Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What Countries Should We Pray For?

Forbes has a story on the most competitive countries, meaning economic competition, not soccer enthusiasm. You can follow the link.

The World's Most Competitive Countries - "At the bottom of the ranking of 125 industrialized and emerging countries, in worst to only slightly less bad order, are Angola, Burundi, Chad, Timor-Leste, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe--a gazetteer of economic blight."

There you will find photos related to the least competitive countries. You might use that as a guide to pray for the poor.

Also in terms of prayer, check out this map of countries where persecution of Christians is prevelant.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

BibleTime: Software

This is one of the Bible programs I use. If you have not tried BibleTime, now might be a good time to try it. Oh, yeah, this Bible software is especially for Linux users who are running KDE.

BibleTime: Software: "2006-09-22: BibleTime 1.6.

A new version of BibleTime has been made available today. It includes many fixes and several new features like the instant search in the installed works."

If you are on another platform check out

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Why Do I Have To Be the Liberal? I Am Tormented By This Thought

You can blame Joe Carter for this post. Not that I can even begin to imitate him, but he said what he thought on torture and so will I.

Hat Tip: Parableman

I'm amused by the fact that when I was in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, I was a ultra-conservative in their ranks. Now that I have made my church home in the Presbyterian Church in America, I find myself often leading the more liberal side of a debate. It sort of makes me wonder at times, "Am I really just contrary"? I don't think so, but I might be wrong on that.

I work with two guys who are from different ends of the political spectrum, one active in the Democratic party and the other gets most of his best political discussion material from Rush Limbaugh. They both have a love for the entrepreneurial spirit of America and both are hawks. We often get into political discussions. It seems that both are basically in favor of torture of Al Qaida war prisoners in U.S. custody. I think one of them a least sees the torture of Al Qaida war prisoners as justifiable because it is what they would do to our soldiers if captured. On the topic of torture, I just have to say it is always wrong. Many people base their moral theories on such ideas as I would not want it done to me, therefore, I don't want to do it. When the enemy feels no inclination to reciprocate, they give up on the idea. The golden rule does not have to be simplistic; certainly should not be ultimately self-centered. Because morality is more than the pragmatism of how to achieve the most comfort for the most people (namely me).

As a moral issue, torture is not addressed directly in the 10 Commandments. I see these 10 Commandments as the bases of morality, rules for those with a developing (or immature) a moral compass and virtues for those who are progressing in their moral development. Jesus points out the virtues implied in the 10 Commandments when he said that if a man divorces his wife, he causes her to commit adultery. Even more so when Jesus says that the fulfillment of the Law is loving God and loving your fellow man.

(By the way, I will not attempt to define torture here. That is an important debate. Things like sleep deprivation I would not count as torture in my thinking. Putting someone in solitary confinement is not torture in my humble opinion. There are a range of other things that definitely would be. Defining torture takes the debate out of the sense of virtue and puts it in the realm of rules. Remember, rules are for the developing or immature in moral development.)

By the way, most people say they think that the 10 Commandments are a good moral set of Laws, they usually mean the last six. The first four are just not something most Americans are willing to deal with. So we will start with the last six of the 10 Commandments.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."

This commandment has an implication for those in authority. The implication is directly to fathers and mothers not to exasperate their children but indirectly the implication is for all leaders to not exasperate those under their control. Torture is done in secret often but it does not stay that way. It is humiliating and brutal. The word often gets out. Authorities are not to be brutal, but be worthy of honor.

"You shall not murder."

Beatings and other forms of brutality are tantamount to murder threats. These of course can not be condoned.

"You shall not commit adultery."

Rape and sexual assault has long been used as a means of humiliation and torture. For those who do such thing they clearly are breaking this commandment to keep sex inside the bounds of marriage. Making sex a means of torture degrades the gift of marriage that God has given the human race.

"You shall not steal."

Personal property is a basic human right. While it applies to objects such as a car or a laptop computer; it also applies to intangibles such as intellectual property, privacy, use of a person's name and dignity as a person. Torture does take a person's dignity without a juries verdict that the person is guilty of a crime.

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

When a person gives information under duress, there is always a lingering doubt about its veracity. Did the person say what he thought would stop the torture or did he tell the truth? In a sense the person torturing the subject puts an undue pressure on the person where they are being forced to say things not in accordance with the truth but in accordance with what will end the pain.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Even a terrorist has some things that we should not want to take, namely the power of coercion. Coveting the same power that they have will not make us a great nation.

And now the first four commandments....

"You shall have no other gods before me."

There is a great danger that the person exercising this brutal authority will set himself as God. Power does not always corrupt but often this type of power does.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments."

Of course when we treat man as less than man, we degrade the image of God which is intangible. If we do not respect our enemy as made in the image of God, how can we respect the true God who is invisible.

"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

A part of this commandment is being faithful to our oaths and promises. If one promises to obey the laws of the land and then breaks this promise, he is not letting his yes be yes. This applies to all service members who swore to uphold the laws of the U.S.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

There is some sense in this commandment that those in authority are under a greater authority. When a master is not to impose work on a servant or an animal, this points to the fact that God is indeed the true master. Any authority we have is derived from him. When a person or a nation does not recognize that there are indeed limitations to their authority, they break this commandment. More explicitly, when someone does not recognize that God is the only one that has true authority over every soul, that person is breaking this commandment.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Management and Leadership

At presbytery this past Saturday I was impressed by the speaker, Bob Burns. He is a part of Covenant Seminary's Center for Ministry Leadership. He gave a lot of high quality information and made some great points along the way. One of the things that caught my attention was his definitions of management and leadership. Management is developing systems and infrastructure for stability. Leadership is giving direction for appropriate change for an organization. I realized as a part of self-examination, I have not developed my gifts in management. I tend to enjoy and often help guide organizations in change. I find that when they need stability, even when I agree that they need stability, I don't know how to organize and develop appropriate systems for that. It is a weakness I intend to work on. My friend Keith is much more talented at developing stable systems and getting things done. He is another leader in our church and I appreciate that talent that he has.

