July 24, 2012



July 23, 2012

Really good.

Greg Breazeale is senior pastor at Metro East Baptist Church in Wichita, KS. He and his wife Heather have two sons, Cross and Rhyse. He blogs at

The phrase Gospel-centered gets much use these days. Books, blogs, and articles on what it means to be Gospel-centered seem to pop up every day. My aim here is to wrestle a bit with what Gospel-centeredness looks like when it comes to leading an organization such as a church, a bank, a school, etc.

What does the Gospel-centered leader (GCL) look like? How do they function day to day?

How does the Gospel bear weight on how leaders make decisions, hire and fire, and cast vision?

Here are a few qualities of a Gospel-centered leader.

They Love The Gospel

GCL’s love the Gospel. They love to talk about it, sing about it, and tell it to others. The death and resurrection of Jesus, and their union with Him moves their heart like nothing else. They never tire of hearing the Gospel or preaching it to themselves. The Word of Christ (Colossians 3:16) dwells deeply and richly in them. They define themselves as people loved by God in and through the Person and Work of their Lord Jesus Christ. Their identity, value, worth, and significance—their life is found in Him. Everything must begin here. If you miss this, you will end up using the Gospel to make a name for yourself rather than using the Gospel to spread the fame of Jesus.

They Invite Critique

GCL’s know that it took God in the flesh dying and rising again to save them. Therefore they know they are not beyond critique and error. They find ways to receive feedback and critique from their friends, spouse, staff, or co-workers. If their identity rests only Christ and if they are convinced that God is for them, as the Gospel clearly reminds them (Romans 8:32), then no amount of negative or positive feedback can shake their foundation. GCL’s work into their life and schedule other eyes and ears to help them lead as effectively as possible.

They Are Bold and Humble

The Gospel has shattered the pride of GCL’s, and yet empowered them to boldly trust in the grace and goodness of God when it comes to how they lead. They can make hard decisions without fearing the opinions of others but also admit their mistakes and seek restitution. They don’t slump their shoulders or puff out their chests. They are humble and strong, bold and gentle, confident and self-deprecating. Only by trusting the Gospel can one become this kind of leader.

They Bear More Affliction Than They Give Out

The great mystery of the Gospel is that the one who owed us nothing gave us everything. The one who knew no sin was made to be sin to make us righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). The one who was rich became poor to make us rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). The blessed one became the Curse to lift the Curse from us (Galatians 3:18). Therefore the GCL will look and listen for ways to absorb affliction when he has every right to dish it out. Every leader has to bring affliction. They have to discipline, fire, layoff, cutback, reprimand, etc. But the Gospel shines brightly when leaders winsomely bear the bulk of the pain and blame, especially when they don’t have to. I am not suggesting that performance standards in the workplace or the church be lowered because of the Gospel. I am suggesting however that the Gospel calls us to, at times, shower underserved grace (and all grace is undeserved) on those we lead.

They Have No “Game Face”

The Gospel doesn’t give us a game face to lead. The Gospel gives us a new heart filled with love and affection. It is not one more weapon in our leadership utility belt. The Gospel enables us to weep when it is time to weep and rejoice when it is time to rejoice. GCL’s don’t have to worry if they are performing correctly in a particular situation since their heart is buried in the Gospel. They are free to take the blame in situations and give praise in others. Their ultimate worth and value does not hinge on results or failure because, to be honest, they are not that concerned with themselves. They are free to be honest about a particular decision or result, admit failures and mistakes, and boldly trust in the God who took on flesh and died for them to carry them forward. GCL’s can afford to look bad in front of the team. They don’t have to take themselves too seriously. They can take a risk as quickly as they can admit a mistake.

Wisest Fool In The Room

The Gospel reveals to us that we are not wise. We must become fools in order to embrace wisdom. We become fools by embracing the foolishness of the Gospel. When leaders realize that it took Christ dying and rising again to save them, they never walk into a meeting with a swagger. They walk in confidently to be sure, but their only confidence is in the Gospel. They know that walking in their own wisdom only leads to pain and frustration. Proverbs is clear that being wise in one’s own sight is worse than a fool. Therefore a GCL is always learning and growing both in the Gospel and in leadership.

Takes Blame and Gives Credit

The Gospel is about an exchange, Christ takes our sin and we get His righteousness. He gets the blame for what we’ve done and we get the credit for what He has accomplished. Leaders are at their best when they are taking the blame and giving the credit to others. When things go wrong they are the first to take responsibility. When things go well they are the first to give the credit to those who work, prayed, planned, and performed.

