Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Son's First Time to Serve Communion Alone

Here is a picture of Christopher serving communion for the first time yesterday at the Contact Church. Yes, we are proud parents of a little man who is learning to serve others in the church.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Value of a Quiet Life

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody" (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

God values quietness in his people--not in the sense that we are to be silent, but in the sense that we are to be people seeking peaceful and calm lives. We don't need to be going through life looking for problems in the lives of others (especially when we are ignoring our own). We don't need to go around looking for arguments. We don't need to be seeking unnecessary conflicts. We don't need to be spreading gossip and offering unsolicited opinions on every subject under the sun.

Christians will face conflicts, problems, tension, rumors, and other disruptive elements in our lives--just as Jesus Christ and his apostles did. When such problems arise, we will attempt to handle them appropriately. But our goal is to lead a quiet life of responsible behavior that honors the one in whom we have placed our trust.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Worldwide Violence Against Women

Author and filmmaker Carolyn McCulley has an excellent post on her blog concerning worldwide oppression and violence against women and the Christian response to it. The post can be found at

"Learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow" (Isaiah 1:18).

"But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream" (Amos 5:24).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bible Studies, STDs, and Unplanned Pregnancies

Here is an excerpt from our minister Ron Babbit's recent newsletter to supporters of his ministry with the Contact Church:

"Recently, during a Bible study, I was reading Luke 7--JESUS AT HIS BEST. The harlot was washing JESUS' feet. The young lady in the Bible study told me that she has a sexually transmitted disease. She hasn't been in school since February 2009. She doesn't stay with her mom; they are battling. GOD provided an opportunity to share the love of the LORD. Before our Bible study with this darlin, we picked her up as she was walking to visit with her friend who is 12 years old and pregnant. That gives us another opportunity to set her up with Mary Lasarsky. Mary loves, encourages, and teaches darlins who are in trouble with early pregnancies. Remember in Luke 7 the Pharisee sits back and criticizes the harlot washing JESUS' feet? Have you ever noticed how (#1) Pride Paralyzes Us, (#2) Forgiveness Releases Us, (#3) Faith Saves Us?"

For more information about the Contact Church's pregnancy program, please see

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Daddy, What's a Wuss?

Last night during our football scrimmage, Christopher came to me and said, "Daddy, that boy I'm going against spit at me and called me a 'wuss.' What's a wuss?"

As one of his assistant coaches and his father, I told Christopher, "Don't worry about it right now. Just go out there and knock that boy on his rear every time. Don't let him intimidate you. You are tougher than him. He can't handle you, so he's trying to scare you. But you're better than that. You can take him."

We are going to run across those kind of people in our lives, the type of people who call names but who cannot back up their words. Sometimes I am called a racist because I am pro-life. I have been accused of being apathetic toward the poor because I do not buy into Emergent theology. My job is to live my life in such a way as to make the accusations look as stupid as they are. Christopher's job on the football field is to make the boy wonder who the real wuss is...the name-caller or the boy who is acting with class while knocking him on his rear every play?

I was reminded of this verse from 1 Kings 20:11, "One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off." Prove yourself by your actions. Don't boast before you have proven yourself capable of backing up your words.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Football, Faith, and Action

"...I will show you my faith by what I do" (James 2:18).
I appreciated ESPN's story about University of Georgia coach Mark Richt's Christian faith at In addition, former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy's remarks at a prayer breakfast before the Super Bowl a few years ago are classic. You can watch them at and These two men are coaches who have earned the respect of everyone around them by the way they live their lives. I hope everyone enjoys the videos.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Family Room - Finding Men Worthy of Marriage

FamilyLife's The Family Room contains a good article about the need to find men worth marrying. Author Voddie Baucham contends that fathers need to help their daughters recognize the essential qualities to seek in a potential husband, and they need to help their sons to develop those qualities.

Voddie Baucham writes, "I believe God has spoken rather decisively in His Word about what our daughters should look for. Moreover, I believe there are some non-negotiables that our daughters must be looking for. There are some things a man simply must be before he is qualified to assume the role of a Christian husband. For instance, he must be a Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14); he must be committed to biblical headship (Ephesians5:23ff.); he must welcome children (Psalm 127:3-5); he must be a suitable priest (Joshua 24:15), prophet (Ephesians 6:4), protector (Nehemiah 4:13-14), and provider (1 Timothy 5:8; Titus 2:5). A man who does not possess--or at least show strong signs of--these and other basic characteristics does not meet the basic job description laid down for husbands in the Bible.

