Monday, March 28, 2016


The End of Me
Kyle Idleman
Writing The End Of Me and launching the website have led me to think a lot about how people choose to live their lives. I’ve realized that, though there are small nuances, there really are two basic options. I’ve fashioned these two options into two equations.

The first way we can live our lives is all about self. This is the way most people live. This is the equation:

Self-awareness + Self Reliance = Self-Construction

It starts with self-awareness. You’ve got to figure out:
    - Who are you?
    - What are you good at?
    - What should your priorities and values be?
    - How do you decide what you’re going to do with your life?

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” We like to think we’re self aware, that we understand ourselves, but we don’t. We lie to ourselves. And when we rely on self-awareness, we end up building our life on lies."

The problem with self-awareness is that it tends to lead to self-deception. Self-deception can wreak havoc in our decision-making, our families, our finances and our careers. For example:

We fill our calendar with events, programs, and weekends away; and we just don’t seem to have the time to consistently attend church, or have our children participate in the Student Ministry. We’re not teaching the kids about the Bible on our own, either.
Then eventually, our children start going in the wrong direction, and somehow, it's a surprise to us. We pray, "God, I need you to do something. I need you to change them!" And it's like, "NOW you're coming to God about this?

The first equation starts with self-awareness, then we add to it self-reliance. Self-reliance has been ingrained in most of us since we were children. Our culture shouts, “Be an individual! You can do anything you want to do! You can be anything you want to be! And you can do it all, on your own!”

That may sound great, but there are some problems with it.

One problem is that self-reliance produces self-centered people. We can’t help but start to think, “Life is about me. I am the center of the universe! I make my own rules. I do my own thing. And I can do it on my own. If I want to be rich, I’ll be rich. I can be famous. My life is about me!”

Another problem is that I think, “I can do this;” until one day, I can’t. Something happens; I find myself at the end of me, and I can’t handle it. I realize relying on myself can only take me so far.

That’s why this equation ends with self-construction. If we rely entirely on self, we are constructing our own lives. All we can do is what we can do. The truth is that this is very limited.

In fact, my experience is that when I’ve lived by relying on self—and as I’ve watched other people rely on self as well-then eventually, self-construction ends up self-destruction.

In the last several decades, there has been way more focus on self than ever before.

  • More people are obsessed with their physical appearance. Getting plastic surgery. Going to the gym, eating healthy, doing diets. It’s never been like it is now. 
  • More people are focused on accumulating things and going on trips.
  • More people are obsessed with being famous, and with reality shows and YouTube, and you name it, more people are getting famous than ever before.
There’s an unprecedented focus on self, and what has it led to?

Well, with college students, anxiety levels, depression, loneliness, suicide and addictions are all 85% higher than in the 1950’s. We know it’s not just college students; all kinds of people are struggling more than ever before.

Why? I’d argue it’s because we’re depending on self-awareness and self-reliance more than ever before. That’s the bad news. But, I’ve got good news.

The good news is that there is a second way we can live our lives. The second way is all about God. The equation is:

God Awareness + God Reliance = God-Construction

It starts with God awareness. Our focus is on God. We seek to be aware of His presence and guidance. And when we think of ourselves, it’s not about our awareness of ourselves but what God thinks of us and says about us.

This second equation starts with God awareness, then we add to it God reliance. God reliance isn’t an excuse to be lazy. We do what we need to do, but we are always relying on God. We know he has more wisdom than we do and more power than we can imagine. So we look to Him, we pray to him, we count on him, we trust him.

A life of God awareness and God reliance leads to God construction. You have a life that goes beyond what you’re capable of. The God who loves you so much is helping direct and build your life. And the result will be something way better than you could have ever done.

 So, which equation will describe your life?

Monday, March 21, 2016


Hillary, Bernie, Donald, and Me

by John Piper

At 70, I am energized to dream great things, because this year Hillary turns 69, Bernie turns 75, and Donald turns 70. My rising energy has nothing to do with their policies or character. It has to do with the incredible fact that all of them want to spend their seventies doing the hardest job in the world.

This is wonderfully counter-cultural. I doubt that it’s motivated by a passion to magnify the greatness of Jesus. But that makes it all the more inspiring for me, because nothing gets me more excited than spending my seventies spreading a passion for the glory of Christ and his word. Paul is still my hero when he says, “My eager expectation and hope is that Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

So if Hillary and Bernie and Donald want to bear the weight of the world for the next four to eight years out of man-centered, philanthropic motives, I find my seventy-something zeal for Jesus heating up. They only get to be president of a tiny territory called the U.S.A. I get to be an ambassador of the Sovereign of the universe. They only get to change the way some people live for a few decades. I get to change the way some people live forever — with a lot of good spill-over for this world in the process.

But this is not an article mainly about me. It’s about the 70 million Baby Boomers coming behind me. I’m the oldest (born in 1946; the youngest born in 1964). Ten thousand Americans turn 70 every day. And they will continue to do so for about nineteen years. Billions of dollars are spent every year trying to get us to waste the last chapter of our lives on leisure. I’m spending one afternoon to plead with the rising seventy-somethings: Don’t waste it.


