Friday, January 28, 2011


Today, Monica and I had the chance to see The King's Speech. The story centers around the real life relationship between King George VI of Britain, who came to be the King shortly before the outbreak of World War II, and suffered from a speech impediment. To deal with it, his wife insists on him going to see a speech therapist named Lionel Logue, who helps him to see that his impediment is just a symptom - a symptom of his own fears, fears that he must overcome if he is going to speak to and for the people in a time of great uncertainty.

The movie culminates in the king delivering a speech to the nation as they entered into war with Germany, and what really struck me was the camera cutting to all kinds of people all over listening in - factory workers, royalty, soldiers, the "average joes," and everyone in between. The movie is about a man facing his fears and finding his voice, and as a follower of Jesus entrusted with a message to be proclaimed, the movie stirred up several thoughts in me about learning to speak well. Here's my gleanings:

TO SPEAK WELL, WE MUST KNOW THAT THE SPEAKER'S POWER IS NOT IN HIMSELF, BUT IN HIS MESSAGE. As a king in the 20th century, he didn't have to power to form a government or levy a tax, but the people looked to him for hope in dark times, for comfort in chaos and truth in the midst of propaganda. He his power was not in himself, but in his message. As ambassadors bearing the message of reconciliation, power does not rest in our ability, but in the message we proclaim. If we are going to bring true hope, peace, and truth to hurting people in dark times, we must realize this truth as well.

TO SPEAK WELL, WE NEED TO KNOW THE PEOPLE THAT WE ARE SPEAKING TO. Over the course of his friendship with Lionel, the king confesses that he has no relationship at all with the "common man" whom he supposedly represents. If we are to speak well, we cannot be in love more with being heard, being recognized than loving those who are hearing us! Divorced from this relationship, our words become about bringing attention to us, and not bringing hope to others. Do I really love the people that I'm speaking to? What are their needs? How can my love, expressed through words of truth, be used by God to meet those needs? These are the questions we need to ask.

TO SPEAK WELL, WE NEED TO OVERCOME OUR FEAR. This is the real obstacle that Lionel helps the king to see in his own life - he is terrified of being the king, of being inadequate, of being someone charged with speaking for the people that can't say a thing! It is only when he sees that he has nothing to be afraid of that he finds his voice. In the final scene of the movie, as the king is preparing to give his speech, he is locked away in the sound booth with Lionel - it is just the king, Lionel, and the microphone. And just before the broadcast goes live, after everything else has been said, Lionel says, "say it as if you're saying it just to me." As ambassadors of the Gospel, these words are what we need to chase away our fear - the fear of what other people will think, the fear of being inadeqaute, the fear of failure. The God of the universe says to you and to me, "Say it as if you're saying it just to me." It is for His sake that we open our mouths at all, so it should be for an audience of One that we proclaim faithfully, with boldness, winsomeness, courage, and clarity, the message which He has entrusted to us.

See you soon!

"Moses said to the LORD, 'Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.' The LORD said to him, 'Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.'" (Exodus 4:10-12)

Monday, January 24, 2011


This last quarter, I had the privilege of earning a Certificate in Youth Ministry from Fuller Seminary. I have loved books since I was a kid - I can't count how many nights I fell asleep with my bedside light on, a book of some kind in my hands. (Actually, the light was on because I was afraid of the dark until I was in junior high school, but that's a different blog post.) But since I've come to more deeply surrender and yield all of my life to the lordship of Jesus, my love for learning and knowledge has been fueled for the sake of being of greater usefulness to the Kingdom of God.

But seminary so far hasn't been a cakewalk - one of my favorite teachers of all time, Professor Hurst, used to refer to seminary as "cemetary - for the faith of many is buried there." One of the most subtle and difficult things that I have to struggle against in my own life is making seminary into a purely academic pursuit - learning for the sake of learning, albeit about things of God. It's easy for learning and acheivement to become an end in itself, which is a dangerous place to be.

