Do Something

Today, the Woodbury Community Church School of Discipleship began our fall term. I love this school! 18 students gathered at 5:30 in the morning to discuss Richard Stearns’ fantastic book, The Hole in Our Gospel.

If you are unfamiliar with the book, Stearns makes the case that the good news of Jesus Christ was meant to change the world. He writes, “The whole gospel is a vision for ushering God’s kingdom – now, not in some future time, and here, on earth, not in some distant heaven. What if two billion people (the number of those around the world who profess faith in Christ) embraced this vision of God transforming our world – through them? Imagine it. Indeed, what if even two thousand people took their faith to the next level – what might God do? Two thousand years ago, the world was changed forever by just twelve.

It can happen again.” (pg. 5)

Do you believe that?

One of the joys of my life is watching the people of God become passionate about the things of God. I love when I see people whose hearts break for the things that break the heart of God. At Woodbury Community Church, we’re seeking to be a people who care deeply about the people and the things that God cares so deeply about. All throughout the Bible we read about God’s heart for the poor, the oppressed, the orphan, the widow, the prisoner, the refugee and the city.

In 2012 a vision team from our church began to seek God’s direction for the next chapter of Woodbury Community Church. It became clear that one of the initiatives that God wanted us to pursue was caring for the poor, the oppressed, the orphan, the widow, the prisoner, and the refugee like never before. I am blown away at what God has done since!

In the past few months the Lord has worked through the people of WCC in a variety of ways.

There is Sara and her team of volunteers whose hearts are broken for the children of Haiti. Sara is a teacher by trade who became involved in an organization called Kozefò that is making a difference in education in Haiti. When it became apparent that Kozefò might have to shut down, Sara and some friends, by faith stepped up to save the school.

Here is the revised mission statement of Kozefò:

Kozefò is a mergence of two Kreyòl words: Koze and Fò, meaning, to speak in a loud voice. Kozefò, as an organization, believes education is the key to developing thinking, creative individuals. As Christians, we are called to care and to speak loud against the injustices in the world. This is the true meaning of Kozefò, people together, hand in hand, speaking in a loud voice to bring about positive change in education, one school at a time. Kozefò is committed to supporting the primary school at A New Arrival Center in the Pernier community of Port au Prince.

Then there is Tammie. Tammie caught a vision for the “orphan” in our own backyard. Struck by a need to come alongside of families in times of crisis, to help single moms who had no familial support system, and to just be there for children who have no one else, Tammie got involved in the tremendous work that Safe Families for Children is doing in our area. When she found out that there is a tremendous need for host families in the Washington County area, Tammie decided to get involved in recruiting other families to help. There are already several families from WCC that have signed on to be host families. 

Here is how the Safe Families website describes their work:

When crisis strikes, many of us rely on relatives and our church family for support. But for some parents, there isn’t a safety net. Often problems such as drug addiction, domestic abuse, incarceration, or illness can be debilitating, making it impossible for parents to care for their children. With the changing economy many more families are experiencing financial crisis, unemployment, and homelessness. During such crisis, children are especially at-risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions.

State welfare emergency hotlines throughout the nation reportedly receive over 5 million calls each year of suspected child abuse or neglect. Of those calls, about one million meet the criteria for state intervention. What happens to the remaining four million families that don’t qualify for help?

Overburdened by need and restrained by resources, law and policy most state welfare agencies are allowed to rescue only children who have suffered blatant abuse or neglect. Overwhelmed and underfunded, the state is ill-equipped to deal with a problem of this magnitude.

Without assistance, many of these families will find the issues in their homes escalating to episodes of abuse and/or neglect with long lasting consequences for not only the child, but also for our communities as well.

Since 2005, Safe Families for Children has offered sanctuary to thousands of children, minimizing the risk for abuse or neglect and giving parents the time and tools they need to help their families thrive. The ultimate goal is to strengthen and support parents so they can become Safe Families for their own children.

Safe Families for Children strives to meet three objectives:

  1. Child Welfare Deflection: Safe Families provides a safe alternative to child welfare custody, thus significantly reducing the number of children entering the child welfare system.
  2. Child Abuse Prevention: Providing an overwhelmed and resource limited parent with a safe, temporary place for their child without threat of losing custody. By offering support, the goal is to avert potential abuse/neglect episodes.
  3. Family Support and Stabilization: Many parents struggle because of limited social support and unavailable extended family. Many Safe Families Volunteers become the extended family that a parent never had.

