| Reluctant Leader

Date archives 2008

Blog / Miscellaneous

TUES TOP 10 LIST – People who died in 2008

December 31, 2008

Someday, sooner or later, everybody dies. After that, we stand before a holy God and give an account for our lives. Here are 10 interesting people – in random order – who died and faced judgment in 2008. I hope they were ready.

1. Rocky Hiroaki Aoki – 70
– Cause of death: cancer
– Claim to fame: Founder of Benihana
– Comment: One of my favorite restaurants in the world

2. Michael Crichton – 66
– Cause of death: cancer
– Claim to fame: Successful author of 15 novels including The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park.
– Comment: Not quite as successful at home. 4 weddings. 4 divorces. 

3. Bobby Fischer – 65
– Cause of death: kidney failure
– Claim to fame: Amr chess player – celebrated the 911 terrorist attacks
– Comment: smart guy – sad life

4. Larry Harmon – 85
– Cause of death: heart failure
– Claim to fame: Bozo the Clown
– Comment: what a job!

5. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – 90
– Cause of death: heart failure
– Claim to fame: Russian activist, author and prisoner
– Comment:  no comment

6. Edmund Percival Hillary – 88
– Cause of death: just got old
– Claim to fame: 1st white man to summit Mt. Everest
– Comment: Kiwi

7. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – 91
– Cause of death: real old
– Claim to fame: cult leader
– Comment: Hummmmmmmm

8. Raden Suharto – 86
– Cause of death: secret

Claim to fame: president of Indonesia for 31 years – accused of
embezzling 550 million dollars while his people languished in poverty.
– Comment: can’t take it with you

9. George Carlin – 71
– Cause of death: heart failure

Claim to fame:  cussin' comedian – jokingly claimed to be a “a devout
‘Frisbeetarian’, believing that at death our souls are thrown onto the
roof, and can never be retrieved.”
– Comment: probably regretting that 'frisbeetarian' comment

10. Charlton Heston – 85
– Cause of death: natural causes (old)
– Claim to fame: Moses in The Ten Commandments
– Comment: would love to see him meeting real Moses

Man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment. (Heb 9:27)


One Thing Gay Rights Advocates and the Christian Right Agree On

December 27, 2008

It's a rare moment in America when the gay marriage
advocates and the religious right agree on something – but they both
agree that Rick Warren is a horrible person.

As soon as the Pope of Purpose accepted Barak Obama’s invitation to pray at his inauguration, the far left and the far right both attacked the pastor and the President.

– The gay rights folks attacked Rick because he believes marriage means a man and a woman.

– The religious right attacked him because he agreed to pray for the new American president on January 20, 2009.

I understand why the alternate lifestyle people hate Rick, but I really don’t get why conservative Christians are so mad.

Religious people can always find something to be mad about. It's their gift. Sad.  

would you do if invited to participate in a political event if you did
not totally agree with the policies – accept the invitation or boycott?

***same post on my accidental missionary site today***

Blog / Miscellaneous

Christmas – Past, Present and Future in 85 Words

December 26, 2008

Thinking about what Christmas has become and where it came from…

Creation. Adam. Eve. Paradise.
Snake. Mango. Sin. Separation.
Promise. Prophets. Prophecies. Hope.


Zechariah. Speechless. Elizabeth. John.
Nazareth. Gabriel. Mary. Joseph.
Incarnation. God. Man. Jesus.
Caesar. Census. Journey. Bethlehem.
Star. Shepherds. Manger. Baby.


Magi. Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh.
Herod. Murder. Angel. Egypt.
Disciples. Cross. Resurrection. Go.


Trees. Lights. Ornaments. Reefs.
Gifts. Cards. Parties. Peppermint.
Snow. Mistletoe. Red. Green.
Santa. Elf. Reindeer. Chimney.
Scrooge. Grinch. Potter. Clarence.

Mall. Shop. Visa. Debt.
Obligation. Materialism. Gluttony. Depression.


Truth. Faith. Repentance.
Peace. Joy. Hope.

Merry Christmas.
Happy New Year.

Christmas ’07 – Simple Blog here.


Life Interrupted

December 24, 2008

“God has the right to interrupt your life.” Steve Murrell reminds us that God’s interruptions are sure to come. There is no area in our lives that is off limits to Him. Through Mary’s life, He tells us how to overcome and encourages us to embrace God’s interruptions because, after all, God always knows what’s best.

