Monthly Archives: December 2009


Thinking About Time

Happy New Year As we come to the end of another calendar year we all think about time, at least to some extent. Time has passed and time is ahead of us, or so we think. Most of us give thanks for the end of 2009. For many it was not a great year at all. But for most of you who read this blog you are likely to be grateful to God for so many things as you come to the end of 2009. I am and my health and finances both declined in 2009 to varying degrees.

But what really is this thing we call time? Since Aristotle philosophers have tried to understand the nature of time. After the work of Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) many came to believe that time was something that had many parts to it. By this understanding philosophers meant that time had several parts to it. And by this they were saying that a particular time

By |December 31st, 2009|Categories: Biblical Theology, Current Affairs|

The Case for ACT 3: Part Two

Yesterday, I said that "the evidence is clear that the church in America is in spiritual, moral and numerical decline. Since the Second Great Awakening (1800-1830) we have not seen decreases like those we now see in the American Church. The church seems to have become a dysfunctional family with little or no impact. God’s solution is found in the prayer that Jesus prayed in John 17." This analysis is at the heart of the case I am making for you to help me bring about a change that is long overdue.

2008-12-11-1036-49 Admittedly, our imperfect state requires we “make every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit.” God knows that given our selfish, prideful roots it isn’t easy to actually do this. His call to making disciples in the unity of the Spirit falls on each of us, and is the core of the ACT 3 mission for the renewal of the visible church. Our unity in mission can only be empowered and fulfilled in

By |December 30th, 2009|Categories: ACT 3|

The Case for ACT 3: Part One

ACT3LogoFacebook The evidence is clear that the church in America is in spiritual, moral and numerical decline. Since the Second Great Awakening (1800-1830) we have not seen decreases like those we now see in the American Church. The church seems to have become a dysfunctional family with little or no impact. God’s solution is found in the prayer that Jesus prayed in John 17. It is that we would be united in Christ, and that thereby we would advance his mission. Christ’s call to all churches and Christians is to embrace this apologetic of love, because only by this means may people know that God the Father is real.

Please prayerfully consider what is presented in these few pages, especially in light of how God has called you to serve Him in His Kingdom. 

The Root Problem: Since World War II we have witnessed the most radical transformation in cultural values in recorded history. Some believe the catalyst for this change came

By |December 29th, 2009|Categories: ACT 3|

The ACT 3 Story

Each year churches and missions express gratitude to their benefactors at the end of the calendar year. Most will also appeal for much needed year-end gifts. I have followed this pattern for seventeen years. But this year I have done something very special. We recently mailed a special thank-you gift to all 425 of our donors. This gift is a new 29-minute video: “The ACT 3 Story.” Here you can see and experience the unique vision that God has given to me. I now want to invite every reader of this blog to see this same video. You can watch it on our Web site at: It downloads as soon as you open the homepage so plan to take a half hour and watch this story at your earliest convenience. I would love to receive your comments in some form. Each one encourages me very deeply.

031032114x_cimage This new video tells a story that I am fully persuaded you will find compelling.

By |December 28th, 2009|Categories: ACT 3|

Cleanliness and Godliness: Are They Related?

Winner Lauren F. Winner, in the July-August issue of Books & Culture, writes of “the evolving standards of cleanliness” in our culture. If you have ever heard that “cleanliness” and “godliness” are related then her review of three interesting books on the subject will show you how the two became related. Such was clearly not always the case.