A couple weeks ago we held a breakfast for people to hear how they could get involved and over 50 people showed up representing seven different churches and a number of social service organizations. God is at work!

Then there is Grant. Grant is a detective with the City of Minneapolis police department leading their efforts to fight against juvenile sex trafficking. Here is a video of Grant speaking about the subject on Minnesota Public Television.

It’s amazing how after praying about impacting the oppressed in our culture that the Lord brought Grant to WCC. Earlier this week Grant and I filmed a video about how the church can get involved in the fight against human trafficking, which is really modern-day slavery. The problem is immense, but it’s not too big for God to solve as His people get involved. Grant, Cory (another member of WCC) and I are a part of a human trafficking task force that is meeting monthly in the Twin Cities with the purpose of eradicating this insidious problem.

Then there is Scott and Bob. For the past four years Scott and Bob have led the Refugee Life Ministry team at Woodbury Community Church. We’ve partnered with World Relief Minnesota and a couple dozen other churches to welcome the stranger with the love of Jesus here in the Twin Cities. Over the past fast four years the Lord has allowed us to welcome three families from Myanmar to the Twin Cities. We’ll be bringing our fourth family in later this year. I can’t wait!

Those involved in Refugee Life Ministry are seeing their eyes opened to a global issue in a local way. The relationships between WCC families and their new friends from Myanmar is a beautiful thing to watch. What started out as supplying furniture and household goods to a refugee family quickly became tutoring, game nights, a trip to the zoo or for ice cream. Many of the families that we work with have waited almost 20 years to get out of the refugee camp and begin a new life in America. It is a beautiful thing to see God work through.

I could go on and on . . .

There is Pam who has a passion for coming alongside of widows and widowers who are residents living in government subsidized housing in Hastings. She is working to provide them with basic household essentials that they don’t have the funds to purchase. Pam has already organized a couple of donation drives that have resulted in practical blessings to the residents.

There is Sue, who on her own serves the elderly by helping them run errands, befriending them and being a listening ear.

There is Alisa who is serving as a liaison between Woodbury Community Church and the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf. She is encouraging our congregation to engage in generous giving to help this organization that serves as many as 100 households each week. Each one of these households receives four or more grocery bags of food depending upon the size of the family. The food shelf also provides over 300 households with traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and 650 children with Christmas gifts.

I know that I am just hitting the tip of the iceberg.

So, my challenge to you today is to get involved in something.

JusticeOver the next four weeks, our church will be going through a series entitled, Justice. We’ll hear about God’s love for the city, the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the poor, the oppressed, and the prisoner. I’d love to have you join us. We meet at 9:00 and 10:30 each Sunday. It all starts this week with a Minnesota guy who moved his family to one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago to be part of transforming his community through the Gospel. His name is Joel Hamernick and he serves as the Executive Director of Sunshine Gospel Ministries in Chicago. You won’t want to miss his message as he talks about God’s heart for the city.

On September 15, I’ll be talking about God’s heart for widows and orphans. After the service we’ll be taking an all-church field trip to the Midtown Global Market, Karmel Square and Mercado Central in the Midtown Section of Minneapolis. This little corner of the cities is like taking a trip to a different world. We are encouraging all families and individuals to plan on taking this field trip, which will include lunch at the Global Market . Here, you will be exposed to a number of different ethnic groups and see just how great our opportunity is. We’ll also hear about the real life stories of human trafficking that happen in this part of the cities every week.

Randy Mortensen of World Wide Village will be speaking on Sunday, September 22. He will be talking about human trafficking and how the church can respond to modern day slavery.

Then I’ll conclude the series with a message on how the church should respond to prisoners.

Justice Series

September 8: God’s Heart for the City

September 15: God’s Heart for the Widow and Orphan

September 22: Unacceptable – Modern Day Slavery

September 29: Loving Society’s Throwaways

In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the final judgment. He said:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I want to be among those whose heart beats for that which Jesus heart beats for. I hope you do too!

I want to leave you with a video from this year Q Conference. In it, Richard Stearns presents how the church could help solve the issues of clean water, starvation, education and a host of other issues in our generation. I encourage all of you to take the time to watch this. It is a life-changing and paradigm shifting video.