To that end, I came across the talk that Francis Chan gave at the Desiring God National Conference this past year, and he really hit on the heart of the balance that we need in pursuing knowledge and wisdom while growing in love and into the likeness of Jesus. Paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 13, where it says that if we can fathom all wisdom and knowledge but have not love, we are nothing, he said, "some people in this room can be brilliant and worthless." If our knowledge of God is not knowledge the equips and mobilizes us to love others, it is not a "treasure stored up in heaven," but a treasure stored in places where it can and will be snatched away when our minds fail us - a sobering thought!

If you're in seminary or thinking about, I recommend carving out some space to listen to Francis, and I'd love to hear what you think. I don't want to be brilliant and worthless, and I know you don't want to be either. See you soon!

"Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God." (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)


I stumbled upon these guys earlier this month - they sound like Mae or Copeland, and it's disc that I've been playing a lot lately. I love this lyric from the second track on their album, Birds and Cages, called Growing Pains:

What is life kept to ourselves / Careful words composed
It’s a book upon the shelf / its story never told
The other sweet deal is that their album is on sale for $5 on Amazon right now - it's worth it! See you soon.


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Part of life in ministry is preaching, and ever since I was 14 years old and sitting in a room full of high school students listening to this guy, I have been enthralled with and captivated by the incredible responsibility and task of proclaiming God's Word. This is a subject that is much on my mind, and I've had the privilege of learning of the art and call of preaching under some amazing people - two of the most significant to me recently which are dead! The first is Charles Spurgeon, whose book Lectures to My Students has been an amazing guide for my spiritual life in ministry. The other is D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, whose book called Preaching and Preachers I have been reading through over the past two months. As I have been reading, this quote jumped out at me:
“I would say that a ‘dull preacher’ is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher. He may stand in a pulpit and talk, but he is certainly not a preacher. With the grand theme and message of the Bible dullness is impossible. This is the most interesting, the most thrilling, the most absorbing subject in the universe; and the idea that this can be presented in a dull manner makes me seriously doubt whether the men who are guilty of this dullness have ever really understood the doctrine they claim to believe, and which they advocate. We often betray ourselves by our manner.”
Man - how many times that I have been guilty of preaching that isn't really preaching at all! What a disservice we do when we take what is the "most absorbing subject in the universe" and make it something that many people, if they were being honest, often just suffer long enough to be polite and then bolt. In contrast to this, Lloyd-Jones offers this definition of true preaching:
“Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has not right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one.”
When we encounter the Truth, we cannot help but be set ablaze with passion and purpose, with urgency and compassion, to convey the message which we feel God has for our hearers. Lord, search me and know my heart - may I be set afire by the most absorbing subject in the universe, and betray my subject by my manner. Don't let me be an oxymoron! See you soon.

"For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:16)

Monday, November 01, 2010


I am surrounded by Giants fans. Serious Giants fans. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a rabid baseball fan - in as much as I like sports, football is what stirs my excitement. But with all of me that enjoys baseball, my team is the Giants. And for the past month, the excitement has been building. First, it was whether or not the Giants were going to make the playoffs at all. Then, it was beating the Braves, then the Phillies. Finally, the Rangers, who most people said were the favorites. All along, through what my Giants fan-friends coined "torture," they kept believing, kept hoping, that against all odds it wasn't just possible that the Giants would win, but that they were going to win. Tonight, as I listened to a scratchy AM broadcast on KGO 680 as Brian Wilson threw a final strike to make the Giants World Series champs, I stood to my feet and pumped my fists in the air. Hope had been realized.

But for a lot of people, they refused to believe that the Giants could or would do it, doubting whether or not the Giants could put together enough offense to go with the pitching. If I've learned anything about sports in the 5-6 years that I've cared about them, it's that there's always something to complain about, always something to doubt.