Becoming A More Gospel-Centered Leader

How does one become a more Gospel-centered leader? Many ideas come to mind, but let me leave you with one: Exult in the Gospel. Only the Gospel can make you more Gospel-centered. Books on the Gospel, songs about the Gospel, and the culture built around Gospel-centeredness are gifts from God. But they are only echoes and scents (to borrow from CS Lewis) of the Gospel, not the Gospel itself. It is possible to love the idea of Gospel-centered leadership but not love the Gospel. So dwell in the Gospel. Exult in it. Learn about it. Meditate over it. Be open to radical changes God wants to make in you. Let it shape how you serve and lead those entrusted to you.

JFK and Jackie’s SSA

July 20, 2012

I just met and sat through a presentation from Clint Hill, the SSA to JFK and Jackie. He’s 79 yrs old and still has it. He’s the one that was the first SSA to Jackie and JFK when he was assassinated 50 yrs ago in November. He’s the one who jumped onto the trunk of the car and then covered both the Prez and his wife.

He, with the coauthor and journalist Lisa McCubbin, of ‘Mrs. Kennedy and Me’ gave a pretty moving presentation.

You can check the book out here:

He said he was with Mrs. Kennedy when she gave birth to John Jr. and Patrick, but wasn’t around to witness the birth of his two sons. It’s an awesome responsibility to be a SSA, but it comes with much sacrifice.

Pray for Your Pastor

July 17, 2012

“As leaders in the church, we have unique and often more intense temptations (“Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter”). So will you consider praying for your pastor the way I ask my people to pray for me?

1. That the gospel would be the focal point of my life and identity – not manhood, not being a husband, not being a father, not being a pastor, but who I am in Christ.

2. That I would not fear man by desiring the admiration of people; that the Lord’s “Well done” would be ever before my eyes.

3. That the Lord would not allow me to go long between repentances; that I would keep short accounts with Him and be sensitive to and ruthless with my sin.

4. That I would continue to grow in the character qualities of a man of God (1 Tim. 3:1-7; 2 Tim. 2:22-26; Titus 1:5-9).

5. That I would have a consistent, powerful, diligent life of private prayer; that I would grow in my dependence on the Holy Spirit.

6. That the Lord would give me great diligence in study and sermon preparation, making the most of my time.

7. That my preaching and teaching ministry would be empowered by the Holy Spirit; that the Lord would effect real change in our lives through it; and that by it we would be more endeared to Christ.

8. That I would boldly and faithfully and humbly and joyfully and intentionally share the gospel with the non-Christians in my social orbit.

9. That I would see Jesus as supremely valuable, my greatest treasure, and as my dear friend.”

“Si Deus nobiscum, quis contra nos?”

“If God is for [with] us, who shall be against us?”- Romans 8:31.

Grilling and Cancer

July 15, 2012

“Grilling is an art. Creating meals full of mouthwatering perfection takes a lot of practice and skill.

Or just some really good tips.

These suggestions can help enhance the flavor of grilled meat while taking into account food safety and cancer risks.

For the best flavors on a grill, marinate the meat first. But if red meat is on the menu, is marinating a good idea?

Research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that marinating red meat in beer or wine for two hours significantly reduced compounds that may cause cancer.

Similarly, a Kansas State University study found that rubbing rosemary, an herb known for its high level of antioxidants, onto meats before grilling them cut the levels of carcinogens by up to 100 percent. Herbs, such as basil, mint, sage and oregano, may have similar effects.

If the meat is going to be grilled or otherwise cooked at a very high temperature, marinate meats in an herb- and spice-filled mixture for an hour before cooking. This dramatically reduces the development of HCAs. Scientists aren’t certain why, but they believe the reason may be the antioxidant properties of herbs and spices.

Another way to reduce the formation of carcinogens is to flip the meat frequently and avoid charring it, but some people feel that reduces the flavor and appeal of grilled meat.

For grill lovers who don’t want to consume large amounts of meat, grilled fruits and vegetables do not produce the same suspected carcinogens as meats. Good substitutes include onions brushed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or a grill basket filled it with healthy vegetables that have been tossed in oil and sprinkled with herbs.

The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that marinating can cut the risk of cancer compound formation by as much as 92 percent to 99 percent, according to an article in Eating Well Magazine.

If burgers are on the menu, they can be cooked at 400 degrees or less, or with indirect heat. Ground beef and pork should be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit, poultry and hot dogs to 165 degrees and beef, veal and lamb to between 145 and 160 degrees.