Good Friday and Saturday

goodfridaypic

Several years ago I wrote a poem for Good Friday, using the seven last words of Christ from the cross. I’ve posted it each year during Easter Season on this site. Here it is again. I hope it encourages you. Below the poem are some thoughts about Holy Saturday, the day after Good Friday.

A Poem For Good Friday

Hoisted upon Calvary’s tree
To rectify the sin in me
Jesus looked upon the crowd
Announcing in a voice so loud

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do”
Beautiful words spoken to Gentile and Jew
Callously gambling for a piece of His clothing
The soldiers oblivious man’s redemption He was buying

“Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
Crowd spoken mockery on Golgotha’s sod
Criminals, on either side of the Lamb
Both facing life’s final exam

“ Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
Criminal’s jeering words in the form of a cuss.
“Jesus remember me when You come into Your Kingdom!”
Contrasting words, heart changing, unable to stay mum.

The lips of our Lord move a second time
Responding to the one convicted of crime
Looking straight at the man, knowing all of his vice
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

That’s when His gaze came upon those He loved,
Some women, a disciple and the mother beloved.
“Dear woman, here is your son,” pronounced He to Mary.
“Here is your mother,” to John, while so wearied.

And then in the middle of that solemn day
Darkness hovered, black sky, not just gray
He who was holy became sin, no facade
And for the first time God was separated from God

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Was the awful cry that came from that tree.
The only thing in all the world capable of dividing the Trinity
Was the sin of every man, every woman, every boy, every girl, yes even you and me.

Later knowing that all was completed
That sin and Satan would soon be defeated
Jesus, all divine, showed His humanity
“I am thirsty,” He said, displaying no vanity.

When He received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”
His time had come, His work was accomplished.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

At that moment the world reacted
But most of humanity was too distracted
To notice the veil in the temple torn in two
From top to bottom what should we construe?

That Jesus’ death on the cross paved the way
For us to have access to God when we pray
The earth shook and the rocks split
On the day God was hit and we offered spit.

The bodies of some dead were raised to life that day
Holy people appeared in Jerusalem to convey
That Jesus is God, He is the way, Centurion and squad
Declared, “Surely He was the Son of God!”

No bones were broken
Prophecy spoken
Declared body piercing
Blood and water producing

As evening approached so did two powerful men
Perhaps they were remembering when
Jesus had spoken and challenged their thinking
Waiting to live for Him until the world was sinking

They took His body, wrapped it in a shroud
Just as Pontius Pilate had allowed
To the tomb He was taken
Christ had been forsaken.

Forsaken by man and forsaken by God
So great was the cost on the road that He trod
But great is the victory He won on Golgotha
A victory summed up in the word Maranatha

The Lord is coming soon is the word’s special meaning
Three days later, He arose and sin took a beating
He will come again soon to take those who are His
Truer words never spoken, it’s the truth, that it is

Will you be like humanity’s generations?
Too busy, distracted, for His interventions?
Don’t miss Calvary’s message of Christ’s great love
Offered to all of us who are undeserving of.

– Brian Schulenburg
April 9, 2009

disciples

The Saturday of Holy Week always makes me think of what it must have been like for  the disciples to have lost all hope. Many times I’ve thought of this day as the Day When Hope Disappeared. Disciples were scattered in clusters. One was dead –  a betrayer with such guilt that he hung himself. Some were alone, hiding in fear. Some were together.Was the last 3 1/2 years just an empty adventure? Was it possible that their eyes had deceived them? Was it possible that Jesus was not who He said that He was? Why hadn’t they stayed true? Why hadn’t they fought for Him? What had He done that merited death on a cross? What would become of them?Sunday morning was coming . . . but they didn’t know what Sunday would bring.What are your questions today? What are your doubts?

It may be the day when your hope is gone, but HOPE is not dead. HE is alive! And Sunday? It’s coming!

Ten Books Every Preacher Should Read

Over on my e-book blog tonight, I posted the following.

Earlier this month, Al Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky published an important article entitled, The 2012 Preaching Survey of the Year’s Best Books for Preachers.  It’s an article that I believe every preacher should read, no matter what your denominational background.

At the end of the article Mohler includes his annual Ten Books Every Preacher Should Read. Many of the readers of this blog are pastors. I hope this post is a blessing to you as you shepherd the church. My hope is that many church members will read the books in this list as well.