"Moreover, as a father, it is my responsibility to teach my daughter what these requirements are, encourage her not to settle for less, and walk with her through the process of evaluating potential suitors. Of course, these ideas may come as a shock to many in contemporary Christian circles (not to mention society at large). However, I have found that there is a growing discontentment among young women today. They are tired of being thrown to the wolves. They are also tired of feeling like they have to settle for less than God's best. My question is, why should they?"

For more excerpts from Mr. Baucham's book What He Must Be if He Wants to Marry My Daughter, please click on the link below.

Monday, August 17, 2009

High Standards and Generous Forgiveness

Yesterday, I was reminded of a seeming paradox in the Christian faith.

Before our preacher Ron Babbit spoke in our worship service, one of our members addressed the congregation. "Neighbor" (as he is known) stood in front of the podium to apologize and to ask for forgiveness. "Neighbor" has been a member of the Contact Church for nearly 5 years, but he has struggled with an addiction to alcohol and drugs for most of his 50-plus years of life.

A little over a week ago, one of our other members saw "Neighbor" entering a bar. "Neighbor" does not remember the details of what happened, because he was already in an alcohol and drug induced blackout. Apparently, our concerned member contacted a few other church members to try to help "Neighbor." But he responded badly to the attempt to help him, with abusive language and belligerent behavior. They could not help him. Eventually, he woke up in the county jail that evening, charged with public intoxication, and not knowing how he had managed to get into such trouble. He did not even know how he had treated fellow Christians who had tried to help him that night.

Sunday morning, he confessed his guilt. He thanked those who had tried to help him; and he asked for their forgiveness. "Neighbor" wants to do what is right with his life.

The entire congregation came forward, put our arms around him, and prayed for our friend and brother "Neighbor." Everyone loves "Neighbor" and wants him to be successful in overcoming his addiction. We want to see him living free from his sin.

What was the paradox that I noticed? On the one hand, we speak out against sins like drunkenness, cussing, hatefulness, and irresponsible behavior. We have high moral standards...such high standards that we are sometimes accused of moralism and self-righteousness. On the other hand, we are eager to offer eager that we are sometimes accused of naivete and being too soft on the guilty.

We understand that every sin is an offense against God. We know that hell is deserved. We comprehend that our sins placed Christ on the cross. He died because of our sins. We know that our sins are destroying our sense of inner peace as well as our peace with God.

We also understand that God wants to forgive us. We realize that Christ sacrificed his life to forgive us and to free us from our sins. He wants us to enjoy life in heaven with him forever. We know that we need to show mercy to each other, since Christ has been merciful to us. We have received a generous dose of forgiveness, and need to extend generous forgiveness to others who have seen their need to repent.

As the Bible teaches, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:3-6).

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bat Dog and the Boy Wonder

In the Contact Church, we spend about 10 to 15 minutes on Sunday mornings concentrating on prayer and praise. During this time, anyone in the congregation can raise his or her hand to inform the church about a prayer request or a reason for giving thanks to God. Christopher has a tradition of telling the congregation, "I'm thankful for Bat Dog!" Everyone enjoys hearing his praise to God for Bat Dog, possibly because it's cute and possibly because our dog has such an unusual name.
When we adopted Bat Dog from the animal shelter nearly 3 years ago, Christopher was a big fan of The Batman cartoon series and Krypto the Superdog cartoon series (which often featured Ace the Bat Hound--Batman's pet dog--as a guest star). So when we got a dog, Christopher named him Bat Dog. Now Bat Dog may be the most prayed-for dog on the planet, since he is mentioned nearly every Sunday morning during prayer and praise at the Contact Church.
"A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal..." (Proverbs 12:10).

The Family Room - August 2009 -

Each month, I receive a free e-magazine (The Family Room) from one of my favorite ministries, FamilyLife. Click on the link below to read an article from the current issue about caring for the environment.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Life Lessons from Football (Part 3)

Finally, football can teach one to be a team player. We do not make it through life alone. Like a football team, we are interdependent.

In order to be a team player, we need to

1. Accept responsibility. The quarterback cannot do the job of the center. The right guard cannot do the job of the wide receiver. Everyone has a different role. When we fulfill our own responsibilities, we help the team. A Heisman Trophy winner does not win a football game. A team wins a football game when each player does his part. A football team, family, business, or church will succeed when it is comprised of responsible individuals within it; it will fail when someone is irresponsible.

