Thursday, April 30, 2009

Whose Reputation is More Important?

"Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth'" (Genesis 11:4).

During our Bible study at the Normandy Apartments on Sunday evening, we were discussing the account of the tower of Babel. In the historical narrative, the people were driven by their concern about their reputation in the world. They wanted to make a name for themselves. They were obsessed with their reputation. They were driven by their pride.

When considering our reputations, at least two important questions must be asked:

1. What do we want our reputations to be?
2. More importantly, why do we want such reputations? What are our motives?

John Piper offers this insightful analysis:

"Our aim is that people would 'glorify God', not us (Matthew 5:16). On the one hand, we know that reputation matters: 'A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches' (Proverbs 22:1). On the other hand, we know that people-pleasing reveals idolatry: '...not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord' (Colossians 3:22)." (See for more of the article.)

Trying to make myself look good corrupts my heart. Trying to make God look as good and holy and just and merciful and gracious as he truly is protects my heart. If that is my goal, I'm not sure that I should be very concerned about my own reputation unless it detracts from an accurate view of my Savior.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Hope These Days Last Forever

"Me and my dad are riding a T-Rex" by Christopher Laudett
Christopher keeps a journal in his kindergarten class. A couple of days ago, he brought it home and I found this picture of him and me riding a T-Rex. It's nice to know that my son is thinking of me while he does his school work. I hope we stay close forever.
"Sons are a heritage from the LORD..." (Psalm 127:3).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How Could God Forgive Me?

Sometimes a person can feel the weight of his or her sins and wonder How could God forgive me? I have been selfish all my life. I have been arrogant. I have hurt other innocent people with my actions, my attitudes, and my words. I have divorced the only one who ever loved me. I have alienated my children. I have ignored God all my life. I have always hated the church and the Bible and anyone associated with them. I have destroyed my life and my reputation. Nobody would ever trust me--and with good reason. I have______(fill in the blank with other reasons that God should never forgive or accept me).

This could surprise someone who is struggling with such feelings, but I do not know a Christian who has not felt the same way. I have felt it myself. I know that I deserve God's anger and judgment...and that's what makes his forgiveness seem so strange, but so appealing.

On the cross, Jesus Christ prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Even as he was dying, Christ wanted to forgive those people who were killing him. He understood their sins. He was suffering because of their sins. But he also understood their needs. More than anything else, they needed forgiveness.

As the apostle Paul would explain later, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly...God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6, 8). Jesus was paying the price for our ungodly sins. He was suffering for our selfishness, pride, and careless attitudes toward God and those around us. He was satisfying the demands of sin so that we could be forgiven and free from those sins.

After Christ's resurrection and return to his Father, the people for whom he had prayed--the people directly responsible for his death--received the opportunity to be forgiven. The apostle Peter confronted them with these words: "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).

"When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'

"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:27-38).

"Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day" (Acts 2:41).

Thousands of people who had sought the death of Jesus were given forgiveness. If God can forgive the people who murdered Christ, he can forgive me...and you. They did not deserve God's forgiveness, but he offered it to them anyway. We do not deserve God's forgiveness, but he offers it to us anyway. Their sins were horrible, but God forgave them. Our sins are horrible, but God is willing to forgive them, too. They accepted God's forgiveness. He asks that we accept it, too.

Why Does God Love Us?

"...God is love" (1 John 4:8).

At the breakfast table this morning, our son Christopher asked a profound question: "Why does God love us?"

I paused for several seconds as I considered my answer. I could not say, "Because we are so lovable." That would be a lie. I could not say, "Because we are good." That would be a lie. We are not good enough on our best days to deserve God's love. I knew that I needed to give an answer centered on God's grace--because that would be true--but I was having trouble articulating it. Then the words of 1 John 4:8 popped into my mind.

Finally, I answered, "Because it's God's nature and character to want to do good to others."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Infertility Options

"When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or I'll die!'" (Genesis 30:1).

Every infertile couple who wants children understands Rachel's emotions and words. Here are a few options for husbands and wives who face infertility and a desire for children:

1. Artificial insemination. In this procedure, the woman's ovulation is regulated by medication in order to help. The man's sperm is taken. Any defective sperm is removed so that it will not hinder good sperm from reaching its target. Then the sperm is inserted artificially into the woman's womb. This often works well. However, after several attempts, it did not work for Janet and myself.