A History of Impact over Seventy

Hillary, Bernie, and Donald are not unique. Let them — and all the others — inspire you.

Five of the eight current Supreme Court justices are over 65, and three are over 75. Ronald Reagan served as president from age 70 to 78. He was shot at age 70 and recovered. Then at 76, he stood against the U.S.S.R. in West Berlin and said to Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall!”

Winston Churchill became the prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1940 at the age of 66. He wielded his mighty eloquence against the Nazis till he was 70. Six years later, he was reelected and served till he was 81. At 82, he wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

Theologian Charles Hodge (1797–1878) lived to be 80. His biographer, Paul Gutjahr, wrote, “His last years were among his most productive . . . wielding his favorite pen to compose literally thousands of manuscript pages, which would eventually become his monumental Systematic Theology and his incisive What Is Darwinism?

At 70, Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence. John Glenn became the oldest person to go into space at age 77. At the same age, Grandma Moses started painting. Started! At 82, Goethe finished writing his famous Faust. At 89, Albert Schweitzer ran a hospital in Africa. At 93, Strom Thurmond won reelection after promising not to run again at age 99. He lived to be 100. At 93, P.G. Wodehouse worked on his 97th novel, got knighted, and then died.

I heard J. Oswald Sanders lecture when he was 89. He said, “I have written a book a year since I was 70.” So I have just arrived at the beginning of this writing life. The beginning! What a thrilling example!

Ralph Winter, the great missions visionary and activist was thinking and writing and strategizing for world evangelization until he died at 84. He was passionate about non-retirement. He wrote,

"Most men don’t die of old age, they die of retirement.
I read somewhere that half the men retiring in the state of New York die within two years. Save your life and you’ll lose it. Just like other drugs, other psychological addictions, retirement is a virulent disease, not a blessing...Where in the Bible do they see that? Did Moses retire? Did Paul retire? Peter? John? Do military officers retire in the middle of a war?

Whether in Weakness or Strength

I am not unaware — my body makes me aware — that not everyone has the wonderful privilege of health and resources in old age. Over four million people over 65 live in poverty. Millions more suffer from the dreaded woes of aging — heart disease, arthritis, cancer, lung disease, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis. Not to mention the typical loss of hearing and eyesight and energy.

I do not want to add a burden to those who would love to dream with me, but can’t act on their dreams. You have your calling to live where you are, with all your weaknesses, for the glory of Christ. And, yes, he does get glory in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
God has great promises for those of you who trust your precious and ever-present Savior, Jesus Christ: “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).

Rather, I am writing to the 25 million Americans over 65 who are healthy and have resources — and to the seven thousand Boomers who turn 70 every day with health and wealth. I am inviting you to look around you. Look at Hillary and Bernie and Donald, and thousands of others, who are dreaming their dreams. Whatever their motives are, what are yours?


Without Excuse

“Jesus gave himself for us to purify for himself a people who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). No age limit. Zealous. Passionate. To the end. For good works. Works that he has gifted youto do. He has given you a lifetime of experience and wisdom and resources. You have a decade of freedom in front of you. This is a trust. All your previous life was designed for this season of fruitfulness. What is your dream?

“The righteous . . . still bear fruit in old age . . . to declare that the Lord is upright” (Psalm 92:12–15). Why would God tell us that? Because he wants us to dream that. He wants us to pray for that.

Not everyone gets the privilege. Some die young. Some must bear the burden of immobilizing pain. But millions of you are free. If you do not dream a joyful dream of productive service for Christ in your seventies, what will you say to the Savior? Your only excuse will be that you listened to the voice of this age rather than to God’s. It will not be a good excuse.


Redefine Retirement

The apostle Paul was on his way to evangelize Spain when he died in his sixties (Romans 15:23–28). He called himself an “old man” (Philemon 1:9). But as an “old man,” he planned, while he had breath, to do all he could for Christ and his kingdom. Spending the last season of his life playing games in a perishing world was not in his plan. It should not be in yours.

Join the happy psalmist: “My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Psalm 71:8–9). We have good reason to believe God will answer that prayer for Christ’s sake.

Break free from the spirit of this age. See the world — see your life — the way God sees it. In his reckoning, sweet soul-rest begins when you are born again (Hebrews 4:310), and rest from our labor — true retirement — begins when you die.

Make no mistake. The Bible believes in retirement. It’s called heaven. Then the new earth. It lasts forever. Compared to it, this life is a vapor’s breath. All our trials here are “a light and momentary affliction” that are preparing for us an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Keep your eyes on this prize. Such a rest the world has never dreamed of.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13).

Be up and doing. Joyfully. For Christ. Full of hope.