Because many of these books are Academic books, you’ll find that the Kindle prices, while higher than most books on this site, are much lower than the hardcover or paperback editions.

Here are the e-books from this year’s list.

the-juvenilization-of-american-christianity

The Juvenilization of American Christianity by Thomas E. Bergler

Kindle Price – $14.75

Pop worship music. Falling in love with Jesus. Mission trips. Wearing jeans and T-shirts to church. Spiritual searching and church hopping. Faith-based political activism. Seeker-sensitive outreach. These now-commonplace elements of American church life all began as innovative ways to reach young people, yet they have gradually become accepted as important parts of a spiritual ideal for all ages. What on earth has happened?

In The Juvenilization of American Christianity Thomas Bergler traces the way in which, over seventy-five years, youth ministries have breathed new vitality into four major American church traditions — African American, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic. Bergler shows too how this “juvenilization” of churches has led to widespread spiritual immaturity, consumerism, and self-centeredness, popularizing a feel-good faith with neither intergenerational community nor theological literacy. Bergler’s critique further offers constructive suggestions for taming juvenilization.


sojourners-and-strangers-the-doctrine-of-the-church-foundations-of-evangelical-theology_3351_500Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church (Foundations of Evangelical Theology) by Gregg R. Allisoon

Kindle Price – $15.99

What is a church? This can be a difficult question to answer and Christians have offered a variety of perspectives. Gregg Allison thus explores and synthesizes all that Scripture affirms about the new covenant people of God, capturing a full picture of the biblical church. He covers the topics of the church’s identity and characteristics; its growth through purity, unity, and discipline; its offices and leadership structures; its ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and its ministries. Here is a rich approach to ecclesiology consisting of sustained doctrinal reflection and wise, practical application.

readingthegospels

Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction by Jonathan T. Pennington 

Kindle Price – $13.74

This textbook on how to read the Gospels well can stand on its own as a guide to reading this New Testament genre as Scripture. It is also ideally suited to serve as a supplemental text to more conventional textbooks that discuss each Gospel systematically. Most textbooks tend to introduce students to historical-critical concerns but may be less adequate for showing how the Gospel narratives, read as Scripture within the canonical framework of the entire New Testament and the whole Bible, yield material for theological reflection and moral edification.

Pennington neither dismisses nor duplicates the results of current historical-critical work on the Gospels as historical sources. Rather, he offers critically aware and hermeneutically intelligent instruction in reading the Gospels in order to hear their witness to Christ in a way that supports Christian application and proclamation.

GoldsworthyChrist-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles by Graeme Goldsworthy

Kindle Price – $9.99

The appeal of biblical theology is that it provides a “big picture” that makes sense of the diversity of biblical literature. Through the lens of biblical theology the Bible ceases to be a mass of unconnected texts, but takes shape as a unified metanarrative connecting the story of Israel with that of Jesus. It presents the whole scene of God’s revelation as one mighty plan of salvation.

For fifty years Graeme Goldsworthy has been refining his understanding of biblical theology through his experiences as a student, pastor and teacher. In this valuable complement to his , Goldsworthy defends and refines the rationale for his approach, drawing especially on the work of Australian biblical scholar Donald Robinson.

throughtheeyeThrough the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD by Peter Brown (Princeton University Press)

Kindle Price – $21.97

Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

charles-murray-coming-apart-the-state-of-white-america-1960-2010Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray

Kindle Price – $12.99

From the bestselling author of Losing Ground and The Bell Curve, this startling long-lens view shows how America is coming apart at the seams that historically have joined our classes.

In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.

Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.

The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America, and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. That divergence puts the success of the American project at risk.

The evidence in Coming Apart is about white America. Its message is about all of America.

intoleranceThe Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson  

Kindle Price – $9.21

Tolerance currently occupies a very high place in Western societies: it is considered gauche, even boorish, to question it. In The Intolerance of Tolerance, however, questioning tolerance — or, at least, contemporary understandings of tolerance — is exactly what D. A . Carson does.

Carson traces the subtle but enormous shift in the way we have come to understand tolerance over recent years — from defending the rights of those who hold different beliefs to affirming all beliefs as equally valid and correct. He looks back at the history of this shift and discusses its implications for culture today, especially its bearing on democracy, discussions about good and evil, and Christian truth claims.