There is no evidence that grilling meat causes cancer. However, cooking meat at the high temperatures used to grill, as well as broil and fry, creates compounds that are linked with some cancers.

The concerns about grilled meats have been around for some time. A study focusing on chicken, the most popular barbeque item, found that marinating chicken in a combination of brown sugar, olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and salt significantly reduced the potential cancer-causing compounds formed in cooking while also adding more delicious flavors.

The study also found that the length of time the chicken was marinated didn’t matter – the results were the same for chicken marinated anywhere from 4 to 48 hours, as well as chicken dipped in marinade just before grilling. Many commercially-prepared marinades worked as well.”


How would you rank them?


There are 32 Olympic sports. Both you and I won’t be competing in any of them during this month’s Summer Olympics. But what if we could? Which events would it be possible to finish? In which would it be impossible?

Fourth-Place Medal took a look at the list of events in London and ranked all 32, from easiest to hardest. Our criteria was simple: How hard would it be to get through a single competition? Could you survive a 200 IM next to Michael Phelps? Is playing against LeBron James harder than Aleksandar Sapic, the Serbian water polo star? Theoretical success (or lack of it) is not taken into account. We’re only looking at whether you could make it through.

Notes: (1) If there are numerous events in a certain sport (like swimming and track), assume we’re choosing one of medium difficulty and not the marathon. (2) In the eyes of the IOC, swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming are all the same sport: Aquatics. We’re not going by the IOC list, which is why we list 32 sports, not the 26 official ones recognized at the Olympics.

N/A — Diving, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, trampoline — We’re ranking sports, not judged activities. These five Olympic disciplines require intense training, athleticism and skill. So do ballet, flying in the Blue Angels and calligraphy. And how tough can it be to win a gymnastics medal anyway? Get China to forge a birth certificate, wink at some French judges and voila.

27. Table tennis — It’s cliche to poke fun at table tennis, so I won’t go that route.

26. Weightlifting — I moved a few weeks ago. Being unable to lift heavy things is not as difficult as it sounds.


25. Beach volleyball — There’s only one thing that’s hard to do on the beach and it ain’t volleyball.

24. Shooting — I’d call this guy a doofus but, you know, he’s armed.

(Getty Images)

23. Badminton — No such qualms with this dude.

22. Fencing — Once you get to know a few pawn shop owners, it comes naturally.

21. Volleyball — On the bright side, opponents are trying to find free space on the floor on which to land their spikes.

20. Track — Fall early, fake an injury and then have your dad help you the rest of the way. The Visa money will be rolling in in no time.

19. Cycling — Track bikes have no brakes and the banks on the velodromes look tough to handle. So I searched for “is riding on a velodrome hard?” First hit says: “You can relax! Despite the way it looks and sounds, riding a track is relatively easy and a lot of fun. ” Definitive proof! No. 19 it is.

18. Archery — Any sport that allows competitors to wear that hat has to be ranked low. Also, I don’t think the Apollo spaceships that went to the moon were as technologically advanced as these crossbows. Somewhere, on a page I’ll never read, Katniss weeps.

(Getty Images)

17. Tennis –Sounds easy, until you have to return a 140-mph serve from Andy Roddick.

16 . Handball — Throughout history, this event has been dominated by the Soviets/Russians and Yugoslavians/Croatians. That inherent toughness more than makes up for France winning the gold in 2008.

15. Field hockey — The ball is hard and the sticks come at you. Plus, the skirt could be difficult for some men to pull off.

14. Soccer — A football field is big so it’d be pretty easy to stay out of the action. And if the ball does come your way, just fall down clutching your shin. You’ll fit right in.

13. Basketball — You know who’s really big and can barrel into you at full speed in order to draw a foul: Basketball players.

12. Boxing; 11. Wrestling; 10. Taekwondo — If this seems too low for three sports that involve you getting hit in the face, you’re probably right. But if you go full coward and submit immediately, it’ll be over quickly. They can’t punch you when you’re on the ground, right?

9. Judo“A judo match is won by a score of ippon. Ippon can be scored by a clean, forceful throw; by holding the opponent mainly on his back for 30 seconds, […] or by submission to a strangle.” — The Complete Book of the Olympics

8. Swimming — Fifty-meter pools are much longer in person than they are on TV. They’re even longer when you have to swim butterfly down to the other end.

