the church. No one trains more church planters, more effectively, in more places than DCPI. No one. Ever.

The year 2014 was their most prolific complete year with over 16,520 people receiving training in one of the their training modules. This year with two months still to report they have seen approximately 18,000 people trained and are headed toward 20,000 trained for the entire year. Based on past performance, those 20,000 trainees will plant over 54,000 churches over the next 5 years.

Think about that. Think hard about it.

Think about 54,000 new communities around the world hearing the Good News, the only news that can transform murderers into lovers, terrorists into pastors, and transform communities ravaged by the savagery of human sinfulness. Think about that and then read this true story from a training in Cambodia.

As a pastor rose to greet the crowd, Visoth, the host, leaned over and whispered to the DCPI Master Trainer’s (MT) ear, ‘This pastor was a Khmer Rouge commander.’ The pastor spoke, and several men in attendance stood and were recognized with applause. ‘That was the mayor this village, and the man before him was the mayor of the town to which this village belongs. They both used to report to the pastor when they were in the Khmer Rouge. The pastor invited his former comrades to today’s building dedication service, and he’s thanking those who are here.’

As the host explained to the MT, many Christian ministries in Cambodia are not comfortable working with people who were formerly members of the Khmer Rouge. These were followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (Cambodia) which is remembered especially for orchestrating the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 in which 1.5 to 3 million people (25% of the population) died of torture, mass executions, forced labor, and malnutrition.

What is remarkable about Visoth’s ministry is that he was himself a victim of the Khmer Rouge. His family was forcibly relocated from Phnom Penh to the Battambang are of Cambodia, where both is parents and one of his siblings died. Visoth managed to escape Cambodian under cover of the Vietnamese invasion of 1978. He became a Christian while working in the refugee camps in Thailand, and as a Cambodian American he became pastor of the Goldenwest Christian Church in Los Angeles. He leads Hope for Cambodia, a ministry that plants churches and equips Christian leaders.

Not only former Khmer Rouge members and their victims were represented at church that Sunday. As the Master Trainer looked around the Cambodian congregation he recognized a leader from a sister church two hours away, a former member of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, an anti-communist political and paramilitary organization.

The gospel is the ‘power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile’ (Romans 1:16 NIV), to the Khmer Rouge and to their victims and to the Cambodian Freedom Fighters. History has conspired to turn people against one another in Cambodia, but the love of Christ has proven powerful enough to bring grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation among all. As with all mankind, herein is the hope of Cambodia.

Two Ways to Rejoice in the Ministry of DCPI:

  • Pray for the continued effectiveness of DCPI’s training.
  • Consider a gift to underwrite the FREE training that they offer to church planters around the world. (Here’s the link to the DCPI online giving page.)

13 Ways to Develop a Passion for the Things of God

Wednesday is for Prayer

jesus feet being washedLuke 7:36-50 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture and episodes in the life of Christ.

Brief recap: A Pharisee is having dinner with Jesus and becomes upset when a woman “from the street, a sinner” begins to weep, dripping tears on Jesus’s feet, bends to wipe his feet with her hair, and then anoints his feet with expensive perfume.

The Pharisee whose home Jesus was visiting grumbles over Jesus’ apparent lack of understanding. In his mind, this woman, this sinner, this woman from the street, and this contact with her, means Jesus is not a prophet because he should know better. For the Pharisee, she is unworthy of attention and beyond redemption.

But not for Jesus.

He constructs a simple story, just 26 words in English, and ends it with a single question:

40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Luke 7:40-43 (ESV)

Luke 7:36-50 points the way. Jesus holds up the woman’s response as the appropriate response to His presence and message. He chastises the Pharisee for not doing basic middle-eastern hospitality when Jesus came to dinner.

Jesus wants passion from his followers.

Jesus has more to say. The whole incident concludes 10 verses later with Jesus telling the woman that her faith has saved her. The whole story is overwhelmingly powerful in its simplicity but also in its pungency.

He wants what the weeping woman gives Him. He wants the deliberate, unconditional, no-holding-back-love of a rescued sinner who delights in extravagant expressions of thanks. He should have gotten the same treatment from the Pharisee, the lover of the Torah, “the elder brother” (cf. Luke 15:25-32) to the “younger sister” (cf. Luke 15:11-24) of this early episode in Jesus ministry.

Jesus wants my passion for Him. He wants your passion for Him. He wants a no-holds-barred, no looking back, unrelenting pursuit of Him. And when we pursue Him, and are satisfied in Him, He is glorified. Our happiness, our joy succeeds when He is most valued.

So how do we develop that passion? Each of these could be separate BLOG posts (and maybe will, over the next year). But for now, here’s a baker’s dozen of ways that we might pursue a greater passion for Christ in our lives.