Using real-life examples that will sometimes arouse laughter and sometimes make the blood boil, Carson argues not only that the “new tolerance” is socially dangerous and intellectually debilitating but also that it actually leads to genuine intolerance of all who struggle to hold fast to their beliefs.

badreligionBad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat 

Kindle Price – $11.04

As the youngest-ever op-ed columnist for the New York Times, Ross Douthat has emerged as one of the most provocative and influential voices of his generation. In Bad Religion he offers a masterful and hard-hitting account of how American Christianity has gone off the rails—and why it threatens to take American society with it.

Writing for an era dominated by recession, gridlock, and fears of American decline, Douthat exposes the spiritual roots of the nation’s political and economic crises. He argues that America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.

These faiths speak from many pulpits—conservative and liberal, political and pop cultural, traditionally religious and fashionably “spiritual”—and many of their preachers claim a Christian warrant. But they are increasingly offering distortions of traditional Christianity—not the real thing. Christianity’s place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, Douthat argues, but by heresy: debased versions of Christian faith that breed hubris, greed, and self-absorption.

In a story that moves from the 1950s to the age of Obama, he brilliantly charts institutional Christianity’s decline from a vigorous, mainstream, and bipartisan faith—which acted as a “vital center” and the moral force behind the civil rights movement—through the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s to the polarizing debates of the present day. Ranging from Glenn Beck to Barack Obama, Eat Pray Love to Joel Osteen, and Oprah Winfrey to The Da Vinci Code, Douthat explores how the prosperity gospel’s mantra of “pray and grow rich,” a cult of self-esteem that reduces God to a life coach, and the warring political religions of left and right have crippled the country’s ability to confront our most pressing challenges and accelerated American decline.

His urgent call for a revival of traditional Christianity is sure to generate controversy, and it will be vital reading for all those concerned about the imperiled American future.

God-Is-Love-BrayGod Is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology by Gerald Bray

Kindle Price – $12.99

While there is no substitute for personal, faithful, and careful Bible reading and prayer, the Bible’s vast size and diversity can make distilling its truth a daunting task. Thus most Christians benefit from supplemental resources to help learn and apply what Scripture teaches.Renowned theologian, Gerald Bray has produced just such a resource in his new systematic theology. Though packed with robust content, he writes about this volume: “the aim . . . is to reach those who would not normally find systematic theology appealing or even comprehensible.”This volume is unique from others in that Bray traces the common theme of God’s love through the Bible categorically—from God’s love for himself and his creation to the cross as the ultimate expression of God’s love, among other categories. The centrality of God’s love in Bray’s theology reflects a deep conviction that the Bible shows us God for who he really is. This volume will be of interest to Christians seeking to grow in their faith.

delighting-in-trinity-introduction-christian-faith-michael-reeves-paperback-cover-artDelighting in the Trinity: an Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves 

Kindle Price – $7.92

In this brief and winsome book, Michael Reeves presents an introduction to the Christian faith that is rooted in the triune God. He takes cues from preachers and teachers down through the ages, setting key doctrines of creation, the person and work of Christ, and life in the Spirit into a simple framework of the Christian life. A rich and enjoyable read on the basic beliefs of Christianity that avoids dumbing down its profound and life changing truths.

 

The Impact Of Godly Men

lecraeLecrae is one of Christian Hip Hop’s leading voices. He is also an author, theologian, speaker, and cultural architect. I appreciate the impact that Lecrae is making is making on this generation.

PBS recently interviewed Lecrae for their Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly program.

Check out this interview and ask yourself how you are influencing those around you.

Randy Mortensen Speaking at Woodbury Community Church – February 3

Randy-headshotRandy Mortensen, the President of Worldwide Village will be our guest speaker on Sunday, February 3. I recently had a chance to visit Haiti with Randy and Worldwide Village.

Randy will be sharing his amazing story of God’s grace in his life. For years, Randy searched for meaning in life. Outsiders looking in would have thought that Randy had it all — a great job, wonderful family, prestige. But inside, Randy was searching.

You can read more about Randy’s remarkable story here.

This is a Sunday you won’t soon forget. Invite some friends and prepare for God to speak to you through Randy’s story.