2. In vitro fertilization. In this procedure, the woman's eggs are taken from her body and fertilized with the man's sperm. Then the children are placed in the womb with the hope of implantation and growth.

This option has a few ethical concerns, but it can be done without violating one's pro-life ethics.

The primary concern centers on what to do with unused embryos that have been made but never implanted. In order to avoid unused embryos, a couple can limit the number of eggs to be fertilized. Also, a couple should not implant more embryos than the mother can safely carry so that the physician does not attempt to talk the mother and father into aborting some of the children.

Finally, if a couple has embryos that they cannot implant, they can place those embryos for adoption through the Snowflakes Adoption Program at

Janet and I did not attempt in vitro fertilization because of the ethical concerns, the cost (which was not covered by our insurance), and the failure rate.

3. Adoption. This was the best option for us. We used (and highly recommend) Christian Services of Oklahoma ( Janet told our story about the adoption process on my blog at

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps a couple going through infertility.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When a Spiritual Leader Falls to Homosexuality

Nearly a decade ago, Janet and I were members of a small Bible study group. We had been members of the group for a few years. We were a close group, but we were not as close as we had thought. We did not know each other's temptations and weaknesses as well as we would have liked. We were led by a severely flawed man who kept his sins hidden from us.

Without warning, our leader stepped down from leading the group. He asked me to take over the Bible study sessions. Then he left his wife and children.

We were confused. I tried to contact him, believing that he simply needed a little encouragement to do the right thing and return to his wife and children. He did not respond. A few weeks later, he moved to another city with his homosexual partner. We never saw it coming. We never expected adultery; and we would have never believed that he would leave his family for another man. After all, he was a small group leader in a church dedicated to Christ and to biblical ethics. It did not make sense. We were paralyzed.

While it may not be very common yet, this kind of sin occurs. With that in mind, I would like to share a few ideas about how to handle it.

1. Recognize that the fallen leader is hurting. He has emotional issues that run deep. He may have been a victim of sexual abuse at some point in his development. As Anita Worthen and Bob Davies write in Someone I Love is Gay: How Family and Friends Can Respond, "The roots of homosexuality are mainly emotional and center on issues like envy (I'm not as masculine/secure/aggressive as other men), loneliness (nobody would love me if they knew the real me) and deception (I'll never amount to anything)" (p. 174). He has struggled and failed. He needs to be offered help. Pray that he will accept it.

2. Recognize that the fallen leader has hurt his family. His wife and children are the victims. The church must show compassion and acceptance. The family must not be ostracized. They need their Christian friends like never before. They need the stability of people who care about them and their welfare. They need friends who will stand by them, listen to them, and pray with them.

3. Recognize that the fallen leader's sins are as serious as hell. The man's soul is in jeopardy. As Jude wrote, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 7). The fallen leader needs love and prayer. He needs encouragement to turn from his sins. He needs to understand that his sins have serious consequences. He needs to comprehend his need for God and his life-changing grace. Otherwise, he is lost forever.

I hope that no one who reads this post will ever go through this kind of situation; but if you do, I hope these words help as you try to deal with it in a God-honoring way.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Samson Smash!

"Samson said, 'Let me die with the Philistines!' Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived" (Judges 16:30).
My friend Gordon Jennings asked me to draw a cover for a comic book for the Contact Church's summer camp. He wants to have something to print on t-shirts for the kids. The theme is Superheroes of the Bible. So I drew a picture of Samson bringing down the temple of the Philistines.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Help Trey Morgan Feed the Dump People

"Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--
when you see him naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say, 'Here am I'" (Isaiah 58:6-9).

My blogging friend Trey Morgan is trying to raise money to feed people in Honduras who survive by digging through their local dump to find food. On May 5, he will conducting a Feed the Dump People marathon on his blog ( You can read more about the need and his efforts to help at Please consider helping these people in Honduras. They are among the poorest in the world. Anything you can give will help. Thanks for considering the poor.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ministries to the Needy Contest

World Magazine, an evangelical Christian news magazine, has announced a contest for ministries to the needy ( Since it's my favorite news magazine and the winner will receive an year-long subscription extension (and the ministry will be featured in the magazine), I entered the Contact Church of Christ in the contest this evening. This is the body of the e-mail I sent to the magazine tonight:

"The Contact Church of Christ was established 7 years ago specifically to serve the urban poor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A few of its ministries include:

"1. The Contact Recovery House. The recovery house has been set up to help men overcome their addictions through providing housing, 12 step meetings, and the study of God's word. All participants save 20% of their income until their departure. The Bible studies focus on developing men of integrity as unbelievers are offered an opportunity to know salvation through Christ and believers are offered an opportunity to grow in their faith.