7. Rowing — They get mad if you sit there and don’t row. And, sure, the coxswain seems like a cushy gig, but you have to yell loudly, keep in rhythm to call the strokes and if you screw up — the rest of the crew has big sculls.

6. Modern Pentathlon — The hardest part: Remembering which five sports to compete in. (Shooting, swimming, running, riding and fencing.)

5. Sailing — This isn’t like taking a booze cruise off Montauk. Those booms come out of nowhere.

4. Canoe/Kayak — What you picture when you hear “canoe” or “kayak.”

(The Red Canoe by Winslow Homer)

What “canoe” and “kayak” means at the Olympics:

(Getty Images)

3. Water polo — They dunk you without warning and throw elbows like Bill Laimbeer. What goes on underwater stays underwater until it becomes a massive hematoma 48 hours later.

2. Triathlon — A mile swim in the open water, followed by a 25-mile bike ride and a six-mile run. No snark, that’s a lot of activity.

1. Equestrian — Can you ride a horse? Me neither.

Kids Ministry

July 11, 2012

“Brent Osterberg is associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX. He’s married to Keri and has three delightfully crazy children. He blogs at From Pew to Practice—

Children’s Ministry Volunteer—Description of Responsibilities:

  1. Maintain an environment wherein children are returned to their parents without excessive bleeding or bite marks.
  2. Glance at assigned weekly curriculum just minutes before you teach it. Relay the lesson to the children, making sure to emphasize the things they need to do to change their behavior and be more like the Bible hero of the week.
  3. Administer Dixie cups full of watered down lemonade and goldfish crackers after hand-sanitization.
  4. For the remainder of class, have the children color various coloring sheets of typical Hebrew men with beards, robes, and sandals. Don’t forget to write each child’s name on the back.

Is this what a person would expect your church’s children ministry protocol to say if they peered into your classroom on a typical Sunday morning?

Sadly, children’s ministry in the local church can often be seen as second rate ministry, not much more than crowd control and waiting out the clock. This can be seen on the occasions when members looking to move on to bigger and better things will see children’s church or AWANA as merely something to cut their teeth on. Or when the church leadership, in a desperate attempt just to fill the volunteer gaps, will try and make children’s ministry as burden-less and non-committal as possible. Then, of course, there are those who take a shift with the kiddos just because they feel like they have to do something to serve.

Truth be told, I’ve thought all these things at one time or another over the years. Only now that my wife and I have kids of our own have I realized the crucial role that children’s ministry plays in the lives of the kids it serves, their families, and the church.

So then, in the hopes that more Christians and churches will begin cherishing this ministry and investing in it more copiously, here are11 reasons why children’s ministry is not second rate ministry:

  1. When children hear other people who care about them saying the same things they hear their parents saying, the truthfulness of the gospel is reinforced.
  2. Children will associate Christianity with the people they encounter in church.
  3. Many of the kids in children’s ministry will be future leaders in the church.
  4. When James writes, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with a greater strictness” (3:1), he does not limit “teachers” to those who teach adults.
  5. Believe it or not, kids remember much of what they are taught at church.
  6. Simplifying the teaching of Scripture for kids without distorting the truth is by no means easy.
  7. Kids are inquisitive and therefore provide a lot of opportunity for direct instruction.
  8. Kids are at a stage in their lives when they have not yet become jaded by the hardships and inconsistencies of life. This means children’s ministry volunteers have a great opportunity to impress upon them the truth that life with Jesus is full of hope.
  9. The excitement that children have about the things of God helps cultivate vigor and vitality in the members of a church in regard to the gospel and ministry.
  10. It is likely that many of the kids in your church have not yet come to Christ for salvation; so much of what goes on in children’s ministry is evangelism.
  11. Many of us, as Christian adults, have spent years dispelling confusion and misconceptions about the Bible that children’s ministry has helped to foster in us. Children’s ministry volunteers, then, are serving these kids at a time in their lives when precision and accuracy in teaching can significantly reduce the haze surrounding God’s Word that is all too common.”