The work that Randy and his team are doing in Haiti today is truly extraordinary. If you are a Senior Pastor, I’d highly recommend the vision trips that Worldwide Village offers for free for pastors. You can find out more about the two trips planned for 2013 right here.

New Web Site for Free and Inexpensive E-Books

web siteA little over two years ago, I received my first Kindle as a Christmas gift from my wife. I had no idea at the time how much I would enjoy that little device. I have found myself reading more in the past couple of years than at any other point in my life. I also found myself mining Amazon and other websites for freebies or inexpensive e-books. It’s been a fun process. Searching for these books has introduced me to a host of great authors, whose books I probably would not have read had I not been introduced to them with a free e-book.

I’ve been posting links to free e-books on my Facebook and Twitter pages for a couple years now. Over those years, people have continually told me that I should start a webpage for people looking for free or inexpensive e-books. So today, I took the plunge. I’m excited to introduce you to www.superebookdeals.com. Here you’ll find free and inexpensive e-books on a daily basis. Share the news with your reading friends, and happy reading!

Some Reads for the Weekend

Looking for something good to read this weekend?

Here are a few suggestions.

Randy-headshotFirst, take a few minutes to read this article about my friend, Randy Mortensen, who runs World Wide Village, the organization that I recently traveled to Haiti with. Randy was a corporate executive, whose search for meaning eventually led him to a relationship with Jesus Christ and a new calling in Haiti. This is a great story.

 

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards - ArrivalsLouie Giglio has had a busy couple of weeks. Just ten days or so ago he was leading 65,000 college students in a four day conference, in Atlanta, called Passion 2013. The Passion conference was a major success, where major strides were made to free people from modern day slavery. President Obama took notice and Giglio was asked to deliver the inaugural prayer. Giglio was dis-invited when his belief that homosexuality is a sin was discovered by a watchdog group that alerted the President’s inaugural committee. You can read a great piece about the entire debacle here. Giglio wrote an incredibly gracious reply to his church here.

i am notI’ve been blessed by Louie’s ministry for several years and found some of his writing to be some of the most encouraging in my Christian life. One of my all time favorite books is I am not but I know I AM. If you are looking for a quick read this weekend you can download it here. The book is a reminder that we are only here for a little while. History is God’s story. We need to live our lives for His glory and His renown. What part are you playing in God’s story?

Indescribable-Giglio-Louie-5099967949991

Another great Giglio book is Indescribable: Encountering the Beauty of God in the Beauty of the Universe. The book is the result of Louie’s famous sermon in which he encourages us to consider the vastness of outer space and the depth of the soul, and the God who created it all. Giglio’s sermon Indescribable was the inspiration behind the worship song Indescribable that he wrote with Matt Redman. You can download the book here.

You can download the song, as preformed by Chris Tomlin, here.

the-air-i-breatheOne final Giglio book that I highly recommend is The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life. Almost every worship pastor that I have met has used this book with a worship team at some point in time over the past three years. Giglio is passionate about worship. It’s one of the reasons that he founded the Passion Conferences. He writes as a man in love with Jesus, calling us to not miss out on living our lives as an act of worship to the God of the universe. You can download the book here.

IDENTITY_ebook_cover_MCLooking for something fiction? New York Times best-selling author, Ted Dekker has released the first three of four novellas in his new Eyes Wide Open series of books. The final novella will be release this coming Tuesday. You can download book one in the series, Identity, for free by clicking here.

Here is a brief description of the series from Amazon -

Who am I?
My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die.I’m buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I’m lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won’t stop shaking.

Some will say that I m not really here. Some will say I’m delusional. Some will say that I don t even exist. But who are they? I’m the one buried in a grave.

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen. I’m about to die.

So who are you? 

In a return to the kind of storytelling that made BlackShowdown and Three unforgettable, New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker drags that question into the light with this modern day parable about how we see ourselves.

Humming with intensity and blindsided twists, Eyes Wide Open is raw adrenaline from the first page to the last pure escapism packed with inescapable truth. Not all is as it seems. Or is it? Strap yourself in for the ride of your life. Literally.

Books two and three are available for just $2.99 each.
dekker-mirrorsBook two is called Mirrors and can be downloaded here.
dekker-unseenBook three is called Unseen and can be downloaded here.
Happy Reading!
******* ADDITION
SeerBook four came out early! Here is the link to purchase Seer.