Sunday, January 31, 2010

Church Planting Lesson Eleven

Pastor Jeff continues to take his class at Calvary Chapel Bible College through a study in biblical church planting.

Subscribe to the Shepherd's Staff Podcast on iTunes.

2010 Disney World Marathon

Untitled-2 copy The pictures from this year's marathon are finally available to purchase from one of the Disney's vendors. Here's a look at one of the most gruelingly cold days in marathoning history.

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Me, Chris Tress, David Reback, and Billy Almaguer staying warm in Hefty trash bags.

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Mile 20.

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Mile 26.2.

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Cold, confused.

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This is me sharing a hallucination with you or perhaps this is the actual Magic Kingdom.

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Finis. This was my fifth full marathon...

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Logos app for iPhone

I blogged a few weeks ago about the Logos Bible Software app I downloaded a few weeks back. I use it everyday and love it. The Good News has this article posted on their website you might enjoy. Go learn.

Logos Bible Software has released a free iPhone app designed to help people get into Bible study more than ever before. Unlike most Bible-related iPhone apps, the Logos Bible Software iPhone app delivers tools and resources to help you study the Bible with your iPhone or iPod Touch in ways never before implemented on a mobile device.

“When we set out to develop our iPhone app, we wanted to replicate the functionality of our desktop software,” said Bob Pritchett, President of Logos Bible Software. “Not only did we do it, but we are now able to reach our greater goal of getting more people into the study of God’s Word by giving this app away for free.”

finish the article here

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saturday in the park

Last Saturday Allie and I started the day with a walk over the bridge. It was good to be outside after a week of being down with the flu. We walked to our mile turn around and then to the swings at the park under the Blue Heron Bridge.

Allie squirmed and shrieked with excitement when she realized our destination was the swings. It’s a struggle to get her out of her stroller when she’s that excited. Once she's in that little bucket seat, it's heaven. She shrieks with ecstasy as I push her as high as physically possible.

We finish up when her little hands are too tired to grip the handles. As we wrapped it up, a lady dressed for business approached me with a small stack of magazines under he arm. "Did you know that one day God will set up his kingdom here on earth?"

That's right to the point. And I really wasn't in the mood. I started to look for a way out of the conversation. How can I just blow her off and make her go away? I had a sense that it wasn't going to be that easy. How could I seriously engage with this woman in conversation in a non-argumentative, non-combative way? I didn't want to win a debate. I really believe that if this woman had it in her to approach a total stranger and discuss faith, then she might be someone seriously trying to get close to God. I wanted to leave her with something to think about.

“Yes, I believe that God is going to set up His kingdom here on earth. That’s exactly what the Bible says in Revelation 21 and 22,” I said.

The problem begins here. Jehovah's Witnesses are not interested in a two way conversations. They practice in their meetings what they’re going to say in their Saturday morning encounters. They work through talk tracks. One plays the Catholic and one is the JW. Then they switch it up and one plays a JW while the other is a Baptist. And keep control of the conversation by asking questions they don’t expect you to answer so they answer for you. That makes them look smart and you in need of instruction. They’re the teachers and you’re the student. See how that works?

I refuse to have a scripted conversation. As I go off script, she uses little techniques to bring the conversation back into territory she's familiar with.

"Do you believe that God's name is Jehovah?" She asks next since I know a little bit of Bible.

"I believe God is Jesus and that Jesus' name means "Jehovah is salvation."

"Jesus has been with Jehovah for eons. He was there with Jehovah when he created the Earth."

"When you've seen Jesus, you've seen the Father."

“Yes, just like you and your wife but not the same person,” she said, “Jesus and the Father are one, but not really the same person.”

“See, you make my point for me: my wife and I are equal; we can be ‘one flesh’ because we are on equal footing in God’s created order. The Father and Jesus are of the same essence of being because they are UN-created. That’s exactly what Jesus was telling the religious leaders in John 10 when Jesus said, ‘I and the Father are one.’ What happened next was the religious leaders picked up stones to stone Him for blasphemy. They said, ‘…because you, being a man, make yourself God.’

“Where does it say that?”

“John 10. Or John 8.” Off script.

And then Allie got tired of sitting in the stroller listening to me Bible banter with a Jehovah’s Witness. On that note, I excused myself.

I never feel good after these encounters. I tend to avoid them because it feels more like a contest than contending for a soul that follows a system built to deny Christ. What I want is to see her walk away from her false faith. What she wants is to see someone added to their roster of tithers and Saturday door knockers to earn a shot at a false paradise.

I walked away praying that God’s Word would not return to Him void. But I was still sad. How do you feel after these kinds of encounters?

At the fair

This is Allie and I at the South Florida fair with her class.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Haiti relief opportunities

Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is partnering with a number of ministries including Samaritan's Purse, Cross International, and Missionary Aviation Fellowship to get help and supplies to Haiti.

One immediate need you can help with if you live in South Florida is providing sheets and blankets. If you have twin sheets and blankets you can part with, bring them to CCFL and they'll fill up a container and get your gifts to Haiti.

There's one additional request: please give some newer sheets and blankets. They're going to see heavy usage and laundering.

Oh yeah, they could also use some industrial washers and driers to launder the linens as patients are seen and released.

$3,500 gets a container to Haiti. Get your gifts to Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale and they'll do their part and get help to Haiti.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review: Angry Conversations with God

image Author: Susan E. Isaacs
New York, FaithWords, 2009
Number of pages: 242

If The Shack left you with an itch you can't scratch, Susan E. Isaacs’ Angry Conversations with God deeply soothes. While Isaac's book is not fiction, it is a creatively written memoir that asks the irreverent questions about God most people have the sense to not ask out loud.

