Thursday, July 30, 2009

Am I Normally Tepid?

Am I a "Lukewarm Christian?" Lukewarm is not hot. It is not cold. It is a cup of coffee which has cooled off. It is a cup of tea which no longer steams. It is a shower in the morning just warm enough not to be cold. As a Christian it is going through the motions of the Faith with no heart. It is having the porch light on but not being home!

Curt Little writes: "We all know lukewarm Christians. Christians that are neither hot nor cold. They have a tendency to keep God reserved to just Sundays. Or they carry around what we call 'backpack God.' They carry God where they want, when they think they need His help and leave Him in the backpack when they think that they can handle the situation or when they 'don’t want Him to see.' They try to get God to 'Sit. Stay. Heal.' God is not our pet and He is a little too big for a backpack." See

From Mentoring Leaders by Carson Pue....

Charles Swindoll, in his essay "Prophet Sharing," talks about this lukewarm complacency. As you read his words, ask yourself, do I find myself among them somewhere? "Always evaluating where we have been... always reacting.... searching for ways to settle in and find comfort on our sofa-like surroundings... yawning... slumbering in the sleepy, warm twilight of sundown... finding a great deal of security in the mediocrity and predictability of sameness... We are like chatty, laughing, tourists taking snapshots of the lowlands through rose-colored filters... enjoying today's lull... we are yesterday dwellers... avoiding the reality of today."

We know God detests us being complacent! "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor not, I will vomit you out of My mouth." (Rev. 3:16 NKJV).

What is lukewarmness among leaders? It is a place where leaders begin to feel they have arrived -- that they have reached a particular degree of development or stature -- and then gradually allow themselves to become complacent in that place. They feel sapped of energy, eventually not wanting to try to improve their spiritual life. It is like a slow-working disease eventually taking the life of the host.

I would add to Pue's desciption that of the Professional Christian -- those in leadership who are Christian on the job, but not at any other time.

For me, the issue is not whether I am ever lukewarm or tepid. The issue is whether "normal" for me is tepid, or "normal" for me is "hot on-fire." What is common for my life and ministry?

After walking with the Lord for years, I want normal for me to be "hot on-fire" not lukewarm. Lord, help me to be ON FIRE for you all the time. Amen.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Power of The Word + The Spirit

Last night I received a phone call at home from a listener to A Word from the Lord. She said she listens each week in one of the cities to which we broadcast. She shared how she is a shut-in and lives by herself. Her daughter died not too long ago and her sister has just been put into "a home." She called to tell me how much it meant to her to hear the Word of God preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. She said that too many preachers don't preach the Bible, but other stuff, and that you can always tell if the message is in the Holy Spirit or in the flesh. Powerful!! I am continually amazed how God can used sermons I preach to and for our congregation at Holy Cross in the lives of people weeks later, months later, and sometimes, years later. I am awed at how He will speak a Word right into someone's life in their moment of need right through the radio or the Internet. Father, thank you for the privilege to be able to preach and teach your Word.

Discovered a great website for leaders. Check it out at It is the site of Leadership Network.

Oswald Chambers quote of the week: "God's training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience... what men call training and preparation, God calls the end. God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Simeon's Walk

On a rooftop in Cambridge overlooking the courtyard and college complex at King's College is a place known as Simeon's Walk. It is the place where Charles Simeon, a long-time and inspirational vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, would go for a time alone with God. "A busy and brilliant man, Simeon was in touch with students at the colleges in Cambridge, with a large congregation, and with church and missionary leaders around the world. He wrote (in longhand) literally thousands of letters, edited fifty books of his own sermons, and served as one of the founders of several major missionary organizations. But he never ceased to find time for the rest that his private world demanded."

In chapter 14 of his book, Ordering Your Private World, entitled "Rest Beyond Leisure," Gordon MacDonald writes of the importance of Sabbath. Sabbath can be my daily time alone with the Lord, my weekly sabbath observance, or what I am doing now by being on a sabbatical. He writes of three aspects of Sabbath: Looking backward (closing the loop), entering into God's Presence through worship, prayer, and the study of God's Word (returning the eternal truths), and looking forward to fulfilling God's purpose (defining the mission). Below are some quotes from the chapter on which I am reflecting.

