Thursday, August 31, 2006

Parents: The Ultimate Servant Leaders

Though I am not a parent yet, I am convinced that good, Godly parents represent one of the best models for servant leadership. As I reflect on my years at home, on my years on my own, and even now on my year (plus a couple of months) as a husband, my parents have always modeled true servant leadership in their home and in our family. I am hard pressed to recount the number of liberties that my parents surrendered to provide a godly home. I feel confident that my father could have become a better businessman or fisherman and my mom a more prominant woman in the community or gardener, or a whole host of other things, but they chose to sacrifice much of their own personal life to ensure that my brother and I received the love, care, attention, and training that we needed.

Good parents point to the accomplishments of their children as their children's accomplishments, and not an extension of their own success. Parenting, like other leadership, takes patience and time and requires the sacrifice of many activities that may seem in the short-term to be more enjoyable or fulfilling. However, all leaders reap the rewards of their sacrifices not in the short-term, but in the long-range success of their students, families, churches, and/or organizations.

As I talk about my dad, I am reminded of the aggravation my brother and I must have caused him. We talked with him recently about one song that we used to play over and over again in his truck. Surely he grew annoyed with the repetition of that song, maybe to such a degree that it would have been easier to leave us at home with our mom (though I'm sure she wouldn't agree with that) rather than carry us along as he ran errands. But, he doesn't remember the annoying song as much as the time we spent together. The same is true of me and my brother, we remember the rides more than the song. I bet that the same is true of all great leaders and their apprentices. In the big scheme of things, the small annoyances fade into the dark places of the mind, but the long-term success of the underling becomes the crowning achievement of the servant leader.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Are We All Postmodern?

While in Indonesia, we talked some about Spiritual Warfare and the concept of the "excluded middle" in western culture as set forth by Dr. Paul Hiebert. As westerners, we have become so dependent upon and trusting of science and technology, that we tend to doubt anything that can't be explained scientifically or logically. To a large degree, we have worked to kill the concept of spirituality.

Having just read the account of Elisha making the axe head float in 2 Kings 6, I am reminded that this is a favorite target for liberal scholars to cast doubt upon biblical credibility. According to many, if it seems unbelievable then it is impossible, or at least, improbable.

However, in "less advanced" Eastern cultures, these extraordinary stories are accepted without question. The people of these cultures believe in and experience unexplainable spiritual phenomena regularly, so miracles are relatively easy to accept. As many might explain, they simply know no better; an advanced scientific mind expects that miracles are surely explainable with more knowledge and understanding.

I believe this points to an interesting reality. Generally, people are more "post-modern" by disposition than even "post-moderns" realize or are willing to admit. Everyone more readily accepts or believes things that agree with their own experiences than things that do not. Indonesians, for example, are untrusting of a simple cleaner like bleach because they are unfamiliar with it, the can not see it work. Yet, many in that culture believe that wet means clean simply because they can watch water wash away dirt (surely, this is a place where science would be very valuable because the could see the effects of bleach on germs and bacteria). Whether we like to admit it or not, experience usually trumps all else.

All cultures and people are shaped by experiences. As western Christians, we fight for the credibility of the Bible against opposition from the outside. We even struggle with ourselves to understand miracles recorded in Scripture. However, maybe even the fight is partially a result of our cultural indoctrination. The Bible is truth, it is God's Word given to man and God can never lie. God is truth and His word is a trustworthy foundation, not because I say so, but because God says so. Try as they may, man can never strip away the credibility of God's Word, because truth is not based on our experiences, rather it is realized in the Son of God, the embodiment of truth, who is, "The way, the truth and the life."

Borrowed, For Your Enjoyment

I thought that two following entries from Dr. Albert Mohler's blog were worth passing along. Since I believe he says it better than I can, I decided it would be best to allow him to say it. His blog can be found at

"It's Always a Disaster" -- Young People on Marriage

Posted: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 at 4:09 am ET

The Boston Globe offers a frightening view of marriage in the eyes of young African-Americans. The article is haunting as it reveals the bleak view of marriage held by these young people:

``I'm not looking forward to marriage," says Nakeeda Burns , a 17-year-old resident of Revere and daughter of a single mother, ``and I don't think we [people in general] should be married, because I see how other marriages ended up in my family and on television. It's always a disaster."

