The Cry of Christmas

The Cry of Christmas

Prepare the way of the LORD, make straight . . . a highway for our God

The world is in a turmoil we have never known. We hear it in the cry of a generation that faces struggles in ways no generation before them before. They face wildernesses brought on by war, deserts caused by the destruction of death across much of the globe, deep valleys of despair and discouragement, and rough moments in life no one can escape.

What hope can we offer the world in our times?

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The Comfort of Christmas

The Comfort of Christmas

t’s Christmas time, for many of us our favorite time of the year.

This is the season of brilliant lights and beautiful color, of celebration and laughter, of holiday parties and family traditions, of rich memories and precious anticipations. There is no season like Christmas.

Yet for many of us there’s another side to Christmas, a dark and colorless side, a season of painful memories and family struggles when those who should have brought us joy have brought us sadness and grief and deep hurt instead. There is much silent suffering at Christmas time as many among us find it to be the most hurtful time of the year.

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The Glory of Business

The Glory of Business

God has created us to pursue business, but not only to provide for our needs and make a profit. His primary purpose is to experience the glory He designed for us when He gave us the life and gifts He provided for us.

The problem is many of us don’t understand what God has done. We tend to think that living for God is one thing, but conducting business is another. What we miss is the fact that God is not only interested in our going to church and participating in Bible study but also in how we run our business and even more in why we run our business. In fact why we run our business is as important to God than how we worship and what we learn in Bible study.

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Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

It’s Thanksgiving. But let’s suppose you can’t be very thankful this year.

Let’s suppose you have spent more than five years pouring yourself into a group of people who are not thankful for you at all. You have given them everything you have. You have not charged them anything for your sacrifice. While you have not complained to them or asserted yourself over them, you have been faithful to them and truthful with them. You have given them all you can possibly offer them, and they have freely taken what they wanted and rejected the rest. No one has given as much to them as you have, and no one has been more ungrateful than they have been. You have supported them, encouraged them, given to them, corrected them, confronted them, endured them—and all you get back from them is petty criticism that puts you down and misrepresents you. And it’s happened once again. This time, you fear, to a precious friend of yours whom you sent to them with a note of correction and a promise that you will return to see them.

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A Dog In A Tree

A Dog In A Tree

At a recent session of the Wednesday Morning Men, a men’s Bible study I teach every Wednesday morning (what else would the Wednesday Morning Men be except a gathering for men and when else would it meet except on Wednesday morning) one of the regular guys, Wayne Mitchell, talked about something his grandmother said to him when he was in his late twenties. Wayne questioned her about prominent pastors who promote themselves, become well known, and then fall. She said, “They’re like a dog in a tree.” Wayne had never heard that phrase before so he wondered what she meant. She replied, “You will never see a dog in a tree who got there on his own. Someone had to put him there, and he cannot get down without help. Dogs can’t climb trees, and when someone puts a dog on a limb he barks, growls, whimpers, but if no one gets him down, all he can do is jump —and usually he gets hurt when he jumps.”

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The Giants are Going and the Pygmies Must Taking Over

The Giants are Going and the Pygmies Must Taking Over

Recently one of my former students sent me an e-mail about a current article in Christianity Today on Karl Barth, one of the most influential theologians in the early part of the twentieth century who had an adulterous relationship for much of his married life. The article was revealing, penetrating, and distressing as it spoke of such terrible sin in the life of one of the most significant thinkers in the past one hundred years. My former student, now a man with thirty years ministry experience and a key theological thinker in one of the largest evangelical countries in the world, reminded me of a time when he came to my office to ask me a question about a group of similar situations. Three key American spiritual leaders, one a past successful pastor and head of a major international ministry, one a well known Dallas pastor, and the other a prominent leader elsewhere in the country had committed adultery and been removed from their influential roles.

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God's Call

God's Call

In the summer and winter of 1944, the sovereign God transformed my life from temporal and purposeless to eternal and purposeful. Here’s how He did it.

During that time my name was Douglas Rice, I had no home, no father not much of a mother, and she intended to put me into a religious boys’ home when I turned five late in 1944. I have no idea where I had been for the first four plus years of my life, but that winter I and my half-brother, Donald, lived with Anna Keeler, known to us as Mother Keeler, a British immigrant and a member of the Salvation Army. Mother Keeler contacted an associate pastor in Philadelphia, where we lived, and asked him if he knew of a couple who wanted to adopt a little boy who had no future. Amazingly he did. He knew Bill and Mildred Lawrence.

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When God Forgets You

When God Forgets You

How do you respond when God forgets you? He forgets your cell phone number, your e-mail address, and your Face book page. He doesn’t recognize your picture or recall your address or even your long unused landline. How do you feel?

As far as you can tell God has forgotten He even created you let alone had a plan for your life. All of those identity defining expectations He once gave you are long gone and never thought of—at least by Him.

Perhaps you’re like Moses who defended one of God’s enslaved people only to have to flee for his life. Once he was a member of the most elite family on earth but then he married a woman utterly unlike Pharaoh’s daughter. Instead of a prince he become a shepherd, hearing nothing but bah, bah, bah all day long.