Monday, March 14, 2016


All of us have heard the phrase, ‘kick the dog.’  It is an expression that is most often used when someone has had a bad day.  Upon returning home you find an overly friendly canine that meets you at the door.   Rover is running around, jumping, slobbering, barking... excited to see you after several hours of separation.  So, how do you respond?  What do you do?  Do you pick up the dog and talk baby talk?  Do you get down and wrestle with him?  Do you scratch him behind the ears?  Do you turn him over the rub his tummy?  This is usually not your first instinct.  Instead your reflex may be to figuratively [if not literally] ‘kick the dog’.   Now, we are not talking about dog abuse here… just a gentle push with the foot.  You are not in the mood.  In that moment you just do not feel like giving or receiving affection. 
What we are talking about is a fairly common delayed emotional response to negative stimulus.  It is a psychological devise called ‘projection.’  We project our frustration with someone else, or with some hard/unpleasant situations that may have happened to us earlier in the day, onto Rover or [worse] onto a family member who may be sharing life with us.   Strangers that are rude without cause, a server who is abrupt, people who overreact to authority figures from police to pastors, moms who are impatient with their children in the grocery store, children who throw fits in public, adults who compose and send vindictive e-mails are to name just a few of the indicators of negative ‘projection’ taking place in real time.  ‘Projection’ is generally not a good thing.   It is generally a character flaw, an emotional weakness, a moment of immaturity… but not always. 
There is at least one illustration of positive ‘redemptive projection’ …. a time when projection resulted in salvation.  In Isaiah 53:6ff, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  The Lord God projected our sins onto Jesus.  He was sinless, innocent and without fault.  Yet, he became the one who was oppressed and afflicted for us.  He was crushed and caused to suffer as ‘he bore the sins of many and made intercession for the transgressors.’  Our sins were projected onto Jesus, on the cross and he became sin for us that we might become children of God.
Pray with me…Thank you Father for taking the punishment for our sin.  You projected our sin, guilt and shame upon your Son, our Savior, on the cross.  He who knew no sin became sin for us.  And, because of it, we are free indeed.  We thank and praise you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Pastor Ken

Monday, March 7, 2016


In the book of Acts, the supremacy of Jesus is declared exclusively.  The key verse is found in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Today I want you to feel the impact of this audacious claim, “There is salvation in no one else.”  Our culture can be slick at times.  Subtly, it moves against the church with deadly effectiveness and stealth.  Take the following examples:

Jason is a 38-year-old single economics professor in California.  In response to a question asking why he didn’t attend church, he replied, “I know you don’t like to hear this but I really don’t see how Jesus can be the only way to heaven.  I definitely believe in God, but there are just too many people in the world who don’t believe in Jesus for me to think that God doesn’t love them too.”  This is pure relativism.  Based on this philosophy, it makes no difference what you believe.  There are no absolute truths.  What is true for me may not be true for you and vice versa. Relativism distorts the supremacy of Jesus.

Tina Turner has sold something like 30 million recordings.  She said, “I’m Buddhist/Baptist.  My training is Baptist, and I can still relate to the Ten Commandments.  It’s all very close, as long as you contact the subconscious mind.  That’s where the coin of the Almighty is.  I don’t care what they feel about me and my tight pants on stage, and my lips, and my hair.  I am a chanter.  And everyone who knows anything about chanting knows you correct everything in your life by chanting every day.”  This is syncretism.  Based on this philosophy, all religions have some measure of truth.  The totality of God’s full revelation is realized through all religions.  Syncretism distorts the supremacy of Jesus.

All of these subtle attempts to distort the supremacy of Jesus can appear logical and reasonable.  What we each have to decide is whether Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life or not.  Will we go with logic or faith, human reason or revelation?  Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

Pray with me… Father God, the road forks in front of each of us.  We want to take the road less traveled, the high and narrow way that leads to life… the Jesus Way. We want to be among the few who seek and find it. Thank you for revealing Your heart for us in Jesus.  You are a good, good Father. In His Name, amen.

Pastor Ken


Jesus said the truly happy [blessed] people are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Notice that he didn't say,  "Happy are those who hunger and thirst for happiness" or "Righteous are the people who hunger and thirst for happiness."  It's the other way around.  "Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."   In other words, we cannot set as our greatest goal in life "to be happy," because that will only leave us frustrated.  Happiness is the result of something else.
Built into every person is an innate desire for something transcendent.  We all want to touch and taste something lasting, something that goes beyond the here and now, and that's what Jesus is speaking about.  We long for something that doesn't erode with time, something that doesn't pale into insignificance, something that holds our lives together when tears and tragedy try to pull them apart.  So, where do we turn in this longing for transcendence in our lives?  Listen first to the testimony of the psalmist who said, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?" [Psalm 42:1-2]
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry." [John 6:35]
Augustine cried out in his confessions, "Thou hast made us for Thine own, and our souls are restless until they rest in Thee."
Paul stood before the Stoic and Epicureans in Athens and declared, "For in Him [Jesus], we live and move and have our being." [Acts 17:28]
And Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."
Pray with me…O God, be exalted over my possessions…be exalted over my friendships…be exalted over my comforts…be exalted over my reputation…Rise, O Lord, into your proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself.  Let me decrease that You may increase.  In the Name that is above every name, Jesus.  Amen.

Pastor Ken