A few years back I read an article in the Harvard Business Review which talked about how some industries are really dependent upon innovation, such as software development, while other industries are better off seeking to do the basics better and better. For instance, the Morton salt might consider from time to time how better to make salt, but by and large, they know what to do; mine, purify, package and distribute salt. If they stray from that, they are probably not doing the right thing in the salt business. So in a church, when do you innovate and when do you seek stability? I think it is important to build good systems and to be innovative. I need to tighten up on the first one and keep the second under control.

I noticed from my time in the Army that a lot of leaders are rewarded for changing things. If they merely manage stability, they are passed over for promotion. However, somethings are just better if a good system is developed and maintained.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jack Yoest at

Jack Yoest's post should be read by every pastor, church sound man, and person who ever make an announcement at church. He is addressing the use of microphones and public speaking. I don't know how many people I see making adjustments to microphones and it really does nothing at all. If it is a little high, well your probably struggling anyway to be seen in the first place. Enough from me, follow the link.

Jack Yoest at "If you deign to be interviewed by a reporter, or instead will speak at a planned, orchestrated press conference, here are 7 tips to remember for the handheld or externally fixed microphone.


Rebecca Writes

Check out Rebecca Writes post on"My Dad Was A Cowboy ". It is a wonderful testimony and it has a cool picture of her Dad to boot. (Well, actually you can't see his boots, but you get enough of the picture to imagine them.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Three Kinds of Leadership -

I have included Mark Discoll's part of an article from Leadership Journal. I find what he has to say about his office at the church that is more like a living room than an office. Why do Pastor's have to stay in the office anyway? I have never gotten that one. Who are you working with there? If you are in a church with a staff I can sort of see it, but even then, why send everyone to a cubby hole just to make the job seem normal when it is anything but normal. Why not be a few feet from your wife or children rather than a few miles from them if what you are doing is working on a sermon or spending time in prayer? Why not invite a counseling session in your living room? Why not visit the family who needs the counsel? Space is a funny thing. We communicate a lot by our use of living space. We take on roles that we would not dream of without the assistance of archetecture to lead us down that path.

Three Kinds of Leadership - "Mark Driscoll: Leading Yourself First
Ten years have passed since I founded Mars Hill. The church has grown and we've launched the Acts 29 Church Planting Network.

I'm not just the leader of a church anymore, but a leader of leaders. My advice, my policies, and my example seem even more important when I know others will follow my lead in their own leadership roles.

So I find myself in a place where I give advice, such as, 'Accept that your life is abnormal. Nothing about life as a ministry leader—from its emotional toll to relational demands and constant interruptions—is normal. Accepting that you are a freak with a freakish life will help you not to freak out.'

But I've also been challenged to examine how I model leadership, especially in the area of my family life.

I've learned, for example, that I can't study effectively at the church and that there are many benefits of maintaining a study at home. I've removed the desk and bookshelves from my church office, setting it up more like a living room—with couches and a fridge, conducive to meetings.

Meanwhile, I've moved the books to my home, where I can study in peace and where my family can see me studying and have access to my library. I've also learned to include, rather than hide, my children in ministry. I try to take them with me whenever possible, such as on hospital visits or missions trips.

I hope to train them for ministry by making them my disciples, living at my hip like Jesus' disciples did with him. My children, after all, may be another group of leaders that I've become a leader to.

Mark Driscoll
Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Washington"

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Emerging vs. Emergent

DJ Chuang of has posted some interesting videos on You Tube. You might check them out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Re-learning How To Read

The past few years reading has become a problem for me. I am 43 years old and I have come to the time in life when my vision for reading has weakened. This happens to most people I'm told by my other friends in their 40s. I suppose so. For me, I went down hard though. I work with my eyes at a computer all day. And yes, enjoy coming home and using the computer to blog and surf the web despite the fact that I use a computer all day at work. My right eye has always been a little weaker than my left. I actually see things a little darker out of that eye. In a class room in grade school, while day dreaming I would look at the ceiling and notice that if I closed one eye and then the other, back and forth, the ceiling was two slightly different colors. Over a year ago my brain started turning off my right eye. I could see out of it okay, but normally I would just ignore the input from the eye. This slowed down my reading. I went to the eye doctor. He gave me bifocals and I tried hard to use them. It did not work. I got nauseated. I would fight the glasses by switching back and forth. I started taking my own steps to deal with the problem.

  1. I went and bought just reading glasses from a pharmacy. I have been reading with them for about a year now.
  2. I had to slow down my reading a lot. If I skim something, I focus on reading the table of contents and chapter headings. I used to be able to reading across the past rather quickly, taking in every few words and letting my mind fill in the missed parts. No MORE. Slowing down was very important.
  3. I bought better lighting. My wife got me a lamp that sits beside the couch. I find the easiest place to read is by natural sunlight and a fluorescent light.
But the past few weeks, I have actually started enjoying reading again. I think of it as how someone who has been in an accident sometimes needs to learn how to walk again, I needed to learn to read again. My right eye is now being used by my brain again. (It is still a little fuzzy though.) There is an article about a pastor who is a voracious reader, Mark Minnic, at SharperIron. He reminds me of what my wife said about her reading. Someone asked how she found time to read. I don't think she is the originator of this but it fits. She finds time to read the same way an alcoholic finds time to drink. I hope I'm back on the track to being addicted to reading.