"Wilberforce's check and balance to a busy life was Sabbath; he had come to understand genuine rest. Wilberforce had discovered that the person who establishes a block of time for Sabbath rest on a regular basis is most likely to keep all of life in proper perspective and remain free of burnout and breakdown."

"I get the feeling we are a tired generation.... What is strange about our general fatigue as a people is the fact that we are such a leisure-oriented society.... We probably have more time for leisure than ever before. The five-day workweek is, after all, a relatively new innovation in history; we have moved away from the farm, where there was always more work to do; we can leave work behind if we want and head for leisure. So why is there so much exhaustion today? Is it real? Is it imagined? Or is the contemporary form of exhaustion evidence that we no longer understand genuine rest, which is different from the pursuit of leisure??

"The Bible reveals God Himself to be the first 'rester.'... Does God indeed need to rest? Of course not! But did God choose to rest? Yes. Why? Because God submitted creation to a rhythm of rest and work that He revealed by observing the rhythm Himself, as a precedent for everyone else. In this way He showed us the key to order in our private worlds. This rest was not meant to be a luxury, but rather a necessity for those who want to have growth and maturity."

"A rest-less work style produces a restless person."

"One of the great joys of repeating the traditional creeds of the Christian church is that it gives us an opportunity to reaffirm the central truths of God's revelation. As we say, 'I believe...' we begin to hammer back the nails of our convictions and commitments. And we separate those beliefs out from what we choose not to believe."

From his wife's journal: "A glorious Lord's Day. Have been reading at length about the Sabbath. Feel more and more strongly that I've not fully utilized God's command to rest. It's not a rule that restricts but it is a rule that liberates. For He made me to need rest. And physically and mentally we are freed to better performance if we live within His 'design specifications.' And it is a day of reminding us who God is. Every seventh day I need to come back to the fixed center."

"There is no legalism here -- rather a freedom to accept a gift. Frankly, I think some have destroyed the joy of Sabbath, as did the Pharisees, by surrounding it with prescriptive laws and precedents. That is not our Sabbath. Our Sabbath was made for us, given to us by God. Its purpose is worship and restoration, and whatever it takes to make that happen, we will do."

"We do not rest because our work is done; we rest because God commanded it and created us to have a need for it."

"The world and the church need genuinely rested Christians: Christians who are regularly refreshed by true Sabbath rest, not just leisure time off. When a godly rest is achieved, you will see just how tough and resilient Christians can actually be."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Posted on a chalkboard outside a shop in Fernandina Beach, FL ....

Thomas Jefferson: "When government is big enough to give you everything you want, it's big enough to take everything you have."

Ronald Reagan: "When government expands, liberty contracts."

Benjamin Franklin: "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and will lose both."

Albert Einstein: "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom."

Thomas Jefferson: "In order to preserve our independence, we must not let our leaders load us with debt."

From the Holy Bible...

Psalm 33:12 -- "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

Exodus 20:2 -- "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me."

Monday, July 20, 2009

God's Beautiful Creation

I am with my family finishing up the "vacation" part of my sabbatical. We are at Amelia Island enjoying the incredible beauty of the Lord's creation - the beach, the Atlantic Ocean, the storms, the trails, the trees, the marshes, the flowers... on and on I could go. This part of North Florida is absolutely beautiful!

For church on Sunday I attended the Amelia Island Chapel, an interdenomination Christian community, which is a two-minute walk from where we are staying. I was again surprised and blessed to discover another stalwart of the Faith, Ted Shroder, is the pastor. He is a retired Episcopal priest who has fought the good fight for the Faith, led many to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, and inspired many others through his writings. His sermon was entitled "The Suffering of Creation" as he is preaching his way through The Epistle to the Romans. His presentation was a refreshing examination (and not a denial) of the suffering which is built into creation by God. One day there will not be any suffering, but until then, creation is doing its part in order to live, mature, and reproduce life - and suffering is a part of this. His encouragement was that believers should not deny suffering, but rather embrace it in the power of the Holy Spirit. Only then can the believer overcome and mature in the will of God. A lot to reflect on.... especially since I have been enjoying the beauty of creation.