2. Follow the rules. When an infraction occurs, the entire team suffers the penalty. When the rules are followed, the entire team can play up to its potential. When an executive or accountant breaks the law, a company can be destroyed. Everyone suffers unemployment. When the rules are followed, it can prosper. When a Christian cheats and lies, an entire congregation can be destroyed by the ensuing fighting and bad reputation of the church. The Bible contains the rules for living a good life. Our attitudes toward it should be: "I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word" (Psalm 119:16).

3. Live with humility. Mistakes will be made. We need to learn from them and adjust our ways in order to avoid them. We need to listen to those who have more experience and wisdom. They can help us to avoid and correct our mistakes. We also need to be forgiving toward those who have made mistakes. They will need correction, but they will also need forgiveness. An unforgiving and proud team is heading for disaster. An unforgiving and proud family will be torn apart. When we see ourselves as we are and treat others properly, we will be winners on the football field and in life. Former coach Tony Dungy has said, "True respect starts with the way you treat others, and it is earned over a lifetime of acting with kindness, honor, and dignity" (Uncommon, page 178).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Life Lessons from Football (Part 2)

The second life lesson I want to teach my son as he plays his first season of football is: Never give up on a good goal. Perseverance is essential to accomplishing anything good in life.

Difficult times will come. Boring times will occur. In either case, a man of character perseveres to accomplish his goals.

In football, you will be asked to do hard things; you will repeat the same things over and over and over in practice until you get bored. But in facing such challenges, you will learn that physical toughness is no match for mental toughness. The slower and weaker player with mental toughness will win over the faster and stronger player who gives up when he faces adversity. Perseverance will be the critical factor in victory.

In life, you will also be asked to do hard things; you will also repeat the sames things over and over and over until you are bored. But in doing so, you will keep a job, preserve a marriage, and lead your children to become more than they could imagine. Mental toughness is essential to accomplishing good things in the important areas of your life.

As the Bible teaches, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Life Lessons from Football (Part 1)

As my son Christopher enters his first year of playing football, I want him to learn a few important lessons about life. I plan on sharing some of these lessons on my blog over the next few days.
First, you must respect those who have authority over you. You must listen to your parents, teachers, coaches, employers, and others who will be in positions of authority over you. It makes life much easier. You will accomplish more of your goals by cooperating.

As Tommy Nelson wrote in The 12 Essentials of Godly Success (pages 81-82),
"In the early 1970s I was the chaplain of a high school football team. We love our high school football in Texas. We are connoisseurs of high school football. In other states they have high school football; in Texas, they live for high school football. For a whole bunch of folks it may as well be the state religion.
"So to be a great player in Texas means you are doing something. And on the team I served was a young man who was the finest high school football player I have ever seen. He was one of only three athletes in the history of Texas to be a three-time high school all-American (meaning, he was a high school all-American as a sophomore!).
"When he was ready to graduate, he had his choice of colleges. He picked a school whose previous running back was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. The question was not whether this young man would be good, but whether he was going to win the Heisman.
"After he made his decision, I said to his high school coach, 'What do you think? Will he win the Heisman someday?' His coach replied, 'He'll never carry the ball in college.'
"I was shocked. 'What do you mean?' I demanded. And he told me this young man had a character flaw that would eventually disqualify him. He knew that his college coaches would see it right away, and that would be the end of his career.
"Well, this young man ended up attending four different colleges--he quit two and was kicked out of two. He finished without a degree. The last I heard he was living in a common-law marriage and struggling every step of the way.
"What was the character flaw that the coach saw? 'He cannot submit to authority. He cannot submit to his parents. He cannot submit to an employer. He cannot submit to a teacher.' The coach told me, 'We've carried him along for the sake of the ball club. But I assure you, he will not submit to his college coaches. His football career is done.'
"That coach could have just as easily quoted to me a verse from Proverbs: 'The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out' (Prov. 30:17, New American Standard Bible)."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Stupid Arguments

"Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:22-26).

One mark of maturity is the ability to avoid stupid arguments. I have seen (and been involved in) my share of stupid arguments, but lately I have seen the need to avoid them. They do not help me or those with whom I am tempted to argue.

I do not need to make enemies simply because I think the tax rate should be lower or higher than someone else does. I do not need to look down on others who prefer another valid translation of the Scriptures. I do not even need to have an opinion on many issues. I certainly do not need to spend my time arguing about the trivial.

When I argue, I need to make sure that it is an argument worthy of my time and energy.