Blog / Miscellaneous

Tues Top 10 List – Books I’m Glad I Read in ’08

December 24, 2008

These are not necessarily the best books I read in ’08, just 10 books I’m glad I read in ’08 – in random order.

1. Faith of Barak Obama by Stephen Mansfield
Perspective. Did not change my vote, but it did help me understand the man and the issues. Stephen was gracious enough to answer all my Obama questions over a coffee at Starbucks a few weeks before the election.

2. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
This best-selling autobio is a wild ride through the emptiness of academia, alcohol and immorality – ending in a Trappist monastery.

3. The Shack by William Young
Strange. Had hard time with the Aunt Jemima Father figure and the female ninja Holy Spirit, but glad I read it, since everyone else on the planet did. Here’s my review.

4. Love Marks Effect by Kevin Roberts
Stretch. I need books that expand my way of thinking.  More love here.

5. Shadow Cities by Robert Neuwirth
Reality. Journalist spent two years living in squatter cities on four continents to do research.
Sad projections:
2010 – 1 billion squatters – 1 of every 6 people on earth.
2030 – 2 billion squatters – 1 of 4.
2050 – 3 billion squatters – 1 of 3
Here’s a 14 minute vid of RN talking about squatters.
Here’s RN’s blog about squatters.

6. Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney
Simplicity. Some scary stuff in that brain. My review here. 

7. The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara
Heroic. My brain occasionally needs a break.

8. When Leadership and Discipleship Collide by Bill Hybels
Relationships. More like a booklet or a long tract than a book – but makes 1 great point. Worth the 15 minutes.

9. Reveal and Follow Me by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkison
After years of scientific research at Willow Creek and other American churches these 2 books reveal the real facts about spiritual growth – what causes it and what kills it.

10. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Classic. I need to read this one every year. So do you.

Bonus link: my “Top 10 Books of 2007” list.

What are your top books of 2008?

Blog / Discipleship

Inside Steve’s Brain – Christmas Thoughts

December 23, 2008

– Christmas shopping is tough. Especially when you’re shopping for
someone who has everything. What do you give the person who has everything? If you have an idea, let me know, fast.

– My sermon yesterday asked and answered the question: What do you give the God who has everything?   Maybe it just seems like He has everything. Does He really have your heart and every part of your life?

– The only reasonable gift to give the God who has everything – is everything.
Everything we are and everything we hope to be. Every part of you
lives. Every relationship. Every sin. Every thought. Every dream.

– After all, He gave everything for us.

– Video and audio links to the Mary’s Christmas series.

– Our house is the only one in Franklin, Tenn with parols – 3 of ‘em. Gifts from our friends, Jerome & Therese. My neighbors see the flashing lights and think we are running the neighborhood nightclub. Nothing like a Filipino Christmas, especially in Middle Tennessee.

– Missed “sambang gabi” at Victory-Fort. But I am glad I got to sleep late.

– Watched Charlie Brown Christmas last week, twice. Witty. Simple. Understated. Clear message for kids and adults about the emptiness of materialism. Sponsored by Coke in 1965 – amazing what American advertising dollars used to promote. Not any more. Has to be politically correct today.

– Tired of fake Santas and flying sleds, ugly sweaters and goofy ties, meaningless parties and obligatory gifts? Ready for some Christmas
theology? Check out Bruce Fidler’s sermon, “The Implications of the Incarnation” on the Every Nation podcast site.

***same post on my accidental missionary site today***

Blog / Miscellaneous

Sunday Sermon Preview – “Mary’s Christmas”

December 20, 2008

I’m preaching this weekend at Bethel-Brentwood 8:15, 10:00 and 11:45 Sunday services. Final message in the “Mary’s Christmas” series. For 3 weeks we’ve looked at the birth of Christ through the eyes of Mary. See below:

Week 1 – Luke 1:26-29 – “Life Interrupted” – me
Week 2 – Luke 1:30-33 – “Favor Ain’t Fair” – James Lowe
Week 3 – Luke 1:34-38 – “Let It Be” – Rice Broocks
Week 4 – Luke 2:8-16 – “Good News!” – me

Here’s a sneak preview of week 4…

– Pre-sermon song – Bethel choir singing the soon-to-be Christmas classic, A Baby Changes Everything

(Song is all about faith in Jesus. Vid is all about Faith Hill)

– After that song, mssg will start with this story

– Sometimes we hear everything at church, except THE GOOD NEWS.
end up hearing about moral standards, purpose, destiny, relationships,
theology, politics, Bible characters, but unfortunately, we rarely hear
the Gospel.