Temptations Dads Face

July 10, 2012

Most effective fathers I work with face the following temptations:
1) The pull to spend more time at work and leave the “leftovers” for the family. I have never heard an older man reflecting back on his life say, “I only wish I had spent more time at the office.”
2) Thinking, “I’ll spend more time wih the kids once they are older.” That time never arrives. In fact, once our children hit the teen years they often desire to spend less time with dad.
3) Assuming “quality time” trumps “quanity time.” Think the once-a-year family vacation should be enough? Its not. Its the little day-in, day-out interactions that leave such a lasting legacy.
4) Reasoning, “we might as well divorce since we fight so often.” The family research statistics are clear; an in-tact, lasting marriage is better for children than divorce. Go to marriage counseling and try and avoid divorce.
5) Thinking, “the beautiful woman down the street could meet my needs better than my wife.” All humans are fallen. Only Jesus Christ can meet our deepest needs.
6) “I’ll leave the church stuff to my wife or the youth pastor.” When your children see you worship or pray they understand you too are under authority.
7) Naively thinking, “there are no drug or alcohol problems in our school or neighborhood.” Think again…and talk to your kids about the dangers of experimenting.
8) Rationalizing, “I’ve blown it as a father.” You may have made mistakes. Serious mistakes. But its never too late to reach out to a son or daughter.
9) Assuming, “someone will have the “sex talk” with my kids.” They are curious and they are waiting to hear your perspective.
10) The temptation to take my wife for granted. She is taxi-driver, worker, chef, home engineer, mother, lover, and wife of your youth. Honor her.

Lesson 7: Communicate the Blessing with Words and Touch
Perhaps this lesson could be included in lesson six. I simply want to emphasize that even if our children know we love them and that we are proud of them, they need to hear it. They need to feel with our hugs. When they are young, the physical interaction with children is critical. When they are older, we must still keep hugging them.
Lesson 8: Talk to Your Children
I love it. I absolutely love it. My sons still want to talk to me. My boys can call my cell phone at almost any time. They know that I am the president of this big company, but they know they can get in touch with me quickly. Most of the time I will answer their calls on the spot. Otherwise, I get back to them quickly. I am honored beyond measure that those boys still want to talk to me.
I think I instilled this desire early in their lives. I let them know that there was no such thing as a stupid question and that there were no subjects that were out of bounds. We really had some interesting discussions. Some of them were theological. Some of them were blunt talks about the “facts of life.” Others were about sports, girls, politics, morals, clothes, careers, hobbies, places to live, places to go, and the list goes on.
Lesson 9: Fun and Humor Is Healthy
The Rainer house was a fun place to be. I think that’s why we became a hangout on the east side of town. All three of my boys have a great sense of humor.
Our three sons like to joke with one another. They especially enjoy making fun of their old man. Because they had to endure hundreds of my sermons and speeches, they frequently would imitate my mannerisms and frequently repeated phrases. Their mother enjoyed popping paper bags behind them when they were not aware she was in the room.
Lesson 10: Admit Your Mistakes
Art and his brothers have taught me much as they have raised their dad. My natural and sinful tendency was to speak quickly and harshly when one of the boys was out of line. I blew it many times as a father. But my boys have taught me to think before I speak and to be willing to ask for forgiveness when I was wrong. They have indeed raised Dad well.
Lesson 11: Know When to Let Go, Know When to Hold
Indeed, there were not many things that I did not share with my sons. And there were not many emotions I left unchecked.
On the one hand, this transparency is good. My boys knew where I stood on almost all issues. They knew they could get clear and non-evasive answers from me. And they knew how I felt at almost all times. There was no doubt how Dad was feeling in the Rainer home.
On the other hand, I was often transparent to a fault. Kids need to be kids, and they do not need to be exposed to every feeling and concern parents have. I needed to protect them from the harsh world more than I did, instead of letting them hear almost every fear and problem with which I struggled.
Some parents never let their children see the real mom and dad. And some parents let their kids see too much. I was guilty of the latter.
Lesson 12: There Is Nothing More Important than a Child’s Eternity
“Lord, please look over our sons. Keep them in Your protective and loving hands. Help us to be the type of parents that show Your love. And we pray for the salvation of our sons. We ask that they hear clearly one day the gospel message, and that they accept and follow Your Son Jesus.”
Those words, or words similar to those, were prayed by Nellie Jo and me on a regular basis. We do want the best for our sons in this life. But this life is so incredibly brief. Our most fervent prayer was for each of the boys to become a Christian so that their eternities would be secure.
God has answered our prayers. Very few dads have had the incredible privilege to do what I did. I baptized each of my sons after they became followers of Christ. Those were moments that I cherished, moments that moved me to tears.
Though I was imperfect, I tried to model Christ to my sons. I wanted them to see Him in both my words and actions. I wanted them to have the freedom to talk with me about anything, especially spiritual matters.
God answered our prayers. The most important gift a child can receive is the gift of salvation in Christ. And I thank God that He used Nellie Jo and me as His instruments in their eternities.