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Renewed, Refreshed, Refocused

Renewed, Refreshed, Refocused

On January 29th of this year I fell down some stairs and fractured my skull, caused a concussion, and spent eighty days recovering from significant brain damage. Now I am virtually well and I have much to rejoice about. I invite you to join with me in thanksgiving to God for His grace and faithfulness.

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The Leader, Not Leadership

The Leader, Not Leadership

At Leader Formation we focus on the leader rather than leadership.

Effective leadership is our aim, but we have learned that leadership collapses when competent leaders lack godly character. God has used leadership from the beginning of time, but time after time we see leadership fail because leaders fail. Look at Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, Mark and on throughout history, and you will see that leadership is flawed because leaders are flawed.

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When Does A Leader Talk About Their Fear?

When Does A Leader Talk About Their Fear?

When does a leader talk about his fear to his followers? Never?

The apostle Paul disagrees. He talked about his fear when he shared his faith, when he showed the Corinthians that, while he came to them in fear, he acted by faith and bore fruit despite his feelings. “When I came to you I came with fear and trembling (I Cor. 2: 3).

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Haddon Robinson 1931-2017

Haddon Robinson 1931-2017

n 1960, during my senior year of college when I was accepted by Dallas Seminary, I saw a picture of Haddon Robinson and thought, “What can a guy that young teach me about preaching?’ He looked the same age as some of my classmates, and all the professors I ever had looked like professors, like in their forties and fifties.

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When a Leader Stops Leading

When a Leader Stops Leading

It was the spring of the year when leaders took their troops out to defend their territory and protect their country. But this spring David, Israel’s leader, did not take his troops into battle. He had spent seventeen years on the run for his life from King Saul when he lived in caves in the wilderness though he was no risk to Saul. He had opportunities to take Saul’s life, but he would not touch God’s leader.

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Real Leadership

Real Leadership

How do you value leadership? Is leadership all about what you do? The people you influence? The organizations you direct? The decisions you make? The success you accomplish? Certainly these are expressions of leadership, but are they all that leadership is?

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Starting Over

Starting Over

For those of you who have read this blog in the past, you have probably noticed that it has been absent for a while. This is the first time since January I have written a blog; it is also the beginning of a new and long-term series from Leader Formation. Why have we been silent for so long? I will tell you.

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Christ Only - And Him Crucified

Christ Only - And Him Crucified

After Rome Corinth was one of the top cities in the Roman Empire. It was a major crossroads because virtually nothing moved in any direction across the realm without passing through Corinth.

The capital of the Roman province of Achaia in southern Greece, Corinth was strategically located on the Isthmus of Corinth, and that made it an east-west and north-south center of the Empire. Anything or anyone coming from Rome to the east or going to Rome from the west had to pass through Corinth, one of the safest ports in the western Mediterranean. Because it was the southernmost major commercial center in Greece, all goods and people headed north or coming south passed through through Corinth.

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A New Year’s Blessing for 2017

A New Year’s Blessing for 2017

I remember a cartoon from my boyhood of Baby New Year and Father Time. We’ve all seen cartoons like that, I know. The one I recall had Baby New Year entering stage right, freshly diapered, in a top hat, with a bright smile, and wearing a sash with the new year imprinted on it. Father Time, on the other hand, was exiting stage left wearing a tattered sash, all bent over, almost slinking off, his robe torn and patched, all but stepping on his long, unkempt beard, scythe in hand, his job of mowing things down, as time does, finished.

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Jerusalem, December 26, 4 BC—Ho-Hum!

Jerusalem, December 26, 4 BC—Ho-Hum!

What was life like in Jerusalem on December 26, 4 BC, the day after Jesus was born?

Pretty much the same as it was on December 24 BC, the day before He was born.

Herod Agrippa still ruled. He still put the innocent to death, forced his unwilling subjects to labor on his great building projects, and exercised his cruel will at the cost of all around him.

Rome still exercised its ruthless rule, upsetting the lives of its citizens in order to get an accurate count of the empire’s population so they could collect the taxes they needed to fund wars, do public works, maintain the empire, and enrich the elite.

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A Mother's Treasure

A Mother's Treasure

Recently Lynna and I flew home from Singapore, and, of course, we had to pass through security. We have gone through security in the toughest airports in the world: DFW, Kennedy, Heathrow, Tel Aviv, Frankfurt, Paris, Budapest, Hong Kong, just about every airport that is on some high level of alert due to terrorists. Since we’ve done them all and had every innocuous thing taken from us that could possibly be labeled high risk, we had no concerns as we approached Singapore security. We should have been concerned.

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Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

War.

Every decade of my life has been scarred by war. It seems to me that we have a constant longing for peace and a constant reality of war.

It began for me when I was in first grade, just barely learning to read, and I used to spread the newspaper out on the living room floor, mostly to look at the pictures. I still remember one vivid scene from World War II of a US ship at sea spewing black smoke on its way to destruction. I also remember the wild celebration on VJ day, as all our neighborhood poured out of our houses in the ecstasy of knowing that the long and bloody war was finally over.

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