Sometimes it is hard to hear the GOOD NEWS, b/c of so many other good messages.
people can get distracted by lots of good stuff like helping the poor,
justice issues, life groups, Bible studies, prayer meetings, choir
practice, community service… We can get so involved in church stuff,
that we dont have time for God. The goal is a Christ-centered life, not
a church-centered life.

– Sometimes GOOD NEWS is not what we expected.
many years, the Jews  were expecting good news of a powerful and
glorious Messiah who would deliver them from Roman oppression. Instead
they found an unimpressive, insignificant, uneducated poor family in a
podunk town. No might. No money. No power. No position. No glory. Not
exactly what they thought of as good news.

– Sometimes GOOD NEWS does not look impressive.
they went to see their new king, they found a baby. They figured a king
would be in a palace, but He was in a barn. They imagined royalty, they
found poverty. Not the kind of good news their grandparents told them

– Sometimes the GOOD NEWS take a long time.
would be 30 years before that baby even remotely resembled a Messiah,
and even then they were disappointed. God might answer right now, and
we might not realize He answered until many years later.  That is hard
for people like us who are used to drive through miracles and microwave

Lots more to say, but you cannot bear it now. Hope to
see you Sunday. Pray for me as i attempt to pinpoint exactly what i
need to say and what not to say Sunday.

***same post on accidental missionary site today***


Tues Top 10 List – A Pastor’s Christmas Wish List

December 16, 2008

Saw this CHristmas list on Dennis Sy’s blog last week. Dennis served as our youth pastor at Victory-Fort before planting a new church in the Music Museum theater in Greenhills (Metro-Manila, Philippines) 12 months ago.

have always been impressed with the deep spirituality of Dennis. His
selflessness and willingness to sacrifice is exemplary. He is always
thinking about others, as you can see in his Christmas wish list…

Here's Dennis Sy's 2008 Christmas list:


10. a zoo and theme park for my kids

9. elevator and escalator for my house

8. modeling career

7. A KING SIZE Tempur-Pedic bed

6. A franchise of Fully Booked
(Philippine version of Borders or Barnes & Noble)

5. Two brand new cars

4. A one year free pass to Spiral, Heat, Dusit and Circles.
(biggest & best all-you-can-eat buffets in the Philippines)

3. The whole Mac Store in Greenbelt

2. The largest HD TV in Anson's worth P2.3M

1. A house and lot in North Greenhills

Contentment in life

Dennis posted an updated top 10 Christmas list a few days after this one. It is a bit more spiritual.

What's on your Christmas wish list?

***same post on my accidental missionary site***

Blog / Miscellaneous

The Financial Crisis

December 15, 2008

The Bethel Sunday liturgy usually includes Bert The Running Man Thomson giving a pithy statement about money, quoting a Bible verse, and praying for the offering.

In light of the current economic crisis, here's one of my favorite Bertisms*

Money is not my God;
the economy is not my source.

*a Bertism is anything Bert says from the Bethel pulpit during offering time
POST NOTE: same post on my accidental missionary site today

Blog / Discipleship

Blogs of the Week

December 14, 2008

Here are my top 5 recommended blogs of the week:

1. "Missions Generations"
by veteran missionary Jeff Bullock, author of "the pub" blog. Jeff has
planted churches in Ukraine, Poland and now Budapest, Hungary. Is your mission philosophy mac or pc?
Read Jeff’s blog to find out.

2. “Doobie Bros and Evangelism”
by Mike Watkins. If you are in the “attractional vs missional”
conversation, you’ll appreciate this one – also if you like 70’s rock.  Watch the vid before you read the blog.

3. “Freakin’ Green” the re-post by Ross Middleton. Made me want to drive a big American SUV and use plastic grocery bags. Oh yea, I already do.   

4. “Money!” by Satomi Mercer. Just read it.

5. “My First Million” by Dennis Sy. The Clueless Church Planter has started a second career as the Clueless Moneyman. Good blog for this time of the year.

BONUS: And for the serious theologians, check out Bruce Fidler’s new site.
These are not "twitter blogs" – more like seminary papers. Vintage
Bruce. Will make you think. And that's good to do every now and then.  

***same post on the 'accidental missionary' site***