In my bible reading today, I began the Book of Luke. And in reading through chapter 1, I found this same pattern in the responses of Zechariah and Mary in how we respond when God tells us something hard to believe. Zechariah, when he is sent into the temple to offer incense, when he is confronted by God's messenger, Gabriel:

"But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”" (Luke 1:13-18)

Zechariah had every reason to be incredulous - every sign that he could see pointed in the opposite direction! He and his wife both were senior citizens, well past the age of bearing children. But nevertheless, Gabriel tells, Zechariah, what he has said will come to pass - but Zechariah is struck mute because he thought what Gabriel was telling him was too good to be true. How often do I respond with the same incredulity! When God tells me that I am his beloved Child, and that I can call him "Abba, Father," I shrink back, thinking that surely I cannot come so boldly before so amazing a King. Or when Jesus promises tells us to trust Him to provide for our needs, and to "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matt. 6:26), I shrink back, half-heartedly believing, but at the same time making sure that I'm making my own "safety net" in case God doesn't come through. What grace that God loves us through our hesitations!

But juxtaposed with Zechariah's response is Mary's response - who, when confronted by the angel Gabriel and told that she will give birth to the descendant of David, the eternal King of Israel, replies this way: "
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled”" (Luke 1:38). In her response is a confidence - not in herself, but in the God who has spoken. This doesn't mean that she wasn't afraid, or that she knew even the full significance of what was conveyed to her that day in Nazareth. But she knew the one who was speaking, and believed, even though everything in her pointed in the opposite direction, that the God who spoke to her had the power to bring to fruition what He said he would do.

How do we respond when God tells us something too good to be true? I pray that by grace we may, when addressed by the God "who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not" (Romans 4:17), respond as Mary did: "I am the Lord's servant... May your word be to me as you have said." See you soon.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." (Matthew 7:24-25)

Monday, September 27, 2010


Well, the last time I wrote in this blog, it was 2008 - it's crazy how one thing after another clutters up our lives, until the seemingly copious amounts of free time that we thought we had evaporates into thin air. But over the past months, as I've evaluated my life, my time, and the way I spend both, I look back to my practice of "blogging" regularly as an avenue for me to intentionally reflect on my life.

"Intention" has been a buzzword in my life lately. If I want a healthy marriage, I need to be intentional about not simply being in the proximity of my wife, but WITH her. If I want to be the man of God I'm called to be, I need to not just be around God, but choose to be WITH God. If I want to "live not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, I need to be intentional about the way that I spend my time, about what I say NO to and what I say YES to. Maybe blogging will be a part of that as I seek to leave a legacy of someone who pursued a life of being busy loving Jesus. Maybe not. But today, I choose to "run in such a way as to get the prize." See you on the track!

for His glory,

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


For the first time in my adult life, I voted. (And I got my free tall cup of coffee at Starbucks - money!) I know, I know - shame on me for holding out for so long! I was one of those first-time voters who came out in droves to make their voice heard and participate in one of the most historic elections in our time.

I have to confess that I've always been wary, or even afraid of expressing myself politically. My parents never voiced their political views to me growing up, and accepting Christ at 16 turned everything I knew upside-down, and I haven't settled yet on how me as part of the church and the state are supposed to interact. So after 5 five years of being scared into inaction, I took the plunge. I pored over both sides of the issues, listened to others older and wiser. I prayed for guidance and discernment, and for the heart of Jesus to be my heart as I formed my own opinions and decided my positions. And then I walked down the street to my polling place, asked a bunch dumb questions about how actually to vote, and then put my pen to the paper.

We as the church can't hide our light, and I couldn't hide behind my excuses and insecurities anymore - now is the time to be bold, to be responsible, to have our voice heard and our presence felt as servants of the King. I did it. See you soon.

Monday, October 27, 2008


For those of you who don't see me on a regular basis, the 6+ month experiment is over - I am shorn. When I came to church next week, people literally did not recognize me. One guy asked if I was feeling week, but I said that no, my strength is not connected to the length of my hair a la Samson. I refuse to spend any more than one minute on my hair on basic principle, and the price was right - my senior pastor's wife cut it for free!

I'm sorry if you liked the longer do, but it was weighing me down - literally! Jennifer said it was probably about a pound of hair that she cut off. It would've been awesome to grow it out really long and donated to Locks of Love, but that was not happening. Back to the magnificent monotony - haircuts, washing dishes, paying bills, and doing "all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17) See you soon.