Did you know, for example, that in the first millennium of Christianity that believers castigated people who were preoccupied with cleanness and that Hindus and Muslims considered Christians indifferent to bodily hygiene? Christians had then, even as we do today, a “vexed relationship with the body.” Add to this the licentiousness of the Roman baths and early Christians had more than enough reason to not buy into the cleanliness notion. The stress of much theology, in the first thousand years or so, was on baptism being a true cleansing of the spirit while the cleansing of the body was superficial in contrast. One saint, St. Melania the younger,

By |December 27th, 2009|Categories: Culture|

Anita Will Always Be the Love of My Life

Marriage December 1970 21 Years Old116
Everyone who knows me personally, and who has met my wife Anita, knows that without her I would never be able to live the life I have been called by God to live for his kingdom. The best decision I ever made, besides the decision to follow Christ for these past 54 years, was to marry Anita 39 years ago this day. Yes, we were married on the day after Christmas. We were so crazy, and in love, that we didn't want to wait until I graduated in May of 1971, which would have been very sensible. I was a senior, and on Christmas break, and Anita was a first-year middle school teacher in St. Charles, Illinois and also on break. It was, for us, the perfect time. I think we forgot about everyone else but then we were in love.
I did say that, right?

The truth is I did not fall

By |December 26th, 2009|Categories: Marriage & Family, Personal|

Merry Christmas 2009

Christians the world over celebrate the birth of Jesus on this day. Some believe this was the actual date upon which he was born but most recognize that this date developed over centuries of Christian tradition. Regardless of how we came to make this date a part of the church calendar the fact that we remember the birth of Christ, as well as his life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension, is critical. Whatever your own church does to remember this blessed day I take this opportunity to wish all of you, my friends and readers, a Blessed and Merry Christmas Day 2009.

As I reflected on this day I was drawn to the word of a famous writer in the early church that too few of us know much about. I refer to Ephrem the Syrian. Ephrem was a Syriac deacon and a prolific hymn writer and theologian of the fourth century. He is loved and remembered by Christians throughout the world, especially by Syrian believers.


By |December 25th, 2009|Categories: Church Tradition|

Sharing Christ Over Christmas (A Guest Blog)

This is a guest blog contributed by my good friend Rev. Chris Castaldo. I thought it a wonderful resource for some of you who might find it very useful today or tomorrow.

Venice Many of us approach Christmas dinner brimming with fear. Such anxiety doesn’t come from Aunt Mary’s liver sausage pate or her sour-apple fruitcake so much as our sense of the challenge of trying to direct conversation toward the gospel. After all, last year’s attempt was a proverbial train wreck. How can this year be any different?

If I were to give one piece of advice, it would be to understand what evangelism is, and what it is not. The following definition and subsequent explication are intended to provide this sort of perspective, to help us approach Christmas dinner with a greater measure of optimism and hope.

“Evangelism is the activity in which the entire Church prayerfully and intentionally relies on God

By |December 24th, 2009|Categories: Evangelism|

Why Did Senator Ben Nelson Cave In to the Pro-Choice Pressure?

Ben_Nelson_official_photo I originally wrote this blog on December 19. At the time I first wrote Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska was refusing to support the senate version of health-care reform because of its openly pro-choice stance. I wrote, on December 19, that there are "very few politicians that I actually admire." Like many Americans I see so few of them who have genuine "integrity." Most are overly and overtly "ambitious." (See blogs from the past two days, December 21-22) Further, I think that very little is actually changed by politicians in the end. Both culture and community are changed much more by good and godly people, than by governments. If we lose our way as a nation it will not be because of what happens in Congress. We can survive some bad decisions by Congress, we cannot survive becoming a coarse and bad people.

I was reminded of this issue of integrity during the ongoing health care debate over the past few weeks. Most everyone

By |December 23rd, 2009|Categories: Abortion|

Thoughts on Ambition

Centralspire Yesterday I suggested that the dominant mark against my own life and generation is an overly aggressive ambition. This ambition is often masked by appeals to faith, to mission goals and to growth in the numbers of people we reach or attract. It is particularly apparent in the virtually Corinthian way that we build empires and ministries around the personality if our leaders.

I once asked a highly regarded leader of a major Christian ministry if he feared this problem and he assured me, without even a moment's hesitation, that this was a non issue since his goal was to draw people to Jesus and the truth and not to dispossess them of this danger. I argued otherwise, to no avail. I even suggested that if he looked carefully he could see all around him the clear evidence that people came to hear him and listened to his every word as if he was the font of deep wisdom. (I didn't quite put it


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