I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Bible

I love the Bible. I hope that is apparent to anyone who knows me fairly well. I recently purchased another Bible - the ESV Single Column Reference Bible (TruTone, Brown/Cordovan, Portfolio Design) from Amazon for a mere $34.64. This my first single column edition and I think I might just be a fan of this format. It certainly helps when it comes to rapidly locating a verse in a teaching setting. This is not my first ESV purchase however. After it burst on the scene a few years ago I bought one with much anticipation. I've since bought a few more. I, however, have not fully embraced this lauded translation as the solution to our every expanding Bible translation options. And I want to (I really do) and I have tried to, but without success. I know many folks just love the ESV. And many of these guys are big names and scholars too. But I (neither a big name nor scholard) just can't make the swiich yet. I think my issue is that I didn't grow up in the church and I didn't use the KJV extensively. When I was converted way back in 1983 it was promptly suggested that I get an NIV. I did and the rest is history. I know the NIV has weaknesses (ESV fans make them well known), but the ESV's touted readability is frankly unimpressive compared to the NIV. Now if I was moving from the KJV, NKJV, RSV (& perhaps the NASB) the readability factor might mean more. But the ESV seems a little archaic for me in places where it attempts to retain the KJV flow and feel. Many people like the tranlslations that sound like the Bible (err...the KJV), but I find that to be more about maintaining tradition than translation accuracy. I'd love for the church to have a primary translation, but it appears very unlikely these days.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Talkin bout Regeneration

Have you ever been perplexed by the reseach done on the lifestyles of "Christians"? I know I certainly have. It seems like "Christians" are pretty much the same as non-Christians with the exception perhaps of tee times on Sundays. The former occasionally play in the afternoon while the later get an early start). Sunday A.M. is about the only difference in many ways! Upon further analysis we quickly recognize that every one who calls himself/herself a Christian isn't one. We see all sorts of manifestations of the flesh in typical churches and we usual explain it as immaturity or lack of discipline, etc. Could it be that some of these folks just aren't saved? I know they haven' baptism certificates and they're on the roster, but they show no evidence of regeneration. Sure, there are those who temporarily stumble or plateau in their growth, but I'm convinced that building with steeples are ouccuppied my innumerable unconverted souls every Sunday morning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Reading "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis I was stunned by how many quotes attributed to Lewis which come from this book. Here's one of the most well known.
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. – Mere Christianity

I'm really enjoying this classic book. I've read portions of it at various times over the years, but I think this may be the first time I've gone cover to cover with it. Anyway, if you haven't read it, or if it has been a few years since you have, I'd suggest you pick it up. It will stretch you for sure, but it will also draw you in. C.S. Lewis was obviously a brilliant man and has made lasting contributions through his numerous books. As always, be a Berean.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Randy Travis: Baptism

I'm feeling like a little Country music today. Randy Travis is one of the all time great voices/singers in Country music and this one of my favorite songs from him. Enjoy.

Romans 6:3-4: Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Manly Music?

Mark Driscoll: I’ll be happy when we have more than just prom songs to Jesus sung by some effeminate guy on an acoustic guitar offered as mainstream worship music. Right now most worship music is still coming from the top down through such things as Christian radio and record labels. But the trend today in a lot of churches is writing your own music to reflect your culture and community, and I pray this trend of music from the bottom up continues.

I was thinking about the masculine vs. feminine worship music discussion this morning on my way to the office. I first encountered the feminization of church music idea in the book, "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow a couple of years ago. Then the more I listened the more I noticed that much of praise music these days strongly resembles the popular "Lite" format on radio. That format is targeted at a highly female demographic. It should come as no surprise that this kind of music is prevalent in the church since women are typically over represented numerically in the average congregation. As I continue my drive I tried to recall songs that had a distinctly masculine kind of vibe. I came up with a few. Do you think there's truth to Driscoll's point? (I do). Do you have some songs that you'd recommend? I'd like to add them to our playlist.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Leadership dreams...