Even the married couples these teens know don't seem particularly happy. ``All of my friends who are married, they tell me not to get married," says Anderson Felix , 17, of Dorchester. `` `Wifey is going to keep you on lock.' `Everywhere you go, she'll call you every five minutes.' I won't be able to deal with that."

Anita Marshall blurts out, ``I want a big wedding if I get married," but she doesn't think she'll make it to the altar. Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were married; now they're all divorced.


Their disillusionment mirrors a growing resistance to marriage among African-Americans. In the post-Civil War era, when African-Americans had the option to marry legally for the first time, many did. The 1890 Census showed that 80 percent of African-American families were headed by two parents, according to Andrew Billingsley 's 1992 book, ``Climbing Jacob's Ladder: The Enduring Legacies of African-American Families ."

But in 1970, census figures showed that only 57 percent of black men and 54 percent of black women were married. By last year those numbers had slipped to 42 percent for men and 35 percent for women. In comparison, 68 percent of white men and 63 percent of white women were married in 1970, vs. 59 percent of men and 57 percent of women in 2005.

This is not only a matter of demography -- but of worldview and the future of marriage as an institution. When young people see marriage as a "disaster" in the making, something essential to civilzation and human happiness is lost.

The Accommodating Middle

Posted: Friday, August 04, 2006 at 2:27 am ET
Robert A. J. Gagnon, Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has contributed some of the most important biblical scholarship on the question of homosexuality and the New Testament. He is also a committed churchman who writes with outrage and grief over his denomination's recent vote to allow what amounts to a local option on the issue of ordaining practicing homosexuals to the ministry.

In a recent paper, Professor Gagnon responds to Professor Mark Achtemeier of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, a member of the Task Force that brought the proposal adopted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [See this news article].
In this important section, Professor Gagnon rejects the position that poses as a "middle" option. The entire paper deserves a careful reading, but this section is mandatory:

The truth is that Prof. Achtemeier has truncated the gospel definition of grace, which includes God caring enough about us to turn us from self-dishonoring, self-degrading sexual behavior that mars the image of God stamped on our sexual being to God-honoring, life-sustaining sexual behavior that enhances that image. Here too Prof. Achtemeier would have done well to compare Rom 1:24-27 with 6:12-23: Whereas God's wrath is manifested in giving persons over to the mastery of pre-existing impulses for sexual "uncleanness," of which impulses for same-sex intercourse are a paradigmatic instance, God's grace is now manifested in delivering us from the primary lordship of such impulses so that we no longer put our bodies at the disposal of such "uncleanness" (Rom 1:24; 6:19).

It is a terrible thing to manipulate the text of Scripture to advance what is essentially an anti-Scriptural agenda. There can never be true Christ-centered unity around the toleration of sexual immorality that would have appalled, and does appall, Jesus. The church should be about graciously and humbly recovering the lost, not training them to be content with their lost condition.

In all too many cases of theological declension in denominations, the forces of theological and moral revisionism are "enabled" by an accommodationist "middle" faction that refuses to draw essential biblical distinctions or to defend necessary theological and biblical boundaries.
See "I Am of the Middle": The Subgroup of the "Middle" and Its Accommodation to Sexual Immorality / A Response to Mark Achtemeier by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., July 12, 2006. See other resources at

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

We're Home

We are home. Thank you for all of your prayers and support. We have tons of exciting news to share and good stories to tell, but there will be plenty of time for that later. Our flight home was nice, especially because it was shorter than the flight over there. For now, we are working to overcome jetlag and get settled in at home.

Thanks for checking in and contine to do so, I'll be sure to post more about our experiences in coming days.