"2. The Contact Life Ministry. The Contact Life ministry is a pro-life ministry serving the needs of pregnant girls and women in poverty. The new mothers enter a program to learn parenting skills. They learn about prenatal care, fetal development, bonding with their babies, the importance of touch, newborn care, and good parent-child relationship skills. As they complete their assignments, the new mothers earn points which they can redeem for baby furniture, baby and maternity clothes, toys, diapers, formula, and other necessities. The goal is for each new mother to build a relationship with their teacher as they learn how to make good choices for themselves and their children.

"3. Panthers for Christ. In 2005, the Contact Church 'adopted' Clinton Middle School. At that time, the school was on the state's 'at risk' list as a failing school. Every Wednesday during the school year, members of the Contact Church hold a club meeting for the Panthers for Christ club at the middle school in which students are given donuts and juice, a short Bible lesson, and an opportunity to talk with church members about their lives and concerns. Since adopting the school a few years ago, Clinton Middle School had been removed from the 'at risk' list. The principal credited the Panthers for Christ and the Contact Church of Christ for helping to change the atmosphere of the school in a positive way."

I would love to see the Contact Church featured in World Magazine. Hopefully, the editors will be interested in the urban ministry. (By the way, Contact Church staff members who are reading this blog need to be prepared to receive a phone call or an e-mail just in case they are interested.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Resurrection and the Life

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" (John 11:25-26).

Believing in Jesus as the resurrection and the life changes everything.

The believer is free to enjoy life. He sees life as a blessing. He can savor the experiences. He knows that life is a gift from Christ. He worships as he lives his life.

The believer can face obstacles with courage. He recognizes his limitations. He knows that he will face problems too big and opposition too powerful for him to handle, but he knows that his failures and defeats will not be the end of his life's story. Death may await him, but so does a resurrection. Even in failure and defeat, he can be an overwhelming conqueror.

The believer can live in hope. He looks forward to the return of his resurrected Savior, to the day of the resurrection, and to the liberation of creation from the curse of decay. He sees a bright future ahead as he eagerly waits for heaven and earth to become one, for the kingdom to come in the ultimate sense.

"Do you believe this?"

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Would You Like to Win a Free Study Bible?

"Let me understand the teaching of your precepts;
then I will meditate on your wonders" (Psalm 119:27).
Earlier this week, a co-worker told a few of us that she had been going to church all of her life, but that she felt like she did not know much of anything about God and the Bible. Then she added, "But I would really like to know."
I called my wife Janet. She went to a local Christian bookstore and bought my co-worker a copy of the Life Application Study Bible (New International Version). We use it as our primary Bible; and we often recommend it to our friends who are looking for a new Bible.
The Life Application Study Bible helps the reader to understand and to apply the Scriptures to life. You will have information about the historical context of a passage and how it fits with other passages in the Bible. You will have several pages of character studies of some of the main players in the biblical narrative. You will have information about some of the cultural practices with which we are unfamiliar in our culture and time. It is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to know the Bible and God a little better.
Now I would like to offer my readers an opportunity to win a copy of the Life Application Study Bible (NIV). If you would like a copy, just leave a comment before 12:01 am on Monday, April 13, 2009. On Monday, we will randomly draw a name from the people who have left comments. After I have announced the name, the winner can e-mail me with mailing information so that we can send the Bible to him or her.
If you would like a copy, you have a great chance of winning.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Devoted to Doing Good

"Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives" (Titus 3:14).

Earlene could be easily overlooked in a church. She has been with the Contact Church since the congregation's first worship service on Easter morning of 2002. She does not teach a class. She does not speak up very often in the classes she attends. She does not stay for the meals after services (probably due to her strict diet as a diabetic).