Maybe I was just dreaming. Actually, I'm pretty sure I was. Way back in 1994 I was part of a new church plant called Christ's Church of the Peninsula. I went into this effort with lots of exuberance and a conviction that we could "get it right" in the church. And we did in amny ways (& we got some things wrong too!). When we finally decided to set apart our first elders we did so after spending several months studying & discussing the responsinilities & work of elders in the church. I envisioned a team of mature men working together in devotion to Christ, a group of shepherds caring for His sheep. I should mentioned that I worked a secular job for the entire existence of Christ's Church. During this time I preached virtually every Sunday, taught a small group weekly and carried out many other normal ministry responsibilties. It wore on me over the years eyt I was still reluctant to let it go and return to "full time" ministry. I loved it for many reasons: 1. It kept me connected to the lost in a way many "full time" guys end up forfeiting. 2. It gave me some additional credibilty with some folks because I had a "real " job. 3. I felt that my example said that you could do life in our day and still dedicate significant time to kingdom work.

My dream in those was that somehow we would develop a team of church leaders who would break out of the typical "board system" so prevalent these days. (Note: Just because you don't call it a "board" doesn't mean it isn't one). Anyway, it appears obvious that history in our churches repeats itself more than I'd like to admit.

Have any of you ever witnessed or been a part of a church where the leaders function in unity and harmony and do so sacrificially? Where board-elders don't exist, but shepherd-eldrs are the norm?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Maybe Tomorrow

I might just climb back aboard my Cannondale CAAD9. Maybe...

The CAAD9 in the pic isn't mine. I ride a Contes team bike (blue/silver) but I do like the look of this one.

Plexiglas Preaching

"There are plenty of gifted communicators in the modern evangelical movement, but today’s sermons tend to be short, shallow, topical homilies that massage people’s egos and focus on fairly insipid subjects like human relationships, “successful” living, emotional issues, and other practical but worldly - and not definitely biblical - themes. Like the unbiquitous Plexiglas lecterns from which these messages are delivered, such preaching is lightweight and without substance, cheap and synthetic, leaving little more than an ephemeral impression on the minds of the hearers."
-John MacArthur (from his book "Fool's Gold?: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error")

2 Timothy 4:1-5: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Boards = Bad?

Is the Church Board concept really all that bad? Now, admittedly I'm playing the roll of "devil's advocate" (seems weird typing that) with this post, but it represents some things I've been pondering lately. I have pretty much always been vehemently anti-church board in my thinking. Mainly because IT'S NOT IN THE BIBLE (your bylaws notwihtstanding). It also usually provides opportunities to trump decisions by the elders because deacons (& myriad other "officers" in some churches) often out number & out vote the overseers. But, lately I've been contemplating this whole issue anew.

Consider first that the modern church is quite different in innumerable respects from our 1st century brethren. We have lots of stuff - property, buildings, land, vehicles, kitchens, gyms (oops, I mean"family life centers"), equipment, etc. We often have multi-member paid staffs too. The congregants, of course, are expected to bankroll all the aforementioned. If these things are unscriptural, why can't we have an unscriptural board to oversee them? I'm just saying (to quote a firend).

Additionally, we have witnessed the supplanting of the elders' rolls as shepherds in many ("most" would probably be more accurate) churches. This usually is a result of the delegation of such responsibilities to those employed "full time" (aka. "the staff" but not Biblical "staff" of "thy rod & thy staff they comfort me"). SWo, here's my question: Where exactly are the lines to be drawn when it comes to delegating responsibilties of church leaders? If it is acceptable and/or appropriate to give shepherding duties away, how can it be unacceptable and/or inappropriate to give oversight away too?

Might the church be better served if elders delegated anything but shepherding?

More on this later...

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I'll be riding in the MS Bike Tour in a few weeks. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will use funds collected from the MS Bike Tour to not only support research for a cure tomorrow, but also to provide programs which address the needs of people living with MS today.If you can support my effort with a donation, please go here.