Neither Jesus nor the apostles were against making arguments that were worthwhile. They launched stinging attacks against legalism. They were willing to stand strong in contending for the faith against theological and ethical liberalism. However, they did not look for petty quarrels. When arguments occurred, they kept their perspective and sought to honor God in their responses to their opponents.

I want to do the same. I want to avoid stupid arguments. I want to choose my battles wisely and engage in them in a Christ-honoring manner.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The German Church Under Nazism

After my last post concerning the movie Valkyrie, I looked for some information about Christianity under Adolph Hitler's rule. Here is a quote from Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity (pages 576-578):

"Conservative churchmen felt that if Nazism were treated with understanding, it would grow out of its faults (such as racialism) and bring about national regeneration. Many Protestants welcomed Hitler's overthrow of democracy in 1933 as a first step toward replacing the 'Marxist' republic with 'Christian' rulers. Although some of the Catholic hierarchy were uneasy about National Socialism, most of them shared the same outlook as the Protestants...

"A movement swept the Protestant church in 1933 calling for the unification and 'nationalization' of the twenty-eight provincial churches (Landeskirchen) with a single 'Reich-bishop' at its head. This seemed in line with Hitler's policy of bringing all groups under the control of the Fuhrer and the state. The 'German Christians' secured the election of Ludwig Muller, a fervent Nazi. They also restructured the church along Nazi lines, by introducing the Fuhrer principle into church government and adopting the 'Aryan paragraph' which provided for dismissal of all people of Jewish origin from church staffs...

"The increasing encroachment of the Nazi state on religious matters alarmed many Protestants and Catholics...In September 1933 Dr. Martin Niemoller formed a Pastor's Emergency League to combat 'German Christian' ideas...Its theological basis was spelled out in the Barmen Declaration of May 1934. Largely written by Karl Barth, the Declaration called the German church back to the central truths of Christianity and rejected the totalitarian claims of the state in religious and political matters.

"The Barmen Declaration was not intended as a political protest and the Confessing Church did not plan to spearhead resistance to Nazism. It was mainly directed against the heretical distortions of the 'German Christians,' and in fact the leaders repeatedly affirmed their loyalty to the state and congratulated Hitler on his political moves. Because Lutherans traditionally supported the ruling power, the Confessing Church decided not to set itself up as a rival free church, but simply as a body to defend the orthodox Christian faith against innovations.

"Harassed by the Gestapo and repudiated by most Protestant leaders, the Confessing Church led a perilous existence. Its very presence was an embarrassment to the Nazis and its witness to Christ's Lordship over the world implicitly challenged Hitler's totalitarianism. A few of its members, such as Bonhoeffer, were conscious of their political responsibility and reluctantly became involved in the anti-Hitler resistance. But the conservatism and nationalism of most people deterred them from standing up publicly for democracy and individual rights.

"After the war, in October 1945, Niemoller and the surviving leaders of the Confessing Church poignantly declared their guilt for failing to speak out against the Nazi regime, especially in its early stages."

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Often I have wondered how an entire society could become as corrupt as Nazi Germany. Were the citizens so financially desperate that they would overlook the murder of millions of Jewish people in order to maintain a government that promised prosperity? Had the church become impotent because its leaders had rejected the inerrancy of the Bible and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Had racial hatred blinded the people to the magnitude of the sins they were tolerating? What part did cowardice play? Did so few people speak out against the Nazis because of peer pressure? Did they want to fit in with everyone else so badly that they were willing to be silent about horrible injustices being committed before their eyes?

Such questions came to my mind last weekend when Janet and I rented the DVD Valkyrie. The movie tells the story of German Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of an attempted coup and failed assassination of Adolph Hitler in the summer of 1944.

Amazingly, the coup nearly succeeded. At key points in the attempted coup, several important governmental and military leaders needed to make a choice: Would they join the coup and save the lives of millions of innocent people, or would they remain loyal to Hitler and save their positions in the government? Most of them struggled with the decision-making process. Some came to the conclusion that saving their jobs was the "right" decision. Some chose to try to save the lives of other people. However, even many of the people who chose to oppose Hitler hesitated at important junctures when quick decisions were needed. As a result of wrong decisions and hesitation when the time came for decisive action, the coup eventually failed. The war would last for several more months with hundreds of thousands of innocent people continuing to be slaughtered.

Based on a true story, Valkyrie unveils the life of a German hero who knew what was right and acted without hesitation when the time came to make a decision to save people's lives. If only more people had possessed his moral clarity and courage at the beginning of Hitler's rise to power, the Holocaust and World War II could have been avoided.

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).