I was impressed by the ministry and vision of Amelia Island Chapel. It is more of a church than many churches!! Check out their website at

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Christ Church Jacksonville

Christ Church Jacksonville meets in a high school after having to leave their church property and start over. About a mile before I arrived at the school, I began to see portable signs entitled “Christ Church, Jacksonville” with an arrow pointing the direction. Upon arriving at the school, there were more portable signs welcoming me, showing me where to park, and where to enter. There were greeters to welcome me and be of assistance. The atmosphere was warm and friendly, and seeing the Setup Team brought back many memories!

Christ Church has three Sunday services: 8:45 Traditional Service, 10:45 Contemporary Service, and a 10:45 1928 BCP Service. I attended the contemporary service which was very similar to the one at Holy Cross, Loganville. The sermon was given by the Rev. Mark Eldredge, a friend of mine who sits on the American Anglican Counsel Board of Trustees with me.

Rev. Edredge’s sermon was based on the reading from Luke 7:1-10 and was entitled, “Developing a Great Faith.” The sermon insert was most helpful. He spoke of three components needed for great faith:

1. I must realize my own position. The centurion knew who he was, and yet, he knew who Jesus was. He approached Jesus in great humility. So must we. We must approach Jesus realizing that we are sinners (saved yes!, but He is LORD).

2. I must recognize Jesus’ Power. The centurion knew because he was a man with authority and under authority that all Jesus had to do was to say the word – just speak it – and it would be done.

3. I can put radical obedience into practice. An exposition of Hebrews 11:1-31 demonstrated how obeying God led to great faith.

Quotes to remember: “The centurion’s faith stood out, will yours?” “Do I want to be satisfied with ‘ok’ faith, or do I want ‘great’ faith?” “Whatever Jesus is asking you to do; it is nothing like what He did for us – being nailed to the cross.”

I heard on the radio driving back from the church a recent Barna survey found that only 16% of those who call themselves Christians in the United States ask God for counsel about decisions or seek to gain guidance from the Bible about the issues they are facing in life. If this is true, we have our work cut out for us as we go and make “DISCIPLES.”

From Oswald Chambers this week:The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not – Do your duty, but – Do what is not your duty. It is not your duty to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek, but Jesus says that if we are His disciples we shall always do these things. There will not be a spirit of – ‘Oh, well, I cannot do any more, I have been so misrepresented and misunderstood.’ Every time I insist on my rights, I hurt the Son of God; whereas I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I take the blow myself. The disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.”

Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Day in Atlanta

Lord GOD Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech Thee, that we and all the peoples of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN! (Prayer for Independence Day, Book of Common Prayer)

What a privilege to live in the United States of America at this time and era of history!!! Yes, we have our problems, and yes, we need to correct some things, and yes, we need to be vigilant to guard the freedoms we share, but this is still the best thing going! God has given incredible blessings so that we might share His Word about Jesus with the rest of the world. Let's not waste our opportunities.

I could not help thanking the Lord for the blessings he has given me in living and serving Him here. I will go wherever He leads, but I pray I will not squander the opportunities of the 'here and now'. While I believe overseas missions are very important, He has brought the mission field to us -- here! Let us be diligent and faithful to share the Good News to those He brings across our paths. For liberty in not liberty unless my spirit and soul are liberated from the bondage of sin and sin's destructive forces. Jesus came to set the captives free. That's you and that's me!

For the Fourth of July, my wife, Allison, and I, ran the 40th Annual Peachtree Road Race. It is a 10K (6.2 miles) race, but it is really not a race, it is an event. We were 2 of 55,ooo folks who ran from Lenox Square (now 'Mall') to Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta. This was Allison's 29th in a row!!! My first one was the 5th Annual when I was in high school, but I have watched it as much as I have run it. Our son joined us later in the day and we watched the 4th of July Fireworks at Lenox -- always spectaculor!! and worth the cost of admission (none!).

O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN. (From Evening Prayer, Collect for Mission, BCP).