Isaacs brazenly writes about life’s ups and downs and the human tendency to take credit for the peaks while blaming God for the valleys.

Isaacs assumes that her relationship with God is supposed to function like a marriage. If that's the case, then she and God need counseling. In fictionalized accounts of real counseling sessions Isaacs stands as God's accuser and questions his intentions. She is smarter than God and knows more about his motives and capabilities than he does. Both she and God bite back at each other with snippiness and sarcasm. Both constantly one-up the other. If you've been in marriage counseling this sounds familiar.

Ultimately, Susan wants a divorce. God stomps out of counseling and Susan doesn’t hear from him for a large chunk of the book.

Isaacs covers topics like "Christians are weird," "the Church is hurtful," "Relationships are hard," and "If God is all powerful then why is my life so messed up?" For most of the book, Isaacs sounds like you and me; she whines. She readily admits that her problems pale in comparison with those suffering in Darfur. Her problems are "nothing but middle-class white girl tragedies." But if you're a middle class white girl, your tragedies are very personal. If God is supposed to be "personal" then why does he seem to be unconcerned and distant when it comes to the things that cause us distress in life?

The author concludes that there is definitely some kind of disconnect between God and his followers.

The book emphasizes that our relationship with God and our journey through this life looks quite a bit like Job's. Although we might not have the character of Job or the hardships of Job, we have the same questions as Job and the same problems with comprehending God.

The author doesn't have Job's perspective, however. She sees things through the eyes of a middle class white girl.

Angry Conversations with God is a fun read. It’s rated PG13 at time; reader be warned. If you have the complaints of a middle class white girl, a disillusioned daughter, or you’d rather just sit and watch wile someone else complains, get this book. You’ll have fun and you’ll laugh out loud.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pretty dang easy

The American Red Cross made it incredibly easy to give the organizations relief efforts in Haiti. As of last night, they've raised over five million bucks through this campaign.

Step one: send a text message to 90999.

Step two: enter "Haiti"

Step three: get a text message back from the Red Cross confirming that you want to give $10. Your next phone bill will be charged.

Step four: reply "Yes"

This is so easy monkeys can do it. Or even me.


Signs of life

I received this news in an email from friends on the Arabian Peninsula.

CIRCULATION CODE 3. OPEN. May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organizations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

In recent months we have requested prayer following the kidnapping on Friday 12th June of nine foreigners in Saada, north-west Yemen, three of whom were murdered shortly afterwards. Recall that those missing are a German couple, their three children, and a British man.

We are pleased to report that a Yemeni government official has announced that the government has seen proof that the missing six are alive. Precise details have not been disclosed. However, a recent video showing the three young children has been confirmed. This has led some to speculate that the children are being held separately from the adults.

The government has given assurances that, together with German and British investigators, it is continuing to work for their release.

Christians in Yemen give praise for these signs of hope and request our continued prayers that:
a. The missing six will know the peace and presence of Jesus and will be released unharmed shortly
b. They will receive enough healthy food and keep warm during the cold nights
c. If separated, the three children will be reunited with their parents soon
d. Efforts to negotiate their release will be successful
e. The families and colleagues of those missing and murdered will know the peace of Jesus amidst the intense uncertainty

f. Efforts to end the violence in Saada province will be successful and the root causes addressed
g. All expatriate Christians in Yemen will know the Lord's guiding and protecting at this time, in particular in view of the latest AlQaeda threats

h. The perpetrators will be convicted by the Spirit and drawn to the forgiveness, love and true life offered by Jesus.

Web site:

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

You got this

Things I never thought I'd hear in Orlando, FL, running a marathon:
1. More cowbell
2. Watch the ice

The water and Poweraide handed out by volunteers was partialy frozen and slushy. The left overs dumped in the road left an ice slick that had to be salted.

David Reback: 4:12:06
Bryon Mondok: 4:35:10
Billy Almaguer: 4:50:16
Chris Tress: 6:14:21

MVP award goes to Chris Tress. His life of ministry totally prohibitted him from fully preparing for the race. But through shear force of will and faith, Tress finished in brutal cold conditions.

The Disney Team Members working the marathon were awesome. They kept the runners upbeat and encouraged. They continually said: "You got this."

We got this.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

On the road to Disney

Dave and Chris and I are on the Turnpike heading to the Disney World Marathon. It's 40 degrees and rainy. Tomorrow at the starting gun 28 degrees is predicted.

I thought we were in Florida.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Britt Hume Exhortation to Tiger Woods

A friend shared the following video on Facebook. Bill O'reilly interviews Brit Hume regarding some comments he made about Tiger Woods and the true forgiveness and peace only offered by Christ. Hume's remarks are excellent. Even when O'Rielly baits him a little to say something negative about critics, Hume takes the high road.

The friend that shared this also introduced me to the book Roaring Lambs. It's an excellent read about making the most of your faith in the public arena.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Grandma Pat Comes Home

Pastor Chris Tress and his dynamo of a wife Colleen orchestrated buying, making over, and GIVING AWAY this house to this most amazing woman: Grandma Pat.

Check out the video shot and produced by my own son :)

Warning: you will cry. If you don't, then go get some therapy.

Church Planting Lesson Ten

Sunday, January 03, 2010


John Walsh's America's Most Wanted does it again. Paul Michael Merhige is booked into Palm Beach County jail. It was so satisfying to see Merhige's mug in the back of a police car.

"This does not bring my daughter back so I'm not jumping up and down in jubilation," said Jim Sitton.

Police cars have camped outside the Sitton home since Thanksgiving when Merhige murdered family members including Sitton's beautiful six year old daughter.

Merhige was tazed by marshalls when apprehended. I'm glad they didn't have to shoot him and pray that justice is served as the world watches.