Thursday, October 23, 2008


Here are some thoughts I gleaned in my recent read through Esther in The Message Bible.

This story reminds us that the people of God can never be killed off. Did you know that Esther is the only book of the Bible that never mentions the name of God? This fact almost kept it from being accepted in the canon of Scripture.

  1. The "law of the Medes and Persians" has made it into our English vernacular. It means a law or rule that must never be broken. By the way, have you ever wondered why King Xerxes never tried to talk things out with Vashti his wife?
  2. The first recorded beauty pageant? Now that we already know the whole story of Esther, it is amazing to see how God used the events as part of His plan to save the Jews from extinction.
  3. What a contrast of human qualities: Mordecai and Haman. Mordecai secure in his moral principles and unwilling to compromise them. Haman insecure and willing to lead an effort of Jewish genocide because one man wouldn't bow to him.
  4. 4:12-14--Best-known verses of Esther. I love Mordecai's faith that God will always work out a plan to spare the Jewish people. His challenge to Esther is awesome--stressing that maybe she was made queen "for just such a time as this."
  5. Haman was about as arrogant as they come. But it crawled deep under his skin that Mordecai would not bow to him. Is there some type of thorn that keeps me from enjoying life?
  6. Haman's arrogance reminds me of the Proverb, "Pride goes before destruction." The book of Esther is filled with ironic events.
  7. Haman's theme song had to be "Bad Day". Evil actions will eventually come back to haunt you.
  8. Isn't it amazing how God can use one person to accomplish such extraordinary things? A humble Jewish woman becomes queen and is responsible for saving her people from extinction.
  9. Without the Book of Esther we would never know the roots of the annual Jewish feast of Purim.
  10. Just goes to show you that faithfulness to God and consistent moral character will lead to great rewards.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Here are some takeaways from my recent read through 2 Timothy.

1:1--Like Paul, I have a special assignment for Christ. Am I living it out?

1:3--One essential trait of a mentor is that he prays "all the time" for the one he is discipling.

1:6-7--God has given each of us gifts for ministry. It is up to us to keep those gifts active and aflame.

1:9-10--God has saved us and called us--all because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

1:13-14--God's calling in my life is precioius. I must guard it from anything that would compromise it and make it impotent.

2:1-2--Campus Crusade for Christ drilled these two verses in me as a college student. I'm still passionate about the importance of making disciples.

2:10-13--Whatever my prison may be, I must not let God's Word be in prison. I must use my prison as a platform for witness.

2:14-16--Stay away from Christian nitpicking. Just do the best you can for God.

3:1-5--The characteristics Paul lists describing people in the last days sure sounds like the American people of 2008.

3:12--The one who lives all out for Christ will face trouble for sure.

3:16-17--Why should we read the Bible daily? Look no further than these two verses for an answer.

4:6-8--Paul's famous words at the end of his life--"I've run hard right to the finish." All of us should long to finish well.

4:14-15--Everywhere you go there will be opponents to the work of the Gospel.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008


Here is a synopsis of the other speakers at this year’s Catalyst Conference.

  • Seth Godin (marketing expert)--very interesting talk about tribes. He's has great insight into future marketing trends.

  • Craig Groeschel (pastor Joel 2, three prayers we need to pray in order to get "IT" restored in our lives: Stretch me, heal me, ruin me.

  • Tim Sanders (best-selling author)--talked about saving the world at work and three laws: law of abundance, law of interdependence, and law of compassionate reciprocity.

  • Dave Ramsey (author, TV host)--what a great communicator. His main talk was on leadership. He talked about five enemies of unity (poor communication, gossip, unresolved disagreements, lack of shared purpose, sanctioned incompetence).

  • Franklin Graham--on behalf of his dad, received a Lifetime Achievement Award and spoke about the gospel in action.

  • Andy Crouch (Director of Christianity Today's Chrisitan Vision Project)--he talked about the many ways people respond to and react to culture. He stressed how we need to cultivate culture (take what is good and keep it good) and create culture. Creating culture is a thought-provoking idea.

  • Matt Chandler (pastor, Village Church, Texas)--first time I had heard him. Great communicator. Fresh, relevant message straight from God's word.

  • Andy Stanley wrapped up the conference with a talk on "Random Thoughts on Leadership". He took the following statements and talked a while on each one.
    "To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing."
    "The Next Generation" product almost never comes from the previous generation."
    "What do I believe is impossible to do in my field...but if it could be done would fundamentally change my business?"
    "If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do? Why shouldn't we walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?"
    "When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near."

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Thoughts on Catalyst Conference

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I try to write a blog weekly; but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Last week several of us went to Atlanta for a couple of days for the Catalyst Conference. That conference is one of my favorites because it keeps me abreast with the culture of emerging generations. (It used to be open to those 40 and under. I guess us old folks complained enough that they are letting us in now.)

The worship was exceptional. The creativity always blows me away. And the speakers were outstanding. Here are a few takeaways.

  • Andy Stanley--the power of moral authority needs to be restored among church leaders and members. How? Forgiveness, family, and finances.
  • William Paul Young (author of The Shack)--interviewed by Ernie Johnson. Fresh insights into the huge success of this book and how he has handled the critics.]
  • Jim Collins (Good to Great)--Wow! This man knows his leadership stuff. Questions he raised: How many of the key seats in your church are filled with the right people? What are we doing to make it 100%? Get the right young people involved. Then he suggested that his (and my) generation of Boomers need to get out of the way. How much time do I spend in quietness (white space days)? Am I committed to the pain involved in becoming a "Level 5" leader?
  • Steven Furtick (orig. from Moncks Corner, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte)--What a breath of fresh air. 28 years old I believe, new church running 5,000 weekly. His message from Elijah was a great encouragement. He focused on 1 Kings 18 and the "cloud like a small hand."
  • Brenda Salter McNeil (author, thought leader)--she talked about how God shakes things up, how the disciples got shaken up so that they could shake up the world. Awesome message.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Have You Read "The Shack"?

If you haven't read The Shack yet, what are you waiting on? You better hurry or you will be the last person alive to read it. The book is being talked about everywhere I go.
The book is a fictional story about a man who goes through an extreme family tragedy, goes through the painful process of grief and bitterness, and ends up meeting the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). The four talk and do things together like one would hang out with friends. Through their conversations the man is able to work through his grief. And in the process he learns a whole lot about God and is able to view Him from a completely new perspective.
It is amazing how successful the book has been. Author William Young was turned down by the major publishers; so he decided to self-publish the book. And it is selling like hot cakes. Today, it ranks #3 on Amazon's bestsellers.
The book has raised the ire of some Christian pastors and leaders. The loudest complaints I have heard is that the story emphasizes the immanence (taking place within the mind of the subject and having no effect outside of it) of God to the neglect of the transcendence (being above and independent of the material universe) of God. In other words, some feel the book goes to the extreme of over-humanizing God. There were a couple of parts that made me uneasy, especially the author's take on what happened when Jesus cried from the cross, "Why have you forsaken me?"
I've heard others claim that Young is teaching universalism--that all people end up going to heaven. I recently heard an interview with him where he point blank said such notions are untrue.
Sometimes I think people just need to chill out and get a life. I found nothing in the book that would remotely lead me down a heretical path. And I found nothing that would keep me from recommending the book to others. I can see especially how it can help those who are trying to deal with painful pasts. Read it for yourself. But, remember, it is fiction and not a theological treatise of the doctrines of our faith.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."