  1. Hang Around Passionate People.
  2. Ask God to Make You Passionate About What He is Passionate About.
  3. Study and Meditate on the Word of God.
  4. Concentrate on the Glories of Heaven.
  5. Develop a Tastes for Godliness.
  6. Avoid Sin.
  7. Grieve over sin. (Be revolted by your own sin more than the sins of others.)
  8. Remember the Acts of God.
  9. Recognize the Word of God as the Source of Life.
  10. Choose Against Self-interest.
  11. Don’t Run from Affliction in Your Stand for Christ.
  12. Consider Jesus.
  13. Remember the Body of Christ.

Pulpits that Change the World

Tuesday is for Preaching

From a time when a pulpit in France rang with truth and power.

Preaching MLK

This is an old post from a now defunct older BLOG of mine. I ran across a reference to it in a comment thread on this blog and thought it might be good to give it a new life almost 6 years after it was originally posted. As one who has taught preaching at the seminary level, been a practitioner of preaching for 35 years, and believes that expository preaching has a place in both house church settings and the more traditional church–this story from Kairos Journal brought great joy to my heart.

May the pulpits of America, house and traditional, resound with such brave and faithful prophetic voices.

The Pulpit at Le Chambon

In the summer of 1942, two buses arrived at the French village of Le Chambon. The Vichy government, in service to the German occupation, had sent them to pick up the Jews who’d been sheltered in this largely Protestant town. When the police captain first demanded that the local pastor supply him a list of the resident Jews and then insisted that he sign a poster calling on the Jews to surrender themselves, he refused.

The police gave this pastor twenty-four hours to reconsider, and it proved to be time enough for the Jews to escape to the forest. The next day, the police found only one suspected Jew, and when they loaded him on the bus, villagers crowded about, handing gifts of food through the window. When the authorities soon discovered that his documentation was in order, they released him, and he returned to the village, pulling a wagon laden with the food he’d received from his poverty-stricken neighbors.

When philosopher Phil Hallie, himself a decorated artilleryman from World War II, came across this story of heroism, he found release from a profound depression he’d suffered while studying the Holocaust. Stepping back from the brink of suicide, Hallie wrote a book to be called, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There.1

How might these people have found the fortitude to resist, for years, the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews? How might they have operated an “underground railroad,” forwarding Jews to safety in Switzerland? Certainly, there was an historical base for these sympathies, since French Protestants had themselves endured centuries of persecution.2 Thousands had been massacred on a single St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, 1572, and it was not until the French Revolution in the late eighteenth century that oppression subsided.

Hallie, instead, chose to focus on the preaching of their Huguenot pastor. When searching out the “nerve” of the rescue operation, he concluded, “The most obvious answer was Pastor Trocmé himself. His powerful sermons in the boxy granite temple inspired the people of the village to follow in the footprints of Jesus, loving all humankind and willing to suffer, even to die, for others.”3

Trocmé spoke often of “the power of the spirit” and urged his parishioners to obey God rather than man, “to help the weak, though it meant disobedience to the strong.”His delivery was compelling. As his brother Francis put it, “. . . he is a pulpit orator who is absolutely original, who surpasses in authority anyone I have ever heard speak from the chair . . . One sits there afterwards . . . eyes clouded with tears, as if one has been listening to music that has seized you by your entrails.”5

When the nation of Israel gave Trocmé the Medal of Righteousness after the war, they quoted from an August, 1942, sermon the pastor delivered during the roundup of Jews in Paris: “It is humiliating to Europe that such things can happen, and that we the French cannot act against such barbaric deeds that come from a time we once believed was past. The Christian Church should drop to its knees and beg pardon of God for its present incapacity and cowardice.”6

One might suppose that the people of Le Chambon went grimly about their hazardous duty, but the accounts reveal more joy than solemnity and dread. When an early, trembling Jewish refugee approached a farmhouse near the town, the farm woman excitedly called upstairs, “Come down! Come down! We have in our home today a representative of the Chosen People!”7

Her joy flowed from her grounding in God’s Word and her filling with the Holy Spirit. Hallie observed, “For many of the people of Protestant Le Chambon the Bible was a book of truths and commandments to be taken literally (au pied de la lettre). The word of God had to be taken that way or not at all. The felt allegiance of the Chambonnais to God’s words convinced them in their heart of hearts that they were doing God’s work by protecting the apple of God’s eye, the Jews.”8

Pastor Trocmé’s preaching stirred his people to sacrificial service. His pulpit ministry and their Christian walk also moved the heart of a war-weary, philosophical Jew, Phil Hallie. Good preaching does that; the ripples go on and on, far beyond the walls of the church.9


1 Philip P. Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1979).  2 Ibid., 25.  3 Philip P. Hallie, “Surprised by Goodness,” excerpts from Hallie’s 1997 HaperCollins book, Tales of Good and Evil, Help and Harm, (McClean, Virginia: The Trinity Forum, 2002), 21.  Innocent Blood, 170. 5 Ibid.., 171.  6  Ibid.  7 “Surprised by Goodness,” 23.  8 Ibid.  9 See Kairos Journal article, “On the Offensive—Pastor Pierre-Charles Toureille, 1941-1945.”

Oh that preachers in our time would so pray, and study, and preach that the people of our day would rise up and be as righteous and courageous in their thoughts and deeds as the people of La Chambon.