Monday, May 30, 2011

There I said it: On our love affair with books

I know. We’re in love with books these days. The Bible? Not so much.

I am often asked by ministry leaders, “What are you reading?” I smile and deadpan, “The Bible. It’s an amazing book. It’s really changing my life.” (This is where my wife starts kicking me under the table.) They’re like, “Well of course the Bible, but what other books are you reading?” I continue: “No, seriously, I’m reading the Bible and trying to learn how to make disciples like Jesus.”

Insert long awkward pause here. Often the conversation changes subjects or ends.

Interesting, ain’t it? Maybe it’s my coffee breath. I’m not trying to be a self-righteous jerk. I’m simply trying to answer the question—and have an honest and thoughtful conversation.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-books. I’m not trying to throw all books except the Bible under the bus. I’ll read/listen to about 12-15 books this year. I used to read about 30 books a year. But in an effort to make the Bible my first and primary text in life, I’m learning to be very selective about what books I read. I even ask God to show me what books he wants me to read. I value good books, but I don’t value books more than THE Book.

I think it’s a big mistake to make any book beside the Bible the first and primary focal point of disciplemaking. (Yes, that goes for anything I’ve written as well.) Why? Because the way you give disciplemaking to someone is the way they will tend to give disciplemaking to others. So, instead of making a book the center of your disciplemaking, make THE Book the first and primary text of your Disciplemaking Learning Community... so that when those you disciple start to disciple others, they will do it using the Bible. (Call me old school if you want. I’ve been called worse.)

It’s time to get over our love affair with books, and get back to our love affair with Jesus as found in THE Book. There. I said it.

After you’ve established God’s Word as the the first and primary text in your life and disciplemaking, then you may want supplement your learning with a book if you are so inclined. However, do not feel obligated to use books. God—as it says in the Bible—has already given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

There I go again.

"The words of the wise are like prodding goads, and firmly fixed [in the mind] like nails are the collected sayings which are given [as proceeding] from one Shepherd. But about going further [than the words given by one Shepherd], my son, be warned. Of making many books there is no end [so do not believe everything you read], and much study is a weariness of the flesh."
—Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:11-12, Amplified Bible

So what's next for you?
I challenge you to consider the 15 minutes a day that will change your life forever.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's the way you finish that becomes your legacy

If you don't plan to finish well, you probably won't. Here's how you can...

For the last several presidential elections, political pundits have been talking about the critical importance of the final 72 hours of a campaign. That is, after spending millions of dollars and countless hours of energy campaigning all over the United States, the fate of an election often boils down to the last 72 hours. In a presidential race in these days, if you snooze—or even let up just a little during the last 72 hours—you could very well lose!

To truly finish this life well, you must run strong all the way to the end.

Starting well is beneficial. Staying the course is critical. But it's the way you finish that becomes your legacy. No matter what age or season of life you're in right now, finishing this life well is something to which you should give some careful thought and intentional planning. 

The Challenge of Finishing Well is a twenty-eight page interactive workbook that is designed to help you wrestle with what it means for you to finish well in God's eyes. It's ideal for small groups or for use as a personal half or full day retreat.

The spiritual racetrack of life is littered with the broken lives of those who had great starts, were more talented, smarter, stronger, and even more pious than most of us— but for one reason or another—they did NOT finish well. Way too many of us finish poorly like Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God…” (1 Kings 11:4). The danger for us is that "as we grow old," our hearts could grow cold—and we may turn after other gods (including the god of self and comfort). 

If it can happen to Solomon, it can happen to any of us. 
But it doesn't have to... if—right now—you'll dare to accept The Challenge of Finishing Well.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The more isolated you are...

"Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive the power of sin over him...."
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from this article.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It takes way more than vision to be a spiritual leader...

Using people to accomplish your vision doesn't make you a leader. 

It makes you user.

I dare you to ponder this.

More to ponder and wrestle, IF you have the guts...
The biblical definition of leadership.
* The fullest expression of spiritual leadership.

You, Me, and Coffee Monday... 
Let me encourage you and and make you think 1 stinking time a week (usually Monday morning) with a virtual Cup O' Joe with Bill in your email inbox. Two Simple Steps...
1. Go here and submit your email.
2. Go to your email and click the Feedburner confirmation link.
You can unsubscribe at any time with no questions asked simply by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email you receive from Cup O' Joe with Bill. Honest. You got nothing to lose. Try it.

Monday, May 09, 2011

This wild ride continues...

Thank you for stopping by to enjoy this May 2011 pictorial update. Click on the images below to enlarge for viewing, reading, and praying. To download the two page PDF, go here. Thank you for reading, praying, and sharing!
What a fun and fruitful adventure we're on with you, God, and Cadre Ministries. Make no mistake about it: We need you more than ever. For more information about how you can partner with God, the Allisons, and Cadre Ministries, go here. To make a secure online tax-deductible donation, go here.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus—Part 1

At the tail end of his earthly ministry, the resurrected Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples and commanded them to “make disciples.”

I know. You’ve heard it a thousand times. But this time, I dare you to stop and ponder it for a moment.

How would Jesus’ eleven disciples have understood his command to “make disciples”?

If you’ll graciously allow me more than a little poetic license here, I’d like to take a shot at answering that question. When Jesus commanded his original eleven disciples to “make disciples,” I suggest that they would have heard something like this...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Isn't She Lovely? Ivy Alyse Allison

She's here!  May 2, 2011 at 9:18 AM, at 7 pounds and 9 ounces and 19.5 inches, Ivy Alyse Allison came into our lives.  (You may remember the fun we had last December announcing that she was on the way.)

Celebrate God's goodness with us!

I invite you to listen to one of my favorite songs (immediately below—great lyrics and music) and to enjoy a few pictures of God's gracious gift (that's what Ivy means) to our family.

(Song here.)

Just moments after her birth: Stacy and I are thrilled.  Ivy... not so much.  (You can enlarge any photo below by clicking it.)
Finally, Sadey is a big sister.  She called, "First to hold the new baby," last December.  Sadey was first.
Libby—also know in the family as "baby hog."  Not there is any fighting going on or anything.
Josey hoping the game of hot potato doesn't end with her changing the diaper.
Aubrey happy and surprised... or maybe Ivy dirtied her first diaper.  Not sure which... or perhaps both.
Tough enough to play rugby like a beast and yet gentle enough to love a new born baby... my son Bill is a great man.
Grandma Porky (Bill's mom) and Ivy.
Grandma and grandpa Johnson (Stacy's mom and dad) and Ivy.
The only person we're missing from this family picture is our Emily. But that's bound to happen when you have kids 20 years apart from each other : ) Em will be home soon enough to meet Ivy!
"Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table."
—Psalm 128:3
A few days later, we got Emily home from Moody Bible Institute to introduce her to Ivy... and take these pictures.
Go ahead and sing it: "Father Allison had many kids.  Many kids had Father Allison...."