However, Earlene is a woman who is devoted to doing what is good. She volunteers with the American Red Cross and the United Way. She is a devoted mother and grandmother. She faithfully attends the small group Bible study at the Normandy Apartments, always reading from her old King James Version of the Bible and encouraging the other participants.

Yesterday, she asked my wife Janet to be a character reference as she applies to be a volunteer with the local Domestic Violence Intervention Services ( She is planning to retire from her factory job in July. She wants to be productive in her retirement. She wants to continue to help others who have been hurt in life, so she is planning to help victims of domestic violence in her spare time as a retiree.

Earlene does not have an official leadership position in the church, but like many others, she is leading by example. She is doing her part to help those who are in need. She is honoring God with a compassionate heart and a willingness to serve.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy is concerned about men in our society who have lost their way, who have never learned what it means to be men. Working with young men in prison, Coach Dungy knows that men need biblically-based guidance and encouragement.

In his new book, Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance, Tony Dungy offers much needed guidance and encouragement. In short and easy-to-read chapters, Coach Dungy promotes values like honesty, humility, courage, respect for authority, sexual integrity, and faith in Christ. In other chapters, he offers wise advice on how to treat a woman, how to be a good father, friendship, education, alcohol and drugs, careers, and following your dreams.

In a section focusing on our influence in the lives of others, Mr. Dungy wrote,

"You have multiple platforms from which to impact the world...Growing up, I was mesmerized by the talk that went on inside my local barbershop. I usually went in on Fridays before my games, and in addition to listening to the other guys talk in the shop, I always enjoyed talking to my barber, Mr. Hampton. Mr. Hampton would always wish me well in that night's game and talk with me about school and girls and whatever else was going on in my life. He may not have called it a platform, but he certainly recognized the impact he could have on the men, especially the young men who came in thinking they were just getting a haircut. We always left with so much more.

"...Remember--you stand where no one else stands. Sometimes it's behind a barber's chair. Sometimes it's on the field. Sometimes it's across the dinner table. You may never know the impact you're having on someone who's looking up to you because of your character, your life's work, your family life, or maybe just because of your friendship. People respect you, believe in you, and trust you. In those cases, and others that will come, you have a platform of importance in the lives of those you touch--for their good. Use it wisely and in an uncommon way" (pp. 187, 190).

Uncommon is an excellent book for men. It would serve well as a book for guys to study at a men's group in church.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Creation and Evolution

"For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy" (Exodus 20:11, English Standard Version).

As our son grows older, he will become more aware of the philosophical battles between creationists and evolutionists. With that in mind, I would like to teach him a few principles that have guided me as a Christian.

1. The Bible can be trusted. "All Scripture is breathed out by God" (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV). It has come from the God "who never lies" (Titus 1:2, ESV). When it states that God created the universe in 6 days, you can rely on it.

2. Theories of evolution cannot explain the origins of life. While lifeforms change due to breeding and mutation, inanimate objects do not evolve into living beings. The simplest lifeforms are too complex to come into existence without the help of intelligent guidance. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel explains this point very well.

3. Do not apply Darwinian theories to the social realm. Social Darwinism teaches people to live by the values of "the survival of the fittest." It can lead people to embrace genocide, eugenics, infanticide, abortion, racism, the oppression of the poor, and apathy toward the disabled. Christ teaches his followers to care for the people whom a social Darwinist might be willing to eliminate.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Help for Unplanned Pregnancies

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13).

Every once in a while, someone will approach me with a question.

"My son's girlfriend is pregnant. What can I do?"

"Do you happen to be looking to adopt another baby? Because I have a friend who is pregnant and doesn't know how she can take care of her baby."

I would like to help anyone who comes to this blog with similar questions.

If you live in the Tulsa area, the Contact Church of Christ can help through our Contact Life ministry ( Through this program for new mothers, expectant and new mothers can learn how to care for their new babies. They will receive necessities like baby formula, diapers, baby clothes, maternity clothes, high chairs, and cribs as they learn.

If you live in Oklahoma, Christian Services of Oklahoma ( can help with adoption. A maternity home is available for women without a safe place to stay.

In addition, some of the organizations affiliated with the Christian Child and Family Services Association ( can help with a variety of needs in several states.

You do not need to face your challenges alone. Caring people are willing to help.