Thursday, October 23, 2008


It’s always interesting going back to places of one’s past. Last Sunday my family and I went to a homecoming worship service at the church where I was pastor, 1991-1999. In 1999, at our request, they sent me and my family as missionaries to Stokesdale. They invited me to speak at this year’s homecoming worship service.

I was delighted with many of the changes I saw in the congregation and the facilities. There were a lot of people there I didn’t recognize, at least some of whom are new members of the church. They recently baptized several people.

The spirit of the people was very warm and welcoming. They were sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and eager to follow God’s leadership. I got to use their wireless mic as I spoke – a much better mic than I normally use. The whole sound system is wireless. They also have a video projector, which they know how to use. I felt like such a snob, because I had expected things to be like they used to be. Things do change, even without me.

This shows me that God is working, whether or not I realize it. He can change the culture in a church, even a hundred-year-old church. He can mobilize faithful people, any time, anywhere. The gospel changes people, even in traditional churches. May the Lord change me, and keep on changing me, so that he can make a difference through me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stop it

We had several folks from Crossroads go to Catalyst last week. It is always an amazing conference. There are so many ideas, and so much high octane inspiration, it is hard for me to digest it all.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, offered some great challenges to us. After polling the audience to see that nearly everyone makes a “to do” list, he then asked a related question. Do you have a “stop doing” list? Uh, no. His point is that for everything we do, we have to stop doing something. It could be to stop watching so much TV or to stop sleeping late. But there are also many things we need to delegate to others. By the way, you can find lots of free stuff on his Web site,

Christian leaders always need to build up other leaders. That’s just part of discipleship. So I realize that there are things I need to hand off to someone else. I’m not sure why that’s so hard for me. There is plenty of administrative stuff that takes up my time and drains me.

Meanwhile, I really want to stay on the cutting edge of ministry. At Catalyst I kept hearing about books I want to read, Web sites I want to explore, service opportunities I want to try. I need to make time to do this stuff. If I stop doing some things, then I can free up time to serve God where he has gifted me. And I can do it without going crazy.

That brings me to one more thing that Collins suggested: white space days. These are days when we plan to do nothing but think. It sounds a lot like Sabbath. I could use a few of those days. It is really a matter of obedience, if we take seriously what Jesus says. Ouch.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Just a Little More Candy

As I write today, the U.S. Senate is about to vote on the historic bailout of the mortgage industry. The House voted down a similar proposal on Monday, responding to the outcry from its constituents.

As the media have reported on the formulation of the Senate bill, they suggest that tax payers would approve of the measure if there were some special provisions in the new law for them. In other words, we won’t go for a basketful of candy for someone else; but if you put some candy in there for us, then we are all for it.

Now, I don’t like that thinking, and I resent the implication that we would be so shallow. The reason I oppose the bailout is that it is wrong fiscal policy, and it violates the principles of the free market.

It is wrong fiscal policy to put the tax payers further in debt. We are looking at increasing the national debt by nearly a trillion dollars. Even now, the federal budget must provide for billions of dollars annually simply to service the debt. We are paying interest, but not paying any principal. This measure would increase the debt by about 10 percent and increase our interest payments. No one would advise any person to handle his personal finances this way.

The measure also violates the principles of the free market. The government should get out of the way of the marketplace as much as possible. Some regulations are needed, but they should be minimal. This measure doesn’t just call for more regulations. It calls for the government to buy assets from the private sector and get into the mortgage business. With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government has already proven that it doesn’t do well in the business.

And now, the Senate has passed the bill. It is 451 pages long, and only 120 pages of the bill have to do with the bailout. All the rest is candy, made to sweeten the deal. I hope it doesn’t make us sick.